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Becoming a Teacher or Teaching Assistant

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 10 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Teaching Teacher Teaching Assistant

Teaching has long been considered as a very respectable, admirable and valuable career. Teachers come from all walks of life, with different experiences and important life lessons that can be passed on to their students.

Becoming a teacher is actually a relatively uncomplicated process, with people of all ages and backgrounds entering the teaching profession. Similarly, the role of teaching assistants and learning assistants are also viewed as incredibly valuable to the education sector, especially since class sizes and teachers' roles and responsibilities seem to be increasing with each year that passes.

If you've ever considered a career in the education sector as a teacher or teaching assistant, here's how you can make the change and start the ball rolling.

Becoming a Teacher

The type of training and qualifications you'll need is dependent upon your previous experience, and what age group (primary or secondary education) you intend to work with. If you've previously worked with children through either voluntary or paid work, this will be extremely advantageous to your training and employment prospects.

Teaching involves working with children of all abilities and different backgrounds, as well as dealing directly with parents, so patience and good communication skills are a must. Teachers organise their timetables and lesson plans, so your organisational and management skills should be top notch. Children can be very challenging, so a sense of humour is also handy!

Qualifying

All prospective teachers need to meet certain standards, so set levels of numeracy, literacy and Information Communication Technology (ICT) skills are required. Prospective teachers also need to pass a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) screening before commencing their training.

Both primary and secondary school teachers are educated to degree level. Primary school teachers will also need GCSEs or equivalent qualifications in Maths, Science and English with grades A-C. Because secondary school teachers specialise in one or two subjects, a degree that is in the subject that you wish to teach will also be required. Some universities will also recognise Access to Higher Education course as a valid qualification.

To become a primary or secondary school teacher, you'll need to achieve QTS (Qualified Teaching Status). This is done through Initial Teacher Training (ITT), which can be undertaken through 4 different routes: an employment-based route, undergraduate and postgraduate routes, or school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT).

Undergraduate Route

If you are interested in taking the Undergraduate Route, you will need to choose a degree in the subject you want to teach, if you intend to teach in a secondary school. This would then be followed by a PGCE. A BA (Hons) or BSc (Hons) degree alongside QTS is another option, or you can work towards a Bachelor of Education (Bed) degree for both primary and secondary teaching.

Employment Based Route

The employment-based route allows for training on the job, but you will need a degree or two years of higher education to take this route, and there are a limited number of places. Similarly, the SCITT route requires that you have a degree and the training takes a year to complete before you are ready to train for your PGCE.

Post Graduate Route

If you already have a degree, at almost any age you can take the postgraduate route, known as a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate of Education), just as long as you have a degree that is in a subject relevant to the primary National Curriculum. Interestingly, PGCE courses usually last for a year if full-time, or can be taken as a two-year, part-time course, with opportunities to undertake some distance learning, too.

At present, the national pay scale for qualified teachers is from £21,588 to £31,522. Advanced skills teachers can earn up to £56,950, with head teacher and management positions being higher still in some cases. Pay scales are higher in inner London due to the general higher costs of living.

Teaching Assistant

If you want to work in education and the classroom, but don't fancy a job as a full-time teacher, then the alternative of working as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) is always an option. Working as a TA is a great opportunity for those that have additional family responsibilities, as the work is undertaken only in term time, with sometimes flexible and part-time opportunities. However in both cases, whether undertaking paid or voluntary work, you'll have to pass a Criminal Records Bureau screening.

Teaching Assistants also go by the name of classroom assistant or learning support assistant. A TA's primary role is as a support to the teacher in the classroom. Depending on the school, this role can include many responsibilities and duties, the most common being supporting and supervising educational games, sports and craft activities, helping children with their reading, administrative tasks and providing extra support for children with special needs.

In many cases, TAs can work with smaller groups of children, such as those that excel or struggle with particular literacy or numeracy skills, or work on a one-to-one basis with a particular child. Bilingual TAs can also work in schools where there are many children whose mother tongue is not English.

