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Teaching Assistant’s Handbook Level 2 Summary – part 2

This article is a continuation summary of the Teaching Assistant’s Handbook Level 2 by Teena Kamen, chapters 7 to 14. Summary of the first part of the book.

7 Supporting Learning Activities

A guide for the QCF unit ‘Supporting Learning Activities’.

In this chapter, the book discusses the way children learn and think,


including cognitive developmental theories such as Piaget, Vygotsky and Bruner. Learning pathways and experiences are mentioned and activities are encouraged, in order to think about the process of learning.

The different types of learning styles are detailed:

  • Visual Learners – observation/reading
  • Auditory Learners – listening to instructions
  • Kinaesthetic Learners – through movement
  • Analytic Learners – organising into logical pieces
  • Global Learners – focusing on main ideas, not details

The curriculum framework

Long, medium and short term plans are discussed with key tasks and how the teaching assistant supports the teacher. The chapter includes details on how to plan learning activities based on individual needs – including selecting resources and observation and recording of responses. A planning sheet example is provided.

Each aspect of preparing, delivering and evaluating the learning activity is discussed in detail.

8 Supporting positive behaviour

A guide for QCF unit ‘Support positive behaviour’.

The eighth chapter of this book talks about the expectations of behaviour – parental and school expectations. Pupil behaviour is influenced by a number of external factors, which are discussed.

There are 8 suggested ways to encourage children’s positive behaviour and how staff in schools act as role models for the pupils. Examples of ‘school code of conduct’ are given.

Rewarding pupil behaviour is an important part of this chapter and details are given on how this can be implemented.

Difficult behaviour is discussed, along with how to recognise patterns of behaviour. Plans to help support difficult behaviour are given.

9 Improving own team and practice

A guide for QCF unit ‘Improve own team and practice’.

This chapter focuses on the effectiveness of teamwork and the importance of communicating with colleagues. There are a number of ways teaching assistants interact with other members of staff and this chapter encourages and examines positive working relationships.

10 Supporting the use of ICT for teaching and learning

A guide for QCF unit ‘Support the use of ICT for teaching and learning’.

ICT (Information and Communication Technology) is stressed as an important part of the national curriculum in this chapter and safety around the equipment is discussed. School policies and data protection are detailed and the various skills at primary/secondary school level.

A detailed list of ICT risks are included and how to deal with them.

11 Supporting learning environments

A guide for QCF units:

  • ‘Contribute to supporting bilingual leaners’
  • ‘Prepare and maintain learning environments’
  • ‘Provide displays in schools’
  • ‘Support children and young people’s play and leisure’

There are various aspects to the preparation of classes, such as adequate floor space and lighting/ventilation. Organising and checking classroom resources is an important part of this unit. Another important aspect is supporting English as an additional language.

12 Supporting special educational needs

To be used for QCF units:

  • ‘Support children and young people wit disabilities and special educational needs’
  • ‘Move and position individuals’
  • ‘Provide support for therapy sessions’

This chapter focuses on SEN (Special Educational Needs) and the legislation related to the topic. Assessments and plans are detailed – an example of an Individual Education Plan is given. Most importantly, the roles of those who support SEN pupils are given and a list of ways to support these pupils are detailed.

As an SEN teaching assistant, you would need to know exactly how to move pupil’s with physical disabilities. This chapter gives information on how this is done.

13 Supporting the wider curriculum

This is a guide for QCF units:

  • ‘Support children and young people at meal or snack times’
  • ‘Support children and young people’s travel outside the setting’
  • ‘Support extra-curricular activities’

This chapter explores the basic knowledge of food hygiene, preparing food and also dietary requirements.

Schools trips and the safety of these trips are explored.

14 Supporting assessment for learning

A guide for QCF unit ‘Support Assessment for Learning’.

This chapter explores ways to help pupil’s development and raise achievements. Formative assessments and learning goals are discussed along with assessment forms and school reports.

>> Information on Teaching Assistant qualifications and courses

Teaching Assistant’s Handbook Level 2 Summary – part 1

The Teaching Assistant’s Handbook for Level 2, written by Teena Kamen, is a 2010 publication supporting the development and learning of students. The book is suitable for students studying the following teaching assistant courses and qualifications:

  • Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schoolsteaching_assistants-handbook-level-2
  • Level 2 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
  • Level 2 Certificate in Supporting the Wider Curriculum in Schools

The book is divided into 14 chapters (the first 6 are detailed below):

