Provide targeted help and support to groups of pupils who need it most
Teaching assistants will typically work with small groups of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities to help them get the most out of classroom life.
With both academic and pastoral duties to attend to, your average TA has a lot of plates to spin.
In the course of a school day, a Teaching Assistant might:
Liaise with the classroom teacher about how best to support pupils
Conduct small-group interventions
Read with pupils
Help with schoolwork
Prepare learning materials
Work with children to build their communication skills
Help children with physical and hygienic tasks
A good SEND TA gives a teacher the confidence to teach the class as a whole, safe in the knowledge that the children who need a helping hand are receiving closer attention.
In this immensely fulfilling position, you’re given the chance to boost the prospects of children who might otherwise struggle with mainstream learning.
To become a SEND Teaching Assistant, you will need two or more passing grades at GCSE, including English and maths, and to pass an enhanced DBS check.
It may also help your applications to take a special qualification, such as a Level 2 or 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools.
The two terms can often be used interchangeably, and there is a large overlap between the two roles.
As a rule of thumb, a Teaching Assistant will run academic catch-up activities across a whole class, while a Learning Support Assistant provides one-on-one support to particular pupils.
SEND TAs can be found in all types of schools, from mainstream Primary and Secondary schools to Special schools and Alternative Provision settings.
The experience you gain working with young people in this role is invaluable for anyone seeking a longer-term career in education, and many TAs go on to become teachers.
A stint as a TA will provide the ideal springboard for an Initial Teacher Training course; you’ll have already gained a close-up view of the dynamics of a real-life classroom.
If you’re a graduate TA seeking to go into teaching, you can apply for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).
Non-graduates can apply for an undergraduate Initial Teacher Education or Training programme such as a Bachelor of Education.