Ready, Steady, Go: One TA’s NPQ Journey
By Abi Joachim
Trust HLTA & Suffolk TA Network Coordinator
When I began working as a teaching assistant over twenty years ago, my intention was to use it as a stepping stone into a ‘career’. Little did I know how much I would love the role and that it would develop into the most interesting, challenging and exciting career I could have hoped for. I have been fortunate to have been given the chance to develop my skills and knowledge over the years, but professional development can often be limited for teaching assistants. The research landscape for teacher CPD is growing and the impact is clear, as evidenced in the EEF Effective Professional Development guidance.
“Ensuring that teachers are provided with high quality PD is therefore crucial in improving pupil outcomes.” (EEF, 2021)
As fellow classroom practitioners, with a clear focus on teaching and learning, it is concerning that research into CPD for teaching assistants is lacking. Having experienced the impact of effective professional development on my practice, this quickly became an area of interest to me.
In 2020, I was lucky enough to secure funding to launch a network for local teaching assistants and my journey into the world of CPD began. I now combine running a thriving network, offering county-wide training and networking opportunities for teaching assistants, with my Trust role leading on TA development as part of the Institute team.
Aware of my own need to improve my knowledge and skills, I was interested when an email popped into my inbox advertising a range of National Professional Qualifications (NPQs). The NPQ Leading Teaching Development (NPQLTD) caught my eye as a perfect opportunity to learn how to successfully support teaching assistants across the Trust to improve their own practice. Despite my excitement, I began to worry that this qualification was only available to teachers, but exploring further I discovered this was not the case.
Starting my NPQ in November was a bit scary but the facilitators and other colleagues immediately put me at ease. Having initially worried I wouldn’t have as much to contribute, I have actually found that everyone brings a unique perspective to the course and it is this mix of experience that makes our discussions so rich.
Working towards the NPQLTD has informed my practice, encouraged me to reflect and facilitated invaluable peer coaching experiences that have taught me so much. I come away from every session buzzing with ideas and can really see the improvements in my leadership of TA CPD as a direct result of the course.
A number of the NPQ courses could relate to non-teaching roles, such as Leading Behaviour and Culture, Leading Literacy and Leading Teacher Development and I would encourage any support staff in these roles to consider an NPQ – it is one of the best things I have ever done!