Schools employ people from different backgrounds, work experience and age to be support staff in the classroom. With appropriate soft skills, pleasant personality and motivated for helping pupils to achieve in learning you can become a teacher assistant (TA).
Choosing a TA job role at nursery, secondary or primary school provides you with flexible options of temporary work, part or full time involvement at a school in UK.
You as qualified teacher with QTS can choose to work as a school teaching assistant. Schools ask for level 3 or above teacher assistant qualification to be a TA at nursery, primary, secondary or reception school and age related work experience. A headteacher may decide you have an alternative qualification being a qualified teacher with QTS.
What qualifications do I need to be a teaching assistant?
Every school decides the qualification that teaching assistant requires for a classroom role, although a TA certification is not a requirement. Many employers require level 3 teacher assistant qualification + GCSE maths & English or maths & English level 2 national qualification, soft skills working with children and people. Class primary or secondary school TA certification requirement:
- Level 3 Diploma in Specialist Support for Teaching and Learning in Schools
- Level 3 Award in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
- Level 3 Teaching Assistant Diploma
- Level 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
You can be a teaching a assistant with QTS at primary or secondary school. Transitioning from QTS qualified teacher to teaching assistant a school headteacher could decide you’re sufficiently qualified for the role without a TA qualification or work experience. You’re teacher training, qualification relevance is dependent on the age range you taught and TA position you’re applying.
Relevant work experience with children
A school will want to satisfy itself you have relevant qualified teaching experience, skills and aptitude to be a teacher assistant to the age of children you assist in activities & classroom learning.
Nursery & reception TA experience
A reception, nursery or early year’s teacher with QTS has advanced skills with teaching & learning with young children, thus suitable to work as a TA. Qualified as a teacher you could be seen as overqualified for a teaching assistant role by some schools, although you’ll be employed as a TA with valuable relevant experience with young kids learning.
A reception, nursery or primary teacher has advanced skills for younger children, although may have no experience with secondary school pupils 11-18 year old. Applying for a classroom assistant job position at a nursery or primary school where you taught 11-11-18 year old students means you don’t have relevant experience with 3-11 year old children in the classroom. You’ll be asked to complete a level 3 TA qualification and to gain experience working with young children in the class and activities.
When you’re a qualified teacher with a BA, PGCE secondary and years of teaching experience with 14-18 means you have classroom skills, teaching & learning strategies for older children. Working as a TA with 3-5 years old kid’s means using different knowledge, skills and curriculum to teach children basic literacy & nurmarcy in class.
Ask yourself “Do you have the soft skills, patience and empathy to deal with kid’s tantrums, feeding or assisting with toilet breaks? Some teachers with QTS do, although others are not suited working with younger kids.
Primary school classroom assistant
All primary schools in UK from Scotland, N Ireland, Wales & England have a teacher assistant working with a qualified teacher in the classroom. You can go from teacher to teaching assistant working at a primary school as you’ll have skills and experience.
Former teachers can choose to be a general primary school classroom TA working alongside a teacher or become a higher level teaching assistant (HLTA) taking PPA or teaching small groups of school pupils.
The experience you have from primary PGCE, and gaining QTS means:
- You know the primary national curriculum.
- Sufficient soft skills to deal with school pupils in class.
- Behaviour management strategies to help the teacher control a class.
- Teacher to TA you know how to encourage & motivate children to learn and participate.
- Experience working in a class learning environment with young children.
- Working as TA a former teacher knows how to effectively work as a team together with a primary class teacher.
Secondary school TA
Should you be a former secondary school or primary teacher you can become a higher level teaching assistant (HLTA). You have QTS, BA or PGCE with relevant experience working and teaching older children.
You’ll be more of a specialist in one department from science, English or maths covering PPA, absent teacher or mainly teaching small groups to raise academic attainment in a particular subject.
The secondary school TA role is different as you’re under the instructions & direction of a class teacher, and have less responsibility for overall pupil learning than when you were a teacher. You’re not overqualified for teaching assistant roles as you have made a personal choice to work at a school as a TA instead, possibly for more family time outside school hours.
School teaching assistant levels
Level 1 & 2 TA qualifications are for people that wish to work in education starting with no prior experience. You can complete the award entirely online or a combination of nursery, reception or primary school work experience while completing the course.
Level 3 TA course is the most popular as it’s requested by school employers to teach at reception school, nursery, primary or at secondary level. Indeed the EYFS Framework and to be general class teacher assistant at primary school you require at least a level 3 TA award.
Level 4 & 5 HTLA status and qualification is a TA with more responsibility than a class TA that solely works with a teacher.
Reasons teachers become teacher assistants
Some teachers decide to become a teaching assistant after PGCE year or you can be a class assistant with QTS, even though you’re qualified to teach. Reasons teachers are TAs:
- Didn’t complete QTS after PGCE or BA initial teacher training.
- HLTA gained qualified teacher status by QTS only route and decided to continue as a teacher assistant.
- Retired teacher looking for a classroom assistant job with less responsibility for pupil teaching & learning.
- NQT that couldn’t find a suitable teaching job in the area where they live so took a temporary TA position for a year.
- Former school teacher that wants a part time job in the classroom with less paperwork to spend more time looking after family.
Qualities that make a good teaching assistant
A former teacher that takes a school job as a TA has:
- Soft skills such as child understanding, empathy and approachable.
- Communicates effectively with parents, school staff and working with a teacher.
- Provides good written & verbal feedback to students and teachers.
- Excellent numeracy & literacy, mathematics & English as a teacher to TA role.
- Open, flexible and adaptable to the school, teacher and pupils learning needs.
- Organised and prepared for activities with pupils and assist a teacher.