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From PGCE to TA! Advice please!

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by hotchoc23, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. Hi everyone

    I wondered if you could give me some advice!

    I recently completed a Primary PGCE. I graduated and was fortunate enough to land a job in a Primary school teaching year 3/4. Initially I was I was so pleased but quickly felt very overwhelmed, anxious, down and I was losing sleep and confidence quickly. I decided to tell the head and although they would have liked me to stay I (and the head) decided that the best thing would be to cancel my contract. I have no regrets as I have to think about my health and what makes me happy.

    After hours of thoughts and talking with family I have decided that the role for me would be TA with extra responsibilities or HLTA. After registering with agencies I am hoping to start supply TA work next week. I am applying for various HLTA roles and 2 headteachers have told me that the PGCE is a teaching qualification therefore this translates to HLTA qualifications.

    Anyway... I was just wondered if anyone else has gone down a sililar route to me? Is it very difficult to get HLTA roles? Do you think I will be frowned upon because I 'gave up' teaching? I don't want to give up education and working with children as I abslutely love it, I just think I will be happier and better in a different role where I can work with individuals/groups. I am a big believer that happy teachers/TAs = happy children.

    I hope someone has some words of wisdom! It has been a challenging 3 weeks and I havn't really spoken to anyone who has followed in these footsteps!

    Many thanks!
  2. I haven't been in your situation so can't really give any advice, just wanted to say that I hope things work out for you, as you've obviously given this a great deal of thought. Hope you find a job soon that you enjoy.
  3. Thank you so much. That's really kind!
  4. Thank you so much. That's really kind!
  5. cally4

    cally4 New commenter

    I am aware of a few qualified teachers working in secondary as learning coaches. Its no ones business really, if you are happy to take the pay cut I cant see how it will be a problem. I am all for highly qualified TAs. Good luck
  6. Hi in our school the HLTA takes whole classes, booster classes, G&T as well as occasionally supporting in class. She trains TA's at our meetings and is a mentor to new TA's. She is always really busy!! I think what I'm trying to say is she possibly works as hard as the teachers, and she has a great deal of responsibility.

    I, on the other hand, am a TA and have a lovely job with some 1:1, supporting in class, working with small groups, displays, etc, etc. Im not sure how easy it would be to get a HLTA job, as often the school only pays for one HLTA even if there are other suitably qualified staff.

    If you didnt find a HLTA job it might be possible to get a TA job and work your way up quite quickly? You'd also get the experience and confidence along the way which would complement your qualification.

  7. Please don't take this the wrong way!

    I am just unsure as to whether a PGCE can immediately translate to a HLTA - they may well be similar but often a HLTA comes as a result of working for a good few years as a TA and a gradual accumulation of knowledge and skills in that role - andI do wonder whether a degree followed by a PGCE will give you the same preparation.

    All views would be welcome!

  8. cally4

    cally4 New commenter

    I suppose some might argue that as a qualified teacher they would be suitably qualified. If they arequalified to take responsibility for the class and any staff deployment within such a class then it seems reasonable to suppose they could do a TA post. We all have a learning curve of some sorts, its the under pinning skills you get from the training that allow you to take on new roles whether its teaching in a new key stage or working in a slightly different role, albeit one that still is primarily to advance learning. I am in a setting with 6 NQTs at the mo all learning on the job really, but they have had the training to get them thro the first post! HLTA is awarded when u meet most but not all of the standards demanded for NQT status.I am a TA not a teacher,and its just one view, I could be wrong. Cally
  9. Well, I would agree with you, teabag. I don't think that the TA role is at all like a teacher's role, even though a good TA will be teaching the children s/he works with. I have said this before, but I'll say it again! I think that the essence of the TA role is to provide support for the most needy and vulnerable children (not exclusively so, but as a main focus). They can do this by forming a unique relationship with them (which is not possible for a class teacher) because a TA doesn't work with a full class, so has time for them. Time in which to really get to know them, to develop really effective strategies (both for helping them to access learning, and for managing behaviour if need be. Time to really get to know a child's strengths and weaknesses and to develop a trusting, non-judgemental, relationship in which the child feels confident that their 'failures' won't be laughed at and that their small successes will be genuinely celebrated. A relationship which gives them the confidence to attempt far more than they would have believed possible. ( I could ramble on for longer, but I hope you get my drift...)

