UNISON upholds the value of Teaching Assistants in our schools

UNISON carried out a survey of school leaders in autumn 2012 on the value of teaching assistants (TAs) to schools.

This was in response to public debate on their role and at a time of focus on pupil attainment and resource utilisation. Some recent research on the pupil premium and the Sutton Trust Teaching and Learning Toolkit (2012) suggest that TAs have little or no impact on pupil attainment.

These findings are set against a background of ever-increasing numbers of TAs, with nearly 220,000 employed in England in 2011 and evidence that much of the pupil premium funding is being spent to recruit more. The best people to throw light on this paradox are those responsible for raising standards in schools and employing TAs: school leaders. An online survey was launched, containing open-ended questions without the offer of options, to gather rich descriptions of how schools deploy TAs; about teamwork and training; how and why they are valued, as well as the barriers that leaders face in deploying them effectively.

A wealth of qualitative detail emerged and is reflected in this report.

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