Everything You Need to Know About Being a Teaching Assistant

National Teaching Assistants’ Day is celebrated on the 16th September each year and was created to recognise the incredible contribution teaching assistants make to the education of children and young people up and down the country.

What is a Teaching Assistant?

Teaching Assistants (TA) work closely with teachers in the classroom and duties can vary from school to school; responsibilities can cover helping individual or small groups of pupils to provide administrative and classroom support. Some TAs specialise in special educational needs, literacy, or numeracy.

Why Become a Teaching Assistant?

Being a teaching assistant is a fulfilling, rewarding and worthwhile career where you can make a difference to young people, but don’t just take our word for it! We asked you what you love about being a teaching assistant and this is what you said:

Nikki - “The chance to really get to know the children as individuals and have fun with them. In year 6 they are really starting to become themselves. I love the chance the build confidence in them as individuals before sending them off to secondary schools.”

Sarah – “Helping the child regardless of their disabilities be included, joining in and accepted as everyone else and watch them thrive and gain confidence.”

Darren – “A great TA is someone who supports every child to allow them to be the best they can. I’ve been very lucky to work with the best TA who knows what the children need and what to do before I do.”

Rozz – “I love the quiet moments when a child has told you something that's different about themselves and the look of happiness, a kind of twinkle in their eye, when they realise that it doesn't matter and you'll be there for them no matter what. When they suddenly feel accepted.”

Vikki – “I have been a TA for 10 years I love the fact that no day is ever the same and when the children develop and achieve it makes it all worthwhile.”

What Does a Teaching Assistant Do?

The role can be varied and depends on the school, but the underlying tasks usually remain the same. TAs will undertake tasks which allow the teacher to focus on teaching so common job responsibilities might be: 

  • Setting up the classroom for lessons
  • Providing extra support to children struggling with a particular activity
  • Tidying up the classroom at the end of the class
  • Doing the displays of children’s work
  • Assisting with school trips and sports events
  • TAs often work with pupils who have learning difficulties and disabilities 

What Qualifications Do I Need to Be a Teaching Assistant?

Teaching assistants will need to have a professional attitude, patience and a passion for supporting children to ensure they get the best start in life. It is a requirement to have good numeracy and literacy skills as well as some experience of working with children.

Gaining a TA qualification is not essential; each school is responsible for their recruitment and will have their own ideas about the person they are looking for and what qualifications are needed. There is no national specified requirement, however, a qualification will strengthen your job application as a school may consider you more desirable with it, particularly if you have experience and the right skill set. The relevant qualifications for Teaching Assistants are:

  • Level 2 or 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
  • Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education

There are also teaching assistant apprenticeships available and are often advertised on our website. Apprenticeships allow you to study whilst working and earning a wage and are available for all age groups. An apprenticeship can take between 1 and 5 years to complete depending on the level of the qualification.  

What About Career Progression?

There are plenty of ways that a teaching assistant can progress with their career in education. Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTA) posts are available in many schools, the post holder will be given more responsibilities, such as teaching classes independently, supervising other support staff or acting as a specialist assistant for particular subjects. You can find our latest HLTA vacancies here.

Some teaching assistants decide to further their career by becoming a teacher, many schools support capable teaching assistants to develop their teaching career by allowing the individual to attend university alongside undertaking their role as a TA or HLTA. 

If this has inspired you to look into becoming a teaching assistant then check out our latest teaching assistant vacancies in Kent. We recommend reading the job description and person specification for each role to establish if you feel you would be a good fit for the school and if your personality, skills, and experience match the requirements. Once you are ready to apply for a vacancy then here are some tips to help you get your dream job as a TA in Kent.  

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