Best Practice

Case study: Making the most of our TAs

Support staff
Low pay and low status? Teaching assistants have been accused of have little impact on pupil attainment, but what if schools developed the role and provided better training and progression routes? Sal McKeown looks at the possibilities

Teaching assistants have found themselves in the firing line in recent years. It costs £4.3 billion a year to employ the 232,000 teaching assistants who make up approximately 26 per cent of the school workforce and according to UNISON, many school authorities have teaching assistant posts in their sights as they try to plug holes in their budgets.

Things were not helped by research a few years back suggesting that teaching assistants were having little impact and might even do more harm than good, nor by publications like the Daily Mail referring to these professionals as a “mums army”.

However, it is a different story when you talk to individual schools. Here teachers and senior leaders see their teaching assistants as a vital resource. And the clear message that has ultimately come out of the teaching assistant research debate is that it is all about the effective deployment and management of these professionals.

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