How can I become an SEN Teaching Assistant?

How can I become an SEN Teaching Assistant?

A Special educational needs (SEN) teaching assistant's role is to support pupils in the classroom who have special educational needs and disabilities. Many people qualify as classroom teachers or gain experience working with children in mainstream schools, then decide to specialise in working with children with special educational needs. However, others want to do this from the outset.

What Qualifications do I need to become a SEN Teaching Assistant?

There are several different ways to get into this role, namely via:

  • a relevant college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • volunteer work
  • applying directly to a school

College course

Undertaking a college qualification can make you better qualified for a SEN teaching assistant role. Qualifications available include:

  • Level 2 and 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
  • Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education Early Years Educator
  • T Level in Education and Childcare

You may wish to take the course before stepping foot in the classroom. However, if you are keen to get started, many SEN teaching assistants apply for a placement working with children with special education needs and do their course alongside this work, earning the qualification as they go.

Entry requirements for courses

To obtain a place on a college course, you are likely to need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T level


Undertaking an apprenticeship can help you secure a SEN teaching assistant position in a school. Some of the apprenticeships you could apply for include:

Entry requirements for apprenticeships

There are no specific requirements required to gain a place on the above apprenticeship schemes. However, if you are applying for an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship, your application will be looked upon more favourably if you have:

Volunteer work

Volunteering in a local school or for a community organisation demonstrates your commitment to the role, and in doing so, you will pick up valuable skills and experience. Volunteering can sometimes lead to being offered a paid position or the opportunity to undertake qualifications that can lead to a permanent paid role.

Applying directly

Providing you have some relevant experience of working with children with disabilities or learning difficulties, it might be possible to apply directly for a SEN teaching assistant role. Different schools will have unique criteria, and by checking through job vacancies, you can find out the desired entry requirements for each specific role.

Additional skills and qualifications to become an SEN Teaching Assistant

You can help make your application stand out if you can demonstrate you have the skills required for the role. Skills and knowledge that SEN teaching assistants need include being patient, sensitive, great communicators, flexibility, emotional intelligence, active listening skills, and the ability to work with a range of people. If you can demonstrate you have these attributes, this can boost your application. Other qualifications such as demonstrable knowledge of British Sign Language or Makaton could also help.

The National Association for Special Educational Needs has several guides worth reading if you are considering becoming a SEN teaching assistant. It also holds various training courses and events.

Other requirements

To become a SEN teaching assistant in any school, you'll also need to be able to:

  • pass enhanced background checks
  • assist with the preparation of learning materials (with the help of the class teacher)
  • work both inside and outside the classroom environment with individuals or groups
  • ensure the physical, social, and emotional welfare of children in your care
  • create a stimulating environment
  • provide feedback and information to fellow teaching staff and parents
  • keep records and attend review meetings
  • follow safeguarding procedures

Let Horizon Teachers help get you a SEN teaching assistant role!

At Horizon Teachers, our specialist SEND team is here to help you find the perfect SEN teaching assistant job. We are passionate about recruiting great teachers and support staff, working closely with schools across London and the Home Counties to fill SEN teaching assistant roles. To find out more about the SEND sector, the areas we cover, and how our dedicated team can help you, visit our SEN Teaching assistant page. If you want to keep up to date on all the latest jobs, why not register and subscribe to our job alerts so you can stay one step ahead of the competition