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Teacher’s Aide Jobs: 10 Steps to Becoming a Teacher's Aide

step by step becoming a teacher aide

Completing a course can be a great way of finding a teacher's aide job: trainers often hear of vacancies that aren’t advertised.

We love seeing our students land that perfect job – especially after we see their dedication and commitment to their course. But it doesn’t happen by fluke. In fact, you don’t even need a qualification to start looking for work – you can get started tomorrow by following these simple, tried and tested strategies that anyone can implement.

We’ve surveyed our students, trainers and schools, analysed the data and have come up with 10 simple ways to significantly improve your chances of finding a teacher’s aide job – sooner rather than later. You can start putting these strategies into place tomorrow (maybe even today). Read our top 10 strategies to maximise your chances of landing a teacher’s aide job below.

What you’ll learn in this post:

  • What to do before you start looking
  • Thinking through your options
  • Approaching schools
  • Lodging applications

To become a teacher aide you would need to:

  1. Consider your options
  2. Enrol in a qualification…obviously we would say that – but you really need to!
  3. The 10-minute resume
  4. Apply for your clearances
  5. Play the numbers
  6. Walk out with a job tomorrow…maybe
  7. The last place to look
  8. Volunteer
  9. Use your contacts and network
  10. It only takes one job

1. Consider your options

Before even applying for any jobs, it is important to consider your options and to define exactly what your ideal position looks like. Consider the following employment options:

  • Within 5, 10, 20km of your home
  • In a primary school
  • In a high school
  • In a senior college
  • In a kindergarten
  • In a special need’s schools/classroom
  • With a particular disability such as ASD
  • With a student with disabilities in inclusive classrooms
  • With non-disabled students
  • In specific programs such as literacy, indigenous programs etc.
  • Private, public, religious or alternative schools

And how often do you want to work:

  • Part time
  • Casual
  • Full time

This doesn’t mean that you are required to only work in a specific area, but it will help you in the steps below to determine where your efforts are best directed, at least in the beginning. Think about how you will complete this sentence:

I want to work in a __________________ (type of school), preferably year ___________ (insert year) and with ____________ (additional needs, non-disabled, specific subjects).

Hint: High schools are often ignored by individuals seeking employment because of the perceived issues with behaviour management, bullying etc. This is largely unfounded because the teacher is in charge of ensuring that behaviour management is appropriate – you are just there to assist and support (unlike primary schools where you may take on more responsibility as far as behaviour management).

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2. Enrol in a qualification…obviously we would say that – but you really need to!

We may be a bit biased here, but obviously if you are applying for a teacher’s aide job, you probably should have a teacher’s aide qualification or at least be enrolled in a qualification/course. Schools like to know that you have committed to the industry, that you are learning all of the basics like duty of care, safety and behaviour management as well as know how to support literacy learning.

Hint: When handing over your resume, also hand over a copy of your clearance and a copy of your acceptance letter from your training provider.

I recommend reading my article A Guide to Government Funded Teacher’s Aide Courses and specifically the section “Is free really free? Why cheap courses can be really expensive.”

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3. The 10-minute resume

If you don’t have a resume, or you have never made a resume before, don’t stress – we’ll quickly show you how to complete a resume in 10 minutes or less.

Firstly, open a Microsoft word or other similar document editor program such as open office. Secondly, add a footer (V1.0 Updated January 20XY) and a page number at the top. Also add the word RESUME across the top in large font (but not too large). Third, go down a few spaces and add all of your details like DOB, Name, Address, Contacts etc. Fourth, add the following headings: Experience, Training, Past-times, References.

Complete your ‘Experience’ by listing every job you have had, the year you started and ended, and 5 main tasks in dot points.

Complete your ‘Training’ by listing every course you have done, the year and the provider.

List 5 pastimes (don’t list anything illegal or that can have negative connotations).

Under references, simply write “references available on request”

Boom! You are done in less than ten minutes – however, I highly recommend editing and making it look a bit more professional. You can easily find free templates online that you can use (just copy in the text you have just written). Ensure that there are no errors, everything is straight and looks neat and professional – this is VERY important as it reflects on the quality of your future work.

