Teaching assistants: ​EEF publishes updated guidance to support schools achieve greater impact

380,000 teaching assistants (TAs) are employed across the country, at an annual public cost of some £5 billion, but previous research had shown that in many schools they were not being deployed in ways that improve student outcomes. Indeed, for students from poorer backgrounds the impact of TAs was too often negative.

However, EEF trials have demonstrated that, when they are well-trained and used in structured settings with high-quality support and training, TAs can make a noticeable positive impact on pupil learning.

To support schools in achieving this, in 2015 the EEF published its first guidance report, Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants. Written by the EEF's Prof. Jonathan Sharples, together with Rob Webster and Prof. Peter Blatchford, both at the UCL Institute of Education, it made seven clear and actionable recommendations.

Since then, the EEF has added a number of resources to support the implementation of this guidance report. This new material has now been incorporated online to bring the guidance up-to-date. It can be freely read and downloaded here.

Bob Slavin - A Tribute

​Bob Slavin was a gracious giant of educational research, whose work will benefit millions of children around the world.

Bob Slavin - A Tribute

62,000 reception-age pupils in England to take part in early language programme

62,000 reception-age pupils in England to take part in early language programme

EEF Blog: New ‘Voices from the Classroom’ –  The RADAAR Framework

EEF Blog: New ‘Voices from the Classroom’ –  The RADAAR Framework

3. Wider strategies

Wider strategies relate to the most significant non-academic barriers to success in school, including attendance, behaviour and social and emotional support.

3. Wider strategies

2. Targeted academic support

Evidence consistently shows the positive impact that targeted academic support can have, including for those pupils who are not making good progress across the spectrum of achievement.

2. Targeted academic support

1. High-quality teaching

The best available evidence indicates that great teaching is the most important lever schools have to improve outcomes for their pupils.

1. High-quality teaching

School Improvement Planning

School Improvement Planning

EEF Blog: Supporting curriculum planning in science

EEF Blog: Supporting curriculum planning in science

Funding research to improve science education - what have we learnt?

Funding research to improve science education - what have we learnt?

EEF publishes new evaluation reports

EEF publishes new evaluation reports

EEF Blog: Making use of the evidence on educational programmes

EEF Blog: Making use of the evidence on educational programmes

Review of evidence on science teaching for primary phase education: call for proposals

Review of evidence on science teaching for primary phase education: call for proposals

Privacy notice for those responding to EEF surveys

Privacy notice for those responding to EEF surveys

EEF Blog: Metacognition in modern foreign language teaching - A perspective from secondary school

EEF Blog: Metacognition in modern foreign language teaching - A perspective from secondary school

EEF Blog: Integrating evidence into mathematics teaching – Minimising Misconceptions

EEF Blog: Integrating evidence into mathematics teaching – Minimising Misconceptions

Application Round: The Research Schools Network in Cumbria

Information on becoming a Research School in Cumbria

Application Round: The Research Schools Network in Cumbria

EEF blog: Early Career Framework – three key insights for school leaders to help support their newest teachers

EEF blog: Early Career Framework – three key insights for school leaders to help support their newest teachers

EEF to support creation of new charity to compete for tutoring contract

EEF to support creation of new charity to compete for tutoring contract

New EEF podcast: ‘Setting pupils up for success in maths’

New EEF podcast: ‘Setting pupils up for success in maths’

EEF responds to the NAHT survey on pupil premium funding

EEF responds to the NAHT survey on pupil premium funding

Statement on statistical significance and uncertainty of impact estimates for EEF evaluations

Statement on statistical significance and uncertainty of impact estimates for EEF evaluations

Statement on statistical significance and uncertainty of impact estimates for EEF evaluations

Review of evidence on implementation in education: call for proposals

Review of evidence on implementation in education: call for proposals

EEF publishes emerging findings from ‘Big Lockdown-Learning Parent Survey’

EEF publishes emerging findings from ‘Big Lockdown-Learning Parent Survey’

EEF Blog: The EEF’s approach to Covid-19 impacted evaluations

EEF Blog: The EEF’s approach to Covid-19 impacted evaluations

EEF publishes three new evaluation reports

EEF publishes three new evaluation reports

Regional Implementation Lead

Regional Implementation Lead

EEF Blog: Integrating evidence into mathematics teaching - Addressing Assessment

EEF Blog: Integrating evidence into mathematics teaching - Addressing Assessment

EEF Blog: Learning recovery and the role of diagnostic assessment

EEF Blog: Learning recovery and the role of diagnostic assessment

EEF publishes in-depth analysis of primary pupils’ performance in maths and reading assessments

EEF publishes in-depth analysis of primary pupils’ performance in maths and reading assessments

EEF Blog: Summer schools – what the evidence tells us and what it doesn’t

EEF Blog: Summer schools – what the evidence tells us and what it doesn’t

EEF Blog: How can we help parents support their children to learn from home?