    I don't think that these skills can be acquired overnight, nor by just taking on board lots of theory. I think that they have to be developed by experience and use. I think that these are the skills which every TA should be acquiring and which should be outstanding in anyone aspiring to HLTA.
    A degree plus PGCE won't have got anyone anywhere near developing these skills. Experience with small groups, individuals and in class support; with a different hat on from a 'teacher's' is really vital.

    But of course, the TDA, who developed the HLTA standards just see an HLTA as a pale imitation of a teacher, so they don't think that the skills I've outlined are really necessary! I should think that an ex PGCEr would have a good chance of getting 'early' HLTA status[​IMG]

  10. Ophelia 9

    Ophelia 9 New commenter

    On behalf of a previous poster I contacted the TDA regarding the equivalence of qualifications for HLTA and they said that QTS would supercede HLTA status but there was no mention of PGCE doing so - would therefore suspect that the original poster may still have to jump through the HLTA hoops before actually being employed in such a post! In our LEA it is no longer possible to be appointed to an HLTA position without already holding the status and I believe this is true of a number of authorities now.

    I agree with the previous poster who pointed out that HLTA is not necessarily a much easier option than teaching - whilst not having full-time responsibility for a class many HLTAs have a role as a subject leader and both management and pedagogical responsibilities too - I wouldn't change my job with a class teacher but it is not without its share of stress!
  11. I didn't mean to reply to this individual post but I still havn't worked out how to respond in a forum gnerally (rather than to a specific previous post!)

    Thank you so much for the responses, I do have QTS but havn't completed NQT year so I still need to check whether this = HLTA status.

    Also just wanted to say I never thought for one minute that being an HLTA would be 'easier' than being a class teacher. Simply different and something I am very interested in and after lenghty conversations with teachers/headteachers/TAs I feel the role would be much more suited to me. I felt very frustrated when teaching and not being able to dedicate time to children in which to really get to know them, to develop really effective strategies, really get to know a child's strengths and weaknesses and to develop a trusting and non-judgemental relationship. This is where I believe my strengths lie and im sure I could use my skills to develop these strengths professionally.

    Buildig a trusting and positive relationship in which children gain confidence is why I trained to be a teacher in the first place, and I found i hard to 'spread myself thinly' as class teacher. I am not saying the role of HLTA is harder or easier than class teacher, I know HLTA have a huge amount of responsibility and stress and this does drive me. HLTA/ TA is simply an option I am very keen to explore which is why I am asking for your pearls of wisdom!

    Thanks again everyone and I welcome more advice/experiences from others.
  12. You can't have QTS if you haven't completed your NQT year, but that, in a way, is bye the bye.
    Yes, but my point is that you really don't know (and neither does anyone else) how good you are at doing this until you have actually done it, over a reasonable period of time, with a variety of children.

    Not that my view of this is particularly important or relevant; I'm just an experienced HLTA! We have at least 3 'HLTAs' at our school who don't have this ability at all and who dismiss all children with problems as 'lazy', but they satisfied the Standards....

    P.S. It really doesn't matter which post you 'reply' to. They've all got a 'reply' button and whatever you post will be the last post in the thread. It's just that if you want to quote something from a post it's easiest to 'reply' to that post, highlight what you want to quote and press the 'quote' button. If you want to quote from more than one post I suppose you'd have to cut and paste all the bits you want into Word and then paste it all back into the 'reply' window. How very tedious this new look TES is[​IMG]

  13. Hi Hotchoc

    I've had the same experience as you and understand exactly how you feel. I have been looking for a TA job for some time now. The competition is fierce for any TA jobs that are advertised. I've come second twice, which is galling. A lot of schools don't advertise so if you can volunteer in a couple of schools per week you'll get your face known. Supply work should help as well for getting yourself known. Talking to people HLTA jobs seem to be just as hard as teaching jobs but you get paid less! Also from what I understand HLTA is not a qualification but a status that the HT can give you if s/he sees fit to do so once you've met all the criteria of a HLTA. Those criteria are very similar if not the same to those required for QTS, which we both achieved on completing a PGCE. I'm looking for a TA job because I want to be back in the classroom, but hopefully with less stress than before.

    At interviews people have been fine when I explain that I was working very long hours with a young family but am still very keen to work in schools. Make sure you highlight the positives about yourself. You were obviously a good teacher otherwise you'd not have got the job in the first place.

