Teaching assistants (TAs) support teachers to enable classrooms to function smoothly, manage behaviour and provide general assistance in the delivery of lessons in primary, secondary and nursery schools.
The role involves various elements such as resource preparation, student supervision and the supporting of students with special educational needs.
This detailed guide includes a full teaching assistant job description and everything else you need to know about teaching assistants, including salaries, skills, qualifications, typical employers and more.
- Teaching assistant job description
- How much do teaching assistants earn?
- What does a teaching assistant do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs teaching assistants?
- Which junior jobs progress to teaching assistant roles?
Teaching assistant job description
Teaching Assistant | Meadow Lane Primary School
About Meadow Lane Primary School
We are a safe and fun Ofsted Outstanding rural primary school with a single form entry, proud of our brilliant results. We encourage staff and children to thrive through our values of Resilience, Empathy, Knowledge and Friendship.
About the role
We are looking for a teaching assistant to work in the EYFS in the Reception class, assisting the class teacher in delivering lessons and supporting pupils. This is an important role, providing children with a safe and positive beginning to their school career.
- Preparing the classroom and activities for lessons, as well as clearing up afterwards
- Delivering phonics and numeracy content in small groups, as well as individual learning interventions
- Assisting individual pupils when they need support both academically and personally in the classroom
- Encouraging good classroom behaviour and supervising children in the classroom, during structured activities and free play
- Reading stories and listening to children read to support their literacy development
- Lunchtime and break time supervision on a rota to ensure children are safe and happy in the playground
- Assisting with activities off the school site as needed such as trips or forest school
- Assisting with marking according to the teacher’s guidance and recording the progress of children in line with school procedures
Location & commitments
- Fixed term contract (Sep – July)
- Term time only working
- Monday – Friday 8.30 am – 3.30 pm
- Meadow Lane Primary School, Northants
- Enhanced DBS check, references and background checks
- GCSE Maths, English and Science at Grade C or above
- Level 2 or 3 Teaching Assistant certification preferred
- 6 months experience working with primary aged children preferred
- Excellent numeracy, communication and literacy skills
- Energetic and enthusiastic about EYFS education
Contact us to apply
Please send your CV and a covering letter, about why you are suited to working in EYFS, to the headteacher, Anne Cupp firstname.lastname@example.org
How much do teaching assistants earn?
The majority of teaching assistants in the UK work in the state education sector and will earn in line with the salaries set by the local authority. The average in the UK is £13,793.
Teaching assistant salaries in the UK
- Low: £8,000
- Average: £13,793
- High: £18,000
Teaching assistant salaries are fairly consistent, being largely determined nationwide via local authorities. Some variation may depend on;
- Private or state sector – State sector wages are determined by the local authority. In the private sector, there may be slightly more variation, but they are still largely in line with the state sector.
- Level and experience – A teaching assistant starts at level 1 (no experience) moving through levels 2 and 3 with experience and qualification, gaining pay rises incrementally.
- Location – Location of the school or college may affect salary, for example; teaching assistants are paid London-weighting for roles in the capital.
- SEN – For those working with children with special educational needs (SEN) salary can increase.
- Term time or permanent contracts – Most teaching assistants are on fixed term contracts running from September to July. Others may be on term-time only contracts.
For example, a level 3 experienced teaching assistant working with SEN children will earn a higher salary than a new entry teaching assistant working in the general classroom.
These averages look at salary only, taken from job advert samples. They do not include holiday allowance (if on term-time contract), and local authority pension and sick pay.
What does a teaching assistant do?
Within the job description of a teaching assistant, these are the main responsibilities and duties;
- Supporting class education – Helping with lesson delivery and content to ensure all students understand and retain the information being relayed
- Supporting individual pupils – Working with students in small groups and individually, where they are struggling, or need greater attention, e.g. due to SEN or where English is not their first language
- Supervision – Providing classroom and playground supervision when needed, either with or without other staff present
- Behaviour management – Ensuring children are well behaved in minimising disruptions to the classroom
- Resource creation – Developing resources to be used in lessons e.g. worksheets, photocopying, sourcing materials for activities etc.
- Marking – Following the school and teacher’s direction to support marking and corrections
- Assisting with non–classroom learning – Helping with school trips, sports and curricula events, as well as external activities
- Meetings and reviews: Attending school meetings and pupil reviews as needed
What do teaching assistants need?
Teaching assistant roles need individuals who are enthusiastic about working in education. They also need notable personal characteristics, such as patience and empathy. Some experience and qualifications may be required, especially at more senior levels. Here’s a breakdown of what’s needed:
Junior teaching assistant jobs roles can be entered directly from secondary education, or following university and therefore experience isn’t necessary. It can be beneficial for the candidate to have some experience working with children e.g. babysitting, childcare or holiday play schemes.
Intermediate to senior teaching assistant jobs require the individual to have worked in entry-level TA roles and as such the individual has some relevant job-based experience.
