From 2013 onwards, GMB Birmingham and West Midlands Region ran a campaign around School Support Staff. The campaign was in response to reports in the press that the Treasury and the Department of Education had been in talks about 'phasing out' the role of Teaching Assistants.
Michael Gove has now been replaced by Nicky Morgan. In an interview in the Observer, Nicky stated that although Gove's combative style alienated teachers, she fully supports his key policies.
Unsurprisingly, there is now another attack against Teaching Assistants. The Department for Education has issued a new code of practise on Special Educational Needs (SEN) The code sets out the responsibilities for schools in supporting children with Special Educational Needs' (Statements). These were legal documents that set out the nature of the SEN and the additional support that should be provided by the school. These statements could be specific in allocating a number of hours support by a Teaching Assistant or more general in areas of support. Either way, the majority of schools have utilised Teaching Assistants to provide most of the additional support.
The new code introduces Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP). Over a 3 year period, these will replace statements. EHCPs have the same legal standing and actually cover a wider area that Statements (such as health and social care), but the criteria for Education means that the numbers of children having EHCPs will be far less than is Statements remained in place.
In addition, the new code of practise pushes schools to move away from one-to-one Teaching Assistant's support. Instead, schools are supposed to rely on "high quality teaching" and that "special education provision is compressed by anything less" In reality, this just means that teachers are expected to cope on their own without any additional support.
These changes will put significant pressure on schools to reduce the number of Teaching Assistants. We are already seeing a number of redundancies arising as a result of this.
As a Trade Union representing School Support Staff, GMB has to respond to this latest attach. This is why we are re-launching our TA campaign.
This is being branded as: EDUCATION NEEDS TEACHING ASSISTANTS
The first step in the campaign is the Teaching Assistants Pledge, which can been found below.
The region has put together a Campaign pack, which includes the information below. If you wish to receive a hard copy or want to know more then please contact the regional office on 0121 550 4888.