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Teacher v TA Maths Groups.

(145 Posts)
RichJU Tue 30-Nov-10 22:18:21


My DS (Yr 2) is struggling with his maths - he has had hearing issues and misses much of what gets described by the teacher.

When I asked him why he doesn't ask the teacher when unsure, he told me that after the inital "lecture" by the teacher his group are taught by the TA whilst the teacher goes with the other group (the confident maths kids).

The TA just draws rings round his wrong answers. Anecdotally I know that the teacher continues the teaching with her group using whiteboard etc to get the subject across, whilst my son's group are left to get on with it.

He's unhappy (tears last week), we're unhappy - what would you do?

My (teacher) sister finds it unethical that the TA and Teacher never swap groups. So do I but fear making his life difficult by raising it.

Would you advise getting a tutor to bridge the gap and say nothing or tackle this.

RoadArt Wed 01-Dec-10 00:52:30

I think you need to have a conversation with the teacher and find out whats going on. Unless your DS has been assigned this TA permanently and there is a reason for it, I would expect the teacher to still be involved in his teaching.

Dont go in all angry and defiant, try and get a balanced view. Then take it from there. If hearing is a problem isnt there something the school can do to help with this?

If he is struggling with her, or crossing out answers but not explaining the answers, or maybe is but your DS isnt understanding, then there are communication issues that need addressing.

TAs are invaluable, and they generally are directed to do what the teacher asks.

If you really want a tutor, have a look at online which is a great package. you might have to sit with him, but its a good alternative option.

RoadArt Wed 01-Dec-10 00:53:46

Most of all, the negativity needs to be changed into a positive. Maths
is fun and can be fun and there are lots of many different ways to make it so.

good luck

RichJU Wed 01-Dec-10 13:19:53

Thanks for that RoadArt.

It seems that the teacher splits the class after the initial introduction and the TA oversees the less able, whilst the teacher reiterates the lesson with the more capable maths group. This is not my DS' opinion on this - we happen to know this is the case.

He's had hearing issues and the consultant wrote to the school to warn that he would struggle specifically in these group discussions - he becomes detatched and appears aloof as he can't make out what is being said. The school didn't make any efforts to remedy this, but he has had further procedures since which we hope have helped (follow-up in Jan).

Tragically he likes maths and finds it fun - we do a lot with him to help and make it fun, but it's a tough one when he comes home in tears. He is fine with everything else, but has hit a roadblock with maths.

I've asked for a meeting with his teacher, I'll certainly be open-minded about it - there are always two-sides. I can't help but think that they are breeding a self-fulfilling prophecy with the teacher looking after the "top" group. I'll have to bite my tongue which doesn't sit well with me!

Thanks again - I'll update you if I make any progress. I hope no-one else goes through this!

mnistooaddictive Wed 01-Dec-10 13:30:47

It may be that the TA doesn't have the mathematical
Knowledge or confidence to take the top group! I was secondary bug the TA always worked with the bottom 5 whilst I worked with the other 25. I couldn't ask her to do what I did as she didn't have necessary skills to teach the extended stuff. I did make a point of checking on her group occasionally though whenever I could!

mary21 Wed 01-Dec-10 14:27:53

Does your son have a hearing impairment teacher who goes into school to advise them. If not it might be worth contacting your local sensory impairment team

mrz Wed 01-Dec-10 17:50:50

I think it's very important that "strugglers" aren't sent away with a TA (no matter how confident and capable - I would be alarmed if a school employed a TA who's mathematical ability wasn't up to working with able 7 year olds). If anything these children need more teacher time not less and I would be annoyed if I found out this was happening

noblegiraffe Wed 01-Dec-10 18:09:40

Are the groups of equal size? The TA may be happy with small group teaching but not with teaching most of the class.

I'm not sure why the teacher would be reiterating the lesson with the capable kids though, surely they are more able to 'get on with it' than the less able? Is the work differentiated?

mrz Wed 01-Dec-10 18:19:46

It has nothing to do with what a TA is happy with it is what is best for all children.

noblegiraffe Wed 01-Dec-10 18:24:02

They're a TA not a trained teacher.

