Integration aides are also known as teacher’s aides or teacher’s assistants. There is however a slight difference: integration aides help students with disabilities and disorders to integrate into mainstream classrooms. They can however work in a range of roles and settings depending on the needs of the school, the class, the teacher and of course, the student. Most integration aides complete an integration aide course such as the nationally recognised CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support.
Integration aides are employed to support children in many different types of schools including primary schools, high schools, special needs schools and alternative schools such as Montessori and Waldorf schools. They work in both government and non-government schools. Integration aides are employed to support teachers and students in a variety of ways including:
In this article we will explain:
It is important to note that an integration aide is just another name for a teacher aides or a teacher assistants (although they are primarily employed to work with students with one or more disabilities, this is not always the case for the teacher aides). We use the term integration aide in this article as we are focusing on support work in Victoria (where this term is used the most). Generally speaking, the term integration aide is only used in Victoria and only by people working in the industry (it is not a well-known term according to Google search data when compared to other terms such as 'teacher aide').
Other states use different terms such as School Support Officer, Education Assistant or Learning Support Officer. Regardless of the state or territory, and the title or definition, all support workers complete the same nationally recognised integration aide qualification.
This article covers integration aide courses in general. For detailed and specific advice pertaining to an individual course please follow the applicable link below:
An integration aide is a person employed by a school to assist the teacher and to support students throughout the school day. They support learners with their behaviour, learning, access to activities, activities of daily living, academic and content learning, and in many other ways. They assist the teacher with operational and logistical tasks such as developing resources and light cleaning.
By definition, integration aides work with students with disabilities and in particular with students with multiple disabilities, comorbidities and high needs. This is the primary reason for why people in these roles are required to complete a nationally recognised integration aide course such as the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support. As an integration aide, you are almost certain to work, at one stage or another, with one or more students with a disability or disorder listed below:
Integration aides may also assist students who are having issues with literacy, numeracy or a range of behavioural or neurological disorders - some of which may not have been 'officially' diagnosed. In other words, the roles and responsibilities of an integration aide is many and varied. Integration aides need to be prepared to 'wear multiple hats' as they say.
You might begin the year working with a 7-year-old who has been diagnosed with Autism and who has behavioural challenges such as running-away and violent outbursts. The following term you may find yourself working with a 15-year-old with diagnosed FASD and ADHD in a mainstream classroom. If you are looking for routine - this job may not suit you!
After completing your integration aide course, you may be employed in any number of roles, but you should expect that role to change over time.
Defining exactly what teacher's aides are expected to do in the classroom has been the topic of a number of studies and academic research especially in the past decade or so. Some key findings of these studies have been outlined below:
One study from 2018 investigated the effectiveness of teacher's aides in 105 schools and found that trained teacher's aide are much more effective especially when working closely and in cooperation with the teacher.
Other studies such as this one in 2016 found that 'students with disabilities in full-day kindergarten have higher reading and mathematics outcomes at the end of kindergarten when the classroom has a teacher's aide.'
A Victorian study said that the four main areas where teacher aides are focused on are 'a) inclusion in the school community, (b) curriculum, (c) classroom management, and (d) student support.'
We have written a detailed article on how to become a teacher aide which we highly recommend.
The most common way to become an integration aide and to get a job as an integration aide is to complete a nationally recognised integration aide course or qualification. The 2 most common nationally recognised courses to become a teacher’s aide is the CHC30221 Certificate III in School Based Education Support or the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support. These 2 qualifications are essential if you are planning to work in a school as an integration aide. In fact, schools generally require their support staff to have completed an integration aide course before being employed - usually this means the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support given then nature and complexity of the work.
It should be noted that there are no formal or legally mandated requirements in order to work as an integration aide. However, schools, teachers, and those who hire and interview integration aides, almost always require staff to have completed a nationally recognised integration aide course. This is to ensure that their staff have the necessary skills and knowledge to be effective in terms of supporting learning, children's development, logistical needs of the classroom and so forth. Anyone studying an integration aide course will learn vital skills such as working safely, managing students' behaviour, supporting literacy and numeracy development, and of course let's not forget the most important role (your bread and butter): supporting students with complex needs.
Having a nationally recognised qualification means that you are presumed to have achieved a certain level of skills and can therefore offer high quality support to your clients (students, teachers, parents - depending on how you look at it). Schools are eager to ensure that all of their hires are performing at or beyond this minimum standard. The best integration aide course to complete if you would like to work as a special need's integration aide is the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support. People at the beginning of their career may also consider the CHC30221 Certificate III in School Based Education Support however this course is considered to be the introductory, basic and more general qualification. Note that students may (at least with ITAC) go straight into the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support even if they have not completed the CHC30221 Certificate III in School Based Education Support.
The CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support is known as the special need's qualification. As almost all integration aides work with special needs, logic would have it that the Certificate IV is the most apt integration aide course to complete. Special needs integration aides work predominately with students with disabilities and other complex needs - it’s in the title after all: 'integration' aide. The concept of the integration aide is that a teacher aide takes on the additional role of supporting an allocated student to 'integrate' into a mainstream classroom. This is not to say that all integration aides work in mainstream classrooms however, as many work in special needs schools or centres.
There are various types of integration aides. The most common type is a special need's integration aide. These positions require the completion of a special needs integration aide course such as the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support. In this role, the primary focus is students who have one or more disabilities and who require regular support (one-on-one). Many work in a special needs schools while others are employed in inclusive mainstream classrooms.
To learn more about what teacher aides or integration aide do, please read out detailed article: what do teacher aide do?.
A special need centre or school caters specifically and exclusively for students who have a disability and who require specialist care, programs and support staff (hence the reason why schools demand staff hold and have completed a relevant integration aide course). The cohort for this type of school is comprised solely of students with high needs and who require one-on-one support from an adult.
In an inclusive classroom, integration aides also spend time working with non-disabled students. They might spend 30%, 40% or even 50% of their time circulating in the classroom and working with other students. The rest of their time will be with students with additional needs who they have been assigned. Circulating (as it is known by teachers and integration aides) helps the allocated student to develop a level of independence in terms of their learning, study skills and social skills.
There are many other types of integration aides such as Aboriginal and Indigenous Education Officers (AEIOs). Aboriginal and Indigenous Education Officers are usually of Aboriginal descent and they work with students of Aboriginal descent. They can work in mainstream schools or specialised programs such as those designed to improve student attendance, motivation and engagement.
Once you have completed your integration aide course and are armed with the necessary skills to effectively support students and teachers, you could find yourself working in any number of schools in Victoria including kindergartens, primary schools, high schools, k-12 schools, government and non-government schools, alternative, religious-based or a special needs school. Examples of where you MAY end up working or volunteering include:
As outlined earlier, if you're looking to work as a special need's integration aide, we highly recommend that you consider the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support. This integration aide course is known in the industry (by teachers, managers etc. - i.e. people that hire integration aides) as being the best qualification to hold for those who work with students with special needs. This qualification includes specific topics and subjects related to disabilities and centres on implementing strategies relevant to work with students with disabilities, disorders and difficulties. The CHC30221 Certificate III in School Based Education Support, on the other hand, only touches on the basics of working with students with additional needs.
That is not to say that you cannot find work with the CHC30221 Certificate III in School Based Education Support. Many students complete the CHC30221 Certificate III in School Based Education Support initially and the move to the high-level integration aide course thereafter. The CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support covers many of the same topics, activities, knowledge, skills etc. as the lower level qualification but the emphasis is on applying that knowledge, skills and experiences to students with additional needs such as a high need's disabilities and disorders. This is why many students prefer the teacher aide combo which combines the best of both qualifications into a single program.
Students who enrol in the teacher’s aide combo study the basics of the CHC30221 Certificate III in School Based Education Support to get a good grounding, and then subsequently build on that knowledge with the more advanced CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support. Even if you don’t plan on working with students who have disabilities, it will at least be an option in the future and may give you an extra leg up in the job market - 2 qualifications on your resume is certain to look better than 1. We therefore recommend the teacher aide combo closely followed by the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support as the best integration aide course available to students in Australia.
We highly recommend reading one of our detailed guides on this exact subject:
Integration aide courses vary in cost depending on your selected course. The best value is the teacher aide combo which currently saves around $1500 compared to completing two separate courses. See the main course pages on our website for more details.
There are thousands of schools in almost every state of Australia and Victoria is no exception. There are also tens of thousands of integration aides. In fact, many schools have a higher number of integration aides than teachers. This is because integration aides support students one-on-one and there are often multiple integration aides working under a single coordinating teacher. Take your average special needs centre for example: it may have 10, 20, 30 or even more integration aides and 10-15 teachers.
Many integration aides are mothers seeking to work on a part-time or casual basis (about 98% of our enrolments are female). For this reason, it may be easier to find work 1 or 2 days per week than a full-time position (almost like a job-share). The easiest way to find work in this industry (at least initially) is to first complete a nationally recognised integration aide qualification, obtain your necessary clearances to work with children, put your resume together and finally ask at all schools in the area to be placed on their relief list.
Casual or relief work is commonly available when employed teacher aides call in sick or are absent for one reason or another. Once a school has employed you for regular relief work, you have a good chance of being offered a contract (such as 1 or 2 days per week for a set period of time). Contracts can be for a few weeks, a term and even a year; contracts can eventually lead to a permanent position (and they often do!). This process is a very common way for graduates to move from casual employment to secure, stable, long term position.
