Get in touch

Job Search

Search for Teaching Jobs in England

Top TA - Managing Change

blogger jonnyJonny Harrison has spent eight years in teaching, including three years working as a SENCO in a London secondary school. Having worked very closely supporting students on the ASD spectrum and witnessed many of the challenges that they and their families face, Jonny has put together a three-part blog to explore strategies for Top TAs to use in secondary schools. 

Many students with autism thrive on routine and predictability. By presenting them with a timetable and a series of classrooms to attend and teachers who teach in them, we set them up with a world they can depend on. This however can all go out of the window as soon as the fire alarm goes off, a cover teacher takes over, or the timetable is staggered for the annual school photo. If you are a teaching assistant supporting a student with ASD, your first responsibility of the day is to turn up to your school nice and early and familiarise yourself with any changes in routine which the day will present. Better still if you can do it a few days in advance. 

It is not true to say that students with autism cannot deal with change; it is fairer to say that as educators, we have a pastoral responsibility to prepare them as much as possible for the daily reality of change. If you know that Period 4 will be taken by a supply teacher because Mr. Ferry is out on training then you need to ensure your student knows this in advance. They will be able to deal with it much better if they are expecting it. If you know that school vaccinations are happening next Thursday, best to start talking about it now. It doesn’t need to be a complicated process. A simple conversation will do to begin with; perhaps recording it in a diary. We can’t always prepare them for all changes in routine and secondary school life can always conjure up the unexpected, but by pre-empting change as often as possible, we are giving our autistic students a fighting chance of being able to deal with it when it does arise.

When I think back to many of the behavioural incidents I have dealt with concerning Autistic students, the root cause can almost always be traced back to some element of change which they were not expecting or perhaps did not deal well with. Perhaps most frustratingly, many of these situations could have been avoided had the correct procedures been in place. Changes to routine and disruption to schedule are necessary parts of a healthy school and a balanced life. Your job as TA is to pre-empt change as much as possible and communicate that change effectively to the student you are supporting.

There are any number of factors to look out for, but here is a handy list to keep in mind:

  • Absent teachers / supply teachers covering lessons
  • Room changes
  • Whole-school events, such as multicultural day or sports day
  • Changes to school rules / procedures
  • Set changes / switching groups
  • School trips
  • Weather procedures, such as wet break or changes forced by snow/ice
  • Transport arrangements to and from school
  • Parents’ evening and making appointments

If you found this blog useful make sure you stayed tuned to our blog page for Jonny's next blog 'Making it Visual'.

Do you have a particular question for Jonny about working as a TA in secondary schools or ASD? Send it through to teacherservices@protocol-education and we will make sure it gets answered!

Tags: Jonny, Secondary, London, ASD

Category: Australian Teachers

Share |

Back to the Blog Home Page

Comments (0)

There are no comments to show. You can add one by using the form below.

Add a Comment

Email (kept private):
Security Code: antispam
Protocol Education Blog

OCTOBER 2017 | "Your teaching agency needs to be transparent"
Jacqui is an Aussie teacher who has just returned from her 2 years in the UK. She got in touch with Mitch from the Sydney office and has been able to...
Read More

AUGUST 2017 | Aussie Dollar vs British Pound
Mitch Jones is Protocol Education’s NSW-based consultant working with Australian teachers in their move to the UK. In his latest blog he chats...
Read More

JUNE 2017 | Taking a long term approach to teaching
Alyce is an Aussie Primary teacher who took part in our September 2016 round of 'Interviews with a UK Principal.' Rather than start her role...
Read More

MAY 2017 | Been to London, Bought the T-Shirt, Back in Sydney
Brad is an Aussie teacher who has just returned to Sydney after spending nearly 2 years living and teaching with Protocol in London! Fair to say he’s...
Read More

A Teacher's Journey to London
Stephanie is a teacher originally from Canada, and in this latest blog she wants to give some advice (and hopefully inspiration) to other teachers from...
Read More