TES editor Gerard Kelly's comment that a pound;4.2 billion bill is "a lot for pencil-passing" demonstrates a rudeness and ignorance with which many school support staff will be all too familiar (Editorial, September 4).
The teaching profession has always suffered from ambiguity about TAs in the classroom. Their presence is needed but at the same time resented. A bad TA is a hindrance, a good one is a threat. Most teachers would prefer a skivvy - Mr Kelly would doubtless think this a more appropriate role. It is ironic that the profession, never slow when it comes to demands about their pay and conditions, are willing to exploit low-paid auxiliaries in a way they would not tolerate.
Many pay their cleaners a higher hourly rate than a TA. Either the education system needs to accord support staff their proper value, or teachers need to stop moaning and start passing their own pencils.