Real life stories

Whether you're thinking about your job or training options, there's almost certainly somebody, somewhere, with a story to tell that might help inspire you to make your next move.

Karen Jackson - Higher level teaching assistant

Name: Karen Jackson

Job Role: Higher level teaching assistant

School: Thomas Hepburn Academy

Bio: Has over 20 years' experience working in schools

I originally entered the profession through the old NNEB route (National Nursery Examination Board) and was a TA in a primary school for 8 years. I then moved to Thomas Hepburn in 2001, where I have been ever since. I actually attended the school as a child myself.

You need to have a thorough understanding of child development to access their abilities and development, and to put together the appropriate learning packages.

My role has changed due to the SENCO leaving. Because of my skill-set I was appointed to provide this role and now carry out the day to day duties required by a SENCO, such as completing single plan referrals, risk assessments and cognitive assessments. A highlight of the work is to see the progression that each student has made knowing that I have played a part in this. I have had inspiring line managers that encouraged development. The biggest challenge is that there is not enough time available to provide the teaching and support that is required. There is too much emphasis on targets and red tape.

The NNEB training by Gateshead College was excellent as was the CPD provided by Gateshead Local Education Authority. I completed UNISON stewards' training and am also the union learning rep at the academy. I attend all in-house training provide by the academy.

Karen Jackson