There are two dominating themes to all school discussions at the moment: funding and recruitment. Both are at “crisis point”. Colin Harris writes in Tes.
First, let’s look at funding cuts. We continually get told by the gods that there is more money in the education system than ever before – and yet these same people expect schools to do so much more than just teach. Heads and teachers have to stretch their funding to pick up the pieces of a failing social services system, one that itself struggling with vast funding cuts.
Second, recruitment. Successive governments have ensured that teaching is now well down the list when graduates view the job market…poor pay, low esteem and massive over-work. Figures for new entrants are collapsing and teachers are fleeing the profession in their thousand, just as they reach maturity.
And how do schools cope with these twin crises? Well without the humble teaching assistant we would be in a far worse state than we are at the moment. It is they that are keeping the profession in one piece at the moment.
We now have more than 380,000 teaching assistants in our schools, a staggering number when you consider that in the year 2000 we had 79,000: nearly a fourfold increase. In fact, I am that old when I could remember a time when in our school of nearly 400 children we had just three.
A recent study of their role in schools showed that more than a third took over the place of the teacher when absent, many for a considerable length of time. And all interviewed felt they taught more this year than last year.
There are several ways for schools to deal with the insufficient number of teachers in the system – none of them pleasant: a shortened week, larger classes or more time on computers. Least acceptable is organising for classes to be taught by staff who are not qualified as teachers.
Read the full article ‘The only sticking plaster holding schools together? The army of teaching assistants’
Are you a TA doing a teachers job? Or a social workers job? Do you feel undertrained and under pressure? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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