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The Ultimate Teaching Assistant Career Guide – Part One

Teaching assistant, you play a vital role in today’s classroom. You are flexible, creative, supportive – a friend to the students, and a critical support to their carers and parents. Make no mistake – many people rely on you, and your learning should never stop.

This three-part series is the ultimate guide for progressing your career as a teaching assistant. Today, we begin with an overview of the four teaching assistant levels, and how further training could and should advance your career.


There are four core levels of teaching assistant roles. To move beyond level 1, you’re going to need an NVQ (or a equivalent qualification).

  1. Level one teaching assistants (TA1)
  2. Level two teaching assistants (TA2)
  3. Level three teaching assistants (TA3)
  4. Level four teaching assistants – Higher level teaching assistants (TA4)

Let’s take a closer look at each level…


  1. Working with individuals or small groups under the supervision of teaching staff
  2. Assisting pupils in understanding instructions and supporting independent learning and inclusion
  3. Supporting the teacher in managing behaviour and maintaining pupil focus
  4. Supporting pupils with both social and emotional well-being
  5. Preparing and clearing up learning environment and resources


  1. Recording pupil data
  2. Supporting learning through play
  3. Assisting with the supervision of breaktimes
  4. Escorting pupils on educational visits
  5. Supporting pupils in using basic ICT
  6. Invigilating exams and tests
  7. Assisting pupils with eating, dressing and hygiene, and encouraging independence


In addition to the core responsibilities of TA1s, TA2s will also be responsible for…

  1. Implementing planned learning activities/programmes (as agreed with the teacher)
  2. Participating in planning and evaluating learning activities with the teacher, providing feedback on pupil progress and behaviour
  3. Supporting the teacher in monitoring, assessing and recording pupil progress/activities
  4. Providing feedback to pupils on attainment and progress (under teacher guidance)
  5. Supporting learning by arranging/providing resources for lessons/activities under the direction of the teacher
  6. Sharing information about pupils with other staff, parents/carers, internal and external agencies, as appropriate
  7. Understanding and supporting independent learning and inclusion of all pupils as required

TA2 Teaching Assistants, in addition to the additional responsibilities listed in TA1, may also be responsible for:

  1. Assisting in the development of individual development plans for pupils
  2. Supporting the work of classroom volunteers and other teaching assistants
  3. Supporting the use of ICT in the curriculum
  4. Selecting, preparing and clearing away classroom materials and learning areas
  5. Supporting pupils in developing and implementing their own personal and social development
  6. Monitoring and managing classroom stock and supplies


In addition to the core responsibilities of TA1s and TA2s, TA3s are responsible for…

  1. Providing learning activities for individuals and groups of pupils under the professional direction and supervision of a qualified teacher, differentiating and adapting learning programmes to suit the needs of allocated pupils
  2. Assessing, recording and reporting on development, progress and attainment as agreed with the teacher
  3. Monitoring and recording pupil responses and learning achievements, drawing any problems which cannot be resolved to the attention of the teacher
  4. Planning and evaluating specialist learning activities with the teacher, writing reports and records as required
  5. Selecting and adapting appropriate resources/methods to facilitate agreed learning activities
  6. Teaching Assistants in this role are expected to undertake at least one of the following:
    1. Provide specialist support to pupils with learning, behavioural, communication, social, sensory or physical difficulties
    1. Provide specialist support to pupils where English is not their first language
    1. Provide specialist support to gifted and talented pupils
    1. Provide specialist support to all pupils in a particular learning area (e.g. ICT, literacy, numeracy, National Curriculum subject).

TA3 Teaching Assistants, in addition to the additional responsibilities listed in TA1 and TA2, may also be responsible for:

  1. Establishing and maintaining relationships with families, carers and other adults, e.g. speech therapists
  2. Providing short term cover supervision of classes
  3. Supervising the work of other support staff/trainees
  4. Preparing, maintaining and controlling of stocks of materials and resources
  5. Assisting pupils with eating, dressing and hygiene, as required, whilst encouraging independence
  6. Be involved in planning, organising and implementing individual development plans for pupils (such as Individual educational plans), including attendance at, and contribution to, reviews
  7. Working with pupils not working to the normal timetable.


The fourth and final teaching assistant level is TA4 – also known as a higher-level teaching assistant (HLTA). In part three of this blog series, we’ll be exploring HLTAs in detail.

Teaching assistant – Here’s why you should never stop learning

Moving through each stage brings more responsibility, and along with it, higher pay and chances of promotion. Yet responsibilities and pay aren’t the only two benefits of undertaking further training, which can bring a wealth of other advantages, including:

  1. Leading to a pathway into teaching
  2. Enhancing your CV
  3. Increasing your job satisfaction
  4. Improving the outcomes for the children you assist
  5. Enabling you to make a jump from year groups or student types – such as from primary to high school, or assisting SEN students
  6. Diversifying your role and tasks – such as supporting groups of pupils on your own, or planning and preparing learning activities
  7. At the highest level (as a HLTA), you could:
    1. Have a role in planning some lessons
    1. Be involved in developing support materials
    1. Specialise in a particular subject
    1. Lead a whole class under supervision
    1. Be responsible for supporting other support staff



QCF qualifications can help you advance in your role and develop your skills. As they are vocational-based, most are undertaken alongside your job through training or in-classroom assessment. Most of the following courses grant points upon being successfully completed, which can lead to the gaining of a diploma or NVQ in the future.

Qualifications are made up of units, each of which has a credit rating. There are three types of qualifications in the QCF:

  • Award – for qualifications up to 12 credits in size
    • Certificate – for qualifications between 13-16 credits
    • Diploma – for qualifications of 37 credits or more


Let’s explore each QCF qualification, and what each would equip you with…

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