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Local Education Authorities and Statementing

Local Education Authorities (LEAs) are generally responsible for the teaching assistant recruitment for schools within the borough. The teaching assistant (TA) title covers many roles within the school, but is usually those that assist the teacher during classes. Some experienced TAs can even manage a whole class, depending on their experience (which the government has been uncomfortable with in recent months).

Some LEAs have seen their TA government funding cut, which has had a huge impact, but many LEAs are still recruiting much needed TAs due to class sizes and teacher workloads.

Teaching assistant jobs are advertised either in local newspapers, local authority school bulletins or job websites. Once recruited, many TAs are encouraged to study for additional qualifications to enhance their knowledge and skills via third party learning centres. Some TAs can find themselves going on to study for teaching qualifications.

Many LEAs will request a qualification, usually an NVQ Level 2 Teaching Assistant or QCF Level 2 STL, whilst others will see these qualifications as ‘desirable’. It all depends on the demand of TAs within the borough.

All LEAs will require experience working with children, with special needs experience as a bonus. DBS (formerly CBR) checks will also be a requirement.

If you are considering becoming a teaching assistant, please contact your LEA to check their requirements.

SEN and the Process of Statementing

Children can sometimes have disabilities or needs that can have an impact on their ability to learn. These areas include:

  • physical needs and impairments
  • reading and writing
  • social or behaviour
  • comprehension
  • the ability to concentrate (i.e. ADHD)

Statemented students are those who are educated in mainstream schools with the help of a teaching assistant, covering their specific needs. The formal account of the special needs required for the student is the ‘statement of special needs’ and is only required if the school is unable to support the student via other means. Not all special needs students will need a ‘statement’. For example, dyslexic students are unlikely to be statemented.

The process of statementing a student can be a long process (many months!) and not all applications with Local Education Authorities are a success. With the application, evidence is required to demonstrate the student’s difficulties. All schools will typically have what is known as a SENCo (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator), who deals with daily SEN operations. Usually a teacher will be appointed for the role.

The first stage is the ‘statutory assessment’ which assesses the student’s needs – either at the request of the school or parent – and is carried out by the LEA. The assessment usually takes 6 weeks to make the decision whether to carry out the assessment. The LEA will contact some or all of the following:

– the parents
– the school
– an educational psychologist (EP)
– social services, if applicable
– a doctor
– speech language therapist

After the assessment, the LEA will take up to 12 weeks to make a decision.