Katie Brackstone - Year 1 Teaching Assistant and Apple Ecosystem Lead at Wayfield Primary School
(Katie pictured with Steve Rumbles, Trustee, receiving the Trustee Award)
Katie Brackstone – Year 1 Teaching Assistant and Apple Ecosystem Lead at
Wayfield Primary School
Katie Brackstone, based at Wayfield Primary School, is one of the Trust’s fantastic Teaching Assistants. Katie is currently a Teaching Assistant for Year 1 but has previously worked to support every year group across the school. Katie is also Apple Ecosystem Lead, helping to champion the use of digital technology to support learning for all pupils.
Recently, Katie won our Trustee Award, following a nomination from her school. We spoke to her to discuss life at Wayfield and The Primary First Trust.
What got you into education?
“I grew up in a house full of children as I was one of five. As I got older, my siblings also had children and then I had four of my own, so we always had children running about. Working in education made sense as I always enjoyed spending time with and helping young people so it came naturally to me. It also meant that I could work whilst my own children were at school.”
Please could you tell us about your current role at Wayfield Primary School?
“I am a Teaching Assistant in Year 1 and it’s my first year working solely with this age group. I’m also the Apple Ecosystem Lead for our school’s one-to-one iPad scheme. This means every child has access to their own device – so there is quite a lot for me to do to not only ensure the maintenance of the iPads but make sure we continue to evolve and enhance our teaching and learning using the devices.”
What is the Apple ecosystem and how does it work?
“It is our system for digital learning – Wayfield Primary is an Apple distinguished school. This means that our school is a centre for technological innovation and excellence, and we use Apple technology to teach our pupils key technological skills.
“The scheme is great; it allows the children to develop skills in a range of subjects and it means that parents can get real time updates on their progression. We use a range of apps to teach the children various different subjects, including an app which allows them to learn how to create and control robots, and another app which edits pictures using a green screen. This helps them develop problem-solving skills in the context of computer science, which helps their learning in all subjects.”
What is the best thing about working with Year 1 students?
“The laughter. I laugh every day, it is wonderful. The children have such fantastic imaginations, you never know what they are going to say next.
“The most rewarding part of the job is when I see the penny drop and they understand something that they’ve been struggling with. Sometimes you can doubt yourself, but then you watch a child suddenly understand how to add or read and you cherish those moments and see the real value in what you do.
“I also love being a maker of memories. I am always the first one to offer to go on residential trips and do exciting activities with the children. It’s so fantastic to see them get opportunities and experiences that they otherwise might not be able to have. For instance, we took a whole school trip to the beach and there was one pupil who had never seen the sea before, the look on their face was magical.”
What is the most challenging aspect of being a teaching assistant?
“Time management is a key challenge. Sometimes people think that teaching assistants wash out the paint pots or clear the desks, but nowadays there is so much more to the role. You might have to cover a lesson or something unexpected might happen and your whole work day shifts.
“There is also the challenge of children learning at different paces. You have to be adaptable as children learn at different speeds and you need to adjust your plan so to make sure that every pupil has understood the learning.
“Plus, as the Apple ecosystem Lead, I have the responsibility to make sure that the technology is working correctly. It is such a big part of our school life now, and we have to ensure that the children are able to learn how to use the technology as it’s so important to modern life.”
Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about becoming a teaching assistant?
“You have to have open eyes and an open heart. These kids need love and care, not just learning. They need emotional support and it’s your job as a teaching assistant to provide them with that.
“It’s also so important to build a positive relationship with all of the staff. If you have a fantastic team, then you can work effectively together and support each other when you need it. You need to be prepared to be flexible but it is the most rewarding job in the world.”
Q: How do you find working in The Primary First Trust?
“I really enjoy it. I couldn’t ask for a better family of staff, especially at Wayfield and we get all the Continued Professional Development opportunities that we need. Also, because we are a part of the National College, we get access to their resources. We are encouraged to do extra training and take courses, all of which are provided by the academy and the Trust. They really care about investing in their staff, which is appreciated.”
Q: What else do you want to achieve at Wayfield Primary School?
“I’m not a qualified Teaching Assistant yet, so this year I am planning on getting those qualifications. Beyond that, I want to stay on the front foot with Apple, keep up the excitement and continue to demystify all things tech.”