education

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The Role of a Higher Level Teaching Assistant

Since gaining Higher Level Teaching Assistant status I have seen my role within school develop greatly. I liaise with the SEN Co-ordinator, parents and external providers.

For pupils

I am currently delivering the Fischer Family Trust Wave 3 reading recovery programme, to five children. As described by Canning (2004), ‘the programme is aimed at children in Year 1 and above who are working within or below Book Band 2. It consists of a rolling programme of a reading day and writing day, taking place for 15-20 minutes daily on a one-to-one basis.’ These children work in a quiet working space, away from classroom distractions and are able to relax and concentrate. They vastly improve their reading ages, and will normally achieve nationally expected levels by the end of the programme. I report the progress made by the children to the SENCo.

Other intervention programmes that I deliver to the children are Springboard 3 and 4 supporting maths. The children, who are in years 4 and 5, are withdrawn in small groups of 4 to 5 from the classroom. This withdrawal makes them feel more comfortable to try new ideas, without the fear of being ridiculed by their more able peers. These sessions very ‘hands on’ and interactive, using the smart board when possible.

Some of the children that I support in year 5 & 6 still have poor phonological awareness, so as Keith (reader 1 page 11) I assess, plan and deliver phonics lessons for them.

For the teacher

I support the teachers in my setting by completing administrative tasks. As Margaret described (reader 1, page 8), I help create displays by mounting the children’s work and collating the display. Photocopying, preparing art materials and medical information for trips are just some of the other administrative tasks that I am asked to perform. I enter children’s data into SIMs and prepare spreadsheets from this information. At times, teachers have to deal with situations that have arisen either overnight, during morning break or lunchtimes. When this occurs in the morning, I will take the attendance register and also order the children school lunches. I will also take the children to the hall for morning assembly. After lunch time I, again, may be asked to register the children and begin their meditation exercise. If I am supporting in the classroom I can be asked to take a small group of children or an individual child out to explain the topic being taught again. This is generally because the group or individual has not understood all that has been discussed and needs further input. This will allow the class teacher to move the rest of the teaching forward. I will always feedback to the teacher the progress made outside the class room, (Caroline, reader 1 page 52) often over break or lunch times.

For the school

The school in which I work has a catchment of children from educationally deprived households. This results in the children not having the support necessary to complete even some off the homework tasks. To combat this, along with another teaching assistant, I set up an after school homework club. We are given a list of children who rarely complete their homework and these become our target group. We offer these children the support that others receive from their parents or carers. It also gives them the chance to use the internet to research better as most of these children do not have this available at home.

Our school runs a reward system of ‘Golden Time’ in the classroom. Children start each week with an allowance of 20 minutes and can have time removed if they break any of the school rules during class time. This is in addition to our house point reward system where children can earn points for their house for good behaviour. In the classroom I model the behaviour expected and am delighted when I am able to issue house points at the end of lessons for those that have done the same.

For the curriculum

One of the teachers in our school has recently returned from long term sick leave. She has to use crutches to get around the school; due to this she is not allowed on the playground, or to be left in the classroom on her own. The main part of her duties is to deliver information and communications technology lessons during PPA time. On occasions I have been asked to support her in this role by bringing the children in from the playground after playtimes and escorting them to the ICT suite. These lessons are one of the children’s favourites and it is always enlightening to see how those that struggle in the more structured lessons, such as numeracy, come alive and interact.

It is tradition at our school for the years 6 children to plan and deliver a leavers assembly for the parents and governors. This normally allows those that are creative to show off as props and stage design are required as well as drama skills being pushed to the forefront of the curriculum. This is often a challenging time for me as art and drama are a weak area of mine.

Previous interests and experience

I was attracted to the role of teaching assistant whilst volunteering in my son’s nursery school. I wasn’t working at the time but with my youngest son starting nursery I had more free time.

I was first approached by the head teacher at the nursery setting and asked if I would consider a position they had available as a lunchtime helper. It was whilst helping here that I became more and more involved in the daily sessions and following a conversation with the head I was made aware of the training that I could do. I quickly enrolled on a NVQ 2 course, which I completed over the next year, followed by a NVQ 3 both in Early Years Child Care and Education, volunteering at the nursery to gain the experience necessary.

Whilst completing this training I helped out at my eldest son’s primary school as a parent helper hearing children read. I thoroughly enjoyed this and mentioned to his teacher that I would like to be considered for a role should one become available. A position as a Learning Support assistant was offered supporting a child who had severe learning difficulties. Having worked with this same child for over three years, she moved to a special school in another local education authority. On recommendation from the head teacher there I was able to secure another position immediately at my current school. Since taking up this vacancy my role has developed greatly to its current level. As a HLTA part of my job accountabilities is to provide support and guidance to other teaching assistants working in the school. I am currently arranging, with the SENCo, a termly meeting for all TA’s where we are able to discuss any issues they may have. I will then feed these back to either the SENCo or head teacher as appropriate, thus helping to minimise conflict within the team.

As suggested in study topic 2 (page 17), I have had several jobs and I believe my work in a high street bank has been especially helpful to develop my confidence and ability to approach parents. As a member of the customer service team I had daily contact with the public, some of whom were rather demanding. Being able to explain to customers the problem or solution without the use of jargon was extremely important, I believe this is a skilled needed when speaking to parents. This position also ensured I understood the importance of confidentiality, which is vital when you are reading children’s confidential files. It is also important to remember that parents (or carers) have a right to confidentiality as they often give information about their home life circumstances, which can be invaluable when supporting behavioural difficulties of these children.

My whole family has a keen interest in football. We all support and watch football regularly at home. My youngest son plays for a local youth team, whilst my husband coaches another youth team. I believe the time I have spent on the touch line has given me the knowledge to support the school’s team. I have helped transport them children to matches as many of our parents are not able to do this. I stay and offer support and encouragement to the children, which they really appreciate, especially those whose parents have not accompanied them.

Training needs

Since September I have been asked to take on a pastoral care role within the school. I have been doing this role, unofficially, for some time, however the only experience I have brought to the role is that off being a parent. I am currently attending Emotional Literacy Support Assistant training. This is due to be complete by the end of November, when I will present the role to the teaching staff and start to implement the training. For the future I would also like to take part in restorative justice training as I believe that helping children to take responsibility for their actions and helping them to respect others points of view is an invaluable life skill.

Another part of my job accountabilities is to contribute to the planning and preparation of lessons for whole class, small groups and individual pupils. my current role allows me to plan for small groups and individual children but not for the whole class. I would like to become more involved in the planning of these lessons, as it will give me more confidence when I am delivering them. Understanding how the lesson is linked to the national curriculum will help me ensure that I am delivering the main points of the session correctly. Understanding why certain resources and type of lessons i.e. interactive, ICT based, are chosen, will help me in my long term goal of qualifying as a teacher.

I have had little training on supporting children with special educational needs and feel that this is another area I would like to develop further. I am asked at times to support a child who has Asperger’s syndrome and am not always confident that the way in which I communicate things to him is correct. I would like to find out more about how children who have other communication and interaction difficulties e.g. dyspraxia, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, are best taught and supported in lessons.

Word count information

My Role - 861/800

Previous interests and experience - 554/500

Training needs - 322/400

Overall - 1737/1750


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