EEF Blog: How can we help parents support their children to learn from home?

EEF and Sutton Trust respond to Government’s new Covid-19 education recovery package

EEF and Sutton Trust respond to Government’s new Covid-19 education recovery package

EEF Blog: Addressing the challenge of delivering new maths content remotely

EEF Blog: Addressing the challenge of delivering new maths content remotely

Privacy notice for schools involved in the NELI scale up evaluation

Privacy notice for schools involved in the NELI scale up evaluation

EEF publishes findings from independent evaluation of National Online Tutoring pilot

EEF publishes findings from independent evaluation of National Online Tutoring pilot

EEF Blog: Meeting the Challenge – new EEF case studies

EEF Blog: Meeting the Challenge – new EEF case studies

The Big Lockdown Learning Parent Survey

The Big Lockdown Learning Parent Survey

EEF Blog: Learning secondary maths in lockdown - how to help your students ‘have a go’

EEF Blog: Learning secondary maths in lockdown - how to help your students ‘have a go’

National Tutoring Programme

National Tutoring Programme

EEF Blog: Making use of TRUST Talk

EEF Blog: Making use of TRUST Talk

EEF publishes new analysis on impact of Covid-19 on attainment gap

EEF publishes new analysis on impact of Covid-19 on attainment gap

‘Evidence into Action’ - EEF podcast returns with new episode on ‘Managing behaviour and building habits’

‘Evidence into Action’ - EEF podcast returns with new episode on ‘Managing behaviour and building habits’

EEF Blog: New ‘Voices from the Classroom’ – Lessons from remote learning

EEF Blog: New ‘Voices from the Classroom’ – Lessons from remote learning

Best evidence on supporting students to learn remotely

Best evidence on supporting students to learn remotely

PDF: Rapid evidence assessment - Distance learning

PDF: Rapid evidence assessment - Distance learning

Teacher professional development

Teacher professional development

​The impact of Feedback Approaches on educational attainment in children and young people

​The impact of Feedback Approaches on educational attainment in children and young people

Chief Executive’s Letter: How evidence can help with learning through the latest lockdown

Chief Executive’s Letter: How evidence can help with learning through the latest lockdown

EEF Blog: New year, new lockdown - a renewed challenge

EEF Blog: New year, new lockdown - a renewed challenge

Privacy notice for employees

Privacy notice for employees

EEF Blog: Live teaching and pre-recorded video lessons – how can we best navigate the evidence?

EEF Blog: Live teaching and pre-recorded video lessons – how can we best navigate the evidence?

Home learning support resources for schools and parents

Home learning support resources for schools and parents

EEF responds to the latest school closures announcement

EEF responds to the latest school closures announcement

​New resources published to support schools in putting evidence into practice

​New resources published to support schools in putting evidence into practice

Chief Executive’s Letter: 10 ways the EEF supported teachers and disadvantaged pupils in 2020

Chief Executive’s Letter: 10 ways the EEF supported teachers and disadvantaged pupils in 2020

6,500 primary schools register to deliver EEF Promising Project backed by Government Covid ‘catch-up’ funding

6,500 primary schools register to deliver EEF Promising Project backed by Government Covid ‘catch-up’ funding

Learning from 2020: 3 ways in which primary school teachers have used literacy to support learning this term

Learning from 2020: 3 ways in which primary school teachers have used literacy to support learning this term

Education Data Service Pilot

Final report for the Education Data Service Pilot

Education Data Service Pilot

EEF Blog: New ‘Voices from the classroom’ videos to bring evidence-informed practice to life

EEF Blog: New ‘Voices from the classroom’ videos to bring evidence-informed practice to life

PDF: Covid-19 Communicating Effectively with Families

PDF: Covid-19 Communicating Effectively with Families

Learning from 2020: Four Covid-safe innovations maths teachers have devised to put evidence-based strategies into effect

Learning from 2020: Four Covid-safe innovations maths teachers have devised to put evidence-based strategies into effect

PDF: RADAAR Planning Logic diagram

RADAAR Planning Logic diagram

PDF: RADAAR Planning Logic diagram

‘Evidence into Action’ - new EEF podcast focuses on ‘Making the Difference for Disadvantaged Pupils’

‘Evidence into Action’ - new EEF podcast focuses on ‘Making the Difference for Disadvantaged Pupils’

EEF announces new addition to the Research Schools Network

EEF announces new addition to the Research Schools Network

EEF in the News: “The fund has been a lifeline and still is to this day”  - Sunday Times reports back on our £1.3 million Christmas appeal

EEF in the News: “The fund has been a lifeline and still is to this day”  - Sunday Times reports back on our £1.3 million Christmas appeal

New: EEF publishes Evidence Review on Mathematical Teaching in the Early Years and Key Stage 1

New: EEF publishes Evidence Review on Mathematical Teaching in the Early Years and Key Stage 1

EEF Blog: How to foster independent study in Key Stage 3

EEF Blog: How to foster independent study in Key Stage 3

EEF Blog: Pop Quiz - What’s the best way to start a lesson?

