After delaying the original draconian Derby City Council decision, by 6 months, to cut the pay of Teaching Support staff by 25%, the day of change has finally arrived. Those who have been responsible for implementing this pay review process have been 100% successful in de-motivating a critical population of the schools staff. For many, the process has not been finished – appeals outstanding, and questions unanswered. But despite the incompetence of the Pay Review team, over 1000 people will have terms and conditions imposed upon them, or…. leave their job.
Recently the Council has stopped communicating with the Unions, the staff and the media, hoping that burying their combined heads in the sand will make the problem go away.
As a reminder – the purpose of this whole process was to ensure Equality of pay, especially between genders. An important cross-check that is conducted on all Council decisions, and which serves to ensure that no specific sub-population has been unduly affected is the Equality Impact Analysis (EIA). It would be normal practice that this would have been completed as part of the decision making process to approve a decision, not as something that is done months afterwards to, hopefully, support and justify it.
The EIA on “Changes to terms and conditions (Harmonisation of working hours and working weeks) – Schools support staff” was published in April 2016 (Classified – Official-Sensitive) by Derby City Council
Some interesting facts and comments taken directly from the report.
The population under review was 2651 schools support staff (92% women)
Of the 2651, 1295, (49%) were Teaching Support ( 7% Men : 93% Women)
Of the Teaching Support Staff – 93% ( 1204 people) were subject to a pay cut of approx 20%. Those most affected had a salary of approx £20,000.
Of the non-Teaching Support staff – 6% (66 people) were subject to a pay cut of approx 20%
An earlier article detailed more of the background to the rationale behind the pay cut – this was down to, primarily, a change in the working hours, and working weeks which, naturally affects school based staff (NB Teachers were excluded from this whole process)
The conclusions of the report stated:
Working weeks – A greater proportion of females are affected by the harmonisation of working weeks. An overall variance of 22.83% is experienced. This is deemed to represent a significant variance, warranting further analysis
Working hours and working weeks – The variance between males and females in terms of harmonisation of working hours and working weeks is 5.39%. This is outside of the accepted 5% EHRC tolerance
Overall decrease in pay – There is a significant disproportion of females that experience an overall decrease in pay
Recommendations – Further analysis should be conducted to better understand what if any adverse impact is experienced by females by grade and role/role type. Particular emphasis should be given to grade E ( ~£20k salary) within the Teaching Support role type.
When I discussed this with a person who was central to the similar Equal Pay Review in Derbyshire County Council, their response was simple and clear – “Ridiculous – the Council cannot proceed without taking action to mitigate this unequal impact”
Whilst for many their new Job Grade does not bear close scrutiny, the changes in the Terms and Conditions impacts most on their overall Pay.
An Equal pay review that creates more inequality cannot be safe as a policy and has to be challenged, legally.
The consequences to the lifestyles of the Teaching Assistants, and their families, is easy for us to understand. Very few people can accommodate a 25% pay cut without it affecting some fundamental aspects of their household budget. One aspect that is rarely spoken about in the established media is the impact on the children that they support, and look after. A significant number of the TA’s work with children with Special Educational Needs (SEN)- many of these have very serious conditions that require specialised attention. Derby City Council is already failing badly in providing the statutory level of SEN support – these actions will only make it worse, and an undefined number of children who need support to access education will suffer and lose out. This is not the time to blame faceless people in Westminster as this is totally unrelated to central budget cuts – this is ring-fenced funding.
Banwait and his fellow Cabinet Councillors are ignoring the facts, ignoring the consequences, and once again shrugging off their accountability for resolving this mess. Are they going to be wasting more Council taxpayers money when this is taken to court?