1 Supporting child and young person development

A guide for the QCF unit ‘Child and Young Person Development’.This chapter focuses on the importance of observation relating to child behaviour, skills, development sequence and activity planning based on individual needs. Teaching assistants will routinely be making observations and various principles need to be taken into consideration (such as objectiveness and confidentiality). Observation best practise methods are discussed and examples given with suggested formats.  Suggested activities are given to help emphasise the importance of observation and how developmental progress is on an individual basis. Planning activities based on individual student’s progress is discussed and the formats a teaching assistant can use to prepare, review and evaluate. A detailed sequence of children’s development is provided from 0 to 16 years, divided into subsections of development:

  • Social – the way in which children’s social development can be supported are discussed, including behavioural patterns and self awareness.
  • Physical – gross motor skills and fine motor skills
  • Intellectual – how information is stored and recalled
  • Communication & Language – shared language, relating to others and expressing feelings
  • Emotional – focus on personality and temperament

Recognising and supporting children’s transitions are noted for age groups i.e. age 3 to 11 years will require reassurance and explanations  or age 11 to 16 will require open days/evenings and career advice when going through transitions.

2 Safeguarding the welfare of children and young people

A guide for the QCF unit ‘Safeguarding the welfare of children and young

Teaching Assistant Handbook level 2

people’ This chapter details the importance of health and safety (a legal understanding is required to ensure the the safety of the teaching assistant and pupil). For example, tools or other equipment will need to be maintained and accidents/injuries will need to be logged. Common childhood illnesses are detailed – the symptoms and how to deal with each illness. Identifying abuse in the following forms:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Sexual
  • Neglect

This chapter also discussed the law regarding safeguarding children according to the Children Act 1989 and Children Act 2004. The referral process is explained and how teaching assistants can identify signs of abuse. Helping pupils to protect themselves against abuse or being bullied is also detailed.

3 Maintaining and supporting professional relationships

A guide for the QCF unit ‘Communication and professional relationships with children, young people and adults’ and ‘Maintain and support relationships with children and young people’. This chapter details the importance of creating positive, professional relationships with pupils and the types of positive interactions. Communicating in a positive and clear manner is essential, so notes are provided on how best to communicate, including how to actively listen. The importance of praise, encouragement and support is highlighted, along with ways in which behavioural problems are tackled i.e. meeting the standards of the school. A common problem tackled by many teaching assistants is the emotional outburst, which this chapter covers and details the way these outbursts should be handled. Helping pupils deal with conflicts such as jealousy or disagreements is noted and examples given. Good communication with adults is essential as teaching assistants will be regularly reporting back to colleagues, carers and parents. Best practise for confidentiality and the Data Protection Act 1998 are detailed.

4 Supporting equality, diversity and inclusion

A guide for the QCF unit ‘Equality, diversity and inclusion in work with children and young people’. This chapter details the rights and needs of children and how these rights have changed over the years to now include rights to express views and engage in play. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child are detailed along with legislation. Cultural diversity, disabilities and gender are discussed with regards to promoting a positive attitude and the ways teaching assistants should approach these issues.

5 Understanding schools as organisations

A guide for QCF unit ‘Schools as organisations’. This chapter details the UK education system and how it works, from pre-school to further education. Alongside this is the description of the school workforce and the roles/responsibilities. The teaching assistant role is covered in detail regarding the role and how it supports those within the workforce and the pupils. Examples of job descriptions are included and also the procedures for grievances and staff code of conduct.

6 Supporting children and young people’s health and safety

A guide for QCF unit ‘Support children and young people’s health and safety’. This chapter covers the maintenance of health and safety during learning – i.e. how risk assessments are carried out and how equipment must be stored (an example of a risk assessment form is shown). Play areas are required to be safe and clean so tips on how to maintain play areas are given. School evacuations and procedures for missing pupils are also documented, along with procedures for accidents (administering first aid and completing accident/injury forms).

Part 2 Summary


How I became a Learning Support Assistant

April Gibson is a Learning Support Assistant studying for her Level 3. She has written a guest post detailing the challenges she faced finding a work placement and the diversity of the tasks within her role.

First hand experiences working as a Learning Support Assistant

I am a 23 year old female, living and working in Surrey. I work in a main stream, mixed gender, high school, supporting the Special Educational Needs department (SEN), as a Learning Support Assistant (LSA). I am writing this to share my experiences of working in this industry, as I am hoping it will encourage others to go into the same profession.

It took me a long time to secure myself an LSA role, however don’t let this put you off, perseverance is the key. I was told, after a few unsuccessful interviews, that whilst I had good GCSE and A-Level results and the experience of working with children (as a qualified swimming teacher), I did not have a specialised qualification, which other candidates did have – making them more employable than me.

Teaching Assistant Handbook level 3

Therefore I decided that I was going to go to college in order to obtain a Teaching Assistant qualification. I sourced guidance from a local college on my situation and they explained that because I already had experience of working with children that I could enter the NVQ Teaching Assistants course at level 3. However, I would need to have a work placement in order to qualify for entry onto the course, as I would be regularly assessed by an examiner. I then wrote to all the local schools asking if I could spend a few days a week working as a voluntary Teaching Assistant to help support my college course. To my disappointment, no school replied to my request, therefore preventing me from going to college.

