Samantha Gray's story

“You’re never too old to give yourself a new challenge. This was the best challenge I have ever given myself and I’ve found my dream job.”

Samantha Gray has proven that age is no barrier for starting an apprenticeship, and has enjoyed her journey into becoming a teaching assistant; learning new skills and finding enjoyment in seeing what she’s learned helping young children at the school.

“When I started my apprenticeship I was really excited. I was a little nervous because I had a whole new challenge ahead of me, but I wanted to make a difference with the children that might not have support at home or need that bit of extra help. I have three boys of my own and we do reading and spellings each evening – and I know not all children are as lucky.

“At first I didn’t think I’d be able to do the apprentice programme because of my age – I thought apprenticeships were just for school leavers. The process was easy as it was all online with a couple of telephone interviews. The day we went into school for the all-day interview I knew this is where I wanted to be and to work with children. At no point was I nervous as everyone was really supportive.

“I’ve learnt so much in doing my apprenticeship – in fact it would be quicker to ask ‘what haven’t I learnt?’ I’ve done MAPPA, First Aid, switch on reading and writing. I’ve learnt to be more confident and take control of situations. I’ve also learnt more on things we take for granted, such as computer skills and refreshing my English and maths skills.

“My day is really full on. I take intervention groups for phonics, English, maths, English writing and switch on reading and writing .Then I have class support for maths and English. I run a lunch club with another teacher on a Thursday which helps with homework support, and a further club on a Friday for upper school football. My timetable can change daily due to incidents which may happen, as I support both year three teachers.

“I love my apprenticeship as I love working with the children and such a great team. The support I’ve received from the school is amazing, and watching the progress of children that need support is amazing.

“Working within the school has given me the first-hand experience that you need. I have all the help and support from a great team of teachers and teaching assistants. I really didn’t think my job would be so action packed. Working while learning has given me a good insight into what the job entails and what will be expected of me. I’d love to continue on to the Level 3 apprenticeship, and hopefully remain a part of the Leas Park team.

“The best thing about being an apprentice is learning a trade and new skills while working on-the-job. Since doing my apprenticeship I can honestly say I love Monday mornings coming into work. Now I’m seeing a difference with the children I work with, it’s showing my hard work is paying off as they’re showing progress.

“If you’re looking to start an apprenticeship I’d say go for it. You’re never too old to give yourself a new challenge. This was the best challenge I have ever given myself and I’ve found my dream job.”