Teaching Assistant

    If you are wondering how to become a teaching assistant, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of education, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    As a teaching assistant you would support teachers with their everyday work in the classroom.

    Typical responsibilities:

    helping to get the classroom ready for lessons
    listening to children read, reading to them or telling them stories
    helping children with number work
    helping children who need extra support to complete tasks
    helping with art and craft activities and displaying work
    looking after children who are upset or have had accidents
    playing educational games with children and encouraging younger children to learn through play
    helping with outings and sports events
    helping with routine administrative tasks.
    In a secondary school you would usually work with individuals or small groups of pupils who have disabilities or learning difficulties.

    You could have another job title such as classroom assistant, non-teaching assistant or learning support assistant.

    As a Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) you would have more responsibility. You would:

    work alongside teachers to support learning activities
    help to plan lessons and prepare teaching materials
    act as a specialist assistant for particular subjects
    supervise the class in the teacher’s absence
    supervise other support staff.
    You would also assess, record and report on the progress of pupils you work with.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of good teaching assistants include:

    the ability to build good relationships with children, parents and carers, and teachers
    flexibility and creativity
    the ability to work as part of a team
    good literacy and numeracy skills
    the ability to manage groups of children and deal with challenging behaviour.
    In some jobs it could be useful if you have other skills such as computer literacy or fluency in community languages.

    How to become a teaching assistant
    A useful starting point is to volunteer to help in a local school, perhaps for a few hours a week at first. Most qualifications for teaching assistants are aimed at those who are in paid or voluntary employment in a school. Most schools welcome help with activities such as listening to children read.

    You will need CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) clearance before you can begin either paid or voluntary work in a school. Entry requirements vary depending on the school. You can find out about requirements in your area by speaking to your local education authority .

    When you have gained some experience as a volunteer, you may be able to work towards qualifications which could help your chances of finding paid employment. Your headteacher will probably be able to advise you on this. You may find that there are some vacancies that you can apply for on the strength of your experience, if this is extensive enough.

    New qualifications in support work in schools are being piloted in some areas. If you have a job such as lunch-time supervisor, school caretaker or school library assistant the support work qualifications could help you to move into work as a teaching assistant. The qualifications are:

    Level 2 Award and Certificate in Support Work in Schools
    Level 3 Award, Certificate and Diploma in Support Work in Schools.
    Visit the ‘Support Staff’ section of the Training and Development Agency for Schools website for details.

    You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers.

    Training and Development
    Once you are working as a teaching assistant you will normally do a short, nationally-approved induction training programme. Some local education authorities also have a range of in-house training, some with external qualifications.

    You can work towards a number of teaching assistant qualifications, including:

    NVQ levels 2 and 3 for Teaching Assistants
    Level 2 Certificate for Teaching Assistants
    Level 3 Certificate for Teaching Assistants.
    You should be able to get advice from your school on which would be the most appropriate. You will usually need to be working in a school (paid or voluntary) for a set number of hours a week, and may need qualifications such as GCSEs or the equivalent – you should check with colleges for their entry requirements.

    As an experienced teaching assistant, you may be able to study for a foundation degree. These are available at a number of colleges and universities, and have various titles, such as Teaching and Learning Support and Education Studies for Teaching Assistants.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Full-time salaries for teaching assistants can be between around £11,000 and £13,000 a year.
    This can rise to around £16,000.
    Full-time salaries for Higher Level Teaching Assistants can be up to £18,000 or £21,000 a year, although this would vary depending on the LEA and the responsibilities of the job.

    Job Prospects
    You could work as a teaching assistant throughout the UK, in nursery, infant or junior schools, special schools, secondary schools or independent schools.

    With experience you may be able to progress to senior assistant in some schools. You may also be able to take on more responsibility by applying for training and assessment for Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) status. You will need the support of your head teacher or school manager before you can be considered for this. You can get full details of the HLTA programme in your local area from your local authority – visit the HLTA website (in Further Information) for contact details.

    You could go on to train as a teacher if you meet the entry requirements which apply to all teachers. You can find out about careers in teaching by looking at the Teacher profiles or visiting the Training and Development Agency for Schools website in Further Information.

    Useful education, teaching and training resources:
    Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTA)

    Recent Articles


    Related Stories

    Stay on op - Ge the daily news in your inbox