Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants
By Anthony Russell, Rob Webster and Peter Blatchford
Published by Routledge
Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants (MITA) has been designed to provide easy-to-use, evidence-based materials and activities to improve the preparation of TAs and teachers, the deployment of TAs, and TAs’ interactions with pupils.
Drawing on our extensive research, MITA provides support, guidance and recommendations primarily directed at school leaders’ efforts to invest in and develop their TA workforce, and at teachers looking for techniques and strategies to improve their classroom practice.
Chapter 1: The case for change: implications and strategies
This chapter sets out the case for rethinking the current and widespread ways of using TAs. We provide an explanation for the negative relationship between TA support and pupil progress found in the Deployment and Impact of Support Staff project and raise questions for readers to think about. We explain how the guidance in the book was derived from an action research study we undertook in collaboration with schools, called the Effective Deployment of TAs project.
Chapter 2: Auditing the deployment, preparation and practice of TAs
This chapter aims to raise awareness of the need to review the deployment, preparation and practice of TAs as they are currently in your school, and to guide you on the tools through which the present situation in any one school or class, or cluster, can be obtained. We draw on the audit devised as part of the EDTA project and through which we confirmed its usefulness in helping schools to initiate the processes of review and change.
Chapter 3: The deployment of TAs
The perceived role of the TA is central to the ways in which they are deployed, and this chapter sets out the various roles assigned at the school level by headteachers and at the classroom level by individual teachers. The linking – or ‘Velcroing’, as it is sometimes known – of TAs to pupils with SEN and those whose attainment is relatively low, is presented as the central issue about TAs facing the school leaders and teachers. The DISS project has shown that, at present, decisions regarding TA deployment are often detrimental to the pupils being supported, so change is clearly necessary. Whilst TAs are not to blame for this situation, we argue that the status quo is no longer defendable and serious investment in TAs is now needed.
Chapter 4: The preparedness of TAs
This chapter deals with issues such as: induction; TAs’ instructional and subject knowledge and skills; training; recruitment; and contracts. At the classroom level, the main focus is on issues of time for TAs to meet teachers for preparation and feedback on a day-to-day basis, as well as communication more generally.
Chapter 5: The practice of TAs
The verbal interactions between TAs and pupils (‘practice’ in our terms) are at the heart of their role as supporters of learning. Although this relates to decisions and strategies at the classroom level, there are school-level decisions relating to strategic choices about questioning styles, monitoring and training, which can be made to improve TAs’ practice. Furthermore, it reveals ways in which schools and teachers can reduce the need for adult support by helping pupils to develop independent learning skills. This chapter sets out things that schools can start doing tomorrow in order to release the huge potential of TAs.
Chapter 6: Conclusions
In this final chapter we restate the case for change (chapter 1) by summing up the positive impact of carrying out the suggestions in the book, drawing on the experiences of the schools we worked with in the EDTA project.