Exclusive: TAs' worry over missing help for poor pupils

Most teaching assistants are concerned about not being able to support disadvantaged pupils in lockdown, research shows

Covid gap: TA worry

Almost 60 per cent of teaching assistants are concerned about not being able to support disadvantaged pupils during lockdown in the way they normally would, research suggests.

The finding comes from a survey of 42,000 TAs – the staff whom schools rely on to support disadvantaged pupils, mostly on a one-to-one basis.

More than 2,700 said they were losing sleep with worry over not being able to provide support to pupils they normally work with.

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Jon Richards, head of education at the union Unison, which carried out the TA survey in partnership with Tes, said: "Teaching assistants play a big part in pupils' lives, both inside and outside the classroom. Not being unable to support them as they did before the lockdown is going to hurt, and the survey results confirm that.

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"That's why the government must allocate more resources to local councils and schools to help them reach out and support vulnerable pupils during the lockdown.”

The research comes as part of the Tes #ClosingtheCovidgap investigation. It follows findings that disadvantaged pupils were slipping further behind during lockdown while government help was having little impact .

A total of 53.4 per cent of teaching assistants surveyed said they were “concerned” about not being able to support children they work with in the usual way, while 6.4 per cent said they were losing sleep over it. 

A total of 35.7 per cent agreed with the statement “I’m not too concerned. On balance I think pupils are OK”, and 4.5 per cent said they were not concerned at all.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We will do whatever we can to make sure no child, whatever their background, falls behind as a result of coronavirus. 

“The government has already committed over £100 million to support children to learn at home, and pupil premium funding at the highest ever per-pupil rate continues to be paid to schools to help them support their disadvantaged pupils.

“We are considering, with a range of partner organisations, what more is required to support all pupils who have been affected by school closures.”


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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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