How to become a teaching assistant

Teaching Assistants work alongside classroom teachers to support them in developing the students’ understanding and enjoyability of lessons. Teaching assistants are crucial to the successful management of the classroom and can deliver lessons, mark work, offer focused attention to children who are struggling and bring new ideas to the classroom to inject fun and innovation into education.

Average Salary

Average Salary

£11,500 to £23,000

Qualifications

Qualification Level

GCSE

Weekly Hours

Weekly Hours

32 to 40 hours

Starting a career as a teaching assistant

Working as a teaching assistant is a demanding job and requires you to be energetic, passionate, organised and reliable. Children need the structure and support that teaching assistants can offer and so it is essential that if you work in this role, you can be relied upon to follow lesson plans, adhere to strict government guidelines and work closely with the teachers in the school.

Will I need specific qualifications to work as a teaching assistant?

To work as a teaching assistant, you will be required to hold some specific qualifications. This includes:

  • Five GCSEs at grades A* – C, which must include English and Maths
  • Experience of working in a school or with children

The following is not a legal requirement but is likely to strengthen the application to be a teaching assistant within a school:

  • Training in children’s First Aid
  • Training in the safeguarding of children
  • Food hygiene training

To work as a teaching assistant, it will also be necessary for you to have an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check. The school that you apply to may also ask you to have a medical examination to ensure that you are safe and well to be in the school environment.

Essential Skills for Being a Teaching Assistant

Being a teaching assistant is an important role which plays a key part in the development and education of children. To have a successful career in this profession you will need to develop a range of skills, which includes:

  • The ability to communicate with pupils, teachers, parents and other authorities
  • The ability to identify additional or special needs within a child
  • The ability to maintain energy throughout the day
  • To help children develop academically and socially
  • To follow the guidance given by the classroom teacher
  • To liaise with parents and provide updates on the development of their child
  • To maintain confidentiality and meet all data protection laws
  • To empathetically engage with children
  • To be engaged and encourage children to be enthusiastic about learning.
  • Strong administration skills and the ability to maintain written records.

Day to Day Work of a Teaching Assistant

Your day to day activities as a teaching assistant will be varied and revolve around the National Curriculum, your teacher’s lesson plans and the needs of the children you work with. You will support the school teaching team in delivering lessons, assisting children with additional needs and supervising groups in their learning.

You might work in a state school, nursery, children’s hospital or private setting. The number of children that will be in your care will depend on your setting and there may be more than one teaching assistant per class.

Some of the likely day-to-day activities that you engage in could include:

  • Preparing the classroom or external environment for the lesson and cleaning away after lessons are completed
  • Giving feedback to teachers, education officers and parents
  • Helping children with their reading by either listening to them or reading to them.
  • Working closely with children who have additional or special needs.
  • Helping plan lessons with teachers.
  • Delivering lessons in the absence of a teacher.
  • Helping in all subjects including P.E and preparing for concerts or nativities.
  • Helping the teacher to address behavioural difficulties within the classroom.
  • Offering care and support to children who are upset or unwell.

How much will I earn as a teaching assistant?

As a new teaching assistant, you can expect a starting salary of between £11,500 to £14,000. Once you become more experienced, your salary will increase to between £15,000 to £17,000.

A higher level teaching assistant is an assistant who has worked in the role for several years and their salary can range from £17,000 to £23,000.

The level of pay that you will receive as a teaching assistant are set by local education authority or by the school that you will work for.

Some teaching assistants are only paid for working weeks and this means that pay is only received in term time. You must be aware of how your school will pay you as you may not receive a wage during school holidays.

Career Progression for a Teaching Assistant

When you are a teaching assistant, your career will likely progress as you accumulate experience and years in the job. Once you become an experienced teaching assistant, you may be promoted to become a senior assistant or could progress to a Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) position.

For those who want to progress further, it may be possible to train to become a teacher. There are specific qualifications that must be met to do this. For further information, see Get into Teaching.

Working Hours for a Teaching Assistant

Teaching assistants will work during term time. Their hours will usually be from 8:30 to 3:15 each day, though these will depend on the school. It may be necessary for teaching assistants to attend meetings, parents evenings or out-of-school events such as school discos, trips or plays. In these cases, additional hours may be necessary.

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life"