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Help assistants to add more value

In your leader column, "Pay peanuts and expect miracles" (TES, June 10), you set a challenge to the General Teaching Council for England regarding our stance on teaching assistants.

We believe that every child is entitled to be taught by a qualified teacher.

We believe that teaching assistants also have a valuable role to play in helping children learn, working under the direction of the teacher.

The role of the teaching assistant is complementary to that of the qualified teacher - not a replacement for it. However, this does not mean that the assistant can never be out of the teacher's sight, or that they can never work with a class or class group without direct supervision.

Teaching assistants should not be regarded as a money-saving alternative to a qualified teacher. It is vital that all support staff should, in common with qualified teachers, have access to a well-defined career structure which takes full account of their training and professional development needs.

Future workforce development must be founded on strong evidence of the pupils' impact of the contribution made by teaching assistants to learning.

And the implications for teachers' time of working with and managing support staff must also be recognised.

With good planning, the role of the assistant neither undermines the role of the qualified teacher, nor disadvantages pupils. In fact, it can add value to both.

Carol Adams Chief executive General Teaching Council for England

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