Assistants' crisis of identity

"ASSISTANTS make no difference to pupils" (TES, May 17). What a disheartening headline for support staff in every school in the country.

Over the past few years we have: taken disruptive children out of class so other children can learn; kept children with concentration or behaviour problems on task; taken groups out of the class to enable the teacher to teach more effectively; been an extra pair of eyes and hands Oh, and those two little words upon which every school pivots - literacy and numeracy - we have helped the weaker children and given the more able in the class the stimulation upon which they thrive. Plus other duties too numerous to mention.

We are poorly-paid individuals with an identity crisis, which your article compounded.

The Office for Standards in Education 20001 report is mentioned and I would like to reiterate its main findings: "Teachers value highly the support provided by teaching assistants and the benefits of having another skilled adult in the classroom."

So poorly paid and suffering with an identity crisis, we now learn that we may be expected to take on whole class teaching. "Contraction" is the word that springs to mind.

Marian Colyer

2a King Edward Avenue

Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

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