By September 2009 there were approximately 30,000 higher level teaching assistants (HLTAs) in English schools. All of these HLTAs are expected to be able to deliver pre-set lessons in place of a teacher. Often, they are determining the pedagogical approach and range of activities used to deliver the lesson’s objectives. Consequently, there is a need to question the extent to which they can improve the quality of learning when meeting HLTA standard 31 (advancing learning when working with whole classes without the presence of an assigned teacher).This paper therefore considers the following question: Does the use of HLTAs with whole classes have a positive impact on children’s learning? The voices of children and parents have so far been neglected in this field. Their voices deepen our understanding of notions of teacher professionalism and school effectiveness. How do parents and children view hierarchical staffing structures and the subsequent impact on learning disposition and behaviour? Is it possible for HLTAs to acquire the pedagogical skills and subject knowledge needed to ensure continuity in learning when taking responsibility for a class? These are the issues this paper will address.