UNISON has criticised the government’s approach to teaching assistants and stressed the need for more examples of good practice of how they are trained and deployed.
In a blog for Left Foot Forward, the union’s head of education and children’s services, Jon Richards, said that the union has contributed to a forthcoming report by the Department for Education, which looks at the deployment of teaching assistants (TAs), adding that last November’s celebration day for classroom support staff had seen a huge and positive response.
And Mr Richards said that “newer research from the Education Endowment Foundation, using randomised control testing, has provided clear evidence that teaching assistants can improve numeracy and literacy.”
He accused the right wing of “knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing,” saying that it had “cherry-picked evidence from the limited amount of research on the impact that TAs have on pupil attainment, and suggested they are not effective and so should be axed.”
On training and deployment, Mr Richards observed: “Of course it is not just pupil attainment that TAs can excel in: specialist support for disadvantaged or pupil with special needs, pastoral care, support to teachers to ease the pressure, and their role as links to their local community are vital in a modern school environment.”
And he highlighted the poor pay that many teaching assistants face for doing such a valuable job.
“Other UNISON surveys show how school leaders and the public value TAs. All this work is done on low pay. A full-time worker would usually earn between £12-£17 thousand – however the vast majority of TAs work part time, often on term-time contracts and many have to have more than one job to survive.”