Broadstairs College - My journey to becoming a qualified teaching assistant
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My journey to becoming a qualified teaching assistant

Toni studied Early Years Levels 1 and 2 at College before enrolling on the Level 3 Supporting Teaching course. She now works as a Learning Support Practitioner (LSP) in the Supported Learning department.

Why I Chose College 

When I was at school, I wasn’t the best student and often found myself in trouble. I had very low self-esteem and confidence in myself and my abilities, so I would often put myself down and tell myself I couldn’t do something before giving it ago. I spent more time out of lessons than in them. If I didn’t understand the work, rather than ask for help, because I was embarrassed, I would tend to act up. So, I went through school not achieving much because of this behaviour. I decided to come to College, but I had no GCSEs and started off in Level 1 where I had to do functional maths and English before working towards my GCSEs. To start with I still had a tough time asking for help but slowly things changed. 

Gemma and the other tutors were always very supportive, and they all had a lot of faith in me. They all saw potential in me that I couldn’t see in myself because I would just focus on the negatives. They really helped my confidence by giving me lots of positive feedback and encouragement. Often during the lessons, before starting a task, my tutor would approach me and just check in with me that I understood what I needed to do and helped me break tasks down into chunks to prioritise what needed to be done first.  

Overall, the support my tutors gave me really did help me because if there was ever any issue or problem, they were always there to listen and help me overcome the situation. They always had the time and patience for me even at times when I was proving difficult to reason with. It was also their belief in me that helped me to believe in myself. 

The Course 

We covered lots of different things on the course; this included children’s development and milestones, types of transitions children/young people may go through and how it can affect them moving forward, speech, language, and communication and the benefits to supporting them, how to support learning activities and help with planning and preparing, as well as learning about different types of additional needs/learning difficulties and learning about Educational Health Care Plans (EHCPs). So much of what I learned I now use in my job role now. 

A large part of the Supporting Teaching course is work experience. I got to go to a primary school and work with children from year 1 and Year 2 classes. I would work with small groups, listen to them read or help during English and maths lessons. There were some children who needed more 1-1 support so that would be something I would do, while the teacher helped the rest of the class. 

My Career  

I now work at Broadstairs College and my job role is Learning Support Practitioner (LSP) in the Supported Learning department. Being in a classroom supporting a student, whether it’s on a 1-1 basis or supporting a whole class, is really rewarding. I really enjoy it because I get to work closely with these students and see a real change and improvement in their learning over the course of a year. Knowing that I’ve had a part to play in that development is very rewarding.  

I haven’t decided what my future career plans are yet but there are lots of options open to me in the education industry, for example, I could consider going down the teaching route next to become a lecturer. 

Throughout my time at College, I aspired to be just like Gemma and my other tutors. They were role models to me, and I knew I wanted to be like them. If it wasn’t for all the continuous help and support that they gave me then I probably wouldn’t have considered pursuing a career in education.  

I see this job as very fulfilling because you can help influence and shape an individual’s future - you could be the one to make that difference in their life to encourage them to keep learning and even enjoy their time during education. 

Are you inspired by Toni's story?

Our Supporting Teaching pathway can help you get qualified as a Teaching Assistant. We offer a full-time Level 3 qualification or part-time Level 2 qualification, which is ideal for those aged 19+ who are looking for a course that fits around their current commitments. Find out more and make an application by visiting our Supporting Teaching pathway.