The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Teaching assistants

Julie Kennelly

Working together to maximise the impact of TAs

Schools can learn as much from each other as from anything else, as Priestnall School has found when discussing the best use of teaching assistants. This year, Priestnall School has taken part in the Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants (MITA) project . As part of this, we had the...
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Charlie Roden

Days like this: how I became a teaching assistant

Bottle caps can be wheelchair lifts, and students can be tougher interviewers than staff: just some of the things I learned when applying to become a TA. I have been interviewed many times over the years – when applying to the role of support worker, bartender, retail assistant and even university...
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Julie Kennelly

Improving in-class support across the board

Prioritising the time and attention of support staff is a daily challenge in many schools. Here's one simple but effective technique for coordinating cover. We are all too aware of the financial and systemic barriers to provision for SEND that is appropriately resourced and well allocated. As a new...
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Maureen Nash

Rethinking, not recruiting: how to make the most of your TAs

Teaching assistants are integral to better learning outcomes, but not always a valued and fully utilised member of staff. According to government statistics , there are 388,000 TAs working in schools in England. This represents a total cost of around £4.4 billion each year . These figures alone...
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Gareth D Morewood

Raising the status of teaching assistants

From interview to induction and far beyond, school leaders should prioritise the professional development of TAs in order to improve learning outcomes for all pupils. In this short post, I intend to try and draw together previous thoughts on teaching assistants and the impact they can have. Along...
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Gareth D Morewood

SENCOs, make these first weeks count!

At this time of year, strategic planning for SEND provision can fall victim to in-the-moment demands. Here is my advice for a smooth start. In these hectic few weeks, many schools will be thrown in to the usual mix of analysis and induction; the typical balance of review and preparation to start...
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Jack Procter-Blain

Enhancing social skills one brick at a time

The very mention of LEGO ® in school might conjure images of chaos, but group brick-building has proved to be a highly effective intervention for pupils with SEND. LEGO® is everywhere these days. The iconic brick has established itself in just about every form you can imagine, from the classic sets...
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Gareth D Morewood

Recruiting teaching assistants: right person, right time

One of your teaching assistants is leaving: what do you need to think about when interviewing and recruiting new support staff? Gareth D Morewood explains. First things first, do I actually need to recruit a new TA? Firstly, I think it is important to look at your structure, students’ needs and...
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Alex Masters

Supporting your support staff with positive appraisals

The word ‘appraisal’ often conjures images of clipboards and awkward conversations. Alex Masters explores how this process can bring out the best in your teams. It’s the time of year for appraisals and, as part of their role, many SBMs carry these out for their school’s support staff. Indeed, these...
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Alex Masters

Support staff: training, appraisals and restructures

Training and appraising support staff, and (often-dreaded) restructures, shouldn't be a challenge. We have a range of expert advice to guide you through each process. Summary Support staff are becoming increasingly influential . Evaluate your CPD policy for potential improvement. Consider creating...
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