Renfrewshire Council

Classroom assistants - Photo courtesy of the Paisley Daily Express

Upskilling our classroom assistants

Classroom assistants from across 14 local schools have celebrated completing a professional learning programme delivered as part of the Scottish Attainment Challenge in Renfrewshire.

A group of 27 classroom assistants attended the programme for half a day each week over a five-month period to explore aspects of literacy and numeracy.

The programme was linked to the methods and practice of teaching that teachers use, giving the classroom assistants skills to take back to their schools to support the teachers they work with.

It was delivered by Renfrewshire Council in partnership with the University of Strathclyde and contained training related to the Renfrewshire Literacy Approach, including specific strategies to support listening, reading, writing and spelling. 

Classroom assistant Lesley Bell was one of the group who participated in the programme.

The former Legal Executive left the world of commercial property conveyancing to take up the role of classroom assistant at Auchenlodment Primary School in Johnstone in August 2017.

Lesley said: "Travelling to a developing country with limited educational opportunities for children was the push I needed to make the jump from the legal world to the classroom.

"I returned home with a renewed appreciation of Scotland's education system and the care given to children in schools.

"Since starting work as a classroom assistant I've been really keen to make a positive difference to the lives of schoolchildren.

"The professional learning programme has already proved invaluable by greatly increasing my confidence when supporting children.

"It was particularly useful to gain awareness of the concept of Children's Cultural Capital which explores the influence of family background on children's educational experiences.

"This really showed me that all children are individuals, with individual values and ideas of what is important as a direct result of the social circles they live in.

"By being aware of this, we can fill in the gaps and give them the best chance of success the best chance of success by promoting and encouraging independent learning, meaning children learn because they want to learn and not because they are told to.

"I'm now undertaking a BA in Childhood Practice module at Strathclyde University and firmly believe that the more you learn, the more you and the children benefit."

Renfrewshire Council's Education and Children's Services Convener, Councillor Jim Paterson said:  "This training has provided an excellent foundation for our classroom assistants, as evidenced by the fact that many are intending to build on what they have learnt by continuing with further studies.

"Real-life training such as this benefits not just the classroom assistants taking part, but also the teachers and children back in the schools they work in.

"I encourage all classroom assistants to take up any opportunities they have for professional development to see where it may take them in the future."

Published 22 March 2018

* Photo courtesy of the Paisley Daily Express