In this article, we discuss the common questions from students and those considering a career as a teacher’s aide in Victoria – also known as integration aides.
As the saying goes - you get what you pay for. Investing in your own education is a very wise investment.
To become a teachers’ aide or integration aide in Victoria there are a range of steps that you need to follow including completing a course with a reputable provider, obtaining clearances and applying at a dozen or more schools. Below we have listed several key steps that we believe is the tried and tested method for becoming a teacher’s aide in Victoria. It’s also worth noting that not all students follow this process, but we believe it is effective.
If you know anyone already in the industry (teachers, principals, deputies, school mangers, integration aides or teachers’ aides), ask about who to speak to in their school, whether contracts are coming up and if they are willing to write you a letter of recommendation.
Hint: You could even write something simple for them to edit and sign.
If for example you are dropping children off to school each day, it is worth asking the teacher if they know of any upcoming positions. Many people get jobs this way – as the old saying goes, ‘it’s not about what you know, but who you know.’
Here are the steps to becoming a teacher’s aide in Victoria (and anywhere in Australia):
Step 1. Obtain a nationally recognised qualification through a reputable provider. Schools need to know that you’ve learnt everything that is required in order to keep students safe and maximise their learning potential. If you are not sure, check with a few schools for recommendations.
Step 2. Prepare your resume, clearances and introduction letter. Note that we have a resume and intro letter template builder on our website for free. It is only a basic resume and letter, but it will give you a good idea and a basis to begin. You can use this to get started and then tailor it to your own needs.
Hint: Think about the job-hunting process as if it were your actual job. If you are looking for work 2 days per week, spend 2 days per week looking for work.
Step 3. Approach a range of schools in your area and ask to be put down on their relief list. There will normally be someone at the front office such as an administration person who oversees relief work. The person who’s in charge of relief work will have a list of people that they call if a staff member is sick or can’t attend for whatever reason.
Many schools tell us that they can’t find enough relief staff - especially special needs and high schools. Don’t forget to consider special needs schools which are schools within a school in many cases. You will also be paid slightly more to work in special needs schools.
Step 4. Be persistent. Continue asking on a regular basis (within reason) and keep applying for jobs as they come up. Always dress professionally.
Sometimes people are lucky and walk straight into a dream position however that is rare. Most of the time, you will need to put in the hard yards. Once you get a shot in a school, do the best you can, ask for feedback and put all the skills and knowledge that you have learnt in your course into action. At the end of the day, ask the teacher how you went and show them that you are eager to improve.
Once you have done a few days of relief work at a school, you will probably get called in more and more and eventually be offered a contract. Schools tend to use one main person for relief especially if they know that person is reliable and good at their job. If a contract or permanent position is what you are chasing, this pathway is very effective – if you have been employed as relief throughout the year, you will often get first option at contracts as they pop up. Schools will reward your loyalty and prefer to hire people that they know. In fact, if you are exceptionally good at your job, there is a chance a position will be created for you – one reason why enrolling with a reputable provider pays off!
We can only speak for our courses so while reading this bear in mind that providers have different course materials, structures and expectations.
The course is divided into three components. The first component is the learning. This probably takes up the most amount of time but is also the most enjoyable. The learning tasks include attending class (if class based), live webinars, watching lectures and pre-recorded webinars, reading and studying the learner guides, learner guide activities and of course the placement which is really just one big learning activity.
The second part of your course is the assessments. There are no essays or intimidatingly long reports, and you should be wary of any RTO that asks you to write a 2000-word report or even a 1000-word report for that matter. It is our opinion that reports and essays have no place in the VET system at this level. Most of your assessments are short answer questions, mini projects, case studies and scenarios – many of which are done verbally with your assessor on placement. Some courses also have portfolios which are similar to scrapbooks.
If you are considering enrolling in an integration aide course or a teacher’s aide course, we highly recommend that you enrol with a provider who is willing to provide you with samples of their learning and assessment materials – this transparency is important – so you know exactly what you are getting into.
The third part of your course is your work placement. The work placement is a mandatory requirement and you will need to complete a minimum of 100 hours in a registered school - normally in your local area. You can even complete a work placement in a school where your child attends however generally not in the same class. The work placement is an opportunity for you to put into practice all of the things you have learnt in the theory part of your course - finally we come out and observe and assess you, provide advice and feedback to help you improve.
You should only enrol with a provider that visits you in the workplace. This is critical because it may be the only opportunity you will ever get to have someone observe you in the workplace, provide feedback and even demonstrate strategies and techniques. This could save you years of learning these skills on your own ‘as-you-go’. It’s also important that the RTO visits you in the workplace if there are any issues. Even the best students have issues from time to time.