Also, we recommend writing an introductory letter (see ITAC’s website for a template). Note we also have a resume builder.

quick resume guide

Caption: Use the resume builder on ITAC’s website – it’s free with no sign-up required.

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4. Apply for your clearances

There isn’t much I need to write here – you are legally required to have the appropriate clearances. You will need your clearance before even stepping into the classroom especilally for paid work. Each state is different so do your research (or if enrolled ask your trainer).

You should do this step straight away because it can take time for your clearances to be processed by the government.

Hint: in some states, you can use the receipt from paying for your application, as temporary evidence of the clearance - until the clearance arrives.

In most states the most important clearance is the WWCC or Blue card (QLD). Some states or department require a second clearance (Crim Track in WA). Speak to your trainer or school.

teacher assistant planning a learning activity

Caption: Screenshot from WWCC website WA.

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5. Play the numbers

Our research shows that most students apply for 3-5 schools when looking for work. However, there are plenty of schools out there, and even more if you count special needs schools, which are schools within schools (with their own Principals and teachers). Why not apply for 20 schools? You would be much better off having 5 job offers and knocking 4 back than having 1 offer that isn’t really what you are looking for.

Hint: You can move schools or you can work at two or more schools. You don’t need to lock yourself into the first offer that comes your way

Here is how to research and find the schools in your local area:

  • Go to Google
  • Type in ‘list of schools’ or 'primary schools' etc.
  • Record contacts, addresses, phone, email etc. in a table, of the schools in your area
finding a school to work in as a teacher aide

Most states have a directory that is published on their website. It lists every schools in the state alphabetically. There are probably schools in your area that you didn’t even know existed.

The same process can be followed to find all the private schools in your area.

How many schools do we recommend? There is no simple answer, however, if someone said they couldn’t find work, and I asked how many, the answer should be 20 or more. Anything less than that, and they need to keep trying (with the exception of rural and regional areas as obviously there may not be 20 schools with driving range).

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6. Walk out with a job tomorrow…maybe

getting a job as a teacher aide

Caption: It is important to dress appropriately for the position.

Okay, so here is the part you have been waiting for – you are prepared and ready to go. You have printed your resume 20 or so times and applied for your clearances. You have also determined where you would ideally like to work and listed a few places that you would be happy to work. Now it’s time to hit the pavement and get your name out there.

To do this, first you need to dress appropriately. This means professionally but not too corporate-like (you don’t want to look like a serious and unfriendly lawyer). You also need to shower (yes some people don’t think this needs to happen – but it does – and no, the night before doesn’t count!). Once you are ready and dressed appropriately, wait until about 11 am and visit 3-5 schools. Here is how the conversation should go with the front reception person:

“Hi my name is ________ and I’m really interested in putting my name down for work as a teacher’s aide. Can I please speak to someone about that (smile)?”

You could also say “can I please hand in my resume and be placed on the relief list for if anything comes up – I am very flexible and are just waiting on my clearances now – I am also enrolled in a course.”

Put down you name on the ‘relief list’ of 10, 20 or 50 schools – the more the better.

Hint: Don’t expect anything soon! You won’t get called tomorrow. You may need to wait a few weeks. But you never know!

If after 2-3 weeks you have no calls, think about sending an email to schools. Something polite with your name, availability, resume, image of your clearance etc.

You may be surprised at how many schools don’t have that many people ‘on their books’ who they can call if staff call in sick. If you make a good impression, you never know, you could walk out with a job on the day (especially if you visit 20-30 schools over a week or so).

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7. The last place to look

Don’t bother applying for jobs on SEEK or in other locations online at least not in the beginning or unless you have plenty of spare time. Why? Two reasons:

  • The school normally already knows who they are going to hire – but for policy and process reasons, they must advertise. You have no chance in this case.
  • About 1000 other people will apply and you will not be the best candidate, not even close. There are about 9000 people completing courses every year for education support to give you an idea. That doesn’t include those who completed degrees, part degrees, or just finished in previous years and want to move jobs.

