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Part of my role as AHT is to manage a large number of TAs. As I’ve said many times before the TAs in my school are without doubt absolutely fabulous. Their skill and expertise in looking after the poorly children, caring for their medical needs, keeping them comfortable and supporting them in lessons is second to none. A few months ago I was asked to write a guide for how TAs should work during an Ofsted inspection. Here is the advice I wrote based on what our TAs do during an average day.

Advice for TAs
*TAs should know the school’s ethos. Sounds simple but this should inform the way you work. Ours is ‘Inspire, challenge, believe’. All our TAs believe in our children’s ability to do well and inspire them to work as hard as they are able to despite the difficulties they face.
*Know and understand the children’s IEP targets and how to help them achieve the targets.
*Know their care/feeding/health plans if needed. This is simple for our TAs as they actually write them.
*Be aware of any behaviour issues and how to deal with them. There is always a school behaviour policy and it is vital that TAs are aware of this. Some of our TAs joined a working party to devise our behaviour policy thus ensuring they had expert knowledge.
*Please be aware of class reward systems so that you and the teacher are in perfect harmony. On a similar issue, discuss with the teacher what to do if a child has to leave the room. Where to go, how long for?
*Therapy such as physio, speech and language, standing frames etc. if applicable should continue as normal.
*On a different theme TAs should know their own CPD progression. They need to have a record of the courses they have done and what further courses they would like.

Prior to the lesson
*Be on time to make sure your child/group is on task from the start of the lesson.
*Have a copy of the lesson plan to hand so that you can follow what’s going on. My TAs all contribute to planning the lesson so this is not an issue. They know the children well and know how to keep them engaged and on task. I trust their judgement implicitly.
*Set up PCs ready for the children to begin work straight away.
*Be prepared with everything you need to differentiate the lesson. Photocopying, highlighting and any other resources should be ready beforehand if possible. My TAs are marvellous at this. I have the highest respect for the way they differentiate a lesson.

During the lesson
Be on hand to support but still allow independence. This is a difficult balancing act but TAs are often experts at this. Support within the group rather than just one child, otherwise the child is actually being excluded by not working within a group. Also, I wouldn’t recommend you withdraw a child and work in a corridor unless its completely unavoidable. This is actually exclusion.
Know the learning objectives for the lesson, simple if you’ve had input to the planning. Know the level the child is working at and how to get them to the next level. I appreciate that not all TAs have access to this information but many do.
In SEN classrooms its very important that TAs know how the child accesses the curriculum. For example, do they use iPads, clicker grids, pecs? In my school TAs are masters at providing access to the curriculum. This is their domain!
Provide cross curricular links where possible. If you spot a chance to add a little numeracy or phonics in a history lesson, seize it.
Tempting as it is don’t provide so much support that you practically do the work for the child. It is no slur on your self if the work is too challenging for the child.
Try and be discreet. Don’t make the child stand out in any way. They need to be included at all times but they probably don’t need an adult sat next to them on a permanent basis.

The last thing I want to say TAs is ‘think on your feet’. The TAs in my class are superb at this. During a lesson observation if things do not go according to plan, the plan changes. Quietly and discreetly my TAs will gather new resources, find new PC programs or devise a way to help the children reach their objective. My TAs are highly skilled at this and can change tack at the drop of a hat.

So in short my advice to TAs is be proud of yourselves. You are the experts at supporting children. Many of you are highly qualified, highly trained individuals. You know your stuff, and many of you are at the top of your game. Ofsted visiting is your chance to prove how skilled you actually are. Remember its your Ofsted too and you won’t go far wrong :-))

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