To wonder why I bother applying for teaching assistant jobs?

(52 Posts)
CelticPixie Tue 30-Apr-13 12:37:23

For many years now I've harboured a dream to become a primary school teacher, more specifically a foundation stage teacher. I already have an early years degree and have worked with children since I left school at 16 but a lack of GCSE maths has always held me back (all the PGCE primary courses I've looked at require a C or above in maths). However I've decided to take the plunge and I'm going to resit next year. I've been brushing up on my maths skills for the past few months in preparation.

I visited a careers advisor a while back who told me that working as a teaching assistant is a very good career move if you wish to go into teaching. Firstly because it gives you an insight into what teachers do and secondly because universities like to see that you've had experience in a school before offering you a place on a course. You'd also be able to get a reference from the head teacher to go on your application.

So I've been applying and applying for every single one that I see and not getting so much as an interview. This is despite me having worked with young kids for years and have loads of experience, I even worked as a one to one with a little girl who had severe learning disabilities for two years. All of this goes on my applications and I still hear nothing.

Today I've applied for yet another one. I was told about it by a friend who already works at the school and she suggested it would look good for me to visit beforehand. So this morning I went and met the head and he seemed really indifferent to me, like he as going through the motions. I tried to seem enthusiastic but he just told me that they'd had lots of applicants. Apparently even qualified teachers apply for TA posts! What the hell is that all about?

I feel really dejected and wonder whats the point at all? Sorry to ramble on, but AIBU to just give up?

greenteawithlemon Tue 30-Apr-13 12:42:52

They're really competitive posts.

Lots of people want them- mums (term time hours, no work to take home), young people (teaching experience) etc.

I think they have a special TA qualification now, don't they?

Being a TA is good application experience but its not essential- 2 week's observation would get you on a course.

Bue Tue 30-Apr-13 12:48:39

You don't need to be a TA to get onto a primary teaching course. I wouldn't even bother tbh. Focus on the academic side and doing as well as you can in your maths exam.

IfNotNowThenWhen Tue 30-Apr-13 12:53:36

My friend just qualified as a teacher. She also took maths GCSE beforehand, and did not work as a TA. She did have experience with children, but not really in schools at all.
I agree with Bue. Get the maths, get some observation, and you should be fine. You will need to be able to write a good essay too for a PGCE, so brush up your essay writing skills too.
Good luck!

aldiwhore Tue 30-Apr-13 12:54:42

You need a certain amount of hours of experience within a class setting, so you can always volunteer? If you have that experience, you need to chase evidence to support it, as Uni won't take your word for it.

Maths is a MUST.

And don't forget you will now have to pass a literacy and numeracy test prior to being offered a place on a PGCE course.

Go and visit the University you wish to study at. Talk to the lecturers, admissions team, go to open days.

You can take the tests before you apply, and that looks very good at interview.

I wouldn't go for TA jobs if you openly are stating that you won't be staying long.

Good luck and don't give up, but remember there is a process, and you need evidence. Tick those boxes and you'll be successful.

CelticPixie Tue 30-Apr-13 13:06:11

Thanks everyone. I just felt a bit disheartened this morning. From what the head has said I think he probably already has someone in mind for the job anyway.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Scholes34 Tue 30-Apr-13 13:27:30

Good luck with the maths. Remember, just keep doing lots of practice questions to drill methods home.

Cloverer Tue 30-Apr-13 13:28:48

They are competitive posts - are you filling in the applications correctly? Matching your skills/experience very clearly to each point in the person specification. That's where a lot of people fall down with these applications - they write great applications about their experience and why they want the job, but fail to clearly demonstrate how they meet each point in the spec.

lainiekazan Tue 30-Apr-13 13:29:26

Do volunteering. TA jobs are very competitive, and always go to those who have earned their stripes by helping on school trips, with reading etc etc.

At dd's school some of the TAs are actually ex-teachers. They are all of high calibre - the school can afford to be picky.

I didn't witness it myself, but apparently there was a middle-class mummy fight - with pushing, shoving and wotnot - actually in the playground because one had applied for a TA job without telling her "friend" who had also applied.

tiggytape Tue 30-Apr-13 13:30:47

Qualified teachers apply because, if they have their own young children for example, a teaching post does not fit in well with family life (far too many hours before and after school and usually one day of the weekend lost as well with the planning and prep and marking that needs to be done)

They are just really sought after jobs so as you already have experience, you only really need recent classroom experience (voluntary role will suffice) and to concentrate on your maths GCSE and PGSE course then go straight into teaching that way.

SparkyTGD Tue 30-Apr-13 13:31:58

Agree to volunteering to help in a school, if you have time.

Think most TA jobs get taken by people who are supply TA's.

givemeaclue Tue 30-Apr-13 13:32:00

My friend is a qualified teacher and is one. Always competitive and often people already helping in the school are best placed for the roles

LemonsLimes Tue 30-Apr-13 13:32:22

A friend volunteered in a school for a while and was then offered a TA post at the same school as they knew her. Could you do that?

LaGuardia Tue 30-Apr-13 14:24:59

Headteachers ALWAYS have someone in mind for a TA vacancy. It that is what you want to do, do what LemonsLimes suggests and do some voluntary work in a school. Then you will be at the top of the list next time.

shewhowines Tue 30-Apr-13 15:06:11

Volunteer definitely

pinkdelight Tue 30-Apr-13 15:14:06

"A friend volunteered in a school for a while and was then offered a TA post at the same school as they knew her."

This is exactly how it works so don't take the lack of interviews personally. If you were already known and liked you'd have more chance.

Finola1step Tue 30-Apr-13 15:14:50

Hi Celtic. I short list and interview TAs in my school. For a number of years now a part of our selection criteria has been Maths and English GCSE Grade C and above. Therefore despite your degree, it is probably your maths GCSE grade that is stopping you from getting through to interview.

That said, I would definitely recommend volunteering in your local primary school even if its one afternoon a week listening to readers. Get your Maths GCSE and go from there. You could then continue to apply for TA positions or apply straight for a PGCE. Good luck.

princesskc Tue 30-Apr-13 16:27:11

No take home work lol.... in theory maybe but certainly not in practice!

You'll find it exactly the same even once you do complete a PGCE (that is, presuming you get on a course and pass!). You'll apply to loads of schools for teaching jobs and it will be almost impossible to even get through to interview.

It is a hugely competitive market out there, with far too many primary teachers already.

Think carefully about whether or not this is actually something for you. You are not guaranteed a job after completing your PGCE.

princess my TAs don't take home any work, and most TAs I know don't either. The few I know who occasionally do something at home do so out of choice.

thebody Tue 30-Apr-13 16:36:47

Hi op yes agree with all who say its who you know.

I packed up a good career and them a great small business to volunteer in a school, got offered a TA post and have now done the level 3 training.

All the TAs I know started as volunteers or lunch supervisors.

I think it depends how much you really know about the job of teaching and how young you are.

Working as a TA has been an eye opener for me.

As for teachers becoming TAs can't blame them. Big pay cut but no stress, school holidays and no bloody planning.

HollyBerryBush Tue 30-Apr-13 16:59:48

I already have an early years degree and have worked with children since I left school at 16 but a lack of GCSE maths has always held me back (all the PGCE primary courses I've looked at require a C or above in maths).

maybe you aren't looking in the right place? Out HoD Drama doesnt have GCSE maths, he was accepted on his PGCE course after taking an equivalency test.

janey68 Tue 30-Apr-13 17:07:16

Throughout primary school my children have been in classes where the Assistant is a qualified teacher for probably about half their time. I think they are just very sought after posts for the reasons described above

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