How to progress your career as a teaching assistant

teaching assistant









Teaching Assistant (TA) jobs in Further Education (FE) are becoming increasingly popular in the UK. The TA’s main role is to work closely with teachers in the planning and preparation of lessons in order to maximize effective learning opportunities for students. TAs carefully monitor how students complete set tasks and liaise with teachers in adapting activities in order for goals to be reached. An effective TA will have an excellent rapport with students, is highly organized, motivated, and dedicated to making an impression in the world of education.

The TA should set high standards and act as a student’s role model. The TA will actively play a part in progressing a student’s self-esteem and skills while providing encouragement, reassurance, praise and constructive feedback.

Daily tasks often include the following:

  • Lesson preparation
  • Helping students complete structured tasks
  • Supervise group activities
  • Maintain a neat and tidy learning environment

Gaining a qualification as a TA is a great achievement and offers plentiful opportunities for career progression. The role of a TA is becoming increasingly popular and highly competitive so it is worth considering attaining qualifications which will help you stand out. A range of TA courses are available online and will provide you with a variety of knowledge and skills which will enhance your prospects as a candidate. The qualifications you achieve will showcase to potential employers your capabilities and enthusiasm to succeed in the position.

When you begin your career as a TA you will have the opportunity to progress to a new level. This opportunity will enhance your role and responsibilities and increase your salary.

Essentially, there are three levels of experience within the role of a teaching assistant. In order to progress through these levels, you need to show dedication and enthusiasm for the role. Roles and responsibilities, salary expectations, the number of levels vary across schools and regions. Generally, the responsibilities for each level include:

Level 1 Teaching Assistant:

  • Assist the teacher with lesson preparation
  • Help students with particular needs
  • Enthuse students and encourage a good and consistent attitude to learning

Level 2 Teaching Assistant:

  • Responsibilities of a level 1 TA
  • Assist students on a one-to-one basis regularly
  • Assist students who have special educational needs
  • Assist students who are academically gifted
  • Assist students who do not speak English as their first language

Level 3 Teaching Assistant: Higher Level

  • Responsibilities of a level 1 and a level 2 TA
  • Assist in planning lessons and preparing teaching materials
  • Leading classes under the direction of a teacher
  • Assessing, recording and reporting on individual student progress
  • Supervising other TAs and support staff

Being a Teaching Assistant is an excellent springboard towards other roles within the education sector. Many teaching assistants are eager to become a teacher. However, there are numerous opportunities in the sector that extend beyond classroom work.

If you wish to progress your career, you could train to work as a private tutor, an assessor, in educational research and as an examinations officer. With a proactive approach to career progression, there is a vast array of opportunities.


Find an area which you are particularly interested in. This could perhaps be social and communication, speech and language, special educational needs, etc. Training could then be offered through your FE college which will ultimately help you to develop professionally and benefit the students who you work with.

Stepping Stone:

Progression through the Teaching Assistant levels to reach Higher-level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) grade and ultimately into teaching is an attractive career path for many.  TAs usually plan and prepare support materials and deliver lessons unsupervised at this higher level status. Being an experienced Teaching Assistant you will be equipped with relevant experience, knowledge and skills for branching out into leading in the classroom. Your experience will be highly valued if you decide to take this particular route. 

Many individuals who start their career as a TA will have the exciting ambition of becoming a qualified teacher. The TA role can be a springboard into teaching. The experience will provide a clear insight into the daily work of a teacher. It will provide you with a deep understanding of daily structure, roles and responsibilities, challenges, opportunities and a general overview of what it is like to be an FE teacher.

Many sixth form colleges will have a track record of TAs following the teaching career path, evidencing the popular path towards becoming an FE teacher.

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