Most teaching assistants in Wales say they haven’t received enough training about the new national curriculum
Hundreds of teaching assistants say they don’t have adequate training to deliver the Curriculum for Wales, according to research carried out by their union Unison.
In a recent survey of teaching assistants two-thirds of those who took part (66%) said they have not received enough training to deliver the curriculum.
Others said that on in-service training days (INSET days), which are meant to be used for staff development, they had been asked to clean classrooms and do photocopying. Some even said they had been asked to carry out unpaid school maintenance work during days that were originally set aside for training sessions.
Unison Cymru head of schools Rosie Lewis said: “Teaching assistants play a crucial role in schools and must be given the necessary training.
“This is essential to support pupils and provide staff with the chance to develop their own careers.
“It is completely unacceptable that they are being asked to come in, sometimes without being paid, to carry out tasks unrelated to their jobs.
“Unison will be sharing its survey results with the Welsh government and calling for immediate action to give teaching assistants the support they need.”
Ceredigion teaching assistant and Unison schools convenor Rebecca Ring said: “There is a tendency to overlook our professional development and this needs to improve.
“If the Curriculum for Wales is to be successful, then the role of teaching assistants and our learning needs must be addressed.”
Unison Cymru spoke to 409 teaching assistants from across Wales for its teaching assistant professional learning survey 2023. The survey was conducted between May and September 2023.
Some 66.5% of those who responded said they had not received enough training to deliver the curriculum for Wales. Of those, the highest percentage (84.6%) came from Ceredigion. Only two of the 22 local authorities in Wales had a majority of teaching assistants saying they thought they’d received enough training in relation to the curriculum – Pembrokeshire (66.7%) and Rhondda Cynon Taf (56.3%).
The most common areas of training that teaching assistants thought fell short were additional needs and disabilities, general behaviour and general teaching assistant training.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We want to ensure that all practitioners have access to consistent and high-quality professional learning throughout their career. Professional learning about the Curriculum for Wales is available on Hwb to all staff including teaching assistants.”
In September Education Minister Jeremy Miles announced the establishment of The National Endorsement Panel, which will have a key role in ensuring the quality of professional learning provision for all educational practitioners in Wales.
He said: “Panel members will be responsible for setting endorsement criteria and quality assuring professional learning submitted for endorsement against the criteria. This process will ensure that only professional learning that is of the highest quality will be endorsed. This new quality assurance approach will be aligned to the National approach to professional learning, as well as arrangements led by the National Academy for Educational Leadership to endorse professional learning provision for school leaders in Wales.
“To ensure development opportunities for educational practitioners are easily accessible, we are launching a new professional learning area on Hwb. This will provide a single point of access to high quality, professional learning resources. Work with a Practitioner Reference Group has ensured that this approach has been developed by practitioners, for practitioners.
“Meeting the needs of the entire school workforce, learning opportunities will focus on national priorities for education, including the Curriculum for Wales, Additional Learning Needs reform, equity and the Welsh language. The area will launch in beta format initially, and feedback is welcomed to support the area’s ongoing development.
“We have also recruited a new secondee with professional learning expertise to further support the realisation of the National Professional Learning Entitlement.
“The secondee and practitioner group will work collaboratively with the new endorsement panel to ensure that only professional learning resources which have met the highest quality assurance requirements are made available on Hwb. We are accelerating our journey to realise the aims of the National Professional Learning Entitlement for Welsh practitioners, to deliver high standards and aspirations for all learners across the whole of Wales.”
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