Want to be a teacher after seven years’ career break: ask the expert

I would like to work as a teaching assistant and then train to become a school teacher. I have tried to contact some local school looking for voluntary work, but so far no luck. I have a degree ann I am intelligent and hardworking. However, after 7 years at home looking after my two children, I feel no one is interested in giving me a chance..! What shall I do? How can I maximise my chances? Is there any hope for me, or shall I just look for admin work?

carer and two toddlers playing as part of 30 hours scheme

Young beautiful teacher and toddlers playing meals using plastic food and cutlery toy at kindergarten

First of all, of course there is hope for you!  You have 7 years’ experience already remember! The general skills needed for this work, you do every day!

Think about the multi-tasking, the prioritising and organising that you do on a daily basis.  If you have a CV, send one along to every school in your area along with a cover letter addressing your interests and the fact that you are willing to do voluntary work. That should get noticed.

In your cover letter, mention the following:

Your interest in child development and your enthusiasm to be part of a child’s learning progress.
Good communication skills, both written and verbal with a friendly, fun yet professional approach.
Your flexible and adaptable nature which is needed as a mum.
Lots of energy and creativity.
Patience with children of all abilities.
Your willingness to continue your own learning progress to do your work.
Getting on well with children, building good relationships with them and parents alike.  Ability to build good working relationships with teachers and parents, working well as part of a team.

You have done the right things so far but let’s go back to basics and go over what is needed or what would be useful.

You do not always need formal qualifications however a good general education is useful, which you have.

Many entrants into this work have a qualification such as the Professional Development Award (PDA) in Education Support Assistance or Early Education and Child Care.  Some courses can be taken over a year full time.  Entry requirements range from no formal requirements up to 4 Standard Grades, including Maths and English. A First Aid certificate is always useful. Experience working with children is always looked at so persevere and continue to show your interest in volunteering be it in a classroom environment or a local children’s club or after school activity group.

There are a lot of competition for jobs but please do not dismay, keep doing all of these things to help you gain advantage.


Courses to look out for:

As you have a degree, it is worth looking into the PGDE (Professional Graduate Diploma in Education) courses available at most universities or look at the Open University Certificate in Support Learning in Primary Schools.

As for applying for just admin work, which can be valuable as well if you apply to local schools to do work in the office, even that is a step in the door.  With an open learning course, there is nothing to stop you studying while doing admin in a school office, letting it known to a head teacher that is your intention could be a huge
benefit.  They would get to know you, be able to offer advice and help you on your journey, so don’t think of it as “just admin” or not being of value.

In answer to the most important question, remember, YES, there is hope for you!


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