Are you a graduate looking for a rewarding job? Do you want to go home at the end of the day feeling that you’ve made a real difference to the life of a young person? If the answer is yes, read on…
We all want to feel that our job means something. After all, we spend more time at work than we do with loved ones (if you don’t count the hours you spend asleep!) But how can you make those hours really count? How can you find that elusive graduate job which will also leave you feeling satisfied that you’re doing something meaningful for your local community and society at large? Perhaps a role in a special needs setting could be the answer? From mild and moderate needs in mainstream settings, to more profound needs in specialist schools, there is sure to be an option to suit you.
Entry level graduate jobs
If you haven’t done any courses or gained any experience related specifically to the education sector, don’t worry! There are entry level graduate jobs available if you want to gain some experience to kick-start a career in this sector. For example, you could consider one of the following if you’re looking for a rewarding entry level graduate role:
- Mainstream Classroom Assistant (Curriculum Support) – Schools often need graduates who can provide academic support for their students. For example, you might be doing extra Maths or English classes with small groups of students, or one-to-one tuition. These children may have very mild types of special need such as Dyslexia or Dyspraxia and they will often benefit a huge amount from the additional time and attention that a graduate could offer them.
- Mainstream Classroom Assistant (General Classroom Support) – Many schools have a number of children with SEND who don’t have the accompanying budget for specialist support. These schools will very often hire a Classroom Assistant to support on a floating basis. This means that you’ll be assigned to provide support as and where it is necessary in a mainstream primary or secondary classroom. The teacher will usually direct you to the students they feel need a helping hand, and you’ll sit with them in class helping them to understand the work as well as helping them to stay focussed and on-task.
- Special School Classroom Assistant – There are many different kinds of special schools and specialist units attached to mainstream schools and to list them all would be rather time-consuming. However, to give a guide, these schools will usually fall into one of these broader categories:
- Autism – Schools or units dedicated to supporting children on the autism spectrum. Some can be at the more moderate end (Asperger’s syndrome) while others may be more profound and require more intensive support.
- SEMH – Mental health has had a huge spotlight thrown on it in recent years and the numbers of children with SEND related to social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) is growing year on year. So, if you’d be interested in supporting children who have perhaps had a difficult upbringing or other issues which have led to them feeling cast-out by society and in need of a supportive individual to help get them back on track, this could be the ideal setting for you.
- MLD – Some children have special needs which are not necessarily outwardly visible, but which may hold them back when it comes to academic achievement. MLD, or moderate learning difficulty provisions can be a good setting for someone without a great deal of specialist knowledge, but with an interest in developing in this area.
- SLD/CLD – Children with severe or complex learning difficulties usually require more intensive support than children in other settings, and some may have as many as two assistants working with them at all times. However, this higher staff ratio means that it’s still an option open to graduates with little or no experience of the sector. This is because you’ll often be working alongside other staff who can support you and share their knowledge with you.
- HI/VI/Other – Where children have very specific needs, such as a profound Hearing or Visual Impairment, they may attend a provision which is tailored very specifically to that need. The same goes for conditions such as Epilepsy or any need which might require staff to have very specific knowledge or training. So, if you happen to have knowledge of a specific condition like this, you may wish to consider roles in such a provision. Knowledge of British Sign Language, for example, is highly sought after!
In summary, for those wanting an entry level graduate position within a school, there are a range of roles and settings available. You could take a look at our jobs pages to see if we have any you’d like to apply for right now, or you could register with your nearest office for a no-obligation, FREE consultation to further discuss whether you would be a good fit for these roles.
If you are not sure whether teaching assistant roles would be right for you, why not answer these 10 simple questions to find out?
Once you have forged a foundation doing support work (or if you’re joining the profession having completed a relevant qualification), there are many opportunities for progression within the education sector. You could work towards many other options, such as being a:
- Higher Level Teaching Assistant
- Teacher (either subject or SEND specific)
- Educational Psychologist
- School Manager
Your career really is a personal pathway, and yours will depend very much on which elements of your role you most enjoy, where your interests lay plus how much further study you want to do – but this should highlight to you that there are plenty of options available for the graduates out there who are looking for a rewarding career.