As discussed in the previous section, all of our courses are available online. It should also be pointed out that the term online can mean many different things. Every RTO is different in their approach, technology, resources and the amount and type of support provided. We recommend a provider that offers face to face tutorials or at least live webinars as students really enjoy these activities. We also recommend a provider who you can contact whenever you need assistance (and one based in Australia).
Make sure that before you choose your provider that you know what you are getting into. Can you go and see them face to face? Can you talk to your trainer at any stage over the phone? Do they offer tutorials, and do they come and visit you in the workplace?
It is important not to short change yourself by enrolling with the cheapest provider. As the saying goes - you get what you pay for. Investing in your own education is a very wise investment.
In Victoria you may see teachers’ aide jobs being advertised on government job boards, job sites such as SEEK and Indeed, or in newspapers under the employment section. You will often see the term integration aide, which is the formal term used when referring to teacher’s aides in Victoria.
The pay range for teacher’s aides in Victoria starts at around $23-$24 per hour at the low end and goes up to about $32-$34 at the higher end. On average we estimate that most integration aides or teachers’ aides in Victoria can expect to earn approximately $30 per hour.
Some website estimate that teachers’ aides are actually earning less than this at around $25-$27 per hour. However, we believe this is incorrect as it is the not the average, but the middle point between the bottom and top pay tier. In reality, the majority of teacher’s aides in Victoria work with special needs to some degree and therefore are on at least $30 per hour in most cases.
Your take-home pay depends on a range of factors such as:
If you are working in a special needs school, you will be paid at the top or towards the top of the pay scale. If you are working with special needs in a mainstream classroom (referred to as an inclusive classroom), you will be paid somewhere in the middle.
If you are working in mainstream and not with special needs, the salary is slightly lower again. In these positions, staff are assisting the teacher with general classroom activities such as preparing resources, cleaning and general support.
Special needs teacher’s aides are paid more due to the fact that they are tasked with supporting students who have complex needs, often requiring an individual behavioural and/or educational plan.
Generally speaking, integration aides and teachers’ aides earn about $1000 per week less tax. The reason they earn about $1000 per week is because most integration aides work approximately 32 hours per week. Very few integration aides work 38 hours per week. There are also a range of other options available to integration aides such as working in agricultural schools, libraries or specific programs such as Aboriginal and Indigenous programs. The more specialist programs often attract a higher rate of pay.
The short answer to this question is that there are thousands of schools in Victoria and thousands of positions become available every year. This is due to the fact that many integration aides retire, change jobs, transfer etc. – many work part time or casual meaning one position can be filled by 2 or 3 staff.
Many schools have more teacher’s aides than teachers. In a special needs class for example, there might be several teachers accompanied by a dozen teacher’s aides supporting students one on one.
While some students are funded for a teacher’s aide for the entire school week, others may only have part funding. This depends on the level of support required.
In addition to this, many integration aides work on a casual or part time basis. If this is the type of work you are looking for, it’s generally not difficult to find provided you have a nationally recognised qualification and are not absolutely set on working in one particular school. You may need to work at other schools in your area first and wait for a position at your preferred school to become available.
Note that we obviously cannot guarantee that everyone or anyone for that matter, will get a job once they have completed a course! This information is very broad and general in nature and may not apply to you, your situation or your area. Generally speaking however, relief and casual work is easy to find especially if you dress appropriately, apply at a number of schools (20 to 30 for example) and hold one or two nationally recognised qualifications from a reputable provider.
It is absolutely essential that you hold a qualification with a reputable provider. If you enrol with the cheapest online course you can find, it is possible that a school may not be confident in your skills – in a competitive job market, every advantage helps and being trained by a reputable provider is one way to get a head start.
Integration aides are teachers’ aides and in fact the terms can be used interchangeably. In other words, teacher’s aides and integration aides are basically the same thing. The former is the broad term used internationally as well as by the general public. We use it to prevent confusion. Very few people outside the sector know what an integration aide is and what they do.
The term integration aide is used more specifically however to refer to teacher’s aides who work with special needs students. Special needs is a term used to describe students with a range of additional support needs such as disabilities and disorders - Autism, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and ADHD to name a few.
As you can see from the name itself, “integration” means integrating students into the education system - often a mainstream classroom.
If you are looking for a teacher’s aide job in Victoria, you will also need to search for integration aide positions – they are the same thing effectively.
