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Teaching Assistant Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as a Teaching Assistant. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as a Teaching Assistant
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Teaching Assistant Work Information

    Finding Suitable Work

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    Working Duties Expected

    Teaching assistants help teachers in schools. There is a variety of titles, including: classroom assistant; non-teaching assistant; learning support assistant; bilingual support assistant; and special needs assistant. In Scotland they are usually known as classroom assistants.

    Some teaching assistants may be attached to a whole class, others may support one child or a small group of children with special educational needs. The actual duties carried out depend on the assistant''s particular job and the age of the children they work with. Those working in primary schools are likely to have the following duties:

    • listening to children read, reading to them or telling them stories
    • helping children with numeracy
    • playing games with younger children and encouraging them to learn through play
    • helping children work in class
    • helping the teacher to record childrens progress
    • making preparations for lessons, such as setting out equipment or recording educational TV programmes
    • supervising non-teaching areas such as dining rooms and playgrounds
    • escorting pupils between classes and on outings and sports events.

    Most teaching assistants in secondary schools work as special needs assistants, supporting children who have disabilities or learning difficulties.
    Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) is a new job role that will be available in England from Spring 2004. HTLAs will work under the direction and supervision of qualified teachers, to provide them with additional support. Duties could include working as a specialist assistant for a subject or department, contributing to lesson planning or developing support materials, or supervising a class.

    Hours and Environment
    Full-time teaching assistants normally work school hours, Monday to Friday. They usually only work during term-time but may sometimes have to be at school outside these times for training. Many teaching assistants work part-time.

    Most of their time is spent indoors in classrooms and other parts of the school. They may sometimes work outdoors, for instance, on playground duty or on a school outing.

    Skills and Interests
    To be a teaching assistant you should:

    • enjoy working with children, and respect children from all social and cultural backgrounds
    • be interested in childrens education
    • be able to build good relationships with children, their parents and carers, and with teachers
    • be able to work well under the supervision of a teacher and enjoy working as part of a team
    • have good literacy and numeracy skills
    • have a responsible attitude
    • be patient but firm when necessary
    • have lots of energy.

    Other skills such as computer literacy or fluency in community languages may be an advantage for some jobs.

    To be a teaching assistant you must be at least 18. Entry requirements vary between schools. There are no set minimum academic requirements; experience of working with children - paid or voluntary - and personal qualities are usually as important as qualifications.

    Some jobs, especially those working with very young children or children with special needs, ask for a nursery officer qualification. For details of the various nursery officer qualifications and their entry requirements, see: Nursery Nurse.

    Foundation and Advanced Modern Apprenticeships (MAPPs) in nursery nursing may be available for people aged 16-24.
    For details see: MAPPs (England); Skillseekers MAPPs (Scotland); National Traineeships MAPPs (Wales); and MAPPs (Northern Ireland).

    There is no upper age limit to starting work as a teaching assistant, and many schools prefer older entrants.

    Once you start a job as a teaching assistant your employer will train you. In England there is nationally-approved induction training for assistants. You may also work towards a qualification, such as:

    NCFE Initial Training for Classroom Assistants, Stages 1 and 2
    City and Guilds awards for Teaching Assistants (7327), Classroom Assistants in Scotland (7328) or the Certificate and Advanced Certificate in Learning Support (7321)
    NVQs/SVQs Levels 2 and 3 for Teaching Assistants
    Council for Awards in Childrens Care and Education (CACHE) Level 2 and 3 Certificates for Teaching Assistants
    BTEC Level 2 and 3 Certificates for Teaching Assistants
    Professional Development Award in Early Years Care and Education, for classroom assistants in Scotland
    Open University (OU) Specialist Teacher Assistant Certificate. To start this you must be at least 18 and have GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3) in English and maths, or equivalent qualifications
    CACHE Specialist Teacher Assistant (STA) Award. You must be at least 19 and have GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3) in English and maths, or equivalent qualifications.
    Many of these awards include units which cover working with children with special educational needs.
    Experienced staff may also be able to study for a foundation degree for teaching assistants. Some universities and colleges run courses that can last between two and four years part-time. Foundation degrees may be accepted as an entry qualification for teacher training in the future. Entry requirements can vary - you should contact course providers for details.

    Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTA)
    Experienced teaching assistants may be able to apply for Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) training. After an initial assessment, those who meet the required standards will undertake three-day fast-track training to gain HLTA status. They will also need to hold one of the following literacy and numeracy qualifications:

    GCSE English and Mathematics A*-C
    Certificate in Adult Literacy Level 2 and Certificate in Adult Numeracy Level 2 available at colleges, adult education centres and learndirect centres accredited by awarding bodies like City and Guilds, Edexcel, NOCN and OCR
    Key Skills Communication Level 2 and Application of Number Level 2 (sometimes part of access courses).
    Check with training providers for the acceptability of a qualification before starting the course.
    Some teaching assistants may be required to undertake a 50-day training programme, combining centre-based learning, in-school activity and e-learning. They will also need to be willing to complete literacy and numeracy qualifications. A greater range of shorter, more flexible, tailored training routes will also be introduced over the next year. It is also likely that many of the foundation degrees will include accreditation to HLTA status. More information about the standards, assessment and training is available at the Teacher Training Agencys new HLTA website.

    You can work as a teaching assistant throughout the UK, in nursery, infant or junior schools, special schools or in mainstream secondary schools. You could also work in an independent school. Vacancies are advertised in the local press, and local authority vacancies are advertised through the Local Government Careers website.

    Promotion to senior assistant is possible in some schools. HLTAs will be employed by many schools in England from Spring 2004 - schools are not obliged to offer the role, but the Teacher Training Agency envisages that 20,000 people will progress to HLTA status by 2007.

    You could use your experience to go into other work with children, such as day nursery, playgroup or play leader work, childminding or residential childcare. You may need to study for additional qualifications.

    With the right qualifications you could apply to train as a teacher. A lot of attention is being given to helping teaching assistants to get into teacher training, and an increasing number of teacher training places on work-based routes are being reserved for teaching assistants. For more information on routes into teaching, contact the Teacher Training Agency (England and Wales), the Department of Education in Northern Ireland, or the Scottish Executive.

    Annual Income
    The annual income section is intended as a guideline only. There is no national pay scale and wage rates are set by each Local Education Authority.

    The full-time rate for new teaching assistants starts at around £9,574 a year.
    The amount generally increases each year up to about £12,390 to £13,500 a year.
    Higher Level Teaching Assistants are likely to be paid on a higher scale.

    Further information
    Teacher Training Agency
    Portland House
    Stag Place
    SW1E 5TT
    Teaching Information Line: 0845 6000 991 (English-speakers)
    0845 600 992 (Welsh-speakers)

    Higher Level Teaching Assistants


    Local Government NTO*
    Layden House
    76-86 Turnmill Street
    EC1M 5LG
    Tel: 020 7296 6503

    Department of Education Northern Ireland (DENI)
    Rathgael House
    43 Balloo Road
    Co Down
    BT19 7PR
    Tel: 028 9127 9279

    The Scottish Executive
    Education Department
    Victoria Quay
    EH6 6QQ
    Tel: 0131 244 0989

    Other Useful Teaching Assistant Work Information

    We have a section available at this site on Teaching Assistant job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

    Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
    Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

    Details of other Teaching Assistant Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
    Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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