Extra hands can only be a help;Opinion

16th April 1999 at 01:00
THE OFFICIAL guidance on primary classroom assistants (page five) makes clear who will be boss. Teachers have nothing to fear. Where an assistant is appointed to work mainly with one class, the teacher will direct the assistant's activities. Where the assistant has a wider remit, the manager would probably be the headteacher or deputy. Any teacher lucky enough to have an assistant to work alongside has the opportunity to be a better professional because some routine matters can be delegated. Any teacher who allows the assistant to dictate the territory is badly in need of professional development.

That is not to say that assistants should be left just to tie shoelaces and clean up the paints. The presence of a second adult in the room can encourage pupils, who otherwise find the teacher's time split in up to 30 short segments. Practice in reading, writing and numeracy can be overseen. Children gain without the teacher losing.

Extra burdens through major change to the curriculum and its assessment appear inescapable for teachers. But if the job is destined to change and become more challenging, opportunities for easing some of the strains have to be welcome. The profession, or at least its union voice, has a record of reacting to new demands by obdurate adherence to traditional ways. But why look a gift-horse in the mouth?

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today