They are also mostly responsible for listening to children read, and reporting back to the teacher if any issues arise. Helping teachers prepare for lessons by photocopying resources, or putting out equipment at the start of a lesson is another main role of the teaching assistant, and one which is becoming increasingly common, due to the National Workforce Agreement (see below).
Teaching assistants are not qualified teachers, and as such, are led and guided by teachers. The DfES (Department for Education and Skills) stated in the Consultation of 2002 that:
The occupation is constantly changing and evolving with the rest of the education workforce in the country. Teaching assistants are being given more and more roles within schools, and it remains to be seen how this "remodelling of the workforce" will alter the occupation.
On 15 January 2003, unions and the DfES signed the National Workforce Agreement, which began a reform of raising school standards and tackling workloads. (Full document: )
This agreement created a "new breed" of teaching assistants: HLTAs (or Higher Level Teaching Assistants). Their role is to support the teacher further by taking some lessons, and being more closely involved in children's learning.
Giving teachers time for planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) was also raised in this agreement. By September 2005, all teachers must be given 10% teaching time away from the classroom to plan, prepare, and assess Classes will be covered by normal teaching assistants, (not just HLTAs, as originally planned ). This has led to some concerns being raised.
There are nationally recognised qualifications for teaching assistants.
In Scotland the term teaching Assistant is not used. Staff who work alongside teachers to support the learning of children are referred to as classroom assistants or pupil support workers. In addition to the above list of qualifications classroom assistants in Scotland may also earn:
Despite the many qualifications available for teaching assistants, many do not have any formal training, and instead build up experience over many years. Those that do study often choose the NVQ Level 2 and/or 3 qualification, as it is the most widely studied in the profession.
A survey carried out by the University of Plymouth and DfES gives an outline of who usually takes the role of the teaching assistant.
97.7% are female, 2.3% are male.
39.4% in primary schools have no qualifications. 34.2% in secondary schools have no qualifications.
In a separate survey, the DfES found that in January 2002, there were 216,000 full-time equivalent support staff in schools. This is an increase of over 50% since 1997.
Whereas the number of teachers only went up by around 10,000 over a period of five years (1998 to 2002), the number of teaching assistants went up by around 60,000.
Gloria is a classroom assistant and short-term trade union organiser. She said she is "starting to panic now" after her full- time classroom assistant post was reduced to 10 hours per week.
Jul 05, 2011; Gloria is a classroom assistant and short-term trade union organiser. She said she is "starting to panic now" after her full-...