Pupils from two York primary schools staged protests against plans to cut their teaching assistants’ (TAs) pay.
On the final day of term, children from Scarcroft and Knavesmire primary schools and their parents tied ribbons to the school gates and made signs with messages supporting.
South Bank Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) has told teaching assistants that they will need to sign new contracts which reduce the number of weeks for which they are paid in a bid to save money.
The MAT runs six schools in York and more than 40 members of staff – among the lowest paid – are affected by the proposals.
The trust has said the changes are about “fairness and equity” because some TAs are only paid for 39 weeks of the year, while others are paid for 52 weeks.
Parents were not informed of the plans but a campaign, spearheaded by education unions and local councillors, is calling on the MAT to think again.
Several teaching assistants are understood to have already found new jobs elsewhere on 52 week contracts rather than waiting to sign new contracts which would see their pay cut by thousands of pounds.
Cathryn Auplish, who has two children at Scarcroft, said there had been “no consideration” of the impact of the plans on the pupils.
She added: “In a cost of living crisis it is an abhorrent thing to do to cut the salaries of the lowest paid but most valuable members of staff.
“Parents are worried how the school will function, particularly with regards to SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) support.”
David Arnold, who also has two children at the school, said: “Both of them have teaching assistants in their class who help a lot and they’re really nice people. It seems like a decision that lacks any compassion or understanding.
“I think the children feel a bit sad as well. It’s difficult to be part of a school that is doing something which is fundamentally morally wrong.”
A public meeting was held in York earlier this month, where teaching assistants fought back tears as they explained how the changes would impact them.
Unions have questioned why lower paid staff are being targeted given the salaries paid to some members of staff including chief executive Mark Hassack, and the size of the central admin team.
Ms Auplish added: “It raises troubling questions about the decision making of the chief executive and scrutiny by the trust and trustees.
“It smacks of really poor management and that’s before you take into account the effect on staff morale.”
A MAT spokesperson said earlier this month: “SB MAT’s ongoing consultation is with those staff affected by the recent proposals for changes to their contract of employment.
“Whilst we appreciate the depth of feeling within the community, this is not a public consultation and therefore any opinions from a public forum will not be considered as part of the process.
“We fully understand that this is not an easy process, but we are keen to ensure that we support our staff during this time.”