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Educational aims

The educational aims of the certificate are to:

  • provide you with an enjoyable study experience that is inspiring in terms of professional development and higher education learning
  • enable you to examine and better understand your professional role and to improve it where necessary
  • help you develop your critical, reflective and analytical abilities so that you feel able to take a full part in educational debates and discussions
  • help stimulate your enthusiasm for supported distance learning and give you the confidence to continue with this way of studying should you so wish.

Learning outcomes

This certificate will develop your knowledge of the ways in which teachers teach, the curriculum that guides children’s learning experiences, the thinking behind the activities that children do, and the reasoning that underpins professional decision making in schools. In particular, it will give you insights into how best to support children’s learning in the curriculum areas of English, maths and science. However, the module will introduce support approaches that can be used to enhance learning across the whole curriculum. It will also help you to develop suitable practices when working with children as individuals, in small groups and in large groups.

Through studying the certificate you should acquire:

  • knowledge of the nature of today’s primary schools and the structure and content of the curriculum
  • insights into the ways in which children learn, and what adults can do to promote their learning
  • an understanding of the principles that underpin primary education policy and classroom practice
  • an awareness of current theories and research that support primary school practice
  • insights into issues relating to race equality and social inclusion, and the implications for practice
  • an appreciation of the complementary nature of home and school learning and the role of parents and the family in children’s education
  • academic skills related to writing and study, and the presentation of an argument using appropriate forms of evidence
  • an ability to review your own academic and professional learning and be able to take steps to meet identified training and study needs.

The certificate is designed to support you in developing your knowledge and understanding of the different roles and responsibilities undertaken by primary teaching assistants. During your study you will be invited to consider policies, research and approaches to practice, and, in the light of these, to reflect on your own practice. By the end of your study, you should have achieved the following certificate learning outcomes.

Knowledge and understanding

  • an understanding of how children learn and develop and the way in which contexts can support learning
  • knowledge of the principles underpinning policy and practice in primary schools
  • an awareness of theories and research that underpin primary practice
  • knowledge of the curriculum for primary children
  • knowledge of how policies relating to children’s status, welfare and learning impact on children(and adults) in home, school and other contexts
  • an understanding of the ways in which ethnicity, religion, caste/class, gender, sexuality and disability impact on children’s development and an awareness of anti discriminatory practice
  • an understanding of the value of working with parents and carers.

Cognitive skills

  • develop and summarise the main points in an argument, present and pursue an argument, drawing on appropriate forms of evidence, current literature and theory, and show evidence of thinking about your practice
  • draw on different approaches to study that are needed when using a variety of learning resources – reading, listening and note taking, formulating questions and critical thinking.

Practical and/or professional skills

  • demonstrate, through written assignments and an end-of-module assessment (EMA), the experience, knowledge and skills that underpin effective practice in primary schools and apply this to practice
  • plan, design, implement, monitor, assess activities and experiences to support children’s development and learning
  • work with colleagues in teams as appropriate and, where relevant, work effectively with other professionals.

Key skills

  • show an awareness of different approaches to problem-solving
  • use information and communication technology to support learning
  • identify areas for improving your own learning, further training and workplace performance.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

The teaching materials comprise 19 study topics, two readers and audiovisual sequences on 2 CD-ROMs. The materials reflect the range of roles Teaching Assistants are involved in and through activities you will be invited to explore aspects of your own thinking and practice in working with children and compare these with those of other practitioners.

You will have a tutor who will guide you through the study materials, mark and comment on your written work, and advise and support you where necessary. If you are new to the OU, you will find that your tutor will be particularly concerned to help you with your study methods. Group tutorials that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend will be provided and online forums are also available for you to keep in contact with other students taking the module. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of the students taking the module.

Assessment strategy

There are six tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) and an end-of-module written assessment (EMA). Equal weighting is given to the TMAs and the EMA so you must pass both parts to pass the module.