Should Teaching Assistants teach whole classes and is it fair to everyone involved Essay Example
Should Teaching Assistants teach whole classes and is it fair to everyone involved Essay Example

Should Teaching Assistants teach whole classes and is it fair to everyone involved Essay Example

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  • Pages: 7 (1720 words)
  • Published: November 26, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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This essay is going to look at the role of teaching assistants in schools, from when they were first introduced to the education system onto how the job has changed with particular focus to the last three years. It will consider the proposals that the government feel is needed in order to raise standards in schools while also taking into consideration the teachers workload and whether the answer is to employ more teaching assistants. The first teaching assistants were employed as special needs assistants and were named S. E. N Assistants (Special Educational Needs).

Their job was to support children with special educational needs as they were integrated into mainstream education. This was a proposal back in 1978 in the Warnock report who felt mainstream schools could successfully educate children with special needs either that of mind or body. S


pecial schools had a bad reputation and were closing down rapidly so integration was the way to go and was again highlighted in the 1981 education act.With the help of assistants children with a variety of special needs be it a physical handicap to partial blindness would be able to attend their local mainstream school.

The assistant's role was solely to help these children access the curriculum. However some special needs have been difficult for schools to prove with an increase of children with autism, aspergers and attention deficit disorder. This has meant the mainstream school has had to employ more assistants but as 'classroom assistants' to help teachers.Donald Mackinnon and June Statham go on to describe the job of the teaching assistant: Teaching assistants work alongside and under the direction of classroom teachers..

. There are n

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formal qualifications or training requirements for employment. Donald Mackinnon and June Statham pg 125 The teacher's job has also changed dramatically over the years too. Schools are under increasing pressure to show they provide good all round education to all children. This has meant an increase of paperwork for planning the lessons and then assessing them.Every year the government proposes changes within education: the times educational supplement have printed a report today which calls for a major overhaul of the school system in order to stop boys and children from poor families falling behind in class, reported in the PA News.

One of the points recommended is that: * Every secondary school pupils should have a "learning guide" - someone who knows them, knows what they are studying and can help set them individual targets in one-to-one meetings at least twice each term; TES (2007)It was therefore decided that all teachers should receive 10% of their work time to plan, prepare and assess (PPA) lessons which would also help to raise standards of education while addressing their workload. The historic national agreement on raising standards and tackling workload was signed by the government, employers and school workforce unions on the 15th January 2003. This led to schools having to change and delegate jobs in school. This has been called the Remodelling of the workforce. There are many positive theories as to how good this practice is for education.The experience of heads, teachers and support staff shows that the agreement is beginning to have a positive effect where it counts-in the classroom.

LA returns indicate that 87 percent of schools have implemented the first phase of

contractual changes or have plans in place to do so; and many are now actively engaged in a fundamental change process that will help them find ways to accelerate remodelling and realise the benefits of workforce reform. http://www. tda. gov. uk/remodelling/nationalagreement/wamg Remodelling is the changing of the contracted jobs of all staff in order for teachers to receive more time and extra support.This is important if schools are to improve their standards so by restructuring the teaching profession this can reduce their workload while helping to raise standards that the government want to improve on.

Schools have to find ways of covering classes while the class teacher has the 10% planning time. Some schools can afford supply teachers that are employed on a regular basis most however use their teaching assistants. However this has produced many arguments as to whether this is ethical or not, people are now beginning to realise that this practice may not be as ideal as was hoped.There are stipulations as to how it should be done which is highlighted in the report 'an introduction to the national agreement' by the Training and development agency for schools in 2003. Workforce reform is not about any member of the support staff either replacing or being used as a substitute for a qualified teacher. The national agreement enhances the role and status of qualified teachers, but also recognises the important contribution other staff can make to effective teaching and learning.

TDA (2003)Teaching assistants will be expected to teach what has been planned and prepared for in the time they cover the teacher's absence. However many teaching assistants not only cover (PPA) but are

also on hand to cover sickness this is where the main downfall seems to be. Not only are they teaching the teachers lessons but have no support for children with special educational needs or behaviour problems. Trained teachers find it difficult teaching a whole class without the support of their assistant yet assistants are expected to do it without any planning or preparation.The teaching assistants' job description says it is not their duty to prepare, plan or assess work it is often expected and for them to feel comfortable in delivering a lesson preparation and planning is needed. From an assistants point of view pay and contracts are a main priority.

Every year most teaching assistants get a temporary contract this is because children move schools or the amount of children varies from year to year therefore schools don't know if they could afford an assistant for that year.Farrel et al highlights the fact that assistants feel it is unfair that their contracts specified how many hours they are supposed to work which is the same amount of hours the child is in school when in fact many come in early or stay late but receive no extra pay. There is a real need for teaching assistants to have some type of training in order to take on the role they are expected to. Although the training available is the best it has ever been, some teachers feel it is still not of the same caliber as the training they had in order to become a qualified teacher.

Some of the courses on offer are not been as well received as was initially hoped. Farrel et

al points out that only 91% of TAs enroll in FHE courses, 82% enroll for accredited LEA courses and only 83% enroll for non-accredited courses. The point is that many people become TAs do so because it fits into family life without having to pay for childcare particularly during school holidays, many don't have time or money to be able to do the training needed. Newly employed assistants are more likely to take on this changing role than the assistants who have been doing the job for a number of years.

It is understandable that they did not realise such responsibility would eventually be asked of them. Some TAs like the idea that they have a more relaxed attitude with the children they work with and do not feel comfortable stood as a teacher at the front of the class. From the governments point of view this stands you in good stead to be able to teach a class. ..

. there may be occasions when properly trained support staff can, under direction and supervision, cover a class more effectively than a supply teacher who is unfamiliar with the school, the pupils and the curriculum. TDA (2003)If more schools take into consideration the assistants' interests and ability they may feel more comfortable taking on this role if they were able to teach what they know about: for example someone with a background in dance or sports would be a more beneficial lesson to the children. However health and safety would need to be taken into consideration. One of the major issues felt at the moment is health and safety in the classroom when no other adult is


Very often risk assessments are not discussed with assistants therefore they don't know the procedures or expectations. Do they have the same authority as teachers in school?What happens if at the end of the day a parent has a query and there is no teacher around, split decisions often have to be made. Very often parents are not informed as to who actually teaches their children, many just expect one teacher per class in an infant and primary school. Parents interviewed for the Farrell et al report thought that assistants were employed for children who had a statement and that they had specialised training.

It was pointed out in the report that there had been a lack of communication between most schools/LEA and parents and that it needed rectifying without delay.The national agreement highlights that everyone 'is' taken into consideration pointing out Change teams should not just be the headteacher and senior leadership team. An extended group, including representatives of teachers and support staff, and, where possible, pupils, parents, governors, unions, agencies and other local organisations, should take responsibility for remodelling. Education Guardian (2003) However it takes a good parent governor from the schools governing body to inform their parents of these proposals, but these governors are often the last to know that assistants are already teaching in the classroom.The points raised are just some of the arguments that expecting teaching assistants teach may not be the best idea in improving education.

We do need to take responsibility for the education of our children however many feel that expectations of schools are too high. Teachers often feel what they are expected to teach a

child of seven is far too advanced, that they don't need to know such complex information till they are older. Education needs to be assessed as a whole. It has been proven that having teaching assistants in school has been a benefit to education but unless they wish to become a qualified teacher that is what they should do.

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