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Synergy in learning: promoting learner self-assessment — Redcar and Cleveland College

Principal focus of the project

Recognising that student support assistants (SSAs) are too often taken-for-granted and not fully exploited within college teaching and learning relationships Redcar and Cleveland College's Outstanding Teaching, Learning, and Assessment (OTLA 3) project from 2017 to 2019 focused on realising the potential of SSAs. The team used action research to promote more effective partnerships between teachers and SSAs.

Areas of learning
What is this about and what were the main findings?

Initial research activities included comparing SSAs’ and teachers’ experiences of student support with findings and guidance from published literature.  Fortnightly meetings and planned paired experimental approaches in classes, increased team cohesion and professional learning about what working together could achieve. Much existing advice about teachers and assistants relationships focuses on providing protected joint planning time, but the project team saw that while this might seem a good idea attempts at joint planning were often frustrated by practical realities. Instead, the project concentrated on in-class experiments by teacher and SSA pairings. These produced resources to stimulate attention to learners’ needs midway within lessons instead of when they finished. This highlighted learners’ progress during sessions so that SSAs and teachers could agree on approaches as lessons progressed and when challenges became apparent. This resulted in better in-class communication between learner, SSA, and teacher and meant the teacher could take and evaluate immediate action. Involving SSAs as equal participants with teachers in a research project supported the development of shared practice and more thoughtful discussions through which they continue to plan further improvements for learners. 

Number of participants who worked with the project
Name of associate programmes



Using action research to promote more effective partnerships between teachers and student support assistants.