What makes a good SEN teaching assistant?

What makes a good SEN teaching assistant?

If you are thinking about becoming a Special Education Needs assistant, you may wish to consider the qualities that will help you succeed in the role.

An SEN teaching assistant will help the class teacher with several duties, supporting those students with special needs to ensure that the class runs smoothly and that those who require some additional help receive it. No two days will necessarily look the same, and you'll need to be adaptable and flexible to ensure that you are as effective as possible.

The duties of an SEN teaching assistant include helping any pupils with special educational needs understand any instructions for tasks clearly. You must also help them undertake the school work set for them by using particular techniques that work for the individual and encouraging pupils' motivation, confidence, and independence, so they get the most out of the school day. SEN teaching assistants will also provide feedback and assistance to teachers. This will ensure that they are aware of the overarching needs of any SEN pupils in their class and have more general support to ensure that they can teach the rest of the pupils with ease.

This complex, challenging and supportive role is hugely rewarding but does require a particular skillset.

The things that make an excellent SEN teaching assistant include:


As an SEN teacher, you never know what the day might bring. You may have to adapt your expectations of what you'll achieve of how the day is going to go according to the pupil's needs, which can easily vary from day to day. B staying flexible and not being too rigid with your expectations; you'll stay calm and grounded and be able to make the best decisions for those in your care.


Being open-minded is a crucial quality of any SEN teaching assistant. The ability to consider new ideas and be accepting and judgment-free is critical. SEN pupils have a range of needs, and you'll have to be able to cope with all of them and welcome any new ideas and adjust to new patterns with ease.


Some days you'll feel like you've taken one step forward and two steps back, but this is OK. By remaining patient and celebrating small wins and successes, you'll be able to see the bigger picture and feel confident that you are making progress and making an invaluable difference in your pupils' lives.


Positivity is a beneficial quality to have as an SEN teaching assistant. Remaining cheerful and looking on the bright side can be helpful when you are having a tough day. It will also rub off on those in your care, and your fellow teachers too - spreading cheer and positivity is an attribute that everyone can appreciate!


Perseverance is absolutely crucial when it comes to SEN teaching. You might not always feel like you are winning, but by being persistent and having some grit and determination to provide the best level of support and care you can, you will get there and find the job even more rewarding too.


With lots of SEN pupils, a well-structured routine can make all the difference. Keep organised and on top of your work to ensure that you remain calm, stable, and able to implement a good structure that will help ensure your pupils get the most out of their day.


In this role, you'll be expected to build a rapport with parents and carers and a great relationship with the pupils themselves. Providing feedback to the class teacher, parents and caregivers, and other staff members will help ensure everyone is aware of successes and challenges and manage any transitions more smoothly. By nurturing these relationships, you can help ensure that caregivers feel supported and involved and that everyone is working together to give the child the right level of care and support.

The ability to balance

Teaching in any capacity can be a tough job, and the ability to seaside time for yourself is crucial. To avoid burnout, possessing the ability to step back, carve out personal time, and separate work and home life will ensure you can continue to do the job to the very best of your ability.