Assistants 'fail to cut teachers' workload'

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The Independent Online

An army of extra classroom assistants has failed so far to reduce teachers' administrative workload, the chief inspector of schools said yesterday.

Mike Tomlinson's comments were immediately seized on by teachers' leaders who warned ministers that it would be wrong to rely on assistants in forthcoming talks over a new model for the profession.

Mr Tomlinson spoke out after the publication of a report by Ofsted, the Government's education watchdog, which said they had helped raise teaching standards.

As revealed in The Independent, the report showed they had taken on a bigger role in the classroom, helping teach children the three Rs in small groups.

The report added that there were "isolated examples" where they were being used to cover for classroom teachers. But inspectors said this had taken them away from spending time on welfare and administrative support.

"This report confirms some of the benefits that trained teaching assistants are bringing to the primary school classroom," Mr Tomlinson said yesterday. "But, as yet, the considerable public investment in expanding their numbers has not led to a reduction in teachers' workloads."

Estelle Morris, the Secretary of State for Education, has promised to recruit another 20,000 classroom assistants during the lifetime of this parliament.