Expanding role for school support staff

Support staff are playing a key role in tackling behaviour issues in schools and providing support to pupils and their families, according to education watchdog Ofsted.

A report on the remodelling of the school workforce reveals that support staff in secondary schools are also taking on “substantial” aspects of the head of year role, as well as supporting children with special educational needs.

The picture is different in primary and special schools, where many teaching assistants are being used “very effectively” to contribute to the curriculum and raise standards.

However, questions have been raised about the extent to which they provide supervised cover when the teacher they work with is absent.

The National Union of Teachers, which refused to sign the national agreement that heralded the workforce reforms, unequivocally condemned the practice.

“We haven’t signed the agreement specifically because it allows classroom assistants to take on roles they are not professionally trained to take on,” a spokesperson said. “This is putting children’s education at risk, whether they are at primary, secondary, or special schools.”

Public sector union Unison welcomed the opportunities for support staff opened up by the remodelling agenda but cautioned that schools must ensure staff are adequately trained, supported and paid. “With an increase in responsibility should come an increase in reward,” a spokesperson said.

Remodelling the School Workforce from www.ofsted.gov

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