Name: Karen Jackson

Job role: Higher Level Teaching Assistant

School: Thomas Hepburn Academy Secondary School

Bio: Has over 20 years' experience working in schools

I originally entered the profession through the NNEB route and was a TA in that position at a primary school for 8 years.

I then moved to Thomas Hepburn in 2001 where I have been for the last 13 years. I originally attended the school.

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. Becauseof 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.