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What are Teaching Assistants for?

(19 Posts)
Mechanoid Sat 19-Jul-14 18:48:05

As a TA myself, I find that most people have no idea - so perhaps I could explain...

In each class, there are always a few more 'challenging' children. Not necessarily naughty children, but children with various issues - such as emotional problems, or behavioural issues or some learning difficulties or specific disabilities that impact upon their learning.

A Teacher on their own would be spending a huge amount of class time simply managing behaviour without a TA and would find it difficult to help each individual child make progress. A good parent helper can really contribute here, but - as volunteers - cannot take responsibility nor should they feel compelled to have to. Step up the Teaching Assistant!

Teaching Assistants are generally well-trained and well-qualified, although many are simply 'nice' people who are good with children. What Teaching Assistants are not qualified to do is Teach.

One of the attractions of being a Teaching Assistant is that you don't have marking to take home with you, you have to Teach small groups - but generally deliver a lesson prepared and directed by your class Teacher and there's far less planning to do than a Teacher, which is great if you still have young children at home and not much time.

You don't get paid much, but it is wonderful - at the moment...

Academies are hiring Teaching Assistants now and expecting them to Teach. Spoiling an attractive job and forcing down wages for Teachers - beware!

40thisisit Sat 19-Jul-14 18:54:20

Excellent summary! I was a ta but this year have just completed my pgce to teach secondary science. Having been a ta myself I can totally value the job you do, not only to assist children's progress but to help the progress of the whole lesson.

rollonthesummer Sat 19-Jul-14 19:02:28

What an excellent post. I have had some superb teaching assistants but they aren't-and neither do many of them wish to be-teachers. It makes me worry for the future of education.

ShineSmile Sat 19-Jul-14 19:22:21

Thanks OP!

May I ask, does this mean you can enter and leave the school when your child does, with nothing extra to do?

Mechanoid Sat 19-Jul-14 19:47:16

Not sure what you mean ShineSmile, but if you work for an agency (as I do) you can choose when you work and although I can't take my children into school, I can pick them up from school as I finish around lunchtime and of course, I don't work (or get paid for) school holidays.

CharlesRyder Sat 19-Jul-14 19:59:30

Your summary of what TAs do is very narrow.

We have TAs who work in EYFS (often as a 'key person'), TAs who work 1:1 with children with physical or mobility issues, TAs who are general class TAs, TAs who work out of class delivering 'intervention' which may be academic, social/ emotional, SaL and even TAs who do primarily admin roles around ensuring the nuts and bolts of statements are met (equipment bought and kept in test, transport organised etc).

Chivvying along the laggers in class is not all TAs do.

ShineSmile Sat 19-Jul-14 20:13:19

What I meant was, what type of hours do they do? Could you be a TA without needing extra childcare outside of school hours? Do you need to bring any work home?

Mechanoid Sat 19-Jul-14 20:15:09


TAs are not teachers - that's my point.

LucyLastik Sat 19-Jul-14 20:17:10

CharlesRyder I'm an EYFS TA and do all of those things you listed, plus parents evenings/consultations etc. the only difference between me and the class teacher is that she writes the end of year reports. We essentially do the same job.

Mechanoid Sat 19-Jul-14 20:36:17

Hi ShineSmile...

It's possible - if you worked at your child's school, you could probably drop them off and then go straight in to work. It depends what the school needs.

Taking work home is not usually necessary - but it does help to be as prepared as you can be.

CharlesRyder does make a good point: some TAs are very specialised and might know more about dyspraxia than anyone else in school say, but you are unlikely to walk straight into that specialised a role without at least some training!

If you're interested, start by helping out at your child's school and see how you like it - it's wonderful, but it's very hard work and it is not for everyone. Schools LOVE parent helpers, they're really...helpful!

goats Sat 19-Jul-14 20:39:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

goats Sat 19-Jul-14 20:41:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

threepiecesuite Sat 19-Jul-14 20:45:51

Our school could not function without TAs. They are woefully underpaid.

moolady1977 Sat 19-Jul-14 20:47:01

my youngest ds has some fantastic TA`s at his school and although he is only going up to yr 6 when he does leave imm cry buckets that he is leaving them behind

Softlysoftlycatchymonkey Sat 19-Jul-14 20:47:34

I loved my short stint as a TA.

You summarised it well.

PercyPorkyPig Sun 20-Jul-14 21:14:54

There are many shades of TA and qualifications vary greatly. In our school we have TAs who assist the teacher in the classroom and carry out the 24 tasks, others provide 1:1 support, some tutor within the classroom -including level 6 maths, some TAs can and do teach - ie independently plan a series of sessions, deliver the sessions and assess progress of pupils in enrichment groups. As a TA who carries out the latter, I am well qualified and capable, as are other TA colleagues.( I also carry out ad hoc whole class supply, when I claim QTS rate).

Elibean Mon 21-Jul-14 10:11:41

I can't begin to imagine our school without it's amazing TAs.

It is quite true that the job can vary hugely, and even within one school depending on interests, trainings, and needs....some of ours have specialist trainings, all have their own strengths and areas of expertise (and are deployed accordingly).

They are much loved and highly valued.

rollonthesummer Mon 21-Jul-14 20:24:04

(I also carry out ad hoc whole class supply, when I claim QTS rate)

Do you have QTS?

PercyPorkyPig Mon 21-Jul-14 22:12:00

Yes, I do. We have several TAs with QTS who prefer not to be class teachers for various personal reasons, including those who can no longer sustain the levels of stress, workload etc. We offer a valuable resource for our school and have a degree of autonomy as we are able to direct ourselves, run enrichment courses etc We also work in class and take teacher direction - just a case of different hats. I am also an ex-SENCo and now a School Governor so have expertise in a number of areas to contribute to the staff team.

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