Teaching assistants (TAs), or learning support assistants in secondary schools, play a vital role in supporting teachers in the classroom. They help create a positive learning environment, enabling students to achieve to their full potential.


As important members of the team, TAs perform a wide range of duties including supervising activities and working with children on an individual, small group or whole class basis. They are vital in helping children gain numeric and literary skills, particularly at key stage 1.


Teaching assistants play a crucial role in supporting children with their educational and social development, both in and out of the classroom. They promote inclusion and assist teachers in delivering top quality education.


In this comprehensive guide we delve into the responsibilities, skills, qualifications, salary expectations and career prospects associated with the role of a teaching assistant. 

What does a teaching assistant do?


Teaching assistants work together with teachers to conduct classes at school. They help students with their class activities and help manage student behaviour including supervising them during school outings. Many teaching assistants work on a part-time basis and their schedules are often from Mondays to Fridays. If you’re looking to work as a teaching assistant on a flexible, part-time schedule, get in touch with our team and we’ll help you find a role that suits you.


Some teaching assistants work with special educational needs (SEN) children or students whose first language isn’t English. Teaching assistant duties often depend on their level. For example, Higher-Level Teaching Assistants (HLTAs) often take additional duties like teaching classes on their own and covering absences. They also give teachers time to plan lessons or mark work.

Responsibilities of a teaching assistant


Although your responsibility as a teaching assistant will depend on your experience, training and TA status, generally you’ll:


  • Help students with their learning, usually with a focus on reading, maths and writing
  • Set up equipment for lessons and ensuring that classrooms are tidy and safe
  • Support the teacher in managing challenging behaviour
  • Supervise group activities and individual work
  • Provide support outside normal classes like helping during exams or covering TA absences
  • Encourage and motivate students to achieve their potential
  • Help the teacher to organise school trips and events
  • Help the teacher develop learning activities and adapting appropriate resources
  • Monitor students’ progress and behaviour
  • Support with the social and emotional development of pupils
  • Look after students who have had accidents and administrating first aid when necessary
  • Help with extra-curricular activities like after-school clubs, revision sessions or lunchtime duties

Is a teaching assistant job a good fit for you?


A teaching assistant job can be a good fit for you if you’re passionate about working with children and want a taste of what it’s like working in childhood education. It can be a stepping stone into a rewarding career in education. You must also be passionate about education and a desire to make a positive impact on students’ lives. A strong commitment to supporting student learning and a love for learning is essential for the role.


A teaching assistant role also requires individuals to possess unique skills that enable them to effectively support students and collaborate with teachers. As a TA, you’ll need:


  • The ability to communicate with teachers and students
  • The ability to relate to people of different ages and backgrounds
  • Patience and the ability to manage difficult behaviour
  • Good literacy and numeracy skills
  • Active listening to understand children’s’ needs
  • The ability to stay calm in stressful situations
  • Flexibility and being adaptable to accommodate the changing needs of students and teachers
  • Problem-solving skills and the ability to persevere during setbacks or challenging times

Required qualifications and education


Other than a grade C in GCSE (or equivalent) Maths and English, there are no set educational requirements for teaching assistant jobs. However, there are qualifications that can make candidates stand out.


Ideally, teaching assistants should have the education requirements for the position they are applying for. While specific qualification requirements for teaching assistants may vary depending on the school or educational setting, most employers look for candidates who have some sort of college education. This could include a Level 2 or 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools, Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education or T Level in Education and Early Years. Candidates must have at least two GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 for a Level 2 course or a minimum of four GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 for a Level 3 course or a T level.


A Bachelor’s Degree in Education or a related field such as psychology or child development can also be very beneficial.


Another route to becoming a teaching assistant is by taking part in a Teaching Assistant Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship. For an advanced apprenticeship, you will usually need 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths.

Required experience


Teaching assistants should be able to demonstrate work experience related to the job. This could include any prior employment in a school or educational institution. It can be beneficial if a TA has experience working with children of a particular age or grade level. So, for teaching assistants looking to apply to work with Year 2 pupils, it can be advantageous to have supervised Year 2 children in the past.


Some roles are more flexible regarding previous experience. For example, a lot of our roles are suited for candidates who have experience in other settings like youth work, childcare, tutoring or mentoring. Click here to view our teaching assistant roles.

Teaching assistant salary expectations


Teaching assistant salaries vary based on factors such as location, experience, and the school. On average, entry-level teaching assistants can expect to earn around £12,692 per year.


With experience and additional responsibilities, salaries can progress, reaching upwards of £22,000 per year. Specific roles or positions in high-demand areas may command higher salaries.


If you are working with an agency, you will get paid on a per day basis. On average, a teaching assistant will get paid around £83.97 per day.

Career paths and progression opportunities


A career as a teaching assistant can serve as a rewarding stepping stone to various opportunities within the field of education. Some potential career paths for TAs include:


  • SEN Teaching Assistant: Many general teaching assistants choose to take some additional training to become a special education needs (SEN) teaching assistant, supporting students with disabilities and specialised learning needs.
  • Education administrator: TAs who demonstrate strong leadership skills and a passion for education may advance into administrative roles such as school administrators or educational coordinators.
  • Teacher certifications: Some teaching assistants choose to pursue teacher certifications or licensure, enabling them to transition into full-time teaching roles in their area of specialisation.
  • Higher-Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA): You could also take a course to become a HLTA. This means you will have more responsibility in the classroom and lead your own lessons.
  • Further education: Teaching assistants may pursue further education opportunities such as bachelor’s or master’s degrees in education, psychology, or related fields to expand their knowledge and career prospects.


Click here to learn more about where a teaching assistant role can take you.

While a teaching assistant role can be challenging, it is extremely rewarding and provides a wealth of experience within an education environment.


Teaching assistants play an important role in shaping a student’s life and can be a great option for people looking to start their career in education. If you’re an empathetic and hardworking person who is passionate about helping children, a TA role might be perfect for you!


If you’re looking for a teaching assistant job, CER has a wide range of roles to suit your skills and preferences. Get in touch with our team today or view our latest teaching assistant jobs. 


View our teaching assistant jobs