Teacher or Teaching Assistant?

(30 Posts)
query Sun 15-Jan-06 13:18:19

I am considering a career change at the age of not quite 40 ! I fancy the idea of either teaching or being a teaching assistant. Been doing a bit of research about both & obviously a teacher requires much more training (I have not got a degree, but have qualifications which are possibly equivalent - more or less).
Come on wise MNers (especially if you do either of those jobs) - what are the pros & cons ??
My child is at school & ideally i would love to work at the same school although there are a couple more in the area.
What's my first step then ? Should I do it??

OP’s posts: |
lucy5 Sun 15-Jan-06 13:23:03

Teaching assistants dont always get the recognition they deserve and often do the job of the teacher for half of the salary. It is possible to train on the job in some areas. Have a look at the teacher training agency website. I have just left teaching as I felt I couldnt truly commit to it with dd(5) and I'd lost the passion for it.

SueW Sun 15-Jan-06 13:23:58

Do you work already? If not, or part-time, why not spend the next two terms helping out as much as possible at school and see how you like it? It will give you an insight into the difference between what TAs do and what teachers do. Also you could ask to work with different year groups to see whether you prefer infant or juniors.

query Sun 15-Jan-06 14:18:11

Yes I am currently working but not a full week - so was considering volunteering to help out at my childs school (if they'll have me!). I have looked on the teacher training site & there seemed to be so many options I was just baffled !!

OP’s posts: |
slug Mon 16-Jan-06 10:44:31

Start with the teaching assistant job. It gives you the ideal starting point from which to decide whether or not to go the whole way and train as a teacher.

I started out that way and took 3 years to decide that I actually did want to be a teacher (try before you buy ) Teacher assistant is also a great way IMHO to check out the techniques that work and try your hand at classroom management. In all honesty I learnt far more about teaching from my years watching it being done at close range than I did on my PGCE.

Debbiethemum Mon 16-Jan-06 12:10:40

I am in a similar position and age to query so doing a mini-hijack (hope no-one minds). I will hopefully be made redundant in September, am thinking of becoming a teacher or assistant when my dd starts reception in January 2008 (ds already there). If I don't have to pay for child-care or transport I could take a massive drop in salary and still be no worse off. What are the pro's/con's between the two other than pay. Does the TA have no homework to mark and literally only works school hours and what do teachers do for child-care outside school hours with young children.
Can I do my PGCE from home like an OU course as my redundancy money will only last for that long if I am not paying for childcare & we tighten our belts. By the way I have a BSc & currently work in IT

Debbiethemum Mon 16-Jan-06 20:45:47

Are there any teachers onine tonight who can advise. I will say that I seriously considered going into teaching before/during uni but was put off by the pay at the time and also that I was c**p at keeping order while taking prep but I was a lot more feeble then and I was trying to control the class my sister was in.


SqueakyCat Mon 16-Jan-06 21:24:53

Debbiethemum - I'm not a teacher, but had a quick look into the options last yr.

The OU offers PGCEs in certain secondary subjects - there's at least one mumsnetter who did her PGCE that way and if very positive.

For primary, as well as PGCEs you can do an 'on-the-job' training scheme in some areas.

KateF Mon 16-Jan-06 21:31:27

Look into SCITT or Graduate Teacher Schemes in your area as they are more "on the job" training. I was going to do one of these but am sticking to my TA job for now until my youngest is at school. By the way, being a TA is great

roisin Mon 16-Jan-06 21:43:14

Debbie - yes, TA jobs are just specified hours - usually no planning or preparation required. I'm currently working as a cover supervisor in secondary schools. When a teacher is off sick, or on a course, they leave work which can be delivered by a non-specialist and we 'supervise' the classes. I've only been doing it for 6 months, and it's been a steep learning curve, but it's a great way to learn! I do between 6 and 20 hrs per week (depending on requirements) solo in front of a class, and the rest (I do 32.5) class support, observing, or admin.

I will probably apply next year to do the GTS (Graduate Training Scheme) to train on the job.

nikkie Mon 16-Jan-06 21:55:45

I am a TA and money /hours worked I think at my school we are better off.The teachers are often in very early/leave late and we can arrive 9am leave at 3 (not that we always do!) BUT we are not always recognised for what we do. In Cumbria there is a lot of restructuring happening to give a proper career path for TAs( more money for moreresponsibility)

Pixiefish Mon 16-Jan-06 21:56:33

I'm a secondary English teacher- or at least I was until August. I've left now to be a SAHM although i still do some cover when I need the money.

To be a teacher you HAVE to have a degree and English and Maths GCSE (O level).

The PGCE year is extremely hard work as is the first year of teaching. Once you get into your second year you have some resources so it gets a bit easier.

