The Schools White Paper The Importance of Teaching recognises that;

every member of school staff has an important role to play in ensuring that pupils and students get an excellent education – not only headteachers, teachers and teaching assistants, but also bursars, canteen staff, mentors, caretakers and other support staff. In the best schools, well-deployed teaching assistants support teachers in achieving excellent results with pupils.

Higher level teaching assistants

Higher level teaching assistants (HLTAs) work alongside teachers, providing valuable support for teaching and learning activities. HLTAs work right across the curriculum, acting as specialist assistants for specific subjects or departments, or helping to plan lessons and develop support materials. They work closely with teachers, complementing their role and freeing them up to have more time to develop each pupil to his or her potential.

Assessment for higher level teaching assistants

The Government believes that headteachers are best placed to identify, and fund, relevant training for individual staff that will provide maximum benefit to them, the school and its pupils. The contract between the Department and the Regional Providers of Assessment is due to end on 31 August 2012 and ministers have decided that the Department will not renew or further extend the funding for the external HLTA assessment process after that date.

Headteachers will continue to be free to decide whether a member of their staff has demonstrated through practice that they meet the specific set of HLTA professional standards and are, therefore, competent to take on the role of HLTA within that school. It is planned that the Teaching Agency will continue to maintain and review the HLTA professional standards. 

The HLTA professional standards will continue to provide headteachers with a useful measure of the expected competence. This is necessary when making judgements required by the 2012 Specified Work Regulations as to whether a member of support staff is sufficiently skilled to teach, including planning and delivering lessons, under the direct supervision of a teacher.

Headteachers will be free to approach independent training providers to discuss opportunities for their staff to attend HLTA based courses. We know that headteachers and school governors have high regard for the support staff they employ and consider those staff to have a positive impact on pupils’ learning.