The TA Review challenging schools to improve their TA Deployment

English schools spend nearly £5 billion a year on teaching assistants. They are the number one pupil premium spend, and are highly valued by teachers and parents as a vital part of the support network for children with SEND. 

To help make use of this valuable resource Whole School SEND, a consortium of over 2000 schools, parents, academics and charities hosted by London Leadership Strategy, are launching the Teaching Assistant Deployment Review, part-funded by the Department for Education. The Review Guide – free to download from– will help schools evaluate and improve their TA deployment.

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TAs do not guarantee improved outcomes for students. In 2009 the Deployment and Impact of Support Staff (DISS) project shocked the education sector, finding that TAs were often poorly deployed and underprepared. These factors were a key to explaining the negative impact of TA support on students’ progress.

Since then the Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants (MITA) team, based in the UCL Institute of Education’s Centre for Inclusive Education, and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), have made it their mission to identify how we can make better use of our TAs. As Rob Webster, one of the researchers that worked on the DISS project, now MITA Director, told TES: “There are over 380,000 TAs working in schools in England. That’s more than the population of Iceland. It’s a considerable resource. Working out how best to use it is a nice problem to have.”

In 2015, the EEF’s comprehensive guidance report Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants reviewed the best available research to identify ways schools can train and deploy TAs in order to deliver high quality support to pupils. This has paved the way for the 2017-19 Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants Project to work with more than 100 schools across London, Hampshire and the West Midlands, the largest project of its kind

However, there are many more schools that have asked for help. That’s why MITA and LLS have developed a free resource for schools, to spread the impact further. The Teaching Assistant Deployment Review Guide, part-funded by the Department for Education, is a framework to evaluate and improve the deployment of TAs within a school. It will go live online for free download here on Friday the 30th June.

The guide is in part modelled on the SEND Review Guide, a framework developed by London Leadership Strategy and partner schools for evaluating overall SEND provision. The SEND Review Guide has now been downloaded over 3000 times and and adopted by schools, clusters and Local Authorities nationwide. These guides fit within a broader suite of Review Guides developed by Whole School SEND partners, due for release later this year. The guides can be used internally or as tools of school to school support. Join the mailing list here for first news of these developments.

“The TA Review Guide sets out each stage of the process clearly so all parties will know the expectations. It answers many questions that schools may have, removing anxiety that the Review is a ‘done-to’ process, reflecting the professional, supportive yet robust system for school-improvement.” Vanessa Hopkinson, MITA Programme Lead and Primary SLE at Kyra Teaching School Alliance

“The effective deployment of Teaching Assistants is a critical component of successfully meeting the additional educational requirements of learners with SEND. Whole School SEND are delighted to have had the opportunity to work in partnership with Rob Webster from the Centre for Inclusive Education at the UCL Institute of Education and the team he put together to develop the Teaching Assistants Deployment Review guide. This guide will offer an invaluable opportunity for schools to work with one another to develop practice around the effective deployment of TAs and in doing so work towards securing better outcomes for children." Simon Knight, Director of Whole School SEND

Whole School SEND are hosting a free training day for senior leaders to learn how to use the guide on the 11th of July in Borough, London. Places are limited – to express an interest please contact

MITA (Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants) is a coalition of advisors, trainers and researchers based at the Centre for Inclusive Education, UCL Institute of Education. They aim to help schools ensure TAs thrive in their role and can support improved outcomes for pupils.

Whole School SEND is a consortium of over 2000 schools, parents, academics and charities committed to improving outcomes for learners with SEND. It is hosted by LLS and draws together work previously funded by the Department for Education and other investors.

London Leadership Strategy (LLS) is a not for profit organisation that exists to improve educational outcomes for all children and young people. It does this through a focus on leadership and models of school to school support in London and beyond, supporting schools and teachers in every stage of their development journey.

30th June 2017
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