Definition of a Learning Support Assistant
In the past the job roles Learning Support Assistant (LSA) and Teaching Assistant (TA) have both centered around providing support to teachers and pupils. They have performed the same role working with all students, not only in SEND environments but also students in mainstream Primary and Secondary settings.
Is There a Difference Between an Learning Support Assistant and Teaching Assistant (TA)?
In our experience at Prospero Teaching, we have recently seen a difference evolve between the two job titles. Currently, Teaching Assistants tend to provide teaching support to a whole class, smaller groups and sometimes one-on-one. However when a Learning Support Assistant is requested, it is to work in an intervention role, one-on-one with a student with SEND. This support is often away from the classroom, providing any extra help and guidance in completing tasks and/or working towards targets set in Individual Education Programmes (IEPs).
In some Local Authorities (LAs) the roles are interchangeable and all teaching support roles come under the catch-all of Teaching Assistant. However, talking and listening to the debate amongst schools, LAs, teachers and Support Assistants, Prospero Teaching can see a clear theme developing…
One Teaching Assistant explains…
“… It changes by local authority. In some if you are a TA you usually assist the class teacher with individual or group work as well general class duties to help the teacher and ensure things run smoothly. LSAs tend to be given identified children to work with, mostly SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability), who may be statemented or not, and also children where intervention is required (for example to reach potential for Gifted &Talented students, and further challenge them). Usually this work is outside the classroom.”I understand though that this isn’t the case with all LAs though”.
Another Teaching Assistant interviewed added…
“There is a move towards using the term Teaching Assistants as an overall umbrella term for ‘support’. Then there is also a movement towards one-to-one sessions (depending which government is in) whether budget has been assigned to this additional support, and whether it’s for disadvantaged schools/children only”.
Learning Support Assistant Role
An important part of the role is working closely with the school SENCO alongside classroom teachers. This involves developing IEPs with the SENCO, differentiating materials to enable all pupils access, recording and monitoring pupil progress and reporting back to the Class Teacher and SENCO. Evaluation & adaptation of the programme follow as necessary.