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Developing Effective Relationships in the Classroom. Mandy Jenkins and Lucy Green. Reasons for research. May 2008 Lesley asked us to complete research for the Education Effectiveness Service. We were asked because we had both recently completed inspections.

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reasons for research
Reasons for research
  • May 2008 Lesley asked us to complete research for the Education Effectiveness Service.
  • We were asked because we had both recently completed inspections.
  • We were funded by a G.T.C.W. grant and were going to have 6 weeks out of school.
our brief
Our Brief
  • To arrange visits to as many primary, secondary and special schools as possible.
  • To interview teaching assistants and class teachers about their collaborative practices.
  • Our focus was to be mainly on S.E.N. support in the classroom.
our research
Our research
  • We visited 23 schools.
  • We interviewed 54 Teaching Assistants and 14 teachers.
  • We sent out questionnaires to all primary schools in Swansea and analysed the results.
  • We received 150 completed questionnaires.
the role of the teaching assistant
The role of the Teaching Assistant.
  • What is the role of the Teaching Assistant in your classroom?
teaching assistant responses
Teaching Assistant Responses
  • 94 % of T.A.s felt that they were aware of what was expected of them at all times.
  • Main responsibility was their designated pupil or a small group of identified children.
  • 28 % of Teaching Assistants had never seen their child’s I.E.P..
teaching assistant responses1
Teaching Assistant Responses
  • T.A.s who were involved in setting targets and completing I.E.P.s felt more ownership of the documents.
  • Most T.A.s felt that working with a wider group of children than their designated child enhanced the all the children’s learning experience. T.A.s have used programmes designed for their child with a wider group e.g. Speech and Language, Transition work, D.C.D programmes.
group discussion
Group Discussion
  • In your groups, discuss areas where support staff may take the lead or work particularly well alongside the teacher.
  • List these on the paper given.
  • Can you also discuss and note areas in your school where collaborative or T.A. led activities have not worked as well as you would have wished.
planning and evaluating as a team
Planning and Evaluating as a Team.
  • Practices here varied hugely from school to school.
  • 37 % of T.A.s felt they had no input into planning and evaluating. Lack of involvement had a detrimental effect on supporting the children’s development.
  • T.A.s who were included in planning were more aware of how they fitted in to the whole classroom.
planning and evaluating as a team1
Planning and Evaluating as a Team.
  • T.A.s who were involved felt generally more valued and empowered.
  • T.A.s who were involved in planning could offer suggestions for differentiation and prepare appropriate materials.
  • T.A.s were willing to create resources but they just needed advance notice of their tasks.
planning and evaluating as a team2
Planning and Evaluating as a Team.
  • Many T.A.s were happy to take more responsibility within the classroom.
  • Only 16% of T.A.s felt that at times they had been given too much responsibility.
t a s role in the whole school
T.A.s role in the whole school.
  • Most T.A.s felt that their role extended into the wider school community.
  • A few T.A.s ran lunchtime or after school clubs, nurture groups and organised P.T.A. events.
  • 81% of T.A.s felt that the school utilized their skills fully but conversely 19 % felt that their skills were under-utilized.
t a s role in the whole school1
T.A.s role in the whole school.
  • “Some skills are lying dormant, some are used to the maximum. Classrooms can be insular and people’s skills can stop within that classroom.”
  • Many T.A.s felt that given the current pay gradings, staff on higher levels of pay should take greater responsibility within the school.
addressing difficulties
Addressing difficulties.
  • Most T.A.s were aware of who to go to for advice although that was not always their line manager.
  • 29% of T.A.s felt that they received less respect from the children than the teacher.
  • T.A.s felt that their position was undermined by needing to ask the teacher about classroom routines.
addressing difficulties1
Addressing Difficulties
  • In some schools all staff were referred to as teachers. This helped to strengthen relationships between staff.
status of the t a
Status of the T.A.
  • Some T.A.s felt that during break times or Golden Time they often encountered children who showed them less respect than they showed a teacher. This made them less willing to become involved in activities out of the classroom.
