Kathryn Arnold is studying for a Level 3 Teaching Assistant course. She discusses her journey and how she finds communicating online. The qualifications acquired at the end of Kathryn’s course are the Stonebridge Associated Colleges: Teaching Assistant Diploma and Level 3 Teaching Assistant Award.
I have always wanted to work within a school environment, and after studying childcare, and spending some time working as a nanny, I decided to take that next step. After searching on the internet, I came across a Level 3 Teaching Assistant Diploma course being offered by Stonebridge College as a work from home scheme. The course requires no experience, which told me that it offers plenty of learning opportunities. There are 9 modules to this course :-
- Supporting the teacher
- Supporting the pupil
- Supporting the curriculum
- Supporting the school
- Supporting ICT in the classroom
- Supporting pupils with Special Educational needs
- Supporting literacy development
- Supporting numeracy development
- Working with others
I was initially impressed by the content of this course, and upon checking it was legitimate, I decided it was the one for me. I found the syllabus exciting, and I liked how I could do it at my own pace. Another great factor is you have a personal tutor on board who you can email at any time you may get stuck, and who will mark your exams. The cost of this course was affordable and seemed standard across all available courses online.
How long will it take me to complete?
The duration is really depends on your lifestyle. For example, as a full time mother, with her own small business and a constant mountain of ironing on the go, it has taken me just over a year and I am now about to complete my final exam. For me, this relieves the pressure of deadlines, and fitting revision in to my weekly schedule. The college does offer a calculator on their site, in which you can type in how many hours a week and it will tell you roughly how long the course will take to complete. The course is available as an online study, or paper format which means the papers get posted to you. I chose the online study option, because I personally find it much easier to work that way, but it really depends on your learning style.
Upon receiving my student login details and exploring the student site, I opened up my first assignment. There is no right or wrong way to revise here, whether you prefer to print the revision and highlight section, or write out pages of notes – it’s totally up to you. I found myself doing a mixture throughout the papers, dependant on my mood!! Each assignment contains tons of information, focusing on things like; methods that the Teaching Assistant could use within certain situations, factors that could affect learning, the learning environment and tools used within that, adhering to the correct laws and legislations, helping pupils develop, and ensuring their safety. There are many more elements to the course, but those are just a few examples of the sort of thing you can expect to learn about.
How to approach exams
Once you feel that you have revised sufficiently, you can do your first exam. The exam contains 5-6 essay questions in which you will be expected to write at least a paragraph on each question. You have, of course, always got your notes to refer back to, however you will also be expected to have an input on activities/methods you as the Teaching Assistant could use, for example; when learning about measurement and mass, pupils can differentiate between a weight held in each hand (a sentence from my own exam on supporting numeracy development.) Once you have sent your exam paper off, the tutor will usually mark within a few days and send back your grades. Unfortunately on a few occasions I have never received mine and have had to chase them up! I have recently discovered though, that your grades are automatically submitted to your student page as well, so all hope is not lost. This does however mean you don’t get your feedback – just pass or fail.
I have, so far, passed each module, and I particularly liked receiving feedback on how they thought I was getting on. The final exam paper is extremely daunting though and I am currently plucking up the courage to start it! It involves a huge summary of all the modules and the main points that have been learnt throughout the course. This exam would require a long essay, so a lot of using notes and putting in the hard work and effort. I will feel a huge sense of relief when it is finished!
The course as a whole is excellent for anyone who likes independent learning, and no deadlines! Initially, as a young mum I thought the cost was quite large, however in hindsight it really is worth every penny. The communication between tutor and pupil could be slightly better, but it hasn’t really affected my learning. I would wholeheartedly recommend the course, for anyone who has the drive to succeed, a good initiative, and commitment. The course will fully prepare you to work in a school environment, even without work placements on offer. I personally have childcare experience, but if you don’t you could always volunteer in a school if you think it’d help you along the way. I’m hoping it will improve my job prospects and make me more employable.