Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants

At last week’s launch of the UCL Centre for Inclusive Education, Rob Webster compared the size of the Teaching Assistant workforce in the UK to the population of Leicester with the clear comparison to the impact that this particular underdog has on last year’s Premiership (for those of you not football attuned Leicester were the 5000/1 underdogs who won the 2016 Premiership Title).


As an Associate Headteacher, and inclusion leader, and as part of the LLS and Whole School SEND team in addition to my work as part of the ‘Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants’ (MITA) programme led by Rob, I know the value of TAs in improving outcomes and experiences for all learners. While often thought of and deployed in the context of learners with SEND, effective deployment of TAs supports a much wider group of children and young people.


Over the past year, Rob has led on the development for the ‘SEND Review – Teaching Assistant Deployment’ as part of the Department of Education supported Whole school SEND Programme. The final document will be launched later in the month and will add to a growing suite of free review tools for schools.


I am delighted that this work has fed into a successful bid to the Education Endowment Foundation to test the impact of the MITA programme on pupil outcomes.


Led by UCL Centre for Inclusive Education this funded project aims to develop the way that teaching assistants can improve students’ outcomes by working in a whole class setting. It will provide training, at different times, for all staff in the school:

  • Headteachers and one other senior leader from each school will attend 4 local training sessions, explaining the research about effective use of TAs, and introducing the framework for improving TA practice
  • Consultants will attend the school in between training sessions, to support school leaders with reviewing current practice, strategic planning and the implementation of key principles and recommendations
  • Training sessions for TAs on effective interactions with pupils and improving pupil independence, with gap tasks in-between
  • Training sessions for teachers on planning lessons and organising classrooms effectively to capitalise on the TA training.


The programme will be delivered over 2017/2018, and all school staff in the intervention will receive training. The strategic school improvement input for headteachers and senior leaders will be delivered by UCL Institute of Education; the staff training will be led by the University of East London; and the in-school support and coaching will be provided by TA Reviewers from the London Leadership Strategy.


London Leadership Strategy has recruited and trained 19 TA Reviewers to support this work.


There are now more than 130 schools involved, from London, Hampshire and West Midlands. The project is set to be the biggest of its kind and we are very excited to see it come to fruition. 


The SEND Review: Teaching Assistant Deployment will be live on this website shortly. Join our mailing list to be the first to see it. 


There will be opportunities for briefing and training over 2017/18 for those not involved in the EEF funded work.


Teaching assistants are an invaluable resource, that when well deployed, can have a significant impact on pupil outcomes and wellbeing.


Maria Constantinou 

Maria is a Specialist Leader in Education for SEND and Associate Headteacher and Inclusion Leader at St. Mary’s Primary School in East Barnet, Hertfordshire where SEN Leadership is recognised as an ‘Area of Excellent Practice’.



15th May 2017
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