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Commenting on the government's proposal* to use classroom assistants to supervise lessons without a teacher present...
Commenting on the government's proposal* to use classroom assistants to supervise lessons without a teacher present, Doug McAvoy, NUT general secretary, said:

'Classroom assistants provide invaluable help and support to teachers and pupils in our schools but they are no substitute for teachers.

'The preparation teachers make for their teaching does not produce hard and fast blue prints. Teachers adapt their plans throughout a lesson to respond to the needs of the pupils and expand their learning. That is not a role that a classroom assistant can take over.

'I welcome the prospect of a debate about the role of teachers and the number and scope of classroom assistants which may help address the excessive workload problem. It may make the teachers' job more like that of their colleagues in Europe.

'The government may, however, be involved only in a cheap answer to the problem of excessive workload and teacher shortages. If so they cannot expect the support of teachers.

'If the teacher shortage crisis is to be resolved the government must understand that teachers need to be free to teach unencumbered by bureaucracy and administrative tasks capable of being performed by others.'


David Hart, NAHT general secretary, said:

'This is a blatantly cynical attempt by the government to solve the teacher recruitment crisis by using classroom assistants as teachers. It is no coincidence that it comes on the day that the government's consultants, PricewaterhouseCoopers, are producing a report on teacher workload that highlights the need to recruit many more teachers. The use of classroom assistants, as urged by the secretary of state, would do nothing to raise standards and undermines the role played by high quality teachers.'

* Details of the government's announcement is available here.

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