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Durham Council say teaching assistant contracts are "unfair"

Durham County Council have released a statement in response to the teaching assistants demonstrating outside their offices against proposed changes to their contracts.

Teaching assistants are protesting today against proposed changes to their contracts. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The Council say changes to the current contracts are "both fair and equitable for its teaching assistants by bringing them into line with its other 17,000 employees."

The council is considering changing the pay structure of teaching assistants from a 52 week salary to term time only.

Cllr Jane Brown, Cabinet member for corporate services at Durham County Council, said:

“The council proposal is that teaching assistants should only be paid for the hours that they work like all other council employees, and only for the weeks that they work on a term-time basis.

“The current remuneration arrangement is that a large number of teaching assistants work 32.5 hours per week and yet they are paid as if they work 37 hours per week. In addition they are paid as if they work 52 weeks per year, rather than the school term-time only that they actually work.

The council see this as being unfair and the proposal is to amend their terms and conditions to bring their pay into line with the other 17,000 council employees who only get paid for the hours actually worked. Regrettably, this will mean a reduction in some teaching assistants’ income and in order to mitigate against this, the majority of schools have agreed in principle to increase the hours worked of teaching assistants to 37 hours. This means that they would not suffer a detriment as a result of change in weekly income.

Taking this into account, the average loss of income in respect of the teaching assistants being paid for working term-timing as opposed to being paid as if working 52 weeks per year, is less than 10% and to help individual teaching assistants to manage through the change in income, the council has proposed a three year phased pay protection arrangement for those individuals affected.

The council believes this proposed change in terms and conditions is both fair and equitable for its teaching assistants by bringing them into line with its other 17,000 employees.”

– Cllr Jane Brown, Cabinet member for corporate services at Durham County Council