This week, I am delighted to have a guest post. My friend Nicola, whom I have known since we were at prep school together, in Scotland, (now I feel old) is a teacher, who works in Essex. She has many years experience in the teaching profession, and works very hard, as do most of the teachers I know, and when she and I were chatting via Facebook about the governments plans to removed “unqualified” teaching assistants from school classrooms, I offered her a chance to air her feelings on the blog, and it seemed a perfect Ranty Friday post.
Having spent some time in my own children’s school, seeing what the teachers do, and watching the teaching assistants in action, and knowing how much work teachers have to do, I cannot help but feel myself, that removing this much needed assistance from classes will be detrimental to our children. If the government feels that “unqualified” help is not the answer, then why doesn’t it spend some of the money it seems so happy to waste on other things, on giving teachers assistants some formal training and qualifications, if they feel so desperately that they need to justify why they are paid. With all the tests, assessments, planning, paperwork and ever shifting standards that teachers have to live up to, I feel that teaching assistants provide an invaluable support in the classroom and do a lot of work in schools.
I know other people also feel strongly about this, and I have seen some great posts addressing both sides of the issue, and giving Michael Gove a piece of their mind, but after a discussion with my own daughter’s teacher, and realising afresh, how much damage is being done to our precious education system, I thought it was time to have a rant, and I think Nicola, as a teacher, says it from her heart, and with real experience.
Do have your say, and share what you think. Then don’t forget to go and visit MummyBarrow’s blog and catch up on what other things have made it to her and my fellow bloggers Ranty Friday hit lists! Click on the Duck Photo, not the photo of Michael Gove (apologies to Mummy Barrow for even putting the two pictures in the same blog post, I am sure she will understand!)
“Reform’s published reports tend to be short on evidence but long on recommendations, which invariably favour further marketisation of the NHS and greater involvement of private companies. A recent Reform report claimed that Government policies would result in a 10% reduction in the NHS workforce, and that this would be a good thing, without providing any calculations or reasoning.” (keep our NHS public)
“Reform’s recent report concludes that schools’ exam results in schools which had proportionally larger budgets did not increase in line with their extra funding and so they conclude ” For headteachers, the overriding priority should be to invest in the quality of teaching. Ministers should support schools that reduce numbers of teaching assistants and allow class sizes to rise. Ministers should also make the case that having a high quality teacher is more important than smaller class size.”
What utter rot!!! whilst exam results are a valuable measure of a school’s academic performance, a school’s job is far more than just to produce literate and numerate pupils! I rarely show a spreadsheet showing a pleasing line graph noting a 3% rise in achieving level 5 in the end of my year six assembly. No! That assembly is where we celebrate often with great pride and emotion, the young people we have helped to develop and reflect on their personal learning journeys. TA’s (mum’s armies as the disparaging Daily Mail calls) them are the unsung heroes of our nation. These underpaid ladies and gents are fundamental in providing the guidance and nurture so vital to young children. Teachers are often so busy slogging for exams, it’s the TA’s who have the time to talk to children and find out what is happening in their lives. This info can be vital for the teacher in understanding how that child is accessing learning.Indeed with ravaging cuts to special needs school funding, TA’s help children with sometimes incredibly complex needs to remain in school. Reform has missed the point! No spreadsheet can ever measure the amazingly polite, confident, ambitious, hard-working, tolerant and kind young people my school produced last year.
For every TA that has made me a cup of tea, cleaned a bloody knee, counselled a child whose parents are divorcing, coaxed a five year old to try at least one carrot, mounted 45 art masterpieces, told little Susan to wash her hands, jollily traipsed round The British museum, run crochet club, rehearsed the six times table 30 times before break and reminded little Jonny that we don’t use those words in school
I salute you!