Working at a UK school with children, be it primary or secondary level brings benefits, hopes & aspirations and challenges for you and the school. Maybe you have an employment background as a HLTA and decided to complete a PGCE for further knowledge to become a teacher.
Some people do change their mind after studying and gaining a teaching qualification after training allowing them to become a qualified teacher.
You can choose to become or continue as a HLTA with a PGCE certificate as long as you meet the requirements of the higher level teaching assistant status for the school job role. Nothing to stop a person with an additional relevant UK teaching qualification working as an assistant in school rather than as a class teacher.
HLTA teaching assistant after PGCE
For many personal and work related reasons people choose to not continue to become a teacher and instead choose a teaching assistant role after a completing a PGCE course. Indeed some classroom assistants go on to study for a PGCE and after reflection decide to continue as a HLTA as they like the job better or more suited to being an assistant.
Doesn’t matter if a higher level teaching assistant has a teaching qualification when they have a level 4/5 HLTA qualification and status. A PGCE certificate would be of benefit for a TA school job role as it provides additional teaching & learning theory, 100s of hours teaching, lesson planning, resource making and student assessment.
You’ll require a minimum of level 3 TA qualification to become employed at a school in England. You then require the support of a school to complete the 50+ hours of training, work experience and observations to gain level 4 for HLTA status. There’s no funding for higher level teaching assistant courses and you might have to pay for the course yourself.
Higher level teaching assistant job
Primary and secondary schools will employee a person as a HLTA with a PGCE as you’ve an additional relevant qualification & training making you more flexible and valuable as an employee. The school will want to make sure you have sincere intentions to complete the contract if a temporary job, or intend to stay in the TA role long term.
The school that employs you as a HLTA is looking for stability & continuity of pupils and teaching & learning, not taking the job short term then resign when a teaching job becomes available.
Applying for a HLTA job the school will ask you why not become a teacher with the PGCE you obtained. Some TAs wish:
- Less responsibility for overall pupils learning as a TA compared to a teacher.
- More suited as a teaching assistant than a teacher in relation to skills and career aspirations.
- Decided I didn’t want to become a teacher, although like working in schools with pupils learning.
- HLTA role also has a lot of responsibility and can continue to teach children in class.
- Gain more experience in the classroom before NQT or being employed as a teacher.
- Decided to continue as a HLTA and not become a teacher.
- Did not find a job in the local area and took a temporary TA post.
- Reduced commitment outside of school hours due to more family time required.
- Did not go on to complete QTS after initial teacher training.
- Enjoy the HLTA job role rather than a teacher.
Do you need a qualification to be a HLTA
You don’t require a formal teaching qualification being an HLTA, although to become a recoginised HLTA at level 4/5 you need to meet & pass the teaching assistant professional standards to be awarded the status.
Can you go straight to level 4 teaching assistant? No. You’ll require to have paid or voluntary school work experience as a TA at secondary, primary or infant school in England. 50+ hours of school teacher lead work experience & observations covering at least 33 HLTA standards must be met before being awarded the status of HLTA.
Starting a course for a TA level 4 you’ll need GCSE English & maths or level 2 numeracy & literacy qualification on England’s national framework.
Broad HLTA standards
Professional knowledge & understanding
Skills to complete planning and expectations of the role
Monitoring & school pupil assessment skills
Able to conduct teaching & learning activities
An HLTA qualification is different from a PGCE and you’ll require meeting the standards and awarding criteria for a recognised HLTA status. The training and assessment that you receive is more that adequate for you to be able to successfully pass all and any training & assessments towards being a HLTA.
What does PGCE qualify you for?
To teach in nursery, primary or secondary school in UK you require a formal initial teacher training qualification, such as a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). The teaching award with qualified teacher status (QTS) allows you to qualify to become a school teacher of a specific age range you’re training and study targeted. You can specilise as a nursery or primary teacher for young learners or subject teacher for older school pupils.
PGCE is a postgraduate one academic year (11 months) full time (2 years P/T) course studied in conjunction with a university and school placements. 4 different PGCEs each qualifying you to teach:
- Early years PGCE allowing you to teach up to and including 7 year old at nursery, reception school or primary KS1, years 1 & 2.
- Primary PGCE entitles you with qualified teacher status (QTS) to teach school children from 4-12 years old in local council government maintained schools in UK.
- Secondary PGCE with QTS give you the opportunity to teach in UK secondary school you’re specialist subject to 11-18 year olds.
- Post compulsory PGCE is a teacher training award for college & training organisations. Gaining QTLS qualifies a person with PGCE post compulsory to teach at schools in England.
Job role as HLTA
As a higher level school teaching assistant you work more independently a lot of the time covering whole classes PPA, absent teacher or taking small groups of pupils for extra lessons and have a lot of responsibility.
- Prepare lessons in advance in conjunction with the class teacher instructions for the topic.
- Set and mark school pupil homework.
- Setup each class environment according to the lesson topic considering health & safety.
- Work collaboratively with the class teacher to plan & adjust lessons to students needs.
- Consult and coordinate with the teacher to set tests to monitor pupil progress.
- Provide the subject class teacher regular student progress reports/updates.
- Record pupil progress for each topic taught, homework set & completed.
- Use positive strategies for behaviour management and to encourage student motivation in lessons & school activities.
- Invigilate tests and examinations.
- Attend all department & school meetings and all training provided.
- Escort or assist teachers with education visits outside school.
- Record pupil attendance for each lesson and report any student absence to the teacher & school admin.
- Provide students emotional and social support in class and around the school.
Teacher transferable skills to HLTA
- Enthusiasm for the TA job role with an approachable nurturing manner.
- Flexibility in relation to working part of a team and work individually.
- Work under pressure to tight deadlines.
- Up to date knowledge of the curriculum subject you cover as a TA,
- Prepare imaginative lessons according to England national curriculum lesson topics.
- Excellent behaviour for learning classroom strategies for pupils of different ages.
- Confident and efficient classroom practitioner or lesson delivery.
- Approachable with a welcoming personality.
- Range of assessment for learning techniques.