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 had on last year’s Premier League*.


As an Associate Headteacher and inclusion leader, as part of the LLS and Whole School SEND team, and in 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's 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. 


We are at the last stages of recruiting schools to be part of this trial – if you are a primary school in one of our three target areas; London, Hampshire and West Midlands then please read more here.


The SEND Review: Teaching Assistant Deployment will be live on this website shortly and 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
London Leadership Strategy Programme Lead
Associate Headteacher and Inclusion Leader, St. Mary’s Church of England Primary School, East Barnet
Specialist Leader of Education for SEND


*For those of you not football attuned Leicester were the 5000/1 underdogs who won the 2016 Premier League title.


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