The learning styles and needs. The role of the

The purpose of the higher level teaching assistant (HLTA) is
to bridge the gap between the teaching assistant (TA) and teachers.  By having a good level of understanding of
how children learn, HLTA’s can take responsibility for tasks that are detailed
and specific under the direction of the teacher.  HLTA’s work alongside and complement teachers
and cover the lesson in the teacher’s absence with all the lessons and
activities being planned by the teacher.

 

HLTA status was introduced in 2003 to support the workforce
reform.  This was as a result of broad
consultation with professionals, associations, employers, head teachers,
teachers and TA representative’s.  A
prime aim of the initiative was to provide skilled TA’s with the opportunity to
achieve a nationally recognised status. (Woodward and Peart 2005).

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Historically teachers would have prepared and delivered
their own lessons, students would sit in silence and one after another would
recite the lesson (Cambridge Studies 2017). 
Much has changed over the years and a more learner centred approach has
been introduced, recognising learning styles and needs.

 

The role of the HLTA is to support the school, curriculum,
teacher and learning for all pupils.  As
the list is not exhaustive, and depending how the school sees the role of the
HLTA, will heavily impact on the demands of that role. An HLTA can take on many
other duties as well, for instance in my own setting, one of my duties is to
mentor the apprentice TA’s, manage qualified TA’s and chair monthly TA
meetings, these are not duties a less experienced TA would be expected to
undertake.  The duties of an HLTA and TA
differs in many ways.  HLTA’s, under the
direction and guidance of the teacher, will deliver the lesson to the whole
class and a TA will work on a one to one basis and work with small groups.  In my role as HLTA I am required to assist
and support the teacher in evaluating, maintaining and analysing records of
students’ progress, this then leads on to providing parents with constructive
feedback on their child’s progress, again this is an area where HLTA’s and TA’s
job roles differ.

 

The role of an HLTA is flexible enough to adapt to the needs
of the whole school community.  Some can
and do work across the whole of the school, delivering all areas of the
curriculum, while others deliver a specific subject.  In summary a HLTA’s role is to assist the
teacher plan challenging and enjoyable lessons, select and prepare resources
appropriate to the learning, supervise the work of TA’s and other support
staff, encourage students to work with each other, monitor and evaluate pupil
progress, implement and assist with school policies and procedures and
establish good working relationships with teachers and students.

 

The Oxford English dictionary defines the meaning of
teamwork as ‘The combined action of a group of people.  (Murray et al., 1961).   If staff work collaboratively in education
they can pool together all their knowledge and specialism.  The Children’s Act 2004  reinforces this and calls for professionals
to work collaboratively,  this provides a
more rounded picture of a child, giving everyone involved a deeper knowledge of
any situation leading to more thoughtful decision’s
(Legislation.gov.uk.,2004).  
Partnerships and teamwork should be built on mutual respect and trust
and a shared understanding of how to meet children’s needs.  Collaboration is vital within the school
environment as it can create a community of individuals all working towards a
combined objective. 

 

I am employed in a special needs school and I am the HLTA in
a class of six children, all the children have profound and multiple learning
difficulties (PMLD).  The staff team
consists of Sue, the teacher, she is currently acting deputy head.  She plans all the lessons and oversees the
class.  Clare is a teaching assistant
level two, she is jointly responsible for rebound therapy and all other aspects
of supporting the children.  Debbie is
the physiotherapist, she helps to improve their movement, devises and reviews
their treatment plans and therapeutic exercise, she is also jointly responsible
with Clare for rebound therapy. Rebecca is an apprentice teaching assistant,
she provides a limited amount of support for the children.  We also have designated class safeguarding
officer, Liz, she is responsible for the safeguarding of the children. Of the
six children in the class, four of them are Looked After Children (LAC).

 

When considering the safeguarding of the children in the
class, it is imperative that I collaborate with Liz.  I can inform her of any concerns that I may
have and together with the other members of the class team we can discuss any
issues, which could include anything from personal care and hygiene to serious
neglect and abuse.  By relaying these
concerns to Liz she can investigate and inform us of any findings.  As the children within the class are
nonverbal, it is crucial that we collaborate to keep the children and staff
safe and healthy at times.

 

The SEN Code of Practice 2015 covers, children with  Special Education Needs (SEN) or disabilities
and must have arrangements in place for the delivery of therapies, and one of
those therapies is physiotherapy. (Gov.uk, 2015).  In order that the children have access to
such therapies, I would have to collaborate with Debbie the
physiotherapist.    It would be essential
to collaborate with Debbie as she could provide a specialist service that is
advantageous to those children.  As all
the children have different needs she would need to read care plans and have
the discussions with the class team so that she can put in place the
appropriate treatment for that child. 
Without collaboration, we could be putting the child at risk.

 

Tuckman’s Model of Group Development (1965) is one of the
most widely used.  It depicts four stages
of group development. They are forming, storming, norming and performing.  Forming: This is the time where the group are
just starting to come together. 
Storming: The dominant members are now starting to emerge, and the less
confrontational team members stay in the background suppress their feelings.
Norming: Team members now start to notice other strengths and all are
contributing and being cohesive. Performing: Co-workers are now confident,
motivated and familiar with each other and can work without supervision.   Team work of all kinds is laden with
pressures, conflicts, barriers and problems. 
If teams are managed effectively, it can lead to increased
gratification, imagination, and innovation. 
The impact of group behaviour and group dynamics will have a
considerable impact on the overall performance of the group.

 

In my own practice, I need to lead by example.  In respect to the apprentice in my class, she
looks to myself and other staff members for guidance and reassurance when
carrying out her own duties, by showing her myself or pairing her with a more
experienced TA she can gain an insight from those with first-hand experience.
By modelling good behaviour and practices, in turn she will then learn and know
what is expected of her and understand her responsibilities.

 

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) extends beyond the
work place and includes personal and social skills. Good communication does not
always mean holding team meetings, it can be setting an example by remaining
open to suggestions and any concerns, by offering any help, and encouraging
trust among employees within the team.  
Unconsciously, staff can sometimes make you aware of any issues that
they may have, their ‘unspoken feelings’ can be apparent by their mood, by
being open with employees and sensitive to their moods and feelings issues can
be addressed, and with their permission, such issues can be discussed, leading
to a more harmonious working environment.

 

When planning class activities, it is important to factor in
team roles, recognising strengths and weaknesses within the team.  During class meetings it is imperative to set
aside time for questions and check for understanding of the required
tasks.  Through these works based tasks
staff members can be observed and monitored. 
This gives an opportunity for any areas that need further development
and refocus the employee towards the outcomes that need to be achieved.