A classroom support assistant works alongside a qualified teacher in class and other learning activities in reception, primary & secondary school. Employed by a school in England you require or want to know what limitations you have and responsibilities you’re allowed.
All teacher assistant (TA) levels from 1-5 come with different accumulated knowledge, work experience and responsibilities for student learning.
School teacher PPA time requires being covered by another qualified teacher or suitably experienced level 4/5 HLTA. A headteacher could allow a TA level 3 to cover PPA in an emergency (unplanned) if their trained, they know they can provide appropriate class learning, behaviour control, health & safety to school pupils.
Teaching assistant level 3 shouldn’t cover school PPA on an ongoing planned basis as it a level 4 TA employment role. TAs at level 3 are not allowed to cover PPA for PE, dance & drama, design technology and physical activities, as their not qualified and don’t have the required training, experience or assessed observations.
What is a TA level 3?
A school teacher assistant (TA) works alongside other support staff to assist the teacher to deliver teaching & learning to pupils in class or other educational activities. Being employed by a government maintained or private school you have a TA qualification at level 3 according to education department guidelines.
What can I do with a level 3 teaching assistant?
Classroom assistants support pupils by further explaining what the teacher has instructed, provide guidance to students to solve set teacher questions or homework and help keep pupils focused on the lesson.
The TA also contributes with help setting up the class environment, lesson input and administration. School TAs assist working under instruction from a qualified teacher to implement effective learning as a team in the classroom, small group, 1:1, although crucially they’re not teachers.
Is level 3 teaching assistant the same as HLTA?
School classroom teacher assistants at level 3 are not the same as a HLTA status level 4/5 and have met the standards for the award. A higher level teaching assistant (HLTA) has much more responsibility for pupil learning, can take small groups, plan and prepare a lesson with a teacher than TAs at level 3.
Who can cover PPA in schools?
- Cover supervisor employed specifically can cover classes if appropriately trained for the subject and possible subject specific degree qualification, although should not be regular.
- Qualified teacher, if another suitable person is not available.
- Level 4/5 higher level teaching assistant (HLTA) can cover PPA in primary & secondary government maintained schools and private independent schools in England for short time periods. Majority of HLTAs time should be 1:1, small groups learning and not covering PPA for teachers.
- Suitably experienced level 3 TA can cover unplanned class teacher absence or PPA for a day or 2 if no other person is available, although not planed or on a regular basis as it’s a level 4 TA role. The headteacher would decide and knows the TA is capable of providing safe effective class instruction to pupils in lessons that pre planned by the teacher.
Planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) is given to teachers since 2005 to get ready for lessons. TAs at level 3 can, if used sparingly cover short term unplanned teacher absence if qualified and the headteacher decides.
Teacher assistants would effectively not teach, but provide all pupils in class with lesson material, set work and questions provided by the assigned class teacher for students to answer.
Can TAs cover PPA?
Taking a school class of up to 30 pupils TAs must be employed level 4 or above, or at least paid at level 3, have appropriate behaviour management skills, suitable qualification, knowledge, training and observed prior classroom experience.
Suitably qualified TAs at level 4/5 can be scheduled on an ongoing basis or used as short term cover for school teacher PPA time.
Each school headteacher decides if the teaching assistant for each lesson & activity has the required qualifications, work experience, knows the children, and crucially can deliver effective student learning in lessons.
Can a level 2 TA cover a class? NO. Why? They don’t have sufficient class work experience, qualifications, no training or formal assessments of you’re abilities to cover a class of up to 30 school children.
Level 3 TAs taking PPA cover require:
- Prior training and formal observed assessment before being allowed to cover unplanned teacher PPA time.
- Continued professional development (CPD).
- Effective behaviour management strategies to control a whole class of pupils to manage a class environment.
- A level qualification or above in the subject, although not required, good English & maths GCSE or alternative.
- Up to date knowledge of the topic subject area, if directed to teach the lesson, not solely just sitting in class supervising self study with teacher prepared materials.
- Full adherence and knowledge of special educational needs (SEN).
- Implements & follows school health & safety in the classroom and for each learning activity.
- Fully aware of school polices for students at school and what’s expected in class lessons.
Are teaching assistants entitled to PPA? Any person that’s employed by the school and has a class schedule of lessons & activities to cover or assist a teacher is given around 10% of contracted hour’s time as TA PPA.
Can level 3 TA cover classes? Yes, although requires being unplanned absence and very short term. They should have appropriate skills, experience, training & ongoing observations, and support from the assigned class teacher. School head teacher can decide if you’re an appropriately experienced TA for emergency cover if another teacher or HLTA is unavailable. You showed have the respect of a whole class of school pupils sit in lessons for students to complete assigned teacher work.
Level 3 TA should not cover school classes when:
New to the TA role and lacking substantial experience.
Qualified school teacher is available to cover for the absent teacher.
- No or little confidence in the role.
- Health and safety training has not been given to cover whole classes of 30 school children.
- Not cover lessons where there’s a greater risk to pupils health & safety, such as physical education, dance & drama, swimming or use of machines.
- Little to no training in relation to covering a lesson on their own or supervising another TA.
- Not been formally assessed and observed after training to cover classes alone.