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Exploring the Training Factors that Influence the Role of Teaching Assistants to Teach to Students With SEND in a Mainstream Classroom in England

Abstract

With the implementation of inclusive education having become increasingly valued over the years, the training of Teaching Assistants (TAs) is now more important than ever, given that they work alongside pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (hereinafter SEND) in mainstream education classrooms. The current study explored the training factors that influence the role of TAs when it comes to teaching SEND students in mainstream classrooms in England during their one-year training period. This work aimed to increase understanding of how the training of TAs is seen to influence the development of their personal knowledge and professional skills. The study has significance for our comprehension of the connection between the TAs’ training and the quality of education in the classroom. In addition, this work investigated whether there existed a correlation between the teaching experience of TAs and their background information, such as their gender, age, grade level taught, years of teaching experience, and qualification level. A critical realist theoretical approach was adopted for this two-phased study, which involved the mixing of adaptive and grounded theories respectively. The multi-method project featured 13 case studies, each of which involved a trainee TA, his/her college tutor, and the classroom teacher who was supervising the trainee TA. The analysis was based on using semi-structured interviews, various questionnaires, and non-participant observation methods for each of these case studies during the TA’s one-year training period. The primary analysis of the research was completed by comparing the various kinds of data collected from the participants in the first and second data collection stages of each case. Further analysis involved cross-case analysis using a grounded theory approach, which made it possible to draw conclusions and put forth several core propositions. Compared with previous research, the findings of the current study reveal many implications for the training and deployment conditions of TAs, while they also challenge the prevailing approaches in many aspects, in addition to offering more diversified, enriched, and comprehensive explanations of the critical pedagogical issues

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This paper was published in Open Research Exeter.

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