What is a TA development team?
This is a collection of staff from your school, all of whom have a stake in the journey you are on, brought together to work as a steering group to drive forward change. Here is an example of what a TA development team might look like:
- SENCO/Senior Leader
- Four teachers and teaching assistants drawn from across the school
Notice the inclusion of teaching assistants in the overall make-up of the team. This is quite deliberate. Such an approach does a few things:
- It sends a clear and unambiguous message that the journey on which you are embarking is inclusive, open and about improving the support TAs receive and maximising the skills they already possess.
- It ensures TAs feel any changes made have their seal of approval and are in no small part a result of the input and suggestions they have made.
- It gives you access to the ideas, feelings and experiences of the core group of staff you want to develop. This information is incredibly important in shaping your vision for TA practice.
- It creates a team who are all heavily invested in the process of change and are accountable to one another – and in making sure the results of that change are positive, influential, and long-lasting.
- It empowers TAs, giving them a voice, a role in decision-making and recasting them as key players in the context of this project.
How can a TA development team help you to maximise the impact of teaching assistants?
As you form your development team, you need to consider four key criteria:
- Influence. Choose the key players so that progress is supported and will not be blocked.
- Expertise. Ensure that the various areas of expertise required are covered (e.g. people skills, resourcing, project management, leading CPD) so that informed, intelligent decisions are made.
- Credibility. Choose people who are respected by a range of stakeholders, so that changes are developed, modelled and taken seriously.
- Leadership. Ensure there are enough leaders in the team with a track record of success.
Creating a TA development team means accessing all the benefits listed above. This, in turn, raises the profile of what you are trying to do. It also creates the sense of camaraderie and inclusivity which is so often a fundamental feature of successful teams and successful change. On top of this, it lets everybody in the school know that maximising the impact of teaching assistants is at the top of your agenda, and that you view this as a leadership issue (meaning, by extension, that everyone else will view it this way as well).
Finally, it is worth noting that having a TA development team means having a collection of colleagues with whom you can debate, refine and develop ideas and plans prior to implementation. And with whom you can reflect on and analyse the impacts of implementation – both good and bad, successful and not so successful.