Case Study



Asa teaching assistant at an independent/ private school, throughprofessional practice, one works with different students by helpingthem adjust to the learning environment. The teaching assistant (TA)also works with students who require more help to benefit fromclassroom instruction. This case is about one student whom theteaching assistant has worked with in practice. The student goes bythe name Alex, not his real name and a way of concealing his identityand henceforth ensuring confidentiality. Alex is 10 years of age andin year 5. He is a Russian boy and he gets easily irritated andagitated. Initially, he would break into tears when class due to lackof comprehension of what is expected of him by the teacher. Hisproficiency in English was low leading to low comprehension of classinstruction. The boy also exhibited high levels of aggression.Consequently, he would throw tantrums.

Inclusionin Schools

Inclusionis prompting equality and eliminating discrimination in schools. Itconcerns all learners and acts upon the removal of all barriers tolearning and participation(Bucholz &amp Sheffer 2009).Additionally, barriers to learning and participation for groups andpersons mostly entail many interrelating features, fairly more thanjust one. Hence, a holistic loom is at all times essential.Subsequently, inclusion in schools has helped students with specialneeds to integrate socially with their peers(Bucholz &amp Sheffer 2009).This interaction has led to long lasting relationships that wouldhave otherwise been impossible, and has led to proper understandingand communication within the students. This kind of friendship isimportant and essential in social upbringing. By schooling in aninclusive school environment, students with special needs mingle withthe rest of the students in a more normal and social way(Ford 2013).

Accordingly,this may led to peers acting as role models for communication skillsduring their interaction unlike in a homogeneous school were thererole models would be other disabled students who lack similarcommunication skills as them. Academically, inclusion has helped inthe attainment of good grades by students with special needs(Ford 2013).Thus, inclusion ensures that students with special needs become fullmembers of the school community. These students also take part inresponsibilities and opportunities of general education equitably(Bucholz &amp Sheffer 2009).The teacher is supposed to arrange instruction is manner thatbenefits all students regardless of their needs (Ford2013).Inclusion also encompasses incorporation of students who are learningEnglish as their additional language. Irrespective of their lowproficiency in English, these students should be included in themainstream classroom. They should have equal educational opportunityand should not be discriminated on the basis of their language(Bucholz &amp Sheffer 2009).


Apparently,security on children should be the number one priority on any nationor government’s list. After the gruesome death of Victoria Climbiewho suffered awfully at the hands of those she entrusted the most andeventually lost her life. This raised a nationwide alarm.Consequently it led to the reviewing of child care rights(Chief Secretary to the Treasury 2003).Hence this led to the Every Child Mattered Agenda. Apparently, aproposal was prepared. Subsequently, this document of Every ChildMatters contained the United Kingdom government suggestion on theimprovement and reform of child care. This was reached after a closelook by Lord Laming and other investigators who deal with child carematters in to the Victoria Climbie case. This document was presentedto the parliament by a United Kingdom Government minister who hadbeen commanded by the Queen(Chief Secretary to the Treasury 2003).This kind of document is referred to a command document and isexpected by the government to grab the attention of parliament but isnot supposed to be opened by legislation. The document was advocatingfor reform and improvement of child care(Chief Secretary to the Treasury 2003).


TheDisability Act (DDA) 1995 goal is to stop discrimination that isfaced by disabled citizens. Additionally, over the years, theDisability Discrimination 2006 has been improved immensely withdisabled individuals having the rights to education, employment, andfunctions to public bodies, renting or buying property or land,access to services, goods and facilities(UK Government 2014).Additionally, the legislation advocates for public bodies equality injob opportunities. The transport sector has been also asked by thelegislation to set minimum standards that can accommodate disabledpeople(UK Government 2014).

UNConvention on the Rights of the Children

Accordingto the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children should not bediscriminated either based on their abilities, religion or race. Thegender of the child, where the child lives and the language the childspeaks should not be used for discrimination. Additionally, the bestinterests of a child should be the primary concern during thedecision making process(UNICEF 2012).Thirdly, governments are supposed to use all the available resourcesand strategies to make sure that the rights of children arerespected. The laws pertaining to children in the educational,health, legal and social services systems have to be assessed to makesure that they protect the rights of children. The government shouldalso respect the responsibilities and rights of families to guide anddirect their children and they grow and learn to use their rightlycorrectly(UNICEF 2012).