In the mean time I had spent many hours looking and applying for jobs – just like many application forms, they were long, detailed and difficult to complete, they also required me to write a person specification. Eventually to my delight I was invited to an interview at a high school, for the position of a ‘Learning Support Assistant’. I spent the majority of the day at the school and had two different interviews, one with a board of senior members of staff, and one with the head of SEN. I also had to attend a lesson and support the students, so that they were able to observe me in a teaching environment. Lastly, I had to write a report on the lesson I had been in to show that I was able to record information accurately. I had been to a few interviews before this one, however this one seemed to be more thorough and professional; I had a really good feel about the school. At the end of the week I was offered the job, and gladly accepted it.

Working as an LSA in a high school differs from being a Teaching Assistant in a primary school. Firstly, as an LSA I attend a variety of lessons, which are located in different classrooms and I usually support a different pupil each lesson; whereas a Teaching Assistant in a primary school tends to support the same teacher and class all year. The primary job of an LSA is to support any children who have a statement. (A statement is a formal document detailing a child’s learning difficulties and the help that will be given. This ensures that children receive the right help to support their education). Each academic year I receive a timetable, with each lesson that I have to attend and with the child I am supporting. As an LSA I am responsible to support any child who has a statement as these are my priority, however I still need to be available to help other students in the class. I have a duty to help pupils to understand and access lessons in order for them to learn, therefore enabling them to follow the National Curriculum set by the government.  This support may be given in a number of ways depending on the pupil’s statement and how they need and prefer to be supported in lessons. Not all children like the presence of an adult with them in a lesson as it can make them feel embarrassed and inadequate, therefore as an LSA you have to be aware of this and support the pupil in the most beneficial way for them.

For every lesson I attend, I have to complete a report sheet for the statemented pupils that I have supported. This is to record what the child has achieved during the lesson, for example: have they worked independently, did they participate in class discussion or volunteer answers to the teacher. In addition to this, I also have to record anything that the pupil really struggled with and what measures I put in place to differentiate the work for them. Throughout the year, each child’s statement is reviewed. When this happens I am requested to write a detailed report for every subject I support them in, detailing what they are capable of doing independently or what they find difficult. Whilst writing these reviews I refer back to the repost sheets that I have previously written to ensure that I am providing an accurate reflection of the pupil’s ability.

As part of my job description I have to attend playground duties, these can be before school – when the children arrive in the morning, at break or at lunchtimes. During these times it is my responsibility to ensure that all children are being sensible, safe and obeying the school rules.

In addition to this, some evenings after school I also have to assist in setting up and running homework club, along with other members of the LSA team. Homework club provides the children with the opportunity to complete their homework at school, where they have the support of the LSA’s.

This academic year I have had the opportunity to work one to one with a pupil who has Down syndrome, and although this is a rewarding position it comes with new challenges. Working as a one to one means that I support this pupil in each lesson instead of supporting different  pupils in each lesson, which has allowed me to build a good working relationship with her. In order to fulfil my job successfully I have had to learn a lot about Down Syndrome, and had to find other techniques to integrate this pupil into lessons, make more resources and differentiating all classwork. Not only do I support the pupil academically, but due to her disability, I also assist her with everyday tasks, for example: tying her hair back, putting in her hearing aids and taking her to the toilet.

As part of my performance management target, I have begun to complete the Level 3 Teaching Assistant qualification, through the Cambridge open college (who provide you with an online tutor that can assist you if required). The college sends me all of the assignments, which I complete at home and submit back to the college; this is all done online and in your own time, therefore there are no set deadlines; however the course must be completed within the year. I have found this course structure to be very convenient for me as I am able to fit the assignments around my work.

To help me complete this qualification I have referred to several Teaching Assistant books. Although they all cover similar ideas, information and topics, I have recently acquired the latest edition of the ‘Teaching Assistant’s Handbook Level 3’. This has been a very interesting read and contains lot of relevant information that will support me in the completion of my course. In addition to this, it also contains the most up to date information about policies and legislations, which can be difficult to find.

Even though being a Learning Support Assistant can be challenging, I find it to be an extremely rewarding and enjoyable job, where each day is different to the previous one. There are always new challenges to face and I am consistently learning new things. This job gives me the opportunity to make a real difference to someone else’s life – you could to this too!

Win Teaching Assistant’s Handbook for Level 2 and 3

This competition has now ended.

