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Why choose a teaching assistant course?

Teaching assistant courses provide clear pathways to a career as a teaching assistant. In addition to being highly in-demand, working with children as a teaching assistant guarantees that no two days will be alike. In the United Kingdom, teaching assistant courses are popular as distance learning courses. Teaching assistant courses in London are also available to those who prefer to learn face-to-face.

Teaching Assistants - Who are they & what do they do?

Teaching assistants (TAs) work alongside teachers in schools and provide different kinds of support, from preparing the classroom for certain activities to helping with outings & sports events, to working with individual pupils who are struggling with a particular subject. Also referred to as classroom assistants or learning support assistants, they generally provide any kind of assistance needed for the class teacher to be able to focus on teaching.

Teaching assistants certified through teaching assistant courses can work in environments such as:

  • nurseries
  • infant or junior schools
  • secondary schools
  • special schools
  • independent schools

With this in mind, the role of a TA typically appeals to individuals who are passionate about learning, education and helping children fulfil their potential. As TA positions also tend to be quite flexible, offered on a part- or full-time basis during school term times, they also provide an ideal working schedule for parents whose own children are attending primary or secondary school.

Finally, a teaching assistant course can provide a key entry point into the education sector, after which individuals can work towards a Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) position or train to become fully qualified teachers. This is because, aside from providing valuable work experience to present to potential employers and teacher training institutions, working as a TA gives you the opportunity to experience the classroom and determine whether it is the right working environment for you in the long-term.

A teaching assistant course also can help you specialise as a teaching assistant. In some schools, TAs can specialise in areas such as numeracy, literacy, Special Educational Needs (SEN) or additional language skills, which can be useful when working with children whose first language is not English.

Working Hours & Income

According to the National Careers Service, a full-time TA will typically earn (if working full-time) between £12,000 and £17,000 a year. This figure can rise to £21,000 a year for HLTAs, though this will vary according to the responsibilities of individual jobs and the standards set by the relevant LEA.

Part-time workers work on a pro-rata basis, meaning they earn a proportion of full-time rates.

About Teaching Assistant Courses

Currently, there are no formal UK-wide requirements regarding the training needed to be offered a position as a teaching assistant. This means that Local Education Authorities (LEAs) and individual schools have the liberty to decide the qualifications and/or hands-on experience they would like their applicants to have. For those who wish to become teaching assistants, past enrollment in teaching assistant courses will show that you have qualifications for the role.

Generally speaking, gaining experience in a voluntary or paid support position is always a good place to start. In terms of qualifications, those with little experience or who have just begun a TA role can benefit from one of the following:

  • Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools
  • Level 3 Award in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools

As these are knowledge-based qualifications, they don't require learners to be employed in a school.

Frequently asked questions

  • One of the most popular teaching assistant courses in the UK is the Level 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools, which is offered by many training providers. It covers topics such as child development, safeguarding, supporting learning activities, and inclusive education, and is recognised by many schools and education authorities.

  • The cost of a teaching assistant course varies depending on the course level, provider, location and mode of study, but can range from less than a hundred pounds to over a thousand pounds.

  • The best teaching assistant course depends on your personal goals. To ascertain whether the course offers high-quality training, check its accreditations and reviews. For example, courses that have been endorsed under the Quality Licence Scheme (QLS) shows that the provider has undergone an external quality check to ensure that the courses it offers meet defined quality criteria.

  • The duration of a teaching assistant course varies depending on the course provider and mode of study, but typically ranges from 6 months to 1 year.

  • No, a teaching assistant course does not lead to a teaching qualification, but it can provide a pathway to becoming a qualified teacher through further study.

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