Teaching Assistant Focus

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Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA)

What is a Higher Level Teaching Assistant?

Overview of Role: Teaching assistant duties with extra responsibilities in the classroom and in working with groups and individuals.

Wages: Normally between £16,000 – £23,000, but often paid pro-rata term time only.

Qualifications: A variety of options, but normally completed via the school.

Alternatives: Individuals already in a HLTA role can take part time classes to become a qualified teacher.


In 2003 a new role was brought in to bridge the gap between a teacher and a teaching assistant, this role, the higher level teaching assistant (HTLA) aimed to empower teaching assistants to take classes on their own, allowing teachers to take time to plan and mark work, and also cover absences for teachers.

The role of the HTLA is, as the title implies, a teaching assistants roles but with added responsibilities, along with the added class room time HTLAs may also be in charge of organising other TAs within their department, and have a more active role in planning the curriculum alongside teachers. There also may be further responsibilities in the role of mentoring and teaching students that may not be able to attend classes due to illness, behaviour or disabilities, and a greater impact within SEN roles of the school.

Like any full time teaching assistant, the working hours are similar to that of a teacher, meaning work will begin up to an hour before the school day starts and often finish long after the last bell has rung. Most workplaces do give most of the school holidays off, although staff will have to attend inset days for staff training. Many HLTAs are paid pro rata, so are only paid for 36-39 weeks of the year depending on the workplace.

How do I become an HTLA?

To qualify as a HTLA you need to already be in a teaching assistant, or other support assistant role, and the support of your management to take the time to train. With the recent changes to school funding it will often be up to the Head Teacher whether or not the funding is available for training. Often the Head Teacher will approach individuals he or she feels are ready to progress, but teaching assistants interested in training should notify their Head Teacher.

You will need to already have a recognised level 2 qualification in Maths and English, which is equivalent to a grade C at GSCE. This can be completed alongside other training.

If you are already in a support assistant role and want to progress there is also the option to take a part time class to qualify as a teacher.


  • Recently there has been a growing discontentment within the school environment of the use of HLTAs and TAs as cover supervisors and in effect using them as full time teachers. Some feel that this is a disservice to the students and may impact their education.
  • The added teaching role will require planning and marking outside of the school environment. As with teaching staff this time is unpaid and considered normal within education.
  • Although HLTA status means a higher salary, many HLTAs are still being paid similar to their fellow teaching assistants.

Why should I become an HLTA?

If you find being a teaching assistant a rewarding job, or you are looking to further your career, becoming an HLTA will progress your skills gained as a teaching assistant. Normally the training builds on your practical experience and adds the theoretical side, so your skills grow and the quality of the support you can give to your students will also improve.

The teaching side of the role can be rewarding, and given that you will be fully supported by teaching staff (and able to call on their expertise), being an HLTA will allow you to focus on delivering the lessons and working with your students.


  • sonia batty on June 3, 2014 at 5:21 pm said:

    I have been working as a ta for 9 years and have enjoyed every minute. I feel as though i am ready for a challenge within my role and am interested in becoming a hlta.But would like further details please.

  • sonia batty on June 3, 2014 at 5:23 pm said:

    look forward to hearing more about the roles and responsibilities of a hlta.

  • Joy Judge on June 3, 2014 at 5:46 pm said:

    Hi Sonia, thanks for your message. Have you made enquiries at your school about HLTA status? Perhaps you could discuss with your seniors.

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