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A word from the wise

When support staff at Ingatestone infants school want to find out about education and training opportunities, they ask Pam Mussard.

Pam has been a teaching assistant at the Colchester school for more than 20 years. Now an agreement between Unison and Essex County Council gives her time off for her role as the school's lifelong learning adviser.

The role involves giving colleagues guidance on a range of learning opportunities.

The current push to train school support staff keeps her busy, advising on how to get NVQs or higher level teaching assistant qualifications, as well as training for the school's meals staff.

She is certainly well-suited to it. "I've been a lifelong learner myself," she says.

"I came into education as a teaching assistant in 1984 - since then I've taken two A-levels and done an Open University degree.

"My love of learning is really helpful. I can talk to other people and say look - this is what I did."

NoC-5 Virtuous circle: teaching assistant Pam Mussard's own learning history inspires her role as staff adviser

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