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Last reviewed on 6 May 2020
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Take a look at the key trends from our poll, and examples of practice in other schools, to help you decide how your teaching assistants (TAs) can best support your school from home.

Currently, the DfE expects all pupils to return to school in September. However, if you stay on top of remote learning you'll be well-prepared to help pupils learn at home if they need to self-isolate, and to continue education for all pupils in the event of localised school closures.

Poll results: what other schools are asking TAs to do 

Here's what we heard from the 348 primary school leaders and 94 secondary school leaders who responded to our poll at the end of the spring term:

What are you asking your TAs to do if they aren't going into school in the summer term? (Select all that apply)

Poll results: what are you asking your teaching assistants to do next term if they aren't going into school?
Source: The Key's poll, March 2020 - What are you asking TAs to do if they aren't going into school next term?


Below we look at some of the ways you can get the most from your TAs, drawing on the trends from these results and information our poll respondents shared about their own approach.

Up-skill your TAs to support pupils with specific needs

More than half the school leaders who responded to our poll were planning to do this, with their TAs either doing online training or reading up.

If you're a member of our CPD Toolkit, make use of our training resource hub for TAs. Your TAs can work through a series of short courses on:

  • Autism
  • ADHD
  • Speech, language and communication skills
  • Special educational needs
  • English as an additional language

Update their safeguarding training

This seems to be particularly popular in primary schools, but is also a common approach in secondary schools.

If you're doing this too, and are a member of our Safeguarding Training Centre, ask your TAs to take the safeguarding elearning courses here that are relevant to their role, if they haven't already.

We'd recommend:

Take some pressure off teachers and ask TAs to make or find resources

Our poll suggests that this is more prevalent in secondary schools. Either way, it's an option if you want to make life a little easier for teachers while they're also finding new ways to support children's learning at home.

As well as creating resources, such as worksheets, TAs can research and find suitable online materials for pupils to use.

If you're using a digital platform to set work for pupils, your TAs could also help teachers with uploading resources. 

Assign TAs to pupils as 'key workers', to give pupils stability

Several of the respondents to our poll explained how they're doing this. For example:

  • At The Olive Tree Primary School, each TA is assigned 6 to 8 pupils. The teacher gives the TA instructions to they can give pupils feedback and help to reduce the teacher's workload
  • At another school, each TA has an allocated 10 pupils, who they check in with each day by email to make sure they can get on with their work. If there's an issue, they let the class teacher know
  • Similarly, several schools are asking TAs to make daily calls to their assigned pupils to make sure they're settled and able to learn

If pupils are using an online platform, like Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams, your TAs can support them 'in class'

For example, at Windsor Academy Trust, pupils with special educational needs still get their valuable 1-to-1 time, as TAs continue to support them while they work in Google Classroom. TAs have learnt how to use the platform, and teachers add them to the 'Classroom' as 'co-teachers', so they can set individualised tasks for the pupils they're supporting.

Similarly, another school told us that its TAs are supporting their assigned 'link students' with classwork during live lessons in Microsoft Teams.


Our thanks to everyone who responded to our poll and shared insights about their own school's practice with us, including:

About our poll: at the end of March 2020, we sent a poll to members of The Key who subscribed to our COVID-19 emails, asking 'What are you asking your teaching assistants to do if they aren't going into school in the summer term?'. We received 491 responses. The graph above shows the findings from respondents in primary and secondary schools alone. You can view the full results here. This is not a representative or weighted survey.

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