Steps Towards Becoming a Teaching Assistant

Steps Towards Becoming a Teaching Assistant

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Have you always dreamt of becoming a teaching assistant but never been sure exactly where to start? Taking the first step into working in a school can be hard, and it can feel overwhelming.

How can you start your journey to become a teaching assistant?

The very first step to becoming a great teacher is to become a great teaching assistant.

There are many ways that you can step into a great teaching role, including embarking upon some of the many great online teaching assistant courses that are now available. Hopefully, the below will help you understand a little more about the role and the skills and qualifications that are required to get there.

What does the role of a teaching assistant entail?

The responsibilities of a teaching assistant will include supporting teachers in and out of the classroom to help educate students and support their learning.  The exact job role and duties will vary quite a bit depending on the school and the age of the students. Some of the duties could include:

  • Preparing the classroom for lessons
  • Reading stories to the children, and helping them learn to read and write
  • Providing additional support to those who need it, including anyone with special needs
  • Helping teachers plan lessons and activities in advance
  • Helping the teacher manage the classroom during lessons, and managing the children’s behaviour
  • Administrative tasks to help organise before lessons
  • Support during group activities and school trips

If you’re a Higher-Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) you may have additional responsibilities, including working as a specialist assistant for specific subjects. You could also lead classes under the supervision of a teacher. As well as this, you may do more work on reports and assessments as a HLTA.

What steps do I need to take to become a teaching assistant?

You aren’t required to have a degree to become a teaching assistant, although it could give you an advantage. The entry requirements for a teaching assistant can vary a little depending on the school, so it is worth checking the specific jobs in the schools that you are looking to work for.  Generally, a teaching assistant needs to have qualifications in childcare or nursery work, as well as a GCSE or equivalent qualification in literacy and numeracy.

Experience working with children is essential in helping you get that first teaching assistant role. A good way to get that initial experience is to volunteer at a local school to show your passion and prove your ability to work effectively with children. You could also gain childcare experience by:

  • Tutoring
  • Working in a nursery
  • Coaching children in sports
  • Getting involved in youth work.

We would highly recommend looking at the wide range of teaching assistant courses that are available online. These are easily accessible, and you can learn from the comfort of your own home. They could also help arm you with skills and knowledge to help you stand out in a competitive job market. A teaching assistant position is a popular choice for many job seekers these days, and anything you can do to help give you that edge over others is worth considering.

You will also be required to take a background check before you can work with children. This is done easily through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

What is the basic skill set required for a teaching assistant job?

There is a certain set of basic skills that will help you become a great teaching assistant. These include:

  • Professionalism
  • A positive and ‘can-do’ attitude
  • A genuine regard for the wellbeing and safety of your students
  • Ability to work in a team, and ability to motivate children to work together
  • Organisational skills for lesson planning and administrative tasks
  • Most of all, a love of working with children and the ability to motivate and inspire them!

Becoming a teaching assistant is possibly one of the most rewarding jobs in a school. Although you don’t have the pressure and stress of preparing endless lesson plans, you still get to interact with children in a meaningful way. 20 years ago, teaching assistants didn’t really exist in UK schools, but nowadays there are at least one or two in every class from primary school all the way up to secondary. Teaching assistants provide a relief to teachers in such large class sizes, and can really make a difference to a child’s life with consistent one on one interaction.

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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