Making the most of teaching assistants in the management of SEND

By Sue Rudlin

While the proportion of teachers in mainstream schools in England has remained relatively steady over the last decade, the proportion of full time equivalent teaching assistants (TAs) has more than trebled since 2000 – from 79,000 to over 243,000.

Teaching assistants are a hugely valuable and important resource for schools. On average schools spend almost half of their Pupil Premium funding on teaching assistants. Many of these TAs are deployed to work with pupils with SEND both in and out of the classroom so it is vital that TAs are managed effectively.

In March 2015, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) published research-based guidance for making the best use of TAs within schools, and made seven recommendations for maximising the impact of TAs.

The guidance recommends that TAs should not be used as an informal teaching resource for low attaining pupils, but they should be used to deliver high quality one-to-one and small group support using structured interventions. The EEF also recommends that schools should ensure TAs are fully prepared for their role and that schools should adopt evidence-based interventions to support TAs in their small group and one-to-one instruction.

As a manager, by using a strategic management process such as provision management, you will be able to make the most of your teaching assistants and carry out the recommendations of the Education Endowment Foundation guidance.

For Carol Venables, a SENCO based in Hillingdon, Provision Map Writer (PMW), Blue Hill’s online secure website service, has helped key stakeholders in the school to understand the needs of their SEN pupils. She said:

“Provision Map Writer has ensured that all pupils are accounted for and that all teachers and teaching assistants are aware of SEN pupils and their needs within their class. At the end of this year we will be able to evaluate our interventions and plan for next year.”

Beverley Palmer, a Teaching Assistant from Nottinghamshire, added: “We use Provision Map Writer to inform class teachers and the Senior Management Team what interventions particular pupils are having. Having the SIMS link means I don't have to input all pupil info manually.”

Here are some key ways your school can maximise the impact of TAs in your school:

  • Share aims, success criteria, targets and outcomes for pupils and interventions
  • TAs can contribute to pupil reviews, giving feedback on attitude, progress, attainment, understanding and attendance
  • Intervention records give TAs the opportunity to give feedback on how well they felt the intervention worked and how easy it was to deliver
  • The Pupil Profile document enables you to share vital information with TAs about pupils’ barriers to learning and effective ways of overcoming these
  • Pupil Premium tracking and analysis means you can show cost effectiveness of employing TAs and delivering your chosen interventions.

We can provide training in implementing provision management in your school and we are happy to answer any questions about Provision Map Writer you may have. To find out more, visit the Provision Map Writer webpage.

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