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Durham County Council

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Update on teaching assistants review

Published February 24, 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. During this review we have agreed to suspend the previous proposals. A project team has been set up to lead the review, with input from teaching assistants, headteachers, unions and council officers. Find the latest update issued by the Project Board.

About the review

This review will properly examine aspects of teaching assistant roles, including whether current job descriptions adequately describe the work they do.

A schedule of meetings has been agreed and a number of meetings have now taken place. We are committed to progressing the review as quickly as possible, considering all of the options available, and updates will be provided as the work progresses.

Update - 25 April 2017

We have started to hold meetings with headteachers and trade unions from today, to match teaching assistants to a proposed new grading structure, as part of a wider package being worked on with TAs and their trade union representatives. Meetings are required with each school to obtain their agreement on what is proposed prior to a revised offer being made.

This follows extensive work by the council and recognised trade unions to review the roles and responsibilities of teaching assistants working in schools across the county.

John Hewitt, our director of resources, said: "The work we have been doing included reviewing job descriptions and job record documents with teaching assistant representatives to recognise fully the varied work undertaken by teaching assistants at all levels. There is clarity on the responsibilities of each role and these have now been evaluated against the new grading structure."

The upcoming phase of work will see the council meet with head teachers and recognised trade union representatives in over 240 schools across the county in order to match all 2,500 teaching assistants to the proposed new grading structure. This phase is expected to be complete by 26 May.

Mr Hewitt added: "The new grading structure forms part of the review of overall terms and conditions and will form the basis of final negotiations with recognised trade unions as we aim to reach a final agreement."  

Update - 5 April 2017

As you are aware, the Council and the recognised trade unions are undertaking a review of the roles and responsibilities of Teaching Assistants. This briefing provides an update on the significant progress made on the review and sets out the next steps.

We are committed to undertaking the review thoroughly and as quickly as is possible. Teaching Assistants and Head Teachers are directly involved through the workstream structure. These groups support the Project Board and ensure your views, and those of schools, are taken into account as the review progresses.

Everyone involved has committed extensive time and resources to this review and we are committed to achieving a significant change to the proposals that were previously considered.

Review of job descriptions and job record documents

The project team and supporting workstreams have been working on reviewing job descriptions and job record documents. These new documents have been prepared to fully recognise the work undertaken by teaching assistants at all levels and to provide clarity on the responsibilities of each role. This information is being used to determine a new grading structure once a job evaluation process has been completed for each new role.

Meetings with Head Teachers

Once the job evaluation process has been completed, we will hold meetings with Head Teachers in each school to test out, and understand, the new grading structure. These meetings are required to enable us to align every Teaching Assistant with the new roles and grades that are being finalised. It is important that we consider the roles in each school as part of this process so that we can be clear about how the new job descriptions and grades apply to you.

The meetings with Head Teachers will take place between Easter and May half term break and will be attended by a representative from UNISON and or GMB and the Human Resources Team. This is a significant but necessary undertaking to ensure each Teaching Assistant can be certain of where they fit in the new grading structure.

Other information

Discussions are also ongoing in relation to a number of other areas including the hours and weeks worked. We will continue to work on these options to ensure that the future impact of recommended changes to terms and conditions can be fully considered.

We are aware that you wish to receive details of the proposals that we have been working on throughout the review. It is however important that every Teaching Assistant understands their own particular position and we would therefore like to reassure you that we will, as soon as is possible, provide you with details of the proposals and how they affect you personally.

We would like to thank everyone for their patience during the course of this review. We are undertaking a complex exercise and all parties are committing significant resource to ensure we take account of the views of Teaching Assistants and Head Teachers. We will continue to commit to concluding the review thoroughly and as quickly as is possible.