Supporting employee wellbeing, performance and progression at work

Kristal is a member of the Better Work Network’s lived experience group. They live in South West London and work as a teaching assistant. Read about their experience accessing skills development opportunities at work, and how they think improved access to training could help to support employee wellbeing, performance and progression.


22 11 2022

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My name is Kristal, and I live in South West London, the Borough of Lambeth. I’m currently working as a teaching assistant in a school in Harrow. In my spare time, I like to meet up with friends, well, prior to the cost of living crisis. I also like to travel, and I have a dog that I like to go and play with in the park.

I always wanted to be a teacher and knew I needed to get a degree to do that. I started university in 2012, but unfortunately did not complete it. I then tried to go back again a few years later but it just cost so much. I had to make a choice; whether to work to pay my bills, or continue to study, and I chose to work.

My school has supported me in my role as a teaching assistant. I currently hold a BTEC in children’s care, learning and development, and they have allowed me to go on many training courses. I’ve been on a teaching assistant course and a learning and communication course. This has helped me feel more confident in my role. But there are still gaps in the opportunities that are available to me.

I have this saying: better teacher, better children. Having a better focus on wellbeing will help to reduce the pressure. If you are relaxed, and you are supported in that way, then the children also have better support.

While the training that is offered is good and helps me in my role, they only offer stuff that’s related to childcare. I don’t feel like the school helps to me to access training that benefits me more widely. For example, it’s very stressful working in a primary school and it can play with your mental health – it’s a lot of pressure. In my previous job I was supported to access wellbeing activities, like yoga for example. That was really good as it helped me to become a better person within my job role.

Right now, I feel like I’m at a standstill. I cannot progress any further in my job role. If I want to become a teacher, I have to go back to university. But university is very expensive. I feel that the inequality that exists in training access is very unfair. I have a lot of relevant experience, but I’m not supported to have the same opportunities as a teacher, even though I’m already doing similar work to them. Teaching assistants should be offered the opportunity to train and progress, no matter their salary or qualification level.

Of course, it all comes down to funding. The government need to put more money into sectors such as education and healthcare, which will give employees more access to training.

I just feel like, to progress, we do need skills, and if jobs are not offering us that, there’s no room for improvement and there’s no room for progression. I feel like its especially important now due to the cost of living crisis, with a lot of people are trying to find a second job. So I feel like, in order to help their employees, employers should offer more training.

Kristal is a member of the Better Work Network’s lived experience group. They live in South West London and work as a teaching assistant.