how to qualify as a TA?

(51 Posts)
Becaroooo Wed 04-Jan-12 19:28:23

Sorry if this is not the right place to post this...(if its not, let me know and I will get the thread moved)

Have been thinking of re-training as a TA for a while now (would really like to specialise in sen too) but am getting conflicting info from the internet!

Qualifications offered seem to be either;

Which is best? I dont know much about any of them tbh, wondered if any of you have any experience?

I have been a parent helper for 2 years at my sons old school and am about to start at his new one and was an assistant beaver leader til last summer.

I have done an OU course "Understanding young children" before ds2 was born but nothing since.

Any advice/tips gratefully recieved


BetsyBoop Wed 04-Jan-12 20:17:32

this is a good source of info.

(You can't enrol on NVQs any longer, these new qualifications replace them, although of course an NVQ is still a valid qualification for anyone who already has one.)

I'm currently about half way through a Level 3 Certificate in supporting teaching and learning in schools...

Is it hard/time consuming?

Do you learn anything about SEN?

BitchyHen Wed 04-Jan-12 20:33:25

I did NCFE L2 Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools last year at my local college as an evening class once a week, plus two mornings a week volunteering at a school. I really enjoyed the course and now have a job working in a KS4 pupil referral unit.

skewiff Wed 04-Jan-12 20:38:23

I already have done a PGCE - but never did my NQT year. This was just before having DS. About 6 years ago. Do you think I would be able to use this towards training as a teaching assistant?

I don't want to go into teaching - but would also like to work as a TA and work with SN children.

JambalayaCodfishPie Wed 04-Jan-12 20:41:44

There are loads of courses, but nothing beats experience. The most sought after TA in my school has no qualifications beyond her GCSEs. smile

Be advised though, the job market has changed massively - many paid TA positions now go to people on their gap year between degree and teacher training - schools like them because often funding may only be guaranteed for a year anyway.

Also - every post advertised in my area in the last year has requested degree level education as standard, as well as a specific qualification in supporting teaching and learning, which closes the post off to a lot of people who may previously have applied.

BitchyHen Wed 04-Jan-12 20:43:46

The SEN unit I did took around 3 weeks. We divided up into groups and each researched a SEN. My group chose ADHD we did a 5 minute presentation to the rest of the class and produced a hand out. I got a lot out of it, and now support children with Behavioural, emotional and social difficulties.

BetsyBoop Wed 04-Jan-12 20:58:25

>>Is it hard/time consuming?
Do you learn anything about SEN?

I'm finding it fairly easy, but quite time consuming gathering all the evidence together... (to qualify that I did an MBA via distance learning a few years ago, I'm also doing the L3 via distance learning, but as it's supposed to be equivalent of an A level, then obviously I'm finding it a lot easier than the MBA grin)

On the L3 cert there is one unit on inclusion, diversity & equality which does cover some SEN stuff I think (not done that one yet) On the L3 diploma (basically the cert + 3 or 4 (depending on credit value) optional units, a number of which are SEN related (if you follow the link to the TDA website I posted it has links to all the quals & you can see the various options listed on the Ofqual site if you follow the links - then each unit has a link on the ofqual site with a detailed breakdown of what is included in the unit)

SilveryMoon Wed 04-Jan-12 21:03:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Wed 04-Jan-12 23:15:11

I did the previous qualification, NVQ2, 3 years ago, and took the SEN option.The course was really useful to learn about the workings of the particular school you did your training in, was fairly easy but time consuming, more quantity than quality, IYSWIM. NVQ 2 is roughly GCSE level. The SEN option was a bit of a joke as a parent of a child with SEN, I've learnt loads more as a parent, and even more now on MN. I was lucky to do the course while employed as a TA, most volunteered in a school while on the course. Good general qualifications seemed to help a lot in getting my first job, I was also a helper in Beavers, MS school and a parent governor at a special school.

Good luck, Becs, I really love being able to use my knowledge and experience gained as a SEN parent for another child. I want to be the TA that I'd like my DS to have!

Becaroooo Thu 05-Jan-12 09:42:43

Thanks all.

I already have 12 GCSEs and 2 A Levels and an OU course under my belt but not sure they are relevant, really.

Have found a course with the OU - supporting teaching and learning in schools - which it says is equivalent to NVQ level 4.

I have already done some courses with the Ou and really like it. Course starts in October.

Am excited!!!!

EllenJaneisnotmyname Thu 05-Jan-12 13:35:57

I think NVQ level 4 is diploma level, higher than A level. Good luck, sounds exciting. X

Becaroooo Thu 05-Jan-12 14:52:04

Am feeling v excited ellen

Last year was so bloody rough (in lots of ways)

Would be good to do something for me, that could lead to work in the future.

Would really like to specialise in sen though - not sure how you do that?

