Teaching assistants being used to deliver lessons

(24 Posts)
Runningchick123 Sun 28-Jul-13 08:38:37

Looking at jobs recently I have noticed that lots of the teaching assistant posts (in my local and surrounding areas) state that the teaching assistants will be responsible for covering the teachers role during the PPA time (lesson planning allocated time which is 10% of the teaching week) . I feel this is just cost cutting and inappropriate.
I am not a teaching assistant, nor do I have any desire to be one, the jobs just come up on the same page as roles that i am interested in.
Are there any teaching assistants on here that have to cover lessons during the PPA time / other teacher absence? Are there any teachers who have an assistant cover for them in their absence? How do parents feel if their child is in a school where teaching assistants deliver some of the lessons?
My sons previous school adopted the policy of teaching assistants covering lessons and I wasn't happy with this policy and felt it was just an attempt at teaching on the cheap.
I have no doubt that some teaching assistants are very good at the job, but that doesn't mean that they should be delivering the actual lesson - they are supposed to be assistants.
Am I totally unreasonable in my expectations of how lessons should be delivered and by whom?

FranSanDisco Sun 28-Jul-13 08:46:19

I am a TA and have found over the past few years that I am covering the teacher's role more and more. I agree it is teaching on the cheap and as a parent would not be happy. I have raised these concerns with HT/class teacher but it is cost cutting basically. Ironically I have a higher classification degree than the class teacher but the fact remains I am not a teacher, regardless of my ability or the childrens' results.

aladdinsane Sun 28-Jul-13 08:51:56

Our school used a TA to cover maternity leave!
I brought it up with HT but he is very much a politician and waffled for ages but said it is all legit and acceptable

Runningchick123 Sun 28-Jul-13 08:54:51

fransandisco thanks for your input. I was thinking that perhaps I had unrealistic expectations of how teaching assistants should be utilised. I removed my son from his previous school for many reasons, but one thing that stuck out was the amount of time that the teaching assistant was left to deliver the lessons; a whole week at one point during the year, and at least half a day every single week.
I know that lots of teaching assistants have qualifications, but it doesn't excuse the school to use those assistants to fulfil the teaching role. Surely, like yourself, if you wanted to deliver lessons and carry out the teaching role you would apply for teaching training and take on a teaching job along with the correct level of remuneration for carrying out those tasks.
I wonder what is going to happen if Gove gets his way and teaching assistants are all made redundant. I think Gove has got it wrong and what he actually needs to do is regulate how teaching assistants are used by schools as the work teaching assistants do can be invaluable to those children who have learning difficulties.

Runningchick123 Sun 28-Jul-13 08:56:16

aladdinsane that is truly shocking and surely illegal!

FranSanDisco Sun 28-Jul-13 09:06:32

I became a TA after retraining (previous pre-children career had been made redundant). I wanted to work with groups of children needing that little bit of extra input. This is what I was employed to do : S&L groups, phonics, guided reading, numeracy/writing support. As it is I am now planning my class cover lessons - not just delivering them. As you can guess my wage does not compare to a teachers. Something has to change but with Gove in charge I am not hopeful that more money will be made available for teachers. For instance, in the school I work in the p/t teacher who covered all PPA time has been made redundant and as from September a HLTA will cover this role - £££ saved.

NoComet Sun 28-Jul-13 09:11:07

In principle I don't mind TAs doing 1/2 a day a week to cover Teachers preparation time or to cover odd days illness.

In practice it wasn't great because the TA in question was not respected by the pupils (or the parents).

The standard rural school problem that the TA is the woman down the road who has been part of the fixtures for so long the newer HT is scared to question their skills.

aladdinsane Sun 28-Jul-13 09:11:23

HT said she was a higher level teaching assistant and, with good supervision, was able to do this. He also told me LA had approved the plan.
I thought it was terrible and not acceptable

DogsDinner Sun 28-Jul-13 09:17:22

I would prefer the teaching assistants to cover for short absences than for the school to get in a supply teacher, which is presumably the alternative.

For one thing, teaching assistants can be very good at delivering lessons, my kids have sometimes found the TA's lessons more interesting than the teacher's.

Also they know the children and what level they are working at, which is going to lead to more productive teaching in my opinion than simply being taught by a qualified teacher who doesn't know them well.

I agree it is cost cutting, but I'm not convinced buying in supply teachers is always the best use of the school budget.

clam Sun 28-Jul-13 09:23:09

A few years back I had my TA covering my PPA. I was told by the Head it was my responsibility to plan the lesson and check it afterwards. He was wrong, it was absolutely NOT up to me to do that. Took me ages - hardly worth the supposed time off. I then stopped doing it and it all fell apart and I was given someone else to cover it.

