Case study

Teaching assistant — Lorimar Mason

Lorimar used his voluntary and personal life experiences to land a job as a teaching assistant and hopes to complete his PGCE in the future

How did you get your job?

I began volunteering at The Polygon School in Southampton while at university. I attended this school when I was younger. I have ADHD so found school a struggle, but eventually left with okay GCSEs.

When I told the headteacher I was going to university, she was excited to offer any help and support she could. She knew my struggles with academia, so kept motivating me. In my second year, she offered me a voluntary placement working with a pupil who was much like myself (lost, angry, didn’t want to listen and could only be swayed with sports). I worked hard with him and in time, he began to settle down and actually behave.

In my 3rd year, I was offered a part-time paid placement working with a year 11 pupil. In May 2018, I was offered a full-time position as a teaching assistant for one year, starting after university. The school also offered to help me the following year to gain fully-qualified teaching status.

What's a typical working day like as a teaching assistant?

I help with all the PE lessons throughout the school, covering the national curriculum. The sports range from padded tennis, football and basketball to badminton, cricket and athletics. I also cover nutrition and how the body moves.

When PE isn't timetabled, I help in other classes or I take a small number of pupils out of class and undertake sports coaching activities with them. I currently work full time, 08:30 to 15:30, during school term time.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy knowing that I'm helping pupils understand sport, how their body functions and impacts upon health. Watching a pupil who struggles with a certain aspect of a sport, learn from me and then being able to do it is also very rewarding.

What are the challenges?

I work within an emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD) school, so I face a lot of abuse or negativity constantly. A few of the pupils are on the autistic spectrum, which impacts their ability to perform to a certain level and behave appropriately.

How relevant is your sports coaching degree?

The content of the sport coaching and development degree I studied at Solent University is very relevant to my current job role as a PE teaching assistant.

What are your career ambitions?

I hope to complete the PGCE and become a secondary school teacher. I want to try and change someone's life and help them grow, just like my teachers did for me.

What advice can you give to others?

Believe in your own goals. Nothing comes easy, but it will be worth it - use any support and help offered to you at every opportunity.

Volunteering and showing passion for what you do will be noticed by others, which can open up a lot of opportunities for you.

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