What qualifications are available for Teaching Assistants?


Teaching assistants form a key part of the classroom make-up, providing support for teachers and ensuring that pupils can reach their potential.

Working in an array of surroundings from nursery through to primary and secondary schools, teaching assistants require a broad skill set, although a degree is not a necessity.

For more senior assistant roles, schools will often expect individuals to have a level of teaching assistant qualification, alongside some classroom experience.

So alongside basic numeracy and literacy skills, and a solid educational grounding, what teaching assistant qualifications are there and what do they demonstrate?

Why are teaching assistant qualifications needed?

Firstly, qualifications show that an individual has the necessary competency to be a teaching assistant and to carry out the role to a good standard.

It highlights their professional nature and ensures they have some of the basic skills needed to succeed in a classroom environment.

Fortunately, a wide range of providers supply recognised qualifications, starting at Level 1 and rising to Level 4 for Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTAs).

Expected salaries and required skills increases as the qualification levels go up, while those in senior roles may also have additional specialisms or special education needs (SEN) responsibilities.

The qualifications

A key starting point is the Award in Preparing to Work in Schools, which runs from Levels 1 to 4 – note that the mid-level awards are knowledge-based, meaning individuals can complete the courses before starting work if they wish.

Another stand-out basic course is the Level 2 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning, which builds on knowledge and seeks to develop key skills, enhancing employability in the process.

Extension courses can focus on supporting children with special needs or on other specialist elements of being a teaching assistant.

Both courses mentioned above extend to Level 4, while there are several other certificates and diplomas available which look to develop similar skills.

The courses look at how a teaching assistant can provide support to teachers, pupils, the curriculum, and to the school as a whole – skills that enable them to fit into new surroundings and to continually develop during their time in education.

At the higher level, a wider range of courses exist for HLTAs, which tend to broaden the focus towards aspects such as planning, assessments, and pupil monitoring – these are vital skills which allow these teaching assistants to fill in and teach a class when the regular teacher is absent.

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