Teaching assistants play vital role in children’s learning

UNISON, the UK’s largest education union, today hit back at claims by an unaccountable right wing think tank that teaching assistants should be scrapped, emphasising the huge and vital role that TAs play in schools in helping to deliver support and education to children.

A recent survey of school leaders for the union found that 95% think TAs added value to pupils’ learning experience and enhanced the learning environment.

The union said that any moves to sack teaching assistants would not only hold back pupils with learning difficulties, but would jeopardise the learning of other children in class by distracting teachers.

In addition, the union added that teaching assistants should only be taking classes in certain circumstances, provided that they are properly trained and paid to do so.

UNISON has already written to Michael Gove seeking an urgent meeting about these potentially damaging plans, but has not yet had a response.

Jon Richards UNISON’s national secretary for education said: “Teaching assistants have been vital to improving the education of our children in schools. If you don’t want to take my word for it, listen to school leaders – 95% think TAs boost children’s learning.

“Taking them out of classrooms would be a lose-lose situation for pupils. Those with special needs will fall behind, and teachers will not have as much time for the rest of the classroom.

“It is unfair and wrong to criticise teaching assistants for not taking classes as professionally as teachers. They are not teachers and are not supposed to be taking classes on a regular basis.

“The overwhelming majority of teaching assistants are women. Women have already been hard hit by the recession and this will only make matters worse.”