A Suffolk-wide network run by teaching assistants (TA) for teaching assistants; providing training, early career support and advice, and opportunities to share good practice.Teaching Assistants value continuing professional development tailored to their role and the opportunity to share best practice across a network.
Share Big Idea:
Head Teachers / School Leaders, Local Authorities, Pastoral and Support Staff, School Teachers
KS1, KS2, KS3, KS4
Inclusion and SEND, Raising Attainment, Workforce: Recruitment, Retention and Development
Why was the project needed?
Teaching Assistants have a significant impact on the outcomes of children and young people and recent research has demonstrated their effective deployment and professional development is critical to this. Teaching Assistants don’t always have clear pathways to quality CPD and opportunities to network that teaching staff do.
What happened and what was the impact?
The Suffolk TA Network is a project that supports and promotes the work of teaching assistants across the county through a range of training and networking opportunities. The network was created in response to an initial ‘Making Best Use of TAs’ project, which worked with secondary schools to engage with research on the effective deployment and practice of teaching assistants. The network was shaped through views gathered at a series of online launch events and training and events are tailored to the needs of the members.
The Suffolk TA Network began with four online launch events to share the vision for the network with TAs across the county and gather their views on what they wanted from the network. Those who attended the sessions were sent an online membership form to allow them to officially register with the Suffolk TA Network. Liaising with a range of other organisations, this membership form was then distributed more widely. As the membership grew, TAs were asked to contribute articles and book reviews for the newsletter and training and networking opportunities were developed. The membership form questioned TAs about their experiences and training needs and this information has been used to develop a programme of events to meet these needs. The network was also involved in the recruitment and ongoing training of a team of ‘Remote Learning Support Assistants’ to assist with online learning.
What did and didn't work?
An impact report was published late Summer 2021, giving us key insights in the first year of the network and helping set our direction for the future.
We have learned how skilled and enthusiastic the TAs in Suffolk are how they are the key to running a successful network – the role of the coordinator is often to simply facilitate the sharing of this outstanding practice.
How did you measure success?
The Suffolk TA Network has a thriving membership of over 250 teaching assistants across the county. Members receive half-termly newsletters, which offer a range of relevant articles, features and training opportunities. Many articles are written by TAs in Suffolk and demonstrate the skills and professionalism of these staff, while sharing best practice across the network. The expertise of TAs is harnessed through TA-led training, where members share their skills and experiences with each other. Information network events attract guest speakers from a range of organisations to offer opportunities and information to the membership. All events have been well-attended and positively received. A working group is currently developing a crucial induction training package for newly appointed teaching assistants, with members of the Nasen Education Team joining throughout this project.
The first year of the Suffolk Teaching Assistant Network has been funded through the Ipswich Opportunity Area to release a member of staff to coordinate the project and a budget for admin, marketing and training costs.
Area Most Impacted
See how others have implemented this Big Idea
Evidence Based Practice - Suffolk Teaching Assistant (TA) Network
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