Page: 200-211 Author: Němec, Z., Šimáčková-Laurenčíková, K., Hájková, V. Key words: teacher’s assistant, pupil with special educational needs, inclusive education, basic school
The profession of teacher’s assistant is acquiring greater importance in society currently, particularly with the growth in the number of pupils with special educational needs who are being educated in ordinary schools. All the same, many uncertainties and obscurities still abound in the field of the employment and deployment of teacher’s assistants – their own education and training may be very heterogeneous, there are no detailed methodological materials defining the content of the work of an assistant, and the law is very loose in its definition of the space for indirect educational activity by assistants. Selected research studies have been showing that imprecise definition of the work of teaching assistants may reduce the effectiveness of their work. The authors of the article present some of the results of a research survey conducted with support from the Grant Agency of Charles University: in largely qualitatively orientated interviews with assistants, teachers and pupils, the study focused on desirable changes in the work of assistant seen through the eyes of the three different categories of respondent. Assistants see room for positive change particularly in conditions of employment – they would welcome better pay and more contractual hours, but would also like better co-operation with teachers and advisory staff and a clearer definition of competences. Teachers and pupils too would prefer assistants to have more work hours – more time could be used to develop a better level of communication between the assistant and the teacher and for concrete tasks in support of the pupil. Teachers also felt they would benefit from a clearer definition of the role of the assistant in teaching. On the basis of the research results, practical recommendations have been formulated, specifically: increase in the contractual hours worked by assistants, more space for assistants to engage in indirect educational work, better training of teachers for co-operation with assistants (in the form of DVPP courses and inclusion of the theme in the university education of teachers), better guidance provided to assistants by advisory workers, the involvement of pupils with special needs in the process of decision-making on the content of the work of assistants.