England

County Durham teaching assistants offered new deal

Durham teaching assistants rally
Image caption Unison said some teaching assistants stood to lose

Teaching assistants in County Durham have been offered a new deal that it is hoped will end a series of strikes.

The 2,000 support staff were angry at Durham County Council's proposal to only pay them during term time.

Union officials said the move would see some assistants lose up to 23% of their salary.

The authority has now proposed a new grading structure and pledged to compensate those out of pocket.

Unison, which represents the bulk of the teaching assistants (TAs), said it welcomed the council's decision and would put the revised offer to its members next week.

'Huge impact'

Under the offer, assistants will get new terms and conditions and a threat to dismiss and rehire them will be withdrawn.

Those worst affected by the shift to term-time only working will also be compensated for a period of two years.

A spokesman for Unison said: "After several months of tough talking, a revised and improved offer has been proposed that will benefit the majority of teaching assistants.

"Strikes and relentless campaigning by dedicated teaching assistants, along with the support of the community have been crucial in moving the council from its original position.

"Dismissing, rehiring and cutting the pay of so many education professionals would have risked many quitting their jobs. That would have had a huge impact in the classroom."

A council spokesman said: "The outcome of this is that the vast majority of teaching assistants will see an improvement in their financial position. No-one has had their pay reduced at this stage and the proposals will ensure that no teaching assistant will see any reduction during the two-year compensation period.

"We also recognise that there will still be some TAs who may see a reduction once that two-year compensatory period is over, and we will therefore continue to work with the unions with a real focus on this group."

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