TAs and Group Work


Another great video reflecting from international schools on how questioning and one to one support can enable the child’s constructive thinking and problem solving.

From talking about going on holiday, draw a picture, or using colour, a great teaching assistant sequences and embeds the learning, providing extra support to those who may need it.

The Teaching assistants in the video offer up some great tools and techniques, such as how they are using questions and requesting repetition to ensuring comprehension and not just memorisation.

Observations around play, engagement, group work and language usage is used with assessment, alongside emotional and personal development on an individual basis.

Whilst you are watching this short video, think about if and how you use questions with the children you are working with, and do they elicit a reply which is telling you even more about that child.


Miriam Torres (00:31):

Every day, we have a different activity which is planned. We get a little group, we do the activity, whatever it is. It might be literacy, maths. We explain the activity, we do it, we try to make it fun.

Mirian Seoune (00:48):

We are going to talk about holidays, about the holidays. Where do you go?

Speaker 3 (00:53):

[inaudible 00:00:55].

Mirian Seoune (00:56):

We’re talking about the holidays, and they had to tell me what they did during the holidays. Where did it go or what did they do? Then they will have to draw a picture and color.

What will happen, sometimes we’ll take small groups. Sometimes we’ll take four class in, depending on what we’re doing. So, for instance, if I take a small group, we take them in multi-sports hall, and we just do different activities. This is will be more difficult than before. Little bit quicker.

Gary Williams (01:32):

I try to incorporate what they learn in that term, or in the weeks, what they’re doing in class with what they do in the PE. For instance, if they’re letting, say, colors, then I’ll trying to do something in color so that it follows while they’re doing it in the class, as well.

Zoe Daniels (01:54):

I’m tending to work slightly more with the children that need a little bit more help. So, I sit a lot of one-to-one with maybe the kids that are struggling with their writing, with the speech.

Julie Port (02:10):

I might do a session with them where I’m asking them questions, “What did they do?” and if they can answer me in English. Yesterday, there was a little girl who was reciting the months of the year in English, and I said to her, “Oh, you have been learning your months of the year.” And she said, “Yes,” her friend had taught them to her. And I said, “Can you repeat them again for me?” And she repeated them again. So, it’s like double checking that they are not just memorizing them, but they actually do know them.

Miriam Torres (02:48):

We do learning journeys. We spent 20 minutes following a child and we write everything he or she does, their physical, their numeracy development, literacy development, everything.

Zoe Daniels (03:03):

We write, “Are they playing together? Do they use their imagination? Are they using English?” So, that’s how I tend to assess them.

Mirian Seoune (03:13):

I normally assess different things. I says the language level and also the fine motor skills, the personal, and emotional development. So, what I do is like, according to certain guidelines, I see what it can achieve and what it can’t.

Zoe Daniels (03:29):

I find open questions are better. I mean, you want them to form a sentence as a reply, so it’s no good asking them and answering it for them. Often, they get it back to front, the wrong way round. I mean, I came in yesterday, a little girl said to me [inaudible 00:03:47] because I had had an extra day off, she went, “Why are you not here tomorrow?” And I was like, “Well, was it tomorrow that I…” And she went, “Oh no, yesterday.” Yesterday. So, I think it’s giving them time.

Julie Port (04:03):

We have a rainbow, and on one side is the sun and on the other side it is the cloud. For praise, they go onto the sun, but we also use stickers.

Mirian Seoune (04:16):

The children learns is the first time at school that if they do things well, either follow the rules, if they listen, if they try to speak in English, they will get a reward, could be like a sticker or maybe a stamp.

Zoe Daniels (04:31):

We also have, for some of the boys in our class, they maybe need a little bit of encouragement. Boys are boys. So, we have a reward chart, as well, which is often used on patio time, where if they’ve had a good patio, they are allowed to stamp their little name on it, on a circular piece of paper with them, so they feel that they’ve, “I’ve had a good morning.”

James Darley (05:05):

[inaudible 00:05:05] management, where there may be some disruption in the class, again, where the teacher is trying to take a group in the morning and doing an introduction, we can make sure that those children are aware of their behavior

Shelley Sykes (05:22):

It’s really useful when, for example, if I’m introducing a new concept on the carpet, if I’ve got a class of 22 children and I can’t ensure that all of them are listening to me all the time, and although I try and keep the pace moving quickly, there are those children that drift, and he can just keep them back on track and just quietly without disrupting the other children while I’m introducing something.

