Should Teaching Assistants Support the Teachers’ Strike?

Unison gives TAs strike advice

Unison has warned UK teaching assistants that they could be disciplined and lose pay if they refuse to turn up for work on Thursday. Up to 7,800 schools will be disrupted with as many as 1 in 3 schools completely closed in some areas.

Unison has told its members that legally they should work as usual on Thursday if the teachers’ strike goes ahead. They should just not do any work normally done by teachers. It’s not really clear if this includes covering classes that the TAs might cover normally for PPA time. Those classes are, at least in theory, supervised by teachers so it’s definitely a grey area.

Unison suggests TAs can show support by attending meetings outside their working hours.

For TAs in schools that are expected to shut fully on Thursday, it is possible that they will lose pay or be expected to put in the hours at another time. In some areas schools will only be partially closed with some staff in but no pupils. TAs will be expected to turn up to school and get on with other duties. I can see a lot of resource areas getting that much needed clean up no one ever has time to do!

People will have to check the position in their particular school. Don’t just stay home because the school is closed, check with your local union rep. There shouldn’t be any picket lines as the NUT has asked members to attend meetings instead. If you turn up and there is a teachers’ picket line I don’t envy you. Personally I couldn’t cross one and then look those people in the eye over tea break the next day. Having said that I don’t remember a huge amount of solidarity from teachers the last time TAs took strike action….

Meanwhile, on Twitter, lots of teachers are planning to spend the day catching up with paper work and planning lessons! Sheesh – you are meant to be on strike guys! Y’know, going to meetings etc, not working! Oh and by the way, that probably includes not edublogging, twittering about work to your personal learning network, finding cool new resources to play with and all those informal learning activities you don’t get paid for anyway! 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Should Teaching Assistants Support the Teachers’ Strike?

  1. Hi Linda,

    This could be interesting… 🙂 and apologies for only just seeing this e-mail.

    I’m speaking as an ex HLTA whose title is now Cover Supervisor (no difference in practice!) in my new workplace. I’ve just covered 5 lessons (full day) on ‘strike’ day. I was originally told that no staff would be expected to cover for colleagues ‘directly’ who were on strike and that in our case we would only be covering for those who were ill. It is, according to our headteacher set out in official documentation, somewhere, that this could be deemed to be cover for ”illness’ in exceptional circumstances’ !

    However, in reality I did cover ‘directly’ for those who WERE on strike. I was informed by the teacher’s classes that I am not allowed to cover their lessons, should not be doing so and that other teaching staff should not be setting cover enabling me to do so. They stated on several occasions that their teacher had told them that this was the case !

    This only exacerbated an already difficult situation. Of course there may not be any substance to the student’s claims that they were told this by their teacher, but I’m afraid the cynic in me believes otherwise !

    I’ll stick this on the forum too Linda but thanks for instigating this, top idea.

    Lu C5 xx

  2. Hi, just seen your post. The primary school I work in had 11 teachers out on strike and 7 teachers not striking, so our school was closed last Thursday. Our Head asked the non striking teachers if they were prepared to cover for the striking teachers, they all said no, that although they would be available to work they supported their colleagues and would not take their class. Our Head stated that he was advised that no-one should cover a class of a striking teacher, unless they usually took that class on a Thursday and were willing to. Myself (a HLTA)and all other support staff were required to turn up as normal and complete any work within our own class, we were told to take all breaks as normal. The dinner ladies and kitchen staff all had to come in as normal too. We managed to get lots done, but it was strange and too quiet to be in school without the children.
    Hope this helps, please ask if you need anything more.
    Kara cohort 7

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