Classroom assistant 'a dead-end job'

27th October 2006 at 01:00

osted by boycie

Why is this "valued position" (of classroom assistant) a dead-end job? Why is it impossible to get meaningful promotions? Why is the pay so awful? Why are you treated like a dogsbody when you're often more academically qualified than most teachers?

If we have a progressive education philosophy in Scotland, then why not think about offering on-the-job training to dedicated classroom assistants who meet PGDE (primarysecondary) entrance criteria? Would this not widen access to the profession and encourage more people to consider changing career without the fear of yet more student debt?

Surely most classroom assistants go into the job as a way into teaching; either to see if it's what it's cracked up to be or to boost the chances of a successful interview at one of our venerable teacher training institutions.

So, you swap career for teaching, earn a pittance for a year and then, if you're lucky, get a place at the slightly arrogant capital-based institution where you have to fund yourself and live like a pauper for yet another year. And they have the audacity to tell you it's a professional training course! What's that all about? Are classroom assistants getting taken for a ride?

Posted by hazy sunshine

Your ideas sound excellent! I imagine it is no coincidence that the classroom assistant profession is largely female dominated AND low status AND poorly paid.

Posted by suzuki If you want to become a teacher, go through the system the way the rest of us did. There is no graduate teacher programme in Scotland and therefore no learning on the job.

Exactly what "meaningful promotion" are you looking for?

Teaching assistants are not being taken for a ride: they knew the wages and applied anyway. Let's face it, the entry qualifications are very low.

As for teaching assistants being better qualified than most teachers, dream on.

Posted by stillearning

I'm a nursery nurse student (in my 30s) with six Highers and eight O grades from back in the olden days when qualifications were actually worth something! How many Highers do you need to be accepted for teaching - four?

Not all of us nursery nurses and classroom assistants can financially afford a four-year course and four years of student loan, but that doesn't mean we're thick!

I'd love to teach, but after two years of studying, I really need to earn some money.

Posted by suzuki

I don't remember saying anyone was thick. I just dispute the comment that classroom assistants are "often more academically qualified than most teachers". That is an insulting comment and a complete load of nonsense.

As regards the comment that you need four Highers to teach, why assume that teachers have JUST that amount.

Basically, the option to teach is open to anyone but you will need a relevant degree and Highers are just the start.

Posted by stillearning

Teaching isn't open to everyone. Even though I possess the required qualifications, I cannot financially afford to study for four or five years for a degree, and I'm sure there are many classroom assistants and nursery nurses in the same position.

I've been in too many placements where teachers who haven't worked with you presume you're less intelligent if you're "only" a nursery nurse student. It gets a bit wearing, especially when you've spent a week cringing at some of the spelling and punctuation on the board for kids to copy - APOSTRAPHY??

Posted by chianti

I am a classroom assistant and I have a BA (Hons) degree, suzuki. I think that is quite well qualified. I also have an HNC childcare education qualification.

Posted by suzuki

That simply means you are overqualified for the job you have.

If the state had to pay more, they would demand (and get) teachers, is that not the reality?

I have to agree about poor spelling. However, I know how it happens. Years and years of seeing various incorrect spellings from the kids does cloud the judgment!

Out of interest, how much do you think the salary scale for teaching assistants should be?

Posted by chianti

pound;15,000 would be reasonable. At the moment most people are on pro rata salaries and take home approx pound;500-pound;600 a month.

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