The majority of schools are failing to make the best use of teaching assistants, despite the £4.4 billion spent each year on employing them, new research argues.
When properly deployed and trained, TAs can provide a “significant” boost to learning, according to a report from the Education Endowment Fund (EEF). But using them as substitute teachers has little impact on attainment, it finds.
The report, published today, says that support staff should be used to “supplement, rather than replace, the teacher” by overseeing one-to-one and small-group work and encouraging pupils to develop independent learning skills.
The EEF is also funding a £5 million campaign in West and South Yorkshire to change how TAs are used.
The number of TAs has grown rapidly since the role was expanded in 2003 in an effort to ease teachers’ workload. Between 2000 and 2013, numbers trebled from 79,000 full-time equivalent posts to 243,700. The EEF estimates that nurseries and primary schools in England now have more TAs than they do teachers.
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