Teaching Assistants

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     Teaching Assistants (TAs):
  • are professionals in their own right and
  • work under the guidance of qualified teachers

    'The term "teaching assistant" is the Government's preferred term of reference for all those in paid employment in support of teachers in primary, special and secondary schools. That includes those with a general role and others with specific responsibilities for a child, subject area or age group. The term (TA) captures the essential "active ingredient" of their work; in particular it acknowledges the contribution which well-trained and well-managed assistants can make to the teaching and learning process and to pupil achievement' (The Good Practice Guide DfEE, 2000 p. 4).

    They are also known as:
  • Classroom assistants
  • Learning support assistants
    - a term more generally reserved for those adults supporting pupils with special educational needs
  • Learning assistants
  • Special needs assistants
  • Care assistants or Welfare assistants
    - terms generally reserved for those adults who support pupils with medical conditions
  • Teacher assistants
  • School assistants
    - a term generally used for those working in an administrative capacity
  • Additional adults
  • Paraprofessionals
  • Ancillaries
  • Auxiliaries.

Further government information can be obtained from www.dfes.gov.uk/teachingassistants or www.tda.gov.uk/teachingassistants

Other useful contacts for training information are awarding bodies such as:
Council for awards in Children's Care and Education: www.cache.org.uk
OCR: www.ocr.org.uk
City and Guilds: www.city-and-guilds.co.uk
Edexcel: www.edexcel.og.uk
Local education authorities, local further and higher education colleges and the Open University: www.open.ac.uk

Some teacher unions such as the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (www.askatl.org.uk) and the Professional Association of Teachers (www.pat.org.uk) also have subsections for TAs, as does
UNISON, the local government union, to be found at www.unison.org.uk and
the union www.GMB.org.uk

David Fulton Publishers have a good selection of books for and about TAs. They can be found at www.fultonpublishers.co.uk

    Teaching Assistants can:

  • provide support for:
    • learning and learners
    • teaching and teachers
    • whole school processes and policies
  • raise standards
  • improve consistency of behaviour management
  • enhance the learning environment
  • add a different dimension to the learning culture of the school.

     But in order to be effective, TAs need:

  • valuing
  • training to support pupils and the curriculum appropriately
  • appropriate qualifications and experience
  • knowledge of the principles of education
  • an awareness of the needs of pupils, teachers and schools
  • to be part of the school team and working partnerships with teachers
  • support from the school in:
    • proper appointment processes
    • appropriate induction with mentoring
    • job descriptions
    • inclusion in all relevant INSET and consultative activities
    • equal opportunities for professional and career development
    • appraisal and performance related pay.

TAs may have nationally recognised qualifications which relate to National Occupational Standards at Levels 2 and 3. Information on these can be obtained locally from FE or AE colleges or from the Examination boards.

Most Local Authorities have entered into Single status agreements with the relevant unions, thus state schools have advice on various pay scales and job descriptions. Further information on the levels suggested can be found at www.tda.gov.uk/remodelling.aspx

Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTAs) is a term used to describe TAs who have reached the standards defined by the TDA. This status may be conferred on them by the school staff because of their job role or they may have been externally assessed to have reached the TDA standards. In the latter case they will have certification to prove their competence to undertake a wider school based role, including under the direction of a qualified teacher, taking a whole class without a teacher being present. The standards outline the level of planning and preparation, quality of delivery and assessment strategies, values and priciples expected of such a status. Details of the standards and how to be assessed can be found on the TDA website: www.tda.gov.us/HLTAs . HLTAs may manage a team of TAs.

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