Most teaching assistants work extra hours with no added pay

Photo: David Davies/PA Wire
Photo: David Davies/PA Wire
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SCHOOL support staff are feeling the knock-on effects of teachers’ heavy workloads, a union has warned.

The majority of support staff, such as teaching assistants and cover supervisors, work more than their contracted hours, with many receiving no extra pay for doing so, according to a poll by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

It also found that some of those surveyed say they are expected to teach whole classes, even though they are paid at a lower rate.

Just under half (45.7 per cent) say they regularly work between one and three hours over their contracted hours, while one in five, 20.7 per cent, work an extra four to six hours.

Some 7.5 per cent say they work an additional seven to 10 hours and 3.3 per cent work 11 hours or more over what they are contracted to do.

One higher-level teaching assistant, who took part in the survey, said: “I gave up teaching but because I’m qualified I’m under pressure to do a teacher’s job on support staff pay.”

The findings come amid growing concerns about teachers’ workload.

Last autumn, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg launched a “workload challenge” to look into the issue.

Tens of thousands of teachers responded to the survey which asked for examples of unnecessary red tape.

ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: “This survey clearly shows that support staff are in need of their own Workload Challenge investigation. It is vital they are not overlooked in discussions surrounding the curbing of excessive working hours among education staff.

“It is totally unfair to expect support staff to teach classes without the appropriate training or remuneration - it sells both them and their pupils short.

“Clearly support staff are feeling the knock-on effects of teachers’ excessive workloads. The Government must recognise they should not be the ones picking up the slack.”

The survey of 1,668 ATL members, found that 75.4 per cent of the support staff polled say they work extra hours because their workload demands it, while 8.7 per cent say they do so because they school demands that they do.

Around 27.9 per cent say they work extra hours because they want to take on additional work.

Over a fifth (22.8 per cent) said they do not work extra hours.

Seven in 10 (70.2 per cent) said that they do not get paid for the additional time they put in, while 17.2 per cent said they do get paid and 17.2 per cent said they sometimes do.

Another cover supervisor described their job as a “cheap alternative to teachers to cover long-term illness or maternity leave.”

Julie Davies, secretary of the East Riding division of the National Union of Teachers, said: “Everybody in the classroom is working ridiculous hours and being given ludicrous levels of responsibility and very large numbers are leaving as a result of it. Teaching assistants are being given a raw deal. The pressure of the teachers standards framework is such that some teachers are even prepared to go down the pay scale or become teaching assistants. There are going to be teaching shortages soon.”

A Department for Education spokesman said they would be publishing an action plan soon, following the workload challenge. He added: “We will ensure that all unions, including those representing support staff, are engaged with this process.”