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How To Gain Experience as a Teaching Assistant

About about 2 years ago By Eloise Gladwyn

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​Do you love spending time helping children succeed? Do you feel an abiding passion for education and learning but don’t know how to apply it? If you’ve never worked in a school or have only a small amount of experience, you may think it is impossible to land a job as a teaching assistant. Don’t worry - nothing could be further from the truth. In this article, we’ll guide you through how to become a teaching assistant with little or no experience and the skills required for this role.

Teaching Assistants (TAs for short) are the bread and butter of any classroom, supporting the teacher to deliver learning and ensure all pupils are reaching their potential. They may work across the whole class, or with specific pupils that need some extra support.

Do not underestimate the importance of a TA; their role is vital in supporting a wide range of abilities. The job requires great patience, understanding and superb people skills.

With experience, you may progress to a Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA), where you may have extra responsibilities and may occasionally teach lessons when the teacher is unavailable.

What qualifications do I need to become a teaching assistant?

Currently, in the UK, there is no formal qualification needed to become a teaching assistant, other than a grade C in GCSE (or equivalent) Maths and English. This can mean there is often competition for teaching assistant jobs, so getting as much experience as possible will set you above other applicants.

How do I land a teaching assistant role with no experience ?

If you are ready to dive into the world of education but do not yet have any experience, never fear: there are many ways to become a teaching assistant without having spent a second in the classroom before. Here are just a few ideas for how to take your first steps into the world of education:

1.   A college course

You can gain experience by undertaking a college course specifically designed for those wanting to pursue a career as a teaching assistant. You may want to complete a Level 2 or Level 3 in Childcare and Education, and can even specialise in a particular area, such as special needs, literacy or numeracy. Many courses offer online tuition, if this suits your lifestyle better, such as the TA College through their Teaching Assistant CACHE Qualifications.

2.   An apprenticeship 

A TA apprenticeship is a tried-and-tested way of breaking into education. A school will directly employ you as an apprentice, and provide training for you to become an amazing TA, so you learn while on the job and get paid to do so. If you can express your desire to help children succeed and your willingness to learn in your interview, interviewers will typically overlook a lack of experience. To be considered for an apprenticeship, you typically need five GCSEs (or equivalent) grades 9 to 4 (A*-C).  

3.   Volunteering

Volunteering for local children's charities, youth clubs or brownies/ scouts, or holiday clubs can all help you gain experience that would make a great talking point in an interview. If you have children in school, you could ask the school if you can help out at an event such as the Christmas fair or a school trip. If you have a particular skill, such as painting or sewing, you could offer your services for the school production, creating the set or costumes. Those with a passion for sport can offer to help out at sports day. Whatever your enthusiasms are, the trick is to be creative about using them.

4.   Your own children!

That’s right; helping your own children counts too! Do you often help them with homework? Do you spend a lot of time helping them understand common concepts (or even just how to wash their hands correctly)? All of these are valid experiences of taking responsibility for children’s development. If you don’t have any children of your own, do you have any friends or family with little ones you could help out with? It all adds up.

There is no shortage of ways to get your foot in the door and become a TA, so do not be disheartened if you currently have no experience.

How Protocol Education can help you become a teaching assistant with no experience

Being a TA is an incredibly rewarding job, you are helping the next generation learn about the world around them, and you play a large role in their development.

As one of the UK’s leading educational recruitment agencies, we help hundreds of teaching assistants every year put their skills into practice in primary schoolssecondary schools, special schools or as part of the National Tutoring Programme.

Even if you have no previous experience as a teaching assistant, our consultants will find you the right opportunity to get into the classroom and start changing lives. Browse our latest TA job opportunities or register with us to be the first to know about the best placements.