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Advice Needed - Becoming a TA

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by rowleyp1, Feb 17, 2020.

  1. rowleyp1

    rowleyp1 New commenter

    Hi everyone,

    I am 23 and have a degree however its not in a relevant subject (Sound Engineering BSc). I am looking to retrain and become a Teaching Assistant initially for a junior school age range 5-11.

    I am really struggling to get any info on how to actually become a TA, as far as I'm aware in England you don't need any formal qualification to become a TA (however it is desirable) but experience in the role is key.

    The trouble is I don't have any experience in working with children or within a TA role, to enroll on both distance learning and on site college courses I am required to be working a certain number of hours in role to be accepted.

    I have been pointed in the direction of being a supply Teaching Assistant and getting some experience that way, I have signed on to and agency and they have processed my DBS so that's all sorted, however I am slightly uncomfortable going straight into a supply TA role with no experience and no real idea of whats expected of me. They are aware I have no experience and have said there is no training they can help with.

    Having spoken to other agencies, they have said that the schools they work with don't accept anyone without qualifications and are unable to support an unqualified TA working whilst gaining a qualification.

    I have contacted a number of local schools with no response as yet, I am just really struggling to get out of this catch 22 situation.

    On top of this being 23, living with my partner and already having a degree, the funding for college courses is limited and I still need some sort of income to pay the bills.

    I really feel this is a career I will thrive in and I'm extremely keen to get started but I don't understand how I can get into it when the courses require you to be working and the schools expect me to me qualified? I am not opposed to voluntary work a couple of days a week or shadowing a TA so I can get used to what goes on etc.

    ANY help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for reading!
  2. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    Hi rowleyp1, sorry it's all proving so difficult to get started with your TA career! I've been working in schools for 30 years, as a HLTA in primary for the last 10 plus years. I've also been involved many times in interviewing and appointing new TAs, so have quite a lot of experience. You're right that it's almost impossible to get a TA post now without relevant qualifications - I know we wouldn't consider employing anyone - so it's great that you're wanting to study. If at all possible, I would try to go down the college route rather than distance learning. Do you have a local FE college which offers a Level 2 and 3 in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools? If so, make an appointment to talk to someone there. I know you have to find your own placement now, but a college should be able to advise you on which course will be most suitable for you and possibly which schools are happy to offer placements. You also might find that schools are more receptive if you can tell them you're actually enrolled on a course and need a placement for every Wednesday and Friday for two terms, or whatever you need.
    Another possibility is to contact your Local Authority - ours now offer Teaching Assistant apprenticeships. I don't know if there is an upper age limit, but it would be worth enquiring. I've mentored three apprentices; I think it's a great scheme. They spent four days a week in school and one at college - so they received a salary and free NVQ2 training. On successful completion, they were then able to apply for a second apprenticeship year to do their level 3.
    Best of luck, whatever you do.
  3. michaelastewart1

    michaelastewart1 New commenter

    Hi Sunshine, sorry for intruding but you have a lot of experience with recruitment and training and would be an ideal participant for my study. My name is Michaela Stewart and I am currently doing a Masters in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education of University College London. As part of my Master’s program, I am conducting research on the recruitment and training experiences of support staff working in mainstream schools and I would like to invite you to take part. If you would like to be a participant, please read and complete the consent form and begin the online survey: https://qtrial2020q1az1.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5zkywOS1bn1RNhX

    I am happy to discuss the study in more detail and answer any questions you may have. Please contact me via email michaela.stewart.18@ucl.ac.uk.
  4. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    I've done it - good luck with your studies.
  5. rolls

    rolls Occasional commenter

    If you have a degree some schools may employ you without a TA qualification. Normally I would say get experience volunteering in a school or youth group but that is almost impossible at the moment, However, there might be a need for volunteers in holiday projects over the summer. Get in touch with your local council and see if they have any volunteering opportunities. Also look online for free courses. These won’t give you qualifications but may give you an initial grounding in important issues such as safeguarding, behaviour management, health and safety etc.
  6. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    I am a little confused though by you wanting to be a TA but say you don't know what it entails. What do you know about the role already? Be aware that pay is not as good as it should be. So a TA on an £18k FTE will actually only get paid ~£11,250 before tax and NI over the year - assuming a 26 hour week over three terms.

    You will find if you apply to schools directly, many will not require you to have an NVQ to start as you have a degree. Jobs can usually be found in your local authorities teaching jobs web page. Looking at the LA's around me I can see quite a lot.

    Out of interest have you considered training to be a teacher (which you'd be able to get a loan for)?

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