Sutton teenager is among youngest teaching assistants in the UK

A Sutton teenager has become one of the youngest teaching assistants in the UK to reach the highest level possible before qualifying as a fully-fledged teacher.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 3:38 pm
Jacob Ward (centre) is pictured with assistant Tom Few (left) and executive headteacher Clive Lawrence

Jacob Ward, 18, works at St Giles School, in Hampshire Road, Chaddesden, and has just been awarded Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) status by the University of Northampton.

Jacob, who was just 17 when he joined St Giles, said: “I started at St Giles on the very first day of the lockdown, in March 2020. Although the school was open, staff worked on a rota, so I didn’t meet everyone until restrictions were lifted slightly later in the year, in July, and we had a tea party to celebrate the end of the school year.

“In fact, I’ve been here just over a year now and there are still some members of staff and pupils who I haven’t met yet because we are in different ‘bubbles!’

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"It’s been a strange but also a rewarding time and, in some ways, working with smaller groups of children has helped me to adjust to working at St Giles, get to know the children individually and understand their different needs.

“I was made to feel at home immediately. Perhaps the biggest challenge was actually getting to St Giles from my home in Sutton as I didn’t drive; I had to get my mum, dad or nana to bring me into work every day and caught the bus home as, although I was on the list of keyworkers awaiting their driving test, there was a national backlog and I didn’t get to take my test – and pass – until July.

“It was quite nerve-wracking, the day after passing my test, having to drive along the A38 and around the Pentagon Island to work all on my own.”

Clive Lawrence, executive headteacher, said: “For an 18-year-old, Jacob is a very driven and highly-ambitious teaching assistant. We’re extremely proud of his work and achievements, particularly given that he started a new job during a global pandemic.

"We are committed to providing high quality mentoring and coaching; which has been sustained throughout lockdown to ensure that staff like Jacob can go on to achieve amazing things in their career.”