Research Repository

An exploration of a complex relationship: Teachers and Teaching Assistants working together in primary schools.

McDermott, Lorna (2017) An exploration of a complex relationship: Teachers and Teaching Assistants working together in primary schools. Other thesis, University of Essex and Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust.

LornaMcDermott_M4 Thesis.pdf

Download (4MB) | Preview


There has been a huge increase in the number of Teaching Assistants (TAs) working in UK schools in recent decades, meaning that most teachers now share their classroom with at least one other adult. Despite this, there has been little systematic or structured research into such a key relationship in the education system. This thesis aims to address this by exploring teachers' and TAs' experiences of working together in primary schools. This is an exploratory piece of research which was conducted from a critical realist perspective. To find out more about the dynamics at play in this working relationship, semi-structured individual interviews were carried out with five teachers and five TAs across two primary schools. The data was subsequently analysed using thematic analysis. This illuminated six themes: 'power dynamic'; 'occupying different spaces'; 'interpersonal and intrapersonal factors'; 'systemic factors'; 'nature of the relationship'; and 'reflection on the relationship'. Each theme is described in detail and presented visually in a thematic map. The relationship between the themes is also discussed. The theme of 'power dynamic' in particular was found to have an effect on the other themes. The results are discussed in relation to previous literature, as well as theoretical frameworks relating to power, psychodynamic theory, and attachment theory. The strengths and limitations of this research are outlined alongside suggestions for future research. Potential implications for practice are then highlighted. For Educational Psychologists (EPs) this includes having both teachers and TAs present during consultations about students, facilitating 3supervision groups for teachers and TAs, and delivering training for these staff members on how to work together effectively. The thesis ends with self-reflections on the research journey.

Item Type: Thesis (Other)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > L Education (General)
Depositing User: Lorna McDermott
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2017 10:04
Last Modified: 30 Aug 2017 10:04

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item