It has been launched by charity Mencap and comes after its Inspired Educators scheme trained more than 1,500 headteachers, SENCOs and teachers on the effective deployment of teaching assistants to support pupils with SEN.
The charity worked with the Institute of Education and six Teaching Schools on the programme and now plans to deliver free seminars across the country throughout this academic year.
Entitled Inspired Educators: Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants, the training programme is aiming to reach more than 600 mainstream schools in England. An analysis of the initial training programme by Canterbury Christ Church University found that
70 per cent of the schools were using teaching assistants to support SEN pupils. However, at the same time only 5.4 per cent were confident that their teaching assistants had enough information about the pupils’ needs and what support they had to provide.
Sandi Gatt, who is managing the project for Mencap, said: “Teaching assistants are an important part of the education system, however students with SEN and learning disabilities deserve to be taught by a qualified teacher and included in classroom learning.
“And teaching professionals agree. They have told us that achieving inclusivity in education has the potential to improve educational outcomes for all children, not just those with SEN and a learning disability.
“The next phase of our work will raise awareness of the need for improved practices and will support schools to think more strategically about the preparation and deployment of their support staff. We will be focusing on the role of senior leadership in driving a whole-school approach to change. We cannot afford to ignore the difference that practical changes can make in significantly improving the quality of education for all children.”
Mencap has produced best-practice guidelines on the deployment of teaching assistants. For these and for more on the project, visit www.mencap.org.uk/inspired-educators