Teaching assistants could lose their jobs under Gove review

In the Times, the coverage of Michael Gove’s letter to the STRB focusses on the possibility of teaching assistant jobs being threatened by any change in teachers’ working practices…

Michael Gove has risked another confrontation with teachers by calling for a major overhaul of working practices.

The Education Secretary has asked a review body to lift a series of restrictions on menial and administrative tasks that teachers can be ordered to perform. Collecting dinner money, photocopying, ordering paper and books and keeping records on pupil absence and other data could all be added to teachers’ tasks under the move.

The most sensitive is a requirement to take lessons on behalf of another teacher who is ill or absent, which currently must happen only “rarely” – forcing heads to hire supply teachers.

The demand by Mr Gove for a review effectively rips up a watershed agreement reached between Labour and public sector unions in 2003, which sought to limit teachers’ workloads. This guaranteed teachers free time for at least 10 per cent of their weekly school timetables for marking, lesson planning and other tasks.

The number of teaching assistants in schools in England rose from 79,000 in 2000 to 220,000 two years ago. This was largely due to the deal in 2003, although some learning assistants help children with special needs. Evidence of their effectiveness is mixed. Most primary classes, and many in secondary schools, now have a teacher plus at least one learning assistant. Many may face redundancy as schools seek to save money.

Teaching assistants are paid much less than teachers: their average pay is equivalent to a full-time salary of £17,000. Their total cost, however, has been estimated at £2 billion a year.

Mr Gove’s call for change, in a letter to the School Teachers’ Review Body yesterday, will provoke fury from many teachers, large numbers of whom already complain of excessive workloads.

More at:  Teaching assistants could lose their jobs under Gove review (subscription required) 

See also from today on this news:

Michael Gove’s letter to the STRB

Ban on teachers’ ‘forbidden tasks’ like putting up displays ‘could be lifted’

Teaching assistants could lose their jobs under Gove review

Teachers to lose ‘absurd’ right to refuse to do basic work like photocopying and stapling

Teachers may have to do more clerical work after review

Ban on teachers' 'forbidden tasks' like putting up displays 'could be lifted'
Teachers may have to do more clerical work after review
Categories: Employment, Policy, and Teaching.


  1. From Twitter: http://hootsuite.com/dashboard#http://twitter.com/kimbiddulph/status/325140299636699136
    . @http://hootsuite.com/dashboard# maybe we could start a hashtag http://hootsuite.com/dashboard#
    Why not add praise for your TA in the comments here…

  2. icsparkles

    It is interesting that Mr Gove believes that teaching assistants are a group of unqualified mums.  I have worked in schools for thirteen years, first as a teaching assistant and now a higher level teaching assistant.  I have a first class BA Hons degree in Education and Training!   I would also love to earn 17,000 a year!  Where does this man and the Times newspaper get their information?

  3. inwte

    SchoolsImprove Just shows #gove is a hypocrite over claims off giving all children world class education. Cut price more like!

  4. Penfold_5

    SchoolsImprove average full time pay is £17,000 but most of these jobs are not full time: term time only contracts, 25 or 35 hours a week.

  5. domeamelon

    olderninja Is Gove’s pay performance related, directly linked to the frequency with which he can piss off teachers?

  6. psalm25_5

    SchoolsImprove We need TAs! What the hell is Gove playing at! Academies are culling them! It’s getting beyond the joke!

  7. Martine

    I may be biased as I spent many years working in primary schools as a Nursey Nurse/Learning support assistant and although I have not worked in a British school for several years, I was very proud of our education system at primary level and how each child is valued and learns to their individual ability, It seems to mr that this would be a near impossible task without teaching assistants and the valuable SENCO team to support the teachers. In my opinion, everyone works as a team providing a good liaison between home and school, to ensure each child reaches their full potential; As I have had no experience of working in a secondary school, I cannot comment on the impact of teaching assistants there but I would have thought that the foundation provided in the early years of a childs education has a huge effect on their future learning and confidence in themselves

  8. Dave

    Most TAs have a relevant educational qualification, if not a university degree. Yet again this government are dealing in double talk to achieve people moving techniques which give the Third Reich a run for their money.

  9. JacquiWilliams

    Well can’t believe it! How insane to deem our roles and call us ‘mum’s army.’ Many Teaching Assistants have relevant degrees to support S.E.N students. We have male staff not just females and many are qualified teachers, who have no choice other than to take a TA role because they can’t get a job in their field as the so call educational minister won’t put enough money into the education sector and school. If this was the case… Then the Heads could offer teaching positions and then they could apply for the jobs they have been trained to do. Cover supervisors and TA’s are as valuable as Teachers in a classroom, where SEN students need support. Michael Gove, your welcome to come and try it out as a TA at our school. Then tell us we are just a ‘mum’s army’ !!!

  10. acet2001

    SchoolsImprove one poster summed it up in one, Gove actually wants a cut-price education service not a world-class one.

  11. ethinking

    cherrylkd I don’t see any reference to TA numbers reduction in gives letter. Just a request to remove the prescribed tasks from TP&C

    • cherrylkd

      ethinking the daily mail did a better article. Sent link. If funds are slashed we will be forced to lose TAs. That’s my worry

    • @ethinking cherrylkd @Thatch_Teach @oliverquinlan @ianaddison @DJTom3
      It is not clear how serious the idea of scrapping TAs is but there have been suggestions reported in the Sunday Times on 2nd June that the Treasury – not necessarily Gove or the DfE – is pushing this as a way to reduce spending in schools. 
      This is a link to the Times article (£): http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Education/article1268217.ece
      This is how the article opens:
      The Treasury is targeting the country’s 232,000 teaching assistants in an attempt to save some of the £4bn a year spent on them.
      It has been holding talks with the Department for Education (DfE) about phasing out the assistants as part of negotiations over cuts to departmental budgets.
      The talks follow analysis by senior Treasury officials of research showing the so-called “mums’ army” of classroom helpers can have a negative impact on pupils’ results.
      Here’s a link to our version story which is based on the subsequent Daily Mail report and covers much of the same ground as the Sunday Times (but seems to imply it is more of a collaboration between the Treasury and the DfE rather than the Treasury leading the way):

  12. ethinking

    SchoolsImprove cherrylkd Thatch_Teach oliverquinlan DJTom3 so I trust the times a tiny bit more than the mail. Any actual evidence?

  13. ethinking

    SchoolsImprove cherrylkd Thatch_Teach oliverquinlan ianaddison DJTom3 or just a conspiracy theory in a newspaper?

  14. nowandforever

    I’m a TA and certainly don’t get £17,000 pro rata. I actually took home £6,400 last year! So pro rata thats probably only £13,000. Where is Gove getting his information from? We get paid peanuts and i’m level 5 qualified!!!

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