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The CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support is the higher-level course for those who would like to achieve the highest qualification available for teacher’s aides in Australia. As such, it's a relatively popular course and there are many different options, providers and modes to choose from.
This guide will briefly discuss some of the main questions relating to the CHC40213 Certificate IV in education support. We've done the research, collated all the data, and come up with the most accurate and relevant answer for those seeking detailed information about this qualification.
Put quite simply, the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support is the highest-level teacher’s aide qualification available in Australia. It is one step up from the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support. The CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support is known in the industry as the required course to work as a special needs teacher's aide. Special needs teacher's aides can also be called integration aides, school support officer, learning support officers, teacher’s assistant, or a range of other terms depending on where you live.
Many people who work in special needs schools as support staff hold this qualification. Special needs schools are schools that are designed specifically for students with complex additional needs such as Autism and Down syndrome, and in particular students with multiple disabilities and disorders. This qualification covers all of the basics of working as a teacher’s aide similar to the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support with a greater emphasis on working with special needs students. The CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support also focuses on the strategies, systems, processes, policies, techniques, floor craft, and other relevant pedagogical approaches, required to work with students that need one on one and small group support from a highly trained special needs teacher’s aide.
Let’s have a quick review of what teacher’s aides do, according to some recent studies in Australia and around the world.
A study in 2015 conducted in Queensland Australia, showed that most teacher’s aides work one to one with students or in small grounds and therefore need to be well trained in instructional techniques.
Similarly, A 2015 study published in the journal The Australian Association for Research in Education wrote that teacher’s aides work hard to improve students’ academic outcomes and in particular in core subjects such as literacy and numeracy.
In terms of working with students with disabilities and complex needs, a 2018 study conducted conducted in the ACT explained the important role that teacher’s aides play in supporting special needs students particularly those working in inclusive classrooms. Further to this, another study from 2011 explained that “TAs have inadvertently become the ‘primary mechanism’ enabling students with disability and learning difficulties to attend mainstream schools…” Howard and Ford (2007) also agreed that teacher’s aides support students with complex needs as well as help the teacher with ‘planning, producing and adapting materials.’
If you are from across the ditch, a New Zealand study showed the importance of teacher’s aides in student development – particular in developmental curriculums.
The CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support is available as an online course. In fact, most students complete this course online. This means that you're not required to attend classes, tutorials or workshops. There are also no exams or other difficult assessments such as long reports or essays.
It is important to bear in mind that no course is actually 100% online, regardless of who you choose as your provider. You will have contact with your trainer via phone for example (from most RTOs – there are some that don’t allow you to speak to a trainer except via email) and students also need to complete a placement in a school.
Most students don’t necessarily want a purely online course anyway; many students want and need regular support from their trainer in one way or another. This can take the form of face to face meetings, phone calls, skype calls, workshops or tutorials. Providers that offer a high level of support can significantly reduce the stress, duration, frustration, and issues that you may come across during your qualification. Even the best students have issues from time to time and choosing an RTO that provides a high level of support is important.
We believe that it's also important for students to stay in regular contact with their trainer – as often as possible. We also highly recommend that our students attend as many tutorials and workshops as possible if they can make it to a venue near them. Sometimes these tutorials or workshops are online and held in the form of webinars, meaning everyone can attend and interact!
At FTTA for example, we hold weekly live webinars as well as provide a library of pre-recorded webinars that can be watched at any time. This is almost the same as being in class in many respects. You can also speak to your trainer over the phone, via email, or book a one-on-one meeting. Some students who live in regional or rural areas also speak to their trainers on a regular basis using Skype.
When you enroll online however, you're not required to contact your trainer every single week, fortnight, month, etc. There is no rule or requirement per se. However, we try to keep in regular contact with students to help ensure that they stay on track, to keep them motivated, and to ensure that they get the support required in order to move through the course at a consistent pace.
In addition, you should also consider the work placement requirement. This particular aspect of your course is not online. The current requirement is to complete a minimum of 100 hours in a registered school. Many students complete more than the minimum required hours.
