Schools couldn’t function with them, but what do they actually do? Former primary school teacher Catherine Lynch of teaching resource experts PlanBee explains ahead of National Teaching Assistants’ Day
If your child is at primary school, chances are that one of their favourite adults, alongside their teachers, is a Teaching Assistant (TA). That’s why a day to recognise, and celebrate, the work of these sometimes hidden heroes of the classroom is the very least they deserve. So stand by for National Teaching Assistants’ Day on 16th September!
Now that we have an Education Secretary whose wife, a former teacher, now works as TA, this may be their moment in the sun. A teaching union leader has said that Gavin Williams, ‘has an empathy around the role of teaching assistants which is unusual and very welcome’.
There’s no doubt that TAs are appreciated by the schools where they work and are recognised as an incredibly valuable source of support, with 96 percent of headteachers believing that TAs add value to their school.
But who are TAs, how many are there, and what do they actually do?
They account for over a quarter (28%) of the overall state-funded school workforce.
In primary schools, TAs often act as a general support to the whole class. They may rotate around different groups of pupils, just as the teacher does. This means pupils of all abilities get some time with a teacher and some with a TA.
Some TAs work specifically with pupils with special educational needs (SEND), those with English as an Additional Language (EAL) who have recently moved to the UK, and Looked After Children (LAC) in the care system.
They also make a big contribution to behaviour management, which means that your child’s learning isn’t interrupted by disruptive children.
Their role is an immensely versatile one. It seems to get bigger every year, with more responsibilities added all the time.
They are often asked to cover lessons and there is evidence that TAs are used to plug gaps caused by teacher shortages.
Whatever the pressures, there is no doubt that TAs help teachers be more effective educators. They provide an essential contribution to any school and help children to be happy, productive and successful.
So why not join us on National Teaching Assistants’ Day to celebrate and give thanks to all the TAs out there for everything they do!