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Something has got to give if we lean too hard on TAs

Teaching assistants do great work, but they are not the answer when the mounting demands on classroom teachers prevent them from doing their job

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The bell had gone on another Friday afternoon in school and a teaching assistant and I were comparing levels of exhaustion.

“I’ve just realised I haven’t had a drink since seven this morning,” I told her as I lunged at the tea urn.

“I’ve given up trying to fit in drink stops,” the teaching assistant told me. “I’ve just worked out that this week I’ve taken the whole class on my own for 70 per cent of the time.”

“You’re not serious?” I said. “That’s more than I’ve done” (I work part-time).

She shrugged. This couldn’t be right. For nearly three-quarters of their week, these children had been ...

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