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Take TAs out of the firing line

There are brilliant teaching assistants out there, says Lee Elliot Major ("Follow the Bananarama principle", 24 August). So why does he claim that TAs have "zero impact" on the attainment of disadvantaged pupils?

His comments add to other misleading suggestions that TAs are somehow to blame for negative attainment. Instead of putting TAs in the firing line, we should give greater thought to how they are deployed, trained and supported.

Across the country, many dedicated and talented TAs (often working beyond their paid hours and employed on low-paid, term time-only contracts) are delivering valuable teaching and learning activities and specialist interventions.

If some TAs really are having "zero impact", our aim should be to identify effective ways to tap into the enormous potential they have to add value in the classroom.

The creators of the Teaching and Learning Toolkit freely admit that they do not know the best way for TAs to be used in schools to support learning. I urge Mr Elliot Major to help us all find out. To quote his favourite 1980s girl group, Bananarama, that would be really saying something.

Sarah Peters, National officer, education and children's services, Unison.

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