Perri Myles

While she was learning with TSW Training Apprenticeships, Perri was promoted to an Intervention Training Assistant position.

Working with high school students on their English and Maths skills, Perri goes the extra mile in supporting the pupils she works with. Here, she tells us all about how her childcare apprenticeship is making a difference to the way she works.

Hello Perri! Could you tell us a little bit more about you and what you do?

I’m a Teaching Assistant. I did my first couple of shifts at Eastern High School before lockdown through an agency. When a permanent job came up there, I applied because I didn’t want to leave!

I managed to get a permanent position as a Teaching Assistant Level 1. Then, recently there was an Intervention Teaching Assistant needed. I interviewed, which was really strange - it’s odd to be interviewed in your own workplace! And then, I got that job, so it’s been a really exciting change – different but fab!

That sounds like a really good progression for you! Tell us what a typical working day looks like for you.

We do English and Maths intervention so we’ll have six kids per group and a maximum of four sessions a day. In the English lessons, we’ll probably do a spelling test with them, which they all hate! But then I explain to them, ‘well, the thing with spelling is that the more you do it, the more it sticks.’

Then, we’ll focus on the Core Skills, so I do a lot of ‘Point, Evidence, Explain’ with them and analysing texts, interpretations, things like that. We’ll do a couple of different tasks a lesson, try and get them reading out loud. I tell them it’s better to practice reading in school to build that confidence.

With my Maths groups, we’ll do times tables, stuff like that. And then depending on what they find tricky, we’ll work on box method, long division etc. We’ll try and do chunks of things in each lesson so if they miss a lesson, they haven’t missed out on a whole topic.

Amongst all that, by accident really, I’ve started doing a lunch club. Our lunches have changed so the whole school is now on lunch together. We’re a big school so there are a lot of kids roaming around. But it’s meant we can do more lunch clubs which is good. Some of my intervention groups came to me and said, ‘Can we sit here, Miss? Can we have a little quiet space?’ So I’ve ended up running a lunch club with them - playing games, catching up with them, and seeing how they are.

That’s really lovely!

It is, and it’s a really nice group so we’ll play Frustration or Uno or word games. It’s nice, they’ve got that quieter space.

That’s so nice to hear. What appealed to you about your role with Eastern High School?

I’d been to a couple of schools, some primary and some secondary, and when I went to Eastern, something just clicked. I think it was the nurture department, more than anything. It’s very focused on the kids’ wellbeing and giving them what they need. It appealed to me to be part of that.

And what apprenticeship did you take with us?

Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools.

Are you enjoying it?

More so now, I think. I’ve just finished the one on Literacy and Numeracy interventions and I thought, ‘oh, that’s handy!’ It’s nice to have all that because going through all the policies of the school takes time. You think, ‘ooh, I’ll use that for this scenario,’ or ‘that applies to this pupil.’ There are little things that spark off in your head and the whole jigsaw comes together.

Are you seeing the parallels between the course and your day-to-day work?

Definitely.

Would you say the apprenticeship has improved how you do your job?

I would say so. It gives you different ways of doing things, and signposts you to other services you can get involved with and let the kids know about. It gives you that wider picture of where we sit.

Does your employer support you with that?

I’m really lucky. My main manager, Sue Jones, is fantastic. She wears about 600 different hats in her job but she’s great. She’s always really supportive and checking in to see if we need anything, so we’re really lucky.

Your Training Advisor Abi mentioned that we gave you a laptop...

Yes, which is amazing! Just the fact that someone is willing to give you that to help is incredible and meant that I didn’t have to borrow everyone else’s!

Abi mentioned the funding was available and I didn’t have a laptop of my own to use. I’d been using my other half’s, work ones, or my manager’s. When she mentioned it, I said, ‘Are you sure? That’s amazing!’

I’m really glad to hear it’s been a help to you! Let’s talk a bit more about Abi...

She’s fab. We’ll talk by email or phone. Obviously, we had in-person meetings. I always say, ‘This is a stupid question to ask...,’ and she says, ‘It’s not stupid. Anything you need to ask, you can ask.’ She’s always enthusiastic, supportive, and approachable. Abi takes an interest. I don’t know how she does it, but she takes a personal interest in everyone’s lives. She’s a genuinely nice person, who really cares.

Did you feel like part of a community when you were learning?

I’m really lucky. One of the other girls I work with is on the same course, so we have that support from each other. And we’ve got past learners who have completed it too so it’s really nice to be able to say to someone, ‘this one is so long, it’s so stressful’ and for them to reply with, ‘it’s okay, I’ve done that, and it is doable!’ To have that little community is lovely.

It’s what you need sometimes, isn’t it? And what motivates you to learn, Perri?

I’ve always loved learning. I was the last kid out of school – I was just quite content to be there. There’s always something new to learn or something I can do to be better at what I’m doing. So it’s that curiosity and need to know more.

Do you think taking this apprenticeship has changed your life?

It’s definitely made me more confident, especially in the new role. Going from 1:1 support to delivering lessons, it’s made me realise I do know what I’m talking about! It makes me feel like I’m on the right track and gives me that confidence to grow.

And what advice would you give to someone thinking of taking an apprenticeship?

I would say it is a time commitment so only do it if you want to do it. Don’t do it to tick a box and say you’ve done it. If you truly want to do it, you’ll get so much out of it – not just the knowledge but the confidence, the ability to move on and grow. If you’re doing it for the right reasons, you won’t mind putting the work in.

What are your career aspirations? Where will we see you in 10 years’ time?

Ultimately, clinical psychology. Children’s mental health services would be the dream.