In summary, yes, this qualification can be completed online. However, it's important to bear in mind that online can mean many different things. It can for example mean that you're still attending classes or workshops on a regular basis. It can also mean that you attend online webinars each week.
As we have discussed earlier, the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support is for students who wish to work with special needs, or for those simply want to hold the highest qualification available. This gives you the maximum chance of finding work including being offered a contract and becoming a permanent employee of a school. It also gives you the confidence of knowing that you have completed the highest qualification available.
While the Certificate IV is predominantly for working in special needs, the Certificate III only touches on special needs. The Certificate III is a broad-based qualification that covers a range of topics for non-disabled students such as literacy, numeracy, behavior management and safety. It is important to remember however that all of the things that you will learn in the Certificate III are applicable to students with a disability and there is a significant overlap between the two courses.
For example, in the Certificate III one of the strategies that you will learn is scaffolding. Scaffolding basically means that difficult or complex tasks are divided into smaller tasks and learnt one little piece at a time. Once a task has been achieved, a slightly more complex task is then tackled. This is a common strategy taught in universities to teachers around the world.
Obviously this important strategy is applicable when working with students with disabilities as well as with students who do not have a disability. In the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support, students learn how to apply this particular strategy while working with students with complex needs.
Another difference is the cost. Unless the course is government funded, typically the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support is slightly more expensive. One of the reasons for this, is that very few training providers (including TAFEs) deliver the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. It is a highly specialised niche qualification that requires specialised trainers and curriculum. While the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support may be slightly more expensive, it is definitely worth the extra expense in our opinion. The benefits certainly outweigh the small extra cost.
Which course takes the longest to complete? Both courses are relatively similar in terms of the time that it takes to complete the course, and in fact some people tell us that the Certificate III was harder and took a little bit longer. This is because the Certificate III covers all the basic topics and lots of new information is introduced to students. The Certificate IV is similar in content but applied to special needs.
In summary, if you're absolutely certain that you will work in a special needs center, you should be looking at the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support, or the Teacher's Aide Combo. However, if you are thinking about working in mainstream (such as in kindergarten), you may consider the lower level qualification. The CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support may be more suitable for those who have never studied before, have no experience with children, have recently left high school, English is their second language, or for those who have a learning disability or disorder. Speak with your provider about your situation for the best advice.
The cost of the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support varies from provider to provider. The cost also depends on a range of other factors such as if the course is government funded in your state. There is no funding for the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support in the majority of states of Australia. We recommend checking our website and clicking on the fees tab to determine if there is government funding in your area.
As we have touched on in other articles, it's also important to consider the total and true cost of enrolling in any program. The total cost of enrolling in your course is not only the course fee. It's important to also consider whether there are additional costs such as:
Another important factor to consider is whether the RTO provides sufficient support services and if you feel comfortable working with that RTO on a daily basis. For example, can you contact the trainer? Can you meet with the trainer? Can you attend tutorials and workshops? Even the best students need to meet with their trainer on a regular basis to ensure that they are progressing.
Generally, for the great majority of students, this qualification is unfortunately not free. In Queensland, the cost of the government subsidised course is $25 for concession, and $50 for non-concession, at the time of writing. For full fee-paying students, we try to keep the fee at a very affordable rate, while still offering a high level of support services. Check FTTA's website for the latest details on the price of the course in your area - under the fees tab of our website.
The CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support is government funded in some states. It is not a government funded course in Western Australia. Some states such as Queensland offer government funding for eligible students. Check the fees tab of FTTA's course page for the latest information relevant to you. Please note that funding availability may change from time to time.
In Queensland, the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support government funded course is available at FTTA for $25 concession and $50 subsidised. As mentioned earlier, it's important to recognise that the full cost of the course is not just the upfront fee – consider the services provided to you, the availability of trainers for face to face meetings and whether the provider visits you in the workplace during your placement.
This qualification is the most effective, efficient, and easiest way to become a special needs teacher's aide. Special needs teacher’s aides typically hold this qualification. If you're applying for a job to become a special needs teacher’s aide, you will be expected to hold this qualification.
