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SCHOOL SERVICES OFFICER (SSO) COURSES IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA

School Services Officer (SSO) Courses in SA


School Services Officers, or SSOs as they are commonly known in South Australia, work in schools under the supervision of a classroom teacher to provide learning, developmental, social, behavioural, operational and physical support to students with additional needs.


To become an SSO in South Australia, you will first need to complete a nationally recognised SSO course such as the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support or ITAC's popular Teacher Aide Combo. You can learn how to choose a high quality provider by reading this article.


School Services Officer courses teach students the basic skills and knowledge required to work as an SSO. This includes knowing policies and procedures, various disabilities and disorders, behaviour management techniques, and basic instructional strategies.


This article will introduce you to the work, training, and responsibilities of SSOs in South Australia.


To become an SSO in South Australia, you will first need to complete a nationally recognised SSO course such as the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support or ITAC's popular Teacher Aide Combo.


female SSO helping student who is sitting at a computer

Could you do this? SSOs support students in a range of educational activities.


A career as a School Services Officer in a South Australian school is a challenging and rewarding responsibility. It is would suit those who enjoy working with children and who are looking for family friendly work hours. The first step to becoming an SSO in SA is to complete one of the following programs offered by ITAC:

Quick summary of this article:

  • While School Services Officers in South Australia work under the direction of their classroom teacher, they may take on more advanced tasks and higher levels of responsibility.
  • Typically speaking however, many SSOs work with students with disabilities either in a special needs school, a specialised program or in a mainstream class.
  • The highest SSO course is the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support.
  • When looking for a provider, choose one who specialises in SSO courses and look for an integrated course (all units mashed together) as unit-by-unit courses take much longer to complete.
  • Schools like to get to know SSOs before offering them permanent positions.
  • Generally speaking, finding an SSO job is not that difficult especially for those looking for casual work. Casual work is used as a stepping stone.
  • SSOs are paid approximately $30 per hour.
  • Enrol in a course that uses an integrated structure as this will mean finishing your course much sooner (months in fact). ITAC offer the only integrated teacher aide course in Australia.
  • Learn how to choose the best provider by reading this article.

What is an SSO or School Services Officer?

Female SSO in front of white board which has maths problems ready for students.

Pictured: ITAC student on placement.


An SSO or School Services Officer, is a special needs teacher aide usually empoyed to assist teachers with the education of students with disabilities or disorders. This is their primary function, although the may do other tasks as well.


SSOs may assist students one-on-one or in small groups. They can work in specialist programs e.g. remedial literacy programs, or they can take on a more generalist role within a school.


Besides the usual subjects (maths, English etc.), a key goal of all SSOs is increasing the independence of their focus student. In an ideal world, at some point in the future the student would be independent enough to not need an SSO at all.


For this reason, SSOs also teach life-skills such as how to go shopping and how to do basic chores around the house. An SSO may, for example, take a group of students to the shops in order to teach them how money works, how to buy healthy foods, and how to then prepare basic meals and snacks.


For many students with disabilities, basic tasks such as folding tea-towels or wiping down a bench properly is an IEP (Individual Education Plan) goal.


Besides the usual subjects (maths, English etc.), a key goal of all SSOs is increasing the independence of their focus student.


Here is what some of the latest research has said about the roles and responsibilities of School Services Officers:


A Victorian study said that the four main areas where teacher’s aides are focused on are ‘a) inclusion in the school community, (b) curriculum, (c) classroom management, and (d) student support.’


Another study published in the International Journal of Inclusive Education, stated that SSOs have a ‘pivotal, complex and ambiguous role’ in terms of supporting students with disabilities.


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.’

Are there different types of SSOs in SA?

Yes, there are various different types of SSOs in South Australia. The majority of SSOs however, work with students who have special needs. Special needs positions can be further divided into several categories.


One notable category is SSOs who work in a special needs school. These are schools that are designed specifically for students who require a high level of support from specialist teachers and support staff. SSOs in SA may also work with special needs students in a mainstream classroom - known as integrated or inclusive classrooms.


Some SSOs don't actually work with students with special needs at all. They might work in other areas such as an Indigenous program, a sports program or in other areas of the school such as the library.


There are over 150 schools, services and centres in SA that specifically cater for the needs of students with disabilities. Almost all of these services employ qualified SSOs (meaning someone who has completed a School Services Officer course such as the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support). You MAY end up working in any one of these schools, such as Seaford Secondary College Disability Unit, Modbury Special School, or Adelaide East Education Centre.

What is the best SSO course for me?

female SSO and students learning from workbook

Pictured: ITAC student on placement in a primary school.


Generally speaking, the higher the SSO course or qualification, the better. It looks better on your resume and gives you a leg up in the job market. It also means that you are as highly qualified as possible in terms of your work as an SSO.


The top level School Services Officer course is the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support. This particular qualification specialises in special needs and covers most of the main disabilities that you are likely to come across in a school. After completing this SSO course you will be able to work as an SSO in any school in South Australia.