    Good luck

  14. Hi Smudge

    Thank you so much for posting, its great to find someone in the same position. I am registered with 2 (and am registering with a third tomorrow!) supply agencies who are aware of my situation. Hopefully I will start supply TA work soon so that should give me more of an idea of the role and I will get myself known.

    If you don't mind me asking are you currently doing supply TA work?

    Thanks again and good luck with it all.

  15. No, I'm not doing TA supply. I did a little teaching supply before I got my job, however I couldn't bear spending days on end waiting for the phone to ring, not knowing how far I was going to have to travel and having to go at a drop of a hat! But it was good money! It'll give you lots of insight into different schools which I think is a good thing.

    Good luck


  16. Hiya,

    I just wanted to write back to you as I am in exactly the same situation as you! I have recently completed my PGCE course, after believing from a young age that I wanted to be a teacher.I have now decided to take a year out to gain more experience, as like you, I felt extremely overwhelmed with everything teaching involves. I am exactly the same, I don't want to give up working with children, as that was the aspect of teaching that I most enjoyed and the reason I decided to do a PGCE course, but I now realise that there are so many jobs which involve working with children and supporting them which don't necessarily mean being a teacher. I too have thought about gaining some experience as a TA, and have also thought about the role of HLTA.

    I have thought so much about all the different jobs which I could do with my PGCE and like you wondered if a PGCE would enable me to take on a HLTA role. I called a school which advertised a post for HLTA, and explained that I had recently completed my PGCE course and was told that the job specifically states that HLTA staus is required.

    I hope everything's going well, and I definately agree that you shouldn't have any regrets, at the end of the day, like you said, you have to think about what makes you happy, I don't have any regrets about my choice either, and like you feel that enjoying your job and your happiness is more important.

    There is no point doing something you're not completely happy with, nothing is worth stress and upset especially when you know you would be much better suited to a different role, as I feel that I am.

    If you have found any more information about this, I would be grateful if you would let me know. Have you found much work through the agencies as a TA, how are you finding it?

    Good luck!
  17. Hi there PollyTMc

    Thank you so much for posting, it makes me feel so beter chatting to people who feel the same and are in the same position! I definately have no regrets and absolutley love working with children, but like you said, maybe the role of class teacher is not the one for me.

    How are you gettin along with your applications etc? I havn't had any TA supply work yet but apparently I have to wait until I am 'cleared' (meaning all my references have come back). Fingers crossed I will get some work soon. How about you? Are you supplying?

    The best of luck to you.

  18. Hi Hotchoc,

    I know what you mean, it makes me feel better to chat to people in the same situation too, as everyone else seems to have gone straight into jobs and I felt I was the only one that hadn't.

    I'm not supplying at the moment, I have seen some different roles that I've been interested in, like family support worker and learning mentor, so I'm thinking of applying for them, but again, it's having the qualifications which they require, but we'll see, hopefully something will come up soon. Have you applied for any other jobs?

    I have thought about supplying, but am still unsure, as I think if I'm going to have a change, I may aswell have a complete change from teaching, then in another way, I think it might be a good option to build up my experience of teaching, and it might be nice to work in a variety of schools, rather than just one. Are you thinking of doing supply?


  19. mancminx

    mancminx New commenter

    Best wishes Hotchoc.

    hope all is going well.


  20. Hello, just wanted to say I completely know where you are coming from. I qualified from my PGCE in July and although I was determined to see it through it damn near killed me. I absolutely love working with children, but the stress of being in such a leading role was so far out of my comfort zone and I became so overwhelmed and anxious by the end of the course. I haven't yet found a perm teaching position and am awaiting supply work, but recently I've really been considering HLTA or Learning Mentor avenues which I am starting to think I'd be much happier doing. THere are so many other ways of working with children that didn't occur to me (sounds ignorant I know!). My family and friends think I'm just lacking confidence after several failed interviews, and I should stick with it. I've been reduced to tears so many times about it all!! Feedback from interviews is always the same - great reactions from the children but ultimately not confident enough. I'm so proud I completed the PGCE, but wonder if I should really stick with something that makes me so anxious and unhappy. I guess LSA supply is the only way to find out really...hope we both find jobs we're happy in! Would love to find out how you get on - leave your email address if you fancy chatting it through any more!

    Best wishes,

    Bec x

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