Headlines: March 30th, 2004

The role of the Teacher Training Agency has been extended to include the professional development of teachers and the training of school support staff including teaching assistants. The Agency will become the key organisation which will coordinate efforts of all those involved in providing professional development for teachers. It will support a national network that will help every teacher to improve their classroom practice, become an expert in their chosen specialism and have the opportunity to continually learn on the job.The remit of the Agency is also being widened to cover teaching assistants and support staff so that the skills of the whole teaching workforce will be maximised. School Standards Minister David Miliband said: “The potential gains from up-skilling the school support staff sector are huge. School support staff play a vital role in complementing the work of teachers and they have a crucial role to play in raising standards and enabling every child to reach their potential. I look forward to seeing bursars, caretakers, learning mentors, teaching assistants and all school support staff benefit.”

Under the new arrangements the Agency will be working closely with the Learning and Skills Council, local authority employers, school workforce unions and training providers to achieve a coherent national strategy for school support staff training and development.

So far the LSC have enrolled 1,200 support staff such as administrators, midday supervisors and caretakers on recognised courses. They plan to enrol up to 10,000 during the course of next year. This is in addition to the 7,000 places for Higher Level Teaching Assistant Training, which is expected to build up to 20,000 places a year.