To become a TA, it is very helpful if you have some experience of working within a school or with children. Regular Voluntary Work within a school is the best starting place. There is no set entry-level qualification for TAs, as this is dependent on your Local Education Authority (LEA). In some cases, if you are deemed suitable for the job owing to your employment experience, you can gain an employment-based qualification, such as a Level 2 Certificate for TAs, or an NVQ Level 2 in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools.

There is scope to develop your career towards working as an HLTA. You should be aware though that HLTAs will require further skills and educational development, with the support of the school's head teacher. This is because HLTAs provide extra support to teachers with supervision and learning activities, as well as assisting with lesson plans. In some cases, HLTAs are also qualified to take lessons in the absence of the teacher.

Other Educational Roles

If you would like to work in the education sector but you're not sure if teaching in a school is the right path for you, why not consider a career in Further Education Lecturing and Tutoring?

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[Add a Comment]
Hi all, I have worked as a primary teacher overseas in Dublin, Singapore and India with B.ed and early years childhood diploma qualifications. I have also completed my T.A level 3 diploma from U.K recently. I have just been able to start working as a Mid Day Supervisor. What should I do to get atleast Teaching Assistant role if not the Teacher's role? J
J - 10-May-17 @ 11:06 PM
Hi?? I am a licensed teacher in the Philippines. I have a two year experience in teaching. I would like to know if I am qualified for a teaching assistant job here in the UK. Do I still need to study here or take some course related to TA? Thank you so much in advance for your response.
che - 4-Mar-17 @ 11:31 PM
Hi, I have been working as an art technician for approx 9 years now and have been assisting in classes on a number of occasions through those years so have a good understanding of teaching and assisting pupils. I also have a degree and am thinking about making the leap into being a TA. Does my current experience stand me in good stead for jumping straight into a level 3 nvq which is usually required to apply for ta roles? Ideally I would like to do the training on the job but would prefer to apply to another school instead of carrying on at the one I am at now. Many thanks.
KMF1981 - 27-Nov-16 @ 9:37 PM
Brens - Your Question:
Presently living abroad and have hons degree in pharmacy - trying to get an employment on the job training to become a teacher when I return to Scotland very soon but finding no help at all apart from referring me to various websites. Surely there must be an easier way when teachers are in so much demand. I have a clean record, recently separated, with one teenage child abroad.

Our Response:
The various websites you've been directed to should really give you details of how this as well as the traditional university route. Most LEAs (in England at least) have a list of schools that participate in the various School Direct schemes. So make contact with them first. Alternatively ask at specific schools to see whether they participate in any of the school based training schemes (note: there are unpaid and paid versions of these).
ACareerChange - 24-Oct-16 @ 12:03 PM
Presently living abroad and have hons degree in pharmacy - trying to get an employment on the job training to become a teacher when I return to Scotland very soon but finding no help at all apart from referring me to various websites.Surely there must be an easier way when teachers are in so much demand.I have a clean record, recently separated, with one teenage child abroad.
Brens - 22-Oct-16 @ 1:02 PM
Hi, I studied health and social care level 3 extended diploma in college does this qualify me to work as a teaching assistant? Also i'm on my first year of studying my degree in special educational needs and disability studies, so i would like to get a part time TA position. However was not sure whether I have the qualifications to do so.
jacklyn - 18-Oct-16 @ 9:50 PM
Vicky - Your Question:
I completed my chemistry degree in 2016 with a 2nd class honors (2:2) I've been working in a laboratory for 7 years and would like to change my career. I'd love to teach at primary schools and have a passion for maths, science and engineering. What options do I have become a qualified teacher? I need to be able to do it part time as I cannot afford to quit my job.

