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The workforce in English schools has changed over recent years; there are more categories of staff to be found in English schools and the relative sizes of the categories have altered. Alongside these changes, the Every Child Matters reform programme implies the need to pay attention to the importance of all categories of staff to the welfare of children. However, there has not hitherto been an adequate characterisation of the nature of the practice of workers other than teachers . This paper attempts to characterise the position of school workers other than teachers to better understand the distinctive nature of their practice. We focus on Teaching Assistants, Caretakers and Lunchtime Supervisors as three groups which are sufficiently different to enable us to develop a richer theoretical account of identity in the school workforce than has hitherto been available. We have argued elsewhere (Coldron and Smith, 1999) that a teacher’s practice and his or her development of that practice can best be understood as a process of active social location. In this paper, we apply the same theoretical understanding of practice to the work identities of these three groups of school staff. By better understanding the identities that their different positions and associated resources make available, we aim to provide a richer picture and a way of thinking of the work identities of staff in school who are not teachers, one that is not colonised by the ways of thinking about the higher status teacher group.

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