Ever wondered how to get a career in Early years? Here's how!

April 21, 2021 - Jane Moore

PDA Education Support Assistant student, Emily Kennedy, tells us what her job involves, and how the course has led to the first step in her new career.

I’ve always been passionate about having a job that’s really going to push me and challenge me. I’d always wanted to get into teaching in some form but when life got in the way, I put off studying.

Last year my job as a Travel Agent was majorly affected by the pandemic. My hours were severely cut before I was put on furlough, then unfortunately, I was made redundant in October last year.

At the time I felt like it was a good point in my life to think about what I really wanted from a career. My previous degree was in sports coaching, and I had intended to go into PE teaching in a secondary school. However, I had done the degree a number of years ago and I needed to update my education with relevant and up to date information.

Tell us about the course

Making the decision to come to college to start on the PDA Education Support Assistant course has been a really good route back into learning. It has provided me with the knowledge of what the current curriculum is all about, how it works, and how it’s implemented.

The course was everything I thought it would be. It’s a really good insight into the curriculum and how it works, how relationships within schools work, and all about external bodies that might come into the school to help the children, such as educational psychologist, nurture teams etc.

The course really prepared me for the job as it covers a lot of theoretical background where you learn all about working in a school setting before you actually put it into practice. It’s all about the simple things you might do to help children, whether that be help with their literacy or numeracy, it really highlights how we actually help children in the classroom. It’s really good to have the theory behind you and to know the impact you can have on a child’s learning.

I’m now working as a full-time Classroom Assistant with North Ayrshire Council working in a school in Stevenston. The course has given me the confidence to know that my job is extremely worthwhile. My role is very hands-on. I’m in the classroom for the duration of the lessons and I’m there to support the children, as well as the teacher.

It is always interesting and can be challenging at times. I help the teacher to reinforce the children’s learning, and that can be by taking smaller groups to help with literacy etc. I’m not there just to help children who might be struggling, I also help with the children who are needing more of a challenge too. I work with a broad range, so there’s never a dull moment!

What would your advice be?

I’d definitely say to anyone thinking of doing the course, to go for it. The course is very much set up for you to make the progression to the next level. Whether that be so that you can take the next step to study or work in Early Years or Additional Support Needs, the course is ideal. It is a great foundation course to build on, especially if you don’t have any experience, or you have been out of education for a while. The course isn’t too intense. It’s challenging, but not overwhelming. It’s a good taster to see if a career in Early Years is for you.

What's next for you?

I’m really lucky as I am working full time as a Classroom Assistant, while studying at the same time. I’m hoping to continue my education, and eventually progress to a teaching postgraduate course at university. My ultimate goal is to become a Primary School Teacher.

Apply for the PDA Education Support Assistant course here

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