Classroom assistants are playing a greater role

Classroom assistants are playing a greater role than ever in school life, according to the latest survey of trends in primary education. Two-thirds of primary head-teachers told the National Foundation for Education Research that use of classroom and welfare assistants was on the rise.

Almost half reported an increased use of administrative staff - "a significant reallocation of school budgets," NFER researchers Rachel Felgate and Lesley Kendall said.

Three-quarters said they would hire more non-teaching staff, if they had the money. Governors are also taking an increased interest in the hiring of non-teaching staf.

Budgets continue to be primary heads' biggest concern, the NFER's sixth annual survey found, but the proportion fell to 61 per cent from a high of 75 per cent in 1996.

Curriculum change continues to concern 46 per cent of heads (down from 58 per cent last year). The proportion of heads worried about inspection is the same as last year (32 per cent). But the number concerned about the state of school buildings has almost doubled (30 per cent) since 1997.

Annual survey of trends in education, Digest no. 8, spring 2000, available from the communications unit, NFER, on 01753 574123

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