highlights concerns around the practice, preparedness and deployment of TAs within schools. The researchers' striking conclusion is that the pupils who received TA support made less progress than similar pupils who received little or no TA support, even after controlling for factors such as prior attainment and SEN status.
These findings must be a catalyst for change - not to move TAs out of the classroom but to prepare them better and ensure that teachers are trained to work with them more effectively. Teacher training programmes and CPD have to be more consistent in covering how to manage and use TAs.
Teachers and TAs must work collaboratively. To achieve this, schools need to ensure that teachers include TAs in discussions about lesson plans and make tasks explicit. Teachers must be given time to share their planning prior to lessons. To facilitate this, TAs should be encouraged to attend subject department meetings - perhaps changing their working hours to allow this to happen. We must also work towards a system where TAs are subject specialists, which is essential to improving their impact on pupil learning.
Progress for all
TAs must not only care deeply about pupils but also ensure that pupils don't become dependent on their support. It is important for young people to learn self-instruction strategies and reflect on their performance. Training TAs in coaching techniques is a very effective way of helping students to develop these independent learning behaviours.
In addition, a greater focus on open-ended questioning and peer-led group work would help students to self-regulate, emphasise that being challenged is common to the bright as well as the struggling, and show that intelligence is something that can be increased through effort. TAs must assist, and more importantly trust, students to make appropriate decisions and grow into independent learners.
What I am proposing here is not to start teaching assistants on the road to becoming teachers. Rather, it acknowledges that their role needs to be respected more. Once that respect is gained, then training, support and closer collaboration will naturally follow and we will all be serving our students better.
Grace Elliott is a teaching assistant and geography teacher at Wellington College in Berkshire
Teachers TV follows an award-winning teaching assistant.
Offer useful feedback to TAs with this structured assessment sheet.
Use this informative PowerPoint to work with your TAs more effectively.