What makes a good SEN teaching assistant?


What makes a good SEN teaching assistant?

The best special education needs (SEN) teaching assistants all possess qualities which make them stand out in the classroom. If you’re keen to excel in the role, we’ve delved into several of the key traits which help to separate a great teaching assistant from the rest of the pack. Not only are other school staff likely to take notice, but so too will the pupils you support.

As a vital cog in the system when it comes to providing classroom support, SEN teaching assistant roles provide a great opportunity to show passion, empathy and creativity. By focusing on some of the key traits, we hope you’ll be able to make the most of the role, supporting your development and enabling you to build stronger bonds with pupils.

Why flexibility matters for SEN teaching assistants

Day-to-day support in the classroom will vary by its very nature, as subjects and topics change regularly. This requires a range of different approaches and the best SEN teaching assistants will be able to adapt to this by being incredibly flexible. It may be a cliché, but every day is different in the classroom and you’ll need to be prepared for situations to change in an instant. That said, exemplary SEN teaching assistants are also often highly organised, as this helps them to be prepared for whatever lessons they might be a part of. As a result, they can respond quickly if a certain lesson activity does not go as planned.

Are you open-minded?

Education is constantly changing too, with new developments and methodology continuously coming to the fore. There’s a need to be open-minded when it comes to these developments, and also to the various different situations that pupils might be dealing with. Top SEN assistants will be able to see things from a child’s perspective, and may actively engage with them in different ways as a result. These approaches tend to enable them to better support pupils when it comes to developing their understanding and encouraging fresh ways of tackling problems.

How well do you know where you work?

SEN teaching assistants that excel in their roles are often highly knowledgeably when it comes to school policies and approaches for tackling poor behaviour. It enables them to actively support the teacher in the classroom environment and ensures they are prepared for dealing with a range of different situations. If you want to excel in the role, be sure to brush up on the key documents – or speak to other school staff if you’re struggling to find copies of them.

Why showing your value as a SEN teaching assistant is vital

Teachers will appreciate support in the classroom and outside of it, so give plenty of thought to how you can show the value you can bring. Not only does this help to build lasting relationships with other school staff, but it also allows you to demonstrate your creative flare. When working with children with SEN, creative approaches can be key to assisting their learning. They may understand things in different ways, and may respond differently depending on the teaching methodology used, potentially meaning they are more engaged.

Can you enhance your communication skills?

With communication central to any SEN teaching assistant role, those who excel will constantly ensure it features in their personal development plans. It’s not just the spoken word that is important either, as being able to write clearly and concisely is essential when communicating with teachers, parents and pupils. If a youngster has specific speech or hearing needs, high-quality communications skills enable a SEN teaching assistant to communicate more effectively. This ultimately helps pupils to better understand tasks and can improve learning outcomes.

Understanding why empathy is pivotal to the role

Question any SEN teaching assistant on the need for empathy, and they’ll tell you it’s a vital skill to have. But the best in the role know how to use sensitivity in an array of different situations. It often helps to identify pupils who might be at risk or struggling, while it can enable staff to gain an improved understanding of care needs, as a result of the relationships that can be built. Displaying empathy can help to build strong bonds with other school staff too, which tends to result in a more welcoming and friendly school environment.

Be prepared to be patient

Children with special educational needs won’t always see the world in the same light as you, and this means you’ll often need to be patient. Top SEN teaching assistants will allow pupils to grasp concepts at their own pace, by providing useful tips and guidance along the way. This can help to build a child’s feeling of self-worth and can make it easier to motivate them if they’re feeling down.

All of these core qualities are present among the best SEN teaching assistants. We recommend thinking carefully about you demonstrate all of them in your day-to-day work, as it should ultimately help you to stand out from the crowd.


Begin the search for your next SEN teaching assistant role

Now that you know the skills that you need to succeed, it's time to put your career in gear. Check out the latest SEN teaching assistant jobs and you'll find vacancies across the UK. Our process is streamlined, so you could have your applications submitted in just a few clicks.

Alternatively, contact our team and we'll be in touch to discuss how we can support your education career. Our recruitment consultants take great pride in being one of the leading education recruitment agencies in the UK. We work hard to deliver the highest quality candidate care and match you with a teaching job that is perfect for you.