For experienced teaching assistants who wish to take on greater responsibility and further their career, there is the opportunity to become a higher level teaching assistant.
To do this the assistant must first gain the support of the headteacher at the school where they are employed.
The headteacher will need to ensure that the assistant is a suitable candidate and that there is a role for a higher level teaching assistant (HLTA) in the school.
The minimal requirements for starting HTLA training are national-level two qualifications in maths and English (equivalent to grade C at GCSE).
Assistants working in adult education could instead have level two qualifications in adult literacy and numeracy. Some local authorities stipulate that a teaching assistant should also have a minimum of three years of experience working in the school.
The Department of Education has produced a set of thirty-three standards that each candidate must meet.
At the start of the process, the candidate and the headteacher will identify particular training the candidate might need to be able to meet every standard.
At the end of the process, the candidate must have sufficient written evidence to prove this. The final assessment of competence will be made by the headteacher.
Higher Level Teaching Assistant Courses
Higher level teaching assistant courses are run by most universities and colleges of further education around the country. The first course most assistants will attend is a three to four-day preparation course.
Although content may vary, the aim of the course is to ensure that candidates have a thorough understanding of the Department of Education's standards and what evidence every individual will need to produce in order to achieve this.
After this most providers offer a variety of one day (or longer) courses aimed at covering specific standards e.g. Literacy or record-keeping which candidates can take as necessary.
If the assistant is to undertake a specific role in the school on completion of the process, for example supporting ICT learning, the school may specify that particular courses relating to that are needed.
It is important to understand that funding is not centrally available as it was in the past and may come from the school, the local authority, or the candidate themselves.
Higher Level Teaching Assistant Qualification
In addition to completing the process of proving competency as required by the Department of Education, it is also possible to obtain a higher level teaching assistant qualification. Once again most universities and colleges offering teacher training will offer an HLTA diploma.
This can be completed as a day release, evening or distance learning course. The duration of courses varies but up to one academic year is the maximum time.
This can be a standalone qualification or can, in some cases, be used as a partial credit towards further academic study such as a degree course.
Higher level teaching assistant salary.
The starting salary for an HLTA is normally around £16,000 although there is no nationally agreed pay scale. Depending on the level of responsibility given to the post holder a higher level teaching assistant salary can be up to £22,000.
As contracted hours vary around the country this may be a full-time salary or offered pro-rata to take term-time hours into account.