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INTEGRATION AIDE COURSES: A DETAILED GUIDE

Integration Aide Courses: A Detailed Guide

workplace learning for integration aides

Integration aides work in schools supporting students in a range of contexts.


Integration aides are also known as teacher’s aides or teacher’s assistants. They are employed to support children in schools, including primary schools, high schools, special needs schools and alternative schools such as Montessori and Steiner schools. They support teachers and students in a variety of ways including:

  • Administration and logistical support in the classroom
  • Supporting student’s literacy learning
  • Supporting student’s numeracy learning
  • Behaviour management
  • Tasks such as keeping students on track
  • A range of other activities as needed by the teacher, the school and the student or group of students in a room or class

In this article we will explain:

  • What an integration aide is
  • What they do
  • What their roles and responsibilities are
  • Which course you need to complete in order to become an integration aide
  • How to find work as an integration aide
  • Whether its easier to find a job as an integration aide
  • A variety of other commonly asked questions and queries that we receive at FTTA.

It is important to note that an integration aide is just another name for a teacher’s aides or a teacher’s assistants. We use the term integration aide in this article as we are focusing on Victoria where this term is prevalent. Generally, the term integration aide is only used in Victoria, Australia. Other states use different terms such as School Support Officer, Education Assistant or Learning Support Officer.

What is an integration aide?

An integration aide is a person employed by a school to assist the teacher and to support students. They are also commonly known as teacher’s aides or teacher’s assistants. In other states integration aides are also known by various terms such as education assistant in WA and school support officer in South Australia. Some of the tasks that integration aides complete include helping students with disabilities, disorders and difficulties. This can include:

  • Autism (ASD)
  • Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Oppositional Defiance Disorder
  • Downs Syndrome
  • ADHD
  • Global Developmental Delay
  • Asperger’s Syndrome

They may also assist students who are having issues with literacy, numeracy or a range of behaviour or neurological disorders. One of the important aspects of working as a teacher’s aide or integration aide is that schools can expect you to work in a range of different tasks, activities, roles and responsibilities. Sometimes teacher’s aides are required to be very flexible and to learn quickly, adjust and accept change as inevitable.


One year you may be working in the special needs class with a student who has a particular disability, such as autism, and the next year you may be working in a year 7 class helping out a teacher in a challenging classroom with a number of behavioural issues. Another year you may be working with a student with foetal alcohol syndrome and the next year you may be working with a group of indigenous students.


Integration aides are often employed on a needs basis depending on funding available at the school. The funding for schools quite often comes from the number of students enrolled in the school who have a disability or disorder or who are classed as disadvantaged.


Check your Job Description Form (JDF) to determine the roles and responsibilities you will be expected to undertake in any new position.


Defining exactly what teacher's aides are expected to do in the classroom has been the topic of a number of studies and academic research especially in the past decade or two. Some key findings of these studies are shown below:


One study from 2018, investigated the effectiveness of teacher's aides in 105 schools and found that trained teacher's aide are much more effective especially when working closely and in cooperation with the teacher.


Other studies such as this one in 2016, found that 'students with disabilities in full-day kindergarten have higher reading and mathematics outcomes at the end of kindergarten when the classroom has a teacher's aide.'


A Victorian study published that ‘one of the major roles of the teachers' aide' and the four main areas where teacher's aides are focused on are 'a) inclusion in the school community, (b) curriculum, (c) classroom management, and (d) student support.'

How do I become an integration aide?

getting started as an integration aide

Classes are very popular. FTTA students pictured.


The most common way to become an integration aide and to get a job as an integration aide is to complete a nationally recognised qualification. The most common nationally recognised qualifications to become a teacher’s aide is the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support or the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. These two qualifications are essential if you are planning on working in a school as an integration aide. In fact, schools generally require the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support or the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support before considering anyone for an interview.


It should be note that there are no formal or legally mandated requirements in order to work as an integration aide. However, schools, teachers, and those who hire and interview integration aides, almost always require staff to hold a formal qualification. This is to ensure that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to be effective. You will study for example topics such as safety, behaviour, literacy, numeracy support, diversity, complex needs, legal requirements and practical skills.


Having a nationally recognised qualification means that you meet a certain level of competency or a certain standard; schools are eager to ensure that everyone they hire is at this minimum standard. The best qualification for you to complete if you would like to work as a special needs integration aide is the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. People at the beginning of their career may also consider the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support.


Some students enter the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support directly. The CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support is known as the special needs qualification; almost all integration aides work as special needs integration aides. Special needs integration aides work predominately with students with disabilities and other complex needs. It’s in the name after all: Integration. They often assist students to integrate into a mainstream classrooms. This is not to say that all integration aides work in mainstream classrooms - some work in special needs schools.

What are the different types of integration aides?

There are various types of integration aides. For example, the most common type is a special needs integration aide. These are people who work predominately with students who have disabilities. Many work in a special needs schools while others are employed in inclusive mainstream classroom.


