Are you wondering whether a career as a Higher-Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) is right for you? Here is a comprehensive guide for individuals aspiring to become HLTAs, offering insights into the responsibilities, required knowledge, skills, qualifications, education and opportunities for career progression.


What does a HLTA do?


A Higher-Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) is a Teaching Assistant who has taken additional training and has more responsibilities than a standard Teaching Assistant. They are skilled and have a strong knowledge of the curriculum. HLTAs work under the guidance of the Teacher and has clearly defined roles relevant to their educational settings.


The HLTA role was introduced in 2003 as part of a government-led initiative to raise standards in the classroom. It was implemented to provide additional support to Teachers, helping them manage their workload better.

A Higher-Level Teaching Assistant plays a vital role in the classroom. They cover classes to ease the pressure on Teachers, allowing them more time to plan lessons and mark assignments. HLTAs also help with lesson planning and evaluate student progress.


With special skills in subjects like reading or math, they provide extra help to students who need it. HLTAs work closely with Teachers to make sure lessons are effective and students are supported. They keep learning themselves to stay up-to-date with innovative lesson ideas. HLTAs also handle paperwork and communicate with parents about how students are doing. They’re important role models for students, showing them how to be effective learners.

Duties and responsibilities


The duties and responsibilities of HLTAs vary depending on the school and their special areas of interest. Some of the common responsibilities of HLTAs include:


  • Classroom management: Leading classes in the absence of the Teacher, maintaining discipline and ensuring a conducive learning environment.


  • Lesson planning and delivery: Planning and delivering lessons independently and adapting teaching methods to meet the needs of learners.


  • Supporting learning: Providing targeted support to individual students or groups to facilitate understanding and progress.


  • Assessment and evaluation: Assessing student performance through various methods, providing constructive feedback, and contributing to the evaluation of learning outcomes.


  • Specialist support: Offering specialised support in areas like literacy, numeracy, or SEN, to address the diverse needs of students.


  • Collaboration: Collaborating with Teachers to implement teaching strategies, sharing resources, and coordinating interventions to support student learning.


  • Professional development: Engaging in professional development to enhance teaching skills and staying updated with educational trends.


  • Administrative tasks: Undertaking administrative duties like record-keeping and preparing classroom materials.


  • Communication with parents: Communicating regularly with parents or caregivers regarding student progress, behaviour, and addressing any concerns.


  • Behaviour management: Implementing behaviour management strategies to maintain a positive and inclusive learning environment, addressing any disruptive behaviour promptly.


  • Role modelling: Serving as a role model for students, demonstrating enthusiasm for learning, and a commitment to development.


  • Professional conduct: Upholding professional conduct and adhering to school policies, ensuring the safety, well-being, and academic progress of students.


  • Teamwork: Working with colleagues and contributing to team meetings, sharing insights, ideas, and best practices to enhance learning outcomes.


  • Continuous improvement: Reflecting on teaching practices and seeking feedback from Teachers.

Required skills and knowledge


HLTAs help Teachers and students using a variety of hard and soft skills. A successful HTLA will have the following skills, knowledge and attributes:


  • Excellent communication skills: Ability to communicate effectively with students, Teachers, and parents in a clear and concise manner.


  • Strong interpersonal skills: Capacity to build positive relationships with students and members of staff.


  • Time management skills: Ability to manage time, resources, and classroom activities efficiently, including planning lessons, organising materials, and maintaining records.


  • Subject matter expertise: Proficiency in subjects like literacy, numeracy, or special educational needs, enabling effective support and instruction for students.


  • Problem-solving abilities: Capability to identify challenges, develop solutions, and implement strategies to address student learning needs.


  • Empathy and patience: Showing understanding and compassion towards students with diverse backgrounds, abilities, and learning styles.


  • Creativity: Innovation and creativity in designing engaging learning activities, adapting materials, and using resources to promote student engagement and achievement.


  • Resilience: Ability to remain calm under pressure, handle challenging situations, and persevere in the face of setbacks or obstacles.


  • Understanding of educational policies and practices: Familiarity with relevant educational policies, procedures, and best practices. Ensuring compliance with regulations and contributing to a culture of continuous improvement.


  • Passion for education: Enthusiasm for teaching, commitment to supporting students and a desire to make a difference in the lives of children.

Education and qualifications


To qualify as a HLTA, candidates must hold Level 2 credentials or their equivalents in English/literacy and mathematics/numeracy. These qualifications demonstrate basic competency in these key subjects.


