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. 


London Leadership Strategy is looking to recruit 22 TA Reviewers to support this work, with the initial briefing and training on 23rd May 2017.


We are also 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.


Getting the evidence to close the gap

Posted by:
10th November 2014
By Conor Ryan Despite the improvements in London schools, there are still big attainment gaps that need to be addressed. Too many disadvantaged pupils lag behind their classmates, and while the problem is less acute in the capital, the fact that those who get the pupil premium match the performance...

What role should the new Regional Schools Commissioner play?

Posted by:
30th October 2014
In the last few years, new schools have been established in order to meet demand for school places and create competition. In most cases these schools have been created outside of great support structures with great capacity, in addition new schools and their supporters have often lacked experience...

“From basket case to somewhere completely different”

Posted by:
28th October 2014
I suppose I should start by stating that three people have already challenged me on the session title for the London Leadership Convention on 12th November. I was always worried that “Maintaining and improving the %5 A*-C with English and Mathematics at above 60%” might sound a touch complacent…....

Outstanding teaching in times of change

Posted by:
14th October 2014
The new OFSTED Framework and more focus on Early Years education, alongside the new SEN code of practice, have increased pressure further on schools, particularly at a primary level. Embedding the New Curriculum, increased expectations at end of Key Stages and of course the whole issue of levelling...

“My dugout, my stadium and my people!” - Jose Mourinho 2013

Posted by:
12th October 2014
Jose Mourinho summed it up wonderfully when he said, on returning back to manage Chelsea FC for the second time, “my dugout, my stadium and my people” because as the new headteacher walks into his/her office for first time it becomes their office, their school and their students. Everything that...

SEN Reforms: Information for School Leaders

Posted by:
11th September 2014
After months of anticipation and preparation the new academic year has begun and the special educational needs (SEN) reforms are upon us. A criticism of the new legislation is that it has been rushed through too quickly, although the SEN reforms have probably had a greater degree of consultation...

New SEND reforms

Posted by:
28th July 2014
As Teachers and Heads prepare for new term, a guidance has gone out to schools on the SEND reforms and what these might mean in practice. View information for school leaders View SEND school leaders presentation  

SEN: Moving Beyond the Label

Posted by:
22nd February 2014
Are the knowledge and skills learners with SEN acquire through years of education enough to maximise on their potential? Do we really know their aspirational potential if we continue to define them through the parameters of their SEN labels? With over 1.3 million learners identified with SEND,...

SEN: A Changing World

Posted by:
17th February 2014
SEN is changing and all of us in schools are trying to understand what the changes will mean in practice for the students in our schools from September 2014. As with so many changes, these have been rushed and there are no definitive answers as to how we should implement them. This of course is a...

SEN - a shared responsibility

Posted by:
21st January 2014
The coming months are key in the provision of services for children with Special Educational Needs and with disabilities. The Children and Families Bill, which is widely recognised as the most significant reform to special education provision in the last 30 years, will move to Royal Assent. 

subscribe to our monthly newsletter