Katy A.

Learning Support Assistant / Teaching Assistant
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Katy A.
Psychology
Psychology
Undergraduate
James
2016
United Kingdom

My employment

Learning Support Assistant / Teaching Assistant
A Junior School in Liverpool
United Kingdom
Education
Small business (0-49 employees)
2016

Like this profile?

Add this profile to your favourites so you can return to it later from your account.

A day in the life of a Learning Support Assistant / Teaching Assistant in the United Kingdom

An aspiring Educational Psychologist, currently working as a Teaching Assistant, and keen to help others with any questions they may have about working in - and applying psychological research to - the field of Education

What I do

I am aspiring to one day become an Educational Psychologist, and in order to gain experience required to apply for the Educational Doctorate, I am working as a Teaching Assistant. My job includes reading with children, carrying out interventions for children, covering and assisting in lessons, and helping out with admin, amongst many other slightly more random things such as going on school trips!

Skills I use and how I developed them

In my job, I have to have excellent communication skills to work with the range of professionals that I interact with on a daily basis, and also to appropriately interact with the children. It is important to adapt your communication to each child, whether they have special educational needs or are simply struggling to understand something. I learned this through undertaking a variety of York Students in Schools placements whilst at York, and also through the group work and presentation work that we had to work on throughout the Bsc Psychology course.
I've had to use more specific skills such as the ability to deliver interventions and work one-to-one with children, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do so many of these things in York.
I also have to be very adaptable, which, again was learnt through my various York Students in Schools placements.
I have had to be very conscientious and have good time management due to the rather large workload that I have in my job, and I have learned this in my time at York. During my degree, there were often times where we had several concurrent deadlines as well as revision, any voluntary roles, and any work commitments, and this taught me the importance of prioritisation and working hard.

What I like most

My favourite thing about this job is when you have been working so hard to help a child understand a question or a concept, and then you have that 'Eureka moment' and they finally get it! Careers in education can be so rewarding - especially since the kids can say some hilarious things!

What I like least

Sometimes, working with children can be quite hectic. You can arrive at school with a clear idea of what your day will entail, and leave having done something completely different with your day! You have to be quite adaptable.

What surprised me most

Having worked as a volunteer classroom assistant in the past, when I arrived at my first paid post of this nature, I was quite surprised at just how different it was! The school I work at uses lots of different techniques, vocabulary and interventions to what I had been used to. When working in education, you have to be prepared to adapt to the way that different schools tackle a variety of issues and tasks, and working in this job has really taught me that.

How I looked for work

I found this job on my local City Council website. I had talked to teachers and other professionals that I knew working in Education about the nature of the roles and the best way to apply for them prior to this. I had also met with Educational Psychologists to ask them how they gained the relevant experience needed for the doctorate. When I saw this specific job, I contacted the school and looked them up on the internet.

How I found out about the job

Government job website

The recruitment process

I first had to fill out a handwritten form (which I had requested via telephone after seeing the online job advertisement) detailing my suitability for the role and how I fit the person specification. Once I had posted this off, I was invited to an interview. After I received the job offer, references were requested.

My career goals when I graduated

As mentioned earlier in this profile, I aim eventually to become an Educational Psychologist, which requires foremost to gain at least 1 year of relevant experience followed by application to and completion of an Educational Doctorate.

My career history

I have taken the first step in achieving my career goal - I am gaining the relevant experience required to apply for the doctorate course.

What has helped my career to progress

The degree and experience I gained at York has been invaluable, as well as speaking to Educational Psychologists about their own career progressions. I have never given up and always striven to achieve anything I believed would be helpful to reaching my goal.

Courses taken since graduation

I've gained a qualification as a First Aider which has been massively helpful in work so far (children fall over a lot!), and hope to achieve many further relevant qualifications and training, especially in Special Educational Needs, before undertaking the doctorate course.

How my studies have helped my career

As I briefly mentioned earlier, studying at York has been so helpful in my current job. The Psychology department at York has excellent facilities and teaching provision for Developmental Psychology and this helped me hone my interest in this area. I have been able to specialise in developmental disorders in my 3rd year and this provided me with an incredible base of knowledge that I have been able to apply in my voluntary and paid work experience. I was able to conduct my project in an area that was very applicable to education and which had implications to education, which was a fantastic opportunity with regard to applications to the doctorate.

What surprised me about my career so far

How much I would enjoy this stage of it!

Where I hope to be in 5 years

In five years, I hope that I will be a fully qualified Educational Psychologist, practising in the North West of England.

My advice to students considering work

Today's job market can be tough. Don't be afraid of getting rejections or even getting no reply at all - just go for it and be committed and you will get there. For education, lots of jobs are released around April time.

My advice about working in my industry

Be prepared for anything! Working in Education can be very exciting and there are always new challenges around the corner, especially when you might not expect them. Be adaptable and flexible and most of all, enjoy it! If you want to become an Educational Psychologist, there are plenty of options other than being a Teaching Assistant. You can be a Supply Teacher (without doing any further qualifications after your Psychology degree), train to be a Teacher, become a Learning Mentor, become an Assistant Psychologist... The list is almost endless when it comes to relevant experience - you can even work in mental health!

Other advice

It's never too late to start getting that experience and using the incredible opportunities offered to you at York. Try a York Students in Schools placement. Volunteer at S.N.A.P.P.Y. Go for that committee position you've been eyeing up. Try out a new hobby. Do something for the local community. The experiences you are offered at University, especially at York, are once-in-a-lifetime and not to be wasted!

Contacting me

I would love to mentor any students looking into a career in Education, especially Educational Psychology, or even those who are just interested in how they can make the most of the volunteering opportunities at York that could bolster their C.V. and make them stand out as the ideal candidate for their dream job. I would also be happy to answer questions on studying Psychology at York.

Next steps...

If you like the look of Katy’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Katy a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Katy to be your mentor.

Related profiles

Jenny K.
Research Assistant
University of Sheffield
Psychology
2007
Rebecca L.
User Experience Practitioner
SimpleUsability ltd.
Psychology
2015
Gareth E.
Teacher of Sociology
Sociology
2010
Emma T.
Teaching Assistant
University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Management
2007