This short chapter will consider the role of teaching assistants in the classroom and in the delivery of Primary Languages.
There has been a significant growth in the number of teaching assistants deployed in schools, rising from 48,000 in 1997 to 153,000 in 2008, and although recent research has questioned the validity of such a large increase in terms of whether children’s progress has improved (Blatchford et al. 2004), most teachers have welcomed the increase. The availability of funding for more teaching assistants in primary schools has been beneficial for the busy and overstretched primary teacher. Having another ‘body’ in the classroom to help small groups of children, deliver additional support programmes or one-to-one support, as well as to help with administrative and classroom tasks, can be invaluable. In initial teacher education great emphasis is placed on instructing trainees to value their teaching assistants through appropriate planning and discussion – which is only right and proper.