Sometimes you can work as a special needs teacher’s aide if you don't hold this qualification. This can happen in rare instances such as if you have an overseas teaching qualification that is not recognized in Australia, or you have a child care qualification. However, even in these instances, we still recommend that you hold the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support if you plan on working in this sector for any period of time.
About 10 years ago, most people that worked in special needs didn't hold this or any qualification. However, these days, schools need to know that all of their staff have the necessary skills and knowledge to be meet the needs of students with complex behavioural and learning needs. For example, untrained teacher’s aides will give students the answer to a question nearly 7x more often than a person who is a trained educator – why? The reason is that trained educators (at least those who have completed a course with a good provider) know that task completion is not the goal – conceptual understanding is much more important.
As with the previous question, the answer to this is quite simple - yes. Schools across the country will generally require that you hold the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support especially if you're applying for a level 3 or higher-level position to work with special needs.
This doesn't necessarily mean that you won't get a job if you don't hold this particular qualification, but it is the standard qualification that almost everyone holds in special needs schools and if working with students with complex needs such as multiple-disabilities.
In Australia there is no state that has a formal legal requirement for you to hold a qualification in order to work as a teacher’s aide. There is also no formal or legal requirement for you to hold a Certificate IV in order to work with special needs students or students with disabilities. However, you will find that it is a very important qualification for various reasons including developing your pedagogical toolkit (pedagogy is a term used in the education sector and it refers to the strategies and techniques used in the teaching and learning process).
Holding a qualification such as the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support is also beneficial for job security. Schools have funding for teacher’s aides, only when students require the support of a teacher’s aide – the funding is allocated based on the child’s level of required support. From year to year, the number of positions vary, and even with a permanent position (what is called permanency), you don’t want to risk being transferred to a less preferred location.
The CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support is slightly more difficult than the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support. This is obvious and should not come as a surprise to anyone. However, it is certainly not beyond the reach of the majority of people. In fact, we very rarely have students who withdraw, drop-out, do not finish or fail, unless they decide to do so for personal reasons or other reasons beyond their control – it isn’t because the course was too hard per se.
Students who work through the course materials, keep in regular contact with their trainer, generally do not have any problems completing this course. Yes, there are sections which are more difficult than others but nothing that can’t be overcome with a bit of hard work, dedication and helpful support from a friendly trainer.
As with learning anything new, you will be frustrated, annoyed, and confused from time to time. This is completely normal for any course - anywhere in the world. It's especially the case for adults who are not used to studying on a regular basis as you don’t know what to expect.
That is why it is important to enrol with a provider who offers you a significant amount of support services and is geared towards adult learning. Even the most confident, experienced and best students will benefit from ongoing and regular support from their trainer. Sometimes the smallest piece of new information can make all the difference to your future career.
You can see a page from our learner guide below, developed by our trainers and industry experts. This gives you some indication of what to expect in your course.
Example from the Literacy Chapter of FTTA’s learner guide:
Linking literacy skills
You may have noticed that most texts require literacy skills in multiple areas such as reading, viewing and writing all at the same time. For example, a student who searches for how to install a computer game will potentially use all 5 literacy skills:
The agreed meaning of sounds and words link all of the 5 literacy areas. There is also a link between the different literacy skills due to the common grammar, vocabulary and style being used. Words being spoken are also heard, words that are written are able to be spoken and so forth.
Linking viewing and reading – a quick activity
A person may view an advert that has both images and words. Think for example about the posters below. Both posters have a similar title, show detailed facial expressions, have two characters and both are set in a mild snow storm in the late evening. Even with these similarities however, it is quite clear that they appeal to a very different audience. Think about what tells you that one is for children and one is for adults and consider the following questions:
Your role in literacy support
As an education assistant, you have the very important role to support students’ literacy development. Depending on the needs of your students and the teacher, you have the responsibility to:
What’s a language?
A language is a set of rules that a group of people agree will be used to communicate with each other. Everyone agrees that an apple is the red piece of fruit and that a chair is the thing we sit on. If we didn’t agree, communication would be impossible.
