2 Course summary
This course was designed to be an exploration of some broad areas of interest for those who are currently working with children or would like to work with them. The course does not qualify you as a teaching assistant: there are no nationally specified requirements for becoming a teaching assistant – each local authority or school outlines their specific requirements (TES, 2015). However, the badge (and statement of participation) will be useful for your CV and as a basis for discussion at an interview.
Developing and managing relationships
Section 1 used case studies to look at the development of relationships from early years to secondary school and how teaching assistants can play an important role in managing these relationships, especially when children make the transition from one setting to another. You were introduced to some well-known theorists on attachment, such as John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, before learning about Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, whose ideas are still important in child development. These are not the only theorists who have contributed to child development theory, but they provide a useful starting point. In this section, you also looked at how important it is to develop relationships with parents and having ‘parents as partners’.
In Section 2 you looked at reading, literacy, how children learn to read, and how reading can be developed at different stages of education. You were introduced to some key concepts, such as the ‘reading gap’ and the ‘gender gap’. The ‘reading gap’ is about inequalities in attainment in reading, and the ‘gender gap’ raises questions about why some boys are more reluctant readers and progress more slowly than some girls. You may recall the case study of how one teacher, Miss Fuller, tried to encourage reading through a film club, and by asking the children to write book reviews for their peers.
Section 3 focused on behaviour management, especially how to manage classroom behaviour in a positive way. The emphasis of this section was on the involvement of children in promoting good behaviour and on rewards rather than sanctions. You considered the work of Rudolph Dreikurs on the ‘goals of misbehaviour’ and alternative ways to deal with a challenging situation. You looked at the use of reward charts as an example of behaviourism and some of the criticism of this method of behaviour control.
Section 4 was about supporting children with special educational needs and disability (SEND). This section examined some of the terminology used for describing a child’s disability or condition. It looked at the government’s SEND report and what is meant by inclusive practice. You were given an opportunity to reflect on the extent to which your own practice is inclusive.
The overall learning outcomes for Supporting children’s development underpinned these four sections. We hope that you:
- have gained an insight into the varying perspectives of children from early years through to secondary school
- are able to reflect on personal experience and practice, identify strengths and weaknesses, and apply this to your practice issues
- understand how some theories attempt to explain children’s development
- are reflecting on the value of the work of teaching assistants, the support skills involved, and thinking about your future role.
1 Panel discussion
3 The importance of reflection