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Teaching assistants: support in action (Wales)
Teaching assistants: support in action (Wales)

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1.2 Supporting teachers

In England ‘workforce remodelling’ has brought about an even greater focus on the roles of the adults who work in schools, especially teaching assistants. Higher level teaching assistants (HLTAs) have taken on many of the administrative duties previously done by teachers and provide cover supervision for classes of children. Senior teaching assistants have taken on managerial roles overseeing the work of teaching assistants and students on work experience.

When we think of the teaching assistant workforce, it is also important to remember the many teaching assistants who are unpaid volunteers. Smith (2011) reported that, as of January 2010, there were 126,300 full time equivalent teaching assistants employed in local authority maintained nursery and primary schools in England. This is approximately half the number of teachers but the way in which assistants are employed, often on part-time contracts, means ‘as bodies’ they can equal the number of teachers in any one school. Local authorities do not generally keep figures for volunteer teaching assistants. Some time ago, however, a national survey of English primary, special and independent schools (LGNTO, 2000) found that each school had an average of 8.5 (includes part-time) volunteer staff. Volunteers are clearly an important, if somewhat under-acknowledged, resource in many schools, and indeed, across a wider workforce.