Becoming a Teaching Assistant Is Fun And Rewarding
If you like working with children, get a buzz out of seeing them learning new things, and have great organisational skills, then becoming a teaching assistant could be the right job for you.
What is a teaching assistant?
Teaching assistants work closely with teachers to ensure that children get the most out of their lessons. They help out in the classroom by offering support for individual pupils or small groups of children. Some teaching assistants help out in classrooms where children have special needs or they may help out with numerical work or literacy. In classes of mixed race they may also help out when English is not their first language.
What do teaching assistants do?
The role of a teaching assistant varies according to the age of the children. In a senior school they will most likely support children with special needs and this may include taking notes for them during lessons and carrying bags and books. They will often work in a learning support department with individuals or small groups of pupils to help them through the work that is being taught in class. Teaching assistants in junior or primary schools may help with the following tasks:
getting things ready for lessons and organising equipment
listening to children read, telling stories, or reading to them
helping pupils who need extra tuition in lessons
helping with school trips and activities
helping the teacher keep records
comforting children who are upset or have an accident
What hours are worked?
A full time teaching assistant will work term time only and regular school hours from Monday to Friday. They may have to attend teacher training days and parent evenings. Many teaching assistants work part time only.
What qualifications are needed?
There are no qualifications as such but because these positions are very much in demand employers are likely to choose candidates with a range of qualifications and skills.
For entry level you need to have some experience of working with children and possess good numeracy, writing and reading skills. If you have no previous experience then to get a foot on the ladder you could volunteer to work at your local school part time and train to become a teaching assistant.
To further your career
Most of the qualifications are geared towards those already volunteering or working as TA’s and you can work towards NVQ’s or Apprenticeships in levels 2 and 3 in support teaching and learning. You can also take training courses related to the pupils you are supporting, such as a sign language course if you are working with deaf children. Once you have experience you can work towards foundation degrees in subjects like education studies, learning support and teaching. These are steps towards becoming a HLTA (higher level teaching assistant) or embarking on an initial teacher training course.
What can I earn?
A full time teaching assistant can expect to earn between £10,000 – £15,000 depending on responsibilities and experience. HLTA’s can expect to earn more but salaries vary according to the individual employer.
How to find vacancies
Job posts are normally posted on your local authority’s website and sometimes in the local newspapers. They can also be sent to job centres or sent as job bulletins to schools.
If your heart is set on becoming a teaching assistant you will need to get a CRB check done first of all. This shows that you have no past history which prevents you from working with children. Then set about doing the following:
Try and get some experience of working with your preferred age group in a learning environment.
Try to create a profile of the work you have been doing, highlighting how you identified and met their needs.
Contact the head teacher at the school you are interested in working at and ask to be kept in mind for any work experience roles which may arise.
Check the website of your local council for any teaching or non teaching roles in your area. Sometimes the same role may be called by different names such as Classroom Assistant or Learning Support Assistant.
There’s never been a better time to take on a role as a teaching assistant and you could be helping to shape the future as well as make a difference to a child’s life.