Book: How to be an Outstanding Primary Teaching Assistant by Emma Davie

Published by Bloomsbury

How to be an Outstanding Primary Teaching Assistant

How to be an Outstanding Primary Teaching Assistant












  • This book is an excellent guide for both new and experienced teaching assistants.
  • A valuable resource to help teaching assistants define and understand their role enabling them to provide the best possible learning experience for children.
  • This easy to read, go-to guide will help develop and strengthen the working relationship between teacher and TA.
  • Based on a wealth of classroom experience it provides a range of easy to implement ideas to improve and support teaching and learning.
  • Classroom organisation, individual needs, working with small groups, this book has it all.
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Review compiled by: @SamPhillips33

Supported by Bloomsbury Education

Following the launch of the Primary National Curriculum in 2014 in England, the DFE commissioned an independent panel of leading professionals to develop a new set of standards for teaching assistants.[1] These new standards were meant to help clarify the roles of teaching assistants, bringing them into line with their teacher and headteacher colleagues, both of whom already had their own sets of standards.

Perhaps due to the enormity of the task or more likely because of the change in government, it was decided that these standards should not be published. However, a number of organisations interested in promoting the work of teaching assistants asked the DfE for permission to publish them. Permission was granted but on condition that it was made clear that these standards were no longer supported by the DFE!

With this in mind, it would be fair to say that the official role of a Teaching Assistant (TA), at least as far as the government is concerned, is a �bit of a grey area’. Each school setting is different, every teacher has different expectations and every child has different needs; it, therefore, follows that the role of the TA will also differ. For a TA setting foot in the classroom for the first time, I think this book would be a most valuable resource.

How to be an Outstanding Primary Teaching Assistant, provides numerous practical ideas and resources; from creating stimulating, interactive displays to supporting children with special needs and working with outside agencies. Written in a very readable first person it is rather like having a chat over coffee at break time, than a formal guide to the TA role. Emma Davie relates to her own experiences and skills while acknowledging that every setting is different and continually reminding the reader to check out their own school policies in each area.

In an attempt to define the role of a TA, Davie identifies a number of �sub-roles’ (secretary, nurse, police officer, IT technician, painter and decorator), in addition to supporting teaching and learning. I think this is an effective way of addressing the varied responsibilities of a TA, allowing the reader to recognise the magnitude of the role without it becoming an overwhelming list.

This book provides a brief overview of some of the more common special educational needs met in schools, describing some of the behaviours that children with these needs might exhibit. Needless to say, each child is different, some may have more complex needs, however, this provides a sound start point. There is also a short section on behavioural issues, that provides some interesting ideas for rewarding good behaviour but also covers less pleasant tasks such as sanctions and restraint. As anyone who has had to restrain a child in school will tell you, it’s not nice but to stop the child hurting themselves or others then it is sometimes necessary, so I feel it is appropriate that Davie states: â€?My intention throughout this book is to give you a true reflection on what it is like to be a TA……… It is important to remember that these incidents are a rare occurrence’. Being a TA is a fantastically rewarding role, however, it’s not all angelic smiles and shiny stars, some days when you finally get to go home, it will feel more like you’ve fought a battle and this feeling is made little better by knowing that you may have to do it all again tomorrow!

The final chapter in this book is an absolute �golden nugget’, packed with no end of practical suggestions and ideas to use when working with small groups of children. Having lead training for Primary TA’s, I know that while most are happy to listen to the theory and research behind various schemes and approaches, they are far more interested in the practical, hands-on ideas that they can use to support the children with their learning, How to be an Outstanding Primary Teaching Assistant gives them just that.

This is a great �go-to’ resource, it is clear, quick reference format makes it easy to find an idea or useful tip that may benefit an individual child or small group session. I am sure that there is not a teacher on this planet that would not welcome a keen, motivated TA into their classroom and this book will not only help in supporting the teaching and learning in the classroom but strengthen the working partnership between teacher and TA.

[1]DFE, Developing a set of standards for Teaching Assistants Call for evidence, 28 October 2014, Ref: DFE-00633-2014

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About Sam Phillips 2 Articles
Part time Reading Recovery teacher, SLE for English, creator of the school book blog, super keen bookworm, Mum of two.

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