SEND education ‘too dependent on teaching assistants’, researchers say

The Tes reports that pupils with special needs are not getting enough interaction with teachers and their peers.

Secondary SEND education is too reliant on under-skilled teaching assistants and school staff are not well trained enough to meet the special needs of pupils, according to a new study.

Researchers from the UCL Institute of Education said that, despite attempts to ensure pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) receive more high quality teaching, a significant proportion of their teaching is still done by TAs.

The study also found that in 84 per cent of observations in English, maths and science lessons, pupils with EHCP were taught in separate classes for “low ability” pupils and those with SEND.

Rob Webster, who co-authored the study with Professor Peter Blatchford, said: “What concerns us is that schools tend to address teaching for pupils with SEND by organising teaching groups by ‘ability’, and by allocating additional adult support, rather than concentrating on improving the quality and accessibility of teaching.”

He says overreliance on TAs “fosters dependency and learned helplessness” and “the more TA support pupils with SEND receive, the less well they perform academically”.​
 
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