There was outrage earlier this summer when Education Secretary Michael Gove considered culling teaching assistants (TAs) across the UK in favour of teachers taking on these extra duties. The premise behind the action was to save money and ensure only fully trained teachers take on the role of assisting special needs students. UNISON, one of the largest trade unions in the UK, started a campaign to protect TAs and work with other unions to highlight the importance of the TA role within the school.
“If the coalition makes serious moves to take teaching assistants out of classrooms, they’ll have a fight on their hands. There’s been a huge outpouring of support for the work our members do in schools from parents, teachers, head teachers and even from pupils. They know schools would crumble without the hard work and dedication of teaching assistants.” Jon Richards, UNISON head of education (full article here).
GMB, another large trade union in the UK who support TAs, have also worked to defend TAs from the planned governmental cuts. “‘GMB refutes the coalition government attack on Teaching Assistants and vows to defend them.” (GMB’s petition)
Ask anyone employed what their main concern is regarding employment and they’ll no doubt tell you ‘job security’. Job security is considered to be more important these days when making career/job decisions than ever before. Although no job is truly safe, there are ways you can minimise problems if your job comes under scrutiny or made redundant. The best way to tackle this is to consider the following points:
- Ensure your skills are solid and up to date (integrate constant learning within your role).
- Consider advancing qualifications either at work or, if not supported, in your spare time.
- Consider how your role could develop i.e. teaching assistant roles developing into an actual teaching qualification.
- Always keep an eye on the job market – how many TA roles are being appointed in schools in your borough? What qualifications are sought after and what roles are in demand?
- Build a business contacts list whom you can refer to if you need a helping hand.
- Learn about other areas within the school i.e. administration, what computer packages are being used, how are human resources tackled etc.
- Join a union who can represent you if you feel you are not being treated fairly.