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Thinking about a School Support role? Read This!

At Teachers Together, we frequently receive inquiries from people interested in getting into classroom support roles in schools. Whether you're transitioning from another field or just starting out in your career, exploring a role in education can be an exciting prospect. Drawing on my 17+ years of experience working directly with schools, I'd like to share some insights for anyone considering a support role in the classroom. So, let's dive in!

A girl is receiving one-to-one support in a classroom while she and her classmates work with small plastic building blocks.

The Importance of School Support

Working in a school requires dedication and a commitment to supporting the needs of children and young people. Something we often come across is applicants who are focussed only on how a support role suits them, rather than what they can offer to the job.

Working in a school can appear very attractive due to perceptions around the working hours and time off during school holidays but don’t be fooled; it may not be a typical “9-5” job but that doesn’t mean it’s not without its commitments. On a typical school day, our members are required to be in by 8.20am and provide support until 3.45pm. Additionally, our partners often require support during breakfast and after-school clubs.

We work with members who recognise and embrace the challenges and rewards that come with working in an educational setting, as we want to help them build a significant and fulfilling career.

Getting Started

Companies like ours typically look for candidates with prior experience. We prioritise candidates who have worked in a UK school for a minimum of three months, as it ensures they understand the responsibilities and challenges they'll face in the classroom. Familiarity with the UK curriculum and best practices is essential for delivering value to our partner schools and the children under their care.

That said, if you have any experience of working with children and young people in other settings such as scouts/guides, holiday clubs, nurseries, tutoring etc, then this will be taken into consideration with your application. Ultimately, as a business, we are accountable for the service we provide and need to ensure the members we put forward to our partners have the necessary traits and skills to reflect our values and commitment to providing high quality support.

Focus on Special Educational Needs (SEN)

The number of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) is increasing each year. Many schools now require additional support for students with SEN, such as autistic spectrum disorder or speech, language, and communication needs. This is placing a significant strain on school resources as they are often required to fund this additional support from their budgets, especially when a pupil does not have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in place with the local authority.

The way many schools are combating this is to require mainstream teaching assistants to also provide SEN support. The knock-on effect of this is that many roles being requested via recruitment companies are for SEN-trained support staff with fewer demands for more traditional teaching assistant roles. By providing classroom support to these students, you can contribute to making schools more inclusive and nurturing learning environments.

Training and Personal Characteristics

As a support staff member, a high level of understanding, empathy and patience is crucial when working with students with special educational needs. While previous knowledge or experience is desirable, ultimately, it's your passion and dedication that will make a difference in the lives of these children. If you're motivated by a genuine desire to help and support them, then a career in this field may be right for you.

Ongoing Training and Development

Continuing professional development is essential in this role. At Teachers Together, we offer a wide range of online and in-person courses to support our members. We believe in equipping you with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in your role and ensure the best outcomes for students. Remember, your individual characteristics and connections with students often matter more than the certificates in your CPD folder.

In Summary

If you want to take your first steps into working in a school support role, we recommend the following:

  1. Gain Classroom Experience: One of the most valuable steps you can take is to gain experience working in a UK classroom or a related setting. We recommend a minimum of three months to develop an understanding of the general duties involved. Classroom experience provides crucial knowledge, such as familiarity with the curriculum and behaviour management practices, which strengthens your ability to contribute effectively.

  2. Consider Additional Training: To bolster your portfolio and increase confidence, consider undertaking additional training relevant to the role you're pursuing. Continuous learning is key to professional growth and will equip you with the skills needed to support students effectively.

  3. Explore Your Options: Working with agencies specialising in temporary supply can offer diverse experiences in multiple settings, allowing you to make informed decisions about your career path. It's a fantastic opportunity to gain a range of experiences while building your skill set and professional network.

How We Can Help You

If you believe a support role in education aligns with your aspirations, don't hesitate to get in touch with our team to discuss it further and begin your membership application. We have helped our members secure roles in schools in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, and their positive experiences reflect our commitment to your success.

Here's what some of our members have to say about their experience with Teachers Together:

  • Edward: "From the moment I first spoke to Teachers Together, it became clear that they genuinely cared about finding me the right placement which they did in a very short space of time."

  • Tanja: "I couldn't have wished for a more supportive team when I was looking to get work in a school and classroom”

  • Izzet: "The support they offer is fantastic, and they always have time to help with any concerns or issues that I have.”

Ready to Take the Next Step?

Embarking on a support role in education can be a rewarding journey. By gaining experience, seeking additional training, and embracing the challenges of working in schools, you can make a meaningful impact on the lives of children and young people. Teachers Together is here to support you every step of the way, ensuring you have the necessary skills and opportunities to thrive in your career.

Reach out to us today and let's start building your path in education! Call us on 01707 938 911 or email us here.

- Oliver Gosden, Director of Teachers Together

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