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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?

Bathsheba Tue 30-Apr-13 17:27:24

I'm a qualified teacher but I haven't taught for a very long time. Now that I have young children I'm looking for a job as a TA but, due to childcare issues, I really can only take a job at the school my children attend, so I'm playing a waiting game. But I volunteer every week at the school, I am very well known, I help out on school trips (I was at Pizza Express this morning with a P3 class for example).

I'm still not in any way guaranteed a job the next time one comes up. Its the type of job that many people would love as far as the convenience/holidays etc goes....and its also a job that a lot of people think they can do. So every job that comes up has a huge amount of applicants.

Also schools will be looking for someone who they can keep - not someone looking for experience to use as a springboard. You may also need a few more strings to your bow - the last TA job I was interviewed for at my school went to someone with foreign language skills and a sports coaching certificate.

greenformica Tue 30-Apr-13 17:29:59

A bit of voluntary work as a TA will be good on your teaching application.

Pascha Tue 30-Apr-13 17:32:30

My sister is a recently qualified teacher and currently doing long term supply as a TA amongst other supply work, because she is one of a couple of hundred people applying for every teaching post and she needs to earn some money somehow til the next round of NQT posts become available for september. There are just not enough jobs for the amount of graduates.

sunlightonthegrass Tue 30-Apr-13 17:42:59

The problem is and I am not wishing in any way to throw a bucket of water on your bonfire that primary teaching jobs are just as competitive as TA roles.

Are you able to be flexible in where you work? Because if not, if you are limited to a certain mile radius, you may really struggle, sorry.

I would normally urge people to follow their hearts but at nine thousand pounds for course fees ... it's a lot of money for no job at the end of it.

IfNotNowThenWhen Tue 30-Apr-13 18:05:49

I think if you are good, and you do well on your teaching placements, you will get a job. There are a lot of people doing PGCE's that shouldnt imo, and the ones who are born to it will stand out.
My friend basically got headhunted on her first placement, and ended up working there, because they could see she was great. (Not biased at all!)
Dont ever give up on a dream. If you work at it, you will get there.

KansasCityOctopus Tue 30-Apr-13 18:11:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SparkyTGD Tue 30-Apr-13 18:21:15

Kansas, I don't think volunteer parents take away work of TA, local authority has to award funding for particular needs and schools can't afford extra TA's.


thebody Tue 30-Apr-13 18:25:12

Volunteer parents can't take a class during a teachers PPA time.

A level 3 TA can.

But it's all money isn't it.

vikm Tue 30-Apr-13 19:47:37

Where do you live? I know a job that's coming up soonish.

cansu Tue 30-Apr-13 20:17:06

I think you should focus on getting the maths and either do a bit of volunteering for a few hours per week or ask for some observation in a school. Have you any links with any local schools? teacher friends or even ask to do some reading help at school. I agree TA posts are v competitive and think its more who you know in some areas.

Wouldntyouliketoknow Tue 30-Apr-13 20:18:24

Yes, you do really need qualifications to be a TA now - NVQ level 2/3 etc...most schools I know of (in London anyway) won't take people without them.

If I were you, I'd do some volunteering once a week, or even just the 2-week observation which is required for most PGCE courses.

sarahlimes Sun 02-Jun-13 15:07:20

Well this thread has been an eyeopener, I'm not a mum, but signed on to the site so i could reply to this thread. I know i'ts over a month ago since the last reply!

I've been working abroad teaching English to Primary/Early Years, have a years experience with that, was told I'd easily get a job as a TA back at home with such experience. I havn't got a degree related to Education/Childcare, no TA Qualifications, no U.K. school experience, I'm not a mum connected to a school or a volunteer at any school at the moment. I want a job as a TA for a year prior to doing a PGCE and state that clearly through my applications.

Anyway with the experience I have I've applied for lots and lots of TA jobs over the past few months. I now have one interview coming up soon!! I was feeling hopeful, but then read this thread and i'm wondering whether they're just interviewing to fill paperwork, because i'm not a mum or a volunteer connected to the school, in fact i've never visited the school although its in my local area.. perhaps I shouldn't get my hopes up!! Although if i am offered a position theres hope for you all!

Thymeout Sun 02-Jun-13 16:05:48

In today's Sun Times, there's a story headed '230,000 classroom assistants face axe'.

