Job descriptions and industry overviews

Teaching/classroom assistant: job description

21 Jun 2023, 15:39

Teaching (or classroom) assistants support qualified teachers in the classroom.

A teaching assistant writing on a blackboard

What does a teaching assistant do? | Starting salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Teaching or classroom assistants (sometimes known as learning support assistants in secondary schools) help teachers by supervising activities and working with children on an individual, small-group or whole-class basis. They’re vital in helping children gain literacy and numeric skills, particularly at key stage one.

Some teaching assistants work with children with special educational needs or whose first language isn’t English, while higher level teaching assistants may take on additional responsibilities such as teaching classes on their own, covering planned absences and allowing teachers time to plan and mark.

Typical duties include:

  • helping pupils with their learning, often with a particular focus on maths, reading and writing
  • supervising group activities
  • setting up equipment for lessons and keeping classrooms safe and tidy
  • helping develop programmes of learning activities and adapting appropriate materials
  • motivating and encouraging pupils
  • monitoring and recording children’s behaviour and progress
  • helping with school events, trips and activities.

Gain more advice on how to start a career in teaching and education .

Starting salaries

As a new teaching assistant in a state-maintained school, your salary is likely to be around £17,300 , although this depends on location. Salaries for teaching assistants, along with those of other local government employees, are agreed each year between unions and employers so your pay could rise annually as well as to reflect your experience.

Typical employers of classroom assistants

  • State-maintained schools.
  • Voluntary-controlled schools.
  • Independent schools.

Graduate teaching assistant jobs are advertised on local and central government websites, and on specialist educational news sites such as the Times Educational Supplement . Schools may also recruit directly.

Qualifications and training required

There are no set educational requirements for teaching assistant jobs, so this is a role that’s open to both university graduates and school leavers. However, experience of working with children is essential. You can gain this by approaching schools directly to ask for experience, voluntary work, job shadowing, or by helping at summer camps or play schemes.

Some schools may ask for applicants who are educated to A level standard or equivalent as a minimum. If you’re a graduate, you can have a degree in any subject to become a teaching assistant. Whatever your background, you could consider taking a part-time course to help prepare for work as a teaching assistant. Many are available online and help you explore the basics of education, different kinds of schools and how to keep children safe.

Key skills for classroom assistants

  • Excellent communication skills and the ability to relate to people of all ages and backgrounds.
  • Good literacy and numeracy.
  • IT skills.
  • Organisational skills.
  • Patience and the ability to manage challenging behaviour.

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