Most schools couldn’t operate without teaching assistants, yet their role is often not fully understood or recognised. UNISON is campaigning for teaching assistants to be rewarded through a proper career structure and better pay, terms and conditions. There is a complex mix of TA responsibilities with an overlap between pastoral, administrative and teaching duties.
The celebration day is part of a wider campaign spearheaded by UNISON, the UK’s largest education trade union, to speak up for teaching assistants and celebrate the positive impact they have on children’s learning and development.
The roles TAs play in the classroom are varied but they are all vital, such as giving targeted help to pupils with special educational needs, supporting children with complex health needs, providing pastoral support to children or supporting teachers with lesson preparation. With the dedicated help of TAs, children get support to keep them in mainstream education who would otherwise struggle.
Sonya Howard, Branch Secretary said:
“Teaching assistants are a class act and schools could not run without them. Children and young people trust their teaching assistants and often turn to them when they are struggling at school with their learning or social wellbeing. By working with an individuals or small groups, a teaching assistant can gain the confidence of a child and help them to achieve their full potential. That is a really special skill and we are celebrating that today.”
A UNISON survey earlier this year that showed 95% of head teachers believed TAs added value to schools. They said that a reduction in the number of teaching assistants would impact on children with special education and health needs, on teachers, and the running of schools.
Jon Richards, UNISON head of education, said:
“They often work long, unpaid hours and have insecure employment contracts and are badly paid for what they do. We are working towards improved career structures and professional standards for all TAs – wherever they work – and want to ensure that they are appropriately trained and deployed. Today we are celebrating the positive contribution of TAs to our schools.”
More information on tasks teaching assistants perform
Working with individual pupils, small groups and children with special needs
Administering medicines (e.g. for diabetic children)
Adapting resources for disabled students
Supervising classes for absent teachers & managing other classroom support staff
Supporting pupils’ social and emotional well-being
Monitoring, assessing and recording pupil data
Running breakfast and after-school clubs & supervising lunch and play times
Invigilating exams and tests.