The Teacher Aide Combo is a very popular option as well. Regardless of which course you select, ensure it has been designed with an integrated structure. Learn more about that in this article.


While we are talking about courses, be sure to choose the right provider for you. Learn more about choosing a provider here.

After completing this SSO course you will be able to work as an SSO in any school in South Australia.

How do I become a School Services Officer in SA?

Female teacher aide with dust pan and shovel doing light cleaning in classroom.

An ITAC student ensure the class is hygenic and safe for children.


The main avenue to become an SSO is as follows:

  • Complete a nationally recognised SSO qualification such as the CHC30221 Certificate III in School Based Education Support or the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support.
  • Apply for your clearances. You will generally do this as part of your course.
  • Prepare your resume, a short intro letter and copies of your identification & clearances.
  • Prepare a list of all schools in your area. Don’t ignore high schools and special needs schools or you will be severely limiting your opportunities.
  • Contact these schools and ask to be put on their ‘relief list’. Also ask if there are any positions coming up soon and let them know that you would be interested.
  • Undertake casual work until schools get to know you a bit better - keep asking about more permanent positions especially towards the end of the year.

Generally speaking, this process is quite successful for many students.


Hint: begin your search for schools in your area with these links: Association of Independent Schools of SA, Catholic Education, and government schools. Of course, you could just drive around your area or simply do a Google search.


Many students find work at the school where they completed their work placement. This is assuming that they enrolled with a reputable provider and therefore demonstrated the essential skills and knowledge that schools look for in their staff.

Are SSO jobs hard to find?


If you are willing to work in special needs and/or high schools, you will have many more opportunities come you way.


Generally speaking, finding an SSO job is not that hard especially if you are looking for casual/relief work. Most students find causal work in their local area. Of course, there is no guarantee of this even after completing a nationally recognised qualification. Some areas are more competitive than others such as inner-city schools and positions in early grades such as Year 1 or 2.


If you are willing to work in special needs and/or high schools, you will have many more opportunities come you way. In saying that, there are hundreds of schools and thousands of School Services Officer positions (South Australia has about 750 schools and most of them employ 10-20 SSOs - some even more).

How much do SSOs get paid?

Typically speaking SSOs in South Australia are paid approximately $30 per hour, and they normally work around 32 hours per week. This of course is not applicable to all schools and SSOs in South Australia – some SSOs earn more, some less, some work 38 hours, some receive additional allowances etc.


It should be noted that some well-known websites suggest that the average SSO is paid somewhere between $23 and $27 per hour. This is incorrect and misleading in our view because of the way the calculation is done (simply taking the middle point of the pay scale). As the majority of SSOs work with special needs (let's take a guess and say 80%), the average pay is towards the top of the pay scale which is around $30 or more.


Please read our detailed article: How much do teacher aides get paid to learn more about how much School Services Officers can expect to earn in South Australia after completing an SSO course.

What is the difference between an SSO and a teacher aide?

'Teacher aide' is the broad term used by the public. It is the general term that includes teacher’s assistants, SSOs, education assistants and learning support officers. SSO is a term specific to SA and is only used by South Austalians. In other words, a teacher aide and an SSO is the same thing.

Can I study an SSO course online?

All of ITAC’s SSO or School Services Officer courses are available online and can be studied from South Australia. Studying online can mean many different things however, depending on your provider.


Ensure that you enrol with a provider that offers a range of services such as live webinars, pre-recorded webinars, interactive activities and the ability to contact your trainer as needed. Ensure they visit you on placement and ensure that their courses are designed with an integrated structure (meaning all units are mashed together, and not unit-by-unit (as this takes twice as long to complete the same course).

Ensure they visit you on placement and ensure that their courses are designed holistically (meaning all units are mashed together, and not unit-by-unit (as this takes twice as long to complete the same course).

Do all School Services Officer courses have a placement?

Yes. All SSO courses have a work placement requirement which is currently 100 hours. Most students will undertake their voluntary or unpaid work placement hours in a local school. Most will complete their hours 1-3 days per week over a period of about 16 days. For more detailed information about the work placement we recommend contacting ITAC.

Summary

This article explored many of the common questions that we get from people considering an enrolment in a School Services Officer course to become an SSO in South Australia. The two most common SSO courses in Australia are the CHC30221 Certificate III in School Based Education Support and the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support. We have discussed in some detail how to become an SSO, the types of jobs that you can get as an SSO as well as the responsibilities and tasks that you will potentially undertake. We have discussed the different courses, modes, and the workplace requirements.


About the author

Image of the managing director of ITAC.

ADAM GREEN

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.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to check his article for accuracy, information may be outdated, inaccurate or not relevant to you and your location/employer/contract. It is not intended as legal or professional advice. Users should seek expert advice such as by contacting the relevant education department, should make their own enquiries, and should not rely on any of the information provided.

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