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Become a teaching assistant for better work/life balance?

57 replies

DoubleCheeseForNeville · 12/03/2022 19:19

I currently have a well established career in HR, in a role that's somewhere between HR Manager and HR Director. I have DD aged 8 and DS aged 5. I don't mind the work, although I don't love it - it's something I fell into in my early 20s, not anything I ever set out to do. I'm pretty well paid so between me and DH, we're fairly comfortable. If I hadn't taken two maternity leaves, I know I'd definitely be HR Director by now, and I know I can probably get to that stage but it'll mean going full time for sure, and I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to that.

I currently work Monday to Thursday from home. DH works from home too, and his work is pretty flexible so we manage to juggle childcare and pick ups etc between us without having to pay for after school clubs etc during term time. Longer school holidays (Easter, Summer etc) we do use clubs and it can be quite expensive and the DC don't always love it. Sounds silly but I really miss them when they're out all day and I feel sad I'm not doing things with them, especially on those glorious long summer holiday days. I often feel resentful I'm stuck working instead of being with them. I know they'd both rather be with me as well. DS in particular is quite clingy to me. My job is also quite stressful as it's a fast paced growing company led by a young ambitious CEO (who is brilliant but exhausting) and I'm often knackered and a bit stressed out.

I have a friend who's a TA, and she's always saying how great it is that she gets so much time off, never has to pay for childcare and gets to spend so much time with her kids. It's made me think, should I look for a role as a TA, given that I'm not in love with my career? Or would I be stupid to take such a big drop in salary for the sake of better work/life balance? We'd be able to manage financially if DH's salary stays the same (which it should), but it feels like a big risk.

Would love to hear from any TAs...I feel in a bit of a pickle (although appreciate its completely self-imposed!)

OP posts:
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TerrifiedandWorried · 12/03/2022 19:23

Can you live on £950 - £1100 a month?

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DoubleCheeseForNeville · 12/03/2022 19:24

With DH's salary and not having to pay for any childcare ever, we could.

OP posts:
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TerrifiedandWorried · 12/03/2022 19:26

There's a huge range of TA jobs. Were you thinking primary or secondary?

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StrongerOrWeaker · 12/03/2022 19:26

Could you go part time instead?

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Porfre · 12/03/2022 19:26

I thinks it's the pay that is the problem.

They really dont get much for the hours they do

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TerrifiedandWorried · 12/03/2022 19:28

Usually TA roles are 8.30-3.30 term time only. Lunch is 30 minutes unpaid. You have to go in for inset days so need to cover childcare then.

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Piggywaspushed · 12/03/2022 19:29

You don't say anything that suggests you actively want to do the work of a TA in your OP, just that you fancy the hours. Have you any skills or experience to bring to a role?

We have a very high churn rate of TAs. The job is not as they expect.

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Whinge · 12/03/2022 19:29

@DoubleCheeseForNeville

With DH's salary and not having to pay for any childcare ever, we could.

You may still have to pay out for childcare, unless your DH can do every drop off and pick up. Also depending on your area some holidays may not match up with your children's school holidays.
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TerrifiedandWorried · 12/03/2022 19:29

It is a great job and I love it but the pay is bad and it's extremely hard work.

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Makeitsoso · 12/03/2022 19:30

It’s a hard job and can’t be really stressful if you don’t have a good relationship with the teacher. Could you talk to your boss about having August as unpaid leave/being on 11/12month contract. You would probably still earn a lot more than as a TA and you’ve be able to enjoy spending time with your children in the summer holiday.

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LadyCatStark · 12/03/2022 19:32

Absolutely not in these times of economic uncertainty. You’d soon get bored during those long, glorious summer holidays when you can’t afford to go out anywhere and half the time it’s raining anyway!

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Duracellbunnywannabe · 12/03/2022 19:33

You would still need wrap around care. Schools have different hours for TAs some are 8 until 4 but I would expect at least 8.30 until 3.30. Primary or secondary? In our areas lots of TAs and there is a lot of competition for jobs.

