College Offers Helping Hand To Start Teaching Assistant Careers

A West Cumbrian woman is encouraging more people to follow her and consider a career as a teaching assistant.

Teaching assistants will be playing a key role from September as schools look to juggle a full return to education with the demands of social distancing – and a course at Lakes College is proving an effective way into the profession.

Wendy Metcalf

Wendy Metcalf, 38, from Aspatria, started the Level 3 Diploma in Specialist Support for Teaching and Learning course last year and qualified this January.

The mum-of-two said: “I was made redundant from my marketing job earlier this year after 20 years, and with very fortunate timing, a school I’d had a placement with, Bridekirk Dovenby CE School, was able to offer me a part-time, temporary contract and then during the lockdown, the head teacher called me to offer me a full-time role starting in September.

“The benefits of doing the course at Lakes College have been unbelievable, and it really has changed my life for the better.”

“You have to commit to quite a few hours a week and it takes some real dedication, but it has all been worth it,” she added.

The college offers a Level 3 Diploma in Specialist Support for Teaching and Learning which involves spending a minimum of 10 hours a week in a school during a placement with training and one-to-one support with college tutors. 

The Diploma has proved popular with people who need to fit in their studies with part-time work or childcare. 

A number of West Cumbrian schools have expressed an interest in providing placements for students on the course this Autumn and many have already benefited from links with the college.

Jacqueline Hampson, Executive Head at St Gregory Moorclose & Our Lady and St Patrick Maryport, said: “In our school we have worked with students from Lakes College for many years.

“They work alongside and learn from our experienced staff which, along with their studies, prepares them exceptionally well for working in the classroom.

“Some of the most successful students are ‘mature’ students, who have perhaps worked in other sectors, or have raised a family.

“They bring a wealth of experience to our school, for example skills in managing behaviour, talking to children and finding creative ways to engage children in tasks.”

The Level 3 Diploma in Specialist Support for Teaching and Learning is eligible for Advanced Learning Loans for those over 19. They operate like higher education loans with deferred payments until you earn over approximately £25,000 per year. 

Bev Pickering Smith, who completed the course at Lakes College in 2018 and now works as a teaching assistant said: “I chose to take out the Advanced Learning Loan to fund the course, as I would have no repayments to make until I was earning over a certain amount – this worked for me.”

To discuss the details of the course and the Advanced Learning Loans, contact Lakes College admissions team on 01946 839 300.