In the past, teacher’s aides were sometimes employed to do menial tasks such as making coffee, storing records and photocopying - those days are long and truly gone.
This article summarises the main questions we get every day, from people wanting to begin a new career as a teacher’s aide – what is commonly also referred to as a learning support officer in NSW. We’ve done the research for you and put together the only guide of its kind (that we know of), detailing everything that you need to know about working in this exciting industry and in particular as it applies to people living in NSW.
As there are more than 6 million people living in New South Wales, there are quite a few schools – thousands in fact. There are approximately 4,500 schools in the state. Each of these schools can employ anywhere between 10 and 50 learning support officer or special needs teacher’s aides. Additionally, most of the people who work in these schools as teacher’s aides, are only working part time - 1,2,3 or 4 days per week (although many choose to work full time as well). In other words, there are plenty of opportunities out there for the right person.
To maximise you chances of finding work, completing a nationally recognised qualification through a reputable provider is a must - schools want to be sure that their staff have been adequately trained. This gives them confidence that you have the necessary skills and background knowledge to support the teacher and the academic, cognitive, social, emotional and physical development of students.
Typically speaking, it’s easy to find work on a casual or relief basis – many find relief work quite easily in their local community. Of course, this information is general and may not apply to you and your area. However, in our experience, most schools are constantly looking for qualified relief staff. We recommend putting your name down for relief at several schools near you.
Relief work is a stepping stone for more permanent positions and contracts. There are other avenues to finding work such as those listed below:
The simplest and easiest way to become a teacher’s aide in NSW, is to follow the advice above - working relief first as this often leads to contract and permanent positions. This is one of the main way that many teacher’s aides or learning support officers find work in schools in New South Wales.
It is important that you hold a nationally recognised qualification such as the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support or the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. Obtaining a nationally recognised qualification should be your first step in the process to becoming an LSO. If you don’t hold a nationally recognised qualification (or are not working towards it), with a reputable provider, you will find it quite difficult to obtain work in a school.
To enrol in a teacher’s aide course or learning support officer course in New South Wales, there are two main options. If you are an adult learner, then enrolling with a provider such as FTTA is probably the most suitable option. FTTA is geared towards supporting busy adult learners who need a structured and supported yet flexible course. This allows students to study around other commitments such as family, work, medical issues and travel. This is also why the average age of our students is 37.
TAFE may be a good option for students under the age of 18 who are still at school. It is also ideal for students who really struggle with English and need ongoing support and guidance that may only be possible by attending class 4-5 days per week. The TAFE system is typically known as the provider for younger students or for people in regional and rural areas.
There are effectively three parts to your course. The learning part is probably the longest and most time-consuming part of your course. Learner materials include:
The second part of your course are the theory assessments. The theory assessments are often not as hard as many think, yet they do cause some stress amongst students (until they have completed the first assessment, at which point most realise they are very ‘do-able’). All of our assessments focus on work as a learning support officer or teacher’s aide in the typical school (mainstream or special needs).
The final part of your course is your work placement. This critical requirement is completed by all students who undertake either the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support or the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. The work placement is for a minimum of 100 hours and is usually completed in a local school.
All of FTTA’s teacher’s aide courses are available online. This includes the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support and the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. Note that some components are not online based – such as the placement which must be completed in a school.
Even when enrolling in an online program, ensure that your provider is capable of offering sufficient support services. This is very important even for students who are confident and have lots of experience with study or lots of experience in the industry. The reason additional support is important is because it reduces the stress, frustration and time that it takes to complete your course. Support services may include:
Lacklustre support can lengthen the time it takes for you to complete your course. For example, if you send an email asking for assistance on a particular topic and wait a week for a reply – your course effectively takes a week longer to complete. Ask 20 questions, and you are out of the workforce for a long time – not earning income for you and your family. At FTTA, we return calls and emails within a few hours or at the worst the next day in most cases.
Finally, we highly recommend a provider who visits you in the workplace. Having a trainer who visits you in the workplace, is key to your professional development - it could be the last opportunity you ever have of this kind. Trainers provide invaluable advice that can drastically improve your skills. This can mean the difference between being offered a contract at the end of your placement and spending months afterwards searching for work.
In summary, ensure that you are investing your time and money with a reputable provider because your education is not worth skimping on.
Teacher’s aides in New South Wales earn approximately $30 per hour. Teacher’s aides are paid depending on the type of work they are doing and the types of children that they are working with. For example, a teacher’s aide could be employed in a special needs centre or a special needs school which is a school that specialises in supporting children with special needs.
At these schools or centres, you can expect a salary of approximately $30-$34 per hour. On the other hand, if you are working with a special needs student in a mainstream classroom, you may be paid around about the $30 mark. If you are working in mainstream classrooms without any special needs responsibilities, you will earn a little less, than when working with special needs.
Most teacher’s aides or as they are commonly called in New South Wales, Learning Support Officers (LSO), are paid around about the $30 an hour mark. This is because the majority of learning support officers work with students with special needs. It should also be noted that there a range of other factors that can contribute to the calculation of how much you are paid.
The majority of learning support officers or teacher’s aides in new south wales do not work the full 38 hours – normally, 32 hours is more typical for 5 days work. This is because most staff finish work at approximately 3:00 in the afternoon. Some however, are required to work a little bit later and hence it’s important to check the requirements with your supervisor.
Yes - generally speaking, these two terms and interchangeable and mean the same thing. This term is used by the average person and hence we use them on our website. People in the industry may use other terms such as learning support officer, integration aide and school support officer – depending on where you are from.
