nursery nurses and classroom assistants in Nottinghamshire, which finally
gives them a career structure and a higher level of pay.
The deal, won by UNISON's Nottingham county branch, comes in the middle of
National Childcare Week and shows that some employers do recognise that
quality childcare services depend upon quality staff.
UNISON's national officer for education, Bruni de la Motte, said:
'At the moment nursery nurses and classroom assistants only earn up to
£12,444, even after many years of service. The new grades in Nottinghamshire
give an additional£5,000 at the top grade and thus reward experience and
expertise. The top grade will be£17,793.
'These new grades also provide a career structure which was sorely lacking
before. It is a recognition from the employer, and the branch who negotiated
it, that these workers are essential members of the education team, making a
real contribution to children's lives. Too often they are treated as second
class citizens in schools and nurseries. Yet they are often some of the most
dedicated staff around.
'There will also be help for unqualified staff to achieve qualified status.
This kind of support for career progression is essential to retaining valued
staff. It is a genuine encouragement for staff already working in the county
and will no doubt attract people from elsewhere to move to Nottinghamshire.'
The deal also includes overtime payments, flexible working, grading appeals
and a car user allowance. It will be implemented in all schools in
Nottinghamshire in September this year.
Nursery nurses, classrooms assistants and teachers work as a team. Their
work includes preparation, assessment, parents' evenings and out of school
activities. But increasingly, nursery nurses and classroom assistants are
expected to carry out more teaching duties, including literacy and numeracy
hours. They are involved in planning, assessing and record keeping. It is
not uncommon for nursery nurses to actually run a class without a teacher in
And yet the differentials in pay between teaching and support staff are
increasing. In 1995, the salary of a nursery nurse was 51% of a teacher's
salary. In 2001 this has fallen to a mere 44%. In other words, pay levels
for nursery nurses have fallen more and more behind those of teachers, even
though they are working as part of the educational team.
Therefore the UNISON deal is a revolutionary new approach to valuing and
recognising the education team in the classroom.
The deal supports the advice UNISON has just produced on implementing single
status in schools. The document advises negotiators on the importance of
having a career and grade structure in schools, particularly for classroom