Published June 21, 2017 12.56pm
In December we began a full review of the role and responsibilities of Durham teaching assistants in partnership with recognised trade unions. A project team, with input from teaching assistants, headteachers, unions and council officers helped develop a new offer, which council agreed on June 21 2017 to put to staff.
This review properly examined aspects of teaching assistant roles, including whether current job descriptions adequately described the work they do.
Six months of focussed partnership work between the council, recognised trade unions, headteachers and teaching assistants has resulted in a full review of the roles and responsibilities of all teaching assistants working across the county.
Councillors voted 56 to 32 to offer revised terms and conditions for teaching assistants employed in our schools.
It is important that each teaching assistant can be fully briefed on the individual impact of the new offer and that unions have the opportunity to consult with their members before the summer break.
Information for affected staff, including the report to council on the proposals, pay scales, job descriptions, and answers to frequently asked questions, are available here.
The new offer is the result of the establishment of a project board in December 2016 consisting of the council and recognised trade unions, supported by a project team, which undertook the detailed work. A teaching assistant work stream and headteacher work stream supported the project team to undertake the review.
In summary, the paper highlighted that at the end of the compensation period and following the introduction of new job descriptions and grading structure, 78 per cent of the 2,168 teachings assistants are now forecast to receive an increase in pay.
Around 20 per cent of teaching assistants may see a reduction in pay, depending on how many hours they work and the grade they are employed at.
Approximately 1.2 per cent of teaching assistants are forecast to see a reduction of more than 10 per cent and it has been agreed by all parties that this group will be the focus of continued work in support of offering them future staff development opportunities.
The grades and pay scales are based on qualifications, duties and responsibilities. Pay is linked to grade, hours and weeks worked.
Our corporate director of resources, John Hewitt, said: "Throughout this process we have been clear that we have to address the equal pay risk in relation to hours and weeks worked by teaching assistants, but we have also listened carefully to issues raised.
"It's important to say that we could not have got to this point without significant good will and hard work by the recognised trade unions, headteachers and the teaching assistants themselves and I would like to commend this partnership working.
"Together we have done exactly what we promised to do back in December. It's been an incredibly complex task which required aligning each teaching assistant to the new roles that have been developed and the specific circumstances in each school.
"The outcome of this work is that the vast majority of teaching assistants will see an improvement in their financial position. No-one has had their pay reduced at this stage and the proposals will ensure that no teaching assistant will see any reduction during the two year compensation period if they work the hours offered.
"We also recognise that there will still be some TAs who may see a reduction once that two year compensatory period is over, and we will therefore continue to work with the unions with a real focus on this group. Together we will look at a wide range of workforce development options to see if we can provide some further opportunities for career progression.
"Our continued joint approach will be vital in achieving this."
Having been agreed the revised offer will be put formally to the recognised trade unions and teaching assistants and the 'dismiss and re-engage notices', which were suspended to enable the review to be completed, have been withdrawn.