Aimsof Teaching Assistant

Alexis a student with language related challenge. His proficiency inEnglish is low and that is why he is learning English as anadditional language. Low proficiency in English has impeded him fromcomprehending class content. As a consequence, he suffers fromfrustration and aggressive exhibited through throwing tantrum.Therefore, the first role of the teaching assistant is to helpenhance Alex’s proficiency in English. In this case, teachingassistant with take the role of bilingual teaching assistant.Bilingual teaching assistants work under the direction of the classteacher. They use the students’ first language to support thedevelopment of their learning(NALDIC 2011).Moreover, they gather knowledge with respect to the culturalbackground of the student as a way of activating through priorknowledge with reference to the topic or subject being taught(Lee 2002).

Bilingualteaching assistants have to be briefed about the intentions and plansof the teacher with regard to teaching and learning. This helps themto plan how they will contribute to the content to facilitate thelearning of their students. Bilingual teaching assistants and EALteachers play an important role in supporting inclusion(Hammond 2007).They do so by facilitating learning and participation throughresponding to the diverse needs of the student, by helping thestudent to overcome impediments to learning and setting suitablelearning challenges.

Withreference to Arnotet al. (2014),in primary school, class activities are supposed to help indeveloping the learning and literacy of the students. Consequently,the main goals for EAL students like Alex is help them to commencespeaking English and help them mix with other. Consequently, theother goal of the teaching assistant has been to help Alex interactand freely mingle and interact with the rest of the students. Asidefrom this, research has established that teaching assistants impairthe performance of students. Thus, students who receive intensivehelp from teaching assistants do not make as much progress as theirclassmates(Marley &amp Bloom 2012: Paton, 2011)).They lag behind. Accordingly, students who receive more attentionfrom the support staff exhibit worse attainment in the core subjectsof mathematics, English and science. This is in line with the resultsobtained from a five year study which was funded by the government(Friedberg 2009).

Ina study executed by the Institute of Education of the LondonUniversity, it was found out that there is no evidence to point outthat the increasing numbers of support staff help students to achievebetter results(Farrell et al. 2010).Underpinning on these findings, the third goal of the teachingassistant is to help the student to become independent. Alex issupported to become an independents learner who should not rely onassistance after a certain period of time.

SchoolLegal Duties to Support EAL Students

Schoolshave to make certain that EAL students are taught in the mainstreamclasses with their peers. Schools should ensure that newly arrivedstudents access additional help in learning English from bilingualclassroom assistants or EAL teachers. EAL teachers and advisers haveto work collaboratively with the teachers to plan teaching materialsand lessons. Classroom teachers have to ensure that the studentsactively participate in lessons. When necessary, the school may setup a small group withdrawal classes with the aim of providing morefocused support. Schools should meet the learning needs of EALlearners. They should also ensure the right to education by offeringequal opportunity to all students(Library of Congress 2009).The school has fulfilled its legal roles through its equalopportunity policy. The school highly admits international students.The school is also very flexible and offers support and care to EALstudents. To connect to international students, the school’swebsite can be translated into 37 different languages includingEnglish.


Asexplicated by Evans (2007), “it is important that teachers get toknow pupils well and are able to identify underlying factors thatimpact on their behaviour ,including difficult home circumstances ,poor language skills , learning difficulties , attention deficit ,misunderstanding of social situations and lack of self esteem”(p.58). Understanding the background of a student helps incomprehending the effect of culture on behavior(Ford 2012).Based on this, through analysis of Alex’s background and throughclose monitoring, Alex has been established to throw tantrums when hedoes not understand. Behavior management provides support forlearning English as a second language(Dobbins &amp Rodriguez 2012).To manage his behavior, the teaching assistant collaborated with theteacher to utilize traffic lights. When his name was put on red, itmeans that he would be detained for misbehaving. He was able toassociate misbehavior with detention. As a result, his behavior hasimproved greatly.

Oneon One Support

Realizingthe extent to which language was a barrier to learning, the teachingassistant learnt some Russian to as to easily communicate with thestudent. This is to enable one to one support. The use of one-to-onesupport for EAL students has proved to be beneficial(Morton 2014).This decision was based on how bilingual teaching assistantsfacilitate learning. These assistants usually have knowledgepertaining to the student’s first language. As a result, they areable to interpret instructions and key words in the student’slanguage(Lipsett 2013).They also use the language of the student to explore concepts indepth and to aid the student to develop higher order learning skills.The students can subsequently transfer these skills to EAL. Throughthis, a teaching assistant was able to use the student’s bilingualskills(NALDIC 2011).Through communicating in both Russian and English, Alex was able tocommunicate and understand. Therefore, his level of comprehendingclass instructions improved.

