Wednesday 6 June 2012

Half way through Half Term - a bit about my job.

I love my job.  I keep saying this in lots of posts! I also love the break I get from it!

Summer A was a seven week killer. Brain tired is so different to physically tired! The children need the break too. As an adult working in a school - I can honestly say the holidays are not a luxury  to be envied but an an essential to keep the asylums from filling up!
Last week had some particularly challenging times.

I know people who don't work in education tend to think that those of us who do have it easy with our short 9 - 3 days and all of our holidays. These are myths!

Big long forum debate HERE

The truth is, I, as a  TA3/ HLTA arrive  at school every day between 8 and 8.30am. Even when I arrive at 8am - ALL of the teachers bar none are already there and have been working for at least half an hour.

At lunchtime I have an hour unpaid from 12 - 1 . I mostly nip home to hang washing out, run round with the hoover, set the tea going, make phone calls - eat a hastily prepared lunch and if I am super fast I manage a ten minute sit down! This rests on the fact IF I get out at 12. I rarely do.

The afternoon starts again at 1pm. Sometimes there is a lot of lunchtime angst and argy bargy to unravel which sets your stress levels through the roof! In KS2 we don't have an afternoon break and it's hard to keep the children on track - especially when they hear the infants playing out at about 2.15. Even without our break it's hard to fit everything in. Our junior bell signals the end of the day at 3.20pm .

Most staff run an after school club till 4.20pm every night. Mondays are staff meeting/curriculum meetings/inset which run till between 5.30 and 6pm.

I am paid pro rata - which means I get paid for the hours I work term time only. My pay is split into 12 equal month payments. This does not mean I am salaried per se like the teaching staff. When school is closed I am not paid. So all my holidays that I enjoy? Free!

MOST of the teachers I have worked with truly deserve their hard earned salaries. People  not in education who moan about it are just jealous. They should have chosen to teach! Why didn't they? Um because it is a REALLY HARD JOB!! 

My HLTA status - was completed in the first year it ran. I am a bit of a geek really. There was/is much controversy over it. SOME teachers were outraged that unqualified people were able to teach DELIVER lessons. Interestingly the SAME teachers are fiercely protective over their PPA time. Can't have one without the other!.  ( Said teachers are usually super unionised ) .
Also I was being asked to cover supervise a lot of the time on really crappy wages - another reason to go for HLTA.

ALSO interestingly - for HLTA the maths standard qualification ( I was OK I had my O Level - gained when exams were proper!) that was acceptable for HLTA was HIGHER than the  alternative equivalents they use to accept people onto teacher training degrees.  I worked extremely hard for my status. I had something like 52 standards to qualify and provide evidence for. The essays were Higher Education standard. It wasn't easy. Not everyone passed either. My file was taken and a copy made for the adjudicators to use as  an excellent example for others to be marked against! ( Not that you can tell from my writing on here!! )

One year I HLTAed in every year group except Reception. I was paid for 13 3/4 hours - out of this was 1 3/4hours for planning, marking, teacher liaising. Unlike the teachers I had to do this after school out of session times. I taught delivered RE to each class. That could mean if I set a task where recording was down on paper I could potentially have 6 classes of  30 pieces of work to mark. Really. In an hour and a quarter. Marking is NOT just a tick  or a cross. Each piece of work I mark I have to assess if the child met the learning objective, how well they met it and identify to that child what the next steps are in order for them to improve. Yes in RE. Also then I planned and delivered History, Geography, music and Art. Remember I only get paid for the hours I actually work.

As more staff gained the HLTA status I was grateful to share the workload! Guess what? Over the years - they have all given it up! Reasons? - see all the above and all of the below! The main bug bear is that we have no support! BUDGET will not allow it! Apparently.

I am paid HLTA rate ( incidentally NO WHERE NEAR WHAT THEY PROMISED when they first got going, also NO WHERE NEAR AN NQT - which on the one hand is fair enough - as they have been to Uni, got their degree etc - BUT  on the other hand isn't fair when I plan like a teacher; mark and assess like a teacher; am observed JUST like a teacher; (ALWAYS  have received excellent feedback with no room for improvements I may add ) given feedback like a teacher;  have to mark children's work objectively like a teacher indicating now the next steps, have to hand in my books for Monitoring and evaluating like a teacher; publish my medium term planning like a teacher; report on my subjects like a teacher AND I RARELY HAVE THE SUPPORT OF A TA , UNlike a teacher.

Also I am at the mercy of parents, like a teacher. Remember the Hyenas? I was observed by OFSTED, like a teacher. ( Again - an excellent lesson - I have posted about it somewhere - I was the only RE lesson observed by the Section 43 inspector - we are a C of E school - it was noted that I knew my stuff! - Again - no TA available for support THAT day! )

I get asked why don't you BECOME a teacher?  NO EFFING WAY!  Yes they have great holidays ........

They have so much work to do, so much paper work. Targets to meet. Any joy in teaching I think is MASSIVELY outweighed by the mundane crap they have to do.  Any joy is also SUCKED out of you by the behaviour of some of the children and their parents. The good ones throroughly deserve to have their holidays and their pensions and their salaries. They work hard for it.

Infact I have been reducing my HLTA hours down. This is because that whilst I have worked hard and really loved delivering the subjects that I have, History being my favourite - I took them on so many field trips, hands on learning, food was core to a lot of my lessons and we had a BALL  - now the humanities are delivered as part of our skills based curriculum - so the children don't have separate lessons as such. This is something I disagree with in upper KS2 - but that is for another day! 

The reason for my change of heart is that when I am in sole charge, I cannot nurture the little souls. I haven't the same time for them as I afford them in a morning when I am plain old TA3. I think this is a reason why some of my precious ones play up for me in an afternoon - because their one to one port of call is now standing at the front delivering lessons, stretched to the max by the other 29 needy souls.  My expectations have changed for myself. Most days, as I've mentioned before, my work is more like that of a counsellor or social worker. These children need love and care and TLC - I am just bursting with this stuff. My next goal is to get rid of my HLTA hours altogether and work alongside the Learning Mentor either in a Nurturing role - ( I did this years ago and I LOVED it ) or as a behaviour specialist - I have done so much training on this - I use this successfully in my TA role - but  in my HLTA role? Forget it - I ain't got the time! I've 30 children to manage en masse. Mostly its OK, but those little ones who needed me so much in the morning - still need me in the afternoon and it breaks me that I can't do it.

What are your thoughts on Education? Do you like your job? Do you get enough holidays?

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Many thanks for taking the time to read my words and respond with your own thoughts. I always try to reply so make sure you pop back to see!