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Special Needs TAs / Helper - How to get into it?

(26 Posts)
CinnamonPretzel Sat 20-Aug-11 22:29:50

Do you need any special qualifications for working with SENs or does having your own child with SNs help?
I've been looking at TA for SN for a while and now I'm considering leaving my current employment (part time hours extend into full time plus more, unfortunate part of my role) and would love to be able to get into it without having to volunteer at a school first. Although, volunteering isn't a no go, just not preferable.
Input appreciated smile

ProfessionallyOffendedGoblin Sat 20-Aug-11 22:43:34

TA jobs are very thin on the ground and schools tend to prefer to employ someone who is a known quantity.
For working with a child with SN in our school, we would be very, very careful to know and match the TA to the child very carefully, so someone with no experience and not familiar would be not a first choice.
If you were a 1:1, you would be expected to take on board not only TA training and NVQ but any additional SN training to support that child.
Having your own child with SN may help in that you might be able to make better links with parents, but it's not a guarantee.
Why do you want to work with children with SN?

CinnamonPretzel Sat 20-Aug-11 22:57:24

I was going to be a teacher when I left school but took a yr, that turned into many yrs. I am hoping to train as a teacher eventually but will depend on DCs needs when older. With the amount of work I've put into finding out about SNs for my own DC, not sure I can explain it, but I feel like i can relate/understand their needs - iykwim. I actually understand the SN side and think sometimes there is a lack of knowledge or understanding in that area. Various people have given me sooo much support for my DC, that I know I'd love to be in the same position for others. Sounds cheesey when put like that but its the only way I can explain it smile

ProfessionallyOffendedGoblin Sat 20-Aug-11 23:04:07

No, not cheesy at all, and so much better than 'It will fit in with my children'
I find being a teacher with a child with AS has helped me deal with the anger, frustration and often aggression from parents, and enabled me to develop the curiosity and enthusiasm I need.

CinnamonPretzel Sat 20-Aug-11 23:23:19

Oh definately, the amount of patience I've learnt - my DCs HT used to walk past me most afternoons (waiting for one reason or another) and would say 'your mum has the patience of a saint'. You don't have any choice but to learn and adapt to SNs. The thing I've found, is the amount of SN traits I notice in children or adults for that matter, that you wouldn't take notice of normally. The amount of problems affected by sensory issues etc. I watched the 'Kara Tointon: Don't call me stupid' about Dyslexia, the night before last and the amount of symptoms that overlap into other SNs I thought was amazing, but they are missed so easily.
I would love to be able to walk into a school on the first day back after the hols and be offered training and a job smile
I'm currently working on my degree and hopefully, I'll be in a position to be able to either volunteer or get a TA job soon. I might prefer doing the 1:1 to teaching, who knows, but dealing with my DC and education has sparked that desire for teaching again and this time I'm not going to let it go.

EBDteacher Sun 21-Aug-11 07:42:10

Some special schools run a 'bank' of TAs/ LSAs- it's worth contacting your local special schools and asking to talk to whoever deals with personnel/ recruitment to see if you could do some casual hours (if you can arrange time off your current job).

I know at my school we get loads and loads of applications for every LSA vacancy but most of them get put aside because they haven't shown any specific interest in our children's needs (severe & complex EBD). We would expect the 'right' candidate to want to come in and observe and ask 101 questions before even applying.

I would look out for vacancies that appeal to you on your local council website and then really demonstrate your interest and commitment even before the shortlisting stage. I think you would be given a shot without experience if you can prove to them that you really want to do the job and have the right mindset for it.

whatcanbemynewname Sun 21-Aug-11 07:42:39

I work with and have worked in schools with children with SEN and I love it. I have done this since qualifying and it is a great job. It is a real marmite job and I have been lucky to have worked with teachers who have let me try things. Whilst knowladge is very important 90% of what I do comes from gut instincts. I do what I 'feel' is right and then if that isn't working I try something else.

EBDteacher Sun 21-Aug-11 07:56:15

I would second whatcanbemynewname. At my school we avoid candidates who suggest they know how to do the job because there is no 'right' way (althought there are some wrong ways!!) and we don't want people who rigidly stick to one approach. We look for people who are flexible, reflective, want to learn and like whatcanbemynewname are ready to think of and try something new.

Experience is not as important as being the right person!

CinnamonPretzel Sun 21-Aug-11 10:09:42

Fully agree. My DCs current SENCO is someone who believes they know everything from reading and having training. While that puts you in a good position re general knowledge of SNs, you need to be in the thick of it and understanding it. Every child is sooo different - what I do for my youngest is nothing compared to how I deal with my eldest. Like chalk and cheese,responding in different ways, requiring different strategies/input.

mrz Sun 21-Aug-11 12:15:00

In my area SEN 1-1 support staff are deployed by the LA not by the school so qualifications and experience are vital to actually being accepted as part of the "team" after that staff are matched to pupils ...
In special schools (in my LA) work slightly differently as schools employ their own staff but a minimum of a Level 3 with SEN is usual.

