NIPSA, the largest union from the non-teaching workforce in Education, releases the results of their survey into Classroom Assistants providing cover for absent teachers.
Alan Law, Assistant Secretary (Acting), commenting on the survey added:
Classroom Assistants have a vital role to play in the education of pupils but they should not be used to fill gaps created by the absence of teaching staff. This misuse of non-teaching staff has to end. It is disingenuous to pretend that normal teaching is taking place and is creating an environment where some schools are nothing more than a free childminding service.
The NIPSA survey has revealed that 68% of respondents have been asked to cover a class in the absence of a teacher, with 140 of our Classroom assistants indicating this can be for periods up to 4 hours, 86 indicating this has been for up to one day and 106 confirming they have done for 2 or more days at a time.
The most alarming aspect of our survey was the revelation that 63% of Classroom Assistants responding told NIPSA that they felt under pressure to cover classes when teachers are absent.
I am horrified that the goodwill of Classroom Assistants is being abused in this way. It has to stop and we will be working with colleagues in Unison, GMB and UNITE alongside the teaching unions to ensure that this practice is brought to an immediate end.