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Looking for opinions on TA support...

Discussion in 'Primary' started by ESLAB, Dec 3, 2011.

  1. ESLAB

    ESLAB New commenter

    Hi all, I am a NQT on a temporary 1 year contract. The HT has recently offered me a permanent position. I am, of course, delighted, especially in this economic market. However, I am hesitant about staying at the school for various reasons. One of these reasons, I was wondering whether to bring up in a discussion or not. I currently have two full time LSAs who work 1:1 with Statemented children. After Christmas, I will be gaining another Statemented child and LSA. So, I will have three other adults in the classroom, however as far as the workload is concerned, I have no TA support. The LSAs absolutely need to be with their children (one is severely autistic, one has many physical difficulties and is wheelchair bound and one has many, many issues and needs the LSA glued to their side).

    My 'whinge' is that I have no general TA who can take some of the workload away from me and also act as a general class support. I have 27 children in my class. I currently deal with the displays, the Class Photo book, writing letters to parents, photocopying - everything to do with running the class. This means I work through my breaks and literally wolf down my lunch in 10 mins, as I am setting up the resources for Maths after first break and then Topic after lunch. None of what I do can I ask the other three adults to do - they also work through their first break with their children and then take their break afterwards (another issue, as it means I am on own for the first 15 minutes of maths, so am never able to differentiate input for my Year 1 and 2 class - I just do one followed by the next).

    There is no time in the day to read 1:1 with my children - I have two parent helpers once a week, so not every child is listened to (although my HT is not seemingly concerned about this, as we teach RWI, so legitimately I do hear the children read, although only my group). There is no TA to be able to give extra support for those children who need it. Although I know I am doing my best for my class, I know how much better it could be if I had a general TA. I guess my dilemma is, do I stay where I am and just make the best of it or do I look for other positions? Do I bring this up as an issue with my HT or just accept what is? (I know that funding will be cited as the issue). PS The other three classes in my school all have a full-time general TA. Opinions please! Thanks.
  2. ESLAB

    ESLAB New commenter

    Sorry - I did put in paragraphs, they just haven't appeared??
  3. I think in the current economic climate where there are few jobs anyway, if you've been offered a job in a school that you have already taught in and maybe quite like, I'd be taking it!
    In my school (4 classes-up to 30 kids) we don't have any TAs except for one who takes groups for ELS and other programmes so nobody has support either with children or with tasks such as admin/photocopying etc. Unfortunately it's the reality of teaching and in general there isn't much money around in schools for full time support.
    Obviously though, if you think it's going to be difficult and other classes have support, it's worth a conversation with the head.
    Good luck
  4. rach1968

    rach1968 New commenter

    In our school we don't have TAs who do displays or photocopying or just general help around the class. I think their job has moved on from that - ours are all highly trained and have their own groups, specialities etc. In our school, everything is down to the class teacher so I would guess that is the same in many other schools now. Certainly ask but if not, I would take the job anyway - as someone who has been on 4 1 year temp jobs since qualifying this would be a dream come true!! In the end, you will find ways to manage the whole role without thinking.....your NQT year is full of so many box ticking excercises you think you can't cope, you will.
  5. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Definitely take it, don't even consider not. You really would be utterly mad not to, especially if you give unfair workload as the reason. HTs talk and so the likelihood of getting another somewhere else would be tiny.

    However accept the post and then towards the end of January have a chat with the HT to see if any of the other class based TAs could just give you a couple of hours a week to do displays/filing/etc. If each class just lost their TA for 2 hours a week, you would gain 6 hours of support. You might need to rearrange your timetable if you want them to support in maths and they come in the afternoon or something, but it would be worth it.

    I would also use your 1:1 TAs for pair or small group work. So long as they are in a group with their child, they can't object. Also your 1:1 children might surprise you when they have to share their adult with another child. My very autistic child has stunned the year 1 class teachers, SENCO and year 1 TAs with the progress he has made this year. Both me and his new TA flatly refuse to run around after him and do everything for him and so he does just get on with it. Even the children comment on how much more he can do this year.

    Take the job and sort the TA issue later. Besides things will change next year.
  6. alsoamum

    alsoamum New commenter

    I think it is worth raising your concerns with the head - but do it in such a way as saying you are concerned that the children are not getting the differentiation and attention they deserve rather than you not getting help with the photocopying (although that is also a valid point!)
    In terms of the job offer, do you need to be in permanent employment? If so and if you otherwise enoy the job then I would take it and be looking for something else in the meantime. Permanent jobs are like gold dust where I live and there in another years time I assume those children may have moved on to the next year group and things may change with regards TA's?
    I think you also need to look at what you are doing during your breaks and lunch time, yes setting up the classroom is necessary but as the children gain independence and the year goes on, could you not get them to help you? Have monitors that are good readers who can use a list to get out some of the equipment needed for the next lesson. Or, you could do what I do and use some of those plastic trays (from drawer units) and prepare everything the night before or in the morning. I have a stack of them ready each morning for each session and each group, then I just pop them out on tables at the beginning of the session. In year 1 and 2 it is perfectly reasonable to expect the children to be fetching their own resources and organising themselves (in fact it is part of the early learning goals so they should be good at it after a year in reception).
    Also, teach children how to file their own work and glue sheets into books - a little time spent at the beginning of the year teaching them how to do it neatly really cuts down on your workload.
    You cant do much about the photocopying or photo book - unless you can ask for additional parent help or maybe some year 6's to come and help in their lunch hours?(this time of year our year 6 girls are desperate to escape the wet cold playground, so are very happy to come and do filing and mounting for me, and they love sharpening pencils!)
    The letter writing becomes much easier the more you write, save them on a memory stick and then just edit them as you go.
    And, most importantly, prioritise! Only do the things which you have to do and those which benefit the children. I too work in a small school of 4 classes and know how pressured it can be, but you have to remember you are only one person with a limited number of hands and time!

