Intensive support from teaching assistants with small groups of reception and nursery class children boosted children’s vocabulary, listening, narrative and conversational skills.
The news comes to light following research conducted by Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). The foundation argues that this research, along with five other successful interventions it has funded using teaching assistants, shows how schools should use these members of staff best in the classroom to have a positive impact on learning, particularly for disadvantaged children.
Around 240,000 teaching assistants work in schools across the UK, with ten per cent of the education budget being spent on their employment each year.
Chief executive of the EEF, Sir Kevan Collins, said that there was now "compelling evidence" to ensure that the £4 billion each year spent on teaching assistants is improving results.
The findings are based on an independent evaluation of a trial of the Nuffield Early Language Intervention.
Teaching assistants were trained over three days to deliver detailed lesson plans so that they could lead short, structured sessions on everyday topics, such as 'time' and 'what we wear'. A group of 350 children identified as having low language skills at 34 schools and nurseries took part in either a 20-week or 30-week programme.
The results showed that children in the 30-week programme made up to four months' extra progress in language and communication skills, while those in the 20-week programme saw around two months' progress.
Sir Kevan Collins said: "With so many teaching assistants employed across the country, schools now have compelling evidence to make sure they’re using their own teaching assistants in ways that really improve results."
Posted by Alan Douglas