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New career for mum as teaching assistant

Learning with Derbyshire Adult Community Education Service opened up a whole world of opportunity and possibility for mum Hilary Allen to work in a school.

Read her story to find out about her new career as a Teaching Assistant.

“After becoming a Mum it became clear that my current job wasn’t compatible with bringing up a child. I was then made redundant which I used as an opportunity to see what other areas I could use my skills in. I began working as a parent helper in my child’s school and discovered that I really enjoyed working with young children. When a job opportunity for a teaching assistant came up I enquired if I could apply, but was told I needed the correct qualifications. So began my learning journey via my local adult community education centre.

“My tutor had a wealth of experience and knowledge and after completing my Level 1 course, I was advised that I could do my diploma course. This turned out to be interesting, challenging and slightly nerve racking with classroom observations in my placement school. However, other students on the course along with my tutor and assessor supported and believed in me, enabling me to finish the course and achieve the qualification I needed.

“I’m now a Teaching Assistant, working in a local school as part of the Year 1 team, and it’s a job I love. My role is very varied, working with the teachers to help support the children, assisting other TAs in phonic groups, running small intervention sessions, supporting individual children in PE and teaching a workshop.

“The workshops are unique to the school and have given me the opportunity to plan an hourly creative session once a week. They run for 8 weeks throughout the 3 terms and are open to all Year 1 and Reception children, which can make planning quite a challenge. My first completed block has been great fun and a learning curve, watching the children get messy with paint, paper, collage and salt dough. I’ve discovered which activities have really engaged them and which haven’t, so you have to think fast and adapt the session or have a backup activity.

“No two days in the school are the same, the children can be frustrating and amazing in the same hour. Team work is a vital part of the job and I continue to develop my role and learning by working with, observing and talking to other members of staff. The intervention group I run is Talk Boost, which has been developed by speech and language therapists. It has been very interesting and a possible area that I would like to develop. The school also run a Forest School which again interests me and is another area I’d like to become involved in.

It is wonderful to get to know the children, to understand their likes and dislikes, to offer encouragement and praise and help them enjoy their school day. I’ve been very lucky to change my career and discover a job I enjoy, that uses my existing skills and presents me with new challenges.”