Best Practice

Recruiting and retaining our teaching assistants

How can schools hang on to their teaching assistants? Sara Alston considers the barriers to retention and how supporting TAs’ preparation, training and professionalism will help


We know that we are in a crisis for teaching assistant recruitment. We have gone in the recent years from having more applicants for teaching assistant jobs than we knew what to do with to now having hardly any at all.

On top of this, there is a retention crisis for support staff in schools just as there is for teaching staff, with a recent survey finding that 49% are actively looking for other jobs (Parry, 2023; UNISON, 2022).

The reasons are clear.

With the cost-of-living crisis biting hard, there is now better pay with less demands to be found in many other sectors, such as retail and hospitality. Often it is sufficiently better to cover the hassles and expenses of holiday childcare.

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