How can teaching assistants help schools struggling to hire?

2018-08-15

New research shows that three out of 10 teaching assistants are interested in potentially training to be a teacher, whilst just under a third possess a degree and are open to the idea of qualifying to teach.


The research, which was conducted by the Tes Institute, found that 122,000 individuals teaching across English schools already have a degree and would be interested in becoming a fully qualified teacher, while 75% of those have already experienced life in a school for three or more years.


As a result, teaching assistants have the potential to be the ideal trainee teachers if they receive the right training and investment from their respective schools.


Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the NEU teaching union, believes that it is important for schools to reverse the current trend which sees a fifth of teaching assistants move into support roles from teaching.


Many take a backwards step and become a teaching assistant to give themselves a reduced workload and to get away from the pressures of full‐time teaching.


However, Malcolm Trobe, of the Association of School and College Leaders, insists that there could be a compromise if there was more flexibility within teaching, as those who wanted a more balanced working life could enter into a part‐time teaching role.


Schools that have managed to grow and develop their own talent by investing in teaching assistants, particularly in hard‐to‐recruit subjects, have proven that it can be successful.


Nick Brook, Deputy General Secretary of the NAHT headteachers' union, said becoming a qualified teacher after working as a teaching assistant was a route that is proven to succeed.


He said: “Those who have prior experience in schools are likely to stay longer, as they are fully aware of what is involved. Though it does require flexibility on the part of the school to enable teaching assistants – who often have ongoing financial and family responsibilities – to gain their teaching qualification while continuing to work.”


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