'Whoops, I forgot David’ – children’s perceptions of the adults who work in their classrooms

Eyres, Ian; Cable, Carrie; Hancock, Roger and Turner, Janet (2004). 'Whoops, I forgot David’ – children’s perceptions of the adults who work in their classrooms. Early Years: An International Journal of Research and Development, 24(2) pp. 149–162.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0957514032000733000


This article reports on the findings of a small-scale study into the perceptions of 78 primary schoolchildren regarding the adults in their classrooms. The data show that children easily differentiate between their own class teacher and other adults, but report a substantial overlap between the activities of teachers and teaching assistants. Some express the difference in terms of status rather than role. Accounts call into question the notion that teaching assistants `help' rather than teach and that there is a clear division of labour between them and teachers. Teachers and assistants are seen as working in an interdependent way, with each making a significant contribution to children's learning. The difficulties of using children's language as evidence are considered and it is concluded that the notion of a `remodelled' primary school workforce needs to take into account the ways in which teachers and assistants maintain fluid working relationships.

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