It’s been described as “the best job in the world” and is benefiting school pupils right across Renfrewshire.
And thanks to a partnership with experts at the University of Strathclyde, classroom assistants in Renfrewshire schools are now even better equipped to support pupil development.
Following a successful pilot last year, the latest cohort of 33 classroom assistants from 22 primary schools have just completed a professional learning programme run by the University.
The comprehensive six-month programme was delivered in schools and covered a range of skills to support reading, writing, numeracy and mathematics.
“I’ve been a classroom assistant for 19 years and have always said this is the best job in the world,” said Alyson Bright, who works at East Fulton Primary School in Linwood.
“This programme has been great, I’ve enjoyed meeting up with other classroom assistants and hearing their experiences and also building my own confidence and learning new techniques has been really invaluable.”
Jackie Docherty has been a Classroom Assistant at Woodlands Primary School in Linwood for 11 years. She said: “The biggest part I’ve learned from the programme is about how best to work with the teacher, using the same language with pupils and working together as a team. I just love my job – nurturing young people is very rewarding.”
The programme saw classroom assistants keep diaries to reflect on what they learned, with opportunities to practise each approach in the school setting.
It also covered new techniques on how to use play to support effective learning.
Evelyn Hart, Teaching Fellow at the University of Strathclyde, said: “The University is delighted to have worked with such a committed and knowledgeable group of staff.
“Classroom Assistants do crucial work in schools and build trusting relationships with children. This helps the wider ethos of the school, as well as children’s learning and their health and wellbeing.”
This programme is part of Renfrewshire’s work as a Scottish Attainment Challenge authority, a national initiative to close the attainment gap between those living in Scotland’s least and most deprived areas.
Last month, Renfrewshire became the first local authority rated ‘excellent’ for its progress, achieving significant year-on-year improvements in listening, talking, reading, writing and numeracy, with the attainment gap closing across all measures.
More than 3800 pupils have benefited from the PATHS programme in partnership with Barnardo’s, which has seen a significant reduction in antisocial behaviour and improved classroom concentration.
Some 300 parents, carers and pupils enjoyed tea-time study sessions and 1000 staff have completed Stages of Early Arithmetical Learning training to improve confidence in teaching numeracy.
Councillor Jim Paterson, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Policy Board, said: “Supporting the professional development of our education staff is central to our sustainable approach in raising attainment in Renfrewshire. I would like to extend my congratulations to all the classroom assistants on completing this programme and I am sure they will put their new-found knowledge to great use in the classroom.
“We want to give every child in Renfrewshire the best possible start in life and are very proud of the progress being made in raising attainment and improving learning.”