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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2006, 23:24 GMT 00:24 UK
School workers 'pushed too far'
Classroom assistant
Some heads may rely on classroom assistants to cover PPA time
Nursery nurses and teaching assistants in many English schools now work longer hours for the same pay and are treated "deplorably", a union is to hear.

Nursery nurse Georgina Smith will tell the Professional Association of Teachers that many support staff have had a dramatic change in conditions.

Their pay is now based on the number of hours worked and they have to work longer to equal their previous salary.

At the same time, they are also being asked to take on more responsibilities.

Delegates meeting in Oxford will be told that plans for "wrap-around care" in extended schools depend on using teaching assistants and nursery nurses.


Ms Smith says the nursery nurse used to be someone who cleaned paint pots and changed wet children's clothes.

Now they cover for teachers who are planning and preparing lessons, attend staff meetings, train students, write reports "and a million and one other jobs that go on in a school or nursery".

She says: "We have always worked longer hours than expected of us and worked at home.

"We do the shopping, we take washing home, we spend hours in preparation with cuttings strewn all over the floor ready for Christmas, Easter and any other day.

"Yet we did it and did not complain because most of us love our work. My love has been destroyed because I feel betrayed by the government, the authorities and the big unions."

Agreement 'abused'

However, one of the big unions - Unison - said it was working hard to ensure support staff were fairly paid and treated.

Its national secretary for education, Christina McAnea, said some local authorities had abused the Single Status Agreement which introduces one set of terms and conditions for all UK local government workers.

She said some had used this to require those working in schools to work longer hours for the same pay or be paid for term-time only.

She said Unison was strongly resisting this and had been given the go-ahead by the government to develop models for a national pay structure for school support staff.


Ms Smith will tell the conference that she has 24 years experience as a nursery nurse with many advanced qualifications but says: "I have now been told that my experience and qualifications do not count towards my pay and I am paid on my job profile only.

"This means that someone straight from college with less qualifications and no experience could be paid the same as myself. I feel this is wrong. It is not the job that counts but what you put into the job."

She said that highly experienced nursery nurses were facing a pay cut of 241 a month.

Those in special schools were losing their allowance and faced a pay cut of 331 a month.

She will ask the conference to support calls for a national pay and career structure that is in line with the qualifications, skills and "huge responsibility" undertaken when caring for and educating children.

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