In some cases, we have heard of advertisers pulling ads early because the number of people applying is so high that they don’t know how to approach the huge task of sorting through the piles of applications.

This is not to say that someone doesn’t get those jobs – but your chances are slim, and you are better off putting your time into visiting schools, voluntary work etc.

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8. Volunteer

This is where you work a couple of hours per week in a school, just helping out. Many people do this in schools where their children attend. Maybe you have contacts like a friend or family member who is a teacher, principal or teacher’s aide? Ask them if you can do a couple of hours to build up your experience.

So how do you go from volunteer to paid employment? Easy – make it be known to the person that does the hiring, that you are looking for work, and are available on whatever days you wish to work. Just ensure that you ARE available on those days, and ensure that you DO work on those days that they call you in. In no time at all you will end with more work than you know what to do with. This is very common – schools like to test people out before hiring them.

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9. Use your contacts and network

You may not like it, but this isn’t the time to be shy. Call your friends and family or take them out for coffee and cake and discuss what you want to do. Ask around – you will be surprised at how often we hear schools say things like ‘do you have anyone that wants to do relief’ and ‘we just can’t find anyone these days.’ There are plenty of jobs out there and plenty of schools – people work in those schools – many schools have over 100 employees and some of them are likely in your friendship circle. Ask at your gym, ask your current boss, ask your neighbour.

But what exactly do you ask? You should be asking for either volunteer work or if they know of any work coming up in the following term. Don’t ask about getting a permanent job from your postman because his wife works at the school up the road in the library. However, you may get your foot in the door for a few casual days.

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10. It only takes one job

Finally, just remember that it only takes one job – if at first you don’t succeed, keep trying, think about other options, consider whether you would travel a little further down the road, consider whether you would work in a school, year, subject etc. that previously you have dismissed for some reason.

You may need to do another course to boost your resume – that could be a qualification, but you may also enrol in some PDs, watch videos online, read books etc. You can list all of theses activities on your resume. There are lots of free online short courses.

professional development in the education industry

Caption: Attending PDs and courses is essential when looking for work as well as to continually improve once you have a job.

Finally, cultivate relationships and networks with schools. Go to school fates and events (but don’t be a stalker obviously). Once schools get to know you a bit, your chances of getting work is significantly improved.

For most people however, especially in populated areas, you will eventually be offereed some causal work and you should be able to use the strategies above to try and move in to more regular work.

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Useful links:



As they say, finding work is a full-time job. Start with preparing your thoughts on where you would like to go bearing in mind that you don’t want to restrict your opportunities too much at this early stage. Then prepare your resume, clearances and off you go! Don’t bother with online ads, try volunteering and ensure that you keep learning (now and in the future after you have a job). It only takes one job, and sometimes that one job can take several months or longer to find, but it’s worth it – so keep on trying and you won’t regret the time and effort it took today.

Example from ITAC’s learner guides

Below is several pages from ITAC’s learner guides relevant to this topic taken from the Reflection chapter. We thought we should make this available to everyone looking for work as it will help you not only land your ideal job, but continually improve afterwards so you KEEP that job.

Goal setting

An important part of continual improvement is to set goals. Goal are important for a number of reasons because:

  • You have to be honest about your current abilities and starting point
  • You have to think about what you want to achieve, what is important and what is not important
  • Setting goals help you to identify a narrow focus or specialisation. Having a narrow focus allows you to become an expert in that specific area (we can’t be experts in everything)
  • It gives you control over your life and your future as well as a sense of purpose
  • It gives you a sense of satisfaction once achieved or partly achieved

You may have an overall goal such as ‘to be an expert at your job’. This goal however is very vague and raises several questions:

  • How will you know when you become an expert?
  • What is your definition of an expert specifically?
  • What does an expert look like?
  • Can you fake being an expert?
  • If you can do 90% of what an expert can do, are you an expert also?
  • What technologies or methods are changing? Is an expert today going to be an expert tomorrow?
  • What does an expert know or do?
  • How long will it take exactly? 1 year, 5 years, 25 years?

