to think the school are taking advantage of these volunteer "Teaching Assistants"?

(36 Posts)
MoomieAndFreddie Sat 20-Oct-12 10:53:40

My friend is doing a "teaching assistant" course, its just 2 days college work a month. She is unemployed and a single mum to 2 dc at the school. Yet she works at the school nearly full time as a teaching assistant - but doesn't get paid anything for it.

And I recently found out there were four other mums who do exactly the same as well - unpaid TA volunteers - and thats in DS's year alone. hmm

I have no problem with my DC being helped by these mums, they are lovely and I am sure they are more than capable. And of course its great there are lots of staff around to help the DCs.

But I think its a bit unfair on the mums that volunteer tbh. If they need FT TA's they should be paying them. I mean, fair enough, you could argue they are gaining valuable experience to try and move into a paid TA role, but my guess is there will be next to no roles available anyway, as no school is going to be employing new TA's when they can get them for free? I dunno, it just doesn't sit right with me, smacks a bit of exploitation.

WofflingOn Sat 20-Oct-12 10:57:16

In order to get on most TA and teaching courses now, most people need experience. No experience, no real chance. The school is helping them achieve one of the steps they require in their potential careers.
YABU, probably because you haven't got a clue about the requirements for being a paid TA. They are free to leave, have you actually asked any of them how they feel?

Mrsjay Sat 20-Oct-12 10:58:31

well the mums must like it maybe they are trying to gain experience or 'something' I used to volunteer 1 and a half days at school when mine were in primary nobody forces them to go full time, they want to do it and I guess it is helping out the children isn't it,

maybenow Sat 20-Oct-12 10:59:55

I think the school should have a clear policy on how many paid and qualified TAs they have vs. volunteer/unqualified.

I would be very worried if these volunteers were not taken on once qualified and other unqualified volunteers replaced them.

Afterall, what's the point of the qualification if the school can get the same job done by volunteer parent helpers instead?

JeezyOrangePips Sat 20-Oct-12 11:01:18

Hell, I'd someone wanted to work for me for free to get valuable experience and a reference, I'd take them up on it.

They are choosing to do this. So why shouldn't the school take advantage of that?

Would you rather the school refuse the help of volunteers?

wimblehorse Sat 20-Oct-12 11:06:39

Unpaid "internships" are really frowned upon at the moment and there's a big push to pay minimum wage for them.
I don't see this as being very different, given it's only 2 days a week college time unless there is a VERY good chance of a perm paid role at the end of it.
Unfortunately there are so few jobs around that fit well with young children (TA being one) that there probably is a never ending supply of willing volunteers to come through once these ones have qualified

MoomieAndFreddie Sat 20-Oct-12 11:08:04

maybenow - yes my thoughts exactly

while i am sure the mums are happy doing what they do, i am just not that convinced that for any many of them it will lead to paid work.

WorraLiberty Sat 20-Oct-12 11:08:17

The trainee TA's will be choosing how many hours they want to volunteer...the school don't insist on them.

Also, some of them may be employed and actually training on the job.

thebody Sat 20-Oct-12 11:12:05

Hi I am a full time paid training TA.

I have to do at least 2 days a week in school to complete the college course so was over the moon to be offered full time paid as they could really have had me for free.

I've these mums are working for free it's probably to complete college courses. Good on them.

alistron1 Sat 20-Oct-12 11:14:38

On the course I did 2 years ago you were required to spend 300 hours on placement, where you gathered evidence for your portfolio.

Obviously a student on placement will have no where near the same level of responsibility as a qualified and employed TA. You should be pleased that the school is so supportive. Some schools don't like having students in.

AThingInYourLife Sat 20-Oct-12 11:17:58

When people do work for free it undermines the labour market.

Why pay a TA if you can exploit a series of people who you don't pay?

WofflingOn Sat 20-Oct-12 11:18:28

We get dozens of requests every year from individuals and organisations wanting to come into school for different sorts of experiences and reasons.

WofflingOn Sat 20-Oct-12 11:19:12

You think that being a TA is an unskilled job? That any random off the street could do it just as well?

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Sat 20-Oct-12 11:20:59

I don't honk the school is exploiting them. It may lead on to paid work, if not in that school then in another.

Parents often like volunteering ime, it means they get to see a bit of what goes on behind the scene of their child's school, and they build up a good relationship with teachers and other staff. It works in their favour too. They are helping the classes function more efficiently, which will benefit the children, probably including their own, even if indirectly. While I'm sure these volunteers are doing it with the best of intentions, no good deed is ever entirely selfless.

