Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

What Keeps Me Awake at Night - Two Professions, Both Alike in Dignity: Opinion

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

What Keeps Me Awake at Night - Two Professions, Both Alike in Dignity: Opinion

Article excerpt

that school staffrooms are divided is a well-known cliche. Scientists at one table enthusing over the Large Hadron Collider, English teachers debating the acceptable pluralisation of fish at another - it is an easy picture to paint. At the far end of most staffrooms, however, sit the teaching assistants (TAs). It is not this physical separation that keeps me awake at night but the unspoken belief that "they aren't real teachers", which in some cases can roughly translate as "they aren't real people".

I am aware that I am in danger of overgeneralising: relationships between TAs and teachers vary from school to school and from individual to individual. But as a special educational needs teacher in a mainstream school, I see a distinct and unpleasant general trend: TAs are frequently overlooked and undervalued.

While completing my PGCE, one of the best pieces of advice I received was that your TA is your most valuable resource. I have never forgotten this. A good TA knows more about individual pupils than anyone else in the school. In some cases, this extends beyond the classroom and into the playground or home. They have the potential to offer invaluable insights into a young person's mind. …

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