Working as a higher level teaching assistant (HLTA) in primary or secondary schools in England can see you team teach, cover classes or take groups of schools pupils for extra subject lessons.
A HLTA can teach full time for a unspecified length of time for example to cover an absent qualified school teacher, although usually another teacher is assigned a cover class or a supply teacher is recruited. A headteacher makes a decision on capabilities & how long and capacity a HLTA teaches a class under supervision from another teacher in the department or at the school.
An HLTA teaching assistant is not a qualified teacher and should only be used as cover in the absence of a suitable qualified school teacher that is not available at the school on the day.
Can a HLTA be used as a teacher?
Primary and secondary school HLTAs are also used for short term teacher absence and PPA time. England’s school head teachers can decide to use a suitably qualified HLTA teaching assistant ‘short term’ for a certain period of time as a classroom primary or secondary subject teacher.
The teacher workload agreement was formed in 2003 in England by the UK government to take some of the work load off teachers, mainly relating to non class contact or teaching.
2 job roles were established HLTA & cover supervisor. To monitor the agreement the government setup the Workload Agreement Monitoring Group (WAMG), for following the terms and compliance of the agreement.
All TAs who teach a class, take small groups or cover for a teacher require being qualified. Schools in England guidelines require a TA to have a level 3 qualification and be competent & knowledgeable for the role & employment contract.
HLTA level 4/5 can cover short 3-4 days and longer running teacher absence that’s known and unplanned, although in practice another teacher is assigned the class.
Can a HLTA teach a reception class? NO. Only a qualified reception age teacher is allowed to teach at a reception school. An HLTA at level 4 or 5 is only allowed to assist a teacher and help supervise children for early year’s reception teaching & learning for a class of children.
Capabilities of a higher level teaching assistant
The advanced school HLTA would have a teaching timetable for a class or classes. They’ll be responsible for teaching, lesson planning, and homework setting for an undefined specific period of time on their timetable.
They should be competent & confident in meeting teaching & learning standards of the school parents and pupils.
They’ll require to:
- Plan own lessons according to the national curriculum under teacher supervision.
- Deliver lesson topics as a general lessons.
- Set and mark homework only on topic taught.
- Test each class of school students during lessons and periodic topic progress testing.
- Take a class register and keep an accurate attendance of pupils for each day.
- Monitor, assess & record student progress & performance for each topic and overall subject.
- Effective behaviour for learning strategies in the classroom during lessons.
For a HLTA to teach classes full time and a prolonged specified time span they require an appropriate teaching assistant award and qualification of at least a good A level in the specialist subject.
Primary school teaching a TA would be cover as a general class teacher of one age group of children from 5-11 years old on a daily basis until the return of the teacher.
Primary TAs require adequate knowledge of:
Literacy, numeracy, science, geography history and other English national curriculum school subjects.
Secondary school higher level teaching assistants would normally specialise in a certain subject and have good subject knowledge or a degree that’s related to what they teach.
Should a HLTA be teaching full time?
A higher level teaching assistant can and should teach a class full time on an ongoing basis if they have appropriate experience, subject knowledge and know the students.
I would like to think the time taken for me to fully qualify as a teacher with a PGCE and ongoing training & observations I was contributing a better learning experience in my specialist subject than a teacher assist would have.
When a qualified teacher is available the teacher should take over the class from a HLTA.
Why? A higher level teaching assistant may or may not be a specialist in the subject they teach, and certainly not a qualified teacher with in depth knowledge skills and experience required.
An HLTA are provided teaching & learning support from a primary year leader and department head in secondary school and can ask for, although usually provided assistance for lesson planning from experienced subject department teachers.
Level 4, 5 HLTAs who has a timetable including teaching group classes each week are given preparation time for lesson planning.
How long can a HLTA cover a class
A qualified teacher would be timetabled to either teach all lessons in the year or a HLTA would have 1-12 weeks to cover absent teachers or PPA time.
There’s no specific time length that a HLTA is allowed to work and teach in English secondary or nursery schools, although should be kept to a minimum.
How many hours can an HLTA teach? You can have a set timetable of 2/3 days a week teaching a small class of school students, where a headteacher decides on the appropriate amount of hours, possibly around 4-10 lessons.
PPA time is allowed to plan prepare and assess pupils work including marking homework, although this is decided by departments heads at secondary or year leader in primary school.