New research shows the value of pupil support staff in schools - particularly for pupils with low attainment levels or from disadvantaged groups.
The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), a UK charity set up in partnership with the Sutton Trust has published the first of six reports funded by the English department of education. Another 66 studies involving 450,000 children are ongoing at one in ten schools in England. The studies – based on trials with 6,800 pupils at 238 schools – focused on programmes to help children at risk of arriving at secondary school without the level of literacy and numeracy expected of them. Some of the programmes were seen to be more effective than others.
One report called Catch-up Numeracy, an intervention in which pupils struggling with maths had two 15-minute sessions a week for 30 weeks, found that the one-to-one time with teaching assistants led to a significant gain in numeracy skills.
The research shows that Teaching assistants can help children improve literacy and numeracy skills if they work in small groups with specific pupils known to have low attainment levels. The findings appear to contradict previous research on teaching assistants, which had suggested that they did little to help struggling children.