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Student Stories

Emma's story

Emma is in an enjoyable and fulfilling career as a Teaching Assistant after following the Stonebridge Teaching Assistant Diploma Course. For 16 years previously she had a successful career in Retail working up to Store Manager and had worked hard to complete various management qualifications. Emma‘s story behind why she changed her career is told below.

Retail had changed immensely in 16 years and it had become more about facts and figures and action plans and less about customer care. I wanted to be in a job where I felt I could make a difference and where I could see the work I was doing would help individuals.

I found the Stonebridge Teaching Assistant Course online which suited my needs perfectly. I was able to study at home in my own time, at my own pace with no need for a work placement. I was quite anxious when I started as it had been a long time since I was a student. How would I cope with studying again? My doubts quickly subsided as I worked through the course. It was set out in an easy to read manner and the tasks were practical.

On completing the first module I logged on and submitted the answers to the module tasks. Then the nerves kicked in. How long would I have to wait for a reply, would I pass, had I written enough, had I answered in enough detail? Well, I didn’t have to wait long to find out as I received notification just 24 hours later. I logged on to the student zone and there was the feedback sheet. When I saw I had passed I was so relieved. The feedback sheet included a comment from my tutor which I found helpful and encouraging. I’d done it – I’d passed my first module and so on to the next.

At the same time as doing the course I visited a local Primary School and did some voluntary work. The modules studied on the course helped me a lot with my work in the Primary School and after a couple of terms I was offered a job in the school, just as I was awarded my Teaching Assistant Diploma – With Merit!

Sarah's Story

Sarah worked as a private nanny for many years and loved working with children. But she decided to change direction and become a teaching assistant when she had kids of her own and her clients were understandably reluctant to pay for her services if she was looking after her own children on the job. A teaching assistant role would fit in perfectly with her kids’ schedule and would provide her the time to care for her family.

Sarah studied at home with a local tutor to complete her level 3 teaching assistant diploma. She needed a placement to gain some practical experience, so she secured a 2-day per week placement at her kids’ school, with the same teacher that got her through her own A levels.

During her placement work she saw that a lot of students do need one-on-one special needs support. She decided she would like to find out more about helping students with special educational needs, not to mention it would add another training course to her TA portfolio. She did some research on distance learning courses and found Stonebridge College and the Special Educational Needs course at a competitive price.

With three children, Sarah felt that the Stonebridge policy of ‘no time limits’ was a major advantage. It allowed her as much time as she needed to do the course. This convenience made her feel comfortable to study a course not only while working as a TA, but also working as a carer for a person with dementia and taking care of her husband, three children, and several cats and dogs.

Through Sarah’s work placement she was able to gain real-life observations of the material she was studying through her Stonebridge home learning course. “The course was very eye-opening. There’s a whole lot more to being a TA than just sitting in a classroom. There are so many different aspects of SEN and in my placement I saw how children are all so different and need to be integrated as well as benefit from one-to-one support.”

“I got off my backside and took it upon myself to do this, do something to better myself.” Sarah interviewed for a TA position at her kids’ school prior to enrolling on the SEN course, but wasn’t successful. However, while she was completing her studies with Stonebridge a SEN position came up at the same school and she was offered the job within the week.

Sarah now works part-time, in the mornings, as a special educational needs teaching assistant. She helps two students on a one-to-one basis with literacy and maths, and she also works in a dinner time staff role helping a boy with Down’s syndrome.

Sarah’s next step is to complete the Classroom Behaviour course through Stonebridge. She sees it as the next logical step and another notch on her belt toward her goal to become a Higher Level Teaching Assistant.

“I needed to change the direction my life was heading in, and I believe Stonebridge helped me do that. I would not have got my job if I hadn’t done the SEN course. I definitely recommend Stonebridge.”

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