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Spudyoulikeit · 12/03/2022 19:34

If you fancy the job then go for it! Try and get some experience first so that you know what you’d be getting yourself in for.

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frogsbreath · 12/03/2022 19:34

You will still likely need childcare. I work 8.30-4.30, there was no other option given. I need to pay £12.50 a day after school club for one child.

Also, unless you really want to do the work, you will feel aggrieved at the max workload for little more than minimum wage.

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DoobryWhatsit · 12/03/2022 19:34

The savings on childcare are entirely irrelevant considering the pay cut.

You're currently part time? Would your company be willing to consider 5 days a week, term time only (or some similarish arrangement) rather than 4 days a week year round?

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hedgehogger1 · 12/03/2022 19:34

Also not massively reliable. A lot of TAs from a lot of schools have been made redundant as school budgets have squeezed

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glowingcandle · 12/03/2022 19:36

I get the appeal of term time only/part time work and would love to find something which fits into those hours. There must be other options though other than being a TA? As others have said you don't sound particularly interested in the job, only the hours.

My mum was a TA in a secondary school and absolutely hated it, she only lasted a term (admittedly it was 20 years ago). She ended up as a finance assistant in a school instead and that suited her really well. The schools near me often advertise HR jobs. Or have you looked into being a school business manager?

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Blueberrymuffinman · 12/03/2022 19:37

@Piggywaspushed

You don't say anything that suggests you actively want to do the work of a TA in your OP, just that you fancy the hours. Have you any skills or experience to bring to a role?

We have a very high churn rate of TAs. The job is not as they expect.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. People go into jobs for all sorts of reasons and as long as they are competent and professional I don’t think it matters if their burning desires are elsewhere.

What I would say is that doing school drop offs and pickups will be nigh on impossible, so you’d need DH to do all of those.
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TerrifiedandWorried · 12/03/2022 19:37

Most contracts aren't permanent now too.

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ToastandJamandTea · 12/03/2022 19:42

Currently working as a TA and I love it. I have over 15 years of early years experience and a degree in education. I work 8.30-3.30 and have a staff meeting every two weeks. I get 30 minutes unpaid break each day and the rest of the time in run off my feet. I make £1000 a month.
My childcare bill is nearly £300 for six weeks of wraparound 3-4.15.
I don't know how much longer i can stay in the job. Every other bill is going up and my pay is barely advice minimum wage.

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twinsetandpearl · 12/03/2022 19:43

How would your DH feel being the main earner?

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RJnomore1 · 12/03/2022 19:46

Why teaching assistant?

If you want to work less and earn less (I’d shoot yourself in the foot for long term prospects in a few years when your kids are teens) there are surely other options more aligned to your current skills in HR?

TAs work ridiculously hard for little pay and often little thanks in one of the most challenging and important industries we have. It’s not a hobby job.

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Chainey · 12/03/2022 19:48

Very low pay, you won’t be able to do the school run during term time, and you’ll work hard for your money! Not an easy job at all.

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DoubleCheeseForNeville · 12/03/2022 19:48

Thanks for all the replies! Really appreciate everyone's thoughts.

To answer some of the questions:

  • DH's role is super flexible. He could definitely do every pick up and drop off. DCs school is literally a two minute walk, we just share the school runs now to make it fair, but I know he'd have no problem with doing it all if I couldn't. We definitely wouldn't need any wraparound care.


  • I definitely have an interest in the role and totally appreciate you can only do it and do well if you're committed. I love kids and I would have had more of my own if I felt it was financially viable. I did my work experience (about a hundred years ago) at a nursery and seriously considered teacher training.


  • I'd definitely be looking at primary, preferably early years or KS1.


Thanks to PP who mentioned inset days - I hadn't considered that.
OP posts:
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SNUG2022 · 12/03/2022 19:48

HR Manager in a school or School Business Manager might be better. You'd be mad to do it imo. It's all year round normally but you take your annual leave in the holidays.

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