One of the central aims of this course has been to give you a sense of how teaching assistants are part of an exciting educational development. We have therefore set the employment of teaching assistants in the context of the widespread growth of a new paraprofessional workforce across public services. We have noted the gendered nature of this workforce in schools, identified reasons why local parents in particular are attracted to working in schools, and highlighted the valuable contribution that teaching assistants make in view of their life and previous work experiences. We have suggested that, although there is much overlap in the roles that assistants perform (whatever their title and wherever they work in the UK), there are also important defining distinctions to be made. Teaching assistants take on a wide variety of responsibilities. The overlap between the roles of teachers and teaching assistants continues to increase over time and the distinctive contribution that teaching assistants make in their own right has become more creatively defined. We can expect that these role and workforce developments will continue to change given the way successive governments introduce new policy and practice changes in primary education.
This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course Supporting learning in primary schools..