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									      THE KNOWLEDGE, AWARENESS
          AND EXPERIENCES OF
         TEACHING ASSISTANTS
       WORKING WITH SECONDARY
      SCHOOL STUDENTS WITH SLCNs
                              Victoria Joffe & Elena Revelas
                           Department of Language and Communication Science
                                             City University

                                  with Emma                Dean and Nita Madhani

Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
       funded by the Nuffield Foundation
       www.elciss.com
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                                                            Background
     Students with speech, language and communication needs
    (SLCNs) are increasingly being taught in mainstream schools
     Responsibility for meeting their needs is on teaching staff
     Other adult/s in the classroom take on supportive and
    teaching roles
     They often work with students with SENs, but receive little
    support or attention
     The needs of the most vulnerable students may often be
    dependent on the least trained member of the team: the
    Teaching Assistant (TA)(Jarvis, „03)
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
     Multiple job titles denote their role:

                                    teaching aides
                                    teaching assistants
                                    classroom assistants
                                    auxiliary support
                                    paraeducators
                                    learning support assistants ….etc
     These titles are used interchangeably (Cajkler et al., 2007),
    reflecting the ad hoc perspectives of these roles

     The term teaching assistant is the preferred term
    capturing the essential „active ingredient‟ of their work (DfES,
    2000)
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
     Emergent role of TAs: dynamic and rapid (Armstrong, 2008)

     England: 2005: a ratio of 1 TA to 2.9 teachers
               1997: a ratio of 1: 6.5 (DfES, 2005)

     Rapid transformation in role:

    classroom helper                                            teaching support (Groom, 2006)

     TAs have an important role but one that is not fully recognised
    or supported (Armstrong, 2008)


Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
     TAs enable pupils with SEN to be in mainstream
    classrooms (Clarke et al., 1999)
     However, their effectiveness is unclear (Brown, 2001)

     Lack of evidence: role in raising attainment (Gross & White,
    2003)

     Considerable variation in the deployment, pay, conditions
    and training of TAs within and between schools and boroughs



     Inconsistencies and variability in TA‟s knowledge and
    experiences (Armstrong, 2008).
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
     This variability makes collaborative practice difficult

     Collaborative practice and joint working: key
    recommendation of Bercow report (2008)

     Essential for successful intervention with students with
    SLCNs (DfES, 2001)

     The skills and knowledge of TAs need to be understood for
    effective collaboration


Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
     Creative tension in SLT delivery (Law and Harris, 2006)

     SLTs recognise need for joint working BUT reluctant to
    commit to indirect models when unsure of skills of people with
    whom they are collaborating

     If TAs are expected to work collaboratively with other
    professionals, it is necessary to 1) explore their knowledge
    and awareness of SENs to determine their training needs and
    2) meet these needs accordingly to ensure collaborative
    practice is effective


Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                                                           THE STUDY

    Aim:

    To explore the

     knowledge
     awareness
     experiences

    of 53 TAs from 21 mainstream secondary schools in two
    London boroughs in the areas of language and communication
    and SENs

Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
    Method:

     A questionnaire was used to explore training, levels of
    experience, knowledge and awareness of language and
    communication impairments and SENs

     A total of 41 items: a combination of open-ended and closed
    questions




Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
           Results:

                                            General Information about TAs

     53 TAs: 21 from Borough A and 32 from Borough B
     Years worked as a TA: 8 months to 17.8 years (Mean = 4 yrs)
     They had been practising in their current school for an
    average of 3.9 years
     83% worked full-time

Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                                                                                   Interest / Enjoy (n=27)
                                2%
                         8%
                                                                                   To help / Make a difference
                9%
                                                                                   (n=9)
                                                                                   Convenience (n=5)
            9%                                     51%
                                                                                   Training to be a teacher (n=5)
                   17%
                                                                                   Has SEN child (n=4)

                                                    Financial a TA
                                Reasons given for becoming - need                                                    money (n=1)
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                                            Respect and Recognition

     Majority of TAs reported receiving respect and recognition
    from teachers, students, parents, school management and
    other professionals

     Responses varied across TAs with some reporting
    insufficient respect and recognition particularly by teachers,
    school management and children

     TAs felt most respected by other professionals, such as
    SLTs; and parents

Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                  TAs’ perceived levels of Respect and Recognition
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
   Role of TAs: Average no of hours/week on various duties
         Duty                                                                  N (TAs)              Mean hours                   S.D
         Administration:                                                            45                      2.11                 2.25
         Preparation / Planning and                                                 45                     1.27                  1.27
         reading:
         Receiving supervision:                                                     30                     0.17                  0.38
         Other non-student contact time:                                            36                     0.86                  1.07
         Student Contact time:                                                      43                       21                  9.71
         Play duty:                                                                 37                     0.95                  4.93
         Lunch duty:                                                                42                     0.74                  1.08
         Other:                                                                     33                     0.97                  2.11
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                                            Training and Qualifications

