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From general dogsbody to whole-class delivery - the role of the primary school teaching assistant within a moral maze

Hammersley-Fletcher, Linda and Lowe, Michelle (2011) From general dogsbody to whole-class delivery - the role of the primary school teaching assistant within a moral maze. Management in education, 25 (2). pp. 78-81. ISSN 1741-9883

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Abstract

Educational performance has become a global focus of attention in the attempt to demonstrate a competitive edge (Ball, 2007; Bottery, 2000) leading to a drive for greater accountability and control over teachers work (Ball, 2007). A recent policy development in England, ‘Workforce Remodelling’ (DfES, 2003), has impacted upon the role of the ‘teaching assistant’ in ways that potentially significantly shift understandings of acceptable ways of utilising such staff. We argue that schools are now placed in the position where pragmatic solutions to address staffing needs are in tension with a more moral form of accountability about how such staff are utilised and paid. We draw upon questionnaire data gathered from 200 English primary school teaching assistants and interviews with eight primary school head teachers and ask whether the educational drivers and values that risk reducing teaching to a technocratic exercise indicate that we have forgotten what education is all about. Moreover, this article highlights the need for further research that explores the ways in which the educational moral and ethical positioning of school leaders may or may not influence their decision-making.

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