Since 2000, schools have trebled the number of teaching assistants (TAs) working within their grounds. While schools have no legal requirement to employ any Tas, they are perceived to be significantly more than simply supplemental staff. TAs, also known as Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) in secondary schools, work alongside teachers, making significant pedagogical decisions.
The roles and responsibilities of TAs and LSAs vary from school to school. If you are curious to learn more about the teaching assistant role, read on.
What does a teaching assistant do?
To work as a TA, you will need to have the ability to build a good working relationship with pupils and adults alike. Teaching assistant jobs tend to break down into two main roles: supporting the class teacher and directly supporting children in the class. Duties can include:
· Preparing the classroom for lessons. This can include rearranging furniture, setting up equipment, creating displays, or tidying the room after classes.
· Working 1-on-1 or in small groups to provide additional support to those who require help.
· Supporting the development of independent learning skills. This could relate to time management, personal skills, and much more.
· Listening to children read and aiding their understanding of the material.
· Support school outings and events, along with teachers and volunteer parents.
· Record keeping and marking.
· Pastoral care – dealing with playground incidents and upset children.
As you can see, the role is varied and can be very rewarding. Some TAs are recruited to specifically aid children in their literacy or numeracy, teach special skills, such as foreign languages, or provide SEND support.
What qualifications are needed to be a TA?
The teaching assistant role does not require any qualifications, although this is down to the individual school. Teaching assistant jobs can be secured with the agreement that you will complete an induction program. As a minimum, TAs need to have literacy and numeracy skills and sufficient organisational skills to be effective in their position.
If you prefer to have some qualifications before entering the school environment, you can obtain the NCFE CACHE qualifications:
· Level 1 Award in Preparing to Work in Schools
· Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools
These qualifications can be completed at local colleges and via apprenticeships. Once in post, TAs can broaden their range of qualifications, which can often include:
· 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
Some TAs become teachers after gaining experience within a school environment. Becoming a TA is ideal for getting a feel for the environment and obtaining essential experience with children.
What does a teaching assistant get paid?
The starting teaching assistant salary for a new level 1 TA is around £18,000 for schools following local education authority (LEA) pay scales. Independent, academy and free schools are not required to adhere to LEA guidelines. For level 2 TAs, this increases to between £18,000 and £20,000, while level 3 TAs can earn up to £25,000 if they have additional specialisms or SEN responsibilities.
Be aware that the teaching assistant salary is often advertised as an annual rate that represents a full year of employment, but many TAs are employed on a term-only contract, meaning you will only be paid during the school term, and your income will be lower than the advertised rates. However, you will have more free time and holiday than in other careers in exchange.
How do you become a teaching assistant?
You can approach schools directly or look for adverts in your local or national papers and online job search websites to find teaching assistant job vacancies. Many Teacher recruitment specialists, like Dunbar Education, will have a wide selection of roles available online. You can view our current TA positions here.
As you can see, the teaching assistant role is a varied position requiring adaptability and self-organisation from those who enter the role. For some people, it is a satisfying lifelong position, while for others, it is a stepping stone to becoming a teacher. If you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch.