What is a Teaching Assistant ?
As a teaching assistant, you will 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 concentrate on teaching, such as preparing the classroom for lessons, making resources and creating displays of children’s work. Teaching assistants may also be required to work directly with pupils who have special educational needs or other needs that need particular attention.
Your duties will depend on your experience, training and TA status. Generally, you’ll need to:
- Make sure that the pupils you support can engage in learning and stay on task during the lesson or activity so that they can become independent learners.
- Support the social and emotional development of pupils, reporting any issues when required.
- Support the teacher in managing challenging pupil behaviour and promoting positive behaviour.
- Listen to pupils read and read to pupils as a class, group or one-to-one
- Monitor and record pupils’ progress and provide detailed and regular feedback to teachers.
- Carry out administrative duties, such as preparing the classroom and clearing away after class to ensure effective teaching can take place.
- Look after pupils who have had accidents, administering first aid where necessary, and those who need help dressing or are upset.
- Make resources for use by teachers and pupils and create art displays of pupils’ artwork.
- Provide support outside of your normal classes, such as helping during exams, covering TA absences or going on school trips.
- Help with extra-curricular activities such as breakfast and after-school clubs, homework club, revision sessions or playtime and lunchtime duties.
As a higher-level teaching assistant you’ll also need to:
- Deliver tailored teaching activities to pupils on either a one-to-one basis or in small groups
- Lead on certain class activities under the direction of the teacher
- Take classes on your own, giving teachers time to plan and mark work
- Help with the planning of lessons
- Supervise other support staff
- Coordinate specific areas of teaching support.
More experienced teaching assistants can specialise in subjects such as literacy, numeracy or special educational needs. If you are bilingual, you may also be asked to help pupils where English isn’t their first language.
It’s common for a teaching assistant to be employed on a part-time, term-time only or casual basis. Your salary will vary depending on your role, responsibilities and educational 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
- You’ll be supporting pupils who may have a range of learning and/or behavioural difficulties.
- You’ll be busy with a variety of tasks on any given day, and may be asked to offer extra support at short notice. There is an expectation to get stuck in and provide help as and when it’s needed.
- Depending on your role you may need to provide personal care to pupils and help with lifting or moving them where required.
- The teaching assistant role can be challenging but watching pupils progress can also be extremely rewarding.
- The majority of your work will be in the classroom, but you may also be involved in lunchtime supervision, outdoor activities and school trips.
Entry-level positions will require basic literacy and numeracy skills alongside experience working with children. You don’t need a degree to become a teaching assistant, but they may bolster 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:
- Level 1 Award in Preparing to Work in Schools
- Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools
- Level 3 Award in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools.
must have skills:
You’ll need to have:
- A positive approach to working with children and the ability to motivate, inspire and build rapport
- Strong regard for pupil safety and wellbeing
- Respect for diversity, as you’ll be working with pupils from a range of backgrounds
- Communication and interpersonal skills to build relationships with pupils, parents, teachers and governors
- Reading, writing and numeracy skills
- Excellent team working skills for working with other support staff, classroom teachers and professionals such as educational psychologists, speech and language therapists, social workers and external agencies
- Creative ability
- A flexible approach to work, as you’ll be involved in a range of school-related activities such as cooking, art and science projects and forest school
- Organisational skills
- A professional attitude to work
- A willingness to keep up to date with educational policy and training related to your role.
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.
It will be beneficial to have some experience before taking on a teaching assistant role. Experience 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.
Areas of training can include:
- Working with pupils with specific learning difficulties or disabilities, such as dyslexia, autism or poor motor skills
- Supporting English as an additional language (EAL) pupils
- Supporting gifted and talented pupils
- Engaging students with emotional and behavioural difficulties
- Promoting inclusive learning environments for students
- Child protection policies and procedures.
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).
This programme is ideally suited for employed SSSC registered practitioners who wish to become registered as lead practitioners or managers. You will gain the skills and knowledge to lead and deliver quality services to children and their parents in the early years setting.
You must be employed in, or have access to, an acceptable professional environment in which knowledge and understanding of childhood practice in Scotland has been developed. You must also be employed for more than 16 hours per week, and have employer support and a mentor from your area of practice to support your studies.