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Welcome for new era of specialist support

Richard Sheriff, head of Temple Moor high school, a specialist science college in Leeds, said he encouraged the school's 14 teaching assistants to show interest in particular subjects, then placed them with the appropriate department.

"The idea of someone just coming along and sitting next to a child and helping them point a pen is not very inspiring," he said. "We want our TAs to have confidence in a subject, allowing them to tackle issues and problems facing our children. Giving them an extra qualification in that subject, as the Teacher Training Agency is suggesting, is hugely welcome."

Andrea Airth, the school's lead assistant said: "In some schools TAs can suffer from a lack of status, more subject knowledge can only make their role more valuable to the school."

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