One way to deal with these issues to use the SMART system. The SMART system is the most widely used system or setting, working towards and achieving goals. It is used in many industries not just education. You may have SMART goals for various aspects of your life or even multiple SMART goals to achieve your overall goal.


  • Set a specific goal
  • Example: Become an expert in educating children with Autism
  • Describe what you will do, by when etc.
  • Consider starting with “I will….”


  • Include a measurement system so progress can be measured
  • Consider using a frequency measurement such as ‘once a month’
  • Ask yourself ‘how will you know your goal has been met?’
  • For example: attend 5 PDs in the next 12 months, watch 50 YouTube videos, read 4 books, speak to 3 experts, work with at least 4 children


  • Goals should be challenging however they must be achievable
  • Ask yourself ‘is reaching this goal possible given my situation?’
  • The goal above is challenging but attainable in the time period provided


  • The SMA above is relevant to the overall goal
  • It is relevant to your current employment or future employment
  • Relevance helps with motivation


  • Set a time frame for the goal to be achieved (1 year, 3 years)
  • Set due dates for each step towards achieving your goal (read 1 book every 3 months)

Visualisation. An important part of setting and achieving goals is to continually visualise what that end outcome of that goal looks like. For example, if you want to be an expert, picture what that looks like in your mind. If you are learning to roller blade, what does that look like?

SMART goals are effective because they help you focus your attention on the end product. For example, you have decided to take up a new hobby – woodworking. Using SMART, you decide to aim to make 5 different pieces of furniture in the next 6 months that are good enough to have in your house.

The problem becomes that if you don’t specify exactly what you want to achieve at the beginning you may never feel like you have ‘finished’ the learning process and never achieved your original goal. This is because once you begin learning something, you will quickly realise that you could spend an entire lifetime learning and still not know everything there is to know. The more you learn, the more you learn how much you don’t know and how complicated woodworking can become. Setting a SMART goal allows you to achieve something so that there is a clear end and recognition that the goal was achieved. This prevents the goal from always being beyond your grasp and gives you a great sense of satisfaction once you have achieved your goal. Then you can set another goal!

goal setting importance as a education support officer

Career development

Even after you are employed it is important to continually improve your knowledge and learn new skills. Imagine if you began a new career tomorrow - would you rather be worse, the same or better at your job in 5 years than you are on your first day? You should use a combination of the sources of information listed below to continually improve your ability to offer better and better services to your clients.



Ask for help, support or advise
Brainstorm ideas and approaches
Locating and understanding school policies and procedures
Listen to viewpoints, opinions and ideas even from people that have less experience
Meetings (formal or informal)

Supervisors and
senior staff

Teachers, principal and others
Attend performance management
Guidance and advise from experts in the field with much more experience
Job role expectations, code of conduct, entitlements, policies and procedures
Learn by observing (how do you manage stressful situations)


Government department websites
Not for profit organisation’s website
Blogs, articles, news and opinion pieces
YouTube videos
Specialist websites
Commercial businesses
PDFs and guides, whitepapers, e-books, podcasts

Regulators and
other organisations

Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA)
Department of Education and Training (DET)
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)
Safety regulators in each state


PDs and seminars (internal, external, webinars, face-to-face)
Nationally recognised qualifications - RPL, Certificate 3/4, Diploma
Short courses such as First Aid
DET state or territory online training (sometimes mandatory)
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) such as through Harvard University

Professional development plan

A professional development plan is an important part of the process of continual improvement. It is very common for every staff member to have a professional development plan. It is a formal, written and structured document that outlines your current level, where you want to be in the future and how you will get to that point.

A PDP can be as simple as 1 page or it can be much more complex. Employers often spend a lot of time trying to get the best value for money out of their staff and a PDP is one of the main tools that are used to achieve this goal. A PDP is often completed as part of a professional development process.

