Making changes to TA-led structured interventions presents its own implementation challenges. Here are two key ones, coupled with advice on how to get past them:
Challenge One: Reshaping Existing Interventions
The likelihood is that you will already run a series of interventions in your school. Some of these might accord with the guidance presented in Recommendations 5 and 6, some may not. That means you will most likely need to reshape some or all of your existing interventions if you want to bring them up to best practice.
This task is not straightforward and needs to be given sufficient time. Begin by conducting an Interventions Health Check (see earlier in the unit). Then, sit down with colleagues and begin a critical analysis of the impact your interventions are having. A small number of really effective interventions will always be better than a large number of highly variable ones.
Finally, develop a strategy which will underpin your interventions going forward. For example, you might decide to only focus on specific groups of learners. Or, you might choose to jettison any interventions for which there is no robust evidence in their favour. Communicate the strategy to colleagues. Explain how it was developed and what the implications are. Tie these to pupil achievement and effective use of TAs time.
Challenge Two: Training TAs to Deliver Interventions
As the guidance notes ‘TAs (should) receive extensive training from experienced trainers and/or teachers (5–30 hours per intervention).’ If they don’t have this training it is much harder for them to deliver interventions successfully – it might even be impossible.
The challenge comes in making time for this.
Step one is to follow the advice outlined above – slim down the number of interventions you ask TAs to deliver. And focus these interventions on key pupil needs in your school. Doing this makes it easier to deliver effective training because you can focus time and resources on a small number of interventions. Trying to provide high-quality training for 12 or 15 interventions is far harder than doing it for 4 or 5.
Step two is to identify who has the skills to deliver the training. This person could work in school, or you might need to bring in an external trainer. If the latter, you can save money by getting in contact with other schools in the local area and seeing if they want to do a joint booking. This is a good way to spread the cost and also promotes collaborative working.
Step three is to ensure TAs feel part of the process. Make clear that the training they are to receive will make them experts in delivering the interventions. Therefore, the whole aim of the change is to increase their skill levels. Paint this as what it is – an investment in them driven by your belief that they are the right people to be doing this job.