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Switch from Secondary Teaching to Secondary TA..?

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by Amyglanville3, Feb 23, 2020.

  1. Amyglanville3

    Amyglanville3 New commenter

    I'd be really grateful for ANY advice..I'm a qualified secondary school English teacher, although my most recent experience was teaching Media to KS4 and KS5. I have 7 years classroom experience but having had three kids, I've not now worked for five years and before that worked part-time for a couple of years.
    I want to return to work but I'm unsure about what role and what training to pursue. I'm happy to take the next year to retrain/brush up, before applying for jobs. I have plenty of volunteering experience at my kids' primary - literacy support, SATs help, running book/reading groups - but think I'd be happier working back in the secondary sector.
    Probably like many people, I am attracted to the shorter hours of a TA, although I know it's still a tough job (for not very good pay). Has anyone made this switch? Are there actually many TA roles in secondary schools in your experience? I understand that they are often cut with tight budgets.
    I've been looking at online training, both NCFE Level 3 Certificate Supporting Teaching and Learning and HLTA qualification (though I understand that I need to be already working in a TA role for this)..
    Just not sure how I'll be viewed applying for TA roles. Maybe it's best I just start by volunteering in a local secondary?
    Many thanks in advance!
  2. smurphy6

    smurphy6 Senior commenter

    You will most likely find that you will be employed as a TA but over time find yourself being used as a teacher - cover - so end up doing the job of a teacher (with all the planning and marking that entails) for the wages of a TA. This happens a lot. As soon as they know you have QTS their eyes will light up. Get a teaching job. You trained for years so get paid the right wage.
    minnie me, sbkrobson and agathamorse like this.
  3. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    TA pay is even lower than you probably realise.

    The quoted figure may well be something like (I am inventing here) £18,000 per annum pro-rata.

    That means that you would get that amount if you worked the number of hours per week (probably 35-40) as the administrative staff at County Hall or equivalent. But you won't.

    And also if you worked the same number of weeks per year (52 minus legal holidays, not school holidays). Which you certainly will not.

    So that €18k gets a double reduction.

    Dire pay, and as the other poster points out, you'll be misused as a teacher the moment they need one.

    Sign up to do exam marking to show you are familiar with the current curriculum. Do supply work, to get used to the classroom again. Then start applying, with a strong application that sets out your strengths, including those strengths, skills and abilities shown in supply work and motherhood.

    There is excellent advice to be found on Applying for a teaching job, make use of it when the time is right!

    Best wishes

  4. Amyglanville3

    Amyglanville3 New commenter

    Wow, many thanks and apologies for the slow response. I really appreciate the advice on next steps, thank you.
    Your case for teaching rather than TA is persuasive but I'm still wondering if anyone out there can put a case for taking on a TA role? Is anyone an ex- teacher with positive experience of being a TA?
    One concern I have about TAs is their perceived status in secondary schools ( in my experience I've found them more on a parr with teachers in primary schools). I remember how in my secondary staff room the TAs would always sit together and apart from the teachers at lunch etc. Does this division still exist or am I way out of line with this?!
    Thank you again.
  5. JickJack

    JickJack New commenter

    I went from teacher to TA for a few years when the kids were little, I worked at my kids primary school. I enjoyed the job, we did interventions in the afternoon which we planned and resourced which helped fulfil the creative teacher side of me. We were very much seen as another resource though, and talked about as that in meetings. Class teachers knew they were lucky to have us (cuts meant if someone left they weren't replaced), but management weren't very respectful in our school and the atmosphere was rather toxic when I decided the money wasn't worth being treated like rubbish.
    The upside is no or very little planning, no taking work home and the holidays. I think if you know it's a short term thing then it's ok, but it's also frustrating at times because your inner teacher wants to burst out and do it your way. Also, you can't be part of the teachers pension scheme if you work as a TA so that might be worth beating in mind.
    agathamorse and TheoGriff like this.
  6. Zena10

    Zena10 New commenter

    I have spent the last decade as a teaching assistant and a higher level teaching assistant at secondary schools. I loved it. The pay is not good, but the holidays and no planning/work in the evenings/weekends. I initially did this while my children were young, but I stayed because I love the variety of work/students. I am a qualified teacher too, but much prefer being a TA as I have had a great experience of working with great teachers and work closely with an working in different subject areas (this is sometimes a challenge in itself!). In secondary I have the pleasure of taking intervention groups too. Hope this goes someway to helping.
  7. Amyglanville3

    Amyglanville3 New commenter

    Thanks again, all really helpful.
    Did you do any training Zena10 for your TA role or just learn on the job? Because I’m not in an immediate rush to return to work I’ve been looking at online courses for gaining a Level 3 or Level 4 certificate but perhaps with a QTS these are a waste of money? I might just approach local secondary schools directly and ask their advice- and then maybe try to do some general supply from September and see what role seems like the best fit! I find the thought of teaching English again slightly scary; not so much the classroom management etc but more subject knowledge, and god help me, ICT skills. Need to borrow a few instructive books o
    from the library! Thank you.
  8. Zena10

    Zena10 New commenter

    Hi Amyglanville3. I had no experience at all when i started, but i know things may have changed. However, I learnt on the job and was sent on courses by my schools. My school put me through the HLTA training which was hard going - but then I had not experienced teacher training at that point!! Getting some experience in a school sounds like a good plan and maybe doing supply. I don't think I want to go into teaching - I love the support role too much.I really hope you find the right role for you at this point in time.
  9. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    A few years ago, an ex-colleague, who had been 'eased out' of the same school as me, despairing of getting another teaching job, applied for an HLTA position, in a secondary school. The school liked the cut of his jib but told him that he would need to undertake a training course to gain a level something-or-other qualification, in tandem with the job, for which to the school would have to seek funding. The school then claimed that it could not get the funding, as he already had QTS, which was a higher level qualification. This sounded nonsensical, as why would anyone with a PGCE, QTS, and decades of experience need additional training to be a TA, or an HTLA?
  10. molly147

    molly147 New commenter

    Hi all, I would be grateful for any advice. Not sure if this is the right forum. I have a teaching qualification but after I got the degree I decided to work in a non teaching profession for a few years. Then I wanted a career change and taught EAL. I got a job in an independent school covering maternity leave and have been working as a primary year teacher for a few years. I enjoy the work. But the reality is I do not have QTS status as I did not do my NQT in the UK. I would like to eventually teach in middle school but have no experience yet. I am applying for teaching jobs as a primary school teacher in other larger independent schools in the hope that I have more opportunities but no luck. I know there can be a number of reasons or the lack of QTS the big problem ? but how can I make my CV stronger. Or moving from primary to middle school is too difficult? Thank you in advance for any advice.

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