[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

I have been amazed by somebody working with children with special needs; I will give that example later. Those people play a vital role and children with special needs in particular would suffer directly as a result of any reduction.

The aim of the workload agreement was simple: to allow teachers to teach. To do this, the agreement sought to lessen pressure on teachers by reducing the administrative bureaucracy and cutting teachers’ hours through the creation of new and expanded school support roles, including teaching assistants and higher level teaching assistants, and providing extra resource and high-level support for teachers.

Teaching assistants now make up more than a quarter of the total school work force in England, with more than 359,000 in classrooms across England alone. The vast majority—almost 250,000—work in primary schools; almost 20% are in secondary schools; and 9% are in special schools. With primary schools spending £2.8 billion on teaching assistants and support staff in 2010-11 and secondary schools spending £1.6 billion during the same period, such support accounts for a large proportion of the annual education budget. It is for precisely this reason that the role and worth of teaching assistants have been in the public spotlight, particularly since questions were raised several years ago about the value for money that they provide.