Teaching Assistant's HandbookTo coincide with UNISON’s celebratory day for teaching assistants on 29th November 2013, we’re offering TWO winners the chance to win QCF teaching assistant study books. Hodder Education have generously provided Teaching Assistant’s Handbook for Level 2 and Teaching Assistant’s Handbook for Level 3, worth £22.99 each, for each lucky winner.

Please comment below, answering the following question – ‘what makes a good teaching assistant?’

This competition has now ended.


We will notify the winner via email or Facebook.

About the Teaching Assistant’s Handbook

If you are thinking of completing a teaching assistant course, there are some very good companions to help with theory and practical tasks, mainly written by experienced teachers or teaching assistants. Two fantastic books are Teena Kamen’s Teaching Assistant’s Handbook for Level 2 and Teaching Assistant’s Handbook for Level 3 which are geared towards the QCF Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools qualifications level 2 and 3. Both are packed with brilliant insights into child development, the importance of observation and how TAs can provide support. These books are aimed at students taking the course, but will also support tutors and assessors. Each book details the background knowledge and practical exercises for each unit within the qualification.

Teena Kamen has written many books on child development, having spent many years as a primary school teacher.

Teaching Assistant’s Handbook for Level 2


Author: Teena Kamen

Suitable for those studying for the following qualifications:

  • Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools
  • Level 2 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
  • Level 2 Certificate in Supporting the Wider Curriculum in Schools

Support the development of children and young people in a variety of educational settings, including primary, secondary, special and extended schools.

  • Includes tasks that will develop personal and professional skills as well as key tasks which will contribute to assessment.
  • Covers the new QCF qualifications fully and follows the exact unit structure.
  • Includes key terms and case studies for additional student support

9781444121315 • 238pp • 2010 • RRP £22.99 • Paperback

This title is also available as an eBook through selected online retailers.

Buy direct from Hodder Education


Teaching Assistant’s Handbook for Level 3

Teaching Assistant's Handbook Level 3Author: Teena Kamen

Suitable for those studying for the following qualifications:

  • Level 3 Award in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
  • Level 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
  • Level 3 Diploma in Specialist support for teaching and learning in schools
  • Level 3 Certificate in Cover Supervision

Get practical guidance on how to support the development of children and young people in a variety of educational settings with this widely respected book.

  • Helps learners to meaningfully apply theory to assignments and tasks with topical case studies
  • Develops and reinforces key concepts with activities for individual and group work
  • Links key tasks to the National Occupational Standards to develop students’ personal and professional skills and contribute to their assessment portfolio

9781444121322 • 340pp • 2011 • £22.99 • Paperback

This title is also available as an eBook through selected online retailers.

Buy direct from Hodder Education

About Hodder Education

Hodder Education logoHodder Education publishes resources by Carolyn Meggitt, Jennie Lindon and other trusted Childcare & Early Years authors. In addition to being CACHE’s exclusive publishing partner, Hodder Education provides quality print and digital resources for teaching assistants as well as for GCSE students, undergraduates and practitioners to help students and practitioners achieve their best. Visit www.hoddereducation.co.uk to learn more.

Competition Terms

  • The competition will end on 29th November 2013.
  • Entrants must be at least 16 years of age and a UK resident.
  • The winning comment will be selected by the TA Focus team on or after the closing date.
  • Winners will be notified by email within 14 days of the winning comment being chosen.
  • There is no cash alternative to the prize.
  • TA Focus’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • Open to UK residents only.

Qualifications and Learning Centres

We’re all familiar with GCSEs and A Levels from our education, which formed part of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) until 2010. After this time, the NQF was replaced with the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), which uses a set of rules to enable students to build up units resulting in qualifications.

Upon completion of each unit, the student obtains credits which subsequently build up to qualifications.  NVQs are being phased out and replaced with the QCF equivalent. More information on QCF and teaching assistant qualifications.

QCF and NQF equivalent

Comparative qualifications

Within the QCF, there are levels of qualifications which correspond to the NQF levels – QCF level 2 is usually the minimum required by schools for teaching assistants and is equivalent to the phased out *NVQ level 2 and GCSEs grade C and above. QCF level 3 is more advanced and equivalent to NVQ level 3 (also being phased out) and AS or A Level standard.
*Some Local Education Authorities still request an NVQ as their preferred qualification, so check their requirements.

QCF NQF level comparison

Awarding Bodies for TA qualifications

The main Awarding Bodies for teaching assistant qualifications are NCFE, CACHE, EDEXCEL and City & Guilds. Each will take the guidelines and units set out by the QCF and create qualifications for each level.

Awarding Bodies for teaching assistants

Learning centres and teaching assistant courses

Learning centres are the study colleges/centres which create the course set out by the Awarding Body, enabling students to qualify. Many provide home study packages, allowing students to complete coursework and other requirements from home, usually over the course of a year. Others will require college attendance for lessons and, depending on the course, some will ask for work placements.