“My Mum worked at a SEN school and also did respite at home for children with learning difficulties so I was brought up in that environment. I used to help out at Summer Clubs at her school, so I had the experience to know I wanted to follow this career path”.
Amelia is currently working towards her Level 3 Teaching Assistant Apprenticeship at Longcause Community Special School, and has now been offered a permanent position as a TA. She completed her GCSEs two years ago before progressing straight onto a Level 2 apprenticeship. She then began her Level 3 around Christmas time.
“I knew about apprenticeships from Mum as she had worked with apprentices at her school. I prefer to learn on the job so I didn’t want to go to college or sixth form. I knew what I wanted to do so decided to progress straight into the sector. I had to pass an interview and Q&A, and also lead a game for a group of five children of mixed ages to secure the apprenticeship”.
As a Level 3 apprentice, Amelia now has more responsibility at the school. She holds one-to-one classes with children and also runs social communication classes (‘circle time’) with groups of four, planning the games and activities for the sessions.
“I have to make sure that the children are safe and that others around them are safe too, whilst ensuring that they are enjoying school. When I first started, I had one-to-one classes in the morning and then worked in the larger classes in the afternoon. However, I have one-to-one classes all the time now; the youngest child I have is eight and the oldest is fourteen. I prefer the one-to-ones as they allow you to build a strong relationship with the children. It’s very challenging but rewarding.
“The apprenticeship has taught me lots of new skills such as behaviour management techniques; we follow the PACE Approach which stands for Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy. I’ve learnt the best ways to teach English and Maths and have even learnt Makaton (sign language). I also look after the Seesaw comments – a platform where we upload pictures of the children and their day to day learning so that parents can see them and comment”.
Amelia says she has enjoyed her apprenticeship. “It’s interesting and everything flows well. My Skills Group Assessor, Dave, and the school have been really supportive and are always there whenever I need anything.
“I’ve had people message me about how I find doing an apprenticeship and I always recommend it. You need to have passion for it, as the children know when you don’t want to be there, so do some work experience first. My advice for anyone wanting to do an apprenticeship would be keep on top of coursework, don’t be afraid to ask questions and enjoy it!”
In the future, Amelia would like to stay at Longcause and develop her skills. Her long term goal is to progress into children’s social care, to broaden her experience further.
I always struggled in school as I wasn’t very academic, so knew learning on the job would be a better option for me. I would find it difficult to get up for 9am but now I wake up and look forward to my day. I wanted to try a hair apprenticeship as I’ve always been interested in hairdressing, and by the end of the first week, I already loved it!
I have developed a range of new skills through work including the technical, industry skills required for the job, to personal development such as ensuring I am always on time. The biggest change since leaving school is adjusting to the independence you gain from earning a salary. My advice to anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship would be find what you like doing, and go for it!
Since starting the apprenticeship, I’ve become far more confident. In a classroom, you only interact with your classmates, but through working you develop your people skills as you interact with customers on a daily basis. At school, you are closely monitored and parented, however I am now more independent and feel grown up
The most important thing I’ve learnt since leaving school is that there are other routes to success than just academia. I failed my GCSEs, as I never suited the school environment. Now though, I’m really enjoying my apprenticeship as I’ve discovered I learn more through hands-on practice.
I would just like to thank you and your team for all the amazing work they do, you have provided me with the most invaluable experience which has helped to pave the way of my future. The work you do for young people is incredible!