Plea for TA review panel to discuss axing of support staff pay body

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Revisiting the scrapping of the support staff negotiating body and sharing best practice more widely. These are two of the suggestions that have already been put forward for consideration by an independent review set up to create new teaching assistant st

These are two of the suggestions that have already been put forward for consideration by an independent review set up to create new teaching assistant standards.

The Department for Education (DfE) announced the review last week, stating that the standards will “enshrine the status and professionalism” of teaching assistants.

The panel is to be led by Kate Dethridge, principal of Churchend Primary Academy in Reading, and it includes a number of school leaders, teaching assistants and other experts. It is due to report back to secretary of state Nicky Morgan in the spring.

The DfE has said that the new standards will:

  • Be used to assess the performance of teaching assistants.

  • Steer the professional development of teaching assistants at all levels.

  • Inspire confidence in teaching assistants and ensure that schools use their skills and expertise to best effect.

  • Focus primarily on the key elements of their professional relationship with teachers.

Education unions gave their broad support for the plans this week, along with their suggestions for areas that the review should tackle.

Deborah Lawson, general secretary of Voice and a former teaching assistant, called for the review to tackle the issue of the School Support Staff Negotiating Body, which was scrapped by the government in 2010.

She explained: “Teaching assistants are professionals fulfilling a professional role. Research has demonstrated that teaching assistants make a significant and valuable contribution to the way pupils learn and achieve.

“However, teaching assistants need a proper career and salary structure. The government’s decision to scrap the School Support Staff Negotiating Body before it had even got off the ground was a bitter disappointment and an insult to our dedicated school support staff. 

“We hope that this new review will examine this issue. If teaching assistants are to have professional standards, they must be treated as professionals.”

Elsewhere, Brian Lightman, chief of the Association of School and College Leaders, urged a focus on best practice.

He said: “We are pleased to see the government recognising the value that teaching assistants add to education. Where they are deployed effectively, support staff are a key ingredient in helping schools to raise standards. While it is right to make sure that professional standards for teaching assistants are fit-for-purpose, what is more important is to make sure that it has an impact in the classroom. A useful next step would be for government to work with schools to share good practice more widely.”

Launching the review, schools minister David Laws said: “Good teaching assistants are essential to driving up standards in the classroom and helping students fulfil their full potential.”

Ms Dethridge added: “We hope to ensure that the development of these standards will make a significant contribution to a self-improving, school-led system.”


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