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Any TAs work in high school? What she it like?

(8 Posts)
Astro55 Sat 07-Jan-17 20:08:30

I've applied for a TA position in a high school after many years in juniors - I know it will be a culture shock - but how's your day structured? What do you do? In class? In a unit? Mixture?

OP’s posts: |
dotdotdotmustdash Sat 07-Jan-17 20:30:20

I work in a mainstream school, which runs on a 6 period day. We have a small number of pupils who we (the team of about 7 TAs) support on a 1-1 basis in class, some with physical disabilities, some with learning or behavioural needs. In about half of our classes we are there for 'general support' in which case we are generally aware of a number of children in the class with learning issues (maybe Dyslexia or ADD) and we work with them, or sometimes we work with the noisy pupils which gives the teacher more opportunity to spend time with the rest of the class.

I enjoy it far more than working with younger pupils, the day goes by very quickly and you work within all the departments of the school and with most of the teachers. I also enjoy the intellectual challenge of jumping between 12yr olds learning German and 16yr olds learning Physics. Some TAs seem to prefer standing at the back of the class and only helping when they're asked to do a specific task, I much prefer getting stuck into helping with projects or working with a group - sometimes just sitting amongst some pupils and modelling the standard of work required is useful as it gives them a visual reference for what they're meant to be doing.

In creative classes I generally produce a piece of art or music alongside them and we can present it as a joint effort. I find this particularly useful for pupils with low self-esteem as often they don't begin a project independently as they feel as if they have failed at it already. In Maths/English I will circulate and support the teaching alongside the teacher, although I always refer to the teacher if I'm not sure I can answer the question, or help the child find the answer elsewhere.

What we (the TAs) don't have a big role in, is discipline. We will tell pupils when they have been rude to us or others, and we will talk to the teacher if it's serious enough but we don't have any form of sanction or penalty to apply. We tend to have a different relationship with many of the pupils and can be a bit less formal.

I was a trained Psychiatric Nurse and FE Lecturer before I had health problems and returned to working life in a p/t TA role. I only planned to be a TA for a year until I returned to my career, but 5 years on I still enjoy it even though the pay is poor. I think the children benefit from my support and I believe the teachers appreciate another mature, calm, well-educated body in the room. Best of all, when the bell rings I go home and take nothing work-related with me. That is very different from my previous careers.

Astro55 Sat 07-Jan-17 21:30:54

Thank you - that's a great help!

Do you deal with any paperwork - safeguarding - meetings with parents or SS type stuff?

Is there much requirement for logs of concern or one to one councilling type roll!?

I think the main skills requirement was parietal support

OP’s posts: |
Astro55 Sat 07-Jan-17 21:31:11

Pastoral -

OP’s posts: |
dotdotdotmustdash Sat 07-Jan-17 22:13:54

Paperwork, very little in my current role. We put in written statements about incidents, fill in monitoring notes about specific children and fill out daily home-school diaries for a couple of them. We are also required to complete 'cause for concern' documentation if we come across anything which we regard as worrying - it may be something inappopriate a child has said or done, or a health or neglect related issue. We are copied into minutes from pastoral meetings and have daily short meetings with our manager. I have had little contact with parents (fosterers in this case), other than in one role where I worked full-time 1-1 with a troubled looked-after child. I actually worked with this child for over a year when they began secondary schooliing and it was a great year. They exceeded expectations academically and their behaviour improved every week. They ended the year with above-average marks and no punishments at all. It was probably the most rewarding year I have ever experienced in any job.

As for counselling, then I suppose that it's embedded in the job every day. I often get called to take troubled and disruptive youngsters out of the classroom and often it's not as a disciplinary measure, more as a time-out. Rather than stand outside I'll take them for a walk around the school and up and down a few stairs. It's a good time to chat and inject a little humour and reflection into their day. Often within 5 or 10 minutes the child is more able to return to the class and behave more appropriately. Of course, that depends on whether the teacher feels that they want the behaviour managed that way but in my school (which has a high index of children from deprived households) the teachers trust us in the relationships we have with the pupils. Sometimes, for all of us in the school, just surviving one day at a time is the priority and we pick our battles carefully.

In essence, yes pastoral support is a part of the job, with educational and physical support in there too. We supervise the lunch and break clubs which tend to be used by the pupils with Austistic Spectrum symptoms, and we are very motherly (and sometimes fatherly) towards those pupils, sorting out their schoolbags and squabbles in a non-classroom setting. They really should pay us more!

Astro55 Sat 07-Jan-17 22:23:07

Thank you - very insightful - begging to think I'd be quite good at it!

I heard there's a lot of abuse - which I quite understand from a teen struggling with pressures and it's not personal!!

I'll let you know how the interview goes

OP’s posts: |
dotdotdotmustdash Sun 08-Jan-17 22:43:26

Good luck at the interview. I'm sure you'll be asked about how you will handle a pupil being very rude to you or how to deal with a severe behaviour incident and that's probably the question you will struggle with if you haven't had the experience. Remember to talk about de-escalating methods and how you would follow the teacher's lead. Above all you need to stress that you would remain calm. I think I answered that question by saying that I would attempt to distract the child from their behaviour and if that failed I would ask them to step outside with me for a time-out. If the teacher isn't aware by then, then I would make sure they were and it's up to them to deal with the child or decide if they want to send for senior staff or ultimately evacuate the rest of the class elsewhere.

I'm sure you'll do very well smile

Fourmantent Tue 10-Jan-17 21:44:23


I'm a secondary TA and very much relate to everything Dotdot has posted. My job is just like the one she describes. I also work as a reader and scribe in exams. I absolutely love my job - no two days are the same. I go from Year 7 PHSE to Year 13 English to Year 9 Science to Year 11 Maths to Year 10 Food Tech. I also do some one-to-one in the SEN unit. Sometimes the TAs have students that they mentor and sometimes they are attached to one student. It's very varied and very rewarding and often great fun. Anything problematic or serious always gets referred to class teacher, Head of Year or SENCO for them to deal with.

I used to be a Junior School TA and found it far less interesting. The only bad thing is the terrible pay.

Good luck with the interview. They always ask about safeguarding... if a child discloses something to you, you are not allowed to tell the child that you will keep it a secret.

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