Teaching Assistants / School Support Staff

Teaching Assistants (TAs) have become an essential part of the classroom, supporting teachers and helping children with educational and social development needs.

The help required in classrooms can include:

  • Special Education Needs Teaching Assistants or Co-Ordinators (SEN TA or SENCO)
  • General Primary Teaching Assistants (TA)
  • Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTA)
  • 1:1 Learning Support Assistants (LSA)
  • Those who can Plan, Prepare and Assess (PPA)

Most Teaching Assistant jobs are in nursery, primary and special schools. You could also work in secondary or independent schools and academies, in these sectors Teaching Assistants are generally known as Learning Support Assistants.

Qualifications, skills and experience required

A degree is not required to work as a Teaching Assistant, however, if you do have one it will provide you with an advantage.
Depending on the type of Teaching Assistant role you may need to have certain qualifications such as NNEB for nursery work and CACHE Level 3. It would also be helpful to have knowledge of the Primary education sector as well as the following:

  • Excellent literacy and numeracy skills
  • Strong track record of raising levels of achievement and motivation
  • Ability to build strong relationships with children and parents
  • Support pupils to make progress through providing personalised experiences
  • Ability to remain patient and calm
  • Have excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • Be passionate, energetic and patient
  • Have creativity skills to design materials and activities
  • A valid DBS
  • The right to work in the UK
  • A minimum of two references

Hours of work and enviroment

Working as a Teaching Assistant is ideal for those who are beginning their teaching career and wanting to gain more experience and develop their skills. It is also ideal for those who want flexibility as many positions are for daily supply or short term supply and some with part-time hours allowing you to work around your commitments.

Hours of work are set by the school, generally you will work from around 8.30am to 3.15pm or 4.15pm. You may also be required to attend meetings and training outside these hours.

Career path and progression

Despite the many qualifications available for teaching assistants, many do not have any formal training, and instead build up practical experience over many years.

Those that do study often choose the NVQ Level 2 and/or 3 qualification, as it is the most widely studied in the profession. Those that want to become a teaching assistant often come from nursery backgrounds, and have qualifications in childcare. These are seen as good starting points for those new to the occupation. You could work as a teaching assistant in nursery, infant or junior schools, special schools, secondary schools or independent schools.

With experience you may be able to progress to senior assistant or be assessed for Higher Level Teaching Assistant status (HLTA). You could also train as a teacher.

Key Responsibilities

Your duties will depend on your experience, training and TA status but will generally involve:

  • Helping and supporting children who need extra guidance to complete tasks. This can be either a one-to-one basis or in small groups
  • Supporting the class teacher prepare for lessons and with administrative tasks such as preparing classroom resources and clearing away afterwards
  • Supervising group activities
  • Managing challenging pupil behaviour
  • Making sure that the pupils that you support are able to engage in learning and stay on task during the lesson or activity
  • Supporting the social and emotional development of pupils (i.e. those who are upset or had accidents), reporting any issues as necessary
  • Guiding and monitoring pupil progress
  • Providing support outside of the normal classes, such as helping during exams, covering absences or going on school trips
  • Co-ordinating specific areas of teaching support once you have the right level of experience


As a Teaching Assistant you can either be on a permanent contract or a daily rate of pay. As a guide and depending on your qualifications and experience you can expect to earn around:

Entry Experienced Highly Experienced
Salary £11,500 to £14,000 £15,000 to £17,000 £17,000 to £23,000
Daily £60 to £75 £80 to £90 £90 to £120