Important: You can make your own PDP, or your employer may have its own system and forms that they require you to complete. Your PDP may evolve over time – maybe you will achieve your goals quicker or more slowly or you may have new goals.

A sample PDP (for training purposes only) is shown below.

Professional Development Plan


Rainbow PS

Your name

Harper Blue


Education Assistant

Year group



Mrs Grey

Mr White

Date from


Date end


Background information

Current role


Education Assistant

Full time

Work 50% of time with special needs (ASD and ADHD)

Work 30% of time literacy and numeracy – assisting as per teacher directions



Certificate III in Education Support

Certificate II in Security

Certificate III in Business


6 years’ in same role as above

3 years carer for elderly

Mother to 3 children

Administration experience in previous roles

Short courses, PDs

First Aid

Autism in the classroom

Numeracy and number for early years

The new framework for curriculum

10x online PDs via DET portal (mandatory reporting and others) – 1 hour

My Strengths

Working in a team (getting along with everyone, helping new staff)

Communicating and de-escalating serious situations

Working with students with disabilities – rapport building

My weaknesses

Talking too much and not enough active listening

Medical or technical knowledge of disabilities

Knowledge of curriculum and planning

Workplace skills gaps

Medial type knowledge of disabilities

Especially ADHD and Autism

Latest research and methodology

Numeracy (some students know more than me)

Long term goals (5 years+) work related


Become one the most qualified and experienced EAs in the school

Be well known as a specialist in working with ASD and ADHD

Run my own programs for several hours per week or have some form of independence to challenge me

Activities and timeline

The activity

To be completed by

What success looks like

Complete Diploma SAEC


18 months

Hold Certificate

Attend 5 PDs


Each year

5x5 PD certificates in a folder

Read 12 books


In 3 years

Have read 12 books or more relevant to my work

Work in 4 classrooms to get broad experience


Next 5 years

Have at least 100 hours experience in 4 classes


Harper Blue


Harper Blue


Mrs Grey


Mrs Grey





What is reflection?

Imagine you have just finished a job interview for a job that you really want. You made a few mistakes and said some things you shouldn’t have said. You also forgot some things that could have helped you get the job. The person conducting the interview tells you that you did not get the job.

On the drive home, you begin to think about the questions that you were asked, how nervous you felt, your answers, the worst and best parts of the interview, what you would change next time, what you forgot to say and what you could or should have said that would have wowed the interviewer.

This is self-reflection. You have experienced a stressful and complex situation and are thinking about how to improve for next time. When you begin to criticise yourself in a way that helps you improve, you are doing critical self-reflection.

In the workplace, self-reflection is simply the activity of thinking about a situation that you were involved with and figuring out ways to get better in the future in that or similar situations. For example, two children get into a fight. You are close by and break up the fight. The children start spitting, you start yelling and other children become involved. Afterwards you begin to think about how you could have handled the situation better. This will help you improve the way in which you handle situations in the future.

teacher assistant planning a learning activity

There are many benefits to self-reflection. Self-reflection allows you to:

  • De-stress and vent
  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses
  • Identify gaps in your understanding, skills, knowledge
  • Deconstruct what actually happened (what you did well, not well)
  • Continually improve each day (the better you are at something, the less stressful)
  • Not repeat mistakes
  • Solve problems and come up with options
  • Manage situations without emotion (or less emotion)
  • Remove yourself from the situation and evaluate it with less bias, emotion etc.
  • Develop a growth mindset
  • Learn to accept and appreciate constructive feedback from others
  • Improve your self-awareness
  • Improve your self-esteem and confidence
  • Improve your ability to adapt and perform effectively in unique or stressful situations
  • Develop an ability to articulate and describe situations to others more critically/objectively
  • Plan self-development, goals and learning pathways
  • Fast forwards your level of expertise
  • Reduces the length of experience required to become competent in a task or in a job
  • Improves your confidence that you could professionally manage a situation or that the way you conduct yourself day to day is to a high standard

Self-reflection can be undertaken in the following ways:

  • Using a journal or diary each day/week
  • In your own mind (such as when on a walk, driving, meditating)
  • In conversation with another person
  • A combination of the above

Important: Reflection is most commonly undertaken on small and seemingly unimportant events such as how you asked a student to get back on task or how you helped a student with their maths. You should reflect on this type of task every day – make it a habit.

