Sarah Todd: Classroom support workers ‘underpaid and undervalued’

Image copyright Rex Features Image caption Sarah Todd is a speech and language therapist I am a speech and language therapist and a teaching assistant. We work in schools in Manchester and Birmingham to…

Sarah Todd: Classroom support workers 'underpaid and undervalued'

Image copyright Rex Features Image caption Sarah Todd is a speech and language therapist

I am a speech and language therapist and a teaching assistant.

We work in schools in Manchester and Birmingham to help children with autism and dyslexia.

Often the parents don’t talk about financial concerns, they just talk about “my child needs speech therapy”. We then find out that their salary is not enough to pay for it.

Most teachers feel the same, that all we do is work and when they’re really ill they get support. But when they’re not ill it feels like a scam.

I work with children with severe special educational needs and disabilities and sadly I have seen the effects of that on teachers.

It is a myth that teaching assistants are all on low salaries, we make enough to pay for housing, bills and food. Teachers have to save to ensure that they can get paid when they go on holiday. It is absolutely heartbreaking to see teachers’ poor financial situation.

Working as a teacher and a speech and language therapist is stressful and there’s very little help provided to support you.

I currently have a standing contract which means there’s a limit on how much I can receive because my salary is low. I need to do extra training to keep my job and to stay in education and I don’t have any support in terms of sick pay, paid holiday or statutory leave.

For teachers and school support workers this is another factor that is standing in the way of any improvement in their life.

I think it is vital that the government sets up a fund to be accessible to all teaching assistants.

Teachers should know what they are missing out on by not having up-to-date training in the same way that other workers do.

The government needs to rethink its recruitment and retention strategies.

As teachers and support workers we are rarely promoted, we get terrible relationships with our organisations and so we are underpaid and, because of that, don’t take up any new roles in the education system.

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