Teacher assistant support and deployment in mainstream schools

Rosemary BUTT

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    50 Citations (Scopus)


    ABSTRACT: Models of support for students with disability and learning difficulties in mainstream classes in Australia rely extensively on teacher assistants (TAs). Current models, however, inadvertently perpetuate low expectations because providing TA support can be one of the most restrictive supports offered in a school [Giangreco, M. F. 2010a. “One-to-One Paraprofessionals for Students with Disabilities in Inclusive Classrooms: Is Conventional Wisdom Wrong?” Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities 48 (1): 1–13; Etscheidt, S. 2005. “Paraprofessional Services for Students with Disabilities: A Legal Analysis of Issues.” Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities 30(2): 60–80]. In addition, the increasing instructional role of TAs in the classroom is concerning. Negative outcomes for students where TAs provide support have been noted [Giangreco, M. F., J. C. Suter, and M. B. Doyle. 2010. “Paraprofessionals in Inclusive Schools: A Review of Recent Research.” Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation 20: 41–57; Webster, R., P. Blatchford, and A. Russell. 2010. “Should Teaching Assistants Have a Pedagogical Role? Lessons Following the DISS Project.” Paper Presented at the BERA annual conference, September 1–4, University of Warwick, UK]. A qualitative case study was conducted in an Australia city over three years across four primary school sites to identify the issues and propose possible solutions. The study identified five different models of TA support and deployment. It was found support models used in mainstream schools were generally inequitable – if students did not have a disability or learning difficulty they received instruction primarily from a qualified teacher, but if students had a disability or learning difficulty, they received instruction from a TA who may have had no qualifications, no involvement in planning, limited supervision and unclear reporting; and no clear duty statement requirements. A more inclusive and more equitable model of TA support is discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)995-1007
    Number of pages13
    JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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