    96% of TAs had some formal qualification
    85% were at a level equivalent to NVQ level 1, 2 or 3
    77% of TAs reported having additional training - details very
   non specific
    77% reported a desire for further training indicating a pool of
   unmet need AND willingness to enhance knowledge
    Training requirements ranged from specific training (autism,
   reading, writing), to courses (training towards a HLTA or NVQ)
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                     TAs’ Knowledge of Language Impairment (LI)
     Only 11% of TAs included both reception and expression
    when defining LI, for e.g.
          „„Difficulties with understanding spoken or
          written language and difficulties with
          expressing thoughts or ideas verbally and in
          writing”
     40% gave either a receptive or expressive element, for e.g.
         “Children who can’t put sentences together”
     40% gave vague explanations displaying limited
    knowledge or partly incorrect information, for e.g.
          “Weak abilities in language”
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                  TAs’ Knowledge about Language Impairments
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
   What do you understand by the term language impairment?
   Difficulty making others understand you and in understanding other people
   A pupil could be EAL; deafness; speech impediment
   Difficulty in processing or retaining language. Maybe physical/mental issues
   Difficulties with pronunciation of words, sounds, letters
   Very little
   Any kind of language difficulty causing concern in relation to pupils
   education
   People who have difficulty communicating verbally
   A child that has problems in speaking a language
   Children who can‟t put a sentence together or have trouble writing essays;
   processing information; spelling.
   Difficulty understanding of the English language or limited vocabulary
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                                                       Task Analysis:

    TAs were asked to analyse the word „poppy‟ in terms of:
                No of syllables
                No of sounds
                No of letters
                provide rhyming word
                provide alliteration

    24% of TAs scored 100%

    Scores for letter and sound identification differed
   substantially: 77% and 26% respectively
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                             TAs’ Awareness of the Impact of LI

    Impact on:                        Excellent                   Adequate                     Limited                       No
                                      Awareness                   Awareness                   awareness                   Response


    School                                  13%                         42%                         28%                        13%
    Environment
    Home                                      9%                          9%                        48%                        25%
    Environment
    Future                                  17%                         19%                         49%                        23%
    Prospects

Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                            Impact of LI on School Environment
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                                Impact of LI on Home Environment
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                                    Impact of LI on Student’s Future
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
   The relationship between TA knowledge of language and
   communication impairments and:
    level of education
    experience
    additional training
    student contact time
   Stepwise multiple regressions: TAs’ level of education was the
   only significant predictor of overall knowledge of language and
   communication impairments.

   Level of education continued to predict TA knowledge, even
   after controlling for years of experience, additional training and
   student contact time.
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                                Important issues arise from
                                   additional comments
                                     made by the TAs




Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                                  Lack of support and collaboration


                                                                                                  I don‟t know
                   I feel hopeless in
                                                                                                what the teacher
                 lessons when I can‟t
                                                                                                wants from me,
                 override the teacher
                                                                                                    we don‟t
                     and take some
                                                                                                 communicate
                 control. I don‟t know
                                                                                                     enough
                 when I‟m allowed to
                 step in. I feel we are
                   undervalued and
                       underused


Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                     There are simply not
                    enough teachers or TAs
                  employed in the education
                    system to cope with the
                  growing number of children
                    with learning difficulties

                                                                                               There aren‟t enough
                                                                                                hours in the day for
                                                                                               planning and reading
                           Lack of time and resources
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                                               Lack of recognition



                     The pay should be                                                   Most people think
                       increased, the                                                     a TA only carries
                      work is very hard                                                  out duties such as
                       and our role is                                                      photocopying
                      crucial in making
                       a difference in
                          learning




Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
          Lack of training and knowledge

               I don‟t know any                                                                   I don‟t always
               strategies to help                                                                   know what
                 these children                                                                  teachers expect
                                                                                                     from me

                                                                                                   My duties vary
               We do not have time                                                                  every week,
                 or opportunity for                                                                 sometimes
               training. I don‟t know                                                                every day
                enough to properly
                help these children
                                                                                                      Lack of specific
                                                                                                      guidance
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                                                                Summary

     Great variability amongst TAs – implications for joint
    working
     TAs displayed limited and patchy understanding of
    speech, language and communication impairments
    emphasising the importance for foundation training in these
    crucial areas

     Most significant predictor of TAs‟ knowledge = level of
    education, suggesting the importance of initial qualifications in
    preparing TAs for their work
     No currently agreed level of qualification for TA employment
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                                               Issues to Ponder…

    TA knowledge and how your service
   utilises them through indirect models of SLT

    TA Training and the role of the SLT in
   this training

    How best to utilise this unique and exciting workforce to
   help deliver intervention

    Future possibilities are exciting – initial results from our
   ELCISS TA training suggests a change in knowledge,
   perception AND practice
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                 “I believe it is a very beneficial
                 job, children we work with gain
                  immensely from our support”

                                               TA No: 44




Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
                           Acknowledgements and Thanks

     Afasic
    Nuffield Foundation
     Project team (Emma Dean, Eleni Kotta, Francesca
    Parker, Clare Lilley, Elena Revelas) and additional testers
    and City University students
     Redbridge Primary Care Trust and Local Education
    Authority
     Barking and Dagenham PCT and LEA
     Teaching assistants, SENCO‟s and teaching staff from the
    21 participating schools


Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
            Thank you for your time and
            attention. I am very happy to take
            any questions and or comments.
   For further details, contact:
   Victoria Joffe:

   Tel: 02070404629

   email: v.joffe@city.ac.uk

   http://www.elciss.com/
Joffe, V.L. et al. (2009). The Knowledge, Awareness and Experiences of Teaching Assistants Working with Secondary School Students with SLCNs. RCSLT
Scientific Conference. Partners in progress: Spreading the word. 17th - 18th March 2009, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.

								
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