More schools are buying in classroom assistants as a cheap alternative to qualified teachers, say researchers from Leicester University. Department for Education and Employment figures show the number of support staff more than doubled between 1991-1996 while the number of teachers rose by only 3.2 per cent. The research highlights this practice in infant schools, fuelled by government support to reduce adultchild ratios.
The researchers question the use of CAs to support children with special needs statements, given their lack of training. The report says schools should conduct an audit of CAs' duties and responsibilities to assess whether teachers' needs are being met. CAs should be given clear and detailed role descriptions so a more consistent pattern of class contact and routine tasks can be followed.
The Employment and Deployment of Classroom Support Staff: Headteachers' Perspectives by Janet Moyles and Wendy Suschitzky, School of Education, Leicester University, 21 University Road, Leicester LE1 7RF.