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Learning support assistants

Learning support assistants

Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) are an invaluable resource in our education settings. From dealing with and managing challenging behaviour, to working with specific needs and barriers to learning, the LSA can be the connecting bridge between the child and their learning.

There is a wealth of both information and resources available to support the most effective use of LSAs - most notably in the Education Endowment Foundation's (EEF) 'Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants: Guidance Report' and accompanying free online training programme.

EEF: Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants

The report calls on teachers and school leaders to make more effective use of their teaching assistants (TAs) and offers seven practical tips for maximising the impact they have on the attainment of pupils.

Previous research had shown that in many English schools teaching assistants are not being used in ways that improve pupil outcomes. However, research funded by the EEF demonstrates that when they are well trained and used in structured settings with high-quality support and training, they can boost learning by as much as an extra term.

'Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants', by Jonathan Sharples (Institute for Effective Education and EEF), Rob Webster (UCL Institute of Education) and Peter Blatchford (UCL Institute of Education), urges school leaders and teachers to strongly consider these seven evidence-based recommendations:

  1. Teaching assistants should not be used as substitute teachers for low-attaining pupils
  2. Use teaching assistants to add value to what teachers do, not replace them
  3. Use teaching assistants to help pupils develop independent study skills and manage their own learning
  4. Ensure teaching assistants are fully prepared for their role in the classroom through out of class liaison with teachers
  5. Use teaching assistants to deliver high-quality one-to-one and small group support using structured interventions
  6. Adopt evidence-based interventions to support teaching assistants in their small group and one-to-one instruction
  7. It is important that what students learn from teaching assistants complements what they are being taught in the classroom

Rob Webster of the Institute of Education says:

Our extensive research and on-going work with schools shows that making best use of teaching assistants is a school leadership issue. School leaders need to put pupils' needs at the heart of a review of current practice and to think through ways of strategically deploying teaching assistants across the school to ensure pupils receive the best possible educational experience. Teaching assistants should play an integral part in the drive to improve pupil achievement.

More information

LSAs and interventions

Many schools use LSA-led interventions to help pupils to 'catch-up'.

Other resources

Find a central repository of documents and resources at MITA Resources (