A survey of professional tasks and training needs of teaching assistants in New South Wales mainstream public schools
Background: A number of studies of the roles and responsibilities of teaching assistants have been conducted in Australian jurisdictions, but much of this research has been small-scale or geographically localised. Method: The present study was the largest survey conducted in Australia to date and involved a survey of 361 teaching assistants in New South Wales public schools, addressing professional tasks performed, and perceived training needs. Results: Consistent with previous research, there was a strong focus on direct student support, often in a one-to-one context. Generally, the assistants in this research did not perceive a great need for training in most areas relevant to their professional duties. Conclusions: Current patterns of use of teaching assistants may be problematic. It is recommended that teaching assistants provide general classroom support and deliver specific programs under teacher direction, rather than ad hoc individual assistance, and not be required to plan instruction.