We cannot quantify that value of our teaching assistants. They bring so much more to the school gates than their contracts stipulate... They are more than curriculum facilitators; they are the friendly face for the anxious parent, the constant ear for the frightened child, the steady presence for the overwhelmed teacher. They spend hours in draughty corridors, hunched on infant chairs or out in the cold, ushering the last few stragglers from a frozen playing field. They drive the mini buses, man the gates, supervise the lunches, fashion the costumes, serve the refreshments, record the book sales, tackle the photocopier, fill out the paperwork, attend the training, walk the line, open the yoghurt pots, locate the lost property and generally juggle the daily demands of school life in their safe hands... for minimum wage.
With budgets getting tighter and goalposts moving so rapidly you'd need to be an owl wearing binoculars to keep track of them, it's more important than ever to shout about the value of our TAs.
'Improving Literacy in Key Stage Two', a guidance report written by the EEF, gives some insight into how schools can manage impact of intervention.
"Prompt identification of a pupil’s specific literacy needs and provision of appropriate support are critical to ensuring sustained progress. While a quick response is important, it is essential that the support offered is appropriate. ...All aspects of reading can be improved, but it is important to get the targeting right"
Schools with dedicated TAs already have the appropriate support, and as for the targeting, we can provide these structured next steps for learning by sharing every pupil's progress.
The user-friendly software is ready (Mappix - #justSaying).
The targets are ready.
Are we ready to provide the evidence to support what we already know?
...TAs are the eyes, ears and hearts of our schools
And we can prove it if we need to.