When looking for teaching assistant jobs, it’s important to know what the role entails and how you can make the step into the field. Teaching assistants play a vital role in the classroom, both assisting the teacher in everyday tasks, and providing individual care and extra educational support for the students. If you’re interested in becoming a teaching assistant (TA), then continue reading to discover the three easy steps you can take to achieve your goal.
Learn about the role of a teaching assistant
Before considering stepping into the role of a teaching assistant, you must understand exactly what the job entails. It can be a difficult job at times, trying to juggle assisting the teacher while providing additional support for the pupils in the classroom. Your daily tasks will include:
- Preparing the classroom for lessons and activities
- Support the teacher by managing behaviour of the classroom
- Handling administrative work
- Cleaning and tidying the classroom after activities
- Supervise after-school activities and clubs
- Provide additional educational support to pupils (reading, writing, maths)
- Looking after children who have had an injury, or are upset, and helping children in need of extra support
- Some roles will entail helping special education needs (SEN) students day-to-day
Teaching assistant jobs are a thankless task with a lot to juggle throughout the day, but there is a lot of enjoyment and fulfilment to gain from it too. You’ll be a part of student success stories because of the time you spent helping them with certain tasks, and you’ll likely always be fondly remembered by pupils when they grow up.
Now you’ve learned the responsibilities of a TA, you need to know about the salary, as that’s important too. Typically, a starting salary for a teaching assistant will be around £15,000 to £19,000 per year. With extra qualifications and experience, you could earn around £23,000.
Improve your chances of being hired
The next step in your journey to becoming a teaching assistant is to improve your chances of being hired by a school. If you’re comfortable with the responsibilities and requirements that being a teaching assistant entails, then you must be aware of the type of experience and qualifications you’ll require.
All schools are likely to ask for different qualifications and experience, but you’d be best aiming to earn a Level 2 Teaching Assistant qualification, and following that, a Level 3 Teaching Assistant qualification.
It’s also likely that the school will look to hire somebody with an A* to C grade in maths and English at GCSE level. Some TA courses actually require this to sign up too.
Again, all schools and places of work are different but you can only help yourself when applying by ensuring you have some experience working with children. According to Prospects, it’s likely that you’ll need experience in one or some of the following fields to become a teaching assistant:
- Educational settings
- Sports activities
- Summer camps
- Youth work
Employers will look for transferable skills. If you don’t have any relevant experience, you could attempt to volunteer working with children with special needs. Contact the organisation you’d like to work with and offer your assistance. You can even try to volunteer at an educational setting to earn some valuable experience ahead of applying for job openings.
Update your CV and start applying
The final step to achieving your dream of becoming a teaching assistant is to fine tune your CV, start applying for job opportunities, and work on your interview skills.
This is the most difficult hurdle to overcome, so you must sell yourself and the skills you have on your CV. Relevant skills you’ll need to display are:
- Teamwork and communication skills
- Literacy and numeracy skills
- Patience and friendliness
- Classroom management skills
- Understanding of child learning and development
Showcase your skills as well as providing detailed information on your qualification and experience you hold. Employers want to know what you have in the bank, and what you can offer them. When listing qualifications you possess, ensure you also make it clear any certifications you have too – the more, the better!
Now your CV is ready, start searching jobs websites like Reed, Indeed and TotalJobs looking for ‘teaching assistant’ roles or ‘assistant teacher’. These search terms will bring up exactly what you’re looking for, so apply and cross your fingers.
If you’re lucky enough to reach the interview stage, think about your answers for the following questions that you might be asked:
- Why do you want to be a teaching assistant?
- What makes you think you’ll be a good teaching assistant?
- What attracted you to this school?
- Can you tell us about your time working with children?
- How would you deal with a disruptive pupil?
You may not face all of these questions, and you’re likely to field similar ones, but ensuring you have nailed the answers to these is key to getting your dream job. Work with a partner or friend on your answers, and even try to speak to a current teaching assistant or teacher to gain their expertise.