A TRADE union has pledged to fight against teaching assistant redundancies in Kirklees .
Officials of the GMB passed an emergency motion promising support for the country’s 232,000 teaching assistants whose jobs are under threat.
This follows moves by The Treasury and Department for Education (DfE) to consider scrapping the classroom army in a bid to recoup some of their £4 billion cost.
But the union insisted: “Teaching assistants are not a “mums’ army” but education’s hidden professionals and are a vital integral part of our education system and should be recognised as such.”
Doug Cooper, GMB regional organiser for Yorkshire, has vowed to defend the jobs of the thousands of teaching assistants in Kirklees.
Teaching assistants are used in a variety of ways across Kirklees, including helping children who are falling behind in a subject and those with special needs.
On average, one assistant supports one to two teachers in the town’s primary schools.
And Mr Cooper believes that Huddersfield’s parents will join in the protest once they realise that these valuable members of staff may be lost.
He said: “We represent the majority of teaching assistants in Kirklees and we will be opposing the government’s slash and burn tactics.
“We will be lobbying government to take a U-turn. If the government goes ahead with these plans, the next phase is to run a campaign against them and to look at ways we can fight these cuts.
“Losing teaching assistants will impact on the ability of teachers to function in a professional manner. I don’t think Michael Gove understands their function. They are vitally important to teachers.
“A bigger movement than the unions is parent power and I think ultimately they will have a bigger say than the trade unions when they realise how their children will be affected.”
According to the Government, reducing the number of assistants would enable schools to hire more teachers, as well as reduce the DfE budget.
The number of assistants has nearly tripled since 2000, but some studies have found that pupils who receive help from teaching assistants make less progress than classmates of similar ability.