Letters Extra : Give TAs more clout
Your leader and front page article (TES, 4703) outlining the ideas of one key individual, David Carter, demonstrates much that has been lost in the past few years. We have been led "top-down" for much of the time and while we are being exhorted to "think out of the box" and encourage the children to be creative, we find advice that may appeal to those who see education as a mass market, but does nothing to enhance thinking about differential challenges for children.
If the National Curriculum is an individual entitlement, in both content and challenge, and if the idea of teaching 80+ is geared to the remodelling debate, how about looking at the problem from a different angle? Why not gear the training of classroom assistants so that they have the ability to be responsible for the learning of a significant group of children, perhaps in a specialist area, and enhance teacher skills in creating differential challenges. Two things become possible, the children could have challenges to suit their needs, within a smaller group, and both teachers and classroom assistants could have confidence in the learning context. In this way a class could be overseen by a group of assistants for a short period of time.
The alternative would appear to be herding all the children of the same age into the school hall, or better still all the schools in a locality into the local football stadium equipped with large screen. Why stop at groups of 80? Has anyone done any real research into this bright idea?
Rowlands Castle St John's CEC Primary School