Remaking the role of teaching assistant

The pandemic and the cost of living crisis is making the role of the teaching assistant more crucial than ever – just at a time when funding cuts are putting their jobs at risk, says Mike Short

Previous research has shown the key role played by teaching assistants during the pandemic in directly supporting vulnerable and key worker children during lockdowns, often managing bubbles while teachers delivered remote learning (Moss et al, 2021).

We were keen to find out about the experiences of teaching assistants during what has been labelled the “recovery year” of 2021/22, and as such UNISON commissioned the Education Research, Innovation and Consultancy Unit based at the University of Portsmouth to document their role (Hall & Webster, 2022).

Unfortunately the “recovery year” was itself blighted by further waves of Covid, exacerbated by the lack of government action on mitigations in schools. This led to high rates of staff and pupil absence, particularly in January, March and July.

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