Teaching Assistant Role
Teaching assistants provide learning support to children, both inside and outside the classroom. Teaching assistant roles vary across the sector, and an applicant’s responsibilities can depend on a number of factors, such as the age of the children and the type of school they’re applying for. Considering the role itself has become more frequently sought after by schools since the 2000s, nowadays teaching assistant jobs are considered vital to many establishments across the Thames Valley and surrounding areas.
Teaching Assistant Responsibilities
On a basic level, if you are intent on becoming a teaching assistant, you can expect to:
- Prepare the classroom for lessons
- Supervise group activities
- Clear away equipment and materials once lessons end
- Provide one-to-one support to children to complete tasks
- Tending to children who have had accidents or who are in distress
- Do plenty of administration and planning
- Help with activities outside the classroom as well
In some schools, there could be specialisms, such as numeracy, literacy or special educational needs (SEN) to bear in mind. Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTAs) have additional responsibilities, which can include leading classes under teachers’ directions, plan lessons and work alongside others to support learning activities. There are plenty of routes jobseekers can take to getting started as a TA, and by extension, progressing into a role with added responsibilities and expectations. We’ve outlined many of them here.
Teaching Assistant Qualifications
You do not need a degree to become a teaching assistant, with many schools taking on inexperienced or unqualified TAs, providing ‘on-the-job’ training. Every school will have different expectations and requirements for positions they are hiring for. You can usually get a good idea of what is needed for a position by looking at locally advertised jobs.
Most paid teaching assistant roles will require GCSEs in English and Mathematics, or a qualification of equivalent value. Previous qualifications in the following areas can be useful in finding a TA position:
- Nursery work
- Youth work
If you can show employers that you possess the right qualities of being a teacher, they may well take you on. But there are other routes you can take.
Routes to Becoming a Qualified Teaching Assistant
- On the job training – some will find teaching assistant positions straight away, and then undertake training as a part of their new teaching job. Some schools rely on their in-house training to bring their TAs to handle a diverse range of behavioural challenges and specific learning needs. NVQ qualifications are examples of competence-based qualifications that can be taken if you want to progress beyond entry level (TA1).
- Distance learning – taking online teaching assistant courses allow you to gain some vital qualifications at home, at your own pace, without having to give up any other commitments.
- Apprenticeships – becoming a SEN teaching assistant does not require any formal qualifications as such; it’s the same as if you were applying for TA positions in any other sector. However, you can still get into SEN teaching through a teaching assistant advanced apprenticeship, or apprenticeships in childcare or supporting teaching and learning in schools (at either intermediate or advanced levels).
- College/University – accredited TA qualifications are offered by several colleges and universities, with most of them taking up to 12 months to finish. These often take place during evenings or outside of the average working day.
- Knowledge-based courses – Level 2 and 3 Awards (you can read more on that here) can be completed before you enter any position. What’s more, you can enhance your knowledge by studying these while you are already working as a teaching assistant.
- Work Experience – volunteering as a teaching assistant can increase your chances of securing a permanent TA position. You can usually find good work experience options by reaching out to schools, nurseries and colleges directly. However, gaining TA work experience is possible in other educational settings like pupil referral units (PRUs) or informal education settings, where there is no structured curriculum to adhere to.
Teaching Assistant Recruitment Agency
In many ways, working as a TA is one of the most important positions someone can have in a school. Working side by side with teachers in the classroom is arguably as vital as the role of the teacher itself, certainly in terms of creating a supportive learning environment for children. The added support and input from TAs can be a massive help to teachers, who already have a seemingly-never-ending list of responsibilities. In addition to this, becoming a TA is ideal for people who want to get started into working in education, either on a flexible basis or not.
Specialist education recruitment agencies (like us here at Always Flourishing) have a huge amount of inside knowledge about working as teachers, having had real-life experience in the field. Supply teaching agencies can provide insight and information as it pertains to nursery education, primary, secondary and independent education and deliver valuable resources, assistance and guided support to aspiring jobseekers. For example, we have recently written guides about working as a supply teacher and also working in private schools.
We also have access to permanent, supply and leadership positions that may not be directly advertised on standard job websites.
Applicants who have done plenty of research on what to expect as a teaching assistant, while considering all routes of gaining experience and potential qualifications, will be safe in the hands of Always Flourishing. Register now, or get in touch with us if you have any queries.