Assistants deserve recognition

10th October 1997 at 01:00
Tessa Jowell MP suggests that "parents should go into schools to provide children with adult role models" (TES, September 19). The Confederation of Learning Assistants with Specialist Skills (CLASS) rejects such proposals.

While conceding that it may be true that parents are role models, there is, in a real sense, no virtue in this. A role model is anyone who impinges on another in such a manner (positive or negative) that future actions are informed by their experiences. By definition, teaching staff in general and classroom assistants in particular are potentially powerful role models. It is in this area that Ms Jowell should be concentrating.

What, I wonder, do Ms Jowell's comments say about classroom assistants? What recognition have they been given for the tremendous work they do? What acknowledgement have they been given for the help and guidance they give to unhappy children every day?

Rather than muddy the water with another tier of untrained and inexperienced individuals, would it not be better to give classroom assistants a training which is recognised nationally? Rather than introduce yet another aspect of classroom management for the teacher to have to contend with, would it not be better to elevate the classroom assistants into a profession? Rather than become distracted with the "refreshing new insights" that parents can no doubt bring, would it not be more sensible to make proper use of the human resource currently available and give classroom assistants the salary and status they undoubtedly deserve?

M G STEPHENSON

Confederation of Learning Assistants with Specialist Skills 83 Maple Road Dartford Kent

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