Firstly, may I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year, and I hope that you had a great Christmas. For my opening blog of 2024, I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate the young people our partner schools and clients work with on a day-to-day basis, and present the case for working in a secondary environment.

The kids are alright!

It surely hasn’t escaped your notice that I’ve borrowed both the headline and sub-header above from the Robbie Williams song, ‘Kids’. That song used to be a big favourite of mine back in the day (and I know both the Robbie AND Kylie parts, word for word!), and I thought it would be a fitting theme for this, my first blog of the year.

Children are enormous fun and, sometimes, they say and do things that will leave you almost breathless with laughter. Young people are full of surprises and are a joy to be around. Well, maybe not all of them, but working with children is, undeniably, a tremendous privilege. As their teacher or teaching assistant, you get to be part of their world and their development – and growth – as individuals.

In today’s ultra-competitive, fast-moving world, young people everywhere need advocates. A good teacher comes into work every day to champion their students; to empower and inspire them to strive for greatness and become the best possible versions of themselves. As the late Rita Pierson (US Educator and Speaker) said: “Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be!”

Why the preference for Primary?

The vast majority of people who enter the teaching profession do so to make a lasting impact; to be the agents of positive change and to transform lives. Likewise, some teachers have interests and subjects they love, and they want to share their enthusiasm and knowledge of these with others. They may also be passionate about a particular level – primary or secondary – or even Key Stage.

For first-time TAs and newly-qualified teachers, the thought of working with 11 to 16 year-olds – particularly those who have additional needs – may be a little daunting, to say the least.

When we meet with people who are considering a role in education, we always ask what age range they’d like to work with. 90% of the time, they say “primary”, ages 4 to 11 (Key Stage 1 and 2). As recruiters, and as former educators ourselves, we will always ask WHY, and sometimes even challenge our candidates to offer up their reasons.

Over the last 5 years, the number of Teaching Assistants working in UK schools has increased exponentially year on year, and all the noises we’re currently getting from within the industry, tell us this is a growth pattern that will continue.

Our networks also tell us – and it’s no secret – that more and more Key Stage 1 and 2 children are being placed on assessment pathways, to help us all understand how we can better support their needs in the classroom, and it’s highly likely that more support will be needed to help these young people make the transition to Key Stage 3 and secondary school.

Why secondary shouldn’t be a ‘second thought’!

Whilst the thought of working with young people at ages 11-16 can, on the face of it, seem intimidating, the one thing we always hear from people who actually work day-to-day in our high schools is that “all kids are kids”.

Working with children at any age can be a challenging task; the challenges at secondary level are just different. Whilst 11 to 16 year-olds may, from time to time, express themselves through a more ‘colourful’ vocabulary, and occasionally struggle to manage their emotions (and hormones!) whilst they’re at school, they still need advocates; a teacher who can be a positive role model; someone to be their ally; an adult who’s always there to help guide and support them through a time of great change in their lives.

Naturally, the rewards are much bigger when working with secondary school children. You’ll see changes in their personality as they grow in confidence and, sometimes, they will even say “thank you” for your help and the positive impact you’ve had on their learning… and life.

You are also more likely to find common ground with a Key Stage 3-4 student, such as musical or sporting interests, and this is when a good teacher strikes gold, as it helps provide the groundwork for a solid working and emotional bond, based on mutual trust and respect.

Moxi Recruitment has partner schools across the North West of England, and these are regularly visited by former students – some of whom started out with very low expectations from life – who remember the shaping impact their teachers had on them during their formative years. We get to see how their path is unfolding in front of them, and this is tremendously rewarding for us.

Remember, at Moxi we’re here to make waves in education. It’s not a numbers game to us; we’re an ethical recruiter committed to helping create lasting positive change in the most vital sector of all.

The best possible development of our children – academically, socially and emotionally – is absolutely crucial to the future wellbeing of our society. Schools, both primary and secondary, are places where young people can learn and grow, socialise and, perhaps even sometimes, escape from potentially difficult situations at home. Likewise, the roles teachers and TAs play in protecting and strengthening the hopes of young people, especially those who may have additional needs such as a learning disability, autism or behavioural difficulties, cannot be over-estimated.

Education is for everyone… it’s a right, not a privilege, and every young person deserves a chance to become the best possible version of themselves.

Whilst we encourage all of our applicants not to limit themselves to one age group, I appreciate that secondary school may not be for everyone. Call me today on 0300 303 4414, email or visit our ‘Contact’ page and send us a message. We will always try and support you in the best way we possibly can. Whether that be through new career opportunities, training or CPD!