Provided you have the right demeanour, dress professionally, hold the required clearances, and have completed a nationally recognised integration aide qualification with a reputable provider, you have a good chance of finding work in a local school given the sheer volume of schools and positions.
Integration aides get paid approximately $30 per hour or just under $1000 per week according to our research.
Most integration aides however, work in special needs. If you are working with a special needs student in a mainstream classroom you will be paid more than an integration aide who is not working with a special needs student (this is not always the case - check with your school). If you are working with a special needs student in a special need's school, you will potentially be on the highest pay level.
It is worth noting that the majority of integration aides work approximately 32 hours per week. This gives you the flexibility to start work a little later and to drop kids off to school or even have a bit of a sleep in. It also means a finish time of around 3 p.m. depending on the school. Some integration aides work the full 38-hour week and are required to stay on site until around 4pm although this is not that common.
Please feel free to read our detailed blog about how much teacher aides are paid in Australia including a state by state breakdown.
The answer to this question really depends on the individual, the student, the classroom and the quality of your initial integration aide training or course. The area that our students (as well as school staff in general) say is the most stressful and challenging is behaviour management. A high-quality integration aide course will give you the skills, techniques and strategies to manage a range of behavioural issues and challenges.
If you are working with students with disabilities, you will come across a range of behavioural challenges such as runners, tantrums and other outbursts. Occasionally you may get spat on, students may kick you, students will swear and sometimes they will 'do a runner' as they say.
These situations can be very challenging especially if you have not been trained in best practice strategies and techniques to deal with these situations as they arise (and the do arise - all the time!).
Yes - Integration aide courses are generally available online depending on your provider (they certainly are available online at ITAC). We offer both the CHC30221 Certificate III in School Based Education Support and the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support online. The most popular integration aide course that we offer online is the Teacher Aide Combo.
If you wish to study an integration aide course online, check with your provider and ask as many questions as need be in order to satisfy yourself that you have chosen the right provider. For example, ask about the support services they claim to offer, the resources that you will be provided with, whether you can meet with your trainer and attend tutorials etc. All of these questions are really important and worth asking.
Another important aspect to consider about online learning is the fact that you will still need to complete a work placement of 100 hours in a school. The work placement is not an online component of your course for obvious reasons. It is important to ensure that you choose a provider who will come and see you during your work placement. This is important for a number of key reasons such as supporting your professional development and assisting if there are any issues; even the best students experience issues from time to time.
At the moment FFTA have no government funded integration aide courses in Victoria. Please see our website for further information about the current fees for our courses. Note that the Teacher Aide Combo has been priced to save students over $1500 compared to studying and paying for 2 courses separately. We also advise reading our article about government funded teacher aide course as it explains why many so-called 'free' courses are actually very expensive in the long run and could end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars in lost earnings.
Generally speaking, integration aide courses can be studied at TAFE or a private provider such as ITAC. TAFE has traditionally been known as the best provider for high school students and for students who wish to attend classes several days per week for a semester or two. TAFEs are also well-known for their work in regional and rural areas such as in remote Aboriginal communities.
Adult learners tend to enrol with private providers as they offer the best in flexible, self-paced courses.
Our integration aide courses are structured and delivered using a clustered 'holistic' approach. This means that similar units are combined with the purpose of removing unnecessary repetition. Clustering means that students save a lot of time, money, effort and the annoyance of not having to repeat the same questions over and over. We recommend students enrol with a provider who clusters their assessments for these reasons. It is also considered poor practice to deliver CHC units individually.
We have discussed and answered most of the common questions from people seeking to become an integration aide and who are thinking about enrolling in a nationally recognised integration aide course such as the CHC30221 Certificate III in School Based Education Support.
The overwhelming majority of integration aides work with special needs students including those that have disabilities, disorders or difficulties. Some integration aides work in special needs centres or special need schools, whereas others work in inclusive mainstream classrooms. Those that work in inclusive mainstream classrooms work with students who have special needs but also spend a portion of their time working with students who do not have a disability or disorder but who need support with a learning task.
Special needs integration aides are paid approximately $30 per hour and generally work 32 hours per week. It's generally easy for most people to find casual and part-time work as an integration aide (assuming they have completed an integration aide course with a reputable provider (in order to learn the essential and vital skills required by schools).
Adam Green is an advisor to government, a registered teacher, an instructional designer and a #1 best selling author. He is completing a Doctor of Education and was previously head of department for one of the country’s largest SAER (students at educational risk) schools. Adam is managing director of ITAC, an accredited training provider for thousands of teacher aides every year.
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