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Project to improve how schools use Teaching Assistants wins public engagement and impact award

27 November 2019

A UCL Institute of Education (IOE) project on Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants (MITA) has won the British Educational Research Association (BERA) Public Engagement and Impact team award.

Teaching assistant with pupils

The Award recognises the important impact of research and practice in the education community. It celebrates significant educational research and its activities that have demonstrably engaged the public.

The MITA programme provides training and consultancy for school leaders, teachers and teaching assistants (TAs) to help ensure TAs thrive in their role and improve outcomes for pupils.

The programme was created following IOE research by Associate Professor Rob Webster, Professor Peter Blatchford and Dr Anthony Russell, which found that TA support had an unintended negative impact on pupils’ academic progress. 

The academics found that this was the result of ineffective decision-making by school leaders over TAs’ deployment and preparation. They also found this was particularly prevalent for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) as schools are heavily reliant on under-qualified TAs.

To help schools address this, MITA brings together a strategic improvement programme for school leaders, a staff training and capacity-building licensing initiative, developed and led by Dr Paula Bosanquet, and extensive practical guidance and resources.

It has made a significant contribution to public awareness and transformed perceptions of the potential and value of TAs in hundreds of UK schools.

Heather Lacey, Headteacher of Shirley Manor Primary School in Bradford said of MITA: "External advisors have commented on the impact MITA has had not only from seeing the increase in children’s independence, but the effects on my TAs feeling valued. As a consequence of MITA, my internal results for SEND show a significant increase in progress for a number of children and predictions for end of key stage SATs are also showing the same."

Associate Professor Rob Webster said: “We’re delighted to receive this award from BERA. More importantly, it acknowledges the hard work and achievement of the schools we’ve worked with, who recognise the value of their TAs and the contribution they can make to improving outcomes for students.”

Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants is nominated in Made at UCL, which showcases the top 100 UCL projects that improve lives and communities and create real world impact.

Vote for Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants in Made at UCL.

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