Language doesn’t have to have any written form or symbols and may only have an oral language component. Oral language is a collection of sounds and rules about what those sounds mean. For example, in English the sound ‘sl’ is often applied to words with negative connotations such as slander, sly, slave, slum, slouch and slob. These subtle connotations allow people to communicate their thoughts with a higher degree of accuracy.
Words are often derived from the environment in which the language is developed. This enables the community to communicate more accurately. For example, in English there is only one common word for rice, however in countries where rice is a staple of everyday life there are many words. In Indonesia for example, padi means rice which is still in the field, gabah means unhusked rice, beras is uncooked rice sold at market and nasi means cooked rice. Source: Indonesia Inquiry, 2011
Generally speaking, the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support takes approximately six months to complete. Some students aim to complete the course in a shorter period of time. Other students aim to complete the course in a longer period of time. It really depends on how much time, effort, commitment and dedication that you are willing to put in and set aside each day, week and month.
It also depends on a range of other factors such as the support provided by your RTO, the resources and assessments the provider supplies, the quality of your trainers, your previous education, whether you're confident studying online, and whether you get sick, take holidays, or there are other interruptions.
Typically, students will complete this course within six months. Class based students will also finish this course in a slightly quicker period of time. This is because trainers set due dates for assessments, and can also assist during class when students are having issues.
Some students are also placed on accelerated programs, meaning they intend on finishing a lot quicker. This can happen if the student has substantial experience or previous training but is not quite eligible for recognition of prior learning.
As with many of these questions, and the answers discussed in this article, it depends on your situation. If you're really worried about how long it will take you or if you’re unsure of whether you have the time to complete this course - speak to one of our student advisers. We get these types of questions every day and if we don’t know the answer – no one does!
Amazingly, all of these terms refer to the exact same position! The only difference is the location.
In Western Australia teacher’s aides are called education assistants or EA's for short. In South Australia teacher’s aides are called school support officers or SSO's for short. In Victoria teacher’s aides are called integration aides. In Brisbane teacher’s aides are quite often just called teacher’s aides, but sometimes they go by other names such as teacher's assistants.
It's important to bear in mind that schools use their teacher’s aides for various different reasons whether you are an LSO, SSO or integration aide – two SSO’s can do very different jobs. The difference between what you do and what someone in the next class does, can be substantial. Check your job description, ask your school or ask your teacher about your expected tasks and responsibilities.
This course is certainly available by recognition of prior learning. In fact, it is very commonly completed by recognition of prior learning especially by staff who have worked in schools for long periods of time such as 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, etc., and have completed a large number of professional development courses, seminars, conferences, or meetings.
If you're interested in recognition of prior learning, we recommend that you read our RPL flyer on our website or contact FTTA.
The availability of RPL by government funding can depend on your state and other eligibility requirements. Generally speaking, all nationally recognized qualifications are available by recognition of prior learning including the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support – however not all are funded.
Currently the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support is available via class-based mode at FTTA. We offer classes in Perth and Brisbane (subject to change – see website for further details). Some providers also offer this course class-based such as several of the larger TAFE's. However, typically speaking the Certificate IV is not known to be a class-based course simply due to enrolment numbers and the fact that traditionally many students tended to enrol in the Certificate III.
As FTTA is a specialist provider and enrol a large portion of students in this industry, we're able to offer this course via flexible class-based mode from one day per week, in a blended manner combined with work placement and home study.
For the latest details we recommend speaking to our student advisers. Class-based is great because you get not only the social contact with other students, but you can ask questions and participate in activities. Student who attend classes often complete their courses quicker, with less stress and commonly tell us that they really enjoy being in class.
You have a range of different options if you are considering enrolling in a CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. Typically speaking if you're a young student (for example under the age of 18 or 19), enrolling in a TAFE course may be the best option for you - if it is available in your local area. TAFEs are generally known for enrolling younger students such as high school leavers.
TAFE is one of the best options if you need the structure of being in class on most days. This could be fantastic for some people who have no other commitment such as family, work, etc.
