Pupils in some Manchester schools are being taught by teaching assistants and lunchtime supervisors instead of teachers, councillors have heard.
Concerns have been raised about the ‘unjust’ level of face-to-face interaction required of non-teaching staff during lockdown when compared to teachers.
One teaching assistant told a councillor that the way they are being treated is having a ‘demoralising’ effect on them.
More staff, including cooks and caretakers, are also being expected to be onsite to teach and support the children of key workers even if there are low numbers of attendance.
Trade unions have been raising concerns over this disparity with Manchester council since the first coronavirus lockdown last March.
The ‘lack of consistency’ among schools was brought to the attention of the council’s children and young people scrutiny on Wednesday.
Secondary school teacher Liam Duffy told the meeting: “Some headteachers and senior leadership teams are demanding more staff to be expected on site.
“It isn’t just teaching staff we’re talking about TAs who are consistently onsite, canteen staff who are in day in and day out, and also caretaking staff who deep clean the schools after children have been there.
“This consistency, or inconsistency, is echoing around the city with some schools doing it really well on a rota basis, and unfortunately other schools, and it is a minority, are not.
“This inconsistency is very unjust and I’d like the local authority to strongly look into that.”
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Sharston councillor Madeleine Monaghan said she had received similar reports from some of the five primary schools in her ward.
The meeting heard that when the headteachers were confronted with the complaints by Coun Monaghan they confirmed the situation.
“All we ever talk about is teachers when we’ve got TAs, cleaners, caretakers, cooks, lunchtime assistants who do the face-to-face work,” said Coun Monaghan.
“I’ve had loads of complaints from mainly TAs and lunchtime assistants, they told me that they’re the ones that do the actual teaching.
“Teachers are on rotas, TAs and other staff are not. Teachers do the preparation of lessons and online teaching. They don’t do face-to-face interactions, but TAs do.”
When some schools returned after Christmas lines were painted on their floors to allow teachers and pupils to socially distance, but Coun Monaghan said TAs are still having to work closely with the children.
“I just find this is a whole hierarchical effect of teachers being treated totally different,” she added.
“As one [TA] said to me it’s very demoralising that teachers are highly recognised and they aren’t.”
Councillor Garry Bridges, executive member for children and schools, said Manchester council had taken a ‘very clear’ view that staff should be treated equally and have the same consideration regardless of their job role.
He told the committee that some schools are struggling with an increasing number of pupils needing to be taught onsite compared to last year.
Amanda Corcoran, director of education at Manchester council, said: “Sometimes we’ve spoken to school leaders and there’s a really good reason for that and that is because it’s really tight.
“Staff that they may have had can’t come in because they’re self-isolating, or some staff are getting sick with other things.
“It’s all a balance about providing that daily remote education, doing all welfare checks as well having high numbers of children on site.
“We also have to ensure they are safe and follow Covid guidance and that they are being taught when they are onsite. It is a balance every week.”