An independent review of teaching assistants standards is being carried out by the Department for Education (DfE).
The move is designed to create a new set of standards offering clear measures on how these positions can be used to improve the quality of teaching. According to the DfE, the measure will help develop a more "concise version" of the current protocols.
The body also hopes the move is going to enshrine the professional development of teaching assistants at all levels and reflect the diversity of the existing schools system. Furthermore, the review panel will be asked to create recommendations that are "clear and easy to understand".
Schools Minister David Laws is unequivocal about the importance of teaching assistants, and he stated: "[They] are essential to driving up standards in the classroom and helping students fulfil their full potential."
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has welcomed the review, as its general secretary Dr Mary Bousted stated the excellent work done by teaching assistants needs to be "properly recognised through a framework of professional standards".
"It is vital that the views and expertise of teaching assistants and teachers are heard in this review, so it is important that the expert panel will include those with day-to-day experience of this important work," she added.
Kate Dethridge, principal of Churchend Primary Academy in Reading, has been appointed to chair the process. She is to be supported by a panel of experts with a diverse range of skills. These include ATL's Kathryn Booth, who is a teaching assistant at Downlands Community Primary School, and headteacher of The Bridge School Dr Penny Barratt.
Teaching assistants have an important role to play in boosting pupils' attainment. The review is expected to be delivered by spring 2015 and should lay the groundwork for improvements to be made to the system.
Posted by Tim Colman