Working as a teaching assistant can be a very rewarding job. Also known as a classroom assistant, your role will involve working very closely with the teacher to offer support and assistance to pupils.  So here's an overview of the job responsibilities, required skills and qualifications, and teaching assistant salary.

What is a teaching assistant?

People in teaching assistant jobs may work with all pupils or may offer extra support to individual children with specific learning disabilities. Teachers would find it difficult to listen to 30 children read one-to-one, so a classroom assistant may help with this, offering guidance and support to the individual learner.

If a pupil finds it difficult to take notes, the assistant may make notes for the pupil to take home. Classroom assistants also provide support for students whose first language isn't English. So speaking another language - especially a local ethnic community language - can be a great advantage.

  • A classroom assistant has many other responsibilities, such as:
  • Preparing the classroom before lessons and tidying materials away at the end
  • Helping to put up displays of pupils’ work
  • Supervising group activities.

They also help the teacher with the day to day running of the classroom, monitoring and addressing behaviour and also helping out with children who might be upset or unwell. Administrative tasks such as completing records and supervising school trips and events may also be a requirement of the job. Every school varies in its requirements, and every class of children is different - so the job description and your daily tasks will vary, too. 

Higher level teaching assistants (HLTAs) have extra duties and responsibilities, such as leading certain aspects of a lesson, with the supervision of the teacher. They work very closely with the teacher and can help to plan lessons and materials for the next day.

Pupil development and progress are important to measure, and a HLTA often records the progress of the pupils they are supporting. Higher level teaching assistants can also have the responsibility of advising and mentoring other teaching assistants. If your ambition is to become a higher level teaching assistant, you need the permission and funding of the school to gain HLTA status.

What you need to be a teaching assistant.

Certain skills and qualifications may be required for classroom assistant jobs, but specific requirements are all at the discretion of the individual school. Classroom assistants who do not have any formal qualifications usually have a significant amount of experience that proves their capability for the role.

If you are thinking of applying for a classroom assistant position, you stand a better chance if you can demonstrate some practical experience, so it is a good idea to offer to help out voluntarily at a local nursery or school. A typical qualification is an ‘NVQ Level 2 in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools’. Some graduates and even qualified teachers decide to become classroom assistants!

For some posts, you may need to have qualifications in Literacy or English and Numeracy or Mathematics, but most importantly, you need to be patient, dedicated and supportive.

A job description for a classroom assistant may list certain qualities:

  • Be a positive and motivational influence in the classroom
  • There to support and encourage pupils and to give them the confidence to do their work
  • Dedicated to helping the children in their care
  • Passionate about helping children to improve and progress
  • Patient, caring and understanding,
  • Creative, imaginative and energetic

A full-time classroom assistant will typically earn between £13,000 - £18,000 per year, for hours usually around 8.30am – 4pm. Many classroom assistants use the experience to go on to train to be a qualified teacher. 

Being in charge of the learning and personal development of students, a classroom assistant job can be demanding, so you need to be physically and mentally capable. There will be lots of work, but it’s a very rewarding and fulfilling position if this is the career path for you. Interested? Get in touch today or search our jobs.