Feng, Y. (2006) The enhanced role of teaching assistants in school remodelling in primary schools in England: some reflections on teacher education in China. Paper presented to: British Educational Research Association (BERA) New Researchers/Student Conference, University of Warwick, Coventry, 6-9 September 2006.
This paper reports qualitatively a small-scaled case study on the existing role of Teaching Assistants in eliminating excessive workload of teachers in the school remodeling in England. The data from semi-structured in-depth interviews triangulated by document scrutiny and field observations in an English primary school suggest that TAs play a decisive part in creating further capacity within schools by providing a variety of improved services to free teachers from non-teaching related tasks and allowing teachers to focus on their core area of expertise. However, TAs’ role needs to be enhanced and facilitated more professionally based on their skills, experiences and qualifications. The paper also discusses the crucial issues at schools in China with the shortage of workforce and the insufficient initial teacher preparation in raising standards of education. By reasoning the initial motive for the call for the school remodeling in both countries and analysing their achievements and the challenges through re-evaluating the role of TAs, the paper draws the insight of having TAs in schools in England to leave the latter time and space for focusing on their professionalism. It could be food for thought to China when it reflects on its teacher educational reform.