Penny Desjardins, aged 31, was experienced in a range of roles however was seeking an opportunity to learn. An apprenticeship with Inspire ATA, hosted by Alexander McLeod Primary School, appealed to her because it let her work and learn simultaneously:

“My apprenticeship is going so quickly and I’m loving every minute of it. I really wish I’d done it sooner. It allows me to work around my son.”

Apprenticeships are filled with countless opportunities to learn and grow. Penny has worked both as a general Teaching Assistant in a classroom and conducted 1-on-1 interventions with a non-verbal autistic child.

“I’ve learnt how to support children with a wide range of needs. I wouldn’t have had these opportunities if I’d gone to college.

I enjoy supporting the kids and watching them develop. I have been supporting an EOL child and can see how far he has come since the beginning of the academic year. Knowing I’ve helped with that is so rewarding. I really enjoy supporting them with their English using phonics. I’ve enjoyed learning Makaton and how to use it to support children.”

Penny was concerned that, as an apprentice, she may not be treated the same as the other members of staff. She was surprised to find that her thoughts and opinions were highly valued and furthermore was encouraged to contribute to staff meetings.

After completing her apprenticeship programme, Penny plans to become a regular Teacher or Teaching Assistant within her current school.

Penny Desjardins, Teaching Assistant Apprentice

If you want to learn more about Apprenticeships and how they can work for you, please contact the Inspire ATA team or visit

Inspire ATA is approved by the Department for Education as a Flexi-Job Apprenticeship Agency and is listed on the Register of Flexi-Job Apprenticeship Agencies.