Working as a Teaching Assistant

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…

Main duties:

  • 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.

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NQTs – How To Land Your First Teaching Role

Finding your first teaching post is a process that doesn’t have to be stressful or difficult if you are well-prepared and plan ahead. We know it’s hard to think about when you’ve just got a shed load of coursework out-of-the-way, but now is the time to put the work in. With interviews surfacing for the new school year, we’ve put together our top tips on how to bag your first teaching role…

First and foremost, it’s important to identify the type of teaching vacancies you want to apply for, think about your preferences:

  • location – are you willing to commute or is it too much for your first year as an NQT?
  • type and size of school
  • year group/key stage
  • subject
  • full-time or temporary – would you take a short-term post?

So where do go to find your new role?

  1. Teaching fairs and university portals are a great place to start. Here you’ll find temp/full-time/part-time vacancies that can suit all needs.
  2. Recruitment agencies.
  3. Social media; Linkedin offers a range of jobs and you can search #hiring #teachers on Twitter to narrow your hunt.
  4. Indeed, TES and plenty of other boards are guaranteed to feature most of the vacancies that are out there. It’s a good idea to sign up and upload your CV so that potential employers can contact you too!

Then, CV & applications

If you’ve found a particular job that you want, tailor your application to that specific school. Too many applicants end up being disregarded due to silly mistakes, so find out the name of who you’re addressing it to and make sure to pick up on why you want to work for them. Make it hard for the interviewer not to consider you and include a strong cover letter that shows your passion and drive.

Before applying, it’s a good idea to Google yourself and evaluate your digital footprint. Are all of your accounts private and is there any sort of content that may be deemed offensive?

It’s also important to remember not to sit by the phone…

Network aggressively with friends and acquaintances—a kind word from a colleague to a school administrator may open doors. Spread the word about your job search to your Facebook and Ning friends, and look for job feeds on Twitter.

Struggling? Why not consider the supply route?

Without blowing our own trumpet, Supply is a great way of securing an income and getting your foot in the door whilst waiting for that dream teaching role. The more schools you visit, the more people you meet, and we’re all very familiar with the saying ‘it’s who you know’, when it comes to the big job hunt.

You get the call, are you prepared?

Turn up with evidence to support your application. Class work, great references and portfolios are a strong way of communicating ‘Hey, look! I’m a great, organised and passionate candidate!”. You may be asked to teach a lesson or give a presentation, so make sure you understand what is expected and required. You should enquire about class size, location and available resources as well as considering how you are going to differentiate yourself from the rest.

The school will also be keen to know how well you could work with other teachers, other adults in the classroom and how you will relate to parents. Supporting your answers with examples will strengthen their impact and show that you have the experience needed for the desired job. Remember to relax, relate AND ASK QUESTIONS! You can find some of our top tips for that on another recent blog here.

By Hannah Tuck, Staffroom Education

Meet Hannah and other teaching representatives at the Teaching Recruitment Fair next month!

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Education Recruitment Agencies – Are you all on board?

I’m minded to drop a few lines down for you newly qualified teachers, or education based graduates about the range of options that can be provided by education recruitment boat-of-paper-872918-magencies. The reason for this is there are an awful lot of them out there and they all want to speak to YOU and often approach Careers to ask us to remind you of their presence! This is no bad thing as they really do provide a door into the profession with either long or short term projects that will help get you noticed, make contacts and provide an income.

The key is to enter into a relationship with them with your eyes wide open. They need you to register so they can develop contracts and links with schools, colleges and other education providers. You need them to open up your options to a broader range of contacts and connections that would take a long time if you were to speculatively approach every school or college out there. Some clearly offer more than others, but it is worth speaking to as many as you can and make your own judgement.

The things to ask them about are clearly the types of providers they work with, successful placements they have co-ordinated in the past, but also what they can do for you to improve your prospects. A number of the more discerning agencies can arrange mock interviews, recruitment days or tailored advice and you should take advantage of as much as they have to offer as part of your broader job seeking approach. Bear in mind the work they can provide may be across the teaching sector, in a range of teaching and support roles, so it is important that ALL education related graduates tap into this option.

Such is my impartiality as guidance professional that it would be wrong for me to highlight specific agencies; you are all adults and can make up your own mind. I would say that we did have a selection on campus in a teaching recruitment event earlier on this year and that could give you some ideas. Failing that, a quick search online or a conversation with someone in careers can get you on a path to make the most of this job seeking resource for aspiring education professionals and teachers.

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Lloyd (USW Careers)
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