Who do you work with?
Helping you understand the children’s and young people’s workforce. This month: LEARNING SUPPORT TEACHING ASSISTANTS
“I support children one-to-one, withdrawing them from class in literacy hour if they are not capable of doing it on their own. Some also have very bad behaviour that stems from being insecure in their abilities. In the afternoons I support them in class, using specifi c IT packages for dyslexic children, who are very artistic and visual. It’s good to make things with them – it helps their
self-esteem. It’s not well paid but you have a great sense of achievement.”
Rebecca Reed is a learning support teaching assistant in a Pupil Referral Unit at St Bartholomew’s primary school, Brighton
How many are there and how long have they been around?
There have been support staff in special schools for many years (initially as nursery nurses) but the role began to expand in the 1970s when responsibility for special educational needs passed from social services to education. In January 2005 there were 40,730 LSAs in mainstream English schools, with another 6,970 in Pupil Referral Units and special schools, a
large increase on the numbers pre-1997.
Where are they usually located and what other workers/ professionals do they work with?
LSAs work in the classroom alongside teachers in mainstream schools, or with special educational needs teachers located in specialist schools. Others work in pupil referral units, assisting with children who may have emotional and behavioural difficulties.
What is their main role?
LSAs support teachers and work with pupils with special educational needs. They help teachers to prepare lesson plans and materials, contribute to evaluating lesson outcomes, and also contribute to wider school activities. They help SEN children with reading, often giving one to- one support in literacy hour. They also help them access the curriculum, and support them with any speech therapy.
What are the main pieces of legislation that govern the work they do?
The work of LSAs is guided by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001, which covers provision for children with SEN by statementing. A statement is a legally binding document setting out an individual child’s educational needs and how they should be met; it is reviewed annually.
How and by whom is their work funded/commissioned?
When a child with a statement of special educational needs is placed in a mainstream school, extra provision is often required, and this may include an LSA. In this case, the funding is provided directly by the school. LSAs working in pupil referral units or special schools are funded by local education authorities.
What is their average salary?
There are four pay grades covering teaching assistants, ranging from A to D to reflect increasing autonomy and responsibility. Those on grade A are general classroom assistants, who mostly
assist with materials and tidying, while those on grade D may teach a class in the teacher’s absence. Pay starts at around £10,000 per annum up to a maximum of around £20,000 and is determined locally.
What is the normal training/ qualification route?
A City and Guilds Certifi cate in Learning Support is the most popular accredited training course for LSAs, but there is no nationally recognised, accredited training programme. Some LSAs receive in-house training. The level 3 NVQ for teaching assistants has optional units specifically aimed at different special educational needs.
What is their biggest gripe?
Pay is poor, and there is sometimes no distinction between the role of a learning support assistant and that of a general classroom assistant.