The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association today commented on the role of Classroom Assistants in schools across Scotland, and in particular on evidence that Classroom Assistants were being forced to be substitute teachers.

"Our members have reported to us with increasing frequency that in a number of schools Classroom Assistants are being deployed to cover for absent teachers" said David Eaglesham, General Secretary. "While it is clear that Classroom Assistants do an excellent job and are a valuable asset to schools, they are neither trained nor paid to be substitute teachers. Their role is to assist in classrooms not to be alternate teachers"

"We have been aware that the research done by the equal Opportunities Commission in Scotland.

Valuable Assets report has confirmed that Classroom Assistants are being asked to or perhaps pressurised into taking classes when a teachers is absent. 20% of Classrooms Assistants indicated that they were routinely asked to take whole classes for absent teachers, and, worryingly, only 58% of teachers surveyed would feel the need to raise this as an issue with the Head teacher."

The SSTA views the situation as exploitation and believed that all employers need to ensure

  • · That children are taught only by qualified teachers
  • · That classroom assistants are not required to act as teachers, no matter how capable they may be and
  • · That classroom assistants should be given the opportunity to train as teachers if they wish to pursue such a career.

"We must ensure that standards are maintained at the highest level both in terms of pupil achievement and in management of staff. It is not acceptable to save money by asking classroom assistants to substitute for teachers in order to lower staffing expenditure"

Further information from

David Eaglesham

General Secretary

3 January 2008