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Becoming a Qualified Teacher as an HLTA

Deborah A., Primary School Teacher
13 Aug 2023
5 min read
Becoming a Qualified Teacher as an HLTA

Have you ever had that feeling where you know you can do more and want to take that next step in your career? If you're currently working as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA), you may want to expand your skills and become a fully qualified teacher. Maybe you've been in the field for a while and are ready for a new challenge, or you've recently discovered a passion for teaching and want to pursue it further.

Regardless of your reasons, transitioning from HLTA to a qualified teacher in the UK can be daunting. But don't worry because we're here to help guide you through the process. In this blog post, we'll explore the what, how, where, and why of becoming a qualified teacher in the UK, so you can confidently take that next step.

What is a Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA)

A Higher Level Teaching Assistant is a specially trained teaching assistant who takes on a more active role in supporting classroom learning. They work closely with teachers to plan, deliver, and assess lessons and may even lead classes themselves. To become an HLTA, you must complete a rigorous training programme covering a wide range of topics, including behaviour management, lesson planning, and assessment.

Why Should I Become A Fully Qualified Teacher?

You may wonder, "Why should I become a fully qualified teacher?" Well, there are several compelling reasons to consider making the transition. Below are some of the key reasons.

  • Career progression: As a qualified teacher, you'll have more opportunities for career progression, such as taking on leadership roles or moving into specialist areas of teaching, or even exploring opportunities to teach abroad.
  • Increased earning potential: Qualified teachers typically earn more than HLTAs, which can make a big difference in your earning potential.
  • Job security: Qualified teachers are in high demand, and there is always a need for good teachers.

How To Become A Qualified Teacher As An HLTA?

Becoming a Qualified Teacher is an exciting and rewarding journey that can lead to a fulfilling career in education. As an HLTA, you have several options to choose from when it comes to teacher training, each with its unique advantages and challenges. Let's take a closer look at these options.

1. School-Based Training

School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) and School Direct are popular school-based training options providing practical, hands-on classroom training. With SCITT, you will spend most of your time in the classroom, gaining valuable experience and attending theoretical training sessions.

School Direct is a similar programme run by groups of schools or a single school. Both programmes can take one to two years to complete, depending on the programme and your previous experience.

During your school-based training, you'll have the opportunity to work alongside experienced teachers and learn from their expertise. You'll also gain practical experience in the classroom and develop your teaching skills through observation, feedback, and reflection.

2. University-Based Training

If you prefer a more academic approach to teacher training, the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) is a popular university-based training option. This programme typically takes one year to complete and offers a more theoretical approach to teacher training, with lectures, workshops, and seminars. You will also spend time in the classroom, gaining practical experience.

During your university-based training, you'll have the opportunity to engage with cutting-edge research and theory in the field of education. You'll also develop your critical thinking skills and learn how to apply theory to practise in the classroom.

3. Assessment Only (AO) Route

If you are an experienced HLTA with several years of teaching experience, the Assessment Only (AO) route may be a good option. This route requires you to provide evidence of your teaching experience and undergo a rigorous assessment process to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). The AO route is designed for experienced teachers who can demonstrate that they meet the Teachers' Standards without further training.

During your assessment, you'll be observed in the classroom and assessed against the Teachers' Standards. You'll also need to provide a portfolio of evidence that demonstrates your teaching skills and expertise.

4. Apprenticeship Route

The Apprenticeship Route to Qualified Teacher Status is a new option that allows you to earn a salary while you study. This programme combines on-the-job training with academic study and typically takes two to three years. You'll work as an unqualified teacher in a school while you study for a degree and QTS.

During your apprenticeship, you'll have the opportunity to work alongside experienced teachers and gain practical experience in the classroom. You'll also engage in academic study and develop your knowledge and skills in the field of education.

General Steps To Follow For The SCITT And PGCE Routes

If you're looking to take the SCITT or PGCE route to become a qualified teacher, there are some essential steps to follow. Here are some ways to make your journey a success:

1. Do Your Research

Start by exploring different teacher training programmes that interest you. Check out the websites of various providers, read reviews and testimonials from current and former trainees, and attend open days and information sessions to learn more about the programmes.

2. Meet the Entry Requirements

Each programme has specific entry requirements that must be met. Most programmes require a degree or equivalent qualification, but some SCITT programmes may accept candidates with relevant work experience instead. You may also need to meet specific subject requirements for certain programmes.

3. Apply for the Programme

Once you've identified a programme you're interested in, take the time to fill out the application form carefully. Be sure to provide your personal and academic details and a personal statement outlining your motivations for becoming a teacher.

4. Attend an Interview

If your application is successful, you'll be invited to attend an interview. This will typically involve classroom observation, a teaching task, and an interview with a panel of teachers. Use this opportunity to showcase your passion for teaching, subject knowledge, and potential to be an effective teacher.

5. Undertake the Training

Once you're offered a place on a teacher training programme, you'll need to undertake the training itself. This may involve spending significant time in the classroom, learning from experienced teachers, attending theoretical training sessions, or a combination of these.

6. Gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

Finally, upon completing your training, you'll need to demonstrate that you meet the Teachers' Standards to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). This will typically involve an assessment of your teaching practice, as well as the submission of a portfolio of evidence that demonstrates your teaching skills and expertise.

To conclude, the journey from being a Higher Level Teaching Assistant to becoming a qualified teacher is all about dedication, ambition, and a genuine passion for education. As we come to the end of this exploration, one thing is crystal clear: this path not only helps you grow professionally but also makes a real difference in the lives of the students you’ll teach. Whether you’re thinking of taking this step or just curious about it, remember that each move you make brings us closer to creating a brighter future, one classroom at a time.

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