If however you're an adult learner such as over the age of 21, a private provider such as FTTA is probably your best bet. Private providers are well known for case managing and supporting adult learners and understand the needs of busy adult learners.
Many people ask this question - and so they should! It's important to understand that many schools have more teacher’s aides, especially special needs teacher’s aides, than they actually have teachers. In fact, some special needs schools have 40 or 50 special needs teacher’s aides but only have 10 or so teachers.
Will you find work? We can't guarantee it obviously, but there's certainly plenty of jobs out there for those that have the right personality, demeanor, training, are able to put together a decent resume and can approach their local schools in a professional manner.
Most of our students find work where they do their placement; others find work in a school in their local area by doing relief work first. This is where you work as a substitute teacher’s aide – on a casual basis. Once schools are happy with you and get to know you, then they will potentially offer you a contract if and when one becomes available.
Please see below some examples of assessment activities for the CHC40213 Certificate IV in education support. As you can see, they are not overly difficult or technical – this is however only a sample. This is not a technical course like programming, accounting or engineering. You will find that if you have experience with children or studied before (and provided you put in the time and effort), this is not an overly difficult course. It still does require however, a certain amount of time to complete the learning and assessment activities.
We have included some examples from our assessments below. These are from several clusters of CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. What answers do you think you would provide for these particular questions?
Example 1 - Complete the table below by providing an overview of 4 disabilities (100 words each approx.).
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Deaf and hearing impaired
Dyslexia and Dyscalculia
Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
Example 2 - Choose one of the disabilities above and explain 3 impacts on learnings.
Example 3 - List 4 additional risks, that education assistants need to be aware of, when supervising students with disabilities outside of the normal classroom environment.
There are 17 units that make up the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. We have included them below and they are available with descriptions on our website. Bear in mind that FTTA offer a clustered approach, which means that the units are grouped where they are similar. This means that the units probably aren't really that relevant to most students. What is more relevant is that there are five clusters to the course. We prefer the method of clustering units as it removed a whole heap of unnecessary repetition which saves students a significant amount of time.
You can see the current clusters from the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support below. As you can see, the clusters are probably more relevant to students than the particular units because students study clusters not units. Each cluster is longer than an individual unit but is much shorter than the total of all units if studied separately.
Generally speaking, each cluster of units will take approximately two to six weeks to finish depending on the student and the cluster.
Some clusters are a lot easier than others; some have a lot more reading and more background knowledge is required. For example, the disability cluster from the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support is slightly harder and longer than most other clusters – this is due to the fact that the whole qualification is built around working with students with complex needs and we cover several of the main disabilities and disorders in detail. However, if you have experience with children, especially children with disabilities, or even adults with disabilities, or any previous knowledge or study in this area, you will find this particular cluster relatively easy and will potentially finish it a lot quicker than most.
Other factors will affect how long it takes each person to finish a cluster such as their experience in the industry or related industries and their abilities in general. Also, some students work harder than others and can set aside more time per week; some students are very time poor and will be happy to spread their course out over a longer period.
In this article, we have taken a detailed look at the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support and covered everything that you need to know in order to make a decision about which is the best provider for you, which mode you should consider enrolling in, and, if this particular qualification is the right course for you. We've talked about whether you should study online, whether the course is available via government funding and whether it's free in your state. We also discussed the fact that TAFE is the preferred provider for most high school students, whereas private providers are the preferred providers of adult learners. Finally, we are the only provider that we know of, that has published information and examples of their clusters, units, learner materials and assessments – which gives you an idea of what to expect.
Adam Green is a former teacher, member of the government’s Education Support Industry Advisory Group, MD at FTTA, and a post-graduate researcher at Murdoch university.
Disclaimer: Information provided in this article is general, may not be relevant to you, is not legal advice and no guarantee of accuracy is provided. Users should seek expert advice before relying on any information provided in this article.
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With more than 4000 graduates, FTTA is the go-to provider for teacher's aide courses. 1 in 2 students choose to study the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support with FTTA.