Our Response:
There is a big demand for science/maths based teachers in both primary and secondary education, so it's worth taking a look at the incentives available. Many universities are offering part time postgrad courses, but you will still need to find the time to undertake your teaching placements as these are feature of all routes into teaching. Some schools offer on-the-job training to QTS status. The Get Into Teaching site has more detailed information.
ACareerChange - 18-Oct-16 @ 11:08 AM
Hi, I have just completed teaching assistant level3. I have got degree from india that was compared from Ncirk they said, considered qual uk degree.I wish to become primary teacher in future.where should i go to collect more information, is they accept degree or what else i need to do?
Kamal - 17-Oct-16 @ 10:37 PM
I completed my chemistry degree in 2016 with a 2nd class honors(2:2) I've been working in a laboratory for 7 years and would like to change my career. I'd love to teach at primary schools and have a passion for maths, science and engineering. What options do I have become a qualified teacher? I need to be able to do it part time as I cannot afford to quit my job.
Vicky - 16-Oct-16 @ 6:42 PM
Hey i am 27yrs old and i want to change my career as sales assistant to a SEN TA. I have worked with adults and have two nephews with learning disabilities i havent got any qualifications within this sector, how would i go about finding worked or courses? Many thanks Carrie
Carrie - 14-Oct-16 @ 9:46 PM
Es - Your Question:
I am qualified social worker (dipsw) With experience working in a residential setting with children and also as a supervising social worker in a fostering team. Is this a sufficient amount of experience/qualification to apply to do teaching assistant work within a primary school?

Our Response:
It may be considered sufficient, each school/employer has different criteria. It's worth asking at different primary schools, they may consider taking you on and training-on-the job, or taking a part time education based qualification.
ACareerChange - 29-Sep-16 @ 11:18 AM
I am qualified social worker (dipsw) With experience working in a residential setting with children and also as a supervising social worker in a fostering team. Is this a sufficient amount of experience/qualification to apply to do teaching assistant work within a primary school?
Es - 28-Sep-16 @ 1:27 PM
Dannii - Your Question:
Hi there, I am a mature student changing career to become a primary school teacher (lower school) I am currently studying a level 3 Access to education (education pathway) diploma, I have C in Maths and English, school work experience also. However, I only have a D in GCSE Science. I do hold an Open University BSc Open degree, would this be accepted as a pass in Science or would I have to retake my science GCSE to gain a C?

Our Response:
This depends on how many science modules your Open University degree contained. In general you are expected to have science at grade c or above to teach primary level. It's worth contacting the training institutions directly to enquire.
ACareerChange - 26-Sep-16 @ 2:29 PM
Hi there, I am a mature student changing career to become a primary school teacher (lower school) I am currently studying a level 3 Access to education (education pathway) diploma, I have C in Maths and English, school work experience also. However, I only have a D in GCSE Science. I do hold an Open University BSc Open degree, would this be accepted as a pass in Science or would I have to retake my science GCSE to gain a C?
Dannii - 24-Sep-16 @ 11:57 PM
I have a level 3 in child care and a B in English GCSEI have a C in math GCSE and want to become a teacher what course or route should I take next.
Fardowsa - 23-Sep-16 @ 12:51 AM
Siayk - Your Question:
I've going to pass my level 3 graphics course and want to be in a primary school teacher but is it necessary to go have a degree or is there any other option to be a teacher after level 3

Our Response:
You generally have to have a degreeto become a teacher. There are different routes by which you can achieve the degree though. Here is a useful summary from The Guardian
ACareerChange - 13-Sep-16 @ 10:14 AM
I've going to pass my level 3 graphics course and want to be in a primary school teacher but is it necessary to go have a degree or is there any other option to be a teacher after level 3
Siayk - 11-Sep-16 @ 3:28 AM
Hi there, I have a level 2 and a level 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning, a level 3 Diploma in Specialist Support in Teaching and Learning and I also have HLTA status. I currently work as a HLTA but want to become a qualified teacher. Without a degree but with the qualifications I currently hold, what would be the best route for me to take?
Lulu - 28-Aug-16 @ 12:38 PM
Hi I'm currently doing an Level 3 art diploma in college For the future I want to be an art teaching assistant in schools. Could i do a teaching course in university with an art diploma which is equal to 3 A levels?
Abi - 27-Aug-16 @ 11:02 AM
Help please...I'm a pre reg childminder awaiting ofsted inspection... I've had a change of heart and want to become TA workin up to HLTA. I'm 32, single parent 2children 10 & 2 Yrs, currently claiming income support. I have a primary school willing to allow me to volunteer 2/3days a week. I have DBS, Relevant 1st aid, safeguarding & provention, safeguarding disabled children & completed childcare course with my LA. What path is best for me to take?? Is there any help I can get with childcare? I would prefer to learn as I work. Any advise please Tia
missal30 - 14-Aug-16 @ 4:39 AM
cazello - Your Question:
I have just gained my level 3 teaching assistant qualification. My end goal is to mentor pupils. What course would you advise I do next level 5 teaching and learning support?Thanks?