WorldsSlowestTypist Wed 01-Dec-10 18:28:25

There are many "wave 1" adaptations that may help your son access the whole class teaching more successfully.
Speak to your SENCo about visual supports, training for the class teacher in her use of language, your child's position in the classroom, use of radio aid technology etc.

If your son has misssed chunks of maths teaching over time he needs to have these gaps filled sooner rather than later. Quick action can help him catch up and is very effective in these situations (Caused by missing teaching rather than lack of ability).

I can't comment on the division of labout between CT and TA. As a rule they should swap groups but the skills of the staff and the make up of the groups need to be considered in these decisions.

Work with the school to write an IEP and offer to take responsibility for helping your DS with part of it whilst the school is responsible for another part. Make sure that a time and a date for reviewing the IEP is put in diaries immediately so that it doesn't drift.

Good luck

mrz Wed 01-Dec-10 18:45:39

They are there to assist the teacher with whatever needs doing working under the teacher's guidance.

noblegiraffe Wed 01-Dec-10 18:58:14

Yes, I know mrz. And as a teacher, I would be happy to direct a TA to work with a small group (say 4 or 5) of less able children while I taught more advanced stuff to the rest of the class. I would not take the 4 or 5 children myself and leave the 25 other children to the TA. As far as I'm concerned, that's not a good use of the teaching assistant, especially if the TA wasn't happy with the arrangement.

That's why I asked whether the groups were of equal size and whether the work was differentiated.

mrz Wed 01-Dec-10 19:06:48

And as a SENCO I would be unhappy that a teacher sent a TA out with 4 or 5 strugglers leaving herself with the more able children.

mrz Wed 01-Dec-10 19:08:12

and in observations I would certainly question why.

mrz Wed 01-Dec-10 19:09:47

If the TA isn't capable of teaching children who understand the concepts then she certainly isn;t capable of adequately "teaching" children who are finding it a problem.

mnistooaddictive Wed 01-Dec-10 19:20:33

mrz, do you really think a teacher should take the bottom 5 or 6 and then leave the TA (with no teaching qualification or training) to teach the next steps as will be needed to 25 children. This will involve at least 2 different differentiated teaching sections.
Of course the teacher should spend some time with the bottom group just as she does with the rest of the groups but to just concentrate on those is not reasonable.

noblegiraffe Wed 01-Dec-10 19:21:18

I'm secondary, mrz, and that would be seen as good use of a TA in my school.

I do think that using TAs to teach whole classes (as seems to happen in primary) is atrocious.

Still, whether the teaching assistant is 'capable' of being directed to teach a whole class is dependent on his or her qualifications and training, surely?

mnistooaddictive Wed 01-Dec-10 19:21:47

The teacher should be teaching and the TA assisting the understanding of the point the teacher has made while the teacher teaches the next segment to the middle group and then teaches the extension concept to the top group.

mrz Wed 01-Dec-10 19:24:59

No mnistooaddictive I think the teacher should be teaching all the children and not failing the children who are struggling by sending them off with a TA.

Feenie Wed 01-Dec-10 19:27:19

That wouldn't be good use of a TA in primary school, as mrz, and would be criticised by Ofsted. The teacher needs to work with those children too - or how can she have a full understanding of where they are? Also, it's important that those same children work independently sometimes, or they will become over-reliant on adult support.

Ideally, the teacher needs to work with all groups at least once over a week.

Feenie Wed 01-Dec-10 19:27:37

as mrz says

noblegiraffe Wed 01-Dec-10 19:28:11

Erm, to suggest that the children are being 'failed' by being sent off with a TA for extra support is rather damning the TA isn't it?

If the TA is crap, that's a different issue, and not one that should be solved by swapping the TA for the teacher.

mrz Wed 01-Dec-10 19:28:49

and dare I say it the school shouldn't be employing someone whose maths isn't as good as an able 7 year old in the capacity of a teaching assistant.

Hulababy Wed 01-Dec-10 19:29:10

I always support a group for literacy and numeracy. We have four groups. The teacher and I swap which groups we work with, after the TA has delivered the initial part of the lesson. I do tend to work with the lower ability group most, but we have found that works well this year as some of the children in the group work best with the same adult present (esp the little boy with selective mutism as he woll talk to me now.)

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