How to become a Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA)

Following a workforce reform in 2003 to raise standards and tackle workload in the classroom, the Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) qualification was introduced. Unfortunately, there is no longer funding for the programme from the TDA so local authorities, schools or TAs themselves are required to pay.

If you are looking to progress in your career as a teaching assistant then perhaps a higher level teaching assistant qualification is for you; as a HLTA you will be given more responsibility such as teaching classes independently, supervising other support staff, acting as a specialist assistant for particular subjects and more. 

Additionally you should expect to be paid slightly more but it’s important to bear in mind that salary expectations are dependent on each school so they may vary from one to the next. 

It’s worth noting that individual schools set their own entry requirements when recruiting and decide which qualifications and experience they want. You can get an idea of what you are likely to need by looking at local jobs advertised on

To become a HLTA, you should:

• be employed as a TA

• have the support of your school and Headteacher

• have access to funding from the local authority if you work in a maintained school or be prepared to self-fund or have the school fund the HLTA programme

You will be required to complete a Training Needs Analysis (carried out by your school, LA or Regional Provider of Assessment RPA) and complete the process of Preparation for Assessment; both of which will determine whether you meet the HLTA standards. 

You will also be required to achieve a nationally recognised qualification at level 2 or above in literacy and numeracy; these are recognised nationally as being equivalent to level 2 of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

Once you have achieved the necessary level 2 qualifications in literacy and numeracy, you will enrol on a HLTA three day preparation course. This will allow you to:

• understand the professional standards and how they relate to your role

• understand the assessment process, prepare for the assessment tasks and for the school visit made by the assessor

With regards to the assessment, your RPA will approve an assessor who will visit your school for half a day and will ask you to carry out number of activities including:

• Explaining your role in school

• Describing the activities you analysed in your assessment tasks

• Providing evidence verified by the Headteacher (or delegated representative) and teachers

• Ensuring you understand the HLTA professional standards 

We recommend you search for a HLTA course programme by entering key words in a search engine online. This should bring up local course providers. 

For more information, read the following sources: 

Have you read the highlights from our ‘Why Become a Teacher?’ Twitter chat? Perhaps this will help you decide whether a career in teaching is more for you.

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