I was dismayed by your article on teaching assistants. The colleagues I work with are intelligent and well-educated and possess a wide variety of valuable talents.
We do not "pass the pencils", "tame photocopiers", or "marshall paint pots". We simplify and clarify subjects to GCSE level, differentiating "on the hoof". We teach alternative courses for literacy and numeracy. In emergencies we cover classes. We take day-to-day responsibility for suicidal, depressed and emotionally unstable teenagers.
TAs are underpaid and undervalued and the slant of your article can only worsen the negative perceptions we need to overcome. I fully agree that the systems for supporting high-profile students in schools could and should be totally re-worked. By all means attack the established routines that mean TAs are often deployed ineffectually, but beware of inadvertently attacking and demoralising the TAs themselves.
- Sheila Tatum, Woodcote, Reading.