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A head teacher, teaching assistant and trainer from Portsmouth took centre stage at Central Library on Tuesday 5 July to inspire local residents to consider a career in the classroom.

In recent months, there has been a shortage of support staff who are able to help children and young people in Portsmouth. People retiring from the profession and a lack of new people applying for vacancies has meant more schools have struggled to recruit.

Teach Portsmouth, a Portsmouth City Council initiative to recruit the best teachers, leaders and support staff for the city’s schools and academies invited three local experts, Darren Colwell, assistant head teacher at Copnor Primary School, Emily Farrugia, teaching assistant at Copnor Primary School and Cheryl Head, programme lead at The Learning Place to talk about becoming a teaching assistant.

Councillor Suzy Horton, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education at Portsmouth City Council said:

“Becoming a teaching assistant requires patience and perseverance. The rewards are huge but there are also challenges. While the impact an individual can make on a child’s life is transformational, it is important the right person is recruited.

“The event is a great starting point for those who are unsure about joining the sector. Those who attended now have the certainty they need to decide whether the profession is for them. We hope those who attended will go on to support children and young people in Portsmouth.”

Short presentations were designed to encourage more people to take up teaching assistant apprenticeships and apply for vacancies in the sector. Over 50 people attended the two sessions with many asking questions about getting into the profession.

Cheryl Head, programme lead for apprenticeships and community learning at Portsmouth City Council said:

“Supporting pupils in Portsmouth’s schools is a unique and rewarding experience for those wanting to progress in education.

“If you’ve had time away from work, looking to change careers or trying to find a role that offers more flexibility, an apprenticeship is a good option that enables you to earn while you learn.”

While dates for future events have not been confirmed, it is hoped more will be organised in the future. People are encouraged to subscribe to the Teach Portsmouth newsletter for the latest information. Visit