Pupils with SEN – Teaching Assistants, pay scales, terms and salary

by | Jan 8, 2023

Teaching Assistants – Why the pay scales, terms and salary aren’t right!

“We are in a dire position. Increasing number of EHCPs dictating 1:1 for significant hours and vast time out of lesson for intervention, LA response is ‘write a costed plan’…this does not solve the problem…we CANNOT recruit. We have had adverts out for over a year and no applicants at all. We are in a difficult location especially for the low pay offered. It is frankly offensive that TA/LSA is considered an ‘unskilled job’ and paid as such.”

Recently, with your help, we gathered information from 922 schools across England which highlighted the significant challenges that schools face in providing adequate support for students with special needs. Many schools are struggling to meet the needs of these students due to a lack of support staff and are at risk of collapsing under the pressure. This is a serious concern, given that approximately 1.5 million students in England are identified as requiring SEND support.  This situation has been exacerbated by the fact that many schools have lost valuable support employees to industries such as supermarkets and other businesses, where they may be able to earn higher salaries and experience less stress.

“Why would they take on a challenge? …Costa offering £11.75 per hour…leaving in droves…”

When Teaching Assistants can earn £11.75 an hour working in a coffee house why would they stay?

OFSTED know?

This issue has been further highlighted by Ofsted’s annual report, which states that students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are among the worst affected by the current crisis in the school workforce. The report notes that schools are struggling to meet the increasing demand for support, and that budget constraints are making it difficult to attract and retain the necessary staff.

“We no longer have any general TAs as they are all linked to EHCPs. If we had no children with EHCPs we would not be able to employ any TAs. The TAs do as much as they can to support other children but it is tough. They are not paid enough for the amazing and varied jobs they do including intimate care, and medical needs. Some TAs are highly skilled working with the most vulnerable children. We lose brilliant staff because they cannot afford to stay when they can get jobs in local supermarkets with paid overtime .”

The discrepancy between what is promised and what is actually provided for children whose families have secured an education health and care plan is a significant concern, and we are often on the receiving end of their frustration.

“It’s almost impossible to recruit high quality TAs on the wage schools are able to pay them. We interviewed today and were able to recruit but honestly it’s a case of bodies in the building. The head and l were talking about 4-5 years ago where we used to have 20-30 applicants per post and we probably let some really good quality staff slip through the net because we had choices. It’s not like that any more…most staff would rather work at Asda or Aldi where it’s stress free and they’re not being bitten or hit or chasing children round a school building. It’s sad because good TAs are worth their weight in gold.”

Teaching Assistants Impact?

The impact of this situation on students with special needs is significant. Children with autism, for example, may feel as though they are failing without anyone there to help them, which can have a negative effect on their self-esteem and academic performance. In addition, the lack of support can affect the rest of the class, as students with special needs may require extra attention and accommodations that can distract from the overall learning environment (and this is written in the nicest possible sense – the needs of 1 cannot overtake the needs of the other 29, yet without sufficient staffing that is often what is happening).

“The range of complex needs of our children means that we are relying on our TAs to do on the job training and mentoring to be able to support children who have such challenging behaviour due to their needs. Many of our TAs are already burnt out and are becoming unable to continue in role due to the effects of said behaviours. Truly, our TAs show amazing resilience and perseverance but they are paid pittance for such demanding and specialised roles. They deserve so much better.”

It is clear that urgent action is needed to address these issues and ensure that all students with special needs receive the support and resources they need to succeed. This may involve increasing funding for schools to enable them to hire and retain the necessary staff, as well as implementing strategies to support the ongoing professional development of teachers and support staff. Only by addressing these challenges can we hope to create a more inclusive and equitable education system for all students.

“I have been advertising for TAs for over 12 months ! We have not had an application for the last 3 rounds of advertising and applicants beforehand were unsuitable. We recruited 2 TAs but we shouldn’t have done – it’s a case of someone is better than no-one!! It makes for very uncomfortable conversations with LA and parents “

The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that school budgets are already under “great strain,” and the additional £2.3 billion over two years announced by Jeremy Hunt will not be enough to cover the necessary salary increases for teachers and support staff. This highlights the urgent need for measures to address the teacher and TA shortage and ensure that all students, including those with SEND, receive the support and resources they need to succeed.

Even if they apply, they don’t have the skill set needed to support the child. We can provide training but that takes time we often can’t afford.

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