The role of a teaching assistant is one that appeals to many people across the UK. Whether it’s the joy of working with children or the convenience of having the same holidays as your own kids the job has many enticing attributes. However, for many, it can all be a bit daunting. What does the role entail? How do I train? Where do I find positions? Hence we have put together this guide which hopefully will answer all of your questions.
The role of a teaching assistant is to provide support to teachers and to help children get the most out of their educational and social development. A teaching assistant has increasingly become an integral part of the classroom environment. Teaching Assistants can be found in both primary and secondary schools with the actual responsibilities varying somewhat depending upon the age group, level of qualification and experience. The general principles however remain the same. Some of the key responsibilities of a teaching assistant include:
To help gain more of an idea of the role have a read of “A Day in the Life of a Teaching Assistant” written by an actual TA themselves.
Working as a teaching assistant will require a number of core skills and competencies:
Technically you don’t require a qualification to work as a teaching assistant. The reality however is somewhat different as most schools will want you to have a recognised qualification on your CV. There will also be competition for job roles and it is more than likely there will be qualified people applying. It is imperative that you ensure that any qualification you undertake is actually recognised. Unfortunately there are many, especially online, that simply aren’t accepted by the vast majority of schools.
We highly recommend you have a read of our guide to teaching assistant courses where it will show you how you can check the legitimacy of any qualification from any provider.
The basic principle however is for a qualification to be recognised and accepted by schools it must be listed on the RQF (Regulated Qualification Framework).
A good standard of education is also beneficial with a number of schools preferring Grace C or above in English and Maths as Literacy and Numeracy are important components in the TA role.
There are various ways you can become qualified as a teaching assistant.
We offer the full range of RQF Teaching Assistant qualifications. Again, read the guide to teaching assistant courses for a detailed breakdown of each qualification and to help identify which would be the best for you.
Support Work in Schools Level 2 Award
Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools Level 2 Certificate
Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools Level 3 Award
Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools Level 3 Certificate
Specialist Support in Teaching and Learning in Schools Level 3 Diploma
Higher Level Teaching Assistant Level 4 Certificate
To be fully qualified as a teaching assistant you will be required to either be working in a school or obtain voluntary work of at least an average of five hours a week.
To obtain this you should approach the local schools in your area. Ensure you make it clear you are planning to study a qualification as they will know you are serious and not time wasting.
Use any contacts you may have, for example if you know a teacher, a TA or a parent from a school, use any avenue to make yourself known.
Many students have fed back to us they have a better response when they approach a school in person rather than just email or call.
Essentially try all avenues, those who are pro-active generally obtain the position they need.
The salary of a teaching assistant can depend upon various factors including experience, qualifications held and the pay scales of the local authority. There is no set pay scale so individual authorities and even schools can set their own pay and terms. As a general guide the average salaries are:
There is also work available through supply agencies. Here you are likely to be paid more but the work may not be as regular and of course you may be required to travel further.
As with all job roles, the more you search the more opportunities you will find. Usually TA positions are advertised by the school themselves but there are many places you can find vacancies.
Simply googling ‘teaching assistant’ jobs and adding the area that you live will bring you a long list. More generic sites you can look at include Reed, Jobsora and Total Jobs along with more specialist sites such as EduStaff and Eteach.
As with all job roles an effective CV is often the first step to securing the all important interview. Here are a few tips with regards to your CV.
There are some good sources online to further assist you in planning and writing your CV, including templates. Examples include:
Preparation is the key to maximizing your chances of success in an interview. Familiarise yourself with the school itself, their policies, vision and values.
Take your time, you don’t have to answer immediately, pauses while you compose yourself followed by a well thought answer are perfectly fine and far better than just blurting out the first thing that comes to mind.
Research online as to the types of questions you will be asked and if possible practice answering them with friends or family.
Try to use the SAR (Situation, Action, Result) technique when answering. For example you might be asked what you would do if a child was hurt but didn’t want to go for medical attention.. if you have come across a similar situation previously, relate to it.. what the situation was, the action you took and the result.
Once again, google is your friend. There are many resources which provide sample answers to the most commonly asked questions. Read them, become familiar and you’ll impress that interview panel!
Some useful places to start:
Finally we leave you with some top tips on gaining a teaching assistant role.