To answer the second part of this question first, the course takes approximately 6 months. Some students finish quicker however, while some take twice as long. It really depends on a range of factors such as your work experience, experience with children and studying, and your abilities, dedication and time commitment.
For example, some students have lots of experience raising children, and therefore tend to not find the course difficult - they simply need to apply and upgrade their existing knowledge and skills to the professional education environment, rules, expectations, strategies and techniques.
For the majority of students, education support courses are not that difficult although each student (regardless of ability and experience) will still need to dedicate a certain amount of time each week to their studies in order to be successful. However, there are no reports to write, it is a very practical course and there isn’t much in the way of memorising and working with technical information and concepts as you would find in a programming or bookkeeping course.
That is not to say that this course does not take time. Even the best students will still need to read through the materials, undertake learning activities, complete the assessments and so forth.
We get this question now and then and we encourage people to enrol in the TAFE system from time to time. There are several good reasons why TAFE is the preferred provider for some students. For example, if you live in a regional or rural area and there is a TAFE nearby who can offer you regular classes or support – this may be an option.
The TAFE system has traditionally been known for and is geared towards young students. You can easily see this if you have ever walked or driven past a TAFE campus – you will predominantly see young students. TAFE courses are often structured similar to a high school – several days per week.
If you look at some of the pictures of FTTA’s classes on the other hand, almost all of our students are mature adult learners, many of whom have children and work commitments. This is why enrolling with a private provider such as FTTA is preferred by adult learners who need flexible, supportive and structured courses delivered in an adult-like manner. Statistically, adult learners overwhelmingly enrol with private providers such as FTTA.
You can find additional information about integration aide courses or teacher’s aide courses in Victoria on FTTA’s website or by contacting FTTA. We have also published a range of articles similar to this one, on a range of different topics.
This article has discussed the main issues, questions and concerns that we receive every day in relation to teacher’s aide courses in Victoria. We have discussed:
*Examples from FTTA’s learner guide
A hazard is the source or situation that has the potential to cause harm, death or damage to a person or to property. You can think of a hazard as the ‘thing’ or object that can hurt someone. Harm can be a human injury, ill-health or death, damage to property, the environment, or a combination of these.
Common examples of hazards include:
Source: Safe Work Australia, 2017
Duty of care is defined as “A duty imposed by the law to take care to minimise the risk of harm to another.” (Department of Education WA, 2013)
As an education assistant, you have a responsibility to ensure the safety of students, yourself and your fellow staff members. Your duty of care extends to all situations where you are supervising children including excursions and camps. You also have a duty of care for the equipment being used by yourself and the students under your supervision.
“A person suffering harm will be entitled to damages (compensation) if he or she can establish that a member…failed to take reasonable care…” (Department of Education WA, 2013)
What you need to do
What you need to remember
When and how it applies
Housekeeping: A commonly used term that describes the activity of regularly looking around the work area and making changes to ensure the area is safe. This can include a quick clean-up, moving equipment, tagging broken furniture or other task that may prevent injury.
Safe work practice: When a person undertakes a work task in the safest possible manner. Think about each task as a series of steps and complete each step in the safest manner.
Infection prevention and control is everybody’s business. Understanding how infectious organisms are transmitted and knowing how and when to apply the basic principles of infection prevention and control is critical to maintaining a safe and hygienic workplace.
Did you know?
It is estimated that up to 80% of infections are transmitted either directly or indirectly via the hands.
Infectious agents (also called pathogens) are microorganisms that cause disease or illness to their hosts. Infection requires three main elements:
Infectious agents (viruses) can be transmitted in the 3 ways:
Micro-organisms can either live permanently on a person’s hands (called resident flora) or they can be picked up from touching objects and people (called transient flora). Your hands can also be contaminated from contact with respiratory secretions when coughing or sneezing (coughing into your hands). An infectious agent can easily be transmitted from a person’s hand to an object and then to another person’s hand.
Routine hand hygiene
Hand hygiene should be performed on a regular basis throughout the day especially after touching other people. This is the best way to prevent bugs from being passed around.
It is important to always wash your hands on a regular basis such as:
Hand hygiene techniques
Effective hand hygiene relies on using the correct technique and appropriate products. Inappropriate techniques can lead to the failure of hand hygiene measures to appropriately remove or kill micro-organisms that may be present on your hands.
Note the heightened risk of hand contamination if you are wearing a ring. For this reason, the wearing of jewellery is not preferred. However, if jewellery must be worn it should be limited to a plain band (i.e. wedding ring) and this should be moved around on the finger during hand washing.
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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