  • One T.A. said “The children do not show the TAs enough respect and this must be school led”.
  • An ethos of inclusivity is vital in promoting the role of the TA.
status of the t a1
Status of the T.A.
  • Some T.A.s said that the children had to check with the teacher if they needed to leave the classroom to go to the toilet or if they had finished their work.
  • This inevitably impacted on the children’s perception of them.
impact of pay levels
Impact of pay levels
  • Almost all TAs felt that they would be more willing to help with out of hours activities if their hourly rate of pay was higher.
  • There was a strong feeling that the ultimate test of how they were valued lay in their pay slip.
communication within the school
Communication within the school
  • Many T.A.s felt that they were not made aware of changes in the school day. They were not aware of special events and arrangements such as assemblies, concerts, shows etc.
  • To remedy this some schools operate a weekly diary sheet which goes to all staff or a What’s On Magazine.
communication within the school1
Communication within the school
  • Other good practice was a diary board in the staff room, a liaison TA who attended staff meetings and a 10 minute whole school staff meeting at the beginning of each week.
group discussion1
Group Discussion
  • Discuss ways you promote good communication between all staff in your school.
working relationships between the t a and the teacher
Working Relationships between the T.A. and the teacher.
  • We saw many examples of good working relationships.
  • Many of the staff interviewed felt that the talents of the TA enrich the curriculum.
  • The more inclusive schools had the best collaborative working.
working partnerships
Working Partnerships
  • “Everybody here includes everybody else and everyone is valued. Everybody’s opinion is valued and this includes the T.A. and the children.”
working partnerships1
Working Partnerships
  • We found that when the working relationship is working well T.A.s can help more than just their nominated child and have an impact on many less able children within a class making it easier for the teacher to differentiate.
  • The T.A.s knowledge and experience can complement the knowledge and experience of the class teacher.
working partnerships2
Working Partnerships
  • However, when the skills of the T.A. are not recognised T.A.s can feel underutilized and undervalued.
working partnerships3
Working Partnerships
  • In terms of length of service the longest serving teacher had 30 years experience whilst the longest length of service for a T.A. was 10 years.
  • Many T.A.s were qualified teachers or had a NNEB qualification. Many T.A.s felt that they had varied life skills acquired from working in a variety of work settings.
working partnerships4
Working Partnerships
  • Some T.A.s felt that they contributed to the pastoral care of the child and provided emotional back up for vulnerable children.
training needs
Training Needs
  • Most T.A.s felt that their own class teacher did not need any training in managing adults in the classroom.
  • However many felt that the TA’s role could vary from teacher to teacher and there was a need for more consistency.
  • Sometimes supply teachers failed to show TAs adequate respect.
training needs1
Training Needs
  • T.A.s can be overused for administrative and non-teaching type tasks and this could be to the detriment of the statemented child.
  • Some teachers felt that NQTs would benefit from training in the use of TAs in the classroom.
  • Several interviewees pointed out that Early Years and Infant teachers are more accustomed to extra adults in the classroom than their junior and secondary counterparts.
areas for development
Areas for development
  • Many T.A.s felt that more time for planning and reflection would enhance working partnerships.
  • Some T.A.s felt that if they were more informed about planning they could plan differentiated activities both for their nominated and child and the less able children within the classroom.
areas for development1
Areas for development
  • If they were more involved in planning the T.A.s could break work into smaller chunks, research topics for themselves and pre-teach to children with speech and language difficulties.
  • One T.A. was given time out of the classroom during the teacher’s P.P.A. time to plan and liaise with the class teacher.
areas for development2
Areas for development
  • Some T.A.s felt that teachers needed to be more aware, when planning, of the time the T.A. needs to withdraw the child and work on a specific program set by the specialist teacher.
  • Many T.A.s said they came into school early to plan in their own time.
  • However many teachers expressed concern that bearing in mind levels of pay was it fair to expect T.A.s to plan in their own time without pay.
good practice
Good Practice
  • Daily assembly time given for joint planning between the teacher and the T.A..
