If you love the idea of working in a school environment, but you don’t fancy training to be a full-time teacher, then becoming a teaching assistant (TA) might be just the job for you. There are many reasons why you might be considering taking on this role. You may have just had a family of your own, or you’ve done some volunteering in a similar environment. Whatever the reason, helping children to be the best they can be is both a challenging and rewarding role.
If you are pondering the idea, but you’re not sure, volunteering in your local school may be a way of getting to know more about what the role would involve. Here are 5 perfect reasons why you should take the plunge, provided by Lloyd Wells – working with London based teacher recruitment specialist Redbox.
1. Family responsibilities
Working in education enables you to enjoy the same holidays as your kids. Working hours can also be flexible or part-time, or negotiated to fit in with your children’s school times. It’s often when we have kids of our own that we find ourselves thinking more about changing career or finding work that fits in with family life. Working as a TA is a great way of fitting work in with family responsibilities.
2. Understanding your children’s education
There’s never a more pressing time than when you have children of your own to take stock of the educational process and its content. Getting to grips with parenting is a huge learning curve in itself. Supporting your child through his or her education is yet another minefield. If you really want a feel for your child’s learning experience, then becoming a TA is a perfect opportunity to become more educationally aware. While you may be supporting a particular age group, the techniques for communicating with children of all ages within the school will become second nature. You’ll be up to date with any educational issues or changes to the curriculum, which is a real plus for supporting your child outside of school.
3. You’re passionate about kids and their learning
There’s nothing more important when you are considering a career change than following your passion. If you really care about education, like the idea of working in a classroom, and would love to make a difference, then a teaching assistant role could be just what you are looking for. Follow your heart.
4. You’re considering retraining as a teacher, but you’re not sure if it’s for you
Training to become a teacher is quite a commitment, and you’ll need a degree to gain qualified teacher status (QTS). If you’re unsure about taking that step, or you don’t have a degree, becoming a TA could help you make up your mind. Once you are an experienced teaching assistant you may be able to study for a foundation degree enabling you to retrain as a teacher in the longer term. It’s a great stepping stone and the perfect way to observe a teacher in action.
5. No two days are the same
If there’s one thing guaranteed in the role of a TA, no two days are the same. The variety of work and the different challenges faced by individual pupils will always keep you on your toes. There’ll also be plenty of opportunity for you to use your creative talents.
In case you are unsure about what TAs do and how you can become a TA, we’ve covered that too!
What do teaching assistants do?
Teaching assistants support children with their learning, and work closely with teachers. The work is varied and will depend largely on the school and the age of the children, but TAs tend to work with pupils on a one-to-one basis or in small groups. Typical tasks include getting the classroom ready, putting together classroom displays and listening to children reading, or helping a pupil who is struggling with a particular subject. TAs can focus on individual behavioural problems, allowing the teacher to get on with teaching. They also help with school trips and sports events.
How do I become a TA?
For most TA roles, you’ll need to have had some experience of working with children (which is why doing some volunteering at your child’s school will stand you in good stead). While there are no set entry requirements in terms of qualifications, you will need to have good reading, writing and numeracy skills (usually GCSEs in English and maths). Each school will have its own entry requirements in terms of qualifications and experience. The school will also require an enhanced CRB check. Check with your local school to find out if there are any positions coming up and what the requirements are. Alternatively, specialised educational recruitment agencies can give you advice.
Mike James, an independent writer working with a select few educational and tech companies, including Best VPN, who was consulted regarding this post.