As a teaching assistant you’ll play a vital role in the classroom. This is a great way to gain valuable classroom experience before you enter your teacher training or as a full-time career The role of teaching assistant is extremely rewarding and varied. You’ll be aiding the teacher, and sometimes you’ll be working with the whole class, small groups, and even individual students.
In this guide to teaching assistant jobs we’ll discuss everything you need to know about being a much sought after teaching assistant.
What can you expect when you’re a teaching assistant?
Teaching assistants (TAs) are vital in the modern classroom and much-sought after members of the team.
As a successful teaching assistant you’ll need to be patient, have a passion for helping your students and have a varied skill set.
You will support a wide range of activities in the classroom and help students to succeed and reach their potential. You will help children with specific learning needs and provide support within their educational, emotional and social development.
You'll also help free up the teacher’s time by preparing the classroom for lessons, creating materials and displays of children's work. Sometimes you might be required to provide short-term classroom cover.
You might be asked to help with pupils who have special educational needs (SEN) or other specific needs.
You'll be expected to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in and provide help as and when it is needed.
Of course, the TA role can be challenging, but extremely rewarding.
Most of your work will be in the classroom, but you might be asked to help supervise at lunchtime, on outdoor activities and school trips.
What responsibilities will you have as a teaching assistant?
Obviously your responsibilities as a teaching assistant will vary from school to school and the age of students you are working with. But here are some of the things you’ll be responsible for so you have a better idea about the role of a teaching assistant.
First, you’ll need to ensure your students are engaged in the lessons and able to keep on task. The ultimate goal is that they can become independent learners, so always keep that in mind.
Next, you need to provide emotional support in the development of the pupils. Be prepared to deal with any issues before they arise, if possible. And never ignore any potential issues.
Good quality teaching assistants always support the teacher whenever behavioural issues occur. And importantly, spot them before they get out of hand.
You will also need to monitor and record the students’ progress and provide feedback to your teacher.
Again, depending on the age of the students, you may be needed to create resources for your teacher to use. And of course, always help with clearing up after class.
In the unfortunate occasion a student becomes sick or has an accident, you might be needed to offer first-aid, take them to see the nurse, or even take them to the hospital.
During exams, you’ll be needed for proctoring duties, including supervising the exams, handing out and collecting exams.
You might be needed to cover the whole lesson, if the teacher is sick.
And in some schools, you’ll be needed to help with extracurricular activities, such as after-school groups, homework club, lunchtime duties and maybe traffic duties.
Hopefully, you’ll also have a chance to go on school trips with your pupils where you’ll have the opportunity to bond with all the teachers and students in a relaxed and fun environment. These trips can be a fantastic chance to really settle into your new school. Jump at the chance if the opportunity arises.
What skills do teaching assistants need?
It goes without saying that you need a strong resume in a competitive market. But it helps to know what kind of skills are expected as a teaching assistant. Therefore, we have put together a list of some of the most important skills you will need when you’re ready to enter the job market.
1. Teaching assistants are good communicators
Remember we are in the people business. So, effective communication skills are essential. Sometimes you’ll be faced with difficult students, so it’s going to be your job to make them feel relaxed, and make them feel comfortable enough to open up.
You have to be able to get on their level. Some students have shells that are hard to break, so strong skills in this area are vital.
2. Teaching assistants are team players
The teacher you work with will need to be able to count on you to get the job done. You’ll need to bring your own ideas to the table. You’ll need to problem solve, and work out solutions in difficult situations. Not every teacher you work with will be calm and collected, so you’ll need to also help them through some of the struggles they face.
In addition, you’ll need to prove you’re willing to work hard with all the teachers and staff members to ensure the students get the education they deserve.
3. Teaching assistants can work under pressure
Many classrooms these days offer a multitude of problems that will need to be solved, often under fairly stressful situations. You’ll need to show you can work under pressure and work through issues that you face. You’ll be given various responsibilities like delivering engaging teaching activities, while supporting the students’ emotional development.
Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of a teaching assistant is dealing with difficult student behaviour. You might need to prove you can handle these kinds of situations in your resume and interview before you even enter a classroom. Be ready to give details of specific examples from your experience.
4. Teaching assistants are aware
Do you keep an eye on the latest developments in our industry? The modern classroom is changing, sometimes at a hectic rate. The days of blackboards and chalk are long gone. Schools need teachers and teaching assistants that embrace the developments of technology in the classroom. Make sure you’re ready to explain how you are ready for the classroom of the future.