The difference here can be quite stark. If you are working in a special need centre, you are working in a school that caters specifically and exclusively for students who have a disability. Normally these students have high needs and require one on one support from an adult carer or integration aide.


In an inclusive classroom, integration aides also spend time working with non-disabled students. They might spend 30%, 40% or even 50% of their time circulating in the classroom and working with other students. The rest of their time will be with students with additional needs. This is so students can develop independent study skills and social skills.


There are many other types of integration aides such as Aboriginal and Indigenous Education Officers (AEIOs). Aboriginal and Indigenous Education Officers are usually of aboriginal or indigenous descent and they work with students of aboriginal and indigenous descent across Australia. They can work in mainstream schools or specialised program; some programs are designed to improve student attendance, motivation and engagement.

What is the best integration aide course for me?

As discussed above if you are looking to work as a special needs integration aide, we highly recommend that you consider the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. This is because this qualification is known in the industry and by schools, school managers and people who hire integration aides as the qualification that mainly deals with working with special needs. This qualification has specific topics and subjects related to disabilities and concentrates on working with students with disabilities, disorders and difficulties.

studying as an integration aide

Integration aides can work in a range of different subjects and classes.


That is not to say that you cannot find work with the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support; many students complete the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support initially. This course contains some disability topics, however not to the same extent as the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. The CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support covers many of the same topics, activities, knowledge, skills etc. as the lower level qualification but the emphasis is on applying that knowledge, skills and experiences to students with additional needs such as a high needs disabilities or disorders. This is why many students prefer the teacher aide combo which combines both qualifications into a single program.


Students who enrol in the teacher’s aide combo, study the basics of the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support to get a good grounding and build on that knowledge with the the more advanced CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. Even if you don’t plan on working with students who have disabilities, it will at least be an option in the future and may give you an extra leg up in the job market.

How much do integration aide courses cost?

Integration aide courses vary in cost depending on whether you are eligible for government funding and you state. We recommend referring to our website for the latest information about government funded integration aide courses.

Are integration aide jobs hard to find?

There are thousands of schools in almost every state of Australia and Victoria is no exception. There are also tens of thousands of integration aides. Many schools have a higher number of integration aides than teachers. This is because integration aides support students one on one. Take your average special needs centre for example; it may have 10, 20, 30 or more integration aides and fewer teachers.


Many integration aides are mothers seeking to work on a part time or casual basis (about 98% of enrolments are female). For this reason, it may be easier to find work one or two days per week than a full-time position. The easiest way to find work initially is to first complete a nationally recognised qualification, obtain your necessary clearances, put your resume together and finally ask at all schools in the area to be on their relief list.


Casual or relief work is commonly available when other teacher’s aides call in sick. Once a school has employed you for regular relief work, you have a good chance of being offered a contract (such as one or two days per week) when one becomes available. Contracts can be for a few weeks, a term and even a year; contracts can eventually lead to a permanent position. Permanency means that you have a permanent position and do not need to reapply for work every year. This process described above is a common way for graduates to move from casual employment to secure positions.


Provided you have the right demeanour, dress professionally, the required clearances and hold a nationally recognised qualification from a reputable provider, you have a good chance of finding work in a local school.

How much do integration aides get paid?

pay and earning for an integration aide

Student on placement. Many students find work where they complete their placement.

Integration aides get paid approximately $30 per hour or just under $1000 per week. Integration aides come under various different awards depending on the state in which you are working. Typically speaking integration aides can earn between $23 to $33 per hour.


Most integration aides however, work in special needs. If you are working with a special needs student in a mainstream classroom you will be paid more than an integration aide who is not working with a special needs student (this is not always the case - check with your school). If you are working with a special needs student in a special needs school, you will potentially be on the highest pay level.


It is worth noting that most integration aides work approximately 32 hours per week. This gives you the flexibility to start work a little later and drop kids off to school or even have a bit of a sleep in, and to finish early at around 3 pm. Some integration aides work the full 38 hours and are required to stay on site until around 4pm.


This information is general in nature and you should consult your school or the HR department of your employer, if you are unsure or would like to know specifically how much you can expect to be paid.

What is the difference between an integration aide and a teacher’s aide?

There is very little difference between an integration aide and a teacher’s aide and in fact, we think they are the exact same thing. The one slight difference might be that integration aides are more likely to be thought of as working with special needs students and integrating them into the classroom environment. This occurs in mainstream classrooms which are known as inclusive mainstream classrooms.


You will assist with a range of tasks such as differentiated instruction. A differentiated curriculum or differentiated instruction simply means that you are making the curriculum activities, lessons, resources and speed of delivery slightly different for a particular student. For example, the student may complete a very similar activity to the rest of the class, with minor adjustments. When you study your nationally recognised course (with a reputable provider at least) you will study differentiated instruction as it is a key component of working as an integration aide.


