Becoming a Teaching Assistant: What you need to Know

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Category : Careers

Becoming a teaching assistant is a very rewarding career and one that many people find to be a fantastic career. But, what do you need to know before deciding on this career path – we asked UK training provider Flex Learn.

Why would I want to be a teaching assistant?

The position of teaching assistant is a very flexible role. Both part and full time positions are available, and since they are for a term at a time it can be the perfect job for anyone who has children. The role is a very rewarding one where you can see yourself having an impact on the children’s lives that you work with on a daily basis. There is also the possibility of specialising in areas you are interested in or that complement the skills you have. If there is a specific subject you have a passion for, want to work with special needs students or speak a specific foreign language, your school might encourage you to work on developing the skills that you have in those areas so that you can take on more specialised roles.

What qualification are needed?

There are no specific national requirements to become a teaching assistant. However, each local school or authority will outline what their specific requirements are. After you have worked as a teaching assistant, there will usually be an induction course that you will need to complete. Many local authorities offer opportunities for development and training once you have a position.

Are any specific experiences or skills especially valued?

Since you will be acting as a mentor and role model for the children you’re working will, it is critical for you to have good numerical, writing and reading skills. Excellent communication skills are also a must since it will be necessary for you to have the ability to communicate well with the students you will be working with as well as your colleagues. Creativity, flexibility, patience, good organisational skills and the ability for building relationships with parents, teachers and children are also all very useful skills to have.

You should ideally have experience working with children- maybe helping with Brownies or Scouts, or volunteering to read with children. These types of experiences will provide you with a better chance of obtaining a position, and also help you determine whether you will enjoy the role or not.

Passing a Criminal Records Bureau check will also be necessary, since you are going to be working with children. Schools are extremely about this since it is their responsibility to safeguard the welfare of the children in their care.

Is career progression a possibility?

Some teaching assistants continue on and train as teachers suggest UK training provider Gaining experience as a teaching assistant first can be a great first step on the teaching career path. Even within the role of teaching assistant there is quite a lot of room for career progression, since there are four teaching assistant grades.

The local school or authority determines the exact requirements for the different grades. It is common practice for teaching assistants to be supported by schools to complete the training and qualifications required for progressing in the role of teaching assistant. In order to progress past the TA1 entry level, usually the NVQ or equivalent will need to be completed.

Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) is the highest teaching assistant grade. At that level you may:

  • Play a role in some lesson planning
  • Be involved in the development of support materials
  • Lead an entire class under supervision
  • Specialise in a certain subject
  • Support other support staff

You will be required to meet all national HLTA standards to progress to the HLTA grade. Once you are prepared, you school can provide you with the support you need to make the transition from being a teaching assistant to becoming a HLTA.


Image: Teacher by Filip Pticek on Flickr