Teaching assistants (TAs) are valued members in the education sector, providing essential help to both teachers and students. In the role of a TA, you’ll engage with students to support their educational, emotional, and social development, whether through individual attention, small group sessions, or whole class activities.


Teaching assistants undertake various responsibilities to assist teachers, such as classroom preparation, resource creation, and showcasing student achievements. As valued members of the team, TAs contribute to students’ literacy and numeracy skills, particularly during critical developmental stages.


This comprehensive guide is designed for individuals aspiring to pursue careers as teaching assistants. It offers insights into the responsibilities, necessary skills, required qualifications, education and opportunities for career progression that teaching assistants have.

Duties and responsibilities


Responsibilities may vary based on your background, training, and role as a teaching assistant. Generally, you’ll be tasked with:


  • Ensuring that pupils can engage in learning and stay on track during lessons, teaching them to become independent learners.
  • Supporting students’ social and emotional development, addressing any concerns to teachers when required.
  • Supporting teachers to manage challenging behaviours, and promoting positive behaviour.
  • Participating in reading sessions, both individually and as a group, to enhance students’ literacy skills.
  • Monitoring student progress, maintaining detailed records, and offering regular feedback to parents and teachers.
  • Undertaking administrative tasks, such as classroom preparation and tidying.
  • Providing care for students in various situations, including accidents or emotional distress, and administering first aid when necessary.
  • Offering assistance beyond regular classroom hours, including exam support, covering TA absences, or participating in school excursions.
  • Supporting extracurricular activities like breakfast and after-school clubs, homework assistance, revision sessions, and playground supervision.

What to expect


Teaching assistants typically work during the school day, usually from 8.30am to 3.30-4.00pm, Monday to Friday. Flexibility may be required for early mornings or after-school commitments. While most of your work will take place in the classroom, you may also be involved in outdoor activities, supervising lunchtime, or accompanying students on educational outings. Beyond regular hours, attendance at training sessions or parent-teacher meetings may also be necessary.


As a teaching assistant, you will be supporting pupils who may have a range of learning and behavioural difficulties. Each day brings different challenges, often requiring a swift response to provide additional support as situations arise. Depending on your role, you may also need to provide personal care to pupils and help to lift or move them when necessary.


While the role presents challenges, witnessing students’ growth and achievements can be extremely rewarding for teaching assistants.

Skills required for the role


A successful teaching assistant will have various hard and soft skills to do their job well. These include:


  • The ability to clearly communicate with teachers, students and carers
  • Active listening skills
  • Sensitivity and understanding towards children and their needs
  • The ability to create an encouraging learning environment
  • The ability to remain calm during stressful times
  • IT skills including the ability to carry out tasks with a computer
  • The ability to motivate and inspire students
  • A respect for diversity as you will be working with students from a range of backgrounds
  • Reading, numeracy and writing skills
  • Excellent knowledge of lesson content and the ability to answer questions from students
  • Strong creative abilities
  • Organisational and time management skills

Educational background and qualifications


Entry-level positions typically require basic literacy and numeracy skills, equivalent to GCSE or National 4/5 qualifications in maths or English, along with prior experience working with children.


While a degree is not mandatory, it can offer an advantage by demonstrating a competent skill level. Qualifications in childcare, nursery, play, or youth work are also beneficial.


College qualifications provide an introduction to the sector and necessary skills for working in schools, including:



While some courses can be taken without working in education, practical placements are required for others. Intermediate or advanced apprenticeships (Levels 2 and 3) offer on-the-job training in schools with a corresponding salary.


Individual schools determine their own entry requirements, so it’s essential to review job vacancies for specific qualifications and required experience. Additionally, candidates must undergo an enhanced criminal records check through the Disclosure and Barring Service.

Work experience


Prior experience is advantageous when pursuing a teaching assistant role. This could involve working in childcare, educational settings, nurseries, sports activities, summer camps, tutoring, or youth work. While structured work experience schemes are rare, schools often welcome inquiries for volunteer positions. Contact them directly, expressing your career aspirations and areas of interest, such as literacy or IT support.


Degrees with practical placements, like education or childhood studies, can also count as experience. Consider student ambassador roles at university, which involve part-time work promoting higher education in local schools. Seek advice from your university’s career service for volunteer or paid opportunities with children and young people. Explore various work experience options to gain insight and prepare for a teaching assistant role.


Click here to learn more about how to gain experience as a teaching assistant.

Salary expectations


Starting salaries for full-time, permanent teaching assistants typically range from around £18,300 for level 1 positions to £19,000 for those at level 2 with increased responsibility. Experienced TAs, especially those with additional specialisms or SEN responsibilities, can earn between £19,260 and £25,000.


While there isn’t a national pay scale for TA salaries, most schools adhere to guidelines set by organisations like the National Education Union (NEU), though this can vary by school type.


Pay rates may vary depending on the TA’s role, responsibilities, and educational setting. Working through an educational recruitment agency, particularly for graduates, can result in higher pay rates. Candidates working with an education agency like Monarch Education, are paid on a daily rate and are paid weekly. By working as a TA with Monarch, you can earn up to £100 per day. Click here to view our latest jobs for teaching assistants or get in touch with our team to get started.

Career paths and progression opportunities


A career as a teaching assistant can be a stepping stone into various opportunities in the education sector. As a TA, you’ll progress from entry-level through to a Higher-Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA). You’ll advance by gaining experience and taking appropriate qualifications and training. As you progress, you’ll take on more responsibility. At a HLTA level, you will get involved in planning lessons, developing support materials and delivering lessons unsupervised. You may also be responsible for supporting other TAs.


There is also scope to coordinate activities in specialist areas of support or curriculum learning, such as SEN. Many TAs choose to take additional training to become a special educational needs (SEN) teaching assistant.


Working as a TA can also act as an excellent stepping stone towards becoming a teacher. The role will provide you with a realistic and practical insight into the role of a teacher, without the responsibility of being one. TAs will need to take teacher certifications or licensure, enabling them to transition into teaching. They will need to achieve a Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).


Read our guide on transitioning from TA to teacher

The role of a teaching assistant is impactful and rewarding. From providing crucial support in the classroom to nurturing the academic and emotional development of students, TAs play a vital role in the educational journey of young learners.


Their dedication and commitment contribute significantly to creating inclusive and supportive learning environments where all students can thrive. Despite the challenges, the sense of fulfilment that comes from witnessing the progress and achievements of students makes the role rewarding.


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


View all teaching assistant jobs