Runningchick123 Sun 28-Jul-13 09:30:25

dogsdinner what length of time would you consider to be a short absence and where should the line be drawn and a supply teacher bought in?
If a supply teacher is used to cover absences then the teaching assistant is still going to be present and can help to ensure that the teacher is aware of which children are working at which levels.
Would a good solution not be for the school to have an additional teacher employed full time who assists teachers daily in the role of a TA, but can cover whichever class needs teacher cover. This would mean that the teacher knows the children, the teaching assistants are left to do their assistant role and the argument that schools are attempting to each on the cheap is obsolete?

I'm a teacher and I think it's disgusting due to the crappy salary a TA receives compared to a teacher. I always say to my cover TA not to mark the books or plan lessons as she is not paid to do that. It would be fine if they were paid more as many TAs that I have worked with are far better at teaching than the teachers!

FannyMcNally Sun 28-Jul-13 09:39:26

And TAs who are covering often don't have a TA to support them either which is especially hard in primary if there are toileting or behavioural problems.

mrz Sun 28-Jul-13 09:55:09

If it's true Mr Gove plans to remove PPA time it will no longer be an issue.

TAs are used in my school to do the art lessons during PPA. Seems a good compromise as they are VERY good at it! As the same couple of TAs do the art for the whole school, there is a good continuity in the teaching of techniques year by year.

Horses for courses. I wouldn't be willing to leave science to the same TAs.

Runningchick123 Sun 28-Jul-13 11:20:45

fannymcnally that is a very good point and I hadn't even considered that the TA has even more duties and pressure than the teacher when covering a lesson due to having no assistant.
ready to order sir I totally understand what you are saying about horses for courses, but wouldn't it be better for the school to employ an art teacher who can cover all the classes for art and have the TA just helping out in those classes? Still seems like teaching on the cheap to me as those TA's covering ALL of the schools art lessons are effectively spending most of their time teaching and leading classes without the appropriate remuneration.

mrz Sun 28-Jul-13 11:34:12

It doesn't matter how you wrap it up it is teaching on the cheap and exploiting TAs, many who are poorly paid.

sheridand Sun 28-Jul-13 14:54:35

I do. I'm a HLTA, and also a fully qualified teacher. I'm a HLTA at the moment because it suits me, returning to work after raising two kids. It's better for me than plunging straight back to full-time teaching. It's been a good way of easing back into things. I plan on doing it for a year or so more. I don't feel exploited. It's a continuity thing as well, I know more about the students i'm covering for than a supply teacher does. Some teachers may cry "scab" at me, but it suits me at the moment, and no work to take home either! The pay is, of course, abysmal.

GW297 Sun 28-Jul-13 15:26:01

It is not illegal sadly, but it should be. I've heard Gove is phasing out TAs (his 'solution' to this issue I believe) but hadn't heard he was considering abolishing PPA time! Shocked and horrified (teacher)

Runningchick123 Sun 28-Jul-13 15:49:59

GW297 the NUT voiced concerns about the use of teachers to cover lessons a good few years ago. Whilst it is not strictly illegal for schools to use TA's to take lessons, it is treading on thin water when it is done on a regular basis and I would consider even weekly to cover PPA time as regular; considering it is 10% of all lesson time.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10497175

Have a look at the article on the bbc website relating to this very matter (link above).

My concern is that the misuse of teaching assistants by some schools has contributed to Goves idea that we need to abolish teaching assistants. Teaching assistants are essential to promote and assist with learning especially amongst the lower ability children and schools have not done themselves any favours by using them as cheap teaching labour.

mrz Sun 28-Jul-13 16:44:14

Academies have been told teaching staff don't need teaching qualifications so I don't think Mr Gove has any objection to TAs covering PPA time

AbbyR1973 Sun 28-Jul-13 17:59:25

DS1 was taught for 1 and a half terms in reception by an HLTA that was covering maternity leave. She was absolutely fantastic. No complaints at all. The only difference I noticed was that parents evening was done by the key stage lead. She did an amazing job with DS1. I'm not saying that it would be the right solution in a permanent way but I would have no concerns about a lesson or session being taken by a TA.

MollyBerry Sun 28-Jul-13 18:09:55

I was a TA straight out of school at 18 and used to get dropped into teaching Year 1 lessons if the teacher was sick which was a bit of a shock the first time but the Reception TA used to pop in to help as they were just next door and it would never be a full day as the class would go off to something like Music, PE or French. I do think longer term and planned TA teaching isn't right though.

Elibean Sun 28-Jul-13 18:47:00

Our TAs are wonderful, and some of them could probably teach as well as the less experienced teachers - but they are not used to cover PPA time.

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