EllenJaneisnotmyname Thu 05-Jan-12 16:55:09

There will be SEN options, I'm sure. Lots of TA jobs are in SEN. Could you make enquiries at a local special school, ask what qualifications they'd be looking for/recommend for their TAs? I did work at my DS's SS for a while, but actually found I preferred it supporting DC with SEN in MS. (Maybe because that was what my DS was doing?)

Could you volunteer in a SS? I think having worked, although briefly, in a SS, it gave the MS schools confidence in my ability to deal with all sorts of SN and SEN. If you want to work in MS you will need to know all the NT MS stuff as well. I found I knew more about the SEN stuff than the MS SENCo quite often, but I needed to get up to speed on the MS side of things. Not boasting, just how it is when you are passionate about a subject due to personal interest.

overthebar Fri 06-Jan-12 14:19:39

This is a very useful thread. I am considering training as a TA also but want to do via distance learning due to time constraints (I work part time and don't have childcare options in the evening). I was looking at the TA level 3 diploma courses. The courses I found on the internet are accredited by NCFE but not really sure whether this is acceptable by LEAs or schools. Anyone any idea?

Becaroooo Fri 06-Jan-12 17:11:49

OU course - E111

SilveryMoon Fri 06-Jan-12 18:59:29

I'm an SEN TA, unqualified. I have a few GCSE's but nothing impressive.

(I had my previous post removed because I included more detail than I wanted to)

SEN in mainstream or in a special school? I'm a TA in a special school. Most of our staff have few formal qualifications in SEN but have a wealth of experience.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Fri 06-Jan-12 19:03:44

It's hard to get a first TA job without qualifications, these days, though, silvery. Obviously experience counts for a lot, and I know that getting the right 'fit' for the child for a 1:1 TA is much more important than a whole raft of qualifications...

EllenJaneisnotmyname Fri 06-Jan-12 19:04:24

Ooo, crossed, hell. grin

SilveryMoon Fri 06-Jan-12 19:10:27

I got in through an agency.
I started working my first TA post last October as a supply and then was taken on at that school long-term and then given a contract with school.
I left there after 6 months (travel issues) and spent a few months at home.
I started looking again for work in July, did a trial day at the school I'm at now and they offered me a year's post as agency cover and I have now been offered a permanent contract which should go ahead next month.

It's an SEN school.

That's how we get most of our staff too silvery, most spend some time with us as supply staff before being interviewed for permanent posts. Our last few vacancies have attracted huge numbers of applications, one way of standing out is to have some degree of experience either through volunteering or employment within a special needs setting be it a school, a play scheme or a baby sitting/respite service

BeerTricksP0tter Fri 06-Jan-12 19:17:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Coconutty Fri 06-Jan-12 19:22:38

Im a SEN TA, and have no relevant qualifications - I applied for a job in a SS, looked around, emailed the head to say how impressed I was, got invited for an interview and got offered the job. There were recently over 100 applications for a TA job we advertised though, so maybe I was just lucky. We had quite a few volunteers coming in recently - just trying to get experience. Maybe worth trying that?

I have just moved to a mainstream school as a SEN TA and really like it, I find it to be a very rewarding job.

skewiff if you have a PGCE you are already overqualified to do TA work and would not need any further training to get work as a TA. Just apply to the jobs that come up. Nothing beats experience.

JellyBelly10 Fri 06-Jan-12 19:51:44

Becarooo have you actually signed up for the OU course? Could you give me an idea of what the fees for that course are? I'm a lunchtime controller in one school and volunteer assisting with guided reading in my children's school and would love to look at the possibility of doing a course like this so that I could move into a TA role at some point in the near future. I've looked at the OU website and whilst they give a fair amount of info I can't see any link to see actual fees. BeerTricksPotter I've just noticed that you actually did the course, can you give an idea of cost? And also you say that you are not currently working as a TA, is this qualification not as useful as it sounds or have you just decided not to become a TA? Thanks smile

BeerTricksP0tter Fri 06-Jan-12 20:08:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BeerTricksP0tter Fri 06-Jan-12 20:09:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JellyBelly10 Fri 06-Jan-12 20:24:35

Thanks for the reply BeerTricksPOtter, it does sound really interesting. Do they only take a certain number of people onto the course, or is it a case of if you've got £650 you can definitely do it?! When you did the course were you volunteering in a school as a TA and if so how many hours a week do they expect you to be getting practical experience whilst doing the course?

Becaroooo Fri 06-Jan-12 20:31:15

Hi all

On the site it states that E111 is equivalent to NVQ level 4 - is that HLTA level??

Not sure what fees are - not up yet on site but I would imagine about £700 but if you open an ousba account you can pay monthly and if you get benefits you may get some help with fees.

I haev done 3 courses with the OU up to now (before ds2 was born) and really raate them.

beer How did you fnid the course? Was it hard?

