Campaign launched in Yorkshire to use teaching assistants to help improve poorer pupils’ results

Photo: David Jones/PA Wire
Photo: David Jones/PA Wire
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A NEW £5m campaign has been set up to improve the results of pupils from deprived backgrounds in more than 1,000 West and South Yorkshire schools by making better use of teaching assistants.

The work by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is focused on the West and South of the region because the counties have the biggest attainment gap in the country between the results of rich and poor children.

It will look to implement recommendations in a report published today by the charity about how schools should look to employ teaching assistants.

The EEF said previous research had shown that in many English schools teaching assistants are not being used in ways that improve pupil outcomes.

However, it said that evidence showed that when they are well trained and used in “structured settings with high-quality support and training”, they can boost learning by as much as an extra term.

The campaign will work in more than 1,000 primary schools in West and South Yorkshire . The EEF’s new report has looked at a range of existing research to examine the impact teaching assistants currently have in schools.

It has been written by Jonathan Sharples from York University’s Institute for Effective Education, who has been seconded to the EEF, Rob Webster and Peter Blatchford, who are both from the UCL Institute of Education.

It says that while the numbers of teachers has remained relatively steady over the past decade the number of teaching assistants has trebled since 2000 from 79,000 to almost a quarter of a million( 243,700).

It says there are now more teaching assistants than teachers in English nurseries and primary schools.

But the EEF says the “typical use of teaching assistants schools” does not lead to improvements in pupils’ academic results.

, The authors add that recent research has found teaching assistants used in “targeted interventions in one-to-ones or small groups” consistently improved progress of pupils by around three to four months.

It says teaching assistants often spend the majority of their time working in an informal instructional role.

And the report claims they tend to be more focused on helping pupils complete tasks rather than getting them to develop understanding.

It also warns that teaching assistants are often not adequately prepared for their role in classrooms and do not have enough time to liaise with teachers.

It recommends that teaching assistants should not be used as an “informal teaching resource” for low attaining pupils and says they should only be used to add to what teachers do rather than replacing them.

However, it says assistants should be used to help pupils develop independent learning skills and to manage their own learning.

It also calls on schools to use them to deliver one to one interventions with pupils after giving them training and support.

The EEF is now inviting schools and other partners to get involved in the project.

It is believed the programme will reach more than 13,000 pupils in both West and South Yorkshire primary schools.