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Monday, 19 March, 2001, 10:54 GMT
Classroom assistants to relieve pressure
classroom
There are an extra 24,000 assistants since 1997
Schools have been given assurances of future funding for classroom assistants, who can help relieve the pressure on teachers.

The Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett has announced 400m in funding to recruit and train teaching assistants for the years 2002-2004.

The announcement, which includes funding from local education authorities, secures a further two years for a classroom assistant scheme launched two years ago.

Classroom assistants work alongside teachers, giving them practical help in lessons and carrying out time-consuming tasks such as photocopying.

Literacy hour

They have been seen as particularly helpful in implementing the literacy hour in primary schools, with assistants listening to children read and allowing lessons to be developed in smaller groups.

The government says that it has increased the number of support staff in schools by 24,000 since 1997.

"Teaching assistants play a very important role in the classroom. They enable pupils to work in smaller groups, help tackle their specific problems and assist teachers to raise standards," said Mr Blunkett.

"I announced more money two years ago to help expand the number of teaching assistants, this key group of people who really make a difference.

"Today's announcement signals that schools will be able to keep that extra level of help for a further two years, building on the good work already achieved. This means about 200m will be available each year until 2004."

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See also:

11 Dec 98 | Education
Pay row in the classroom
29 Sep 98 | Features
Supporting role
24 May 99 | Education
Row over school reading assistants
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