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Are TAs school leaders?

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by sylviakcampbell, Nov 26, 2019.

  1. If we consider ´leadership´ to be the personal responsibility of all people working in schools - then what is the leadership role of teaching assistants? TAs have a unique insight into the workings of a school and the life of students (and teachers) and I believe TAs, with some support/structure and empowerment could play an important leadership role in the school community - from supporting students welfare to supporting teachers welfare (yes, they need support too!) as well as sharing of best practice, guidance and mentoring. I truly believe that many TAs have a lot more to offer than what is expected of them in many schools. Who are TAs? What is their professional background? I think we are a hugely varied workforce, far more varied than most people would assume. How do schools identify the leadership qualities and potential of such a varied group of people?
    • Is there a group/community/guidance forum ´how to make best use of your TA?´
    • Is there a TA professional association?
    • Do other TAs and teachers as well as school leaders feel that there is merit to this suggestion?
    • Should there be a qualification called ´Leading from the ... ´ (hours of fun coming up with the right wording for that one...) that actually allows TAs to fully professionalise and take leadership into their role?
    Would love to get some feedback on this thought from TAs, teachers and other school leaders.
  2. sooooexcited

    sooooexcited Occasional commenter

    Surely this is what their appraisal process is for? That way they take responsibility to develop an area they are interested in, lead training for other staff, measure impact etc.

    Works well for ours.
  3. Kateray1

    Kateray1 Occasional commenter

    Interesting post.

    I have a degree in Business and Management with History and have worked the past 10 years in education settings of all varieties. I work as a private tutor evenings and weekends and have just been given sole responsibility in my primary school for a reception class of 11 pupils.

    I think in some schools the appraisal system works well, the one I’m in, it is non existent and the school is currently graded inadequate.

    I would live to see myself in a leadership role and currently plan to take a masters in education in the future.

    I agree backgrounds and experience need to be taken into consideration more, however qualifications have to take precedence.

    I would like to see more research into this question, and a full review of the role and the pay.
  4. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    Your OP reads like you think TAs are considered second class educators that live in some sort of state of apartheid.

    That is complete nonsense.

    TAs are teachers without the whole class responsibility, and with a lower qualification requirement. That does not mean they are less qualified that teachers, that just means they need less qualifications to apply for their jobs.

    Many TAs have PGCEs. Many school staff are both TAs and class teachers at different times in their lives, or change back and forth between the two regularly. I have been a class teacher, then a TA then a class teacher, then a TA and now I am a teacher again, largely because of the fierce competition among ex teachers for TA jobs.

    Teaching is a terrible job, with hours that are literally life threatening. TAing is so much better , in so many ways, particularly in schools where TAs have more autonomy than teachers.

    TAs also get more pay per hour than teachers, even though their take home pay may be less, that is because they often work less than half the hours, and that does leave the scope to do another job too, if you want, such as private tutor.

    TAs may have better career prospects too, as there is a TA career path, which is not open to teachers, whereas many of the promotions open to teachers are also open to TAs, who are also in a better position to apply, as they have more time to take on extras.

    It is has long been normal for year heads, deputy year heads, house heads, etc to be TAs, now it has become more common for head of subject, deputy head of subject, etc to be open to TAs too.

    The reason I an a teacher not a TA is because TA jobs are so much harder to come by, as so many ex teachers are competing for each one. whereas nobody wants the teaching jobs,

    So I totally reject the whole premise of your first post, that TAs are over looked, badly treated and undervalued. They may well be, but no where near as much as teachers. They are frequently better qualified, more experienced and have a better quality of life than teachers, If teachers are not able to take advantage of that source of experience an information, that is most likely to be down to lack of time,
    Flanks likes this.
  5. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Lead commenter

    I've worked in schools (primary) for 30 years. The career path offered has worked really well for me - I started as a Nursery Assistant, then TA, and finally I've been an HLTA for more than 10 years. I was offered great CPD - including OU courses - to progress; my role has evolved constantly through the years. I've line managed a big team of TAs and also work with the LA, providing training for TAs and HLTAs and support for schools. Working with so many HLTAs across our LA and beyond, I have first-hand experience of the wide variety of roles they cover, including:
    - Own tutor group (secondary)
    - Deputy Head of Year (secondary)
    - Head of Pastoral Care (secondary)
    - Mentors for new support staff and NQT support (primary and secondary)
    - Line Manager for TA team, including performance management (primary and secondary)
    - Not sure of the job title, but have met more than one HLTA whose job it is to organise public exam schedule in secondary, including timetables, scribes and readers, cover, etc. Not a role I envy!
    - Subject Coordinators - Art, Music, Humanities, Sport, Science (primary and secondary)
    - Middle leaders (primary and secondary)
    - Member of SLT (secondary)

    This is a snapshot of just some of the roles I have seen. I am sure there are schools where this does not happen, but I do regularly see examples of TAs and HLTAs being encouraged and supported to develop their skills and knowledge; being seen as highly valued members of the staff team who play an important and high profile role in school life.
    Trekkie likes this.

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