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Teaching assistant - help or hinder your chance of getting on PGCE course?

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by Georgia99, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. Georgia99

    Georgia99 New commenter

    I am not a ITT provider so only speak anecdotally but when I studied for my PGCE last year, I would say that about 1/3 of students on the course has been working as either Teaching Assistants or Cover Supervisors.
    In my opinion it shows that you have experience in the school environment and have a better idea of what you are getting yourself in to!
  2. Hey,
    I think being a TA is a really good idea.
    I have been to two interviews now (awaiting on the outcome from my second now!) and most of the people interviewing with me had been TA's or had done some job in a school!
    If I don't get in this year I'll def be doing the same as you!
  3. I am a PGCE course leader and admissions tutor, and I can tell you that it's real advantage to have experience in a TA role when applying. It means you've got experience of the classroom, and by definition experience of working with children who find learning difficult. I favour applicants with this kind of experience, and they tend to do very well on the course, and are usually the first to find teaching jobs. Indeed, I've sometimes interviewed promising looking applicants for the course, rejected them because I felt they were not quite ready for PGCE, but told them in feedback that if they got a years TA experience under their belt and reapplied next year I would reconsider them. Those that have taken that advice have invariably been offered a place next time around.
  4. Thanks for the feedback everyone! Glad I'm not the only one who is considering the TA option at least I know it's the right thing to do. Thanks bobdog that was really usefu! Will feel happier applying for the job now if I have to do.
  5. I am in the middle of the application process for GTP and PGCE and have been struck by the number of other candidates at interviews working as TAs.
    I am also a 40+ carrer changer and don't currently work as a TA - although I've applied for many such positions. At one interview I was asked how I thought I would be able to cope with going from a management position to that of a lowly TA. - which seems to be bordering on age discrimination. On the otherhand the majority of TA positions seem to require an NVQ2 - which I don't have as I haven't got a position. Seems like the age old Catch-22 ....
    I totally understand why TA experience is valued but it seems so hard to get. Having taken redundancy I am quite prepared to make a finacial sacrifice for several years to get into teaching but with a family I simply cant afford to work for nothing as a volunteer in the hope that I'll be offered a TA role and then maybe a GTP some years down the line.
    Grrrr. Am I missing something ?
  6. StarbabyCat

    StarbabyCat New commenter

    If its secondary that you are going for, cover supervisor work is great experience. I've found it invaluable and I'm sure helped my application. I was unsuccessful last year and re applied to the same provider. You don't need any qualifications. I only work casually though, not great pay but I'm otherwise a full time mum so it suits me.
  7. Georgia99

    Georgia99 New commenter

    cjsherlock-I had not worked in schools before gaining my PGCE place. I phoned the SCITT who I trained with and they suggested that I complete a week's observation in a secondary school prior to interview. This was enough for me to gain a place so you can get on without having been a TA or CS.
    If you do need more school experience that and cannot secure a TA role, could you afford or do you have any time that you could volunteer in a school for a day each week?
    Some schools do ask for NVQ for a TA role but I have seen lots of roles for both TA's and CS that do not ask for any qualifications or previous experience. I think the problem is at the moment that there are so many unemployed teachers that they are going for these roles with the hope of getting their foot in the door and it means that there is high competition for these positions.
  8. Thanks for the advice.
    I have now got my PGCE place for September :) - on the strength of two weeks of obs.
    But I would still like a TA / LSA postion before that starts; I am currently freelancing and would rather do something that builds towards my long term ambitions rather than simply pays the bills.
    I went for a TA interview the other day - there were six of us short listed - two were qualified teachers working as TA's, plus one TA and one cover supervisor, and two of us who were 'outsiders' with no paid experience in schools. I guess that says a lot about the current climate. Unsurprisinngly I was not successful.
    I have tried some speculative letters for volunteering and will continue trying- although with a family to support it won't be that easy to accommodate. I also get the impression that volunteering is more common in primary than secondary (which is where I am headed) ?

  9. thequillguy

    thequillguy New commenter

    Cover teaching hones your 'fire-fighting' skills: qualified/owning-your-classroom teaching is managing situations to avoid the fire-fighting.

    I think that cover supervising in inner-city schools would weed a hell of a lot of applicants out, not least on the £5.20 a lesson etc.
  10. EmmaVM

    EmmaVM New commenter

    Dear cjsherlock,

    I changed career from Biomedical Scientist to TA. I worked part-time for a couple of months while I volunteered in school and a private day nursery to work enough hours (15-20 per week) to be accepted on an NVQ3 course. My first paid TA job was offered when I had only completed 3 months of the NVQ. Do not let anyone talk you into NVQ2, it would be a waste of your time. I hadn't studied for almost 10 years but still found the NVQ3 easy. Three years later I was an HLTA and deputy team leader responsible for 20 TAs in a primary school. Now studying for a BA to get into teaching before I hit 45 (hopefully).

    Good luck!
  11. Got my first TA 1 job on the strength of a degree, volunteering in a school for a year when I was 17/18 and again when I was in my third year of uni (both 1 day a week). Also had completed the Student Associates Scheme in the June/July of graduating and just talked about my experience and my intention to go onto to teacher training in the application form/at interview. Got moved up to TA 2 when the permenant headteacher started because of what we were being asked to do at TA 1 level.

    Don't let the "require NVQ 2/3" thing put you off just have the guts to put an application in anyway! Eteach, Schools Recruitment Service and EPM are good recruitment websites I've used depending on where you live.

    Looking back on the PGCE interview I got rejected from when I was in my final year I can see why and I'm glad I did! TAing is amazing. I was dead sure I wanted to do years 3/4 but found I have an absolute love of EYFS, year 1 and 2. Just got a place on a course after a year and odd of TAing in different schools and feel up to the challenge now!

    Good luck!


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