Despite the sometimes hectic working environment, a teaching assistant role can be one of the most rewarding careers available. Not only do you become a part of a pupil’s life, but you also get to be the reason that many of them succeed. Students learn best in a safe and encouraging environment and teacher needs help in everything that she does inside and outside the classroom to create and maintain this kind of setting. Because of this we’ve combined all the facts you need to consider before hitting the apply button, intrigued? Read on…
- To work under the guidance of the teacher
- Prepare the classroom before each class as well as tidying at the end of each class
- Support reading groups
- Work on a one to one basis
- Lead small groups
- Have excellent knowledge of the school curriculum
- Have excellent numeracy, literacy and ICT skills
- Monitor and record pupils progress
- Report feedback to the teacher
- Carry out administrative duties
It is also useful to bear in mind the attributes that your employer will look for when hiring a candidate. Although you may have the drive to work in a classroom, it’s important that you hold all the skills needed to work with children.
The qualities your interviewer will look for are:
- The ability to work as part of a team
- Creativity and confidence
- Good reading, writing, and numeracy skills
- Flexibility to work with a diverse range of children
- The ability to build excellent relationships with both staff and children
So how do you actually get into the school we hear you say?
Every school will have their own set entry-level requirements for teaching assistants, depending on what you will be needed for. Although many will accept you on the basis that you have great work experience, some will look for qualifications such as ‘Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools’ and ’Level 2 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools’. Most paid jobs will also require for you to have GCSEs in both literacy and numeracy, or the equivalent.
Before you begin working with children, you will need to apply for an enhanced background checks through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and be registered with the EWC. These can both be applied for by popping onto their websites and filling out the forms provided. Both can take a number of weeks to complete, so it’s best to get these completed and sent off as soon as possible.
Once your checks are back, registrations complete, and your CV up to date, there are a number of ways that you can gain experience and jobs within a classroom environment. Check jobs boards, contact your local schools, and sign up with agencies that have plenty of contacts… Ahem. Whether long or short-term, each and every placement you take will gain you time, experience, and the chance to get your foot in the door, which in plenty of cases results in the offer of full-time work.
Roles will vary depending on the specific setting that you are placed in. Secondary schools will more than likely mean that you will be placed in a classroom with a specific subject, or be assigned to an individual that may need guidance, support, or help. In Primary school you will generally take on a more general role, working with a class across the whole of the curriculum and offering the teaching help with anything they need. If you decide to go down the special educational needs route, you may be assigned to a particular pupil, or work regularly with a particular class, it is also very common for there to be more than one teaching assistant present in this type of environment due to the needs of the students.
By Hannah Tuck, Staffroom Education
Want more information and help on becoming a teaching assistant or working in a school? Come along to the Teaching Recruitment Fair this month where you can speak to Hannah and other teaching representatives about the opportunities on offer.