A case of the tail wagging the dog

9th March 2012 at 00:00

"How to unlock the potential of TAs" (24 February) clarifies some important points that have probably been apparent to many for some time; namely that teachers struggle to effectively deploy teaching assistants (TAs) and the concentration of their use with children who have special educational needs.

The issue of relationships between teachers and TAs, differences in status and power struggles were not mentioned, which surprised me. I have noticed that teachers often have to manage strong, opinionated staff, often more senior in years than them and with an adult lifetime of child-rearing under their belt. Sometimes, the tail wags the dog in classrooms, as young and inexperienced teachers feel unable to appropriately direct their TA. This can lead to situations where bad practice is allowed to go unchecked. Sometimes, the most "challenging" person in the class is not under 16. That said, I have had the fortune to observe, meet and work alongside many wonderful TAs who work tirelessly and make a huge difference to pupils.

Frank Glennon, Educational psychologist.

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