Outside of this course, you may not keep a self-reflection journal however it is important to always take the time to consciously think about what happened, what you learnt, what you could have done better and how you will improve. You then need to practice so that your skills improve – thinking about it alone is only half the process.

Reflection can happen at various times:

  • After a serious or unique situation
  • After interactions with students or staff
  • After completing any task (such as cleaning a room)
  • At the end of the day
  • At the end of the week, term, year
  • When the opportunity arises (such as in a formal meeting or social occasion)
  • For a few seconds or for a longer period of time
  • A combination of the above

Self-reflection should become part of your normal working week. It is the fastest and most effective way to improve especially in situations that require complex choices and strategies based on the individual child’s needs and the situation. Self-reflection will help you improve much faster than attending a few seminars each year.

process of reflection for a teacher aide

Reflection is a process of continual improvement as is show below:

Getting started with reflection

Sometimes the hardest part of any task is getting started. Use these sentence starters below to help you begin the process of reflecting on your experiences.

  • Today I was involved with…
  • The best thing I did today…
  • I could have handled it another way by…
  • What I should have done was…
  • Next time I think I will…
  • I think what I did wrong was…
  • I did pretty good, but I could improve by…
  • If I was teaching someone how to do this task I would…
  • To improve, I really need to…
  • I do my best when…
  • I struggle when…
  • I am comfortable when…
  • I feel stress when…
  • I am courageous when…
  • One of the most important things I learned was…
  • I missed a great opportunity when…
  • One of my favourite memories is…
  • My toughest decisions involve…
  • Being myself is hard because…
  • I can be myself when…
  • I wish I were more…
  • I wish I would regularly…
  • I wish I had…
  • I wish I knew…
  • I wish I felt…
  • I wish I saw…
  • I wish I thought…
  • Life should be about…
  • My philosophy/policy is that…
  • I have been told in the past that…
  • This situation is best handled when…
  • I admit that I was emotional and…
  • I think…
  • My goal was to…and I…
  • I said I would practice….and this is how it went…
  • This experience has taught me…

Questions to provoke reflection

When reflecting on your experiences, you may want to ask yourself one or more of the questions below. This will help you untangle your thoughts, learn what you are good at and where you need to improve. An important part of the refection process is to be honest with yourself.


  • What are your greatest talents or skills? Compared to who?
  • Which of your talents or skills gives you the greatest sense of pride or satisfaction? Why is that?
  • Are there gaps in your abilities, education etc. that hurt your work performance?
  • What should you do to improve your knowledge of a particular topic?

Personal qualities

  • What are your five greatest strengths? Would your teacher/colleague agree with you?
  • What do you feel are your two biggest weaknesses?
  • What qualities or traits do you most admire in others? Why?
  • What part of your personality could you improve the most?
  • Are there some types of people that you don’t get along with? Could there be a reason?
  • In 1 sentence, explain your personality.


  • What are five things that are really important to you?
  • Do you have opinions about some topics that differ from most other people?
  • What are the values that you believe are most important?
  • Are your values, beliefs, biases, opinions different to others?
  • How accepting are you of alternative beliefs, understanding or ideas etc.?
  • What things do you associate yourself with (sports, objects, clothing style, generation) etc.?


  • How is the “public you” different from the “private you?”
  • What do you want people to think and say about you?
  • Is it more important to be liked by others or to be yourself? Why?
  • To what extend do you change your behaviour for others?


  • What three things are you most proud of in your life to date?
  • What do you hope to achieve in life?
  • What do you hope to achieve in the short or medium term?
  • If you could accomplish only one thing during the rest of your life, what would it be?

If you had to say that you had a speciality or had special skills (for work as an EA) what would they be (transferrable skills from other industries for example)?

About the author

Image of the managing director of ITAC.


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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