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Teaching Assistant Information

The role of a teaching assistant has changed as much as the role of the teacher over the years and continues to develop year in year out. The increased responsibility, requirement for adaptability and need for understanding safeguarding has meant the role has become an increasing more important position within, not just the class but the school as a whole. Long gone are the days where if you asked someone, what does a teaching assistant do in school, the answer was, top up paint pots.


Each TA role is different. You simply cannot compare the job of a TA in the EYFS to that of a year six TA – they are polar opposites in so many ways, yet there can be similarities. Whether you are in EYFS, year six or somewhere in between you need certain skills sets just like the teacher in the class. Behaviour management, subject knowledge, good communication skills, knowledge around safeguarding, eyes in the back of your head, a sense of humour and possibly above all, patience!

I don’t think you can say that the teaching assistant role in a primary school is a set one. For example; a TA in year four for the year. It’s highly likely that that TA will be asked to not only work with the year four class but also take say readers from year three or support a catch-up initiative in year five. More often than not though, a TA will be assigned to work with a particular class and with the teacher/teachers in that class. In more and more cases these days, you’ll find more than one TA in a class. You have the teaching assistant who works one to one. Now, this role in itself can vary hugely. A child who has fallen behind through illness is different to one who has complex learning needs. Again, within these roles there is a huge variance when you start to take age into it.

There are many ways in which you can become a teaching assistant. Some start voluntarily in their local school when their children start school and learn on the job. They find they want more from the role and gain the qualifications linked with being a TA. Some already have the qualifications and want to take on more responsibilities. Becoming a HLTA can be a way to improve pay but it comes with added responsibility naturally. As a HLTA, you may be asked to cover the class more often, say for PPA, lead certain activities around the school, be responsible for a particular intervention scheme or even be a subject specialist.

Much like the supply teacher, a supply teaching assistant can use the supply route as a way to gain more experience, get a chance to work in different year groups before committing to a particular year, work with a variety of teachers and learn different teaching techniques, styles, and behaviour management strategies, use the flexibility of supply work to facilitate family commitments or to allow time for further education. 

If you are interested in becoming a teaching assistant or are looking to improve your knowledge in a different area of primary education, then take a look at our ‘Training Signposts’ on our website. Here you’ll find a range of links to free training such as; support becoming a teaching assistant - level 2 classroom assistant course, a safeguarding section, SEN training and specific curriculum areas. If you are interested in working with us, please have a look at our TA job roles on our website.

We are always here to offer advice so please feel free to contact us. or call 01332 412903.

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