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Exploring the role of the learning support assistant: a case study of an English special school

Sae Kang, H. (2019) Exploring the role of the learning support assistant: a case study of an English special school. EdD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00086006


While the number of Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) in schools continues to rise, ambiguities persist in relation to their role and function within the teaching profession. Although there has been previous research exploring the nature and purpose of LSAs in mainstream schools, very little is known about LSAs within the context of special schools. This is surprising, especially given the high ratio of LSAs to teachers in such schools and how important they are perceived to be in supporting children’s learning and development. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to address this knowledge gap and explore how the role of the LSA is perceived and experienced within a UK special school. This is a qualitative case study, framed within the interpretivist paradigm. Through questionnaires (n=11), interviews (n=11) and documentary analysis, the perspectives and experiences of LSAs, teachers and senior leaders were explored in relation to the three inter-related concepts of professional identity, continuing professional development, and organisational culture. These data were analysed using established thematic analysis techniques. The findings from this research suggest that there are intricate relationships at play between the LSAs, teachers and senior leaders within the case study school. While LSAs felt that they could begin to develop their professional identities through initial training and clearly articulated roles and responsibilities, the perceived place in which they viewed themselves within the school’s organisational culture poses challenges in the ongoing relationships between senior leaders and the LSAs, creating complex sub-cultures within the institution and offering challenges for on-going CPD provision. In highlighting key implications for professional practice and enabling middle and senior leaders to reflect upon their current approach to on-going CPD opportunities for LSAs, it is claimed that the findings of this study offer a significant contribution to education knowledge.

Item Type:Thesis (EdD)
Thesis Supervisor:Floyd, A. and Tissot, C.
Thesis/Report Department:Institute of Education
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education
ID Code:86006


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