Leadership: working with teaching assistants

This unit examines the role of teaching assistants (TAs) in supporting pupils with SEN, using research into the way in which additional classroom staff are deployed.

In light of the research evidence, we consider:

  • The features of effective support for pupils with SEN from TAs.
  • The roles that TAs fulfil.
  • The importance of teacher involvement in managing additional support for pupils with SEN.
  • How school policies and procedures can incorporate the effective use of additional support.

Additional adults should perform different roles as they work their way around the classroom during lessons. They should be considered by pupils to be equally as skilled as the class teacher.


Roles for additional adults supporting lessons

It is important to ensure that pupils do not become overly dependent on the support of additional adults in the classroom, as this can result in the ‘learned helplessness’ of pupils with identified SEN and their over-reliance on the additional adult.

Pupils should be encouraged to support each other within an inclusive classroom environment and learn as independently as possible.

Select an area of the classroom to find out more.

  1. Before the lesson
  2. At the front
  3. Sitting alongside
  4. From the sidelines

Before the lesson

Ahead of a lesson, an additional adult could:

  • Work through any text extracts.
  • Rehearse skills, sequences and prompts that will be called upon.
« Return

At the front

During a lesson, an additional adult at the front of a class will:

  • Work collaboratively as a ‘double act’ with the teacher.
  • Model speaking and listening pair tasks with the teacher.
  • Write on the board or flipchart.
  • Set the timer on the interactive whiteboard.
  • Sign for pupils when required.
« Return

Sitting alongside

Although additional adults may need to be mindful of not working too closely with pupils, in providing effective support, they should be available to:

  • Help pupils use equipment, learning resources or visual/tactile aids.
  • Check that provided equipment facilitates the pupils’ learning.
  • Answer pupils’ questions and clarify concepts.
  • Reinforce teaching concepts and draw attention to relevant features.
« Return

From the sidelines

To support pupils’ learning, additional adults working their way around the classroom should:

  • Use an observation checklist linked to criteria, targets for participation, or assessment of progress.
  • Use visual prompts as reminders of work or behaviour.
  • Note mistakes and misconceptions.
« Return