Term time for an array of support workers

6th December 2002 at 00:00
In producing this supplement, we weren't sure what to call that group of people who work in classrooms but aren't teachers. We know they do a huge range of jobs, come from all sorts of backgrounds and aren't paid very much. Despite the low wages, most seem to like their jobs. There may be a shortage of teachers, but, as Karen Gold reports (page 4), finding support staff is no problem for many heads.

But it's hard to find a term for them that won't offend someone. Non-teaching staff seemed the worst, since it's wrong to define people by what they don't do rather than what they do - so we've avoided that one. Otherwise, we've varied the language according to the terms used in the schools we visited. The Government has opted for "teaching assistant", which many dislike - but as it's now official, that's the term we've ended up with most often.

We've also taken account of workers who aren't based in classrooms but who support children's learning nevertheless, such as secretaries, caretakers and technical people.

Who is this supplement for? Everyone in schools who is a member of the learning support team or who works with them. For heads and other managers there are case studies showing schools which have made creative use of assistants (pages 7-9). For teachers there's advice on working with other adults (page 10). And for learning support assistants there are tips on behaviour management, legal issues and even how to read to a class (pages 11-14). We hope this magazine will help and support all of you.

The contents of this magazine are the responsibility of The Times Educational Supplement and not of Unison

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