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Career change - Male Teaching Assistant

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by DanManUK, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. Hello,
    I'm a 38 year old man and I've been working in IT for over ten years now - although I enjoy IT I am finding my role increasingly stressful and so I've been thinking a lot about a career change for some time now. My thoughts keep tending towards a teaching assistant role and maybe one in the special needs area as I feel I would find this most rewarding.
    I understand that a TA's pay is not very much and I'm willing to sacrifice the cut in pay that I would be taking if I were to gain a TA role. I have some GCSEs and an OND in Engineering from when I went to back to college at 18 (If I did become a TA then I may utilise the extra free time this would give me by possibly doing an OU degree with a view to pursuing another career in the future, maybe even becoming a teacher.).
    Could anyone please offer me any advice given my circumstances (feel free to ask me any other questions if I've missed out any vital information) on a route into becoming a TA, what downsides/barriers to expect or any general advice from any male teaching assistants who were in a similar situation to mine?
    Many thanks,
  2. Dan, Think very carefully before committing to this.
    I am a male a bit older than you granted, I have a degree and BTEC level 2 in Supporting Teaching and learning.
    The TA job market is extremely competitive. Consider this, 70 or so apply for a job. Then you discover someone in the school already has been earmarked for that job after you have been interviewed. I have heard of this happening and all other senarios along the way.
    I might sound bitter and I do not want to put you off but the one thing I have found through experience is that the TA job market is NOT a level playing field.
    Furthermore do not let people tell you that they are "crying out for male TA's" because they will and they are not.
    I could go on but I am trying to give you a clear picture of the current situation but should mention that most roles are part time and dependant on continued funding.
    Finally I am not trying to reduce the competition with these remarks as I am on the verge of giving up.
    Hope this helps in some way
  3. chocolateworshipper

    chocolateworshipper Occasional commenter

    Hi Dan. I am in my second year of being a TA after over 10 years in the IT industry! IT experience is certainly useful, and you generally need GCSE in maths and english. Competition for TA jobs can be fierce, but it can vary by LEA. Your chances will also vary depending on the views of the HT - my head certainly sees an advantage in employing TAs with experience in industry. We don't have any male TAs in my school, but I would certainly HOPE that your chances are equal. Personally, I think it would be extremely beneficial to have more males in our primary school (whether teacher or TA).

    One thing that helped me was having some voluntary experience. Luckily I was part-time in IT, and was able to devote some time helping out at my daughter's school listening to children read. I don't know whether that is going to be a possibility for you. Otherwise, maybe getting involved with children in some other way - either with football coaching at weekends, or if you have children yourself, if their school runs a Saturday youth club or something similar?

    There is a thread on here with lots of advice for TA interviews - so do have a good look through there. Feel free to ask me any additional questions, and good luck!
  4. glenn_xp

    glenn_xp New commenter

    Hi Dan.
    I echo everything the previous two posters said.
    Have you done any work in a school before? either paid of voluntary? If not, you really need to spend a bit of time in a school; 1. to make sure you actually like it, and 2. to build up a little bit of experience to help with applications. All vacancies attract a lot of candidates so you need to have something to show them how well you can work in a classroom environment.
    Also make sure you fully understand how much you're going to be paid. Pay is usually pro rata for 25 to 30 hrs a week for 39 weeks a year plus whatever holiday pay the LA allow to be added. (which is also pro rata dont forget.) In short, we get paid peanuts.
    It may be that looking for specific ICT Teaching Assistant roles might swing the tables in your favour. As a few schools do have a TA to specialise in ICT to support in the classroom and run lunchtime clubs as well as help out with techy stuff with the school's systems and network too.
  5. I am volunteering in a primary school and taking a level 2 TA course. I am male and I love the job, it's great knowing you are making a difference. In terms of jobs, I live in an area where 90% of schools are academies which is the highest in the country - so its worth considering this because your local council will not be advertising if the school is an academy.
    I am the youngest TA in the school, as well as being the only male so I sometimes find it difficult to get my point across.
    You seem to have some good qualifications, but I would look into taking a TA course. Most courses only take 7/8 months to complete but you will need a placement usually for a day a week in school.
  6. I was a secondary physics teacher until redundancy. being UPS £ and in my mid-fifties put me right at the back when trying to get another job. I tried agencies for supply work but nothing came of it. I was advised to try for CS and TA positions, as I was told that schools would jump at a QT working for TA rates, especially as I was male. I have had one or two days and half days as a TA but nothing really. Getting a TA job is very difficult because it tends to be 'who you know', more so than teaching.
  7. Many thanks for all of your responses so far.

    I haven't done any voluntary work in a school - so I guess I should look into this before making any definitive decision and then take it from there - maybe doing a TA course if I like it.

    If I were to go into a TA role then I think I would prefer, and get more out of it, to work in a SEN school. I'm also going to look for an ICT role within a school but these are very few and far between so competition will be fierce here too.

    I've only been in my new current office IT role for a couple of months now so I will see how this goes for a while and If I still feel the same in six months then I'll hopefully make a decision then. But I'll still look into voluntary work for a day or two a month if my employer will allow that at some point in the near future.


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