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What every teacher needs - their own personal helper

EVERY teacher at a Wiltshire primary can call upon a personal assistant to write their letters, order resources and do their photocopying, under a government project to reduce workload.

The teachers' personal assistants (TPA) at Corsham primary have the sole aim of making teachers' lives easier. Unlike teaching assistants they do not work with children.

TPA Carol Henty-Laverton, 35, said: "It is just like being a secretary to the company managing director, making their office run smoothly. I am running the office of Year 6."

Fiona Allen, head of the 382-pupil school, said a key part of the project was a clear definition of roles: teachers and teaching assistants focus on children's education, personal assistants work with teachers.

For example, the five personal assistants - paid up to pound;5,700 per year, are on the dishwasher rota but do not do playground duty, which is seen as a child-centred task.

The pound;30,000 pathfinder project is funded by the Department for Education and Skills, which granted the school pound;170,000 to reduce workload.

"The idea of personal assistants was mooted before the pathfinder project," said Mrs Allen, "but we could not do it without the money."

Mrs Henty-Laverton, who helps Years 4 and 6 teachers, said: "Each teacher has an exercise book in which they note down the things they want me to do. The list may include re-labelling drawers in the classroom, taking a display down or ordering stationery."

Teacher Abi Doe, 26, said: "When I went on a course, I dictated a letter about it to Carol. That would have taken me two hours to do because I can only type with two fingers."

The rest of the money will be spent on a resource centre, computers, a creativity programme and bursar training.

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