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Date 8 Sep 2006

Classroom Assistants research points to unfair pay - UNISON

UNISON - the union that represents school support staff - today said that an Equal Opportunities Commission formal investigation into the role and status of Classroom Assistants in Scottish primary schools - called Valuable Assets - was showing that they were working at high levels of responsibility - including planning and organising learning activities.

However they are paid at the bottom end of local government pay and are mostly part-time. This meant that their pay was at the lowest of local government pay scales and indeed is little more than the statutory minimum wage.

Carol Judge, UNISON's Scottish Organiser (Local Government) said "UNISON is pleased to be working with the EOC to carry forward this important research. We are aware that Classroom Assistants do a wide range of jobs, jobs that can contribute significantly to the learning and teaching of children. We have said for some time that they are undervalued for what they do and will be looking forward to the forthcoming investigation into the higher level roles and the impact of the part-time gender pay gap.

The research has found that Classroom Assistants are 99% women, who mostly work (and are paid for) term time only. They typically are aged 31-50. However their salary is paid over the whole year resulting in an hourly rate of between £5.05 and £8.93. The current minimum wage is £5.05 per hour for workers 22 and over.

The findings of phase one of the report after seven months investigation, including a job evaluation exercise, and surveys of classroom assistants, teachers and headteachers, identified three levels of classroom assistant jobs within the primary sector.

The results will be reported to a meeting of UNISON's Local Government Group today - Friday 8 September.

The EOC is continuing the investigation to look at the roles of classroom assistants in Secondary Schools, investigate in more detail the specific tasks of Classroom Assistants at the top end of the responsibilities, and to consider the links to the part-time gender pay gap.

Carol Judge said "Whilst the analysis of the jobs and demographics that have come from the EOC highlights what Valuable Assets Classroom Assistants are, in many ways the second phase, and the final recommendations for action could be the most significant for the staff.


Note for Editors:- Valuable Assets - Phase one findings, summary report is available from the EOC website. http://www.eoc.org.uk/PDF/DoE_research_report.pdf. The final report is due in April 2007.

For Further Information Please Contact: Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)