Presentation from Kirsty Mills from Forest of Galtres Anglican/Methodist Primary school on maximising the deployment of their TAs.

I’m here to talk to you about our ongoing reevaluation of Forest of Galtres’ use of TAs. We started this process in Jan 2016 by attending Rob Webster’s training with a TA from my school. We began sceptical – our TAs were amazing and they were being used very efficiently, we ended up thinking, why were we here? Rob began by sharing the research and saying TAs made no significant impact – at this point we were more than sceptical, we were angered, how could somebody say this about our TAs.

Regardless, we stuck with the course and it soon became clear TAs may not have a significant impact if used in certain ways – it’s important to note that at this point I still believed we were using them effectively. It was at this point Rob explained how children with SEND became dependent on adults rather than thinking for themselves and trying to solve problems –  They actually needed less one to one support and more strategies to solve the problem themselves, this started to make sense. Rob gave us a fantastic tool in the form of an online survey for teachers and TAs to fill in – Getting the results from these surveys was my wake up call!

The surveys showed 57% of the time our TAs spent in lessons was with SEND children and 71% were working with a specific group or individual. The survey also showed the TAs having a lack of confidence in certain subject areas – obviously these were all things we wanted and needed to address. From Rob’s research we felt we needed to increase independence in all our children but particularly those with SEND, We had several whole school discussions about this research as obviously TA s are often doing what is asked of them (e.g. working with a particular group). We as teachers agreed to use our TAs more flexibly, giving the children with SEND as much teacher time as the higher ability children and the higher ability children equal TA time. 


We have found impact to be massive:

  • The TAs fed back that they felt more valued and included.
  • Teachers fed back “I am backing off and asking if they can solve the problem”
  • Children fed back “I know what to do when I am stuck, use my brain, get something to help or ask a buddy”
  • When TAs were asked who they spend the most time with in lessons-it was more evenly split 17% with mixed ability groups,17% with higher abilities (last it was 0), 33% lower attainers,33% were moving through the classroom monitoring /intervening where necessary.
  • This process is on going and we are now at the point of revisiting these ideas as we have new staff and it’s easy to slip back to an old way of working.

To conclude, we now have a more open minded approach to how support is given in our classrooms. We do not presume a certain group will need support or an extension –we decide as the lesson progresses who needs support ,who needs questioning, ultimately tailoring to the class’ needs. The TA and teacher monitor ALL pupils but the responsibility for all children’s progress is the teachers.

I hope I’ve given you an insight into our ongoing journey.

Kirsty Mills

Forest of Galtres Inclusion Lead