Tayla Donnelly's story

“I’ve learnt many skills which I wouldn’t get from studying alone.”

Tayla Donnelly is a teaching assistant apprentice at a local primary school. Here she explains how an apprenticeship has helped her on to the right career ladder, with an alternative to the university route…

“Ever since I was young I’d always aspired to work in a primary school. After I finished my A Levels, I decided that I didn’t want to go to a university anymore, so I started to consider different routes of working in a primary school.

“When I found the apprenticeship on the Vision Apprentices website, I read the job description and it sounded perfect for me, and would allow me to gain training and experience in a very hands-on approach.

“On my first day I felt slightly nervous, mainly because the school is so big! But once I’d been shown around again I felt very comfortable, the staff were all lovely to me and very encouraging, all of which has helped me to settle in quickly.

“The application process was simple and easy to follow. Mine involved uploading a CV and answering a few questions on the Vision Apprentices website. Once I’ve got through the first stage I then received an email where I was asked to answer a few more questions about why I’d like the apprenticeship and what made me the ideal candidate for the role.

“Following this stage I then had a telephone interview, a day of activities at the school, and a further more formal interview with the head teacher and a panel of senior figures, as well as my Vision Apprentices assessor. Throughout the whole application process I was made to feel relaxed and comfortable, and even found it enjoyable.

“I’ve learnt many skills on my apprenticeship that I wouldn’t get from studying alone. These include things like behaviour management – what to do in these situations and how to follow the school’s behavioural policy, appropriate levels of discipline and how to control a large group of children in a safe and calm manner. I’ve also strengthened many skills such as prioritising, time keeping and team work.

“Daily tasks in my apprenticeship include helping the teacher at the start of the day with tasks such as photocopying or laminating. Once the children have arrived I work with them in small groups to study reading and writing. I then support the children throughout the day in whatever lesson they are doing. Most of the time I’ll be working with smaller groups to provide additional support.

“Three days per week I have a group of four children for a maths intervention called ‘First Class at Number Two”, I also run a switch on interview for another child at lunch, and every week after school on a Thursday I run a homework club.

"I love being able to help the children with their learning – it’s something I’ve always wanted to do as I really enjoy helping others. It’s encouraging to see how the children are progressing through my intervention programmes, and both the teacher and I have seen how much their reading has improved. It makes me very happy to see how my support is influencing the children in a positive way and aiding their learning.

“After completing this apprenticeship I’m hoping to go on to the Level 3 apprenticeship which will make me a fully-qualified teaching assistant, hopefully at the primary school that I’m at now.

“My apprenticeship has helped me know how to deal with children in real life situations. If I was simply studying at college, then I might only be able to read about them; being with them is so different. There is not always one set, easy way to deal with a situation that occurs, so being an apprentice has really helped me to think quickly and use my initiative.

“Being an apprentice helps you to learn about real life situations and problems and the best way to deal with them. It’s allowed me to gain priceless hands-on experience in the job I want to do, which is highly-valued by employers, both present and future.

“There are so many different apprenticeships that you can choose from, so there really is something for everybody. Not only do you gain experience, but you can earn a salary while learning valuable skills at the same time.

“Apprenticeships allow you to get your foot in the door of a particular industry that you’re interested in, which will be useful when looking for a job in the future.”