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Date: Thurs 3 January 2008

UNISON urges councils - Re-evaluate classroom assistant jobs

Thousands of classroom assistants across Scotland are doing work at a higher level than is being recognised by their pay, and their jobs should all be properly evaluated, said their union, UNISON today (Thurs 3 January).

Classroom assistants(CAs) are employed to do a variety of jobs in schools, including a range of jobs that are directly involved in supporting and delivering education. However they are mostly paid on the bottom payscale for local government staff, often further cut as they are employed on term-time only contracts. And the Job Evaluation (JE) process currently being undertaken by many councils is failing to identify the true value of the work they do.

Peter Hunter UNISON's Scottish Legal Officer said "It is clear that often JE scores are not reflecting the level of responsibility in the jobs undertaken by CAs. The higher levels of responsibility has already been highlighted by the EOC in their last report - Valuable assets, and it is also being shown up when CAs are going for a specific re-evaluation in council's single status processes.

"These increasing levels of responsibility are becoming apparent because classroom assistants are carrying out key educational work like - individual educational work with children; work with pupils at risk of exclusion; early support for literacy and numeracy; work to tackle violent and disruptive behaviour; work with children with special needs and many other educational tasks.

"However JE scores do not - for the most part - represent this diversity and complexity of work, and Classroom assistants often feel undervalued by the result of the JE process. In cases where UNISON has successfully campaigned for a re-evaluation of CAs, the new evaluation has delivered substantial increases in both the points scored and the pay and grading of CAs."

Jackie Gilchrist (Member of UNISON's Educational Issues Group and herself a CA) said "The undervaluing of CAs role is perhaps symptomatic of a general lack of recognition of the key role in education that non-teaching staffs perform. There may be a number of different specific reasons for the JE results, and, we are now calling for local government employers who have not done so to review these scores.

"While the revalued scores still do not fairly reflect the CAs' worth and we will continue equal pay claims on their behalf, these scores do indicate a great injustice taking place across Scotland."


For Further Information Please Contact: Peter Hunter (Legal Officer) 07903 814 118 (m) Jackie Gilchrist (Education Issues Group) 07986 992 276 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 07715 583 729(m)