James Darley (05:43):

With special educational in these children, we become involved where we help them stay focused on task. So, at the start of the lesson, where the class teacher is doing the introduction for a specific subject, I’ll sit alongside a specific child, or a child that’s of concern to the teacher, and help them along with the task and make sure they’re focused.

Emily Brown (06:17):

I think she’s fantastic on a one-to-one for the language basis because, currently, she’s also working with a little boy in year one who’s just come from the French system.

Jackie O’Neill (06:27):

We do, obviously because the children are starting school, they’ve got to learn the rules, how it works in the community because it will be the basis for the rest of their schooling. A lot of group work, one-to-one when it comes to reading.

Emily Brown (06:44):

And after watching, she’s done a term with me doing the [inaudible 00:06:47] and actions, and she’s really got the gist, and because she used the pitch clues and the actions, and obviously visual, she’s able to… Actually, she’d been bringing his English on, and she’s been teaching him one-to-one.

Jackie O’Neill (06:58):

He’s got a cauldron. It’s a cauldron. There’s one. There’s another one. What you need to do, is on your piece of paper, and you can do it on your white boards first, you need to-

Jo Marceau (07:11):

The beginning of most lessons, we have a carpet time and we have the children on the carpet, and the teacher will be teaching them. And she’s in front, and from behind, I can see what’s going on. I’ll be there gently reminding them when they’re losing attention, removing objects if they’ve found something that they’re fiddling with and they shouldn’t be. There’s a couple of children that I will sometimes take apart when the work that they’re doing on the carpet is getting too difficult or beyond their level, I’ll take them apart and do some quiet work with them.

Nikki Sawyer (07:41):

We have children with special educational needs in the class, and they each have their own IEP, which we work towards as a school as a whole and with the family, as well. Today, I was working on the carpet primarily with one of our girls who has difficulty with processing, so we like to try and reinforce what the teacher is saying and perhaps use visual aids to give her more help to really absorb the information that we’re giving her.

James Darley (08:14):

So, for assessment, we liaise directly with the teacher and also the parents, as well. For example, where we listen to children read regularly and feedback any messages to parents where they can positively reinforce messages at home. That’s also passed to the teacher, as well. And then, the areas of concern are passed back to the teacher.

Shelley Sykes (08:36):

When he’s listening to readers, he’s questioning them throughout to assess their understanding, so he’s asking them on basis of story or a nonfiction book that they’ve read, literal understanding but, as well, they’re inferential understanding. So, seeing if they understand how characters feel or why choices have been made or why the author has written a book about that certain subject. But within a classroom activity where he’s got a small group, he’ll be assessing their learning through his questions, so targeting particular children to see if they’ve managed to achieve what we set out to achieve.

Jo Marceau (09:06):

And we also have a traffic light system for the children, so I can, I nearly can, I’m not sure yet. And I will traffic light their work.

Sandra Cryer (09:18):

We have green, orange, and red, although we tend to just use green and orange, and the children are quite happy to be assessed orange if you explain to them, say, “Do you think I helped you a lot with that?” or, “Did you do all that work on your own?” And they’re quite happy to have that discussion even at the age they are. They quite like to be involved in that discussion.

James Darley (09:41):

They also get stars for good behavior, as well, so where there’s behavior issues and positive behavior, that’s explained to the child, as well.




www.gov.uk – Department for Education.

www.tda.gov.uk – The Training and Development Agency for Schools

www.childdevelopmentinfo.com – Child Development Institute

www.nhs.uk – NHS

www.teachernet.gov.uk – Teachernet

www.gov.uk – Department for Education.

www.tda.gov.uk – The Training and Development Agency for Schools


Books and Policy Papers


  • Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools (Primary) (Burnham)  ISBN 9780435032043 (Heinemann 2010)
  • Understanding Schools as Organisations (Handy & Aitken) ISBN 9780140224900 (Penguin Books Ltd 1986)
  • Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools (Primary) (Burnham)  ISBN 9780435032043 (Heinemann 2010)
  • A Teaching Assistant’s Guide to Child Development (Bentham) ISBN 9780415311083 (Routledge, 2003)
  • Successful School Transition (Dawrent) ISBN 9781855034358 (LDA, 2008)
  • Understanding Children and Young People: Development from 5-18 Years (Lindon) ISBN 9780340939109 (Hodder, 2010)