22nd April 2016 at 00:00

“Schools want graduate TAs as teachers on the cheap” (Insight, 15 April) implies that teaching assistants with degrees are overqualified. I am a semi-retired professional engineer with a degree, two HNCs, a degree-level business qualification plus teaching experience. I was a senior manager with multinational companies for more than 30 years. I am probably better qualified than many teachers. However, I have no ambition to be a teacher.

I am interested in helping young people to reach their potential and putting something back into the system. I work in a school as a TA. Many teachers use my expertise to enhance their lessons and we work as a team. I’m not put under pressure to do a teacher’s job.

TAs with experience and qualifications can make a positive contribution and are not a threat to the teaching profession. However, it is important for responsibilities to be clearly laid out to stop those employers that are unscrupulous from bending the rules.

Adrian Lockwood

North Yorkshire

I have trained TAs to graduate status for many years, and completed research for Staffordshire University looking at how they were valued. Overwhelmingly, teachers made very little distinction between graduate TAs and those who were unqualified or qualified to only levels 2 or 3.

Your article rightly points out that many TAs are not wannabe teachers, but are proud of their role and their ability to contribute to a child’s learning. However if graduate status is to mean anything then their skills need to be recognised. Teachers need to be taught how to use their TAs to the best advantage of the children in their care. To ignore TAs’ skills and knowledge, their ability to observe and critically analyse and to bring new and ideas into the classroom is an appalling waste of a school’s most valuable, and expensive resource – its staff.

Dr Carol Hayes

National chair, Sector Endorsed Foundation Degrees in Early Years Professional Association

Your article on support staff highlights the worrying trend of the increasing assault on teaching as a profession. It is ironic that on the very next page Arne Duncan advocates: “A great teacher should make $150,000, absolutely”.

I’ve visited schools where TAs were used well in supporting teachers, not replacing them, and were trained and rewarded for that role. I’ve visited others where they were used to teach classes alone, despite not being qualified to do so, or where their talents were wasted and ignored.

The education of the next generation is vital. We need wellqualified, well-trained professionals to support that – both teachers and assistants, but never “teachers on the cheap”.

Frederick Sandall

Retired headteacher

Primary tests aren’t about standards

Without wishing to sound like a cracked record, national primary test results are not the be-all and end-all; they might be for a school, but not its pupils (“The end of baseline could mean two new sets of tests”, Insight, 15 April).

Head Andrew Truby states that having three tests “wouldn’t achieve the intended outcome of raising standards”. He is quite right to think that more testing will do nothing for standards, but he is wide of the mark if he believes this is the Department for Education’s intended outcome.

The principal justification for the high-stakes testing is to measure school effectiveness; and matters will only get worse if the results are fed into the new funding formula. No wonder schools are trimming the curriculum and/or teaching extra lessons. Make no mistake, revision classes in the Easter holidays are not for the pupils’ benefit.

David Rowlands

Lydbrook, Gloucestershire

TES, can’t you please make us smile?

Stop! Enough is enough. I have been an avid reader of TES for more than 25 years. It has informed my teaching career, kept me up to date with the latest developments and, perhaps most importantly, made me smile.

Alas, the joy has gone. We all know these are difficult times in education, and I am certainly no apologist for Nicky Morgan. But please can you find something uplifting to write about? Week after week, it’s recruitment crisis, poor pay, imposed academisation, workload, stress, funding, the problems of curriculum reform. Make something up if you have to. Don’t worry about integrity – no one else does any more. Just make us smile.

Paul Howes

History teacher

Facebook users respond to a primary head’s resignation letter bit.ly/HeadResign

“Instead of giving up on your profession, teachers, please unite and react en masse with one voice…Walk out of the classroom and you will have a nation behind you. No other profession would tolerate this.”


“I’m just completing my National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership. I’ve also just handed in my notice. I can’t ‘lead’ in this dreadful system any longer as it is making me ill.”


“What a principled honest man. Education’s loss. Pity the kids.”


“As a Year 2 teacher, this has made me want to cry – what a sad and trying time!”


“Teachers have been getting a hard deal for years with successive governments butting in with uninformed changes. Now this latest is outrageous. I don’t know how anyone who cares about kids will manage with it.”


“National strikes are required asap.”


From the TES Community forums

Helping good teachers with housing costs


In many parts of the country the deposit would be huge. Do you think the proposers have costed this?


Council housing or housing association properties would be a nice gesture. Might suit younger teachers who move around for work.


Curriculum too difficult


When will the powers that be realise that they are making the curriculum, across all key stages, far too difficult?

Jane Austen

Many of my Year 7s don’t understand the difference between a noun or verb…hard to teach Latin…


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