In the UK, teaching assistants (TA’s) represent around 25% of the entire school workforce which is around 380,000 of them. With the current pay of teaching assistants, cost of living crisis, headteachers making staffing cuts due to budget pressures, TA numbers are under threat as they seek more profitable and less stressful employment.
As many educators know, teaching assistants have a huge impact in the classroom specifically with vulnerable children and young people. The role of a TA is extremely important, solidifying the gap between a student direct to their teacher.
The SEND review released in March 2022 by the government states that they will make a bigger and stronger commitment to ensure that students with SEN complex needs will be educated in mainstream schools over Special Educational settings. To ensure that this takes place, resources and processes must be effectively planned and executed so pupils can thrive. Resources, in this instance, can only be used consistently with a compliment of valuable TA’s.
The SEND review is titled: Right Support, Right Place, Right Time. For the government to achieve this, it cannot be completed by teachers alone for all schools. Teaching assistants are needed to ensure that the correct and relevant support is given to students.
Consistency within the classroom seems to be an issue for teaching assistants. They may start the day thinking they are in one class and with a minute’s notice, they are whisked away to another class; therefore, causing havoc, if the teacher has planned their day around that TA. Consequently, causing poor results for their students as senior leadership need to deploy staff in their ‘most needed’ areas.
After speaking with many teaching assistants over the last two years, one of the main reasons they are leaving the profession altogether is because of increase workload from the teacher; specifically, since the beginning of the pandemic. Many TAs are being expected to mark work daily, causing them to finish school most days a couple hours past normal finishing time.
Governments throughout the decades have had a huge focus on teaching; the quality of teaching staff and strengthening the bond between teacher and student. In these modern days where the emphasis on special needs is huge, we need to utilise the knowledge of Teaching Assistants and help build a professional and sustainable environment for support staff to enable them to stay in school. If teaching assistants do leave, it will be the children that suffer.