Teaching assistants on strike: ‘If I don’t fight the pay cuts, I can’t look my daughter in the eye’


These stalwarts of the classroom help parents who are struggling and children who are falling behind. In some English schools they now face pay cuts of 25%. Do they think they can win?

At the gate of Lakeside primary school on the south-eastern edge of Derby, a mini-drama is afoot. It’s 8 o’clock on a Thursday morning, and a small group – most of them women – are forming a picket line, while others hand out leaflets to parents.

Some mums and dads quietly bemoan the fact that the school will close at midday and that they have had to make childcare arrangements. But many are loudly supportive. One man, Mark Stacey, announces that, rather than cross the line, he is taking his two kids home.

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