Shropshire Higher Level Teaching Assistant Julie Hordern had enjoyed a career in sales and photography before the birth of her first child influenced her to take a very different career path into the early years sector.
“When my daughter went to nursery at Newtown Church of England Primary School in Wem I began listening to year 1 and 2 children read on a volunteer basis. A job at the school was advertised to work for 20 hours per week with a statemented child so I applied and I was successful.
“I decided to work in that sector due to the hours fitting in with my children but also I enjoyed the warm and inviting atmosphere that welcomed the children every day where they were able to flourish and thrive. I was inspired by the teachers and teaching assistants and wanted to pursue a career in school.”
Julie has now been at the school for over a decade, working with children in early years and Key Stage 1 and 2. She applied for the new Level 4 Certificate for HLTAs as soon as she had completed the HLTA programme with Best Practice Network to gain HLTA status.
“I really enjoyed the experience and as I completed the programme I was invited to apply for the online course that would give me an HLTA qualification in addition to HLTA status.”
Julie adds: “The course allowed me to use my HLTA status documents for much of the qualification criteria so as I had only completed my HLTA course within the 18 months specified by Best Practice Network, it saved a lot of time.
“I found the website challenging to begin with but once I viewed the online tutorial I found the site easy to navigate with lots of frequently asked questions and support from my mentor Brendan. He was always on hand to offer advice and his replies were prompt and insightful. He was also reassuring when I thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew!”
Julie found balancing the demands of the programme with her job was relatively easy – as long as she was methodical in her planning.
“It is very important to be methodical with your approach to this course so I ensured that I had read through the assessment criteria and took a copy of them to school with me so that I could link them to evidence while I was there and collect it for my portfolio.
“I’m a single mum and have to look after my two children and work full time so I gave myself every evening off from the course and worked on a Saturday and over the Christmas holiday. Ultimately it was easy to fit in around my job and took only about four weeks in total to organise and upload everything required by the course.”
The programme has already had a positive impact on her career, says Julie. “The programme has helped me in my role by making me stop and reflect on my professional practice and examine how I could possibly do some things differently.
“I think it’s reawakened my passion for teaching and learning and has also ensured that I am up to date with school policies and current government legislation. Since gaining HLTA status I’m now able to support the school by covering classes for the teachers at short notice and my long term plan is to keep on doing this. The HLTA qualification helps to cement my knowledge and understanding and take my professional development one step further."