What is a Teaching Assistant


What exactly is a Teaching Assistant?

What does a Teaching Assistant (also known as a TA) do?

What qualifications and skills do you need to become a Teaching Assistant?

And what is the career path for a Teaching Assistant?


What does a Teaching Assistant do?


In England and Wales a Teaching Assistant supports a Teacher in a school classroom. Though the Teaching Assistant’s duties will change from school to school, TAs often perform tasks that free up teachers’ time such as

  • preparing the classroom
  • creating resources for lesson plans
  • supporting children who need additional help in literacy or maths, in small groups or one-to-one
  • listening to children read
  • providing individualised and detailed feedback on pupils’ progression
  • making displays of pupils’ work
  • supporting pupils with SEN (special educational needs) when these cannot be managed in the whole class
  • helping with school trips
  • dealing with playground incidents and looking after pupils who are upset

Teaching Assistants are not required to hold any specific qualifications though individual schools will have their own requirements.  Having said that most schools will be looking for a combination/some of the following

  • literacy and numeracy at GCSE level
  • experience of working with children
  • qualifications in areas like childcare, nursery, play or youth work can be useful
  • Level 1 Award in Preparing to Work in Schools or Level 2 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning as these demonstrate an understanding of child development

ESSENTIALLY – you will also need to undergo a criminal record check through the Disclosure and Barring Service which is usually handled by the school looking to employ you.


What characteristics and skills do schools look for in their Teaching Assistants?

  • strong interpersonal and communication skills in order to build positive relationships with pupils, parents/carers and colleagues
  • a love for working with children and a desire to help, inspire and motivate them
  • excellent organisational ability
  • literacy and numeracy skills
  • team player as you’ll be working with a whole host of other people including support staff, teachers and possibly therapists and social workers too
  • the ability to manage classroom behaviour creatively and effectively
  • patience and a flexible attitude
  • creativity for producing teaching resources and displays

What are the career paths for a Teaching Assistant?

  • there are four grades of Teaching Assistant and by moving up the stages you you can increase your pay. Schools will often support their Teaching Assistants looking to gain experience and get further qualifications enabling them to move up the grade scale while still working.
  • once you’ve built up some experience and worked your way to Level 3 you could go on to become a Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA), the highest level of Teaching Assistant
  • you could decide to train as a teacher and there are numerous ways you can do this, some of which allow you to do this whilst also still being a Teaching Assistant

If you found this blog useful you might also be interested in some of our other blogs such as What is a SENCO and What is a Learning Support Assistant (LSA)?


We have Teaching Assistant jobs at all levels all over England and Wales and you can see them here.