Becoming a teaching assistant can be incredibly rewarding. As well as being a career end in itself, a teaching assistant position can also be a stepping stone towards becoming a fully qualified teacher. Typically, teaching assistants are attached to a class (in primary schools); to a subject department (in secondary schools); or to individual pupils with special educational needs (both sectors). Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTAs) have more responsibility, sometimes supervising other TAs, or even leading classes on their own. Requiring patience, a sense of humour, and a genuine commitment to children's educational prospects, working as a TA is a varied, energetic job, and TAs need to be good team players, taking direction from teachers and supporting them as well as the pupils in their work. In time, teacher's assistants, possibly having started off with a part-time school job can find their way working up to senior management jobs.
Teaching Assistant Job Educational Requirements
These vary from school to school. At a minimum, you should have 5 good passes at GCSE, including A-C grades in English and Maths. Increasingly, schools look to hire graduates as teaching assistants, and in some in-demand areas - particularly in London - a degree is required for the job. You will also need to be able to demonstrate an interest in education and experience of working with children or young people. Additionally you will need to have a criminal record check performed by the Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly the Criminal Records Bureau).
Teaching Assistant Job Market
The job market for teaching assistants is steady, as educational roles will always need to be filled. In particular, the UK requires teachers in the sciences (maths, chemistry etc.), so having qualifications in one or more of those subjects is advantageous.
Teaching Assistant Job Salary Information
Unlike teachers, teaching assistants do not generally have to plan lessons or mark students' work, meaning that they effectively work a much shorter week (attendance at weekly staff meetings and occasional training events is usually compulsory, however). Teaching assistants may help with behaviour management; take small groups of students out of the main class for activities decided by the teacher; undertake breaktime supervision duties, and help to tidy up classrooms and prepare resources. Generally, a teaching assistant can expect to work around 35 hours a week, earn anything between £13,000 - £18,000 per annum, and have around 13 weeks' holiday per year.