New professional teaching assistant standards scrapped

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The Government has decided against publishing new draft standards drawn up to raise the status and professonalism of teaching assistants.

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The new draft standards for teaching assistants will not be published

Despite the standards being drawn up by a panel of experts seven months ago, education secretary Nicky Morgan has refused to publish the document. 

The panel, made up of teaching assistants, teachers and heads, were tasked by the Department for Education last year to come up with new clearer, concise standards to raise the status and professionalism of teaching assistants.

As part of the review of professional standards, which was being led by the former schools minister and Liberal Democrat MP David Laws, a call for evidence was launched in October 2014.

Following this, the panel prepared their recommendations in February; but, according to Schools Week, were told that publication of the draft standards would be delayed due to the upcoming election and purdah rules.

However, schools minister Nick Gibb has now revealed that education secretary Nicky Morgan has decided not to publish the draft standards.

In response to a written parliamentary question from Labour MP Kevin Brennan last week about the publication’s timing, Mr Gibb said, ‘Ministers have considered the latest evidence on the effective deployment and professional development of teaching assistants, together with a summary of the call for evidence and the draft teaching assistant standards submitted by the expert panel.

‘In the light of this evidence, the Government believes that schools are best placed to decide how they use and deploy teaching assistants, and to set standards for the teaching assistants they employ. The secretary of state has therefore decided not to publish the draft standards.’

Voice the union said that it was ‘furious’ about the Government’s decision not to publish the draft standards.

Its general secretary Deborah Lawson said, ‘The message this gives is alarming. It is treating teaching assistants as second class citizens by denying them the professional recognition that they deserve and need. The failure to publish is also a waste of public money and time and effort.

'The thousands of teaching assistants eagerly awaiting the outcome of this review will be bitterly disappointed. They make a significant contribution to the way pupils learn and achieve.

 ‘Hard pressed school leaders would appreciate updated guidance which would support them when employing and developing TAs to meet the changing needs of their schools.’

A Department for Education spokesperson said, 'Teaching assistants are an integral part of the school workforce and can make a valuable contribution to ensuring students reach their full potential.

'All the evidence shows that it is schools not ministers that are best placed to decide how they deploy teaching assistants and set the standards for the teaching assistants they employ. That is why after careful consideration the Secretary of State has decided not to publish the draft standards.'

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