Pond life that ‘know their place’ - Watson, D.; Bayliss, P.; Pratchett, G.
Pond life that ‘know their place’: exploring teaching and learning support assistants’ experiences through positioning theory.
Teaching and learning support assistants (TLSAs) are notoriously underpaid and undervalued as members of school workforces in England and elsewhere in the world, where the discourse of support has worked to legitimize their poor status. This article reports and explores empirical findings through the lens of positioning theory. This theoretical approach has revealed ways in which the positions occupied by TLSAs are consolidated in social acts and discursive practices that contribute to a narrative that is shared and understood by those positioned and those positioning. The multiplicity of, and sometimes competing, positions occupied by TLSAs are revealed through different readings of the collective storylines of pond life and knowing one’s place that determine a set of social and occupational practices. These serve to illustrate the discursive fights TLSAs were engaged in to assert their professionalism in schools and to challenge their low status.