Teacher’s aide, however, is more of a broad term that covers any person who works in a school assisting the teacher and supporting students in a range of activities. They may not necessarily work with students who have disabilities. Sometimes you will hear the term special needs teacher’s aide or special needs teacher’s assistant. In this case this person quite clearly is doing the same job as an integration aide.

What is the hardest thing about being an integration aide?

The answer to this question really depends on the individual, the student, the classroom and the quality of your teacher’s aide training. An area that our students as well as integration aides in general (and teachers) commonly cite as being one of the more stressful and challenging parts of their job is behaviour management.


If you are working with students with disabilities, you will come across a range of behavioural challenges. Occasionally you may get spat on, students may kick you, students will swear and sometimes they will run away. These can be very challenging especially if you have not been trained in the strategies and techniques for managing these situations.

Can I study an integration aide course online?

Yes - Integration aide courses are generally available online depending on your provider. FTTA, for example, offer both the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support and the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support online.


If you wish to study an integration aide course online, check with your provider and ask as many questions as need be in order to satisfy yourself that you have chosen the right provider. For example, as about the support services they offer, the resources that you will be provided with, whether you can meet with your trainer and attend tutorials etc. All these questions are really important and worth asking.


Another important aspect to consider about online learning is the fact that you will still need to complete a work placement. The work placement is not an online component of your course for obvious reasons. It is important to ensure that you choose a provider who will come and work with you during your work placement. This is important for a number of key reasons such as supporting your professional development and assisting if there are any issues. Even the best students experience issues from time to time.

Are integration aide courses government funded?

At present FFTA have no government funded integration aide courses in Victoria. Please see our website for further information about the current fees for our courses.

Should I study an integration aide course at TAFE?

Generally speaking, integration aide courses can be studied at TAFE or a private provider such as FTTA. TAFE has traditionally been known as the best provider for high school students although this is slowly changing.


The majority of people who attend a TAFE college do so because they wish to be in class for their course several days per week over a longer period of time. Students seeking a flexible learning pathway generally choose a provider such as FTTA. About 70% of students enrol with private providers according to government statistics (NCVER).

Are the assessments difficult?

This depends on the person and the assessment. There are no essays, exams or anything lengthy such as research reports. This is not a university course (although some RTOs still unfortunately require students to write 1000 or 2000+ word reports).


Case study 1. Strategies

Sarah, Elise and Kyra sit together in their Year 9 class. During their normal lessons with the classroom teacher the three girls are very well behaved. However, twice a week, the class has music lessons with Mr Frank. During music the three girls are always getting into trouble for ‘mucking-around’ and ‘talking too much’. You have a good rapport with all three girls and have worked with them for most of the year in their normal class. Because of this you have been asked to go to the music lessons for a few weeks to come up with some strategies to address the issues raised by Mr Frank and to prevent further escalation. What strategies do you think might work here?


Project 1 instructions

Complete the behaviour plan using the template provided for Jack.


Jack is 10 years’ old and is new to the school. He is having trouble settling in and doesn’t make friends very easily although he tries very hard to be friends with others. Jack does this by disrupting the class - throwing things, calling out and accidentally pushing desks over for example. He has never hurt anyone or used bad language and is always very polite to the adults in the room. Jack has no known disability or disorder and is very intelligent. A common way that Jack seeks attention is to ‘accidentally’ wear his hat inside (forgetting to take it off). He can also be very aggressive (verbally) if he gets anything wrong. Jack also has trouble accepting no such as when told he can’t get a drink or someone else will clean the whiteboard today.


As you can see, we generally make our courses as practical and as real world as possible. Some of the questions are very simple such as “What is a hazard?” whereas others can be a bit more complicated such as case studies.


Just like baking a cake, fixing a car, or painting a wall, no two people are the same. For example, if you’ve completed a course in the past such as in child care, aged care or even completed a few units at university, you will potentially move through some parts of the course a little quicker than others.

How is the integration aide course structured?

At present the integration aide courses, at least at FTTA, are delivered using a clustered approach. This means that similar units are combined with the purpose of removing unnecessary repetition. Clustering means that students save a lot of time, money, effort and the annoyance of not having to repeat the same questions over and over. We recommend students enrol with a provider who clusters their assessments for these reasons.

Summary

We have discussed and answered most of the common questions from people seeking to become an integration aide and who are thinking about enrolling in a nationally recognised teacher’s aide qualification such as the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support.


The great majority of integration aides work with special needs students, including those that have disabilities, disorders or difficulties. Some integration aides work in special needs centres or special need schools, whereas others work in inclusive mainstream classrooms. Those that work in inclusive mainstream classrooms work with students who have special needs but also spend a portion of their time working with students without special needs. Special needs integration aides are paid approximately $30 per hour and generally work approximately 32 hours per week. It is also generally easy for most people at least, to find casual and part time work as an integration aide. Finding a job as a permanent integration aide can be a little more difficult but is achievable once you have completed a course with a reputable provider.


About the author

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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