Our Response:
Find out what the requirements are in jobs in your area. Qualifcations in learning and support are usually recommended.
ACareerChange - 12-Aug-16 @ 2:44 PM
I have just gained my level 3 teaching assistant qualification. My end goal is to mentor pupils. What course would you advise i do next level 5 teaching and learning support? Thanks?
cazello - 11-Aug-16 @ 11:12 AM
Im a qualified social worker wanting a change of career. Coyld i apply for a TA role. I currently work with adults with learning disabilities
na - 10-Aug-16 @ 7:46 PM
I have a pass grade in Biomedical Science along with 3 A-Levels and 11 GCSEs, but would like to enter teaching. Since graduating in 2013, I have had jobs in admin and customer services and now would like to get in to teaching. How can I go about this with a pass grade in my degree? Please may someone suggest my possible routes? Many thanks.
BV - 13-Jul-16 @ 5:01 PM
Hi, Currently I am in my final year of my Psycholoy Bsc degree, and I am also volunterring as a reading mentor in a primary School. I am planning on beocming a primary school teacher. Although I have3 A levels and one AS Level. I only achieved a grade D in GCSE Science, and maths. Would I need to retake these GCSE's before applying for a teaching programme.
saadi - 30-Jun-16 @ 5:56 PM
Shara - Your Question:
I am going to be starting an education and English literature course in September (BA Hons) but want to be a primary school teacher. Will I need to do a PGCE after my degree and an ITT skills test?

Our Response:
That depends on whether the education element of your course gives you any teacher status, but it's likely that you would have to a PGCE (of which the ITT skills test is a part)
ACareerChange - 20-Jun-16 @ 10:43 AM
I am going to be starting an education and English literature course in September (BA Hons) but want to be a primary school teacher. Will I need to do a PGCE after my degree and an ITT skills test?
Shara - 18-Jun-16 @ 8:25 AM
Luz - Your Question:
I am qualified teacher in the philippines I teach secondary before I came to UK, I enter to UK as Tier2 senior carer. I been here for 8 years and im already permanent resident. I want to pursue teaching specialy in primary here in england but how? What are the procedure in my case.

Our Response:
Check to see if you fit the current Eligibility criteria here
ACareerChange - 24-May-16 @ 12:29 PM
I am qualified teacher in the philippines i teach secondary before i came to UK, i enter to UK as Tier2 senior carer. I been here for 8 years and im already permanent resident.. i want to pursue teaching specialy in primary here in england but how? What are the procedure in my case.
Luz - 23-May-16 @ 12:16 AM
Lottie - Your Question:
Hi, I recently failed the QTS Numeracy Skills Test and have had to decline my place on a Teacher Training Programme. I have 5 years experience with Secondary whole-class teaching and working with small groups and 1:1. I am now facing a wait of two years before I can retake my Numeracy test. Are there any routes into working as a Teaching Assistant which doesn't require training as I would only be looking for two years of work.Lottie

Our Response:
There are teaching assistant NVQ courses and many schools will offer "apprenticeships" to teaching assistants. Contact schools in your area directly and/or your local education authority.
ACareerChange - 20-May-16 @ 2:45 PM
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