Classroom assistants in primary schools: Employment and deployment

Hancock, Roger; Swann, Will; Marr, Alan; Turner, Janet and Cable, Carrie (2002). Classroom assistants in primary schools: Employment and deployment. Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Swindon.



The study investigates the ways in which classroom assistants in primary schools are deployed in classrooms, and the terms and conditions under which they are employed. The number of classroom assistants in primary schools has grown considerably in recent years, but very little is known about their work. Despite this, government policy is paying increasing attention to their potential to contribute to raising standards of achievement. The study aimed to understand the range of practices which govern the employment of classroom assistants, and the range of ways in which they are deployed in classrooms. The study sought to understand the factors that determine employment practices and patterns of deployment, and the way in which these are interrelated. The study contributes to the growing debate on professional and para-professional roles in primary schools. The study uses a combination of large sample survey and small scale case study methodology. In the first phase, policy and practice in three LEAs were explored through semi-structured interviews with key informants among LEA staff and representatives of trade unions and professional associations. In the second phase, questionnaires were sent to a large sample of schools in these three LEAs for completion by the head teacher, a classroom assistant and a teacher. The returns from LEA 3 were very low and therefore not included in this phase. Finally, three schools in LEA 1 and two schools in LEA 2 were chosen for in-depth case studies, drawing data from non-participant observation and semi-structured interviews with school staff.

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