    Good luck whatever you decide [​IMG]
  7. This is not what one to one support is about. Research has shown that chn do much better when they have a degree of independence and if they have an adult glued to their side they become very dependent. That is bad news for later years when they will be expected to do things for themselves.
    Yes - one to one support means they should have access to an adult and if there is a problem or anything should go wrong there is a dedicated adult that they know to sort it out. But as long as the adult is in the room and able to give immediate support when needed they can help other groups. so for example you would not be able to ask the TA to take a group out of the class because that would be depriving the child of one to one support. but there is no reason for the TA not to work with a group on the other side of the room where they can keep an eye on them from a distance.
    You might find a little resistence from the TA too - they can become dependent on the child they are supporting to define their role!
    You have a lot of support - try to read up on the SEN / statement requirements - many teachers believe that one to one means that literally. It doesn't!
  8. Some classes just dont have TAs, unfortunately. I dont think its really something you can argue unless every other class has full time dedicated class TA support. Granted you cant split your class for input, but its the same in a lot of classrooms. You just have to do your best with targetted questionning, differentiated applications during carpet sessions (Yellow group are looking at this number sequence, red group are solving this one, etc) and guided group work.
    We have a severley autistic child with a 1:1 TA and she still works with small groups, incorporating sensory activities for the autistic child. When the autistic child is engaged for a few minutes she then turns her attention to her group. At first we didnt think this would be possible, but it is. She also helps to monitor behaviour during carpet sessions etc.
    She is also in school at 8.30 so has time before/after school to support with class jobs such as filing/displays.
    Do your TAs have any scope to support in these ways? I cant see why not!
  9. ESLAB

    ESLAB New commenter

    Thank you for your replies - they are all valid. One of the LSAs is able to work with her child's group in maths and is also of help during the afternoons - but fairly limited help. The other two are only able to support 1:1 with their own child - one scribes, as the child is physically unable to write (and the LSA joining me will also be separate from the class - don't ask!! - so I won't be able to put her with a group). I think because I have worked myself for a year as a general TA before I became a teacher (to make sure that I actually wanted to work in a school), I know how much use a general TA can be, ESPECIALLY with regard to being able to do all sorts of interventions/extra work/getting resources ready for the next lesson/marking tests/photocopying/downloading photos... (the list is endless), during times like assembly, carpet input, plenaries etc - and this is the time when my LSAs are unable to do anything like this - they are working on their own 'extra' input with their individual children. So in my view the other 24 children 'suffer' as a result and my workload is probably 2 hours more per day than it would need be. Having seen quite a few different classes over the last few years, I just think an extra pair of 'free' hands would be really, really lovely (and in my limited view, is essential) in a Year 1 and 2 class. Next year, will unfortunately be the same, as all 3 children are Year 1s! I do appreciate the job offer in this market, I guess I'm wondering if it is valid to ask for a general TA too? Perhaps like someone suggested, I could ask for a few hours from each of the rest of school TAs? Not sure how to handle it...maybe just take the bull by the horns during my next Mentor meeting! Thanks for your replies.
  10. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    As a SENCO I would be unhappy if this was happening ...children with SEN need to develop independence and be part of the class this is not inclusion!
    a LSA should not be glued to a child!The child will never learn to deal with their many issues and you are making them totally dependent on an adult!
    does the child need constant medical attention or could the LSA support them just as well while working with a group of children or even from across the classroom? remember sometime the class teacher needs to be the one working directly with these children and having a LSA standing watching is a waste of their time and expertise.

  11. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    All of my 1:1 TAs have helped with admin stuff, sometimes during the sessions. As others have said the children need to develop independence.
  12. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    Also take the job you would be mad not to. I started teaching in the last recession and only managed a temp contract during my first year. There were hardly any jobs to apply for after this. Although I was lucky to get a perm job on the last available job to apply for, I met many on the interview circuit who were not so lucky. Some were on their 8th year of temp contracts. There still seems to be a bit of a stigma to temp contracts, where by you are viewed less favourably then someone who has worked a perm contract. ie the implication is that you are not as good a teacher. Unfair I know, but the only explanation I can come up with. Some of my friends on temp contacts never get short listed for perm jobs but always get shortlisted for temp jobs. The cuts havent really started yet but they will and there maybe many redundancies over the next few years, meaning all those temp jobs will go.

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