[Mr George Howarth in the Chair] — Teaching Assistants

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 18th March 2014.

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Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Labour, Stockton North 9:30 am, 18th March 2014

Good morning, Mr Howarth, it is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship for the first time.

The main reason I sought to become a Member of this House was to see that children had opportunities available to them, enabling them to develop, so I am delighted to have secured today’s debate on the importance of teaching assistants to our children and the whole school system. They add tremendous value to classrooms throughout the country. I hope to be able to counter the attitude of some, which is that they are a high-cost, low-return intervention. I want this House to celebrate their achievements and recognise the positive role they play in developing our children’s future.

I hope to emphasise the huge potential and promise of teaching assistants in improving and enriching educational outcomes, because these valuable assets are currently undervalued, underpaid and their contributions are largely unrecognised. I hope that this debate sets the record straight on this matter, once and for all.

Like many hon. Members present, I have long argued that those teaching our young people and assisting their learning are of the greatest importance to all our lives. That is why I not only supported the call for our teachers to be properly trained and qualified, but tabled early-day motion 753 in November, to recognise the immense value teaching assistants bring to classrooms and schools throughout the United Kingdom.