Becaroooo Fri 06-Jan-12 20:31:37

(course starts 6/10/12 btw)

Becaroooo Fri 06-Jan-12 20:32:03

jelly come on, sign up and we can do it together!!! smile

Becaroooo Fri 06-Jan-12 20:32:41

Jelly go on the OU site and type in E111 and it will give you all the info you need x

BeerTricksP0tter Fri 06-Jan-12 20:33:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BeerTricksP0tter Fri 06-Jan-12 20:35:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BetsyBoop Fri 06-Jan-12 20:39:42

I did look at the E111 too, but was just too late to apply for this year, from 2012 the course is £2,500 shock hence I'm doing the L3...

JellyBelly10 Fri 06-Jan-12 21:32:18

£2,500 for this year BetsyBoop!!!???
Blimey, well that means I can't do it then!!! Sorry Becarooo but you're on your own!! When you consider how poorly paid even qualified TA roles are it seems a bit harsh to make the qualification so expensive that it puts it out of the reach of lots of people. I know that some schools (if you are already employed by them) are happy to sponsor you through it but that might be a bit less likely now that their budgets are cut and the cost has gone up by almost 400%!!!

At that price I'm not sure it's worth doing a course, TA pay is very low, and lots of schools won't pay you more just because you have a qualification, because they just won't have the budget to.

Definately worth just applying for every TA job going, volunteering at schools, and getting other experience that way.

Becaroooo Sat 07-Jan-12 10:17:28



BeerTricksP0tter Sat 07-Jan-12 14:29:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OddBoots Sat 07-Jan-12 14:43:36

I don't think they have a choice about the fee as it is the whole of university funding has changed.

If you already have one OU course under your belt then you may be able to do this course under the old funding costs if you link them as a qualification (even if you don't continue to that qualification in the end).

BeerTricksP0tter Sat 07-Jan-12 14:57:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Becaroooo Sat 07-Jan-12 17:05:36

Am phoning the OU at some point to clarify the situation as I have already done the recommended start course for this 5 years ago and that may help?

If not I will have to apply for a student idea how you do that though!

BeerTricksP0tter Sat 07-Jan-12 17:48:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Becaroooo Sat 07-Jan-12 21:53:10

Hi beer

Yes I saw that but am a bit worried that as I am not 18 (ha!!) the usual student loan rules wont apply...?

Coconutty Mon 09-Jan-12 17:06:16

I wouldn't pay that much for a course, like the others said, volunteer and get some experience, much better than qualifications when you have an interview, IMO

BetsyBoop Mon 09-Jan-12 18:33:41

depends where you live coconutty, in my area you have almost no chance of even getting an interview at the moment, if you don't have at least a L2, preferably L3 STLS (or equiv), even with loads of experience.

I agree though, I wouldn't spend £2,500 just to get a qualification to make you eligible for TA posts (different if you are doing it for your own personal development reasons - and can you afford it!) - hence why I'm doing a L3 for three hundred and odd quid!

Shoutymomma Wed 11-Jan-12 19:16:40

One good reason to become qualified would be so that other qualified LSAs don't look sown their noses at you.

(Deep cleansing breaths.)

JellyBelly10 Tue 17-Jan-12 21:18:24

Just thought I'd let you know that since posting on here about whether or not I should look at doing a TA qualification, I applied for a TA role at a local school and have been offered the job!! I start next Monday! I have no formal experience, just volunteering once a week at my children's school and I used to be a school Governor. So clearly you can get TA jobs without qualifications! I'm going to be TA in Year 6 which is a bit daunting as all my voluntary experience is is KS1 and my own children are only 4 and 7 so Y6 children seem a world away!! Only problem is that it's not the job I applied for, it's 25 hours a week instead of I'm going to have all sorts of problems with dropping off and picking up my own kids as they are in a school on the opposite side of town!! But least it shows you can get TA roles without qualifications!

Warlock Tue 17-Jan-12 21:41:11

As a secondary SENCO who used to interview and manage a team of 30+ TAs I would agree that qualifications can be very helpful BUT it is not the only consideration. Schools need a mixed team to cope with the varying needs of the student population. We had graduates, teachers and other very well experienced people and others who had a genuine empathy with students who only had school as a safe environment. For example we had a school cleaner and I noticed that as she moved from room to room with her "Henry" she had a little gaggle of kids from her estate who followed her . We asked her to apply to be a TA and she was quite shocked. We filled in her app. form for her and interviewed her as she cleaned. She was amazing with the kids with social/emotional issues and we never tried to put her in a top set with ASD kids.

The point is that schools need a strong team of different types of TA. some graduates aren`t too hot on toiletting an MS boy !!!!

Shoutymomma Fri 20-Jan-12 21:56:45

Congratulations JB! I am in a similar position, but am an unqualified LSA involved with challenging youngsters. It's hard but I feel very lucky.

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