Cumbria

Cumbria classroom assistants protest over pay changes

Teaching assistants in Cumbria have held a protest over changes to their pay and conditions.

The county council said the new pay structure would be fairer but could mean some of the 3,500 teaching assistants taking a pay cut.

However, other staff would be better off under the new single-status pay scheme.

Around 100 staff took part in the demonstration outside County Hall in Kendal on Thursday.

Stephanie Smith, a senior teaching assistant at Robert Ferguson Primary School in Carlisle, said she would lose £350 a month under the new scheme.

She said: "We are not asking for thousands of pounds worth of wage rises - we just want to be left the way we are."

The council said it had a "huge amount" of respect for its teaching assistants but had to treat all staff fairly.

Term-time working

A Cumbria County Council spokesman said: "The overall aim of single status is to create a fair and transparent pay and grading structure.

"In Cumbria, teaching assistants are currently contracted to work 32.5 hours but are paid for 37 hours a week.

"In addition they currently receive 14 weeks paid holiday even though they are on a term-time only contract.

"The council employs other school staff on term-time only contracts, including caretakers, and therefore needs to ensure that all staff are treated equally.

"It is also important the council pays staff for the hours that they work and are contracted to work."

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