|1-to-1 Support/SEND Teaching Assistant|
|Lincolnshire County Council|
|Small business (0-49 employees)|
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A day in the life of a 1-to-1 Support/SEND Teaching Assistant in the United Kingdom
Another great thing about teaching is that you come away with so many stories to tell, its hard to single out just one.
Briefly describe the organisation you work for
I work for a small Church of England Primary school in rural Lincolnshire. There are 7 classes (one per year) and just under 30 members of staff. Children start in EYFS at aged 4 and progress through to Key Stage 1 (Year 1 and 2) and Key Stage 2 (Year 3, 4, 5 and 6).
What do you do?
My duty is to support a pupil with ASD in their learning and development, enabling them to make best use of the educational opportunities presented to them. This includes supporting the Class Teacher by delivering individualised provision that is specific to the child’s areas of need but also building a safe and inclusive environment that facilitates this learning.
Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?
I always knew that I wanted to work with children but it was only during my last year of university that I decided to aim specifically towards teaching. After focusing on educational psychology for my final year project & literature review, I was determined to continue researching these topics by completing a PGCE alongside a SCITT programme. This really gave me the best of both worlds as I was able to expand my knowledge of educational theories and the relevant science, while also spending most of my time actively teaching. Due to COVID restrictions, my training was unfortunately cut short when the schools closed in March 2020 and although I still received my QTS, I felt that I had missed out on a considerable amount of opportunities. I therefore applied to join a supply agency in order to gain wider exposure to different age groups, teaching practices and schools.
After trying several roles, I was offered a longer placement within a local school working as a 1-to-1 Support Assistant for a child with ASD. I leapt at this opportunity as not only was it positioned within EYFS (a year I had previously not really worked in), but also a role that I could relate back to my final year research (SEND inclusion). After a couple of months of working in this school, building a positive bond with the pupil and seeing a vast improvement in their learning and behaviour. The school offered me a contract to stay and continue giving my support as the pupil moves through Year 1.
Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?
Only slightly as I still work within the educational sector. I knew that I was going to train as a teacher before I graduated as I had already secured a place on a primary SCITT course. Although I am not teaching full-time now, I still get to deliver alternative provision to my SEND pupil in the mornings, as well as picking up teaching in the Year 4 class in the afternoons.
Describe your most memorable day at work
Another great thing about teaching is that you come away with so many stories to tell, its hard to single out just one. However, I would probably say that my most memorable day has to be on the last day of term when I had to say goodbye to a class I had been teaching for most of the year. I had received a handmade card from one of my Year 3 pupils, thanking me for “being the best teacher”, along with a pretty accurate portrait of me and what they had learned in the first lesson I had ever taught them. Knowing that I am able to have such an impact on their educational experience is exactly why I fell in love with teaching in the first place.
What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?
During my 3rd year, I completed a volunteering placement with ‘York Students in Schools’, lasting roughly two terms. This involved spending half a day each week as a classroom assistant, working alongside the Class Teacher, although I also supported children’s reading development by listening to them on a 1-to-1 and group basis.
This enabled me to build up my knowledge of the day-to-day running of an effective learning environment and experience the role of responsibility within an educational setting. The ability to adjust communication was one of the most valuable, transferable skills I took away from this because it forms the basis of meeting children’s needs, regardless of age, phase or ability, which an essential skill in teaching.
What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?
Get as much experience as you can, as early as you can, any sort of experience with children will be valuable on your job applications. I volunteered at Osbaldwick Primary as part of the ‘York Students in Schools’ programme with the university and would highly recommend doing something similar if possible. You may also consider tutoring if you are looking for a paid way to gain more experience.
Alternatively, look for online courses that may be relevant to teaching (safeguarding is a big one!). You don’t have to spend a lot of money, there should be loads out there that are free.
What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?
If you have any questions regarding job applications (i.e. writing personal statements and cover letters to fit person specifications), I am more than happy to help. Similarly, if you have any concerns about teacher training, the day-to-day life of a teacher or the teacher assessment process, I am happy to share my experiences with you.
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