A question many teaching assistants have is ‘can teaching assistants become teachers?’. The simple answer is yes! However, to become one you need more than just transferable skills, you need qualifications to teach young children.


Working as a teaching assistant (TA) may be a first step for those wanting to become a teacher. The jump from a TA to a qualified teacher can be a rewarding and an exciting new step, opening possibilities to progress in your career. While both roles involve supporting students and teachers in educational settings, becoming a teacher requires additional qualifications, responsibilities, and commitments.


Getting your qualified teacher status (QTS) is an essential step and opens many opportunities for those passionate about wanting to take on more responsibility within the classroom.


If you’re stuck on how to start transitioning from a TA to a teacher, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about becoming a teacher! We will highlight the distinctions between the two roles, the responsibilities of a teacher, steps on how you can start making the transition, and tips on how to land your first teaching job.

Differences Between Teaching Assistants and Teachers


While teaching assistants and teachers both play important roles in supporting student learning and success, there are significant differences in their responsibilities and qualifications.


Teaching Assistants


TAs work under the supervision of teachers, providing support with classroom activities and individualised assistance. They may help with lesson preparation, behaviour management, and student assessment but do not typically lead lessons or have sole responsibility for classroom teaching. TAs may hold varying levels of qualifications, from GCSEs to foundation degrees, and may pursue additional training or qualifications to enhance their skills.



Teachers must hold Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England or the equivalent in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland, which typically requires completing a recognised initial teacher training (ITT) program. Once you have gained QTS, your roles and responsibilities within the classroom will change. In a teaching role, you will be expected to have primary responsibility for planning, delivering, and assessing student learning in their subject area or age group per national curriculum standards.


Teachers in the UK will also be in charge of the following, unlike a TA:


  • Planning and delivering lessons: Teachers design and deliver engaging and effective lessons aligned with curriculum standards and student needs, incorporating a variety of instructional strategies and resources. 
  • Assessing student learning: Teachers assess student progress, provide feedback, and track academic growth through formative and summative assessments.
  • Classroom management: Teachers establish and maintain a positive and orderly learning environment, managing student behaviour, routines, and expectations effectively to maximise student engagement. 
  • Differentiating instruction: Teachers differentiate instruction to meet the diverse learning needs of students, providing accommodations, modifications, and support to ensure all students have access to the curriculum and can succeed. 

How to Transition From TA to Teacher


Transitioning from a teaching assistant to a teacher requires careful planning, preparation, and commitment. Here are steps for making the transition:


1. Gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)


If you want to teach students below the age of 16, QTS or an equivalent qualification is typically necessary. You can obtain QTS through an accredited initial teacher training (ITT) program, such as a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT), or a bachelor’s degree with QTS (e.g., Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Arts with QTS or a Bachelor of Science with QTS). These programs all provide the necessary knowledge, classroom experience, and mentorship to prepare you for the challenges of teaching.


To decide what route to go down, consider whether or not you already have a degree. The 1-year PGCE is a suitable option if you have a degree. You’ll need at least a 2:2 degree and have passed a DBS check to be eligible. If don’t have a degree, a bachelor’s degree with QTS is necessary. It can be a good idea to choose your bachelor’s degree based on the subject you plan to teach. For example, becoming a history teacher typically entails a BSc in History with QTS.

2. Research and Choose a Route

Research the different training routes and find universities or colleges that best fits your needs, preferences, and career goals. Consider factors such as program duration, location, specialisation options, and eligibility criteria.


3. Meet Entry Requirements

Ensure you meet the entry requirements for your chosen ITT program, which may include minimum academic qualifications, relevant work experience, and competency assessments. Seek guidance from program admissions staff or career advisors if you have any questions or concerns.


4. Apply for Training Programs

Submit applications for ITT programs through the appropriate channels, following application deadlines and requirements. Prepare supporting documents, such as personal statements, references, and transcripts, to strengthen your application and demonstrate your commitment to teaching.

5. Prepare for Interviews and Assessments

If selected for an interview or assessment, prepare thoroughly by researching the program, reviewing key concepts in education, and practicing interview questions and scenarios. Be ready to articulate your motivation for pursuing teaching, your relevant experiences, and your potential contributions to the teaching profession. Click here for guidance on how to prepare for teacher training interviews.


6. Gain Classroom Experience

Seek opportunities to gain additional classroom experience or observation hours, either through volunteering, work placements, or shadowing experiences. This will help you familiarise yourself with the dynamics of classroom teaching and strengthen your application for ITT programs.


7. Secure Financial Support

Explore financial support options, such as bursaries, scholarships, or student loans, to help cover the costs of your ITT program, tuition fees, and living expenses. Research eligibility criteria, application procedures, and deadlines to maximise your funding opportunities. Click here for more information on UK student financing.

Landing Your First Teaching Job


After achieving QTS, the next step is to secure your first teaching job. Here are the steps you can take to navigate this process effectively:


1. Research Job Opportunities

Begin by researching teaching vacancies in your desired area or subject specialism. Explore job boards, school websites, and recruitment agencies to identify potential opportunities. You can view our latest teaching vacancies here.


2. Prepare a CV and Cover Letter

Update your CV and tailor it to highlight your relevant qualifications, experiences, and skills as a newly qualified teacher. Write a compelling cover letter that expresses your enthusiasm for teaching and outlines why you are a strong candidate for the position. Click here for more advice on CV writing for early career teachers.


3. Apply for Jobs

Submit your application to teaching positions that align with your interests and qualifications. Follow application instructions carefully and ensure that your application is submitted before the deadline.

4. Prepare and Attend Interviews

If selected for an interview, prepare thoroughly by researching the school, reviewing common interview questions, and practicing your responses. Be ready to discuss your teaching philosophy, classroom management strategies, and approaches to student engagement.


Attend interviews with confidence, professionalism, and enthusiasm. Showcase your passion for teaching, highlight your relevant experiences and accomplishments, and demonstrate your readiness to contribute to the school community. Click here for advice on how to ace your early career teacher interview.


5. Network and Seek Support

Connect with colleagues, mentors, and alumni for advice, support, and networking opportunities. Attend career fairs, education conferences, and professional development events to expand your network and learn about potential job openings.


Read our guide on applying for your first teaching job

Transitioning from a teaching assistant to a qualified teacher is an exciting and challenging journey that requires dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to lifelong learning. 


With careful planning, preparation, and support, you can successfully transition from supporting student learning as a teaching assistant to leading student learning as a qualified teacher.


Securing a temporary or supply teaching position can provide valuable experience and networking opportunities while you continue to search for a permanent teaching job. If you’re looking for a flexible teaching position to suit your lifestyle, get in touch with us today or view our latest teaching vacancies below. 


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