In March 2015 the Education Endowment Foundation published Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants, a guidance report for teachers and school leaders. Previous research had shown that in many English schools teaching assistants were not being used in ways that improve pupil outcomes. However, recent research demonstrates that when they are well trained and used in structured settings with high-quality support and training, teaching assistants can make a noticeable positive impact on pupil learning.

In September 2016 the EEF provided funds to enable schools in South and West Yorkshire to benefit from access to successful evidence-based interventions which use TAs. This included a randomised control trial of the Every Child Counts 1stClass@Number intervention which embodies the principles of effective TA-led intervention identified by the EEF.

The trial aimed to evaluate 1stClass@Number’s impact on the numeracy skills of Year 2 pupils who had fallen behind their peers. Its results added to the understanding of what works in raising pupils’ attainment and achievement and will be widely disseminated to schools in England.

It was a randomised control trial, so every school was randomly allocated to one of two groups:

  • 65 schools were in the 1stClass@Number group. They received training for 1stClass@Number and delivered it to at least one group of 4 low-attaining Year 2 pupils.
  • 65 schools were in the control group and provided ‘business-as-usual’ support for Year 2 pupils. Instead of 1stClass@Number, these schools received training for a Key Stage 2 ECC intervention, 1stClass@Writing or Success@Arithmetic, whose outcomes will not be a part of the trial

Edge Hill University managed the trial and provided intervention training, materials and support for the schools. Oxford University evaluated the outcomes and the EEF funded the trial and published the results.

The headline finding adds to the growing evidence base supporting the use of teaching assistants to deliver high-quality, structured interventions to pupils who are falling behind. The EEF’s guidance report, Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants provides clear and actionable guidance on how to put this evidence into practice. This finding is promising enough that the EEF and the Every Child Counts team will discuss the potential for further development, testing and scaling up of the intervention.

Extract from EEF Report Summary

Click here for the report