CinnamonPretzel Sun 21-Aug-11 14:02:17

Thanks mrz
I think I'll continue with my course and job for a while longer but look into the 1:1 jobs in the area that get advertised and also discuss with DCs school and see if they need any volunteers.

beatenbyayellowteacup Sun 21-Aug-11 14:16:22

Hi - I've been involved in the application process for TAs in secondary. Generally, looking for someone with a genuine interest in SEN - as shown by volunteering if not work experience, and/or a desire to go into teaching at some stage, if that's true. A child with SEN might be good experience too, but honestly the attitude has been more "if they are the right person we can train them" rather than desperate for the right experience and qualifications.

We have always been looking for a good 'can-do' attitude, approachable, personable, patient, fat dose of common sense and sense of humour.

And it's true that often TA positions are advertised directly by the LA so look on their websites.

Good luck!

cyb Sun 21-Aug-11 14:21:49

Look on educational
vacancy websites for job at your local schools

CinnamonPretzel Sun 21-Aug-11 14:32:37

beaten I did register a while back on the LA website and even applied for a pre-school job but it wasn't the right time/job - circumstances were different.
I'll log back into the site and re-activate the details and start searching.
At the time, I did phone a few schools and they were happy to receive applications from people without the relevant qualitifications as long as they met similar criteria you mention above plus experience with SNs such as own DC.
Thanks smile

CinnamonPretzel Sun 21-Aug-11 14:33:08

and cyb smile

aliceliddell Sun 21-Aug-11 14:36:56

Great and very valuable job. But sadly undervalued, therefore being cut voraciously. Hopefully, we'll rebuild afterwards and the TA's will be back. Prob something to bear in mind, though

beatenbyayellowteacup Sun 21-Aug-11 14:49:07

Maybe you could offer to volunteer for one day a week, for a term or something? Would prove a genuine interest.

Also, the best times to look would be from March onwards.

CinnamonPretzel Sun 21-Aug-11 18:15:24

Thanks Alice, will do.
Beaten, I can't volunteer until I leave my current job, but March time might be ideal. Thanks for that.

huffythethreadslayer Sun 21-Aug-11 18:23:14

I've worked on an SEN basis with one to one support for 2 years now, heading into my 3rd year. I'm only temporarily employed but that suits me. I love the job. I got it by volunteering in the school, helping with dyslexia/reading skills, then every school trip going. Eventually, after helping with maths, literacy and anything else that was going for free, they offered me hours when a child came with SEN and they had to fill the post quickly. I had to apply for my job formally after a couple of months, but I got through the recruitment process (luckily). Am hoping this will last at least a year or two more!
Good luck!!!!

sarahfreck Mon 22-Aug-11 13:46:34

You might get some general TA work ( even unqualified) via an agency. (Hays is good). That might help you get into the area of work?

jamdonut Mon 22-Aug-11 21:16:29

I worked voluntarily, doing my NVQ2 TA qualification at the same time. That's a 32 week, 10 hour minimum contact time course, so they get used to you. They took me on on a casual contract,after I qualified,then a vacancy for a part-tme position came up. Now I work a full week (i.e 27 and a half hours a week - full time is not available on any TA post in my school) +5 training days.

RockyAddict Mon 22-Aug-11 21:29:45

Cinnamon, don't be put off. I volunteered at my kids school and then did a CACHE course whilst volunteering in another primary school. More recently I got a job as a TA in a school mid-year working as a general TA.

From September I shall be working 1:1 with a child with SN. My school suggested it to me and thought I would be right for the child, and I agreed to do it. I'm nervous. I don't know lots about the SN but I am approaching it all with the attitude that I will get to know the child and see what's what. My school has given me lots of support and I know I can call on my team to support me.

This is not where I expected to be a year ago, but I am really looking forward to my 'new' job. Good luck.

BehindLockNumberNine Mon 22-Aug-11 21:36:05

huffytrethreadslayer - are you me?
That is exactly how I got my SEN TA job two years ago, after two years of regular volunteering.
Once I had been officially recruited they sent me on a basic TA skills course as well as a course directly related to the difficulties 'my' statemented child had so I was well supported too smile

The statemented child they hired me for has now left the school as he finished Y6 in July and I have been moved onto a 23hrs pw permanent contract and will be mainly working with school action and school action plus children next year.

Love my job smile

huffythethreadslayer Mon 22-Aug-11 22:52:37

It's nice to do something you like isn't it behindlocknumbernine? I'm hoping I get made permanent at some point, but I'm happy to carry on as I am til that happens. And if it doesn't happen, I guess I'll move on, but it would be a bit of a wrench. I love working with the kids that are struggling, seeing a light come on and seeing them finally get it. It doesn't always happen, but the journey is worthwhile.


mrz Tue 23-Aug-11 07:27:31

We have just employed someone who did her level 3 placement with us and one of our mums has just started working in the special school where she did her final placement so that is often a good route as the school sees you in a professional role rather than as a "helper".

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