Low morale of teachers discourages assistants

Education Editor,Richard Garner
Monday 09 December 2013 03:08
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Constant moaning by teachers is putting classroom assistants off applying for jobs in front of a class, according to research published yesterday.

A survey by researchers at Oxford Brookes University says many change their mind about training to be teachers because of the low morale shown by the teaching profession. Among qualified teachers who return to work as classroom assistants after a career break, the disgruntlement is cited as the main reason why they choose not to teach.

The survey is published at a time when ministers are anxious to increase the role of classroom assistants, allowing them to take over lessons when a teacher is absent. Teachers' unions are resisting the move, claiming it is a way of getting teachers on the cheap.

The survey of more than 1,600 classroom assistants in England and Wales reveals 40 per cent would like to be teachers – but only one in 12 has sought teacher training. Other reasons cited are costs of training, insufficient training opportunities, clashes between family and work responsibilities, and the lack of the necessary qualifications to go on teacher-training courses.

The survey also revealed that many of the assistants already have to step in and take classes in an emergency. As one put it: "Can it be right that I can cover for a teacher because of the teacher shortage but there is no career pathway for me to train to become a teacher myself?"

Those who do follow through, though, are likely to be high-calibre teachers, according to the survey, as a result of the skills they have acquired from being in a classroom situation. On average, they remain in the profession longer than those who go into teaching via the more traditional routes.

John Coe, who led the research team, said: "There is a pressing need to shift the mind set in schools and improve the standing of para-professionals involved in an important job."

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