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#012 – Rob Webster: Teaching assistants and inclusive education

Rob Webster is a researcher at the UCL Institute of Education, where he leads the Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants (MITA) initiative for the UCL Centre for Inclusive Education. Rob is also Co-Director of the SEN in Secondary Education (SENSE) study. In this episode, Rob talks to Iesha about the role of teaching assistants, how they can be used more effectively, the contribution they make to SEND provision and how they could help solve the teacher recruitment crisis.

In this episode Iesha and Rob discuss:
• SEN or SEND?
• How Rob’s frontline work as a teaching assistant led to him conducting research into the role of TAs
• How TAs might be the solution to the teacher workforce crisis
• The central role that TAs play in SEND provision
• Segregation and streaming of SEND pupils
• ‘Ability’ vs. ‘prior attainment’
• Whether it’s right that SEND pupils spend more time with TAs than their peers
• Why pupils don’t benefit from spending lots of unstructured time with TAs, but…
• …how TAs have a consistently positive impact when they’re delivering targeted interventions
• Given negative evidence, why schools have been happier to scrap TAs than scrap ability grouping
• What schools can do to make better use of TAs
• What we mean by ‘inclusion’
• Shed Seven

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Pupil behaviour: Inclusion or exclusion units – naughty or troubled?

Around the country, schools-within-schools, educate or guard the challenged and challenging. Sometimes they’re called ‘inclusion units’, sometimes ‘exclusion units’, sometimes more zappily ‘learning zones’. In one school I knew (let’s call it Oakwood), it was across the road, staffed by teachers considered hard-core enough to manage the toughest of the tough. I’ve often discussed with …

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