So, is there a difference between a teacher’s aide, teacher’s assistant and learning support officer? It a nutshell - no. The former is a slightly older term whereas learning support officer is more modern sounding. In the past teacher’s aides were sometimes employed to do menial tasks such as making coffee, storing records and photocopying - those days are long and truly gone. Nowadays, new terms that reflect the higher level of responsibility that teacher’s aide have in the classroom, have come into use.
On the whole, this is not an overly difficult course for the majority of students, at least in our experience with 4000+ graduates over the last decade. However, defining difficulty depends on a range of factors such as those listed below:
There are a range of factors, as you can see from the points above, that can contribute to the success or failure of your studies. We find that most students who are dedicated,
committed and consistently work through the course material do not consider this course to be difficult. Where students mainly struggle, is staying on track consistently, especially when there are interruptions such as travel, medial issues, family problems and work.
The course is certainly not difficult in the sense that you need to memorise large amounts of information, write detailed reports/essays or anything of that nature. Unlike some courses, such as in accounting, you do not need to learn and memorise complex technical information. You will not need to learn programming such as in some IT courses. Most of the course content is logical, relevant and practical - we try to explain things in a relatively simple and useful way, with additional content for those that want the challenge.
Similar to the answer above - it all depends on several factors. If for example, you are only spending a few hours hour per week on the course, you will take a lot longer than someone who dedicates 20 hours per week to their studies. If you have raised your own children or have experience with any of the caring industries (child care, aged care, youth work, community services, AOD), you may complete the course faster due to existing knowledge and skills relevant to the course content.
Generally, people who struggle with this course struggle for the following reasons:
Many of our students are successful even though English is their second language – what is known as ESL (English as a Second Language). Some students do struggle however depending on their reading, writing and verbal English language skills. If you are able to read this blog easily, then generally speaking you should be fine with a nationally recognised qualification such as the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support or the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. Below we have included some samples that will give you an idea of what to expect in your course. How do you think you would go? *
Many students under the age of 18, consider TAFE initially as their preferred provider. This is because TAFE is geared towards students who are under the age of 18 such as those in year 10, 11, 12 (effectively TAFE is year 13 or an extension of high school – the line between senior college and TAFE is often blurred).
Private providers on the other hand, such as FTTA, are geared towards and specialise in offering courses to busy adult learners – our average age is 37. This is not to say that younger students don’t enrol with FTTA or older students don’t enrol at TAFE. TAFE courses are often class-based with students expected to attend 3+ days per week (for 1-3 semesters). This is great for those who need to be in class to be successful and who don’t have much experience in terms of children.
For adult students however, private providers can offer structured, supported and flexible study programs that allow for intermittent and irregular study patters that work around and in conjunction with other commitments.
You can enrol in either the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support or the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support quite quickly and easily by completing our online enrolment form. For those that struggle or who are not comfortable with the online form, a hardcopy enrolment form can be printed.
The enrolment form can take from 10-30 minutes to complete. We generally process the form within a few hours to a few days at the most. If all of the necessary documents such as ID, are received during or after the enrolment form is complete, we can process the application quite quickly.
In this article, we have explored and discussed many of the common questions that we receive regarding learning support officer courses, also commonly known as teacher’s aide courses, particularly as it pertains to NSW. We have discussed:
If you have any additional questions regarding this topic and any of our teacher’s aide courses such as the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support or the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our friendly support staff.
*Example from our learner guide:
Risk is the likelihood of something happening. Risk refers to the probability of injury, illness or damage resulting from exposure to a hazard. Generally, risks are categorised as either low, medium or high. Examples of low, medium and high risks are shown below:
You need to identify hazards and assess the risk on a regular basis:
In other words, you should be constantly looking for hazards, assessing the risk (low, medium, high) and doing something to remove or reduce the risk created by the hazard.
Source: Safe Work Australia 2012
Previously you read that risks can be categorised as low, medium or high. This is the simple method used from day to day during tasks. However, there is a more accurate and detailed way to determine the level of risk associated with a particular hazard. This may be used during a workplace inspection for example or when designing new procedures or activities.
The risk matrix is used to assess the level of risk associated with a particular hazard based on the possible consequences. This information can help the user to make better decisions. For example, if a hazard is in the red, immediate action should be taken as injury to a person is likely to occur and the consequence is very high (such as death).
To use the matrix, determine the consequence (top row) and draw a line straight down the page. Then determine the likelihood of the hazard causing injury (first column) and draw a line horizontally. Find the point at which the two lines intersect. This point is the level of risk assigned to that hazard. You can then use that information to make a better decision about what to do (by using the HOC).
Always keep accurate and up to date records in a safe and secure location for legal purposes. For example, if you complete an incident report, save it somewhere safe in case you need it in the future. Always ensure that no one else has access to private information (an incident report may contain someone’s medical information which must not be make public).
According to Safe Work Australia (2012) “The most efficient way of controlling risks is to eliminate a hazard, so far as is reasonably practicable. If not reasonably practicable the next step is to minimise the risks so far as is reasonably practicable…”
The Hierarchy of Control (HOC) is a system which outlines out the best way to deal with a hazard and control the risk. There are 6 stages in the HOC. When you see a hazard, you should try and use step 1. If step 1 is not possible, you should then use step 2 and so forth.
1. Get rid of it! This is the most effective method to control the hazards and involves removing the hazard completely. Examples include:
2. Replacing the hazard with a less dangerous alternative. Examples include:
3. Prevent others from getting close to the hazard. Examples include:
4. Also known as redesigning or modifying. This involves changing a process or tool in order to make it safer. Examples include:
4. Also known as redesigning or modifying. This involves changing a process or tool in order to make it safer. Examples include:
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.