TS5 & TS8: Use of Teaching Assistants

I recently attended a training week which was most insightful. It was in fact a little bit of a ponderous decision to decide which part of the week to reflect on. I decided to think about which part, in my mind, had the most impact on myself and my upcoming teaching from our guest lecturers. I will admit, I was a little surprised to find that in fact it was the part about teaching assistants and their utilisation that I found most insightful.

TS8 develop effective professional relationships with colleagues, knowing how and when to draw on advice and specialist support

It is quite easy to just take for granted the role of a TA, especially when you are the new face in the school and a very experienced TA works in your class. We were tasked with identifying the roles of a TA as a class and it was of no surprise the amount of tasks they complete and are responsible for. What was a little surprising was (although fairly obvious in hindsight) the amount of tasks they perform that has little to no benefit for the children themselves. If each action has no learning impact, then why are we/they performing them? (For example: first aid, changing reading books…) TS8 deploy support staff effectively

Matt then began to throw some quite alarming statistics at us, where he stated that, according to the statistics alone, TA’s are the biggest waste of the school’s budget in terms of pupil progress and performance related criteria (of course, I know this to be false but it is nonetheless a poignant point that most definitely needs addressing in my own and fellow teacher’s execution in the classroom) as over 5 billion pounds is spent annually in the United Kingdom yet they account for just a sole point for pupil’s progress.

TS8 – take responsibility for improving teaching through appropriate professional development, responding to advice and feedback from colleagues

If we were to go on summative data alone, then the question “Why do schools employ TA’s?” seems like a valid question, especially when children make five times more progress with quality questioning from the teacher, which, should be part of their job and costs no extra funding from the budget.

The key thing to focus on is the utilisation of the teaching assistants. I know as well as any other teacher that the teaching assistants bring so much more to the proverbial table than just a ‘plus 1’ in the pupil progress statistical analysis chart. Yes, some duties that need completing don’t offer direct impact on progress so it is up to the class teacher to ensure that while the children are in the classroom, the T.A’s are utilised to the best of their abilities in order to have a more direct involvement on the children’s educational progress, by using formative assessment/interventions etc.TS8 – Deploy staff effectively

Following on from this, it is my responsibility to ensure that the children are situated appropriately in order to challenge every student and that the TA’s are therefore clearly instructed and made to be a firm part of the team.

TS5 – know when and how to differentiate appropriately, using approaches which enable pupils to be taught effectively

I will not solely deploy TA’s to the lesser-able pupils but attempt to use them for challenging everyone. They should be an addition of value to what the teacher does and in order to fulfil this, they need to be responsible for their own learning in conjunction with the philosophy of the teacher. Communication is paramount so they are fully prepared for their role in the classroom.

TS5 – have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs; those of high ability; those with English as an additional language; those with disabilities; and be able to use and evaluate distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support them.

Focused next steps to impact on your progress or the progress of the children in your care:

  • Communicate effectively with my TA
  • Ensure they are only fulfilling impactful tasks