Teaching assistants need a variety of “soft” skills to perform their duties confidently and competently. These include:
- Relationship building: TAs must build excellent relationships with pupils and the teaching staff
- Organisational skills: Efficiency and order is vital in a busy educational environment
- Flexibility: The duties of a TA can change quickly, and the TA needs to adapt
- Creativity: Teaching assistants should be able to think creatively and resourcefully to problem solve and support different needs
- Enthusiasm: Working with children and young people requires energy and passion
- Inclusive nature: Support, care and encouragement should be offered to all students equally and without judgement
- Patience: Working with students, especially younger pupils and those with SEN, requires patience
Teaching assistant qualifications
It is possible to undertake teaching assistant roles with no qualifications making them ideal entry-level roles. In addition, comprehensive induction processes are often used when someone starts in the role for the first time.
As teaching assistants progress they can undertake various qualifications to help them become more effective in their role. These will often be supported by the school employing them.
Alternatively, these qualifications can be undertaken independently before an individual applies for a role. However, workplace assessment is often a common feature of teaching assistant qualifications.
NVQ Level 2 and 3 in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
The NVQ most sought after in TAs is called Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools and is available in Level 1, 2 and 3.
This NVQ addresses what’s needed by TAs to provide support within school and educational settings. It covers core parts of the role, such as equality and diversity, as well as topics such as safeguarding.
These are knowledge-based courses and so can be undertaken directly with a training provider, rather than completed in employment. However, the majority of TAs obtain these qualifications on the job.
Teaching assistants may choose, or be asked, to gain further knowledge in specific areas. There is a multitude of additional training and certification options on a huge range of topics, such as:
- Targeted interventions – e.g. one-to-one support delivering a dyslexia support programme
- Learning through play
- Special Educational Needs and Development (SEND) support
- Data recording, monitoring and tracking
- First Aid
- Speech and language support
- English as an additional language
- Emotional support (e.g. the Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) courses)
- Behaviour management
- Gifted and talented support
- Curriculum specific support
These are most frequently delivered as stand-alone training within schools, resulting in certification.
School level qualifications
Teaching assistants are usually required to have a grade C or above in both maths and English. Some schools also require GCSE level science.
Enhanced DBS check
Ofsted requires schools to carry out Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on those working in educational settings, to ensure they have a clean criminal record and are safe to work with vulnerable people and children. Schools in the UK require candidates to have an Enhanced DBS check to work as a TA.
What is expected of teaching assistants?
Teaching assistants usually have very clearly defined expectations;
- School hours – usual expectations are for term time work Mon – Fri during the hours of the school day. Additional hours may be expected, and paid, for planning. Part-time options are available within these school hours. Often TA roles are done as part of a job share
- Unusual hours – unusual hours are set differently, but may apply to TAs working in boarding schools, free schools, or special schools
- Flexibility – TAs may need to work additional hours for school trips or activities outside the school day
- Restricted holiday dates – Time off is not usually possible within term-time, unless on a term-time only contract when it will be calculated pro-rata
- Location – TAs work in educational settings from nurseries upwards
Teaching assistant benefits
Teaching assistants receive two main benefits:
- Pension – TAs should be eligible to enrol in an employer pension scheme, e.g. the LA pension scheme
- Sick Pay – Most LAs offer a sick pay scheme to TAs which goes beyond Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- Paid holiday – Permanent teaching assistants will be paid when schools are closed outside of term time – however, supply or contracted TAs may not be.
Who employs teaching assistants?
Most teaching assistants in the UK are employed by state schools through the local authority that runs them.
Independent schools and nurseries also employ teaching assistants.
The main educational settings for TAs are:
- Primary schools (most common)
- Secondary schools
- Special schools
- Independent schools
- Sixth form and colleges
Which junior jobs progress to teaching assistant roles?
It’s possible to become a Teaching Assistant with no previous experience. Candidates can enter the profession straight from school. Many will have some work experience with children, or have been in a child-centred voluntary role.
Which senior jobs do teaching assistants progress to?
Experienced teaching assistants can progress in two main ways:
Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA)
A HLTA needs a Level 4 qualification and performs a bridging role between that of TA and teacher, undertaking some lesson planning and delivery. They have greater responsibility than a standard TA, such as staff rota planning, and may cover classes as well as assessing and reporting on student progress.
Teachers are responsible for leading the education of pupils, planning and delivering classes, and ensuring they deliver the full UK curriculum. For a TA to become a teacher they will need to undertake a degree (e.g. BEd, or an undergraduate) plus a PGCE. Other routes TAs can take to becoming a teacher are School Direct or the Teach First Programme.
Teaching assistant job description – conclusion
Teaching assistants are of enormous importance within educational settings, helping to support pupils in their development and education.
They are critical in their support of teaching staff, enabling schools to provide education for each individual.