East Dulwich (Mobile) Forum

Important Research on TAs supporting Children w/SEN & EHCP

This was just published in the TES. Some families might find this useful in considering how much 1:1 support w/ teaching assistants (TA/LSA) children recieve in the classroom, in ability groups, and/ or specific interventions. Sadly, even when inclusion is funded, it is very difficult to change a school culture which still segregates learners based on labels.

[www.tes.com]
you can only read it if you subscribe it seems. Maybe sand12 could write a summary
Apologies, the link initially worked for me. Please try this to read the full article.

[england.magazine.tes.com]

The research team is keen to hear from parents on the findings and help with advocating for more training for TAs. If you are interested or you think your school might benefit from this please get in touch.
This is interesting but there is a lot to unpick, particularly because it bundles together 'SEN' as though it were a discrete category and implicitly, it seems to refer to children who are able, with support, mostly to access a mainstream curriculum. My experience is of primary so I can't speak for secondary. Primary schools now are working with an incredibly diverse population, some of whom will go on to Special Education at secondary. I think there is a real issue with who is responsible for the curriculum and teaching of (for example) a child or children working in Year 5/6 whose skills are at Reception/KS1 level or below. In some cases the situation is worse than described because they may be taken out of class for much of the day by a TA who themselves makes up what they do, on the strength of little training or experience. But the pressures on teachers, especially at Years 2 and 6, are enormous and they are already planning for at least 3 ability levels within the class. The curriculum becomes ever more formal and so focused on maths and literacy and if the topic is fronted adverbials or using advanced conjunctions, and the child's spoken language skills are at a 4 yr old level then they will completely zone out of the exposition and examples. Yes, there are ways of, for example, acting out 'Suddenly' or 'With a sigh ..' to bring it to life but when it comes to all the written examples and you have children who are at the stage of matching sounds to letters and reading the simplest 3 letter words, then inevitably there is much of the curriculum where their needs diverge massively. In my view, there can be real benefits to children of a similar developmental level sometimes working together when their needs are very different to the rest of the class because it can give them the experience of working in a group with others doing similar work at a similar level, which otherwise they would miss out on. The worst of all is that they sit through something they can't possibly understand and learn the lesson that there is no point even in listening, they don't develop a sense of themselves as learners and then the only learning is how to manage boredom. They also benefit from time spent with their age-matched peers in class and yes, they need qualified teacher input. The best teacher/TA teams each work with all the abilities within the class.
I hope this doesn't sound defeatist - I am a passionate advocate for children with complex needs but I also have a lot of time for teachers and see the pressure they are under and the hours they work, and how much work can be involved in including a child whose learning needs and abilities are very different from most of the children in the class. I think we may have invested too much in the TA model when it might be better to have fewer, but better qualified staff who specialise in SEN who can help with devising a balanced curriculum for these children within a mainstream setting, one which brings together teaching at the right developmental level - ideally in a group with developmentally matched peers at times - with multiple opportunities to work within the class. This last will often involve working with classmates to create the right support and environment.
thanks for sharing - interesting read. i'm just beginning the EHCP journey and I had no idea until recently that TAs assigned to deliver 1:1 support have little/no SEN training :-/
Hi there - our council (Bromley) offered to train up our son's class teaching assistant on visual impaired issues. It was only a week long course but great opportunity. Maybe that could be a possibility? The TA was delighted to do it (skills development for her) and is now following the class to Year 1.

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