The hours are long- speaking as a secondary teacher I would spend at elast an hour every day marking and preparing. All of Sunday was spent marking and prepping. Most half terms were spent marking exam papers or coursework. Christmas and Easter were spent marking and preparing. Obviously not the whole holiday but at least half of it. The summer hols were my hols- I didn't do anything until the 6th week when i used to start planning etc for the coming term.

As a teacher you have total responsibility for the lives and education of up to 30 children in your class at any one time. PLus from the second you get into school you are on 'duty' so to speak- you are a responsible adult and 'in loco parentis'. Walking the corridors to the staff room at break if you see something that requires attention then you can't ignore it (fight, bullying, fall etc etc).

There are disclipline issues in a lot of schools, a lot of paperwork, integration of SEN pupils and all the paperwork involved. Report writing, parents evenings.

As a teacher if you suspect abuse you have a professional responsibilty to act on it and can be held accountable in a court of law if you have ignored something.

As a teaching assistant you arrive at school at 9 and leave at 3.30. You are given a timetable and take guidance from the teacher. You cannot be held accountable for classes as you should not be left unsupervised. You have no reports, parents evening, marking etc etc etc. The downside is the salary I spose. The TA's at my old school were probably on about 13k pa whereas teachers start on about 19k.

My explanation of TA's is from what I saw in my school btw- if anyone reading this is a TA and you do more than this then I apologise

Debbiethemum Mon 16-Jan-06 21:58:41

Thanks for your replies. I think that starting off as a TA for a year or so and then doing the GTS might be the way to go. It gives me a feel for the job and I could start off with the hours to suit my dd as she starts nursery. I am looking forward to it now - just need to be made redundant and get the pay off.
Thanks again

Debbiethemum Mon 16-Jan-06 22:08:33

Sorry just seen your post pixiefish. Yes I have the degree & the O.Levels required. It is the amount of marking and preperation for classes that makes me think starting off as a TA, till the children are a bit older & not require so much one-to-one attention, so I then get the energy to become a teacher, though the pay as a TA is very low I shouldn't have the childcare costs.
By the way for those who feel that childcare costs are a joint responsibility and ours do come out of the joint account, it is me that wants to be a SAHM not dh a SAHD so I always calculate it against my take home pay.

Pixiefish Tue 17-Jan-06 01:20:16

debbie- the comment about the degree was to the OP.

I couldn't teach and be a mum and be effective at both. That was a decision I came to. BUT then agaion the marking load in English is extremely heavy. I always had the top sets for GCSE which meant that the coursework essays were fairly long. Also other work they did had more depth to it than the lower sets. So, I could find myself marking 25 essays of varying length from 5-13 A4 pages long.

If you were to teach another subject then the mark load wouldn't be so heavy. Other subjects are also 'easier' to mark in that the answer is correct or incorrect- with English it is very 'objective' and requires a lot of thought.

I know that some subjects are basically fill in the blanks or multiple choice. Whilst you still need to concentrate to see what the children have learnt- the same length of marking time isn't there IYSWIM. Don't mean to offend any other subject teachers btw as I know that other subjects have some essays

Cabe Tue 17-Jan-06 02:16:12

Interesting thread as it's answered lots of questions just forming in my mind. So thank you

Pixiefish - 'objective'? Or subjective perhaps?

Pixiefish Tue 17-Jan-06 09:44:06

Cabe- cheers- that's what I meant but got carried away as i don't normally contribute such long posts. What i was trying to say is that English is subjective whilst other subjects are objective- duh- notice the time on my post as well- I should have been in bed

Cabe Tue 17-Jan-06 12:16:23

springerspaniel Sun 12-Feb-06 16:57:19

Am thinking of doing the same thing in a year or so - does anyone know how much a TA earns. I was advised to get a job as a TA before applying for GTP as it looks good.

scienceteacher Sun 12-Feb-06 17:05:58

I think with the GTP, you work as a teacher (with much lower pay) while getting on the job training and time off to go to college.

I don't think you get the experience for Qualified Teacher Status by working as a TA.

Whizzz Thu 16-Feb-06 17:57:18

Has anyone worked as a Teaching assistant & then done more study & gone on to teach ??

Yorkiegirl Thu 16-Feb-06 18:02:03

Message withdrawn

Blandmum Thu 16-Feb-06 18:02:55

Which is IIRC aboit £13,000 a year out of London.

You don't get the PGCE though, you get QTS.

Whizzz Thu 16-Feb-06 18:35:37

I wanted to try & work as a TA whilst I suss out the various levels & gain some background knowledge & experience beofre considering training as a teacher - like Slugs post at the start of the thread
(although I may find I'm perfectly happy being a TA)

scienceteacher Thu 16-Feb-06 18:51:45

Good luck, Whizz. I hope you enjoy it!

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