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Help with childcare for TA's?

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by marksim, Nov 20, 2018.

  1. marksim

    marksim New commenter

    Hi all. I would really appreciate any help or advice you could offer. My husband and I are currently experiencing extreme financial difficulties, which may see us either be declared insolvent and/or lose our home. That's not really the issue for this forum but it highlights why the following issue is important.
    I have recently, finally, secured a full time teaching assistant post that pays holidays and is close to home. It has taken literally years of contract work with no income outside of term time, part of the reason we are suffering financially now, but finally I have job security and a salary paid every month.
    Even better my hours are 9-3 which means I can collect my 5 year old daughter when she finishes at her school which is just down the road.
    Or at least I could , if it wasn't for the mandatory half an hour unpaid that I am expected to work. My paid contracted hours are 9-3, my expected hours are 8.45-3.30.
    Normally i wouldn't object to working a little longer in a job I love. But working that extra half hour means I cannot collect my daughter until 3.45, which means I have to pay chidcare to her school to allow me to work the "voluntary" half an hour. This costs me £200 a month for " after school club" ( I have to pay for two hours even though I only need 30 mins - sometimes less).
    I am scared to mention it to the school I work in, Ive only been there 3 months so legally they can fire me very easily. Its very easy to dismiss a new starter for any number of reasons," Not being proactive, not fitting in etc" There are penty of other TAs looking for perment work that would work the extra half hour.
    I dont mind working for nothing, but I cant afford £200 childcare. I dont earn enough as a TA, and as i said at the start, every single penny ,matters right now. £200 a month could save our home.

    Any advice would be great. Ive written to the council and they say its nothing to do with them. Even joining a union would cost me a tenner a month I dont have spare right now but I will do that I think.
     
  2. annie2020

    annie2020 New commenter

    Am I right to think that the unpaid time is essentially your lunch break? What does your contract say re hours? If it's 9-3, then that's what you should work. If not, it doesn't hurt to offer to work through the day without a break to be able to leave at 3. No school would send you packing for asking. And no school has the right to expect you to work beyond your contract.
     
  3. phatsals

    phatsals Senior commenter

    You must speak to your SENCO or class teacher if you don't feel confident to speak to your HT. It's very simple really, it's a child care issue.

    Agree with annie2020 above, you could offer to work through lunch, or book say one day a week after school for your child and do an hour or 2 on that day?

    Try not to worry, it happens all the time and lots of staff bring their children into school when working late.
     
  4. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    Hi marksim, sorry to hear about the difficult situation you find yourself in. Agree with other posters - you must speak to someone at work, either your HT, Deputy or SENCO; talk to whoever you feel you have built up the best relationship with. I am sure there will be a way around this - maybe you could have half an hour lunch break instead of an hour and leave at 3? Or arrange to do an hour after school 2 days a week and leave at 3 on the other days. I hope you get it sorted and things improve for you soon.
     
  5. Wotton

    Wotton Lead commenter

    Your are paid to 3pm you work to then and no later. Just explain the child care and state you can't stay later. if they expect you to stay later then they should pay you to that time.
     
  6. stargirl81

    stargirl81 New commenter

    I'm so confused... your hours are 9-3 on your contract yeah?
    Who has told you that you need to be there 8.45- 3.30? Do other TA's do this? I really don't understand how they can tell you your hours are 9-3 but you HAVE to do half hour unpaid?

    You absolutely need to speak to someone about this..
     
  7. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Go to your payroll office at school. Or the individual person who pays you, who processes the hours you have worked against the agreed salary on your contract. This person is your friend. You need to ask them about a Salary Sacrifice scheme. This means the school pays you in child care vouchers in lieu of pay,which can only be spent at one specific child care provider. The value of the vouchers is deducted from your monthly pay, but pivotally the deduction is made before taxation, which in effect means you get a large discount on your childcare.
    I cannot advise further than this because I do not know the up to date figures, and also it might be that your school does not work with such a scheme. However, have a chat with your payroll person.
    The school is obliged to consider your childcare needs. They are not obliged to alter anything in your working commitments, but they are obliged to show they have considered requests to allow you to arrange childcare in order to do your job, and one way they can do this is by joining a salary sacrifice scheme at your request.
    Talk to payroll.
    Also, talk to your child's school. Tell them your plight. They will have some ideas. They may help engineer a situation where you could meet other parents who can help. .
    There are always ways with childcare. You've done the hard bit-found a great job.
    You'll get there.
     
    blueskydreaming likes this.
  8. eromdap

    eromdap New commenter

    Your school is taking the p***. You should only be working the hours you are paid for, anything else is goodwill. Even if they paid you until 3.30 the childcare costs would probably be greater than what you would earn. Put your family first, tell them it’s not that you wouldn’t be willing to be there if required, but you can’t be there.

    A while ago I agreed to work afternoons in addition to mornings and negotiated a 2.50 pm finish time so that I can pick up my children from school. As a group of TAs we also negotiated being paid from 8.30 as we are all there before that time anyway. I have been asked to attend staff meetings but negotiated that I only attend those that are absolutely necessary for me (and I claim extra pay for the time) and the class teacher feeds back to me anything I need to know from the rest. I have only had to go to one this term.

    If 3pm is the time you’re paid until then that is when you work until.
     
  9. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I think you do have to broach this, as if they are expecting the hours they should be paying you for them. Who is doing the "expecting"? It may just be that the class teacher hasn't realised that your contract is only until 3pm (perhaps because other TAs have been doing the extra unpaid). If that's the case, it may just be a question of them accepting it the fact. You might be able to ease things by making suggestions, eg if they've been giving you tasks to do at the end of the day, suggest how they might be squeezed in during the day.

    If everyone just does it because it seems to be expected, then the situation just goes on. You may be in a better place than those who have been there a while to raise the issue than those who have been there a while, because you can explain that whilst you are fully committed to the school, you did accept the post on the basis that work finished at 3 and you could collect your daughter, and this is proving to be a (costly) problem. You may be forced to move to a post which either does fit within the school day, or pays for a full day so that you can afford the childcare. (If they are aware how difficult TA posts are to get, you can always point out that you might have to look at other types of employment.) It is very difficult when you're a new starter, though, and it would be much easier with union support. Be aware, though, that unions will not always help with things arising before you were a member. This is ongoing, though, so maybe they would. It might be worth checking with them before joining.

    In this sort of situation, I always wonder what would happen if you put in a flexible working request to work 9-3. They could hardly come up with business reasons why you can't do what is in your contract!
     

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