Teaching Assistants update – 22 March 2017.

As Council will be aware, we have been working, in partnership with the recognised trade unions, to undertake a joint review of the roles, responsibilities and job descriptions of teaching assistants.

Council will also be aware that to make sure this joint review could be undertaken and completed within the timescales we all set out at the beginning of this process – we suspended the previous proposals.

The joint review commenced in December, with a project structure being established that includes Teaching Assistants and Headteachers. A Project Board, consisting of the council and recognised trade unions will complete the review as quickly as possible whilst ensuring we consider all of the views of the project team and the individual work streams.

As part of the review, we have been considering job records for teaching assistant roles and the grades that are in place across the teaching assistant workforce. We are also examining the weeks and hours worked by teaching assistants as part of this process. Quite rightly – given the importance of this work – this is a thorough, detailed and robust process which continues to be a significant commitment by all involved.

As a result of these regular meetings, a great deal of hard work and good will amongst the partnership involved, I can today announce that we are now extremely close to confirming new grading proposals which will mark a sea change from where we were previously. Quite rightly the details of the new proposals will need to be communicated to schools and individual teaching assistants as quickly as possible. There will be a full and thorough consultation process and the project board anticipates this next phase will commence in the coming weeks.

It is important to note that there has been real pace to this work and the commitment by all parties involved continues. The original timeline – for completion for the full review process in time for the start of the new academic year remains on or even ahead of schedule.

Looking ahead we will need to work closely with each school to ensure their individual teaching assistant roles are correctly matched to proposed new job descriptions. This will allow us to confirm the position for every individual teaching assistant when we consult on the new proposals.

Arrangements are being made to visit individual schools and the Project Board anticipates this part of the process will commence in the next few weeks.

It is only thanks to very significant hard work and good will that we have managed to make such significant progress and I would like to thank our officers, the trade unions, Teaching Assistants’ work stream and Headteachers work stream for all of their support and hard work in getting us to this stage.

It is very positive that such notable progress has been made and I believe that the revised proposal that will be offered to Teaching Assistants via their Trade Unions, once the school consultation has been concluded, will demonstrate the commitment made by this council to resolve this matter.

We are now moving towards a conclusion to the review and I very much look forward to a positive outcome.


Teaching Assistants update – 6 March 2017.

One of the issues facing Durham County Council currently is the teaching assistant review.

The council, in partnership with the recognised trade unions, is undertaking a review of teaching assistant roles, functions, job descriptions and activities to establish whether current job descriptions adequately describe and value the requirements of the role. The review was launched at the end of 2016.

The council agreed to suspend previous proposals, pending the outcome of the review.

Considerable progress has already been made, with a number of workstreams meeting regularly over the last couple of months. At least one meeting is taking place per week.

While a project team, consisting of council officers and trade union representatives, has been established to lead the review, it is being ably supported by a teaching assistant workstream and a head teacher workstream.

The teaching assistant workstream is made up of 15 TAs, who work across a range of school settings. This group is considering the range of duties and responsibilities across the variety of TA roles, to ensure this is considered throughout the review.

The head teacher workstream has been established to support the project team and ensure the views of head teachers are incorporated as the review progresses.

We, as a council, are completely focused on and committed to completing this review as quickly and efficiently as possible. All of the options available will be considered closely and carefully.

The project team is also looking into examples of flexible working arrangements currently in place across our schools. This work will allow us to consider how flexibility is currently managed and to consider options for managing this in the future.

Whilst the review is being undertaken, a stay on individual regradings will apply and will continue until the review of roles is complete.

We want to be as transparent as possible throughout the review, and will share information as the review progresses. The project team is working hard to identify options that can be considered and the moment we are in a position to share more information we will do so.

While this joint review is being undertaken primarily between the Council and trade unions, be assured that all teaching assistants will individually consulted on the eventual outcome.

We have said throughout this process, that the status quo is not an option. However, we feel an amicable and mutually agreeable solution can still be agreed with our TAs, and this review is the first step to achieving that.

We are fully supportive of the review process and we are very hopeful that it will deliver a positive outcome.

Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council