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Higher Level Teaching Assistants: What is an HLTA?

Carly W., Primary School Teacher
25 Jul 2023
5 min read
Higher Level Teaching Assistants: What is an HLTA?

HLTA stands for 'Higher Level Teaching Assistant'. The role's official HLTA status has been around since 2003, and is a valuable status to hold. It allows headteachers to cover classes flexibly; safe in the knowledge that the HLTA is confident and proficient in planning and delivering lessons to a whole class.

If you are interested in taking the next step in your Teaching Assistant (TA) career and are up for the challenge of a demanding but rewarding role as an HLTA then look no further. This blog will explain the role, the qualifications needed to achieve it and the type of questions to expect in interviews for HLTA roles.

What does an HLTA do?

An HLTA is a Teaching Assistant with a higher level of responsibility. While a TA works alongside a teacher to support learning, either with small groups or one to one with individual children, someone with HLTA status is expected to plan and deliver lessons to a whole class of students.

More specifically, somebody who holds HLTA status can carry out what is defined as ‘specified work’ in education. The government list this as, planning and delivering lessons and assessing and reporting on student attainment in these lessons.

Usually specified work would be assigned to class teachers as their responsibility however a headteacher may determine that someone who has met the necessary HLTA standards may fulfil this role effectively as needed, possibly to cover a teacher or to deliver certain lessons. Somebody working as an HLTA can expect to be paid on a higher rate than a regular TA.

What qualifications do HLTAs need?

To become an HLTA it is advantageous to already have a childcare or Teaching Assistant qualification and to be proficient in the existing (non-statutory) TA standards as the HLTA standards build on this foundation.

To pass an HLTA assessment, you must hold a level 2 or above equivalent qualification in English and Maths. This can be GCSE A* to C grade or an equivalently graded qualification, such as O-Level, CSE or stand-alone Adult Level 2 qualification in Literacy and Numeracy.

Although not a qualification as such, if you wish to work towards gaining HLTA status you must be employed in a school or educational setting where you work with children or young people aged between 3 and 19 years old. The school or setting must also be willing to support you through the process and possibly help you to source the funding required for the externally provided preparation and assessment.

How do I achieve HLTA status?

Since 2012 the HLTA National Assessment Partnership has provided prospective HLTAs with external support for preparation and assessment against HLTA standards. Once you have secured funding for the process and have been enrolled with them you will be supported to prepare for an assessment before being visited by an assessor who will evaluate your skills against the 33 HLTA standards.

To demonstrate how you meet the HLTA standards you will be asked to complete and document eight assessment tasks prior to an assessor visit, these are:

  • Working with an individual learner
  • Working with a small group of learners
  • Working with a whole class
  • Five other tasks (chosen by you) to illustrate how a standard is met

The assessor visit usually takes about 3 hours and will include a review of supporting written evidence about the tasks, conversations between you and the assessor, a meeting between the assessor and a nominated teacher and another meeting between the assessor and the headteacher.

If the assessor is happy that you have evidenced and met all 33 of the HLTA standards and your Regional Provider of Assessment has moderated their judgement, you will be awarded with HLTA status.

Zen's Small Group Tutor training would help you to prepare for HLTA assessments, and is available for free. Sign up today to gain access.

How can I get paid more as an HLTA?

One way to get paid more as an HLTA is by ditching teaching agencies. Traditional agencies so often take huge cuts of your pay, meaning you get paid less and the school are using up more of their budget than necessary.

You can avoid this with Zen Educate, and find great TA and HLTA jobs in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and more.

What questions might be asked at an HLTA interview?

Once you have your HLTA status you can begin applying for HLTA jobs. During interviews for HLTA specific roles you may be asked questions that relate to your competence in the 33 HLTA standards; you may also be asked to plan and deliver a whole class lesson as part of the interview process.

Interview questions may include:

Why do you want to be an HLTA?

  • Why do you want to be an HLTA?
  • What do you understand an HLTA’s role to be?
  • What skills do you have that make you an excellent HLTA?
  • Can you tell us about a time you planned and delivered a whole class lesson?
  • How have you adapted lessons to meet the needs of all learners, including those with SEND?
  • How do you assess pupils’ understanding in lessons?
  • What sort of feedback have you provided to pupils/the class teacher about a lesson?
  • How would you work collaboratively with other adults when acting in an HLTA role?
  • What is your understanding of safeguarding policy and procedure?
  • How have you involved parents/carers in pupils’ education?

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