What role does a SEN Teaching Assistant play in the classroom?


Considered the lifeline of special education needs (SEN) schools, it's hard to measure the impact of teaching assistants. They provide unwavering support and guidance to students with diverse learning needs, creating an inclusive educational environment for all.

These individuals play a vital role in supporting SEN Teachers to help children with a vast range of special educational needs and disabilities.

If you’re seeking a new change, or want to kick start your teaching career, a SEN teaching assistant role might just be your golden ticket. Let's dive into everything you need to know to become an extraordinary force in the world of SEN education!

Why SEN teaching assistants are needed

According to the latest government figures for the 2020/2021 academic year, nearly 1.1 million pupils require SEN support or have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan in English schools.

This figure has risen gradually since 2015/2016, with the number of pupils requiring specific SEN support jumping by nearly 100,000 young people.

In primary school settings, 12.6% of pupils have SEN support and in secondary schools that figure is slightly lower at 11.5%. The number is substantially higher in pupil referral units.

What to expect from life in the classroom

Classroom life for a special education teacher assistant revolves around supporting one, or several pupils, to develop their understanding of the subjects being taught. They may have complicated behavioural and learning challenges which need to be overcome and an assistant will provide valuable help to the main classroom teacher to minimise disruption and maximise learning.

In addition, an sen teaching assistant role is also about creating a suitable learning environment which recognises any difficulties that SEN pupils may face and which attempts to make it as comfortable as possible. One-to-one support enables an SEN teaching assistant to form close bonds with their pupils and they will ultimately discover which methods of learning work best for each individual.

Together with the main teacher, this knowledge can then be used to shape lessons and teaching practises in the classroom which should help pupils to reach their potential.

The skills and training you may need

Requirements for the job vary from school to school, but there are a range of different sen teaching assistant qualifications that can help you stand out from the crowd. For example, Level 2 and 3 diplomas in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools can provide a solid base of theory and will often include placements in schools which provide valuable classroom experience.

Taking a role as an SEN teaching assistant may also follow a period of working with children in other settings, such as mainstream schools or nurseries.

To figure out if this could be the role for you, why not learn more about the skills you need to be an SEN TA, which include understanding, patience and communication.

Are you ready to start the search for your next SEN teaching assistant role?

There are various routes to becoming an SEN teaching assistant, and with a positive and patient mindset, you can make a real difference in pupils’ lives up and down the country.

Interested in applying? You can view all our SEN teaching assistant jobs or alternatively, you can submityour CV - your local education recruitment consultant will get in touch with you shortly.