Despite the promise and potential they provide, Teaching Assistants are currently undervalued, underpaid, and their contributions largely unrecognised, Alex Cunningham has suggested.
And Labour’s Stockton North MP, leading a debate in Westminster to highlight the importance of Teaching Assistants to young people across the country and to the schooling system as a whole, has urged the Government to take action to confirm and codify the role that Teaching Assistants play in our education system in order to make sure that their contributions are recognised fully.
The role and worth of Teaching Assistants has been in the public spotlight since alarmist articles in the mainstream media raised questions about the value for money they provide. However, despite gaining considerable traction, such claims were based on a simplified and highly selective reading of the evidence.
“Several articles and reports have appeared in recent years that recommend cutting the number of Teaching Assistant as available evidence suggests they do not have a positive impact on pupil attainment.
“Such judgements, however, are formulated from only a limited evidence base and should not be taken at face value or without the addition of substantial caveats. Indeed, the latest research has found quite the opposite to be true, demonstrating that Teaching Assistants can have significant positive effects when deployed well.
“And this is the crucial factor – Teaching Assistants, when properly instructed and deployed, provide effective interventions to improve educational outcomes. They add real value to our education system and improve the learning and support that our young people are able to access, and it is important that we recognise this valuable contribution.
“What we need, then, on top of greater clarity surrounding roles, is enhanced sharing of best practice about how Teaching Assistants are trained and deployed to ensure that the myths regarding Teaching Assistants are dispelled and their contributions recognised.
“To achieve this, the Government must promote proper training and continuous professional development for Teaching Assistants similar to that of teachers. It is this level of guidance and preparation that will allow Teaching Assistants to properly deliver specific, high-quality teaching interventions that will be to the advantage of teachers and pupils alike.”