Celebrating Teacher Aides – new research shines a light on how teacher aides can make a big difference

Teacher aides can make a real difference for learners and have played a major part in our school system for more than 50 years.

New research from the Education Review Office, commissioned by Ministry of Education and NZEI Te Riu Roa, highlights how schools can best set up teacher aides for success by teacher aides and teachers working as a team in the classroom.

"With around 25,000 teacher aides across Aotearoa New Zealand, we need a team approach where whole schools get behind teacher aides,” says Ruth Shinoda, Head of ERO’s Education Evaluation Centre.

“Our latest research is all about recognising how teacher aides can have a big impact and celebrating ways we can support teacher aides to have the most impact on our learners.”

“For example, some schools are supporting Māori teacher aides to have a highly valued cultural and language expert role, where they support the knowledge and practices of staff and learners throughout the school.”

Traditionally, teacher aides worked side-by-side with students who needed extra help, and those learners didn’t spend much time with teachers or their friends. We now know that this is actually linked with poorer outcomes.

“We found that it is much better for learners to have times where they work with the classroom teacher, times where they work with a teacher aide, times when they work with their peers, and times working by themselves. This report sets out how to do this,” says Shinoda.

“We know that responding to the diversity of learners in classrooms takes teamwork. Teacher aides work at the heart of schools in diverse roles to meet the needs of a classroom, so it is important that school leaders and teachers value their expertise and include them in planning. It’s this sort of teamwork that enables and empowers teacher aides to make the biggest difference for learners.”

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Liam Rutherford welcomed the report and said that it further reinforced the long-held knowledge by teachers about the value of teacher aides to a classroom and why they are a vital part of the education system.

“It’s why NZEI Te Riu Roa continues to advocate for the inclusion of a teacher aide in every classroom alongside greater job stability and professional learning” he says.

“But what the report made clear was how important the collaboration and planning between teachers and teacher aides is getting the best results for our tamariki.”

"NZEI Te Riu Roa members will continue to advocate for more time in the system so that teachers and teacher aides can plan together in work time."

Teacher aides bring a wide range of skills to the classroom, we celebrate this, and ERO hope that this new research supports school leaders and teacher aides to work together in a way that helps learners thrive.

Ministry of Education Hautū (Leader) Operations and Integration Sean Teddy says the report outlines the benefits of both strong collaboration with and professional support for teacher aides which leads to positive outcomes for all students.

“We hope that this new research supports school staff and teacher aides to work together in a way that helps learners thrive.”