“I felt very professional by the end of the course. It gives you that edge,” said a resident who has started a new career thanks to adult learning courses. Could you follow in her footsteps?
A substantial range of vocational courses are available through Ealing Council’s adult learning service – from learning English, maths and digital skills to much more specific training.
In fact, there are all kinds of courses that might help you with your career – whether you are trying to get back into work, or you are looking to advance within the industry you are already in, or you want to retrain to change career altogether – like Kanika Gangwani.
‘I knew I had to do it the right way’
Kanika started working as a teaching assistant at West Twyford Primary School at the start of the school year in September. She got the job after completing levels two and three of a ‘supporting teaching and learning’course through the adult learning service.
Kanika, who lives in Ealing, first enrolled on the level two course in 2017. It took place across an academic year and included a placement at a local school. She then went on to study level three of the course from September 2018 – and, this time, she had a placement at West Twyford primary. She qualified in July 2019 and was offered a full-time role at the school soon after.
Having been a fashion designer in India, Kanika continued with the business after getting married and moving to the UK. However, Kanika said: “When we had a child, it was difficult to manage those working hours.
“But then a few years later, when my son started school, I decided I wanted to start working somewhere full-time again – even though I knew that was going to be hard with a child at school and the routine associated with that.
“However, a friend of mine who is a teaching assistant recommended it as a career in terms of the balance between work and home life, and also told me about the course.
“If I was going to have a change of profession I knew I had to do it the right way. The course really helped me to develop the skills and the knowledge required to support learning in schools. The best part of the courses were the placements within schools and on-the-job learning.
‘It goes way beyond your knowledge as a parent’
“The course has given me a better understanding about child development, their behaviour and also the assessments involved in the school curriculum. It goes way beyond your knowledge as a parent.
“Level three was comprehensive. It included in-depth study of safeguarding in schools and intensive on-job observations by a college tutor. You learn a lot, and not just about school life but also awareness of what is happening around the world in childcare.
‘It can open up many opportunities’
“It can also open up many opportunities – including in special needs and other areas of teaching. It left me feeling very confident working in a school and doing my second placement at West Twyford meant I felt like I was already settled in when I started working full-time. It is a lovely school.
“No two days are the same for a teaching assistant. Some days you could be assisting with lesson preparation, whilst others are spent providing one-to-one support to a child with specific needs. Your responsibilities change a lot, but it is fun and I am really enjoying it.
“At West Twyford primary school, I have been learning how to encourage children to be confident, resilient, reflective and independent learners.
“It is a very noble profession, I think; and you feel very satisfied at the end of the day if one of the children can do something they couldn’t do before. Watching children develop their abilities is something truly special and makes the job extremely worthwhile and rewarding.”
Kanika intends to study further in the future.
“Once I’ve set my feet firmly in the school, gained experience and learned a lot more, I want to do the next course to become a high-level teaching assistant,” she said.
Visit ealingworkwest.com/adult-learning for details about the adult learning courses on offer.