Which Teaching Assistant qualification is best for you?


Which Teaching Assistant qualification is best for you?

Becoming a teaching assistant is a highly rewarding role, but if you’re new to the education sector you might be struggling to know how to get started. Fortunately there are numerous teaching assistant qualifications out there to help, and depending on where you are in your career and on your future aspirations, some may be more advantageous than others.

Here we explore the different qualifications that exist, question whether you need them at all, and delve into how they can help you to reach your career goals.

Do teaching assistant roles require qualifications?

Not all teaching assistant roles will require a qualification, as it’s down to each individual school to set their requirements. Most will look essential numeracy and literacy skills (often measured as A*-C grades in English and maths at GCSE level, or the equivalent), as well as a strong set of soft skills, such as good organisation and communication.

However, having specific qualifications can significantly boost your chances of finding employment as it ensures you are better prepared for life in the classroom. It also ensures that you have the necessary skills and knowledge for more advanced positions which bring greater responsibility and pay, such as being a higher level teaching assistant. Other qualifications can also be achieved while in a job, enabling you to find an option that best suits your lifestyle.

The key things to know about teaching assistant qualifications

Teaching assistant qualifications come in a range of levels, with each higher level requiring a greater deal of knowledge and time than the level below. While you’re free to study at a level which suits you, it’s recommended that each level is completed in turn, as many of the skills learned can then be applied as you progress.

When completing a course, look to ensure that it is fully certified. This means it is awarded by a professional body and will be recognised by employers.

Level 1 qualifications

As the base-level of qualifications, Level 1 courses focus on the basic information you’ll need to know in order to succeed in the classroom, assessed via written submissions. You’ll be prepared for what school life will throw at you and will be left with an understanding of the core concepts behind being a teaching assistant.

Example courses

·        Level 1 Teaching Assistant Certificate

·        Level 1 Certificate in Preparing for Work in Schools

Level 2 qualifications

Deemed the equivalent of a GCSE, Level 2 courses build on the skills developed in lower courses and may include an element of work experience. The main variations here will depend on whether you complete an award, a certificate or a diploma (this ultimately relates to the number of hours you’ll need to commit to the course and to the number of teaching credits you’ll receive at the end of it).

Example courses:

·        Level 2 Teaching Assistant Certificate

·        Level 2 Teaching Assistant Diploma

·        Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools and Colleges

Level 3 qualifications

If you’ve been a teaching assistant for a while and are keen to further your career, a Level 3 course could be right for you. The equivalent of an A-level, the focus here is on enhancing knowledge and potentially specialising in certain areas, such as being a teaching assistant for children with special educational needs.

Example courses:

·        Level 3 Teaching Assistant Certificate

·        Level 3 Teaching Assistant Diploma

·        Level 3 Award in Supporting Learning and Teaching in Schools

Level 4 qualifications

As touched on previously, Level 4 qualifications provide the necessary tools for becoming a higher level teaching assistant. However, in order to complete these courses, you must have a suitable level of experience and be sponsored by your employer.

Example courses:

·        Level 4 Higher Level Teaching Assistant Course

·        Level 4 Certificate for the Advanced Practitioner in Schools and Colleges

Ultimately, the course you complete should be dependent on your individual circumstances. If you’re just starting out, the lower level courses provide the ideal introduction. Or if you’re keen to progress your career, the upper level courses should help you make that next step.

Let Tradewind help you build a rewarding teaching assistant career

If you're ready to start the search for your next role, we can help. As one of the UK's top teaching assistant agencies, we help candidates all around the UK find an education job that is suited to them. View all teaching assistant careers to find an assortment of roles, including part-time TA jobs, graduate teaching assistant jobs and SEN TA jobs. Or submit your CV and your local education recruitment consultant will get in touch with you shortly.