Alexhas not been aided through the English class alone. Teachingassistants have targeted the language and the numeracy classes. Thisis with the explication that mathematics focuses on problem solving.Thinking skills are very vital in problem solving and thinkingrequires academic language. Therefore, mathematics presents anopportunity through which the use and understanding of language canbe facilitated(Lee 2013).Another way Alex has been supported to learn is through tasksimplification. Situations in the class are overwhelming for EALstudent because of their low proficiency in English. As explicatedearlier, translation has been used as a way of simplifyinginstruction(Calderon et al. 2011).Another strategy that has been used is accessing Alex to peersupport. Alex has been placed in group with the rest of the studentsso that he can learn from his peers. Peers tend to explaininstructions and situations in a simpler language understood by therest of the students. The teaching assistant has also sought foryoung interpreters, thus young students within Alex’s age group whounderstand Russian language and English. The students have helpedAlex understand class content. The teaching assistant also helps Alexin reading assessment. This is to help him understand whatinstructions demand of him.

Throughcollecting background information pertaining to Alex’s family andculture, the teaching assistant has used his cultures to help thestudent understand instructions. The teaching assistant has usedreligions, festivals, weather, environment and certain activitiesregarding history. These strategies have helped Alex to connect classinstruction to his culture. This has captivated his interest and madelearning realistic and applicable to his life. The learning and classcontent relates to his experience(Arnot et al. 2014).While working with Alex in the classroom, the teaching assistantoccasionally leaves him alone and move to work with other student.This is to allow him to work independently and to boost hisconfidence(SecEd 2014).While he works alone, the teaching assistant assesses his level ofcomprehension rather than task completion. This is to support him tobecome an independent learner rather than constantly relying onteaching assistants(Higtower et al. 2011).

HowTeaching Assistants Remove Practical Obstacles

Whenthe teaching assistant spent the first literacy class with Alex, shefound it hard for to comprehend what he was saying. It was difficultfor him to communicate or hold any kind of conversation. Inconcurrence with Elliot (2004), “Implementing inclusion practice isdifficult. All teachers and teaching assistants will recognise thefeeling of importance and sometimes anger when you do not know how tomeet needs of a pupil or when meeting their need seem to be at a costto everyone else” (p.30). Alex tried to translate class assignmentinto Russian so as to comprehend. Teaching assistants removed thisobstacle to learning by use of pictures and images.

Theteaching assistant used a smiley yellow face to indicate happy, a sadface and an in between face expression. The teaching assistanttranslated the meanings of the faces in Russian. After the teachergave instructions in the class, he was to pick a face that indicatedhis level of understanding. The smiley face indicated that he hadunderstood while the sad face meant no comprehension. The in-betweenface indicated not sure. This improved communication by bridginglanguage barrier(Coles-Ritchie 2009).Additionally, the teaching assistant elucidated numeracy lessons andworked examples with him. The teaching assistant used differentstrategies like the use of Domino words, physically counting ofobjects through kinaesthetic and through visual and audio aids. Thiswas a breakthrough because he was able to work through some of theclass assignments(Lee 2013).

Irrespectiveof the fact that his written English is better than his spoken one,the teaching assistant has helped Alex to improve his Englishlanguage. He is a part of the mixed ability group. His understandingof numeracy has improved. He has also been able to explore hisexceptional talent in art. His behavior is more positive because hecommunicates his lack of understanding rather than throwing tantrums.His level of confidence and self-esteem has also been enhanced(SecEd 2014).

Questionnairefor Alex

  1. Do you feel like you are always at par with the rest of the students or do feel like you lag behind?

  2. In case you feel like you lag behind, what factors hinder you from being at the same level with the rest of the student?

  3. Are you able to effectively socialize with the rest of the students in group work? If no, what hinders your full participation in group work?

  4. Do you participate in class activities? What kind of activities and how often?

  5. Do you voluntarily take part in class activities or the teachers contribute to your participation?

  6. Does learning integrate your culture and in what ways?

  7. Do you think the UK education system is friendly or is it contrary to what you believe in?


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