Three years ago Senior Leaders undertook a whole school analysis of Teaching Assistants through Pupil Progress Data, Teaching/Learning Monitoring and how they were deployed:
- This is what we found:-
o A large majority of TA’s were working with lower ability pupils away from the main class base.
o The gap between these pupils and others was not narrowing fast enough.
o Groups of pupils had become dependent on adult support and lacked independence.
o Many of the TA’s were not part of the main lesson and lacked understanding of the class learning.
o There was evidence of task completion in small groups, but learning was not moving on fast enough.
o Very few TA’s ever supported more able pupils.
- It is important to note that all our teaching assistants are hardworking and very supportive but it was obvious to us that we were not developing and deploying them to the best effect. Our mantra was “If nothing changes….nothing changes”;
- Senior leaders accessed best practice research and referenced ‘Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants’;
- We undertook an audit of the skills of our support staff, and as a result established a support staff structure and a review of support staff job descriptions;
- We recruited internally three Learning Support Assistants based on the skills audit and focused strategies to accelerate progress for Pupil Premium/Vulnerable Pupils;
- We delivered robust and targeted CPD for all support staff based on our school development priorities;
- We created a list of non-negotiables which linked to the above:
o 39 week contract to include 5 PD x days training
o All support staff start at 8.30am. (some earlier)
o Weekly team meetings
o Half-termly in-house training programme
o External training as necessary
- Improved teamwork and communication between teachers and support staff.
- A Support Staff Policy was developed and used as a focus for in-house training for support staff. Themes covered were:
o Learning Skills/Growth Mindset – how to support children in using them.
o Learning Objectives/Success Criteria.
o Shared whole class time - good practice for TA’s.
o Independent activities/moving learning on.
o Marking/feedback policy – TA’s are expected to be part of this process.
o Quality feedback/questioning.
o A range of Maths/English training.
- All this information was shared with Teaching Staff as they are the TA’s direct Line Managers and it is their responsibility to communicate and model learning expectations;
- All monitoring includes the best use of TA’s and support staff and their impact on learning. Appraisal is targeted and timely, linked to school development priorities;
- Finally, it is important to mention that we appreciate our support staff are so focused on moving learning on, all the other additional jobs are hard to fit in. We address this by building in a half termly MAD (Make a Difference) day for all TA’s to achieve general tasks. These are planned and all teachers are expected to release them.