I was working in a sports centre when I saw an advert for a teaching assistant post which reminded me how I'd originally intended to join the education profession.
I'd started a teaching degree when I first left school, before I was forced to leave the course through ill-health, and ended up in a fitness centre. But I wasn't finding my work very challenging at the time, so I decided to apply. Fortunately, I had more than the minimum qualifications to do the job and some classroom experience from my degree course, and I got the job. I have continued to work here I enjoy the working environment and the challenges it presents.
Because I work in a special school, most of the training I've done has been specific to working with the range of children here. The courses have included: working in a sensory environment; behaviour management; basic food hygiene; manual handling; and First Aid. All the training has taken place in school hours.
The school tries to ensure it has balanced provision and encourages people to come forward and take up the opportunity to train if there are any particular areas they're interested in. That's why I was able to go on a course on working with children within the autistic spectrum, and another colleague has been trained as a tutor in the Picture Exchange Communication System.
I've also had the chance to do training related to my professional development. I've completed the ECDL computer course and in summer 2005, I took the HLTA course at Anglia Ruskin University. I decided to go for HLTA status because I was doing quite a lot of work in the classroom that equated to covering for teaching staff, planning and delivering specified work and I wanted that to be recognised - just writing on your CV that you've done it isn't enough! The great thing about gaining HLTA status is that it could help me find a route back into teaching by helping me qualify as a teacher.