Welsh councils should pay fees for teaching assistants, union says

5 December 2016

More than 750 people have signed a petition calling for professional fees of teaching assistants to be paid by Welsh councils.

The petition, which was organised by UNISON, will go before a Welsh Assembly committee later this year.

Since January everyone working with children in schools has been required to pay Education Workforce Council (EWC) fees, which certifies them as professionals and offers benefits such as training opportunities.

Local councils pay fees for teachers or lecturers at further education colleges, but they are not required to do so for teaching assistants.

This is despite teaching assistants receiving less pay than teachers and being more vulnerable to cuts to education budgets, according to UNISON.

Unison says the £15 annual fee mounts up over the span of a career and discourages teaching assistants from paying.

Twelve Welsh councils including Cardiff paid the fee on behalf of teaching assistants this year, but UNISON says funding should be made available for all councils in Wales to pay the fees.

Emma Garson (pictured), from UNISON, said: “We feel that because we are so low-wage, it’s unfair to expect us to meet the costs of the fees out of our own pockets.

“Fees should be paid by councils for all staff who work in schools because it’s a compulsory fee and not voluntary.”

The petition has received 752 signatures and will be considered by the Welsh Assembly’s Petitions Committee at their final meeting of 2016 next week.

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