What is a Teaching Assistant ?
As a teaching assistant, you’ll be responsible for supporting pupils on their educational journey and helping with their emotional and social development individually, in groups and with other young pupils.
You will also need to work with the teacher to support them to ensure they can focus on teaching; this includes preparing lesson materials, and setting up and tidying the classrooms for lessons. Teaching assistants may also be required to work directly with pupils who have special educational needs or other needs that need particular attention.
As a teaching assistant, your tasks will depend on the amount of experience and training you have. However, your main responbilities will include:
- Encouraging pupils with their learning, this usually has a partiular focus on the main subjects – maths, reading and writing.
- Preparing the classroom, this includes setting up equipment and keeping the classroom tidy and safe
- Supervising with school activities – inlcuding events and school trips
- Recording, monitoring and reporting pupil’s progress and behaviour to the teacher
- Looking after pupils who are unwell, have had an accident or are upset
It’s common for a teaching assistant to be employed on a part-time, term-time only or casual basis. Therefore, your salary will depend on your role, responsibilities and setting.
According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for a teaching assistant is £18,693.
- For an entry-level role, you can expect to earn around £18,300 (Level 1)
- This will then increase with responsibilities to between £18,880 to £19,000 (Level 2)
- More experienced teaching assistants who have additional specialisms can earn anywhere between £19,260 to £25,000 (Level 3)
Your working hours will vary, but in term time, they will be the typical school day, Monday to Friday. You may also be required to work early mornings and late evenings to support additional extra curriculum activities. Some schools also run activities and camps over the summer, which may require your support – you will most likely get paid for this overtime. Half-term and summer holidays are generally counted as part of your holiday allowance, and it is rare to be allowed to have time off during term time.
What to expect
The role mainly focuses on pupils with individual needs. Some teaching assistants work one on one with pupils, whereas others work with small groups. This depends on the school and setting. A lot of schools employ teaching assistants with particular specialisms. This includes literacy, numeracy, special educational needs (SEN), music and creative arts. Furthermore, if you are bilingual, you may be asked to work with children whose first language isn’t English. More experienced teaching assistants may be expected to supervise a class when a teacher is off sick or on training.
Entry-level positions will require basic literacy and numeracy skills alongside experience working with children. To become a teaching assistant, you don’t need a degree, but it may help with your application.
Work experience or qualifications in fields such as childcare, nursery, play or youth work can also put you at an advantage. While they are not required, some qualifications will enhance your industry knowledge and skills needed to work with children.
must have skills:
- Good organisational skills
- The ability to build a good relationship with both pupils and adults
- Creativity and flexibility
- Good numeracy and literacy skills
- The ability and confidence to manage groups of students
- Patience and enjoy working with children
- Good team working skills
- A professional attitude to work
To gain work experience, you will most likely have to enquire to be a volunteer at a school. You can do this by contacting them directly, expressing your ambitions and what areas you would be interested in supporting.
If at university, you may study a degree where they offer practical placements, this will count as experience but you should clarify this with your employer first.
Before taking on a teaching assistant role, ideally it would be good to have some relevant experience. For example, this may include working in:
- Educational settings
- Sports activities
- Summer camps
- Youth work.
You will undertake an induction course once you have found employment and then throughout you will be offered training and development sessions. This will be a mix of both in-house and externally-led training courses.
You should look to further your career and development through additional courses and programmes. For example, you may want to consider doing your Level 2 and 3 qualifications in supporting teaching and learning which will advance your knowledge and skill set.
You can work your way up through the grades by gaining experience and taking the appropriate qualifications and training.
As you move further up, you will take on more responsibility. This can be anything from developing support materials to delivering lessons unsupervised.
Build a career in childhood services with UWS’ BA (Hons) Childhood Studies programme. Throughout this programme, you will gain an understanding of the issues related to early childhood and services for children and families. You will learn about the values underpinning children’s services, and the importance of working in partnership with professionals from a range of disciplines. You will consider issues relating to the management and leadership of early learning and childcare services.
To develop your practical knowledge, you’ll have the chance to complete two three-week blocks of work-based experience each year. In Year 3 you will have the option to complete a placement in an international setting (currently available in Italy, Spain and Germany).