Teaching on the cheap? Two in five TAs cover at least five hours of lessons a week

“My role has become increasingly one of cover for absent teachers in my department. Last year about 50% of my time was spent doing this.” 
Image: Adobe Stock

New evidence shows the extent to which teaching assistants are being asked to cover lessons and manage classes due to teacher shortages.

Survey findings (Webster, 2024) involving almost 6,000 teaching assistants in England and Wales finds that 39% are covering classes for at least five hours a week; a further 15% say they are leading full classes for at least 11 hours a week.

The study finds that 45% of the respondents are covering more classes this year than last, with many not simply supervising lessons, but delivering teaching.

National guidance states that support staff should not “actively teach” any classes they cover, but 75% of the teaching assistants said they have ended up teaching rather than supervising.

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