TEACHING assistants are being offered the best start to their careers with a new course that gives them a taste of life in the classroom.

Carmel College Teaching School, in Darlington, has become an accredited trainer and is now offering the level two and three Cache qualification.

The course aims to help trainee teaching assistants develop the skills and knowledge they will need to provide invaluable support to primary school teachers.

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It also gets them on the first rung of the ladder into the teaching profession opening a number of opportunities for professional development.

Director of the training school Mo Wilkinson said: “Teaching assistants can make a real difference to the lives of children in their most formative years.

“They also provide invaluable support to teachers ensuring that every lesson is special and has the maximum impact on learning.

“We have responded to demand, both from the public and our trust schools, who asked us to look into providing training for teaching assistants. The structure is ideal for people wanting to return to work after looking after their own young children.”

A part time course, the emphasis is very much hands-on training both in the school and with three hours per week tuition from highly experienced current practitioners.

Trainee Andrew McLeish said: “It has been great for me as I have been looking after my children after working as a nurse.

“It started with me taking my girls to St Augustine’s, then helping with school trips and now being a teaching assistant.”

Starting in September the course lasts nine months.

A range of assessment methods are used including observations, witness statements, professional discussion and written assignments.

For more information contact mbesford@carmel.org.uk or phone 01325-254525.