Derby City Council

Proposal for a “Fair Deal for School Support Staff”

The Teaching Assistant / School Support staff dispute is in grid-lock with Derby City Council – there is another strike this week!


If the Schools Support staff were asked to accept only the impacts of the Job Evaluation/Equal Pay exercise then there would be no dispute. I suspect many people, including many Councillors don’t realise that.

Schools Support Staff are unique amongst Council staff. Their core attendance time is dictated by the school term – that is not about the value of the job ( the issue for Equal Pay) but about the context in which they work. Other Council staff have seasonal jobs ( e,g, grounds and leisure staff), some will have night shifts, unsociable hours, and all variants of job specific terms and conditions which are dictated by the job role. These do not constitute an “Equal Pay” problem – DCC are trying to suggest the opposite and blur everything together – this is causing the confusion, and the impasse!

The 25% results from a change to the Terms and Conditions and NOT the Job Evaluation/Equal pay Review.

To re-cap on some basic background – example of a Teaching Assistant on £20,000pa:

Before this review, they were on a full-time, contract @ 32.5 hrs per week. Additional hours were worked in line with the contract, as necessary. In effect, overtime was not paid, and hours, and salary, were viewed on an annual basis.

32.5 hrs per week @ 45.5 weeks = 1478 hrs. £20,000 salary ( £13.53 / hr) – capped salary

DCC have enforced a contract change ( no formal, consenting, agreement) but with no change in task, or the actual hours needed to work.

The new contract states:

32.5 hrs per week @ 39 weeks = 1267 hrs. £15,000 salary ( £11.83 /hr) plus some paid over time. The number of hours that the job actually requires has not changed.

Many Schools Support staff were originally contracted as “Full-time” – DCC has now determined that they are “Part time” which is the lever for reducing the pay. They actually remain as “full time” as Teachers.

This has driven a 12.5% reduction in their hourly rate, which infers a lower value for the Teaching Assistant. This was not the conclusion of Job Evaluation and so could constitute an Equal Pay claim, as most are women! ( Already identified as a problem by the Equality Impact Assessment Link HERE)

TA’s, and many School Support staff, work well in excess of their contracted hours….upwards of 45/50 hrs / week. If this additional time was paid at the hourly rate this would result in a salary of ~£23,000 per year….a pay increase! Except that DCC don’t want to pay all overtime.

DCC have fallen into the trap of discriminating against Schools Support Staff….against mainly women!

Teachers don’t have the same problem ( they are governed by a national agreement), as their hours are viewed on an annual basis – much like the original TA contract.  The key factor which DCC has failed to recognise is that:

  • Schools support staff, like Teachers ( and other staff) don’t have a constant weekly working pattern – it is determined by term time.
  • Although Schools Support staff are contracted to 32.5 hrs per week, the job requires considerably more work than the strict contractual hours. The surplus is, in effect, banked, to cover the school holidays – like Teachers, and other Council staff ( with seasonal hours)
  • If they demand that Schools Support staff work to contract, then they must pay all overtime. This is likely to create a total pay bill greater than the current one.

What should DCC do?

Pay Schools Support staff as full-time workers, and on an annualised hours basis that reflects the requirements of the task that they are employed to do, over the year, and the comparable pay rate for the job, post Job Evaluation.

If it can be demonstrated that a member of staff is working 1685 hrs pa (37hrs/ week @ 45.5 weeks) but in 39 weeks term time (43 hrs per week) then there should be no reduction in pay.

If the schools don’t want to pay the existing salary then reduce the size of the job, or pay all overtime….but don’t expect them to do the same job for 25% less money

An annualised hours contract is a FAIR proposal….it is a “FAIR DEAL FOR SCHOOL SUPPORT STAFF”



As mentioned earlier, the problem is that the Council has check-mated itself, by implementing £4m pay increases (average 4%), elsewhere.( contained in the 2016/17 Budget). Reported previously here ( see FOI below)


FOI – confirming background to Budget Pressure

These are funded by

  • £3m cuts in other services  e.g. Citizen’s Advice, Moorways, Voluntary sector grants, fountains, public events etc etc (necessary to balance the budget)
  • £1m cuts in Schools Support staff pay

I’m sure that many residents of Derby ( and many Councillors) hadn’t appreciated that the loss of many vital services is NOTHING to do with central government cuts, and everything to do with paying Council staff more money following a poorly implemented Equal Pay Review / Change to Terms and Conditions, and a politically motivated, discretionary, Minimum Earnings Level pay rate (£8.30/hr) which is higher than the National Living Wage (£7.20/hr).

Will the Labour led Council support a “FAIR DEAL for SCHOOL SUPPORT STAFF”?





5 replies »

  1. Note also the anomaly between the letter sent by Paul Robinson to all staff and the information above . PRs letter suggested that delaying the implementation of JE was “at great cost to the ratepayer” Infact delaying implementation SAVED the authority money which could now be used to help resolve this dispute.

  2. I am a TA can I just point out never have I ever been on 20k a year nor now any who are. I am now on 11 thousand at a rate of £8:10 an hour. To say TAs are now on 15k gives people the impression we get more money than we do. Secondly at the very first demo I pointed out to Banwait that this was sexual discrimination to which I got no response. Equal non of this is equal

  3. I seem to remember though that £3million of that cost was unnecessary and a result of political interference to prevent the bin men from striking! I thought there was meant to be an investigation into Labour councillors dealings here? Not heard anything about that since surprise, surprise. They obviously value bin men more than TA’s!

  4. I seem to remember though that £3million of that cost was unnecessary and a result of political interference to prevent the bin men from striking! I thought there was meant to be an investigation into Labour councillors dealings here? Not heard anything about that since surprise, surprise. They obviously value bin men more than TA’s!

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