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If you want to become a teaching and learning assistant, then you will want to know the best way to get this role. To help you work out your next steps and what you need to do, we have put together our guide on becoming a teaching and learning assistant.

Who can become a teaching and learning assistant?

Anyone can become a teaching assistant. It doesn’t matter how old you are, which gender you are and in many cases, whether or not you have been a teaching and learning assistant before.

To become a TA or an LA, you need to be interested in working with children. Any previous experience working with children, even in a voluntary role, will benefit your application.

What skills and qualifications will you need?

There are no set qualifications you need to have to become a teaching assistant. However, many schools will ask that you need to have a good level of both numeracy and literacy skills. This will help you to be able to support and assist the children that you work with within the class.

Skill-wise, a good TA will be organised and calm under pressure. They will be friendly and dedicated to their role and can easily work with children and adults. They will also be patient and adaptable, and flexible too.

Understanding the role of a teaching assistant

As the name suggests, the role of a teaching assistant is to assist the children’s learning within a school setting. They may work with a child one-to-one, or they may work within a set class.

A teaching assistant is a role that changes daily, and no two days will ever be the same, even if the work you do may be similar each day.

Depending on their level of experience, teaching assistants may also be required to cover the classroom and lead the learning with the children when the teacher is not in the classroom.

Understanding the role of a learning assistant

A learning assistant is much like a teaching assistant and can often be interchanged with this term. However, for the most part, a learning assistant will be dedicated to working with one child rather than a whole class.

This child will often have additional needs, which means that they need support in all of their learning and having a learning assistant there will be able to guide them through their learning and keep them on track.

How long will it take to become qualified?

The time it will take to become a qualified teaching assistant will depend on the course you take and how you decide to approach it. Some teaching assistants will learn via a college course, whilst others may be an online course.

You can decide which fits best with your current life and work commitments and then go from there.

For the most part, however, a course should take around one year to complete. However, it is important to do it at your own pace.

Create a training and development plan

The best way to map out the training you want to do when you are a teaching assistant is to create a training development plan. As the name suggests, they are designed to plan for the training and development you want.

You can think about your current goals, your next steps and those bigger goals that you want to reach in the future.

Having it set out like this will help you to think about what you may need to reach your learning goals. Not only this, but it will also show the school you work in, what you plan to do and what support you will need to get there.

It also gives you focus, encouraging you to keep going, especially when things might seem a little tricky.

Choose the right course(s) for you

It is essential to make sure that you always think about what course will be right for you. Some people find that they work much better if they sit in a college classroom. However, others find they need the flexibility of working at home or online.

You also want to consider the time constraints that the course has, the study materials that they will provide you with and how easy it is to contact your fellow students and your tutor too.

You need to consider what other commitments you have in your life and how you can fit your studying around the other things you have to do. This will help you think about which course will be the right approach for you.

Be motivated and confident

This particular point relates to not only your work as TA but also your studying too. To get where you want to be, you need to stay as motivated as possible. It can be hard to focus on what you need to do and how you will get there. But you must keep going.

You also need to have confidence in yourself and what you can achieve. Suppose you doubt yourself, whether in your learning or the job you do every day, you may find that things are much harder to get through.

Be flexible and adaptable

One of the main things you will need to be able to do when you are a teaching assistant is to be as flexible and adaptable as possible. Things can change quickly when you work in a school, and one day you may be in one class, yet the next, you may move to another class.

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If you want to become a good teaching assistant in the UK, then the best advice is to make sure that you learn as much as you can. This could be learning on the job, as much of the skills that you need to now are obtained. 

It can also be using a variety of courses to increase your learning and give you the tools that you can then put into your every day working with the children. 

In order to become a teaching assistant, you will not need to have any formal qualifications (such as a degree or further learning). However, you will usually be required to have GCSEs in grade 4 (C) or above, in both English and Maths.

If you want to have the best chance of getting a placement and standing out from the competition, plus offering the highest quality possible, you may find that a qualification that relates to childcare or working within an educational setting – such as the LearnQ Level 2 Award in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools will be beneficial to your application.

Both teaching assistants and learning assistants can both be found working in a classroom setting. They offer support to the teacher during their teaching, and they are there to ensure that the children within the class receive the very best level of education possible.

Not only will they work with individual children on a one-on-one basis, but they will also be asked to work with groups for focused learning as well as support children during the class input and work to keep them on target and focused.

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