Classroom assistant roles and deployment models: an international scoping review

Una O'Connor, Caroline Courtney, Alison Montgomery, Allison Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Downloads (Pure)


The aim of this scoping review is to explore wider international literature to contextualise the role and deployment of classroom assistants in Northern Ireland. A paucity of research in this regional context has severely constrained understandings of a pivotal workforce in mainstream schools, so the review is unique in its contribution to redressing a significant knowledge gap. A review of studies published between 2012 and 2022 returned 135 unique hits which, after applying inclusion and exclusion criteria, yielded 41 final studies. Coding these studies to emerging categories brought to light diverse and complex challenges in the role and deployment of Classroom Assistants as well as recommendations for alternative approaches. Four interlinked roles were identified: pedagogical, pastoral, behavioural and organisational. Deployment models were categorised around withdrawal, itinerant, unit, one-on-one and class support. Findings revealed prevailing systemic, structural and individual challenges that confounded a coherent understanding of this workforce. The contribution of this paper is two-fold. Firstly, it raises essential questions on, and suggests ways forward for, the CA workforce in NI that will be of use to policy makers, practitioners and educational researchers. Secondly, a contemporary update to the growing body of knowledge on assistants and their place within mainstream settings will be of use generally and to other jurisdictions where the topic is similarly under-researched.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalEducational Review
Early online date17 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 17 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Classroom Assistant
  • Role
  • Deployment
  • Challenge
  • Mainstream schools
  • role
  • Classroom assistant
  • challenge
  • mainstream schools
  • deployment


Dive into the research topics of 'Classroom assistant roles and deployment models: an international scoping review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this