In addition to acquiring Level 2 qualifications, candidates are required to complete a three-day HLTA preparation course. This course provides essential training and preparation for the HLTA role. It covers topics such as classroom management, lesson planning, and assessment.


Following the completion of the preparation course, candidates undergo assessment by an assessor. The assessor evaluates the candidate’s suitability for the HLTA role through observation and discussion during a visit to the school.


Candidates must demonstrate their ability to meet the 33 professional standards required for HLTA status. These standards encompass various aspects of teaching and learning, including classroom management, pupil progress, and professional development.


While not mandatory, some candidates may choose to pursue additional qualifications to enhance their skills and knowledge as HLTAs. This may include obtaining the Higher Level Teaching Assistants Level 4 Certificate, which provides further recognition of expertise in the field. This qualification is designed specifically for HLTAs and it a nationally recognised qualification.

Work experience


For a HLTA role, relevant work experience typically includes prior experience working as a Teaching Assistant in an educational setting. This experience provides valuable insights into classroom dynamics, student needs, and effective teaching practices. Exposure to a variety of educational settings, like primary schools, secondary schools, or SEN settings is beneficial as it demonstrates adaptability in supporting diverse student populations.


There is no time period someone needs to work as a TA before becoming a HLTA. It typically involves securing approval from the Headteacher, who ensures suitability and assesses the need for an HLTA position within the school. The candidate and Headteacher collaborate to identify any training required.


Experience leading lessons or providing instruction to small groups of students is advantageous. It showcases the candidate’s ability to take on greater responsibility and manage classroom activities effectively. Experience working with students with special educational needs or disabilities is highly desirable for a HLTA role. This includes supporting students with individual education plans (IEPs) and implementing specialised interventions.


Candidates should also have experience collaborating with Teachers, Support Staff, and other professionals in the education sector. This demonstrates the candidate’s ability to work effectively as part of a team. A combination of these experiences contributes to a strong foundation for candidates aspiring to become HLTAs.

Salary expectations


The salary of a HLTA in the UK varies depending on factors like location, level of experience, and the school. However, here is a general overview of the salary range:


  • Entry-level: Entry-level HLTAs may typically start with a salary ranging from £18,000 to £22,000 per year. This can vary slightly depending on the region and the specific employer.


  • Average salary: The average salary for HLTAs in the UK is around £22,000 to £28,000 per year. This range reflects the median salary for HLTAs across different regions and sectors within the education industry.


  • Salary for experienced HLTAs: Experienced HLTAs or those working in high-demand areas may earn higher salaries, ranging from £28,000 to £35,000 or more per year. These higher salaries may be offered in areas with a higher cost of living or in roles with additional responsibilities or specialised skills.


If you are working with an agency, you will get paid on a per day or per hour basis. On average, a Teaching Assistant will get paid around £12.73 per hour. This equates to around £95.47 per day. Salaries may be subject to negotiation and may increase over time with experience and professional development.

Career paths and progression opportunities


As a HLTA, you have several possible career paths and opportunities for progression:



  • Specialist support roles: HLTAs can specialise in specific areas such as literacynumeracy, or special educational needs (SEN). By acquiring additional training and expertise in these areas, HLTAs can provide targeted support to students with specific learning needs. Training typically involves completing specialised courses or certifications.



  • Leadership and Management: HLTAs can also progress into leadership and management roles within educational institutions. By gaining experience and developing leadership skills, HLTAs can take on roles like Head of Department, Assistant Headteacher, or Pastoral Lead.


  • Consultancy and training: Experienced HLTAs can explore opportunities in consultancy and training, providing advice, support, and training to schools and other professionals in the education sector. This may involve roles in educational consultancy, professional development training, or curriculum development.

If you’re interested in helping educate and shape future generations, you may enjoy a career as a HLTA. Training to become a HLTA is a great way for Teaching Assistants to increase their responsibility and improve their salary. The role as an HLTA will be greater and more in-depth than that of a regular TA, but you will not require the intensive degree-level training of a Teacher.


Being a HLTA is a unique and varied role and can allow you to develop transferable skills that are considered valuable in several educational fields. As a HLTA you will also have plenty of opportunities for career progression.


If you’re looking for a HLTA job, Monarch has a wide range of roles to suit your skills. Get in touch with our team today or view our latest roles.