New roles, old stereotypes – developing a school workforce in English schools

Susan Graves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper the author explores the development of school staff who are employed to support pupils in the classroom, specifically the Teaching Assistant (TA) /Higher Level teaching Assistant (HLTA) role. These roles have undergone considerable change following the introduction of Workforce Reform and Remodelling in English schools and the National Agreement (DfES 2003). In practice, the introduction of this agreement into schools appears to have a powerful gendered aspect which limits choice and agency for individuals and prevents the development of a coherent workforce.. I argue that the discourse of maternality (Acker 1994) within which the school support role has evolved supposes a level of self-sacrifice and conscientiousness which is gendered and conceals the exploitative nature of the role in terms of poor pay and career prospects (Gunter and Rayner 2007). Furthermore the growth of support staff in English schools to undertake roles previously assigned to teachers has had the effect of disaggregating and de-professionalising the teacher role (Gunter, 2007, Stevenson, 2007) and weakening the traditional job boundaries which defined the work of support staff (Edmonds and Price 2009).
Original languageEnglish
JournalSchool Leadership and Management
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2013


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