Teaching Assistant Role
The role of a teaching assistant (TA) has evolved over the years. Supply teaching assistant agencies are consistently on the lookout for qualified and experienced TAs, and a graduate TA is frequently a position that schools need to fill regularly. It’s an incredibly popular career choice these days.
Teaching assistant jobs will typically be in primary and secondary schools, as well as nurseries and colleges. TAs will support a teacher with general classroom preparation and lessons, and can work with children that require specific additional learning needs.
Responsibilities will depend on the status or level of a TA’s qualifications and experience, as well as the needs of the school they are working in. What does a teaching assistant do? Many of the responsibilities include (but are not limited to):
- Managing challenging behaviour in the classroom
- Supporting social and emotional development of pupils
- Ensuring students stay focused and engaged in learning
- Providing support outside the classroom, covering absences and invigilating exams
- Committing to extra-curricular activities
- Covering off duty periods and providing short-term lesson cover
Teaching Assistant Training
You don’t necessarily need a degree, as some schools will employ many TAs and provide ‘on the job’ training. However, more senior positions will require a certain level of teaching assistant qualifications, as well experience working in a professional education setting. Some of the key teaching assistant skills will be a solid standard of education (most schools stipulate GCSEs of C or above in Maths, English and possibly the sciences too), and the confidence to apply numbers and write the English language.
There are a number of teaching assistant courses that you can complete to enhance your skills and confidence in the classroom. Achieving some of these qualifications can improve your chances of securing a full-time or supply teaching assistant role for the future.
- Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools
- Level 2 TA Certificate
- Level 2-Level 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
- Level 3 TA Diploma
- Level 3 Award (and Level 3 Diploma) in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
How to Become a Teaching Assistant
There are several routes you can take in becoming a teaching assistant. Many of the aforementioned accredited TA courses are offered at colleges throughout the UK, either full-time or flexibly available during employment. Online courses are available as well, meaning you can get the full experience from your home, at your own pace. As previously mentioned, some schools prefer TAs to undertake training while employed, to deal with additional learning difficulties and behavioural challenges. Keeping up-to-date with curriculum changes, skills progression and new technologies is highly recommended, which are covered in our CPD courses.
Work experience is also a good way to strengthen your chances of securing a permanent role as a TA.
We’ve outlined some valuable tips for TAs, which they will be expected to display consistently inside and outside the classroom:
- Professionalism in attitude and working with others
- A positive attitude to working with children
- Recognition and respect for diversity
- Commitment to every discussion and lesson, with a strong work ethic
- Care for students’ physical and emotional wellbeing
Teaching Assistant Agencies
Schools are regularly looking for teaching assistants. Typically speaking, they are seeking TAs who are after full-time work, with some experience. Interestingly, while it’s generally preferable to have QTS (Qualified Teacher Status), recently that has become less of a requirement for more schools over the years.
When schools get in touch with teaching recruitment agencies such as us, they usually make it abundantly clear they trying to recruit a specific type of TA. From our perspective, we receive plenty of TAs (either with QTS or with significant experience) looking for work, and we always recruit the best candidates for schools that are right for them, and vice versa.
The problem is that many of the TAs we strive to recruit for schools aren’t being accepted. This is because the candidates, while having an abundance of professional and valid experience and skills, just aren’t what some schools are looking for. This is becoming an increasingly prevalent issue for every party involved.
A large reason for the lack of roles filled is that numerous TAs have regular commitments outside the classroom. For one reason or another, this is unavoidable, as the scope of the role is quite broad. Many TAs only have the ability or desire to work part-time, they could be unsure of their career, or perhaps they could be balancing childcare or other requirements that they can’t avoid. Unfortunately, as more vacant full-time roles become available, this gap is only widening.
In order to maximise your potential as a TA, we recommend getting as much experience as possible for you; in other words, we recommend getting used to working long hours! We recommend working in SEN schools if you can, even on a voluntary basis. This makes a world of difference for you on a personal level as well as giving you the skills and abilities to offer additional support and care for students with additional learning difficulties.
We aim to give TAs a renewed sense of confidence within your teaching career, and a sense of accomplishment after every single lesson you assist with. We want parents and schools to be amazed at your work. Our approach is to create as little stress as possible for you, and make you feel proud of your position as a TA.