  • In one school the T.A. wrote a weekly evaluation for the class teacher and this informed her planning for the following week.
suggestions which were made for improving relationships
Suggestions which were made for improving relationships:
  • More feedback given from staff meeting.
  • Schools should share good practice in terms of good working models.
  • T.A.s should be included in G.T.C.W. grants.
  • T.A.s and teachers should go on team building days to enhance working relationships.
suggestion which were made for improving relationships
Suggestion which were made for improving relationships:
  • A newsletter for T.A.s should be sent out throughout the county so that T.A.s are more aware of current developments, good practice and training opportunities.
  • Promoting a culture of respect for all the school community .
  • General financial overview to value the role of the T.A..
training and professional development
Training and professional development
  • T.A.s were not broadly in favour of having performance management targets.
  • 75% of T.A.s felt that Peer Mentoring would be beneficial.
  • Many T.A.s felt that they would value the opportunity to meet up in cluster groups and share good practice.
training and professional development1
Training and professional development
  • T.A.s were inconsistent about whether they would like to share training opportunities with teachers. Many T.A.s said that it would be dependent on the course.
  • T.A.s asked for more training on specific S.E.N. difficulties and I.C.T.. Many T.A.s said that they had benefitted from Inset training which had taken place within their own school.
ideas for the induction of new t a s
Ideas for the Induction of new T.A.s
  • T.A.s should be given the opportunity to shadow an experienced T.A..
  • T.A.s should be given training on using the photocopier, the digital camera, the fax machine and the laminator.
  • A handbook should be devised to support the induction process.
  • T.A.s should have the chance to meet the parents of their 1:1 child, the specialist teacher and therapists.
group discussion2
Group discussion
  • In groups discuss 3 areas in which you feel your T.A.s would benefit from extra training.
teaching assistant s file
Teaching Assistant’s File
  • Over the course of our six week sabbatical, we saw many excellent examples of record keeping and the organisation of information.
  • The best files included:-
  • The child’s I.E.P.
  • A record sheet to be filled in by all agencies involved.
teaching assistant s file1
Teaching Assistant’s File
  • A list of all agencies, individuals, telephone numbers and addresses of people who are involved with the child.
  • A brief, clear pen portrait of the child, their strengths and difficulties, along with a recent photograph.
  • Pieces of work and photographs which clearly address the IEP targets or the targets on their therapy programs.
the way forward
The Way Forward
  • A newsletter informing Teaching Assistants of good practice, training opportunities and new initiatives should be produced by a practicing teaching assistant and circulated to all teaching assistants in Swansea
the way forward1
The Way Forward
  • There should be opportunities for T.A. networking meetings on a termly basis.
  • There should be a re-think of the location of training venues ensuring that venues are easily accessible by public transport.
the way forward2
The Way Forward
  • Head teachers, teachers and teaching assistants should be innovative with the school day so there is time built in for planning and evaluation between teacher and teaching assistant.
the way forward3
The Way Forward
  • There should be opportunities for teaching assistants to participate in school swaps to enhance their S.E.N. experience.
the way forward4
The Way Forward
  • There should be opportunities for in-house training for T.A.s on I.T, Welsh, S.E.N., issues, First Aid and Managing Behaviour. There could be benefits in training one member of staff in each school or each comprehensive cluster group and then that member of staff rolls the training out in their own school.Adopting this practice may be a way of improving the consistency of training provided to T.A.s throughout the country.
the way forward5
The Way Forward
  • An induction package should be developed which allows for new teaching assistants to shadow experienced teaching assistants.
  • Induction training should be prompt , practical and pertinent.
  • An induction booklet should be available which allows for differences in working practices in different schools but gives an insight into important issues which new teaching assistants need to address.
the way forward6
The Way Forward
  • There needs to be a way of accessing funds to enable well qualified teaching assistants to come out of school and share their expertise with their colleagues and also research ways that working relationships between teachers and teaching assistants can be enhanced.
  • Teaching assistants need to be able to fund future training opportunities and also fund visits to other settings to share good practice.
Our research would have been improved if we had had the funding for an experienced T.A. to join us with our research.