From teaching assistant to head teacher in just 7 years by gaining HLTA status.

Following my opening sentence I feel I should give you some insight into my career path. After my two boys settled into school I felt it was time for me to pursue a career. I qualified as an NNEB after a 2 year full-time course and began working as a Teaching Assistant in a special school. Although I absolutely loved my job I soon realised that there was no career structure for TAs. They were all paid the same regardless of responsibility, attitude, skills or knowledge. So I became Union rep and began lobbying MPs and attending numerous meetings to try and establish career progression for TAs. Many years later the HLTA was introduced and I am PROUD to say I was one of the first!

Becoming a HLTA was not all plain sailing. At first I was ridiculed by other TAs, and some teachers, and accused of being cheap labour. I was paid HLTA rate only when I was covering a class and TA rate when I was not. Something I was quite happy with, as I felt being a HLTA was more about recognition of someone who enjoyed a challenge and was willing to take on extra responsibility.

During my time as a HLTA I gained valuable experience covering all 10 classes within the school, teaching children from 2 to 19 years. Gaining HLTA status opened many doors for me and enabled me to attend courses and helped me to grow in confidence. So much so that I went on to gain a degree at the University of Chester and then continued on to the PGCE.

I am a great believer in fate and during my second PGCE placement in 2007 a member of staff left. I was asked by the Head if I would apply for the post. I was torn as I loved working in a special school but after a great deal of turmoil I applied and got my first teaching post.

The HLTA status and the experience gained had given me the opportunity to realise my dream of becoming a teacher. In 2010 three years after qualifying as a teacher I became Senior Teacher/Deputy and then four years later I was asked to be the Head. What an honour …

During my time as a teacher and Headteacher I have tried to promote the vital role of the HLTA. I have explained that HLTAs provide a vital link between class teacher and TAs. They are inspirational people who always go the extra mile and give their all. Often Governors do not understand what a HLTA can provide for the school and the community.

The HLTA status is something to be very proud of and a badge of honour which should be worn with pride. HLTAs are very special people who deserve recognition for all they give and bring to the schools they work in. What they do makes a difference to children’s lives today and in the future. They enrich and enhance the education and welfare of every child. Becoming a HLTA gave me the confidence, experience and opportunity to further my career and become a Headteacher!