Cost of living: 'I had no choice' - Teaching assistant quits job due to low wages as inflation soars

Video report by ITV Wales Cost of Living Producer Ryan Bounagui

The cost of living crisis has left many families feeling the pinch, with rising food and fuel prices pushing inflation to its highest level in 40 years.

For Jessica Sim, low wages and the inability to make ends meet has forced her out of her profession.

The Bridgend teaching assistant’s career will come to an end on Thursday (July 21) when the school bell rings.

It's a job that has meant a lot to her.

After losing her daughter when she was just twelve days old, Jessica knew she wanted to work with children.

Jessica was inspired to work with children following the death of her own daughter who was just days old. Credit: Jessica Sim

But as her finances continue to be squeezed - despite taking on several other jobs - she feels she has no other option but to leave the profession.

'I just can’t sustain a living on a teaching assistant wage'

Jessica told ITV Wales News: “I’ve been there (her current school) for eight years, and previously somewhere for three years.

“It was a very difficult decision to make, but I have to do what’s right for me. I just can’t sustain a living on a teaching assistant wage.

“There have been times where I’ve looked at my pay slip and thought ‘how am I going to get through this month?’”

With school holidays not accounted for, many teaching assistants can be on annual salaries of around £13,000 a year.

It's leading to many in the profession beginning to look elsewhere for work.

Teaching union UNISON Cymru says that almost half of its members are actively looking for better paid work due to the rising cost of living.

For Jessica, it's not just her wages that are being stretched. She feels demands on teaching assistants are also greater than ever before.

“The responsibilities of a teaching assistant are just getting more and more,” Jessica continued.

“The pay isn’t in line with what a nurse’s role or a teacher’s role is. It’s just a lot lower.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, inflation rose to 9.4% in June, up from 9.1% in May.

It’s the highest it's been since February 1982.

On Thursday (July 21), the Welsh Government announced a 5% pay increase for teachers in Wales.

Teaching union NASUWT described the offer as "another real-terms pay cut for teachers."

"It is scandalous that many experienced teachers and school leaders are already leaving the profession and today’s announcement will do little to stop that", said Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of NASUWT.