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Aug 13, 2013 - 4 minute read

How to Become a Teaching Assistant

(Last Updated On: September 7, 2021)

Do you want to know how to become a teaching assistant? Well, you’ve come to the right place; we’ve compiled a list of articles to help you start your career as a teaching assistant.

You’ll learn all the basics including how to become a teaching assistant, what a teaching assistant job description entails, the pay scale you can expect as a teaching assistant and the types of courses you’ll need to begin your career as a teaching assistant.

If you have a natural affinity to children and young people or perhaps are looking to change or start a highly rewarding career, there are many new skills and opportunities to be gained from working as a teaching assistant within the UK.

Related: How to become a teaching assistant with no experience.

What are teaching assistants?

Teaching Assistants, often known as a ‘TA’, support qualified school teachers within a class environment and can work in either secondary or primary schools throughout the UK. They are also sometimes referred to as ‘learning support assistants’ or ‘classroom assistants’ within certain schools.

Teaching Assistants may often work within their role to support smaller groups of children and can be involved with more specialised one-to-one tuition and other support to pupils.

TA’s also help prepare classrooms in advance of specialised lessons (e.g. for a science lesson) and help pack away equipment following a teaching session.

A TA is frequently classroom based alongside a normal class teacher; they can also find themselves working within other school areas (such as a quieter side room) where they might be involved in running an extra session to assist pupils who have additional needs.

This valuable support given to teachers will then enable them to direct more attention to their formal teaching.

A teaching assistant role is quite dynamic and many in the job often assist their schools with external outings, sports days, in emergencies such as cases of injury/accident to children, or to provide needed emotional support to young people.

Secondary school teaching assistants also work alongside young people with a learning disability or learning difficulty.

Why would I wish to be a teaching assistant?

Becoming a teaching assistant has many benefits and some TA’s successfully undertake the role while they bring up their own children, utilising spare time to develop their own careers.

Often, schools are able to offer the position within a full-time, part-time or flexible environment that only requires attendance during term times.

Some of those who start their career working as a TA can go on to train and qualify as a school teacher; the experience gained as a teaching assistant is a valuable springboard in which to start a career as a teacher.

What is needed to become a teaching assistant?

Teaching assistants do not require any mandatory formal qualifications, however, it is a good idea to check directly with your local education authority (LEA) as many will have specific guidelines and person specifications regarding the sort of individual they are looking to recruit.

Generally, teaching assistants will need to have a reasonable level of numeracy, reading and writing skills. They must be able to communicate well and in varying situations and possess a good organisational ability.

Prior experience of working within a school environment, as a school volunteer, or in a related community setting will also stand a TA application in good stead.

All those who work as a teaching assistants are required to be ‘CRB’ checked prior to starting in the position (Criminal Records Bureau). The mandatory CRB will check national and local Police information relating to any convictions and cautions that an applicant may have.

To enquire further about possibilities in your LEA’s area, contact your local school and ask the Head Teacher or Deputy if any suitable vacancies may exist for you. Also check for teaching assistant vacancies on your local authority’s website, normally found within the ‘jobs’ or ‘employment’ section.

Other parents of attending school children may also currently work within the school and these can be excellent contacts to approach for help, information and advice regarding future or current TA vacancies.