Catherine Cooper – classroom assistant
Where do you work?
I am a classroom assistant at Saint Anne's Church in Wales Infant School in Cardiff.
How did you become a classroom assistant?
After working in schools on a voluntary basis, I did a CACHE Diploma in Playwork and joined Saint Anne's After School Club as a Senior Playworker. A year later I started as a Learning Support Assistant at the infant school, where I have since achieved Higher Level Teaching Assistant status.
Is it important to get qualifications?
It is an advantage to have qualifications and some knowledge about the area you would like to work in as this will give you the skills and confidence to help children reach their full potential. On-the-job training is essential to be able to support the teacher within the classroom and to advance professional development.
What does your job involve?
My responsibilities are varied and have evolved depending on the needs of the school. I cover the teachers’ planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time, preparing, delivering, assessing and evaluating lessons in Welsh, ICT, Art, Geography and RE. I also support the teacher within the classroom by supervising individual group work, keeping detailed records and preparing the classroom and resources. In addition, I worked closely with teachers to help pilot the foundation phase.
What do you find most challenging about your job?
Finding time to do everything can be a major challenge. Because I work throughout the school, I may have one hour in year one then move to year two. Sometimes it feels like you are always rushing to get everything you need to done.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The children are the most enjoyable part of the job. There is always an element of surprise - you can never know what answer a child may give or where their imagination will take them (and you!). I have thoroughly enjoyed piloting the Foundation Phase lessons and seeing the opportunities it gives to meet children's individual needs and interests and how it inspires and challenges children.
What advice would you have for someone considering a career as a classroom assistant?
A lot of people apply for classroom assistant jobs so I would advise people to gain some experience and qualifications for your own professional development and to give yourself a head start.