Why Teaching Assistant Training is so Important…
Support staff in schools play a crucial role in both ensuring that all pupils across the education system have access to high quality education and assisting other professionals to meet their needs. However, TAs and learning support assistants across all phases are often overlooked when it comes to CPD – especially in comparison to their teacher counterparts. There is a flexible and cost-effective solution to this which all schools can access – the apprenticeship levy. Large education employers, such as local authorities and multi-academy trusts, automatically pay into the government’s apprenticeship levy pot each month. They can then claim this money back to spend on training existing staff or recruiting apprentices and upskilling them in role.
I’m biased. I have had some terrible teaching assistants and some amazing ones. What was the difference? Some of it was their training but often it was as much down to personality and their personal skills set. Some of our TAs are amazing individuals with great realtionsships with our students…but they just don’t quite get the need to have an academic impact or the knowledge how to deal with a particular behaviour. Very often, they will do something because they have been told to, or because it is intuitive, but without understanding ‘why’ they are doing it.
Our teaching assistants are the first tier of support for our most vulnerable students, and yet the ones in which we often invest the least – both in terms of their salaries (let’s save that for another blog) and their training. Holding on to the good ones is essential.
My personal belief is that not everyone does it for the money…yes it pays the bills, but most of us, teaching assistants included, don’t go into it thinking about the salary. We enter because we want to make a difference and that altruistic sense of achievement. Rewarding someone doesn’t have to be monetary, we can recognise them, say thank you…but most of all we can equip them with the skills they need to undertake their roles effectively by investing in their development. SENsible SENCO
Smaller schools or education settings who don’t pay the levy can still access funding. The government will fund 95% of an apprenticeship with the remaining 5% needing to be covered by the school’s budget. For example: the TA apprenticeship costs a maximum of £5000 per learner for the 18 month programme – the ESFA will fund £4750 of this with your school only needing to pay the remaining £250. There are many apprenticeships available for all types of support staff from levels 2-7, with some of the most popular at Level 3.
United Learning Apprenticeships offers two programmes for learning support staff: Level 3 Teaching Assistant and Level 3 Early Years Educator. These programmes equip colleagues with a thorough grounding in the theory and pedagogy of supporting a diverse range of learners, combined with practical application in their day-to-day role. Learners complete their training during their normal working hours and learning can be completed flexibly online with the support of an in-school mentor and our experienced Programme Leads.