Can teaching assistants support social inclusion?

Teachers, leaders and politicians alike have long questioned the usefulness of teaching assistants in the classroom. Here Dr Helen Saddler questions the way TAs are currently deployed and offers an interesting perspective on where their value lies.
Teacher reading to pupils

Difficulties in identifying good practice approaches to the deployment of teaching assistants (TAs) are nothing new. Ever since the Sutton Trust and Deployment and Impact of Support Staff (DISS) reports first surfaced between 2008 and 20121,2, the value and place of TAs in our schools has been continually questioned. The assertion that many TAs are having a neutral and, in some cases, a negative influence on pupil attainment is significant cause for concern. Clearly, the government is unsure of their stance on TAs, choosing not to publish the long awaited new TA standards and instead leaving it to the unions to take the plunge.3 

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