The use and abuse of assistants

12th May 2000 at 01:00
I READ with interest your front-page article "Assistants are cheap option for heads" and the Research Focus which underlies this article (TES, April 28). I would endorse that "a significant number of heads are pressing the authority to allow them to employ classroom assistants instead of teachers".

I am one of those classroom assistants being used as a teacher. I actually taught for 13 years before giving up full-time teaching to nurture my own children. I was asked if I would help out with a mixed-age class (with a three-year age span) during literacy hour.

I work four mornings a week with 11 Reception-aged children and am paid for four hours although I actually work for eight as I have to prepare and then tidy a classroom before and after each session. I was not aware when asked what pay I would receive nor that I would find myself havin to plan each session.

I have just received a contract after two terms working without one. I cannot bring myself to sign this as the scale and my salary pro rata just seems absurd.

My scale is pound;4,865.58 to pound;6,251.16 per annum and my commencing salary is pound;778.49 which is 425 x pound;4,865.58. This means that I am on the bottom of the scale (approximately pound;5 an hour) despite having been at the school as an assistant without a contract for many years. I am disgusted and am sending this contract to the head to say that I find myself unable to sign this.

The Office for Standards in Education commented "the deployment of classroom assistants is extremely effective and makes a valuable contribution to the success of many lessons" - not surprising when several of the assistants are qualified teachers!

Name amp; address supplied

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