I would like to give a shout out to the Teaching Assistants today. They are the much loved, much forgotten and much needed people within our schools. I know that without them my children would not be able to learn a thing! With the recent news item stating that the government are looking at reducing the numbers of Teaching Assistants I wanted to give a parents view on this subject and particularly a parent of vulnerable children (who very often seem to be having their government services cut).
My daughter, who has a statement and is in High School, would not be able to settle in school, or learn, without her TA with her. The class teachers don’t have the time, or energy I’m sure, to try and see if one student is doing ok. As a child with Avoidant Attachment difficulties my daughter will not ask for help. Without her TA, who knows her and understands her needs, she would be sitting through lessons anxious, unfocused and I know her work would suffer for it. The article above says that evidence shows that pupils don’t get better results with the TA helping them – I just can’t believe that’s true! My sons have also had help from TA’s over the years in primary school and now one in High School. There are just too many children in a classroom for teachers to be able to help anxious children to settle. We know, that when children are more preoccupied with their own worries they are not able to access the thinking part of their brain. The work a TA does helps a child to quiet their brain so that they can concentrate.
The other part of a TA’s job, that my children really benefit from, is the relationship they build with them. A teacher (especially in High School) with so many students cannot build the relationship with one individual student. Vulnerable children many times do not trust adults, their experiences have told them that adults cannot be depended on. The more positive relationships they can build with adults the better chance they have of holding down relationships in the future.
There are lots of things our children need to learn – not just the academics in life. The skill of making and keeping friends for example, emotional intelligence – to be aware of your own emotions and the impact you have on others around you. as well as being able to show empathy towards others. Practical skills, such as designing and creating something. Understanding how to look after yourself on all levels. Part of what children learn at school is much more than the academics. In my children’s High School they are having to learn to stand up for themselves, how to keep out of the way of difficult people and how to ask for help. All of these things, along with many others, form the basis for our adult lives. I don’t think I’ve ever used a Maths equation in my life since leaving school, I have however remembered to be true to myself and not go along with the crowd.
These things that we all need to learn are the areas that vulnerable children struggle with. They need someone to help them and it’s impossible for a teacher to be able to meet those needs. Our Teaching Assistants are the ones who work on those areas – they may not even know they are doing that – but they are.
So today I want to send a big THANK YOU to all the Teaching Assistants out their – without you my children would not be as happy at school, they would not be able to learn as well and their lives would certainly be poorer as a result. Keep up the good work – we need you.