Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants – a Review

21 October 2018

In this week’s post Rachael Howarth, Vice Principal (Inclusion) at Bradford Girls’ Grammar School, shares how they have implemented recommendations from the EEF’s Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants guidance report.

Providing an inclusive environment for pupils has been a high priority for Bradford Girls’ Grammar School since its transition from the Independent sector in 2013. The publication of the Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants guidance report in November 2016 prompted a survey of teaching and support staff to ascertain how far we had come in terms of effectively meeting all pupils’ needs and more importantly what we felt were our next steps. The questions for the survey came from the audit tool, published as part of the report – we wanted as many colleagues as possible to input their views.

Tip: Take the guidance and adapt to fit your context. We felt the audit, without adaptation, assumed a divide between teachers and support staff that didn’t exist in our setting.

When the results were in, a working party (SLT rep, the SENCO, Teacher and Teaching Assistant representatives) was established. This group met regularly during 2017/18 and worked from an action plan that addressed areas for development, referenced to the recommendations summary from the guidance report. For the first year, we focused on getting the basics right, – “the effective use of TAs under everyday classroom conditions.”

Tip: Work to a schedule and timescale that is right for your context.

Evaluation at the end of the year showed us that although we now have teacher/ support staff consensus on what effective support looks like in our school, securing enough time for joint planning and in-house training had been more difficult to achieve. However, changes to TA timetabling and the school day from September 2018 afforded us more flexibility in these areas.

Next Steps

For 2018/19, whilst joint planning and training remain priorities, our attention also turns to recommendations 5 and 6, – “the effective use of TAs in delivering structured interventions out of class.” This phase of our development will begin with a review of existing interventions, ensuring that there is a clear evidence base for their use.  When referring to the EEF toolkit however, many commercial packages in school do not yet have an evidence base for their use, – the guidance report confirms this.  However, specific reference to the features of effective interventions is made; the school will use these as a benchmark for its provision.

This part of the project will not involve teaching staff, but their input will be sought again in 2019/20 when we aim to address the final piece of the jigsaw, – “Integrating learning from work led by teachers and TAs.”

 

Posted on 21 October 2018
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