The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Teaching assistants

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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Gareth D Morewood

Top tips for effectively deploying teaching assistants

There has been a lot of recent debate about the role of teaching assistants on forums, Twitter and in the media. Here's what we know so far. The research and the lessons A report by Professor John Hattie highlights the fact that some of the worst examples of TA deployment are when TAs lead...
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Lizzie Gait

Maximising the value of your TAs

On the 16 th September, I was excited to attend our Optimising the Impact and Value of TAs conference – the first of its kind in over 3 years. The range of leading expert and experienced practitioner speakers promised an exciting day of good practice. The aim of the day was threefold: Clarify the...
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