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Teacher to TA - career suicide?(15 Posts)
Testing name change
Bit of background first:
I've had two fixed term, one year contracts since gaining QTS. Both schools ended up in RI after I left (did I curse them? ) so have had massive staffing restructures and virtually nobody remaining who can give me a reference above the "---- worked here from this date to that date and didn't punch anyone"
I've been struggling to get back into teaching after having having my child...had two years off. I live in an area where there are 3 teacher training colleges nearby, churning out 100s of NQTs each year so competition is stiff.
I started applying for jobs back in April, got selected for lesson obs and then further selected to interview for 6 jobs (out of about 10 applications) and every time I've been in the last two, strong feedback, and lost out to an NQT. I felt disheartened and went on supply in September...but it's hard to organise breakfast club/afterchool club at short notice at DS nursery, so haven't been able to do much of that.
A couple of weeks ago, I started applying again. Got lesson obs and then an interview at the first school I applied to...again, last two, very strong feedback etc and pipped by an NQT.
The need for a job has intensified at home so I have applied and gained a position as a TA...just so I'm doing something in education while looking for a teaching job. The head at the school is very highly regarded locally so I feel a good reference from him would really improve my prospects.
My concerns are that this may, on the other hand be career suicide. Will prospective schools view a teacher working as a TA as being in some way a 'failed' teacher?
Also, am I likely to be exploited, paid as a TA and used as a teacher? In my last school, Level TAs were routinely sent to cover teachers for whole days (rather than supply be called in) and were never paid extra for the responsibility. I'm happy to help out and go the extra mile when needed but not if it means I'm basically an in-house cover supervisor.
One one hand, I need the income and the reference but on the other hand, I am worrying that this might damage my career. Any thoughts?
I'm sure plenty of people will be along who know better than me
But I know lots of teachers who have briefly been TAs due to stress or young kids and they have already been a part of the school so knew when the jobs came up etc.
I don't think it's guaranteed but seemed to work for them, and a big gap in employment is harder to explain than TAing for a while
I think that’s better than being out of education.
That is pretty much a big part of my rationale, @PotteringAlong I had started to consider non teaching roles but realise that would take me further away from where I want to be.
Could you try starting off doing supply teaching? There are often longer term contracts covering long term sick etc. I've been offered FT jobs from supply placements too.
@askingalways I've tried supply but the nursery my child is at requires pre-booking for wrap around care so it's hard to do supply. I've asked the supply agency about longer term work but it only ever seems to be 'can you start this morning for two weeks' and by the time I've arranged the wraparound care they've offered it to someone who can bounce in straight away.
In that case - I think yes a TA role would be your best bet. You just need to take every opportunity and make it a real selling point.
I think you absolutely will end up being used as cover from time to time but, having been out of the system for two years and having only worked in two challenging(?) schools since qualifying, that extra experience if delivering (hopefully having been left all the planning in advance) can only strengthen your skills.
Your child is nursery age - I would TA until they are school-age and switch back to teaching then unless a vacancy comes up in the interim within the same school.
I ended up doing cover supervision as a choice in a school I liked because it fitted into childcare/having a life outside of school - you take the 50% pay cut in order to leave at 3.30 with zero responsibilities.
But that was learning cover supervision.
I do know of full-timers who went part-time to find they were still doing much of the job with half of the pay.
With TA work I am not sure how much the teacher(s)/senco expect you to plan yourself/help with planning or your other duties/record keeping etc
I was once an assistant to one SN pupil when I was doing supply (but paid teacher rates, go figure) but that involved only some record-keeping and next to no resource planning (I wasn't being used effectively and did some resources off my own bat as teachers were doing things on the fly). That was secondary.
Assume you are primary? The TAs I met in the primary sector seemed to do a hell of a lot, some were practically co-teachers/team teaching.
In a nice school, it might be worth it for the experience/stability/regular income...but as you will always be up against NQTs you need to make sure you don't get trapped/comfortable/stuck.
Oh and as to 'career suicide' I have no doubt that my own CV looked like a downward slide of demotion but as it was voluntary (jumping rather than being pushed!) and I could back it up with doing it because the children were small, I still think I could have swapped back across (subject in short supply/transferable skills from teaching across the curriculum etc) had I needed to...I cannot tell you that for sure as I ended up emigrating but I think that you just need to make sure that you are not being shortchanged, that you don't resent the hours you end up doing, that you apply for all teacher vacancies once in position and once they 'know' you and that you can back up/explain your decisions in interview/on paper.
One last thing...do look for any maternity leaves you could go and cover.
1. unlike supply, it's steady - you know you are covering for two terms or however long
2. it gets you a foot in the door/new reference
3. you are not committed to the school in the long term but it allows you to judge a third school/see how it fits/see whether teaching is suiting you
4. if the person takes extended maternity/chooses not to come back and that or another vacancy comes up, you are usually first call
Sorry - just read all that back...I wasn't about to get pushed from anywhere (when I did supply I was offered three full-time jobs).
What I mean is that if you made decisions for you/your family/life-work balance/from an empowered position but that you know your worth/are not a QTS they can just get on the cheap ad infinitum - that you can sell it accordingly at a later date. I think that's why I was offered full-time a lot when I did supply work - I was power-suited/don't fuck with me attitude/made it clear that I was choosing them not the other way round (true: I started a spreadsheet of where I would and wouldn't travel to) and that confidence/lack of desperation meant I was in demand during that time (Supply work on a day-to-day can suck though but that's a different thread)
Good luck OP
Thank you so much for all your advice and experiences. Yes, I am in primary.
I'm 100% confident in my subject knowledge and teaching ability, I know I'm a consistently good teacher. The reason I had to take extended mat leave was because my child has a disability, which took some time getting to grips with, lots of hospital visits etc...I knew I wouldn't have been able to give 100% to the job if I had gone back to teaching any sooner.
The more I think about it, your advice re TAing til DC goes to school, is really sound. It's probably much easier to manage going back to work after mat leave if you are going back to your permanent role rather than fighting to get a job and establish yourself in a new school. I'll look at it as something I will choose to do until the summer and revisit. I can absolutely see the benefits of reduced workload/life balance etc so will go into it with a positive outlook and do my best.
It's definitely better to be in the job, showing what I am capable of doing, and then having a better shot should a teaching post come up in the school.
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