Pay body for TAs scrapped

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Michael Gove, the education secretary, has abolished the School Support Staff Negotiating Body, which sets the pay for tens of thousands of school caretakers, pastoral carers and teaching assistants.

Their pay and conditions will now be determined by their school, if they are an academy, and by their local authority, if they are a community school.

Mr Gove said he was scrapping the organisation because it "did not fit well with the government's priorities for greater deregulation."

The organisation was a working group trying to establish a national pay structure and working conditions for teaching assistants, "dinner ladies", school caretakers, pastoral assistants, business managers and other school support staff in England. There is currently no pay framework such as the one for teachers.

Mr Gove said: Gove said: "The government has conducted a review of the future policy direction for determining school support staff pay and conditions, including the role of the SSSNB, and has concluded that the SSSNB does not fit well with the government's priorities for greater deregulation of the pay and conditions arrangements for the school workforce.

"I therefore propose to introduce legislation to abolish the SSSNB at the earliest opportunity. This decision means that school support staff will continue to have their pay and conditions determined in accordance with existing arrangements whereby decisions are taken at a local level by employers."

Christina McAnea, Unison's head of education, said: "This is a bitter blow to the mainly women – overwhelmingly low-paid, hard-working and loyal – support staff in schools. We will be consulting our members on taking industrial action as a matter of urgency."

Andy Burnham, Labour's shadow schools secretary, said: "This disappointing decision is a backward step and shows yet again a lack of understanding of the needs of modern schools.

"Teaching assistants, learning support and office staff, caretakers and others play a vital role in improving standards in schools and freeing up teachers from administrative tasks."