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What’s the best way to train to be a teaching assistant?

Advice on Teaching Assistant training by a SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator)

If you are interested in becoming a teaching assistant, the first step is to find out the criteria of the Local Authority, for example whether they will expect you to have a relevant qualification or some practical experience.

If the Local Authority doesn’t have specific criteria, you can decide on how best to prepare yourself for the role. However, whether you decide to enrol on an official course or not, getting some hands-on experience, either through voluntary work or a course placement, will be really valuable. Firstly, it can help you check whether you enjoy working with children in this capacity, and whether your skills and personality are suited to the role. Secondly, watching other Teaching Assistants or the classroom teacher interact with the children will provide you with really useful training and ideas for how best to support the children you will be working with in the future. And lastly, having practical experience on your CV shows potential employers your enthusiasm for the role and that you already have experience working with children. You may even find that the school you are working in has vacancies in the future which you are well placed to apply for.

Doing a work placement as part of a course can be particularly useful and the course leaders and material will help you get the most out of your placement. Course leaders will also potentially provide feedback to help you improve your skills.

Whatever route you choose, finding out as much as you can about what being a Teaching Assistant is like, in theory and in practice, will help you decide whether the job is the right one for you, and help when it comes to applying for vacancies.