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How to become a teaching assistant

How to become a teaching assistant

How to become a teaching assistant They are an integral part of any modern classroom – an indispensable part of the education system and valiant right hand men (or women) for any teacher hoping to maintain a happy well ordered and dignified classroom.

It’s a role that most of us would consider ourselves familiar with, having experienced them in our younger days. But what exactly does a teaching assistant do, what skills are needed and how do you go about becoming one? Luckily TheEmployable is here to fill in the gaps.

What does a teaching assistant do?

Of course the short answer is “they assist with teaching” but that doesn’t really explain anything.  In truth the work of a teaching assistant is rather varied and can see them being expected to undertake a number of activities and assume a range of roles. A teaching assistant is there to support teachers and aid children with their educational and social development.

Should you become one, the types of work activities that you will have to undertake, will also be dependent on the age of the students and their level of ability. To give you a better idea, here are a few of the things that you could be expected to carry out on a daily basis;

  • Preparation for lessons within the classroom making sure that it is ready for the day’s activities
  • Reading to the children, listening to them read and helping them if necessary

  • Providing extra support to the children if they are struggling with a task

  • Helping the teacher with ensuring the good behaviour of the children

  • Assisting the teacher in the completion of administrative tasks

  • Supervising the children

  • Looking after children who are upset or have had accidents

  • Cleaning up and after lessons and ensuring that the classroom is left tidy

  • Assisting with activities taking place outside of school such as field trips

How to become a Teachin assistant Those teaching assistants who wish to take a more active role within the classroom and hold a greater responsibility for the education of the children can become a ‘Higher Level Teaching Assistant’ and would then also be expect to carry out activities such as;

  • Assisting the teacher during the delivery of lessons
  • Assisting the teacher in the planning of learning activities

  • Acting as a subject specialist assistant in a particular subject

  • Leading the class under the supervision of the teacher

  • Supervising other support staff

Working hours and Salary

Within many schools there is the option to work either full time or part time as a teaching assistant.  If working full time you can expect to working for around 40 hours per week on average during term time with the work day beginning before the children arrive in the morning (around 8:30 am) and ending after they have left in the afternoon (around 4pm).

As a teaching assistant it is important that you are able to remain flexible with the times that you are available as there will be occasions when you are expected to work evenings and perhaps weekends for events like school trips or school functions.

Salaries for the role of teaching assistant aren’t subject to an official government pay scale which means the level of pay which you can expect to receive will vary depending on the education board in the area.   Teaching assistants working full time can expect to receive £12, 000 – £17,000 per annum and those working as  a higher level teaching assistant would earn somewhere in the region of £16, 000 – £21,000.

Skills and attributesHow to become a teaching assistant

As you can imagine, having a  long and fulfilling career as a teaching assistant requires a certain level of skills and personal attributes.  Of course it is impossible to list a recipe for creating the perfect teaching assistant, but there are certain things which we reckon would be a great benefit to you.

  • Experience of working with children
  • The desire to work with children within an educational environment

  • A genuine interest in the education of children and their social development

  • Ability to form good relationships with children as well as their parents/guardians and other staff within the school

  • Patience, determination and the ability to effectivity deal with challenging behaviour

  • Willingness to work flexibly including evenings and weekends when required

  • Excellent communication skills, particularly verbal

  • Good reading, writing and numeracy skills

  • The ability to undertake a wide range of activities within your role

  • Good administration and IT skills


Local education authorities (LEAs) and school senior staff set the expected requirements expected to work as a teaching assistant, so the level of qualifications necessary will vary from location to location. Generally speaking previous experience of working with children in a social development or educational capacity will be very beneficial to gaining a position.

Most schools will also expect a certain minimum education standard from those working as a teaching assistants. Again the qualifications requested will vary from school to school but most will require at least Maths and English GCSEs (or equivalent).

But there are specific qualifications available for those who wish to increase their suitability for the role at the beginning of their career including;

  • Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools
  • Level 3 Award in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools.

Once you have begun working in the role there are a number of other qualifications which can be completed to help boost your level of experience including;

  • Level 3 Award in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
  • Level 3 Certificate Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools

  • Level 3 Diploma in Specialist Support for Teaching and Learning in Schools.

You will find that the vast majority of qualifications which you would want to consider are available through your local college so be sure to check their website for entry requirements and course details.

Headteachers are responsible for identifying those who they think are suitable to be promoted to the role of higher level teacher assistant with reference to the Department of Education’s guidelines for the role.

If you are still thinking of becoming a teaching assistant then best of luck, and we hope that you have found this quick guide useful.

If however the thought of 30 chatty kids 5 days a week is a bit too much for you, then why not have a look at our career directory where you will find loads of other great careers.


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