A Teaching Assistant Guide: What does it mean to be a TA?

Teaching assistant and child working together
Have you ever considered working as a Teaching Assistant on supply? Our latest blog explores what it means to be a TA.

Teaching Assistants thrive on adapting to suit the needs of each child and situation, with the ultimate goal of supporting their learning and development. TAs tackle challenges head on, working 1 to 1 with children, working in small groups and working with and supporting the class teacher. We think Teaching assistants are great and make a huge difference to children’s lives. Here is a breakdown of the role and responsibilities of a Teaching Assistant, and what it really means to be a TA.

Understanding the Role

A teaching assistant (TA) supports pupils not only in their education but also in terms of emotional and social development. This can be individually, in groups or as a whole class. There are lots of titles for support staff including: Teaching Assistant, Learning Support Assistant, Classroom Assistant, Learning Mentor, and even Non -Teaching Assistant. 

As well there being many job titles for school support staff, a TA wears the hat of many other professions, from acting as the classroom police through establishing boundaries, or the hat of an entertainer building relationships with students. To make sure children know they’re in a safe environment, teaching assistants sometimes have to be counsellors. There are many more responsibilities of a TA, which is what makes the role challenging and equally rewarding. 

Traditionally the TA role includes supporting the teacher in undertaking duties to help free up some of the teachers time. This includes tasks such as preparing the classroom for lessons, resource preparation and creating displays, and much more. When you first start your TA job, SupplyWell outline the expectations and requirements of your role so you can move forward knowing what is expected of you. 

As a TA every day will be different, you will be dealing with behavioural and learning difficulties and complex challenges that require patience. Depending on your role, you may work exclusively with pupils who have special educational needs (SEN) or other specific needs, which might require you to provide personal care to pupils, helping to lift or move them when required. SEND & Safeguarding Consultant & Trainer, Sara Alstons research showed that “a good teaching assistant was worth their weight in gold and acts as a ‘safety net, sounding board and sanity-saver.’”

Supporting pupils with learning difficulties or disabilities

Pupils who have been diagnosed with learning difficulties will sometimes have a teaching assistant assigned to them for either all or part of the time to support their learning. This support may be necessary because a pupil is physically disabled, hearing or visually impaired and needs additional support accessing the curriculum. Alternatively, it may be because they have learning difficulties and need additional support to understand and complete tasks. Teaching assistants offer invaluable support to these pupils, helping them to keep up to speed with their peers and can often mean the difference between pupils accessing a mainstream curriculum or attending a special school.

Supporting pupils with English as a second language

Pupils whose first language is not English often need some additional support accessing the curriculum, especially at first. It is quite common in schools with a high ESL (English as a Second Language) intake for specialised teaching assistants who speak the first language of groups of pupils to be employed to help pupils to understand their lessons and help to overcome any social or cultural divide.

Skills and experience you’ll need

  • Have experience working with children or young adults
  • Have confidence being able to work in small or large groups
  • Classroom experience ideal but not essential
  • Be able to use their initiative when working on their own with groups of young children
  • Ensure that all students work their hardest to achieve the highest results
  • Good communications skills
  • To be highly flexible
  • To enjoy working with young people

What would working as a SupplyWell TA look like?

  • Daily rates of pay £80-£126
  • Support with interview and lesson preparation when applying for roles
  • A dedicated, supportive consultant who is an ex teacher
  • Free, continuous CPD courses
  • Pay that reflects your experience and qualifications
  • Plenty of variety and choice of work at school level
  • Career development and progression opportunities

We hope you have found this guide helpful. Do you feel like you could be a Teaching Assistant? Fill in our quick sign up form to take the first step to exploring potential TA opportunities with SupplyWell.



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