A week ago I complained about the way in which councillors were rail-roaded into making a decision to approve the new Teaching Assistant pay offer. One of the points I made was about the lack of time for councillors to raise questions and get answers.
Despite that, with the teaching assistant workforce already undertaking its ballot, I have been continuing to seek to uncover the truth as best I can. The table below has been provided to me by the Director of Resources in response to a query in which I tried to find out what the total pay of the teaching assistant workforce would be (excluding pay awards but including the increments to which their grades would entitle them) in each of three scenarios:
- No change: i.e. with the current position where a relatively small number of TAs are on term time only contracts, paid only for contracted hours, and most are on the “annual salaried” contracts to which they had been entitled under the former collective agreement for TAs
- Under the latest (June 2017) offer, with all TAs on regraded structures and paid on 37 hour, 40 weeks per year contracts with their salary spread evenly over 12 months and with two years “compensation” to prevent any direct fall in an individual’s income for two years
- Under the latest (June 2017) offer, with all TAs on their regraded structure and paid on the 37 hour, 40 week per year contract with their salary spread evenly over 12 months but excluding the two year compensation payments. I asked for this only to understand how the incremental structure was working
To be frank, I was surprised at how little saving (and that only in year three) there was to schools’ budgets. The total cost of the TA workforce changes very little under these proposals, though the pay of individual TAs varies dramatically.
These figures do not support the council’s suggestion that 78% are winners and only 22% are losers, or the implication that in general TAs’ pay is improving. What they do suggest is that, on average, there is no change.
This of course does nothing to allay the perfectly understandable fears and objections of those who stand to lose very significant amounts of money at the end of the two year period if promises to work with them to avoid such a loss are not, or cannot be, delivered. Nor does it remove concerns about the new pay structure which, by abandoning certain grades, has created cliff edges for some TAs with the resulting serious pay losses. Those are both questions which I will continue to pursue.
What these figures do do, however, is to refute any suggestion that within this offer the council has made significant savings in its schools’ budgets. That is a long way from the £4 million reduction in overall payroll which the council said would have been the outcome of its original proposals eighteen months ago.
Individual TAs face a very difficult choice to make over the coming days.