Did you know that while the number of mainstream school teachers in England has remained static over the last 10-years, the number of teaching assistants has trebled since 2000? Teaching assistants now make up over 35% of primary school staff and 14% of secondary school staff. Since 2000 the number of teaching assistants has risen from 79,000 to 262,800 teaching assistants. There are currently more teaching assistants in English nursery and primary schools than teachers.
The reason for this dramatic increase in teaching assistant numbers is to help with high teacher workloads in the classroom. Since the government introduced The National Agreement in 2003 to help with excessive teacher workload, the support role for teaching assistants has been greatly expanded. There has also been greater inclusion of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities in mainstream schools with teaching assistants providing key roles for inclusion in this field.
TA’s also work closely with pupils from low income families who are more likely to claim free school meals (FSM). The current government funding to schools is in proportion to the number of pupils on free school meals and budgets on TA’s is one of the most common uses of pupil premium.
All of these factors mean schools now spend around £4.4 billion each year on teaching assistants or 13% of the education budget. This presents really great opportunities to work as a teaching assistant with such large resources in place.