Thursday, 24 April 2014

U is for United, Unique, Units and Underpaid

In my school, the children are united in their wish for everyone to be a part of their school – as I have already written about in earlier blogs I am immensely proud of their understanding of everyone being unique. We celebrate our differences and we find it difficult to understand when or where this was or isn’t always the case.  However, I know this is not true of all the teachers in the school – some do believe that certain children should not attend mainstream and even though I also wish that some would be given the chance to attend a special school that would fulfil the teaching and learning they require – this is really a tiny minority (less than 1%).  For a lot of our children with special needs having their peers around them fulfils them in the way that is most important to children – they have fun, have social interaction and they play well together – let’s forget learning for a moment.  These interactions are not always available in certain classes in special schools so it is a case of weighing up again what is right for that particular child and not how some would do – lump them together and send them elsewhere.

Some mainstream schools have “units” attached to them – these are often called “additional resource bases” now.  In theory, certain children will be educated here in small classes for certain lessons based on their particular special needs (e.g. autism unit) and will re-join their mainstream peers for other lessons during the day.  I obviously do this to some extent with having small groups withdrawn for maths and literacy during those lesson times or for supplemental lessons during afternoon classes but there is a much wider group of children going out (and this included Gifted and Talented) so there is not the same stigma attached that could happen if it is only a particular group that is educated in the “unit”.  I would imagine that once again each school is different in how it uses its “Unit” and the quality of teaching that goes on – I have visited a few in my time and some were wonderful and some not so (more like a detention centre!)

Lastly, I get on to the subject of underpaid.  I am not going to bang the gong for teachers but I do want to stand up for those many countless hundreds of thousands of Teaching Assistants around the world who are doing an incredible job helping to support children and teachers.  Those many that have got qualifications (including degrees) that far outweigh some teachers and for the most part are being paid on some of the lowest levels because that is what the job was advertised at (countless years ago) but doing way more than the job now entails and all because of their love of helping children succeed.  I too was once one of these being paid as a Level 2 (the levels begin at 1) despite being qualified as a teacher and working towards my MA whilst planning and teaching daily literacy for a group of twelve children with a range of special needs and EAL as well as co-ordinating art and being a TA for three teachers.  No these TAs do not want to become teachers (many have other commitments in their lives especially raising their own families) but they should be paid a wage commensurate with what they actually do.  All I get told is that if they want to be on a level 3 then they need to be in front of a classroom of kids holding the fort when the teacher is away – this is not where their skills lie and is demanding in a totally different way as well as needing completely different skill set. 

I’d love to know what you think – particularly those who are working as teaching assistants – are you afraid you will lose the job that you love doing if you push for a higher level or are you always being promised an increase but it just never seems to come around?

TpT for the day is U is for UFO Irregular Verbs game:

I have to thank the A to Z Challenge for giving me the extra push to make my products available on the TpT site – April has been my most prolific month since I started – mainly because I have had to create or upload for certain letters of the alphabet – like today!!


  1. A fascinating post - I am especially interested because I know both a TA and a SENCO (two different people). Visiting from GenWestUK

  2. Thank you for stopping by Ros. I think the Challenge has helped lots of us make links across all walks of life and careers and it's great to hear what others think on different subjects.