Apparently, they cost 4 billion a year and someone's conveniently come up with some research showing that they 'can have a negative impact on pupils' research'.

No details on the research, but definitely a straw in the wind, I'd say.

Thymeout Sun 02-Jun-13 16:14:39

Sorry - pupils' results .

ilovesooty Sun 02-Jun-13 16:18:09

That research certainly isn't new.

I'm afraid a lot of qualified teachers are working as TAs for many reasons: one of them being the lack of teaching posts and the competition for them, particularly in Primary.

I would volunteer and make getting that Maths qualification a priority.

ihearsounds Sun 02-Jun-13 16:34:44

You need a qualification level 2 of better.
Then you need math and english gcse c or better, plus if born after 1982 I think it is, you also need science.

The research was compiled by the institution of education, and the report came out a few months ago. The negativity was because what the researchers found, in a lot of classes the ta's were doing the work for the pupils, rather than trying to engage the pupil to do the work. But the work overall done by the ta's was useful for teachers.

The point of the research was to find out the exact role of a ta, because of the years it has changed, and in a lot of schools their is no actual job description. Plus how the class/school could use their ta's a lot better.

The job loses also might be because you know need qualifications, and some are not happy to do these.

manicinsomniac Sun 02-Jun-13 16:43:44

I work in a school which, this time last year, has 3 full time TAs. One has since left and not been replaced and another has gone on maternity leave and is not being covered.

Instead the school are upping the number of young, foreign students they recruit from abroad to do gap years for next to no money. They're great with the children but, for actual teaching skills ... not so much!

I agree that volunteering is the way forward. Also, if you mention anywhere on your application, that you're hoping to improve your CV so you can be a teacher, you probably won't get an interview because the school want someone long term.

Jestrin Sun 02-Jun-13 16:57:42

The last time I replied to a thread like this one I got flamed! Anyways, it seems that in parts of the country you can be a TA through volunteering in school and getting known that way. Where I live, we have to have the Supporting Teaching and Learning level 3 qualification to even be considered for a vacancy. It is usual to get a lot of applicants because TA positions are like gold dust and, for me certainly, meant I would be off work when my children had their holidays. We don't have any family we can ask for help.

Don't give up, but I agree with the other posters...if you are stating that you want to train to be a teacher then you might be being overlooked because they don't think you'll stay long enough.

sarahlimes Tue 04-Jun-13 20:27:52

Unfortunately I didn't get the job, had the interview today for a Grade 1 Teaching Assistant position. Apparently I didn't explain what my experience with children was in detail at the interview, which let me down.

Next time I'll have a well thought out detailed answer for my experience rather than just a brief overview in few sentences...

raisah Tue 04-Jun-13 22:06:19

if you are in London then the evening standard newspaper is running a reading volunteer scheme for schools. You will be trained & then given a placement at a school to help certain children with their reading. or as others have said you can directly apply to the school to volunteer.

RichardDawkinsAngel Tue 04-Jun-13 22:18:30

At the school at which I teach, volunteering/knowing the school would have no impact at all on your chances of getting a job as a TA. We put out a job ad, with essential and preferred qualifications/experience etc. We look at the applications, bin any that have filled in the form incorrectly/have poor spelling or grammar or do not match the job specifications. Then we interview and appoint the best candidate.

phantomnamechanger Tue 04-Jun-13 22:19:41

does your area have the BEANSTALK programme - trained volunteers giving 1:1 support of children with their literacy
or volunteer at a rainbow/beaver unit?

phantomnamechanger Tue 04-Jun-13 22:21:31

OP - I think your honesty in saying you only really want the job for a years experience is putting them off TBH - why train up someone then have to do it all again the next year?

FarBetterNow Tue 04-Jun-13 22:22:58

I know someone who has a lot of TA work through an agency.

jjbingo Sat 12-Oct-13 23:51:04

As mentioned above, some TA agencies provide lots of work. In fact there is a list of jobs here -

Getting QCF (replaced NVQ) qualifications are great, so long as you gain experience with them. Most of the courses can be completed between 6 - 12months, so you can study the theory and clock up your hours this way.

Don't be disheartened - the job competition for TAs IS fierce, but there are many routes in. Voluntary work which can then lead onto full/part time work when official roles come up are quite common.

Good luck!

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