Scaffolding as a key role for teaching assistants: Perceptions of their pedagogical strategies

David Bowles, Julie Radford*, Ioanna Bakopoulou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
2067 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Inclusive education policies have led to a worldwide increase in the number of teaching assistants (TAs) working in mainstream schools. TAs have a large amount of responsibility for supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), a role which by default has become instructional in practice, and for which training and preparation are rarely adequate. While there is some research into the nature of TAs' interactions with pupils and the strategies they use which are helpful for children's learning, TAs' perspectives on their own classroom practice have yet to be explored. Aims: To explore TAs' perceptions about their use of inclusive pedagogical strategies. Sample: The study involved eleven TAs in two mainstream primary schools. Methods: The TAs were interviewed face to face to explore their views about inclusive pedagogical strategies. The data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: TAs were clear about the strategies they use to offer emotional and relational support to children. There were some gaps, however, in their knowledge about how children learn, specifically in terms of transferring responsibility for learning onto children. Conclusion: The study advances understanding of scaffolding from a TA perspective and highlights the importance of training TAs in scaffolding theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-512
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date20 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018

Structured keywords

  • SoE Language Literacies and Education Network
  • SoE Centre for Psychological Approaches for Studying Education


  • classroom interaction
  • educational psychologists
  • pedagogy
  • scaffolding
  • teaching assistants


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