From the schools point of view, I'm to sure what you are expecting them to do. They can't guarantee work for these volunteer TAs if they haven't got the money to fund their positions. I'm sure the vast majority of heads would love to be able to pay for more support staff, but they just don't have the budget to do it. Should the school turn away willing volunteers that would benefit the children for no real reason?

WofflingOn Sat 20-Oct-12 11:21:23

What a low opinion many of you have about the skills required by a TA that are well worth paying for, from SEN and EAL skills to display, resource creation and being a team member in enhancing the learning of the children in activities. You really think that it is nothing more than unskilled labour? How ignorant of you all.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Sat 20-Oct-12 11:21:37

Honk = think. Stupid stupid autocorrect.

ZovutZovut Sat 20-Oct-12 11:24:05

All of our TAs/ nursery nurses over the years have trained and volunteered in our school (except one who was a dinner lady). It's the same for other schools I know, it's an excellent route in to a competitive field (simply because the hours are so child-friendly for mums). I'd recommend it, if I had a good volunteer and I don't have the budget to hire them I will email their details around for other schools and do my best to support them in finding a job.

If they work hard they are always appreciated and I respect them as many of them I know have been single mums with a number of children who could so easily sit back and not try to do more for their families.

ZovutZovut Sat 20-Oct-12 11:27:44

Just to point out too, teachers PAY about £9k to work and train for a year PGCE or over a 4 year degree. They teach up to 80% of the timetable in this time. Many don't get work after this period either. In some areas 100s go for each job.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Sat 20-Oct-12 11:30:09

Fitting in with school hours is another good point. Often people want to do something that will help improve their future CV without taking time away from their children. Volunteering in a school is an excellent way for them to do that, as well as it helping their own child's school.

SilveryMoon Sat 20-Oct-12 11:39:23

I agree Woffling
I am a TA. I am unqualified and am doing a distance learning course (self-funded) to gain some qualifications to back up my experience of working in a classroom.
I am employed by the school I work at after being a supply through an agency for a year.
There are many skills required for being a good TA, skills which a lot of parents pick up on their journey with their own children.
There is patience and understanding of child development and how to best encourage them to get the best out of them. This is a key skill which most parents would have.
Organisation skills, prioritising and time keeping. Most parnts have to have this down to a T in order to get through day to day life with small children (school runs, play groups, budgetting, meal planning etc etc)

I work at an SEN school so development is slightly different there and due to having a very small class, of children with such different levels of ability, I often have to alter and adjust activities on the spot to best suit the child I am working with. This then has to be recorded and fed back to the teacher.
I am involved in planning in the sense that I have input on what the pupils enjoy doing and what I think they could do to improve certain skills.
I make most of the resources in my class, spending lots of time (normally my lunch time) using different computer packages and websites to make and find suitable games, matching activities, writting tasks etc etc.
I have to read and understand the planning so I can prepare activities linked to the lesson during periods where I will be alone with up to 4 children.
I also have to be able to find the learning intention and be able to annotate photo's and other evidence to show our work has corresponded with the planning.
Being a TA is not the easiest job in the world, but I think as long as you are approachable, professional, compassionate to individual needs and are dedicated to it, you're halfway there.

WofflingOn Sat 20-Oct-12 11:48:15

I agree SilveryMoon. So much more than being a bored mum who wants to fill her time with a few hours volunteering.
Our school has a large number of paid, valued and very skilled TAs who have built up their professional portfolio over the years through volunteering and attending things without being paid in addition to the vital role they have as teaching assistants. Any volunteers that are accepted in our establishment are lucky to be given the opportunity and can leave without notice any time they feel exploited or unappreciated, but they are simply not equal to a trained, paid TA.

thebody Sat 20-Oct-12 11:49:36

Brilliant post silvery moon..

alemci Sat 20-Oct-12 11:58:44

There were always loads of volunteers at my DC's primary. Even mums who had a part time job sometimes went in. I used to volunteer one afternoon a week. I also worked as an SMSA there. I think it did help me to get a TA job in another school.

I think alot of current TA's did it to get experience.

Your friend may move on to another school when she has finished her course and get a paid job or even one where she is now volunteering. sometimes you have to do something like this to get on.

wimblehorse Sat 20-Oct-12 12:12:05

I don't think posters are devaluing qualified TA's, more concerned that schools are by relying on a cycle of trainees and exploiting the trainee at the same time.

FolkGhoul Sat 20-Oct-12 12:15:26

Great post Silverymoon.

I'm a teacher and anyone who thinks that a TA role is easy and can be done by any one has no idea what is actually expected of them.

Parent volunteers are a great help, but they are no substitute for a TA.

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