What Skills Do You Need To Become An SEN Teaching Assistant?

What Skills Do You Need To Become An SEN Teaching Assistant?

Are you considering whether becoming a Special Education Needs teaching assistant is the right career for you? Before you decide, consider the various skills that are required for the role.

An SEN teaching assistant plays an important role in the classroom, directly supporting the teacher with various duties, specifically helping pupils with special educational needs. SEN pupils typically require additional attention and support with tasks to ensure they can thrive in a classroom environment. The SEN teaching assistant's responsibility is to ensure they are given every opportunity to do so.

An SEN teaching role is varied and interesting; therefore, a person who can adapt quickly to different situations and is able to be flexible will be most effective.

Because the duties of an SEN teaching assistant are primarily to help pupils with special educational needs grasp instructions for tasks with ease, you must have excellent patience and the ability to simplify instructions and more complex ideas. To ensure SEN pupils achieve school work set for them successfully, you will learn and practise specific techniques to help ensure pupils feel confident, and help them become more independent so they can enjoy life at school to the maximum. SEN teaching assistants are expected to assist teachers with more general duties and provide reports and feedback to help ensure that the teacher and school are aware of the overarching needs of any SEN pupils in their class.

An SEN teaching role is challenging but very rewarding. Read on to discover whether you have the right skil lset to succeed.

Skills required for SEN teaching assistants:


As we mentioned above, being flexible is essential, as no two days will be the same! An SEN pupil may have different needs from one day to the next, so keeping your expectations of how the day is going to go less rigid is useful. You may have to adapt your idea of how the day will pan out or what you'll get done. Being flexible will mean that you can make better decisions for the pupils in your care and stay calm even if things aren't going exactly the way you thought they would.


Being tolerant, unprejudiced, and tolerant are all critical skills for an SEN teaching assistant to acquire. SEN pupils have different needs, and the ability to accept these needs in a non-judgmental, non-critical way and cope with them as well as adapt to new patterns of behaviour quickly and easily is imperative.

A positive attitude

All teachers, whatever their role in the classroom, have good days and bad days, and the same is true for SEN teaching assistants! Having a positive attitude and remaining calm under pressure or when you come up against challenging behaviour will help ensure you enjoy your role, even when things don't go perfectly.

Organisational skills

Having strong organisational skills is important for any teacher. Being organised, ensuring you have all the right materials, and knowing what might be expected of you during the day will help make sure that you stay on top of your work and that you can be as effective as possible in your role.


An SEN teaching assistant role requires strength and perseverance. You might occasionally feel frustrated or that you aren’t progressing, but it’s important to remember we all feel this way sometimes! Staying determined and always trying your best to provide the best possible support for your pupils will help you remain positive, and when you do have great days, you’ll find them even better because of this.

Verbal and communication skills

In this role, not only will you be expected to communicate clearly with the pupils in your care, but you'll also need to communicate clearly with teaching staff, parents, and other carers to help ensure that SEN pupils thrive. By communicating the successes you've achieved with your pupils and any particular challenges or changes in patterns of behaviour, you'll be providing the best level of care. Developing strong relationships with caregivers will ensure the pupils receive the best support level.

Emotional Intelligence

Pupils with special needs may respond differently to other pupils in your classroom. The desire to understand and get to know the SEN pupils in your care is imperative. Having good emotional intelligence will help you to better understand responses and behaviours, empathise and act accordingly. The above skills are helpful for anyone hoping to succeed as an SEN teaching assistant. If you believe you have what it takes and are looking for an SEN teaching assistant role, why not browse our jobs board and get in touch with our customer team to see how we can help you find your new teaching position today?