Article: Non-Teaching Work in Schools
This article covers the following jobs:
- Cook Supervisor
- Information Technology Technician
- Laboratory Technician
- School Business Manager
- School Librarian
- School Lunchtime Supervisor
- School Nurse
- School Road Crossing Assistant
- School Secretary/Administrator
- Site Manager/Caretaker
- Teaching Assistant.
The job descriptions are only a brief summary. You should find out more about the jobs you're interested in.
Video: - Various: Non-Teaching Work in Schools
All schools employ non-teaching staff. All the jobs done by non-teaching staff are important in keeping the school going.
The jobs vary depending on the size and type of the school. In a small primary school, for example, the school secretary might do all the office tasks. In a large secondary school, these tasks would be shared by a number of office staff.
Some of the careers in this area
IT technicians are responsible for looking after the computers and computer systems in secondary schools. Many schools have a large number of computers that are all joined in a network in order to access certain software and information.
IT technicians help pupils and teachers who are having problems with their computer. They also maintain the network.
Before lessons begin, the technician switches all the computers on to make sure they are all working and have access to the network. If a machine is not working properly, they take it away to find out what is wrong with it.
They make any necessary repairs, such as changing a hard disk or replacing a keyboard. They then put the machine back in working order. Sometimes they may need to send a part away for repair or order a new part.
They also order software for teachers and install the software onto the computers.
To become an IT technician, you'll normally need at least some GCSEs at grade C or above or equivalent. A qualification in information technology or experience of using computer software packages is useful.
Once in employment, you'll normally be given training towards further qualifications. For mature entrants, experience or aptitude may be considered more important than qualifications.
Teaching assistants support the learning of children of all ages and abilities in primary, secondary and special schools.
The role varies from school to school, but might involve:
- helping children with reading and writing
- tidying classroom equipment
- getting things ready for lessons
- arranging displays of work
- photocopying, and ordering supplies.
Teaching assistants might give extra help to pupils with learning or behavioural difficulties, or whose first language is not English.
Many teaching assistants start out by volunteering in a school. Training is usually on-the-job; there are a number of relevant qualifications.
Cook supervisors are responsible for providing healthy and tasty school dinners. They prepare menus that give a choice of healthy foods and cater for special dietary needs. For example, some children have allergies to particular foods.
Cook supervisors oversee the kitchen staff preparing, cooking and serving the meals. Hygiene is very important so they must supervise the cleaning of the kitchen afterwards, for example, making sure the worktops are disinfected and the floors mopped.
They also check the amount of food they have in stock, order more food when required and work within a strict budget.
To become a cook supervisor, you normally need to have either a practical background in catering or a supervisory qualification, or both. You can train by doing a college course or a job with on-the-job training.
School Lunchtime Supervisor
Lunchtime supervisors look after children during their lunch break. They work in primary, secondary and special schools.
They supervise children as they eat their lunches in a canteen or dining room. They make sure children carry and eat their food safely, and deal with bad behaviour. In primary schools, lunchtime supervisors also reward good behaviour, encourage children to try healthy foods, and help them to develop social skills such as sharing.
In the playground (or inside, if the weather's bad), supervisors make sure children play safely. They comfort children who are upset, for example, because of bullying or falling over. Again, they deal with bad behaviour. Supervisors might also set up equipment and take part in activities to encourage learning through play.
You don't need any qualifications to enter this job. Training is on-the-job.
School librarians offer a library service to pupils and staff. They are responsible for all learning materials in the library, such as books, computers, DVDs and multimedia CDs.
They have a resource budget and decide what to add to the library. They also buy in resources for teachers. When new material comes into the library, they catalogue, classify and index it for library users.
Librarians teach pupils how to use the library so they can make the most of it. This includes demonstrating how to use computer databases to get information. Sometimes, pupils are unable to find the information they want. The librarian helps them to use the right resources in order to find the information.
Librarians also put on displays to make the library look attractive. They have other duties, such as putting books on shelves and stamping and issuing books.
The usual way to become a school librarian is to complete a relevant degree or postgraduate course.
Site managers are responsible for the maintenance of the building. All schools need to be well maintained and kept safe for pupils and staff.
Site managers do some repair jobs themselves, such as unblocking a toilet or replacing broken glass. If the job is too difficult or too large, they call in an expert.
