Differences between Teaching Assistant and Higher Level Support Assistant


Jobs In Education:

Moving on – Teaching Assistant / Higher Level Support Assistant to Teacher and the roles in-between

If you are thinking of getting into education and which teaching jobs or supporting teacher roles could be suitable, then for many, becoming a Teaching Assistant can be a good first step.


We find that those who have committed to Continuing Professional Development (CPD for teachers) – having then as an HLSA (Higher Level Support Assistant) and then to NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) to Qualified Teacher, have a sense of vision, know the way they want to teach, what type of teacher they want to be, the teaching strategies that work for them, and have real empathy for the support staff around them and are very committed to teaching.

But it is hard work and a long path requiring a great deal of commitment.


Teaching Assistant or Learning Support Assistant?

The term Teaching Assistant (TA) is now often used as the wider category for a range of teacher supporting roles – and there is lots of discussion and debate as to whether a learning support assistant is the same as a TA.

In our experience at Prospero Teaching, when an LSA (Leaning Support Assistant) is requested it’s usually to work in an intervention role with specific children perhaps with special education needs and differentiated learning – whereas a Teaching Assistant will work with whole class learning supporting the teacher, smaller groups and one-to-one.

The roles are interchangeable in some Local Authorties, who put all support under the catchall of Teaching Assistant. Listening to the debate and speaking to our schools and support assistants one LSA said… ‘it depends on the local authority. In mine, if you are a TA you assist the class teacher with individual or group work and carry out general duties such as displays, admin preparation etc. Anything to keep the class running smoothly, and LSAs (learning support) tend to be given specific children or groups to work with. Most 1:1 tend to be classed as LSAs. Not sure it’s the same everywhere though…’


HLTA’s (Higher Level Teaching Assistant)

HLTAs (Higher Level Teaching Assistant) or HLSA (Higher Level Learning Support Assistant) work in schools in close association with teachers, providing important support for teaching and learning activities. HLTA’s can work right across the curriculum, acting as a specialist assistant for a specific subject or department helping them to plan lessons and develop support materials.

An HLTA does all the things that regular teaching assistants do but the biggest difference is the increased level of responsibility. For example HLTAs teach classes on their own, cover planned absences and allow teachers time to plan and mark. The DFE confirmed that the head teacher at the school you are working at as a TA is best placed to decide if you are suited to becoming an HLTA. In 2012 the DFE withdrew funding for these qualifications, so these will either be self funded or funded by your school. We would suggest the Higher Level Teaching Assistant HLTA NCFE Level 4 Diploma.