If this is an area you are weak in, then enroll yourself on an online course so you can shine in this important area. Strong IT skills are essential in the modern classroom. Make sure you are ready.
5. Teaching assistants have leadership skills
The teacher will be mainly responsible for managing the classroom, but you will also need to prove you have leadership skills too. Without them, there is a good chance the students will walk all over you. Be ready to answer questions about these skills in your interview.
Have specific details explaining how you managed a difficult classroom in the past and how you achieved great results.
6. Teaching assistants are professional
It goes without saying that you need to be a dedicated teaching assistant. The job market is tough out there. So make sure you are ready to help students meet their goals. Always be willing to go that extra mile and put the extra effort in to prove you are the professional candidate that you know you are.
What salary can you expect as a teaching assistant?
When you start as a teaching assistant full-time, the salaries for a TA (level 1) is typically around £17,364. Once you hit (level 2), you can expect to earn between £18,000 and £20,000. And once you are more experienced at (level 3) you can expect to earn about £25,000.
Currently, there isn't a national pay scale for teaching assistant salaries. But, most schools follow the local government pay scale for support staff. This might vary depending on the school you apply to.
As with any job, your TA salary will fluctuate depending on your duties, responsibilities and experience.
Remember, these salaries are only a guide, so you might be offered more, or a little less.
If you are interested in learning more about salaries in the NQT field, please check out this detailed post: https://teachlambeth.com/nqt-salary/
What are the standard working hours for a teaching assistant?
You will normally follow the regular times of a school day, Monday to Friday. Sometimes, your school might ask you to work early mornings or after school, especially if you are helping with additional activities, like sports club or traffic duty. Many schools will also ask you to attend training days or parents' evenings.
Be prepared for some schools to run activities over the school holidays. When you are starting out, these activities will give you a chance to prove you are a team player and willing to give your all to the job. In a competitive marketplace, you do not want to turn these opportunities down. You will of course be paid, in addition to your regular salary.
But your main driver should be showing the school you are a super valuable team player.
What are the employment contracts like for a teaching assistant?
You should be aware that employment contracts vary wildly in our profession. You will find that part-time work and job sharing is common. There are permanent contracts out there. However, many schools now offer fixed-term or temporary contracts. These are usually reviewed annually in line with school or pupil needs. Just be aware that there is always a chance your school might make your contract permanent.
But nothing is guaranteed.
What qualifications do you need to be a teaching assistant?
As an entry-level teaching assistant, you will need basic literacy and numeracy skills. This usually means GCSEs in maths or English, and experience working with children.
You don't need a degree to become a teaching assistant. But it would be an advantage. This is because it shows you are competent academically.
It would be best if you have qualifications and experience in related areas such as childcare or nursery. Also, experience in areas like youth work will be useful.
There are also specific courses you could look into, including:
These qualifications will provide a solid grounding in our field and an understanding of the skills you need to work with young students in primary or secondary schools.
To get onto the Level 2 and 3 rung, you will need to be working or on a placement in a school, either paid or voluntary.
You can also become a teaching assistant by taking an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship (Levels 2 and 3). You'll work in a school during your training. Also, you will be paid.
Final thoughts on teaching assistant jobs
One of the best things about becoming a teaching assistant can be the flexibility. If you’d like to dip your toe into education, this could be the perfect entry route for you. You can also go for a part-time arrangement if that suits you too. Once you’ve got some experience, and found that you love the job, you can progress through the grades.
As you progress, you can build your portfolio by taking various courses and adding more qualifications.
There are also many opportunities to develop your specialist skills, like fluency in different languages, first aid, Makaton and British Sign Language.
Why not take part in an online workshop where you can learn Makaton in the comfort of your own home? Makaton workshops are now being delivered online by licensed Makaton tutors. You will only require a computer, a webcam and a stable internet connection.
Finally, being a teaching assistant can be the perfect stepping stone to becoming a fully qualified teacher. The TA role will provide you a practical insight into what happens in the classroom, without the responsibility of being one.
Teaching Assistant Jobs in Lambeth
All the teaching assistant jobs available in Lambeth at any time are listed in the professional and support section of our jobs board.Check out the current vacancies in Lambeth for teaching assistants here.