Headlines: April 17th, 2002

OFSTED has praised the impact on schools of the increasing role played by teaching assistants. The report is likely to help Government further strengthen their role despite protests from some teacher groups.Drawing on evidence from school inspections, it says that the presence of a teaching assistant in the classroom improves the quality of teaching. It also says that increased government funding for the recruitment and training of teaching assistants has been matched by bigger expectations from schools that assistants will do more to support learning in the classroom as well as their traditional role of preparing materials for lessons.

The report also says that, although the deployment and management of assistants is improving, few schools monitor their often fragmented work patterns or include them in their performance management procedures.

The report calls on the Government to simplify the funding arrangements for employing teaching assistants, and to continue to develop a structure of qualifications and career progression for them.

It also wants Government to ensure that newly qualified teachers are trained to make the most of working with assistance.

The report does note though, that while considerable public investment in expanding teacher assistant numbers has led to increased quality, its has not so far led to a reduction in teachers’ workloads.

Teaching Assistants in Primary Schools: An evaluation of the quality and impact of their work is published at www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications