indexaboutmembershipwdpresourcesjoin

Frequently asked questions

Here are some useful questions and answers for your reference.

Individual support staff

What are the National Occupational Standards for Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools?

The National Occupational Standards are a series of statements which describe what competent teaching and learning support staff are expected to be able to do as part of their job. They cover all the main aspects of the occupation, including the knowledge and understanding which underpins competent performance.

The standards were originally published as the National Occupational Standards for Teaching/Classroom Assistants by the Local Government National Training Organisation (LGNTO) in April 2001. The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) took responsiblity for them in September 2005, and reviewed and developed them over the two years that followed. They are designed to be suitable for all staff who work with teachers, supporting the learning process in schools.

Further information on how National Occupational Standards are developed can be obtained from QCA/SQA.

What is the connection between the National Occupational Standards and the NVQ/SVQ for Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools?

The NVQ/SVQ is a work-related qualification that is based on the National Occupational Standards. There are no age limits and no special entry requirements for the qualification.

If you are interested in doing an NVQ, you should check with your school/local authority or local college to see what plans they have to take part in NVQ training and assessment. Alternatively, you could contact one or more of the awarding bodies to find out if there is an approved centre near you.

How is the NVQ assessed?

Assessment is normally through on-the-job observation and questioning. Candidates produce evidence to prove they have the competence to meet the NVQ units. Assessors sign off units when the candidates are ready. The assessor tests candidates’ knowledge, understanding and work-based performance to make sure they can demonstrate competence in the workplace.

Candidates might take a course if that seems the best way to learn what they need. Or they might agree with their employer or supervisor to do slightly different work to gain the evidence of competence they need.

Candidates compare their performance with the units as they learn. They look at what they have achieved, how much they still need to do and how they should go about it, until they are assessed as competent for a unit or a whole NVQ.

Source: QCA

How do I know whether I should take a Level 2 or Level 3 NVQ/SVQ?

The NVQ/SVQ for Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools has been created at Levels 2 and 3 of the National Qualifications Framework. The set of units of competence at Level 2 are designed to be applicable to teaching assistants who are relatively inexperienced in the role or whose responsibilities at work are limited in scope. The set of units at Level 3 are aimed at experienced teaching assistants and those whose working role requires a wide range of responsibilities.

The Level 2 and Level 3 sets of units are divided into mandatory units and optional units. If you wish to gain the full qualification at either level, you must take all of the mandatory units plus the required number of optional units for that level, complying with any rules governing the choice of optional units. Within these rules, the choice of which units to select is up to you and your employer.

There is no requirement to do the Level 2 NVQ before you start the Level 3. You can go straight in at Level 3 as long as your responsibilities at work are appropriate to all the mandatory units and at least four of the optional units.

Who are the NVQ awarding bodies?

City and Guilds

1 Giltspur Street
London
EC1A 9DD
Tel: 020 7294 2800
Fax: 020 7294 2400
Email: learnersupport@cityandguilds.com

Council for Awards in Children's Care and Education (CACHE)

8 Chequer Street
St Albans
Herts
AL1 3XZ
Tel: 01727 847636
Fax: 01727 867609
Email: info@cache.org.uk

Edexcel

Stewart House
32 Russell Square
London
WC1B 5DN
Tel: 0870 240 9800
Fax: 020 7758 6960
Email: enquiries@edexcel.org.uk

Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR)

1 Regent St
Cambridge
CB2 1GG
Tel: 024 7685 1509
Fax: 024 7642 1944
Email: cib@ocr.org.uk

Why are some of the NVQ Level 2 units repeated at Level 3?

The NVQs have been designed to help you to progress from Level 2 to Level 3. Four of the optional units in Level 2 also occur at Level 3. If you have completed any of these units at Level 2, you will automatically get credit for them at Level 3. You will not have to repeat the unit or units you have already done.

What is the National Workload Agreement?

The National Workload Agreement (also called the National Agreement or the National Remodelling Agreement) is the agreement between the Government, employers and school workforce unions that is designed to help schools to raise standards and tackle workload issues.

One of the aims of the National Workload Agreement was to free teachers from excessive non-teaching workload. It proposed that schools deploy more support staff in extended roles, as a means of releasing extra time for teachers and reducing their workload. The National Workload Agreement should therefore redefine the roles that both teachers and teaching assistants perform within a school.

How might my role change according to the National Workload Agreement?

The National Workload Agreement stipulated that, in order that teachers can better focus on teaching and learning, administrative and clerical processing should be done by support staff. The National Workload Agreement therefore identified 24 tasks which should no longer be carried out by teachers. These tasks are predominantly administrative, and will now be part of the role of support staff within the school.

The 24 tasks are:

  1. Collecting money
  2. Chasing absences
  3. Bulk photocopying
  4. Copy typing
  5. Producing standard letters
  6. Producing class lists
  7. Record keeping and filing
  8. Classroom display
  9. Analysing attendance figures
  10. Processing exam results
  11. Collating pupil reports
  12. Administering work experience
  13. Administering examinations
  14. Administering teacher cover
  15. ICT trouble shooting and minor repairs
  16. Commissioning new ICT equipment
  17. Ordering supplies and equipment
  18. Stocktaking
  19. Cataloguing, preparing, issuing and maintaining equipment and materials
  20. Minuting meetings
  21. Coordinating and submitting bids
  22. Seeking and giving personnel advice
  23. Managing pupil data
  24. Inputting pupil data.

In addition, the following provision on exam invigilation was introduced from September 2005:

  • Teachers should not routinely be required to invigilate external examinations.

These tasks have now been slightly changed to make 22 tasks.

The National Workload Agreement also stated that support staff should, increasingly, be recognised for the contribution they make to raising pupil standards, and should have access to expanded roles, and improved choices and career opportunities, including proper recognition for existing responsibilities.

What is HLTA status?

Included as part of the National Workload Agreement signed by the Government, employers and school workforce unions in January 2003, was the proposal to introduce the role of higher level teaching assistant (HLTA). Those who achieve HLTA status have to demonstrate a high level of skills and knowledge which help teachers improve the quality of teaching and learning. They work closely with the teacher, complementing their role and freeing them up to have more time to develop each child to his or her potential.

The National Workload Agreement stated that HLTAs are able to cover classes, and should be able to ensure that pupils can progress with their learning, based on their knowledge of the learning outcomes planned by the teacher. HLTAs work in a range of different settings and have a greater degree of autonomy than most other support staff in the school. This increased level of understanding and responsibility is reflected in the Professional Standards which an HLTA is expected to meet.

It is anticipated that many HLTAs could progress, in time, to become qualified teachers.

What do the Professional Standards for HLTAs cover?

The Professional Standards for HLTAs set out what an individual should know, understand and be able to do to be awarded HLTA status. They are organised into three sections:

1 Professional attributes

The attitudes and commitment to be expected from HLTAs.

2 Professional knowledge and understanding

HLTAs must demonstrate that they:

  • have a high degree of knowledge, expertise, and awareness of the pupils’ curriculum
  • know how to advance pupils’ learning
  • can work effectively with teachers as part of a professional team.

3 Professional skills

HLTAs need to demonstrate that they:

  • can work effectively with individual pupils, small groups and whole classes
  • contribute to a range of teaching and learning activities
  • have skills in planning, monitoring, assessment and class management.
How does the training and assessment for HLTA status work?

In order to gain HLTA status, you are required to demonstrate, in the context of your specific specialist area and to the satisfaction of an approved assessor, that you are able to meet the requirements of each of the Professional Standards. You can work towards meeting the Standards through a combination of prior experience, experience on the job, and training.

The Training and Development Agency for Schools organises national HLTA training programmes. These programmes help teaching assistants gain the skills required to meet the Professional Standards, and provide the required assessment. There are three types of training programme available:

  • an ‘assessment only’ route of around three days’ training
  • a ‘full training programme’ route of around 50 days training
  • an ‘accelerated route’ to HLTA status. This is a more tailored programme for teaching assistants who meet many of the Professional Standards but who require a programme to meet specific Standards.
The HLTA Professional Standards require literacy and numeracy qualifications equivalent to Level 2 of the National Qualifications Framework. What does this mean?

To achieve HLTA status, you will have to provide evidence that you have achieved qualifications in both literacy and numeracy at Level 2 or higher. Suitable Level 2 qualifications include:

Literacy

  • GCSE English A*-C
  • GCSE English Literature A*-C
  • Basic Skills Certificate in Adult Literacy Level 2
  • Key Skills Communication Level 2
  • CSE English Grade 1
  • GCE O-level English Language
  • GCE O-level English Literature

Numeracy

  • GCSE Mathematics A*-C
  • Basic Skills Certificate in Adult Numeracy Level 2
  • Key Skills Application of Number Level 2
  • CSE Mathematics Grade 1
  • GCE O-level Mathematics

Evidence of GCE A-level or AS-level or Key Skills Level 3 qualifications in literacy and numeracy will also be accepted since they are higher than Level 2.

I have an STAC qualification. How does this compare with the NVQ Level 3?

The Open University Specialist Teacher Assistant Certificate (STAC) is an academic course that is generally regarded as a slightly higher level qualification than NVQ Level 3. The STAC course is a level 1 undergraduate course which may be worth 60 CATs points towards a degree. It is recognised by the DCSF as being suitable as part of a route towards Qualified Teacher Status.

However, like many similar university courses, the STAC qualification is not yet accredited on the National Qualifications Framework, although this situation may change in the future. Your local authority may therefore prefer you to gain an NVQ.

Source: Open University

I need to know if the Maths qualification I have is equal to today's Level 2. I have Northern Counties Technical Examining Board Pre Nursing Course B Calculations. Who do I have to contact to find out?

For the purposes of achieving HLTA status, this qualification would not be eligible. For a list of accepted qualifications, please see the literacy and numeracy requirements PDF at http://www.tda.gov.uk/support/hlta/resourcebank.aspx

If you wish to know for another purpose, you could try contacting the examining board. However, they may well have been incorporated into another examination board (eg AQA) by now – the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) will be able to advise on this.

For further information on the National Qualifications Framework, contact QCA.

I have been awarded an OCR Certificate for Literacy and Numeracy Support Assistants (CLANSA). What is the equivalent NVQ qualification of this certificate?

The CLANSA qualification has been rated by the National Open College Network on the further education scale at 5 credits at Level 3 – the highest level on the further education scale. Each credit is awarded for those outcomes which, on average, a candidate might reasonably be expected to achieve in a notional 30 hours of learning. The CLANSA qualification is therefore considered to provide evidence equivalent to a notional 150 hours of leaning.

The nearest equivalent NVQ to the CLANSA course is the Level 3 NVQ for Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools. Unfortunately, if you wanted to complete this NVQ, it is not possible at the moment to accredit prior learning. In other words, you would still have to demonstrate all the competences contained in the NVQ regardless of whether or not they were covered in your CLANSA qualification. However, the skills that you gained when completing the CLANSA course will make completion of the NVQ a much simpler process as you should already possess many of the skills being assessed.

I am a qualified nursery officer (NNEB). What status am I on according to the new standards, ie NVQ Level 2 or 3, and with regard to the HLTA?

The NNEB qualifications exist at both Level 2 and Level 3. The diplomas are Level 3 qualifications and the certificates are Level 2.

The Green Paper, Every Child Matters, proposed the implementation of a 'Common Core' of skills, knowledge and competence for "the widest possible range of workers in children's services". This will involve setting out a framework for comparing the qualifications of all professionals working with children, including NNEB awards.

With reference to HLTA status, you cannot accredit prior learning. Rather, you must demonstrate to the satisfaction of an approved assessor that you meet each of the Professional Standards. You must also have achieved literacy and numeracy qualifications equivalent to at least Level 2.

I am a BTEC nursery nurse doing a foundation degree in teaching and learning support. I now have an STA award and an HE certificate. What is my level on the new pay grading?

The levelling of pay and conditions is determined by your local authority. Each local authority has a very different process and structure when calculating pay. Your question would therefore need to be answered by your school or local authority.

One thing that you do need to be aware of is that pay grades are calculated on the basis of the role that you perform, not the qualifications that you hold. In other words, gaining a qualification will not automatically increase your pay grade if you continue to perform the same role. Some local authorities have specified that, in order to perform a certain role and therefore be paid at a certain grade, an individual must hold a particular level of qualification, but it is the role and not the qualification that determines the grade.

I have recently heard about a part-time degree course, run specifically for TAs. On completing their degree, TAs gain QTS status. Could you tell me if this type of course is offered anywhere else in London?

The situation, as regards different degree courses, changes so quickly. However, the institution with the biggest reputation in London for running BEd courses in a flexible manner is the University of Greenwich (http://www.gre.ac.uk/). The other institution that may be worth talking to is the Open University (http://www.open.ac.uk/).

Does the DCSF acknowledge recognition of the City & Guilds qualification in Learning Support 7321/1 as a successful and high standard national qualification adequate to apply for appropriate vacancies?

City & Guilds offers national qualifications from a QCA-recognised examination board. Whether any particular qualification can be considered relevant for vacancies will depend upon the particular position that you are applying for. An employer is free to specify qualification criteria as they wish. However, if (as most employers do), they simply state that they require a relevant qualification, then a City and Guilds qualification in Learning Support would be an appropriate qualification for most school support staff roles.

What union whould you recommend TAs join?

Unfortunately, NAPTA is unable to make any specific recommendations about particular unions or their relative merits. It is essential for NAPTA both to remain objective and to maintain good relationships with all interested parties, so we are careful not to align ourselves with any particular union.

How do I complete teacher training whilst still working?

There are a number of ways of training to gain Qualified Teacher Status. Details of these and how to apply are available on the Training and Development Agency for Schools Web site (http://www.tda.gov.uk/). In particular, you might like to consider a foundation degree for teaching assistants as a first step.

If you are interested in working while you are training, you should look at the information regarding the Graduate Teacher Programme.

I am a level 3/4 TA with a Foundation Degree in teaching and learning support and currently working towards topping this up to a BA Honours. What would you suggest I do next to further my career without going into teacher training?

The recognised route for career progression for people who do not want to become a teacher is to go for Higher Level Teaching Assistant status. This can be quite intensive in terms of the evidence that you are required to put together, and some schools are finding it difficult to fund the salaries of people who have achieved the status. Nevertheless, it might be a conversation worth having with your headteacher.

The other role that some schools are employing support staff in, which you might consider, is that of cover supervisor. This role tends to exist in larger primaries and secondary schools.

Will the school or Government pay for my NVQ Level 3 training or is there other funding available?

Funding is available for participating in NVQ programmes through the Learning and Skills Council. This can be accessed either through your local authority of through an FE college. Most local authorities keep a list of the providers available in their area and how to contact them.

The details of funding will vary according to the particular provider but typically will require a small contribution from either you or your school. There are fee exemptions available for people if they do not already have a full Level 2 qualification (5 GCSE/O-levels or equivalent).

I graduated from the FdA Educational Studies for Teaching Assistants last year and have just finished the first of a two year top-up to gain the full BA Hons in Educational Studies. Will this qualification put me on a level with HLTA, and if not, why not?

HLTA is a status rather than a qualification. The work that you are doing is at a higher level than the HLTA standards; however, gaining a qualification at a higher level would not automatically give you HLTA status (or any locally-determined pay settlement based on HLTA status). Your qualification does, however, have the advantage that it can be used towards gaining qualified teacher status.

The TDA has opted to keep the award of HLTA status outside of the qualification framework and has decided not to allow any accreditation of prior learning. As a result, although you will have a qualification which demonstrates that you are operating at a level above that required by HLTA, in order to gain the status, you would have to undergo the HLTA assessment process.

On the plus side, there is an assessment-only programme for gaining HLTA status. This is a fast-track assessment aimed at people who would not require any training in order to gain the status.

We did a Professional Development Review at work and I know the school has our results but shouldn't we be given them?

If your headteacher has already been sent the results by your local authority, they should have been given a report for the school and printed copies of certificates showing the results for all the staff that undertook the Professional Development Review, plus a CD of individual staff reports. What normally happens is that the headteacher then distributes the printed certificates and talks through the report with each individual member of staff during a face-to-face session.

It may be that your headteacher is currently planning such individual review sessions in order that staff can receive their results in the context of the work they actually do in the school. You should speak to your headteacher to see what their plans are.

I am about to complete my HLTA status which will be awarded in September this year. As an HLTA, will I be expected to cover classes or does this depend on each individual school?

HLTA status means that you have demonstrated that you are able to cover classes. If your pay level also includes this as a responsibility, then the school could reasonably expect to ask you if they wanted to. However, it certainly does not mean that your school has to, or will want to, use you in this way.

I am currently working in behaviour and most of my role is mentoring. How can I gain a qualification to be a learning mentor?

There is an NVQ specifically for learning mentors called 'Learning, development and support services for children, young people and those who care for them'. This is available at Level 3 or Level 4.

The qualification can be delivered by any NVQ provider who is occupationally competent. Your local authority may deliver the qualification itself. Alternatively, your local authority's school workforce adviser should be able to provide you with a list of local providers who offer NVQs to schools.

How do I update my profile?

In order to update your profile, your school will need to resubscribe to NAPTA for a further year. Some local authorities have already paid for their schools' resubscriptions but many are still considering whether to do this. If the local authority does not pay for schools to resubscribe, schools can pay the cost of resubscription themselves.

Speak to your headteacher about whether, and how, the school wishes to resubscribe.

I am currently working as an HLTA but have been give a Year 5 class to work with solely on my own for eight weeks with no extra pay, support or guidance. Assessment is also expected for the whole class. Last week I worked 41 hours but I am only contracted for 32 hours. I feel I am doing the teacher's role but with no recognition. Is this allowed?

You should refer to the standards contained in the description of your level in the workforce agreement. Workforce agreements are negotiated at local authority level, and so vary between authorities. The workforce agreement will clearly define what the school can and cannot reasonably expect from you, and also the level of support that you are entitled to expect. You should be able to obtain a copy of the workforce agreement from your local authority if there is not one in your school.

If you are not happy with the position and cannot resolve this in consultation with your headteacher, then your union should be able to negotiate on your behalf.

I have worked in a primary school for nine years and recently completed an apprenticeship in childcare, including a Level 3 NVQ. I am only a Level 2 teaching assistant – is this right?

The two levels that you mention refer to different sets of criteria. The NVQ is Level 3 on the National Qualifications Framework, which attempts to compare the standard of different qualifications. The level at which your job is defined (Level 2) refers to the level that it appears at in the local Single Status Agreement. Level 3 in one system is therefore not necessarily equivalent to Level 3 in the other system.

Your school should be able to provide you with a copy of the local agreement; if they cannot, then you can obtain a copy either from your union or from the local authority.

The National Qualifications Framework looks at how hard a qualification is to achieve; whereas the level of your job refers to the duties that you are asked to complete, not how qualified you are. In short, your school is not doing anything wrong by employing a Level 3 qualified member of staff in a position described as Level 2.

If you feel that you are performing duties that are in excess of your job description, or that you are capable of taking on higher level duties that may justify you being given a Level 3 position, you should discuss this with your line manager.

I have OCR CLANSA; is it worth any CAT points?

The CLANSA qualification has been rated at Level 3 of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) – the highest level on the further education scale. However, qualifications must be at NQF Level 4 or above (ie higher education level) to be on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer (CAT) Scheme.

Unfortunately, this means that your CLANSA qualification is not worth any CAT points, but the learning experience is likely to be a good foundation if you choose to pursue a higher education course.

I have a City and Guilds qualification for the advanced learning support workers course. To what NVQ is this equivalent?

The City and Guilds Certificate in Learning Support (7321/01) is a Level 2 vocational certificate, and the advanced version (7321/02) is a Level 3 certificate. This means that, while the qualifications are not exactly the same, the advanced certificate demonstrates a skills level equivalent to that of a Level 3 NVQ.

Do you have a list of all the CAT points for courses teaching assistants attend? I know NVQs are around 60 but I would be interested to find out about others.

There is no definitive list of courses relevant to teaching assistants that offer CAT points. You can find out which universities and other organisations participate in the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme in your area from the relevant credit body:

The best way to find out about whether a particular course offers CAT points is to contact the provider. It is worth noting that CAT points are only relevant to qualifications at Level 4 and above, and so not all NVQs carry them.

I have NNEB, STAC and HLTA qualifications. Can I take advantage of these qualifications when progressing to teacher training?

To qualify as a teacher, you need GCSEs at grade C or above (or a recognised equivalent) in English and Maths. If you want to teach at KS3 or below, you will also need a GCSE at grade C or above (or a recognised equivalent) in Science. All teachers also need a UK degree or equivalent, but this can be gained while training as a teacher in undergraduate teacher training.

HLTA is a status rather than a qualification, and so is not part of the entry criteria for teacher training. However, it does demonstrate important skills and a commitment to education that will support your application. Likewise, the NNEB is not a requirement, but does demonstrate important skills.

The STAC that you hold is an undergraduate level course which can carry CAT (Credit Accumulation and Transfer) points, which could count towards gaining a degree. You will need to check with the institution you will be training at to see whether they will accept these.

There are many different routes into teacher training. You can find out more about these on the TDA (Training and Development Agency for Schools) Web site at http://www.tda.gov.uk/Recruit/thetrainingprocess.aspx

I am due to qualify as an HLTA in September. Does this qualification carry any degree credits?

HLTA is defined as a status, not a qualification. Unfortunately, this means that it does not carry any credits that can be used towards university qualifications. However, you will almost certainly find the skills that you have developed useful in further study, and some qualifications may allow you to reuse the evidence that you gathered to achieve HLTA status.

Is the Level 2 Children’s Care, Learning and Development NVQ equivalent to the Level 2 Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools NVQ?

Because both are Level 2 NVQs, they are roughly the same in terms of level of difficulty, amount of work and mode of assessment. However, the two cover different subject matter: the NVQ in care, learning and development focuses on supporting children’s development while the supporting teaching and learning NVQ is more focused on classroom skills.

If you are trying to choose which of the two is right for you, you should consider which is most relevant to your current role. If you are applying for a job that requires one of the two, you should contact the employer about whether the other NVQ would also be a suitable qualification.

I am a qualified HLTA and would like to go fully into teaching in primary school. I am very confused about the countless different ways and qualifications needed for this. I have GCSE in English and Maths but no degree. Do you have any advice?

There are a number of routes into teaching that you could consider; which one is best for you will depend on your situation and how you want to qualify. You need to consider whether you want to study full-time or part-time, and whether you want to study a degree first or as part of your teacher training.

The TDA Web site has a useful tool for finding suitable routes into teaching.

If you are still unsure, you can call their Teaching Information Line on 0845 6000 991.

I would very much like to pursue a career as a teaching assistant. I am therefore researching online courses to help gain a position and to be an effective member of staff from the start. Please could you advise me on a suitable, recognised qualification, and if possible a particular online college.

There are no specific qualifications that are required to be a teaching assistant, but employers should value your willingness to develop your skills. There are a number of qualifications that might be useful to you depending on your current level of qualifications and your interests.

Literacy, numeracy and ICT skills are highly valued in teaching assistants, so it is worth making sure that you feel confident in these areas and have evidence of your skills. If you are considering becoming a Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) once you start working, you should make sure that you have recognised qualifications (eg GCSEs grade A*-C) in english/literacy and maths/numeracy, since these are requirements for achieving HLTA status.

Many of the qualifications that are related to the teaching assistant role are vocational qualifications that can only be done while working in a school (although in most cases, this can be voluntary work). The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) has a useful section for looking up qualifications relevant to any school support role:

http://www.tda.gov.uk/support/cdf.aspx

This should give you some idea of what is available and which qualifications the Government recognises. Your local authority may also be able to recommend courses that are available nearby and tell you whether any particular qualifications are preferred by schools in your area.

Unfortunately, we cannot comment upon the quality of particular online courses. However, it is important to make sure that the online training provider will offer you the support that you need, a recognised qualification and good value for money. Compare what is available with your local colleges and try to speak directly to people who have taken the course about their experience.

I have a City & Guilds 7321/02 in Learning Support. Is this equivalent to a Level 3 NVQ?

The 7321/02 is a Level 3 certificate. This means that, while the qualifications are not exactly the same, it demonstrates a skill level equivalent to that of a Level 3 NVQ.

Employers and education providers can choose what qualifications they require, so it is worth contacting the organisation in question to see whether they will accept your qualification.

Schools

What are the National Occupational Standards for Teaching/Classroom Assistants?

National Occupational Standards define the range of activities that could normally be expected of a person performing a particular job role. It is not the case that any one individual should be able to meet all of the standards. However, if one section of the standards would fall under the job specification of an individual, these are the standards that would normally be expected of that person. National Occupational Standards are the criteria which are assessed as part of an NVQ programme.

The NVQ/SVQ for Teaching/Classroom Assistants has Level 2 and Level 3 versions. What is the difference?

A Level 2 qualification is equivalent in standard to a grade C or above at GCSE. A Level 3 qualification is equivalent in standard to a grade E or above at A-level.

In general terms, the Level 2 NVQ is a smaller, lower-level qualification which is suitable for new members of staff or staff with a more general role in the school. The Level 3 NVQ is more suitable for experienced staff or staff with a particular specialism.

Are there any NVQs for support staff other than teaching assistants?

There are many NVQs to cover specific job titles (eg administration). A directory of NVQs and the associated standards is available on the Skills for Business Web site.

How do I access external funding to pay for support staff training?

The main funding body for adult learning in the UK is the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). The LSC is able to fund a range of vocational programmes for staff, usually on a matched funding basis. The LSC has contracts with a series of brokers who are charged with helping small and medium enterprises (which includes schools) to access LSC funding. Your regional LSC office will be able to put you in touch with a local broker. Details of regional LSC offices can be found on the LSC Web site.

Does NAPTA profiling require external verification?

No. NAPTA profiling examines the perceptions that staff have about themselves. It asks them about their level of confidence with respect to skills that may or may not form part of their current role. This is designed to provide insights into how they feel about their current performance, as well as the skills that they possess that they may not be utilising fully in their current role.

What if I disagree with the opinions of my staff?

Often the most valuable insights gained through the NAPTA profiling process are when the results for a member of staff differs from the view of the school management. Whether the opinion of the member of staff is better or worse than that of the management, a discussion as to why this disparity has occurred is often very productive.

Can the data be used to help me complete my SEF?

Yes. NAPTA profiling can produce quantitive data sets which inform many sections of the self-evaluation form. It also provides a demonstration that staff development plans are based on carefully-analysed data. A detailed mapping of NAPTA profiling to the SEF is available from NAPTA.

Do I need to repeat NAPTA profiling every year?

NAPTA profiling provides a snapshot of your staff at a particular point in time and so is of immediate value to schools. Additional value can be gained by schools repeating the process, and using the data to compare the perceptions of staff across time.

We currently have five non-teaching (associate) heads of year. We will be taking on a trainee head of year to work alongside this team for one year and will obviously be providing a training programme for them. What are the possibilities of having such a training post accredited?

Depending on the content of your training programme and the nature of the trainee head of year’s role, there are a number of qualifications and accreditation options that you could add alongside the training.

For example, the Level 3 Support Work in Schools qualification (SWiS) offers opportunities to accredit skills used in the workplace and contains a number of units that might be relevant to your trainee’s role. INTEC’s SWiS Programme is a cost-effective way to offer this qualification in school.

If your trainee head of year has management responsibilities, it may also be worth considering INTEC’s Support Staff Team Leaders Development Programme.

Both programmes are endorsed by CACHE and use accreditation models based on gathering evidence in school. For more information about either programme, contact INTEC on 01223 224929 or at info@intec.ac.uk.

There may also be colleges or universities in your area that offer relevant part-time courses.

Local authorities

What are the strengths and weaknesses of asking staff to self-assess?

Self-assessment is by far the most cost-effective way of generating large sets of labour market intelligence. This allows for a greater proportion of budgets to be reserved for CPD for staff.

In addition, asking staff to make self-assessment judgements makes it possible to gather information not only about the skills that they currently demonstrate as part of their job roles, but also about their potential to develop and any untapped skill sets that they might have.

Most people have a fairly realistic view of their relative strengths and weaknesses. Although the personalities and circumstances of individuals may have a small effect on their self-perception, across a large set of results (eg for a local authority) this tends to even out. Distributing the data to staff via the schools ensures that the results can be appropriately mediated through the member of staff’s line management.

Self-perception data can lead to discrepancies between the opinion of the member of staff and their line managers. However, such discrepancies often indicate the most useful results. The discussions between staff and their managers which subsequently arise frequently stimulate a change in role or support for the member of staff, or an opportunity to undertake professional development.

Which standards are assessed in the NAPTA Workforce Development Programme?

The NAPTA Workforce Development Programme uses national standards as benchmarks against which the perceptions of staff are analysed. The standards include:

  • National Occupational Standards for Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
  • NVQ/SVQ for Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
  • National Workload Agreement
  • Professional Standards for HLTAs
  • Award/Certificate in Support Work in Schools
  • Adult Literacy Core Curriculum
  • Adult Numeracy Core Curriculum
  • National Occupational Standards for IT Users
  • DCSF Induction Programme
  • Using ICT to Support Learning
  • Support Staff Team Leaders Development Programme.
Can staff self-assess if they are unfamiliar with the standards against which they are judging themselves?

Yes. The NAPTA Workforce Development Programme uses a non-linear mapping process. This involves breaking down each of the standards into the specific skills and pieces of knowledge that underpin them. Staff are asked to make judgements about these underlying skills and pieces of knowledge, not the standards themselves. NAPTA then employs a complex mapping process to report back against each of the standards.

Can I find out staff skills relating to Every Child Matters and the Common Core?

Members of staff can be profiled against the Common Core by using a tool developed by our partner organisation, the Cambridge Institute of Technology (INTEC) – ECM Profile. This can be used to give a detailed picture of the skills and knowledge of any member of staff who is in contact with children or young people as part of their job. Details of ECM Profile can be found on INTEC’s Web site at www.intec.ac.uk.

Can the data gathered as part of the Workforce Development Programme inform completion of the APA/JAR?

Self-assessment is an important feature of Annual Performance Assessment (APA) and the Joint Area Reviews (JARs). Part C of the self-assessment template requires the local authority to show how ‘current priorities for action are founded on an analysis of need’. The Ofsted guidance for completing part C of the self-assessment template states that it should include answers to the following questions:

  • How did you undertake your analysis of need and reach your decisions on priorities?
  • How far have gaps in provision been met through the commissioning of new services? How have you sustained and adapted existing services to meet new needs?
  • To what extent did you use the full range of data, including local information?

The Workforce Development Programme generates data which can be used to demonstrate the local authority’s answers to these questions. A detailed mapping of the Workforce Development Programme to the APA/JAR criteria is available on request from NAPTA.

How much access to the school data does the local authority have?

For those local authorities that are leading the Workforce Development Programme as a partner of NAPTA, detailed analysis on a whole-authority or cluster basis is automatically provided. Where the Workforce Development Programme is run independently of the local authority, data protection legislation dictates that permission has to be sought by the local authority from participating schools before their data can be shared.

What impact is the NAPTA Workforce Development Programme likely to have on local authority CPD?

The Workforce Development Programme enables the local authority to more closely align its continuing professional development (CPD) provision to the perceived needs of staff in its schools.

Schools that engage in the Workforce Development Programme are in a better position to make informed decisions about which members of support staff would benefit from particular training programmes. They are usually also stimulated to undertake in-house provision and/or to participate in local authority-led training.

NAPTA, Chesterton Mill, French’s Road, Cambridge CB4 3NP — tel 01223 224930 — fax 01223 224934 — email info@napta.org.uk