What did you tell us about pay for teaching assistants?

We asked for your experiences

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88,410 people signed a petition calling on the Government to Recognise teaching assistants as an important asset to schools by raising wage.

The Petitions Committee scheduled a debate on this petition in the House of Commons on Monday 17 July 2023 at 4.30pm.

Read a summary of the debate.

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To inform the debate, the Petitions Committee ran an online survey asking for people's views on wages for teaching assistants, and their workload and responsibilities.

The survey was shared with relevant organisations, and promoted in the Your UK Parliament newsletter. It was also shared with signatories of the petition that triggered the debate.

There were 22,506 responses to the survey.

Below is a summary of some of the key themes that came out in the responses to our survey.


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Of the teaching assistants who told us their salary:

  • 19% said their full-time equivalent salary was under £13,000 per year.
  • 23% said it was between £13,000 and £15,000 per year.
  • 15% said it was between £15,000 and £17,000 per year.
  • 14% said it was between £17,000 and £19,000 per year.
  • 13% said it was between £19,000 and £21,000 per year.
  • 12% said it was over £21,000 per year.


  • 69% of teaching assistants who responded to the survey had over 5 years of experience.

Of these:

  • 18% said their full-time equivalent salary was under £13,000 per year.
  • 58% said it was under £17,000 per year.
  • Only 1% said it was over £26,000 per year.

In practice, we heard that salaries were often less than this, because many teaching assistants are employed on term-time contracts, which means that they are only paid for term-time hours, and not the school holidays.

“Poor pay is now a real concern. Due to my hours being term time only and this is pro rata over the year. I actually only bring home around £14k which is a very poor salary in today’s situation.
“Even my full-time equivalent is low compared to the average living wage. This is causing huge financial distress for me.”
Teaching assistant

The cost of living

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Teaching assistants said they were struggling to afford essentials and other spending

  • 60% said it was ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to afford food
  • 63% said it was ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to afford energy and water.
  • 69% said it was ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to afford clothing.

Financial concerns were the main reason why teaching assistants had left or were considering leaving the profession.

  • Of the teaching assistants who said they had considered leaving their role, 90% said financial worries were a factor.
  • Of former teaching assistants, 71% said they left their role due to financial worries.
“The wages have hardly changed since I started thirty years ago. Everything is rocketing in price, but our wages have remained the same.
"I have not been able to afford a day out or holiday in the past five years. […] I have considered leaving a job that I love as I have no money to myself after all the bills, food mortgage have gone out […] I have had to rely on food banks and help from my parents, who are pensioners, just to survive.”
Teaching assistant

Career changes

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The majority of teaching assistants who answered the survey said they had considered leaving – or had left – the profession for better paid roles elsewhere.

  • 90% of teaching assistants said they had considered leaving their role.
  • Of the teaching assistants who said they had considered leaving their role, aside from financial concerns, 85% cited workplace stress, 84% a sense of being underappreciated, and 78% the heavy workload.
“I was employed as a 1:1 but very quickly had to move past those duties and become a whole class assistant which isn't fair on the child that I was hired to support. The salary just wasn't sustainable. I was using over 80% of my salary (even though I was part of the London wage) on rent and bills and travel.
“I would usually have about £200 [per month] for food and my hobbies […] There were days when I would have to be the main go between for the school and the parents, even though I wasn't employed or paid for that. I left the job and became a worker in a laundry because it paid better.”
Former teaching assistant
“It is soul destroying when you see excellent, experienced, and hard-working TAs who really care about the children leave to go and work in Lidl or Tesco as they are paid so much better there, and these places now offer more flexible hours […] so can attract mums with school aged children. It is criminal how low paid TAs are!”
Teacher or headteacher

Workload and responsibilities

Many teaching assistants said their responsibilities and workload had increased over the years, putting more pressure on them. They also spoke about the importance of their roles for children’s education.

A large number of current and former teaching assistants said they often had to cover the work of teachers.

“Teaching assistants do not just sit in classrooms as an extra person. They take groups for interventions, they are crucial to the progress of pupils within their class.
“Teaching assistants organise and sort the paperwork, books, reading books, homework, activities etc, after the initial planning has been done by the classroom teacher […] Our pay does not reflect the work we do, the skills we have or the working conditions we can be exposed to.”
Teaching assistant
“We are covering classes for teachers with less support than they get (they take two teachers out and replace with only one TA if one is available) we cover classes constantly, teaching at the drop of a hat often with little explanation to what we are teaching.”
Teaching assistant

Supporting SEND students

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Many teaching assistants spoke about their expertise in supporting students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

They also spoke about increased pressure on them to support students due to a lack of funding for schools and poor mental health services.

“Schools are dealing with many of society’s failings and teaching assistants are crucial in supporting children with mental health challenges, those who come from very difficult homes etc. SEND provision at county level is inadequate and schools are having to support more children without additional funding [...]
“[TAs] are professional people who run learning interventions, need to have an in depth understanding of multiple SEND including ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder], PDA [Pathological Demand Avoidance], ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder] and they deserve to be paid a wage that is not insulting, as their pay currently is.”
“I work in a special needs school and the teaching assistants there are also health care workers and have specific medical training dependent on the class they are allocated to work in. Our teaching assistants are still however getting the same level of pay as a mainstream teaching assistant.
“I have worked in both mainstream and special needs and the role of a special needs teaching assistant is far more complex and difficult and this is not reflected in their pay.”

Teachers in certain roles are automatically entitled to a special educational needs (SEN) allowance, which is added to their salary. Most teaching assistants thought that this should also apply to them.

  • 97% of teaching assistants who answered said they thought that colleagues who work with children with SEN should be entitled to an allowance in the same way as teachers.
  • 94% of teaching assistants who answered said they did not receive any extra financial allowances for additional responsibilities, qualifications or experience, such as the SEN allowance.
“I am responsible for planning and supporting teaching of the SEN child I am with, yet I receive no additional pay and am paid very poorly. In effect, I am a class teacher many times a week when the teacher leaves me in charge. We often see things that teachers don’t and have to deal with this too.”
Teaching assistant

The importance of teaching assistants

Teachers, headteachers and parents spoke of the benefits of having teaching assistants in classrooms.

  • 95% of teachers and headteachers who responded said that the work of teaching assistants was ‘very important’ to the successful running of a school. 80% said they ‘strongly disagree’ that salaries for teaching assistants fairly reflect their workload.
  • 93% of parents and guardians of a school age child who answered said their child has a teaching assistant in their class. 89% said the work of teaching assistants is ‘very important’ to their child’s education and social development.
“Teaching assistants are one of the most important resources in my school. I am losing highly skilled, trained, experienced TAs who are leaving to take up posts in supermarkets and other work which is paid better. My school is a small school with large mixed-age classes.
“TAs are invaluable in supporting delivery of the curriculum, supporting pupils emotionally and pastorally and are key in helping reduce teacher workload with admin tasks. TAs must be recognised for their place in our schools and paid accordingly.”
Teacher or headteacher
“The previous school my son attended had no teaching assistant. None of the children had support in class as the teacher was constantly dealing with behaviour. Most children have not made targets for last year. (Another year lost- especially as they are catching up from Covid).”

Read the full survey summary of responses.

Watch the debate on YouTube or read the transcript.

Get involved

Petitions engagement

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  • The Petitions Committee aims to do all it can to connect petitioners and the wider public with petition debates.
  • For example, the Committee often create surveys and arrange meetings for people who are directly affected by the issues raised in petitions. They also contact relevant experts to provide information on the topics debated.
  • Published summaries of engagement are shared with the member of the Petitions Committee leading the debate and made available to all other MPs.