What Does a Teaching Assistant Do?

What Does a Teaching Assistant Do?

Teaching assistants support the class teacher and help provide children with additional care in terms of education and social development. The role of a teaching assistant is mainly carried out in the classroom, though there will be involvement in extra-curricular activities and other school events too.

Teaching assistants are also referred to as learning support assistants in secondary schools.

The teaching assistant role - an overview

The roles and responsibilities of teaching assistants are extensive and can vary from school to school. Here is a list of some of the typical duties you can expect when working in this role:

  • Preparing the classroom for lessons
  • Helping the teacher plan lessons and gather relevant resources
  • Providing additional support and one-to-one care for pupils who need extra help with specific tasks, behavioural problems, or special education needs (SEN)
  • Managing class behaviour and taking disciplinary action when necessary
  • Listening to pupils read or reading to them
  • Overseeing and supervising classroom activities
  • Cleaning and tidying the classroom once the lesson has taken place
  • Helping out with extra-curricular activities such as sporting or other school events
  • Training and personal development within the role
  • General administrative tasks

The primary role of every TA is to be directed by the teacher, providing support when needed. Most TA's will work with small groups of children within the class, though some one-to-one work with pupils may be required. If you possess a particular specialism, such as being bilingual or artistic or having experience with children with SEN needs, you may find you work with children who require those skills more.

There is lots of scope for career progression as a TA, and those more experienced in the role (or have specific training and qualifications) can help with entire class supervision and delivery of lessons when teachers are off sick or undertaking further training. Higher-level teaching assistants (HLTAs) may lead lessons from time to time.

What skills and experience are required for a TA role?

While you won't necessarily need any particular qualifications or experience as a TA, some skills and experience will give you a better chance of landing the roles you apply for and help you feel more confident in the classroom. These include:

  • Excellent communication skills (with both pupils, other teaching staff, and parents)
  • Organisational skills and attention to detail
  • Basic computer literacy
  • A good work ethic and sense of fun
  • Flexibility
  • Compassion and empathy
  • Excellent listening skills
  • Good literacy and numeracy skills
  • Patience
  • Ability to manage groups of pupils
  • Ability to deal with challenging behaviour

Individual schools will have their own application requirements for TAs. While some may require a lot of relevant experience and qualifications, others do not and are more than happy for teaching assistants to learn on the job.

Typically obtaining A-C grades in GCSE maths and English, childcare qualifications, and any relevant volunteer experience with children and young people can help to ensure that your CV stands out from the crowd.

Some useful qualifications for budding teaching assistants include:

  • Level 2 Teaching Assistant Certificate
  • Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools
  • Level 2 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools

Training and development for teaching assistants

If you enjoy your role as a teaching assistant, you may wish to further your career by taking on other qualifications. Some of the higher-level qualifications for more experienceTA's include:

  • Level 3 Award in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
  • Level 3 Teaching Assistant Diploma
  • Level 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
  • Level 3 Diploma in Specialist Support for Teaching and Learning in Schools

You should be able to find more information about how to apply for the above qualifications at local colleges or via the apprenticeship route.

Experienced teaching assistants may also wish to study for a foundation degree. Discover a list of courses by heading to the UCAS website and searching for 'Teaching assistant studies' in the subject group section.

Some TA's decide that they want to train to become teachers. Being a first can give you the knowledge and experience to start your teaching career on the right foot.

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If you are looking for your next job in teaching, browse the fantastic opportunities on our jobs board, or get in touch with our team to discuss your needs today. We're here to help you take the next step in your teaching career!