Implementing a required curriculum reform: teachers at the core, teaching assistants on the periphery?

Eyres, Ian and Hancock, Roger (2004). Implementing a required curriculum reform: teachers at the core, teaching assistants on the periphery? Westminster Studies in Education, 27(2) pp. 223–235.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0140672042000277143

Abstract

This paper considers the part played by teaching assistants in the implementation of the National Literacy and National Numeracy Strategies, two widespread UK government reforms. Evidence from two sources of evaluation (the Ontario Institute in Canada and OfSTED, the school inspectorate for England) indicates that assistants are providing 'remedial' support for up to 25% of children in English primary schools. However, although the evaluators note this, they fail to truly acknowledge the important contribution of assistants to the functioning of the Strategies. The paper argues that the lack of acknowledgement arises from the evaluators' view of teaching assistants as 'peripheral' and teachers as 'core'. This does assistants a great disservice, but also masks the shortcomings of the Strategies, particularly with regard to the way in which a required pedagogy, linked to targets and tests, has created an exclusionary pressure leading to the separation of teaching by teachers and assistants, respectively.

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