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Student Stories

Gill's Story

I’m working twice as hard and earning half as much, but I wouldn't change for the world.

When you work closely with young children playing a part in their development it is worth much more than you could possibly imagine. The work of a teaching assistant maybe challenging, varied and tiring but you really do “make a difference” in the lives of your young pupils.

I became a teaching assistant quite by accident. I worked in the insurance sector for eight years before giving birth to my daughter. In order to fully care for her I gave up work until she reached school age. It was then that I got a parents circular asking for volunteers to spend a little time at the school helping out.

WOW my world turned upside down . . . THIS quickly became “what I wanted to do!”

It was a brilliant job and the working hours/holidays fitted exactly with those of my child. But I needed a paid post in order to contribute to our ever demanding budget. The teachers advised me to get some accredited training and qualifications.

The QCF listed Supporting Teaching and Leaning in Schools Certificate course fitted the bill perfectly.

FE College or Distance Learning?

I listed the pros and cons of each and soon realised that the financial, travelling and homework scheduling demands of an FE college would be impossible for me to accommodate. Distance learning offered such flexibility both in terms of monthly payments and the fact that I could plan my own study schedule to fit in all the other demands of family life.

By the time I started this course I had a permanent unpaid placement in a school working for 12 hours each week. This gave me every opportunity to complete the portfolio part of my course but my biggest challenge was to get the study work done and complete the written assessments.

The solution to completing the theory work may surprise you!

My husband has a job that sometimes keeps him away from home during the week so my personal study time at night has to wait until my daughter is tucked up in bed. By this time I’m usually wacked out and often in my bed soon after but …

I take my study material with me, read it through and then … off to sleep.

This works wonders because the next night I will revisit the material from the dining table (that, by the way, has been my desk for the past 12 months). Sleeping on the information and then going back to it the next night eases it into my mind and is so much more productive for me.

The flexibility of distance learning is wonderful, there are times when a whole week will go by and study has been impossible but then other times when I can make great progress over a few days.

The only real panic I had was to finish my course in time to apply for a particular paid part time post at my daughter’s school. But my tutor Fiona came to my rescue and gave me extra support to get through the hectic time that was necessary to graduate in time.

Job done … trained … qualified.

Job application successful … great hours … great fulfilment.

I think it was what the Chinese call a “happy accident” the day I received that circular from school asking for volunteers. Now every day is different, every day is a joy to wake up to and I can give my daughter all the care she needs too!

Teaching Assistant QCF – Gill Gilbert

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!

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Gill's Story
Gill's Story

I’m working twice as hard and earning half as much, but I wouldn’t change for the world

When you work closely with young children, playing a part in their development, it is worth much more than you could possibly imagine. The work of a teaching assistant maybe challenging, varied and tiring but you really do “make a difference” in the lives of your young pupils...

 Read more

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