They are responsible for the safety and security of the building and have to be on-site early in the morning to open up the school. They also make sure the heating systems are working properly.
After the school day finishes, they do some of the cleaning, supervise cleaning staff and lock up the school. Out of school hours, they open up the school for groups hiring the building. They often live on-site and are available in an emergency, such as a fire or a break-in.
There are a variety of entry routes; some site managers are experienced in a trade, for example, as an electrician or cleaner, while others might have DIY skills.
Laboratory technicians help and support secondary school and college science teachers.
They check scientific equipment, report faults and order replacements, if necessary. Before a lesson begins, technicians prepare the equipment and materials needed by the teacher. After the experiment or demonstration, they clean and sterilise equipment, tidy the laboratory and dispose of any waste. They might help with teaching aids, for example, by labelling slides and samples, and help the teacher to plan the lesson.
Technicians work to the teacher's instructions and timetable, and to strict safety procedures. They might work with toxic chemicals or bacteria cultures, and must be prepared to wear protective clothing, including gloves, masks and overalls.
To become a laboratory technician, you usually need four or five GCSEs at grade C or above, including English, Maths and Science, or equivalent. Entrants often have higher qualifications, such as A levels or equivalent.
Grounds staff are responsible for maintaining school grounds. In summer, they cut the grass and look after hedges and shrub borders. In winter, they prune trees and bushes, and dig over borders.
All year round, they mark out the lines for games like cricket and football. They might also have to put up fences or posts.
You can start work as a groundsman/woman without any qualifications. Training can be on-the-job, sometimes leading to qualifications or with time off to study at college. Some people go into this job after doing a full-time college course.
School nurses look after pupils' health, and also teach them about issues such as healthy eating, exercise, smoking, drugs and safe sex.
They see children regularly to check and measure things such as height, weight and hearing. School nurses also immunise children against diseases.
They give talks and presentations in the classroom, and one-to-one advice, on all the health issues that can affect children. Apart from physical illnesses, they can be helping pupils to deal with issues including bullying, panic attacks, eating disorders and depression.
School nurses work closely with people such as teachers, parents, GPs and education welfare officers, as well as the pupils.
To become a school nurse, you first have to qualify as a registered nurse or midwife. It is then possible to take specialist training as a school nurse.
School Road Crossing Assistant
School road crossing assistants help people to cross certain roads found on routes to and from schools. The crossing points are chosen by local authorities.
At the crossing point, the crossing assistant waits for a good time to stop traffic. When they see a break in the traffic, they will enter the road holding up their stop sign. At this point, traffic has to stop and the people waiting are allowed to cross.
You don't need any qualifications to get into this type of job. Most of your training will be on-the-job. You may be sent on a short road-safety course.
School secretaries and administrators look after the school office and make sure it is running smoothly. They deal with paperwork and administration, such as keeping school records on computer and preparing newsletters for parents. They might also make appointments for people to see the head teacher, sort the post, order supplies and do photocopying and filing.
The school office is the first point of contact for parents and visitors. The secretary answers the telephone and deals with all kinds of queries. Often, pupils knock at the door for help, for example, if they need first aid.
School secretaries might also help to administer the school budget. This means keeping a check on how money is being spent and keeping proper financial records.
There are various entry routes; some school secretaries have a clerical background, others have experience in administration or finance. A wide variety of courses in secretarial studies are available.
School Business Manager
School business managers provide and manage the financial and support functions that are needed for the efficient running of schools, enabling teachers to focus on teaching and learning. They might also be known as bursars.
They are likely to be members of the senior leadership team and, as such, are involved in general and strategic planning.
They manage the finances of schools and have overall responsibility for computerised management information systems.
In larger schools, business managers are usually responsible for the recruitment, management, development and supervision of administration, support and maintenance staff such as caretakers/site managers, lunchtime supervisors, receptionists and secretaries.
They are responsible for buying equipment and supplies and could have control of transport and catering contracts and the maintenance of the school buildings, grounds and computer systems.
School business managers usually need to have management experience and good leadership skills. They should have good number skills for financial management, together with written and verbal communication skills.
Some business managers have worked as school secretaries or administration assistants. Others enter after gaining skills in financial or general management outside the education system.