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Looking for some ideas as feeling very demotivated. I have completed my foundation degree last year and I struggled to find suitable employment with my specific qualification. Now I am not sure what path to follow. I am currently working in a school nursery which I enjoy very much working one to one as an SEN teaching assistant level 1 which is not what I had set out to do orginally.


I feel it is very unfair for schools to have one rule and pre-schools to have another when it comes to recuitment. In the school where my four children goes to school they employ parents as teaching assistants, they no qualificatons at all and have no experience working with children or in a school environment who are working with children with special needs. One could ask what is the point of paying to go to college and study and work very hard so as be a good practitioner, having a good grasp of how children learn and develop and for what. Parents who actually have children with special needs in the school have parent employees working with their children. Do you think this is unprofessional?


Then there is the issue of pay. So you have a unqualified member of staff doing the same job as you, getting the same pay as you but has never spent one hour studying or getting into debt to gain the professional qualifications the governerment said you had to have when working with childen.


Where is the justice in that?



Look forward to hearing your views.

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I think there is a fundamental question here of the kind of qualification you need to have (or rather your employer needs you to have) in order to carry out a particular job.


I imagine that not many teaching assistant jobs require applicants to have a foundation degree, and the salary for the job will reflect the level of skill and qualification necessary to carry out the specified duties. So my view as an employer would be that if an applicant has higher qualifications but wishes to do the job then the salary would be the same as if s/he didn't have those higher qualifications. I simply could not afford to pay an enhanced salary for a more highly qualified person doing a job that calls for a lower level qualification. So whilst I pay a (small) salary enhancement for staff who gain a level 3, if the same staff member were to go on and gain a Foundation Degree but carry out the same duties as her level 3 colleague then I would find it hard to justify paying her more money. However I'd like to think I'd find ways to capitalise on her newfound knowledge to develop her role and therefore her effectiveness within my setting which would then justify a higher salary level.


A different but equally fundamental question is the level of qualifications/skills needed to do certain jobs, and there is probably a useful discussion to be had about whether a teaching assistant working with a child with additional needs requires a certain qualification. I'd say there is definitely a certain skill-set required, and I don't think it is necessarily unprofessional to have a parent fulfilling this role. It comes down to the individual concerned, and the child's particular needs - assuming that the recruitment process is robust and equitable then there is nothing to suggest that a parent of another child in the school could not fulfil the duties of the job as well as an 'outsider'. There are definitely challenges in employing parents within a school (or pre-school) setting, but that doesn't mean the practice itself is unprofessional per se.


Of course this is all from my perspective of owning a private pre-school - I don't know how school salaries are funded or graded so what I say might not be appropriate. I'd say your school has got an absolute bargain by employing you without having to pay a realistic salary for someone who is a Level 5 practitioner.


As for which path to choose I think that all depends on how happy you are with your current role and salary level. If you want to earn a more realistic salary then I'd say you probably need to look elsewhere, especially if you are in a salary band with little room for manoeuvre. That said, you might find there are other opportunities open to you in school - I have known of teaching assistants going onto to a teaching qualification sponsored by their school, but that might be unusual. Sometimes a job we feel passionate about can over-ride frustrations about salaries and benefits - but once the balance gets severely out of kilter, then its time to move on.


Only you can determine whether you've reached that tipping point.



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Sorry you are feeling down :o


I have moved this topic to the 'Foundation Degree' forum area and then hopefully you may get a little more input from a wider audience than just your local authority forum area.


Best wishes


Admin team

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So sorry you are feeling down SMAC63 and I can understand why you feel as you do. Also a very thoughtful post from Maz, who makes some very valid points, not the least that regardless of qualifications staff are paid for the level of work that they do. You obviously have knowledge and skills which need utilising, and perhaps you need to look around to see what else is out there so that you can work at your skills level, which will give you more job satisfaction.

As far as unqualified people working in schools as TA's are concerned, I would think that the unqualified staff are working at a Level One and will be paid accordingly. It is not unusual for schools to employ parents to work at this level, they may be lunchtime assistants or work one to one with SEN children who do not need very specialist help, as they will always be working under the direction of a teacher and the SENCO, supporting the child with classroom tasks or personal needs. The skills-set they will have is the personality and ability to do the job. I have worked with many staff who have come into the job through being a parent in school. They often start as voluntary helpers and then feel that yes they can do the job. The school recognises their talents. They may get employed as a mid-day assistant, a job schools are constantly trying to fill, and perhaps they support an SEN child, which may only be for an hour a day depending on the child. Then they get sent for training for their role and bit by bit they become qualified, do NVQ's etc. and even go on to become teachers in a few cases I have known. The NNEB I worked with for years, and was absolutely fantastic, worked her way up like this. She was given the chance to gain qualifications which she had not got at school.Of course to be a TA in Nursery, and one would hope Reception, staff have to be Level 3 qualified, but other support staff may be a Level 2. Where-ever I have worked TA's delivering intervention strategies have also been Level 3's and have been trained to deliver them. I am not actually aware of any Level 5 roles within the Primary school system, as the highest level before QTS is usually HLTA which I imagine is Level 4.

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