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Career profile: Teaching Assistant

Career profile: Teaching AssistantTeaching assistants keep the classroom running smoothly and support children with particular needs.

What is a teaching assistant?

Teaching assistants, also known as classroom assistants or learning support assistants, work in classrooms to support teachers and pupils.

Experience as a teaching assistant can be a good step towards qualifications such as Nursery Assistant and Early Years Assistant, or even training as a teacher if you have the right qualifications.

What does a teaching assistant do all day?

Teaching assistants have a range of tasks, which will vary depending on the school you are working in and the age of the children. Things you might do include:

  • Preparing for lessons and tidying away materials afterwards
  • Helping to supervise activities and make sure pupils are well-behaved
  • Help with school trips
  • Administration
  • Helping children who are struggling or upset

You could also become a Higher Level Training Assistant (HLTA), which could mean planning and leading lessons, supervising other assistants and specializing in particular subjects.

Finally, you can also specialize in areas like special educational needs (SEN), numeracy or literacy.

How much do teaching assistants get paid?

There's no national pay scale for teaching assistants, so how much you earn will depend on where you work, but you can expect to earn from £12,000 to £17,000, or £16,000 to £21,000 as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant.

How do I become a teaching assistant?

The qualifications and experience you need will depend on the school you are working in, but wherever you work you'll need some experience of working with children and good literacy and numeracy skills. Any relevant qualifications in childcare, nursing or youth work will also be useful.

An Apprenticeship in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools can provide you with extra training to become a teaching assistant.

Before you can become a teaching assistant, you will also need to be checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service. They will check whether you have a criminal record and pass details on to your potential employer.