Responsibility for the recruitment and retention of teaching assistants rests at the local level with headteachers and school employers, who are best placed to use their professional judgment to recruit and retain teaching assistants to best meet the needs of their schools and pupils.
That answer is simply not good enough. Low pay is a barrier to the recruitment and retention of teaching assistants. Figures from the GMB’s pay pinch report, taking the consumer prices index into consideration, show that a higher level teaching assistant has lost £9,200 over the past seven years and that that will rise to over £12,000 by 2020 unless something is done about the public sector pay cap. Is it not time that we stopped hearing weasel words from the Government about how much they value those staff and that they started to pay them the rate for the job?
We do value teachers and teaching assistants. They do a good job of phenomenally challenging work in our schools, which is why we have 1.5 million more pupils in good or outstanding schools today than we did in 2010. The hon. Gentleman is wrong about the number of teaching assistants, which has been increasing year on year. Today, there are 265,600 full-time equivalent teaching assistants in state-funded schools.