Here some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on SN.

What makes a good LSA/Teaching Assistant?

(13 Posts)
Leda Thu 07-Jun-07 14:50:50

I read on here somewhere that whether a child with sn copes in a main stream school has a lot to do with how good the LSA is. So ? what makes a good one?

I start working as a LSA at a secondary school next week and would like to prepare myself as much as possible (I have no experience ? previously worked in publishing). Any tips, suggestions or advice from parents, teachers or other LSAs will therefore be greatly appreciated.

General opinions about inclusive education also welcome ? I agree with it, but from reading Mumsnet and talking to my neighbor whose son is non-verbal autistic I know that it is a contentious issue and not necessarily the right answer either (my neighbor fought the LEA for over a year to get her son into a special school). So ? when does it work, when doesn?t it and what can a LSA do to increase the chances of it working?

Leda Thu 07-Jun-07 14:53:03

The majority of the question marks there were meant to be dashes

Just one point here.. but I think the LSA has to actually forge a relationship with the child and actually like him or her. A professional relationship is not enough for the child to get the most of out of the experience.

Autism/inclusion is a very contentious issue and depends a great deal on the specific child's needs. If each case was considered indidually, mainstream education for SN children would not be such an issue at all.

Leda Thu 07-Jun-07 15:05:22

Thanks for replying Shiny.

Agree about forging a relationship.

Cascara Thu 07-Jun-07 15:35:57

I was an LSA for 2 1/2 years. I would say it's important to like the pupil and be the pupil's friend. I don't mean don't be an authority figure, but, well, I always think it must be really tough having an adult hanging round you all the time, especially pupils with full time support. Therefore I always let those I was working with have a good work/chat balance whether that chat is with me or other pupils, I know some LSA's who were expecting their pupil's to be on task 100% of the time which I feel is unfair. This can also help if a pupil has poor social skills as you can encourage and mediate.

Always be ready to defend your pupil if others make comments about them being stupid, or to help other pupils understand more about your pupil if that is necessary.

Have a good sense of humour! Tis necessary!

I also liked to change the perceptions of other LSA's about pupils. Some people will be x is bad and will always be bad. So I like to dwell on good points and not get bogged down moaning with those that do. I don't believe anyone is beyond redemption. Sure there are some hard cases (I worked secondary for the majority of the time) but you can almost always find some way to get through to them you just need to find that. Sometimes it might be looking away to a minor rule breaking when they've been used to being pounced on all the time, other ways it might be that you are nice to them even when they're horrible, or that as soon as situations are calmed down you do not hold a grudge, or that you take time to be interested in their interest.

Be the pupil's champion when it comes to teachers. Some teachers don't care, some are bogged down, others don't know until things are pointed out, and of course there are plenty of knowing and understanding teachers especially those that have been trained since inclusion became the norm.

This is just what has come into my head at the moment. There may be more. It also depends on the pupils you will be working with. Be adaptable.

Leda Thu 07-Jun-07 16:06:19

Thank you Cascara, that's very helpful.

I felt a bit uncomfortable with the way in which the Teacher who gave us a tour of the school before my interview talked about some of the children we will be working with -- sometimes even in front of them! It was very jokey jokey and ^we love them all really^ but I thought the idea behind inclusiveness was not to label children and there was a lot of labeling going on there. And this is in a school with a good reputation for inclusiveness.

Are you still working in a related field (teaching?) or are you doing something else now?

gess Thu 07-Jun-07 16:09:26

DS1 got though 6 LSA's in 4 terms which didn;t help. Part of the problem was that the LSA's were isolated & had insufficient training for starters. DS1 now goes to an excllent special school and life s much easier for everyone (like your neighbours son he's non-verbal severely autistic). If you have the time I'd say do your best to educate yourself about the child's condition. Also build a good relationship with the parents if you can.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 07-Jun-07 16:21:05

I would also concur with regards to the relationship angle; my son's LSA in Infants was a marvel to him in this regard. She was both patient and fully understanding of his needs.

A relationship with the parents is vitally important as well. Your comments will also help at Statement reviews.

Cascara Thu 07-Jun-07 16:33:29

I am just at home with the child at the moment, and doing a degree with plans of going into teaching English as a foreign language or adult literacy.

I had always planned on becoming a teacher (and would have been already had I not quit my first degree and gone to foreign shores to marry a guy I met on the internet!) but in my last stint as an LSA, which was the 1/2 year before we moved when I was pregnant, I became disillusioned with the idea of teaching in schools although I do love working with teenagers and special needs pupils. I haven't completely ruled it out though.

Not sure what to say about your school if that happened in your interview!

Our school also had training once a month after school where they brought people in to talk about conditions or issues, and some people were sent on certain day long courses if it was relevant to a pupil they worked with like autism or dyslexia.

Of course that's all down the pan now at the school I worked at, internal politics and special needs being the first budget to be cut and the pupils suffer. It makes me so angry and like I said, disillusioned.

gess Thu 07-Jun-07 17:09:14

If you're allowed to comment at statement reviews- ds1's LSA was only allowed to attend (she asked) if she agreed to not say anything!!! Not ideal at all.

coppertop Thu 07-Jun-07 17:20:39

Ds1 only had an LSA for 1 year but she was great. I think an important part of the job is knowing when to step in and knowing when to step back a bit (although obviously that will depend on the individual child). Ds1 needed someone to help him focus but at the same time liked to be able to do things for himself. His LSA was great at getting the balance right.

As others have said, do lots of research - but also be prepared for the fact that no two children on the spectrum will be exactly the same, just as no two NT children are. They will all have the triad of impairments but after that pretty much anything seems to go. Both of my boys have ASD but in many ways they are almost complete opposites to each other.

Good luck.

Leda Thu 07-Jun-07 17:51:43

Thank you for all the comments. It really helps. Once I have a better idea of which children I'm going to be working with and what their needs are, I might come back for recommendations for books to read etc.

Gess my neighbour's son (who is six) has only been in the special school since April, but she says there are already big improvements in small things - like getting him dressed and getting him to keep his clothes on (which was almost impossible before). So obviously it was the right choice for them too.

Mitzimay Wed 12-Oct-16 21:16:27

I am an LSA and am so delighted to read the views of Mums net, esp
A professional relationship is not enough for the child to get the most of out of the experience.
I am constantly being told off for not being professional..for being too kind or parent like.
I find i am constantly battling with Teachers who are not prepared that many children need a kind word and supportiveness.
I am currently a 1.1 and only today after a pupil i support was shouted at i later reminded the teacher that my "pupil" needed one instruction at a time, not 3 or 4 , and then slowly giving him time to process and then act on the information.This pupil also has physical difficulties which make carrying out practical tasks even harder.
Unfortunately the teacher was cross with me and complained saying that it would not do him any harm .They then went on to complain about my actions further to other staff.
How sad that i am not alone in finding that LSAs are not supported .

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