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Remote learning: making the best use of teaching assistants
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)
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:
- 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.
- 'Safeguarding and child protection: the essentials', to refresh TAs' knowledge of statutory safeguarding guidance
- 'Online safety', so they know what they can do to help keep children safe online (they can do this as a standalone course, or as part of the 'essentials' elearning above)
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:
- Zainab Patel, deputy principal at The Olive Tree Primary School
- Dawn Haywood, deputy CEO, and the team at Windsor Academy Trust
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.
More from The Key
Evidence-led training courses that make it easy to upskill staff, anytime, anywhere.
CPD Toolkit is the most effective way to virtually deliver evidence-led training and support the professional development of your staff. Downloadable courses and online 5-minute summaries provide flexibility for training, whether staff are participating as skeleton staff in-school, via video call or individually at their own pace.
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