Deployment of Teaching Assistants in schools

Teaching Assistants (TAs) account for around a quarter (28%) of the overall state-funded school workforce (DfE, 2018). In recent years, research has begun to examine how TAs can be deployed effectively (Sharples et al., 2015). This research has shown that TAs who are sufficiently trained and used correctly within the classroom – for example, as a supplement to teachers and not a replacement – can have a positive impact on pupil engagement and attainment. Wider evidence also suggests that TAs can have a positive impact on academic achievement, however, effects vary (Blatchford et al., 2009). Despite this work, there is little up-to-date evidence of how schools actually do deploy and allocate TAs, what TAs are doing inside and outside of the classroom and what is informing schools’ decision-making on how and where TAs are deployed.
This exploratory qualitative research was commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) in order to understand more about TA deployment in schools. Specifically, the research sought to: explore models of deployment in a range of primary and secondary mainstream schools in England; understand the factors affecting TA deployment; and identify any reasons for changes in TA deployment (both historical and those planned for the future).
The findings are based on 60 semi-structured qualitative telephone interviews with headteachers or nominated members of staff (e.g. deputy/assistant headteachers, senior leadership team members, or special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCO)) in 30 primary and 30 secondary schools in England. Interviews took place in October and November 2018. Participating schools reflected a range of characteristics including: maintained and academy school status; region (including London and non-London schools); Ofsted rating; number of pupils; proportions of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) and proportions recorded as having special educational needs and disability (SEND).

Date Published: 27th June 2019
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