EEF Blog: Pop Quiz - What’s the best way to start a lesson?

Guest Blog: Practical strategies for embedding high-quality Social and Emotional Learning skills

Guest Blog: Practical strategies for embedding high-quality Social and Emotional Learning skills

EEF in Tes: ‘Coping with Covid: 5 tips for improving pupil behaviour’

EEF in Tes: ‘Coping with Covid: 5 tips for improving pupil behaviour’

Guest Blog: 6 approaches schools can use to provide practical science opportunities in this ‘new normal’

Guest Blog: 6 approaches schools can use to provide practical science opportunities in this ‘new normal’

EEF Blog: Teacher Choices Trials - our new approach to researching questions teachers want answers to

EEF Blog: Teacher Choices Trials - our new approach to researching questions teachers want answers to

EEF Blog: New resources for tackling scientific misconceptions

EEF Blog: New resources for tackling scientific misconceptions

Early Career Framework Early Roll-out

Early Career Framework Early Roll-out

EEF email series - Improving Early Maths

EEF email series - Improving Early Maths

Early Years and Key Stage 1 Mathematics Teaching

Early Years and Key Stage 1 Mathematics Teaching

Four new EEF evaluation reports published

Four new EEF evaluation reports published

Guest Blog: Why digging a little deeper into educational research matters

Guest Blog: Why digging a little deeper into educational research matters

National Tutoring Programme launches in schools

National Tutoring Programme launches in schools

1,100+ schools and nurseries sought for EEF evaluations of eight projects aiming to close the disadvantage gap

1,100+ schools and nurseries sought for EEF evaluations of eight projects aiming to close the disadvantage gap

Building evidence infrastructure is a global good

Building evidence infrastructure is a global good

EEF Blog: How to use reading as a starting point for learning this year

EEF Blog: How to use reading as a starting point for learning this year

EEF Blog: Reflections of a SENCo – the importance of a whole school approach to supporting pupils with SEND

EEF Blog: Reflections of a SENCo – the importance of a whole school approach to supporting pupils with SEND

Online tutoring helps disadvantaged pupils during lockdown, study finds

Online tutoring helps disadvantaged pupils during lockdown, study finds

EEF email series - Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning

EEF email series - Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning

Guest Blog: Practical, evidence-based tips to embed metacognitive strategies into your classroom practice

Guest Blog: Practical, evidence-based tips to embed metacognitive strategies into your classroom practice

Stop and Think: Learning Counterintuitive Concepts (regrant)

Stop and Think: Learning Counterintuitive Concepts (regrant)

Improving Working Memory and Arithmetic (regrant)

Improving Working Memory and Arithmetic (regrant)

EEF Blog: Classrooms look very different this year. Here are 5 research resources to support teachers in adapting your practices

EEF Blog: Classrooms look very different this year. Here are 5 research resources to support teachers in adapting your practices

Guest Blog: One-to-one support for pupils with SEND - a case study in how specialists and TAs can work together

Guest Blog: One-to-one support for pupils with SEND - a case study in how specialists and TAs can work together

EEF Blog: Getting to grips with reading comprehension strategies

EEF Blog: Getting to grips with reading comprehension strategies

EEF Blog: Three crucial questions for schools wanting to support the impact of teaching assistants

EEF Blog: Three crucial questions for schools wanting to support the impact of teaching assistants

Prof Becky Francis in Tes: ‘How to access subsidised tutoring for your school’

Prof Becky Francis in Tes: ‘How to access subsidised tutoring for your school’

Cognitive science approaches in the classroom

Cognitive science approaches in the classroom

EEF in Tes: ‘Coping with Covid - Reading key to closing learning gap’

EEF in Tes: ‘Coping with Covid - Reading key to closing learning gap’

EEF commissions new research on the impact of Covid-19 school and nursery closures

EEF commissions new research on the impact of Covid-19 school and nursery closures

EEF Support for Schools

EEF Support for Schools

EEF Guidance Reports

EEF Guidance Reports

EEF Guide to Supporting School Planning, 2021

EEF Guide to Supporting School Planning, 2021

Improving Literacy in Key Stage 2

Update to be published in Autumn 2020

Improving Literacy in Key Stage 2

In addition, this week the EEF launched a new 11-week email series based on the guidance report – more than 800 people have so far signed up to receive the report in bite-sized chunks direct to their inbox. You can subscribe free here:

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