If you're driven by a passion to make a significant impact in the lives of children with special educational needs (SEN), a career as an SEN Teaching Assistant could be a perfect fit for you. This informative article will guide you step-by-step through the process of becoming an SEN Teaching Assistant in the UK.
An SEN Teaching Assistant (TA), or Special Educational Needs Teaching Assistant, is a professional who supports and cares for students with special educational needs whilst at school. This role involves working in conjunction with teachers to offer additional support to students who require extra assistance to thrive academically.
"SEN Teaching Assistants play a pivotal role in the academic journey of students with special educational needs, helping them to maximise their potential."
The responsibilities of an SEN Teaching Assistant can span a wide range, from running small-group support to assist with literacy and/or numeracy, managing behaviour, ensuring students have access to necessary learning resources, and ensure the needs of all students are met.
Embarking on a career as an SEN Teaching Assistant can be a fulfilling choice for those driven by a desire to work with children with special educational needs. Here are the steps you can follow to become an SEN Teaching Assistant:
While there are no specific qualifications required to become an SEN TA, it can be helpful to have a Level 2 or Level 3 Teaching Assistant qualification. These courses equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to work effectively with children with special educational needs. But this knowledge can also be acquired through experience, as we'll cover next!
Volunteering in schools or working as a classroom assistant can provide invaluable experience in working with children with special educational needs. This experience can help you develop the necessary skills to work effectively as an SEN Teaching Assistant. You could also consider shadowing an experienced TA to gain insights into the role.
Experience in performance art like drama or music, as well as experience in psychology and drama/music therapy, can also be beneficial in an SEN TA role.
If and when you feel ready to look for jobs, it's time to start applying for positions as an SEN Teaching Assistant. Numerous websites and job boards advertise Teaching Assistant vacancies, and you can also approach schools directly to inquire about vacancies.
When applying for positions, be sure to highlight your relevant qualifications and experience, as well as any additional skills you may have, such as proficiency in British Sign Language or experience working with students with specific disabilities.
You can find our guide to finding TA jobs online here.
Once you've secured a position as an SEN Teaching Assistant, the learning doesn't stop there. It's vital to continue your professional development by attending training courses, workshops, and conferences.
You can find lots of great CPD, covering differing aspects of SEN, on our YouTube page.
Every day is a school day!
Working with children with special educational needs can be challenging but also incredibly rewarding. It's crucial to be patient, empathetic adaptable in your approach, recognising that every student requires a unique level of support.
You must be capable of adjusting your teaching methods to meet the individual needs of each student and be flexible enough to change strategies if necessary. Patience, empathy and adaptability will help you foster a positive and supportive learning environment for your students.
Building positive relationships with your students is critical to their success. As an SEN Teaching Assistant, you will be working closely with students who require additional support, and establishing trust and rapport with them is essential. Celebrating their successes, regardless of how small, can also help boost their confidence and self-esteem.
Building positive relationships can make a significant difference in your students' lives and help them achieve their full potential.
As an SEN TA, you'll likely work with students who have a broad spectrum of disabilities or conditions, such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, physical disabilities, PMLD (profound and multiple learning disabilities), speech/language needs, and mental health conditions.
Each student will have unique learning needs, and it will be your responsibility to provide individualised support to help them attain their full potential.
Yes, it is possible to progress in your career as an SEN Teaching Assistant. With experience and additional qualifications, you can advance to become an SEN teacher, a leading SEN Teaching Assistant, or an inclusion coordinator.
There are also opportunities to transition into other roles, such as educational psychologist or special educational needs coordinator (SENCo).
To become an SEN Teaching Assistant, you should possess empathy, patience, and excellent communication skills. You also need to be adaptable, creative, and have a willingness to learn. A positive attitude and a passion for working with children with special educational needs are also crucial.
Read our full article on what makes a great TA here.
The salary for support staff, including SEN TAs, varies depending on the school, location, and experience. You can read our full overview of support staff pay here.
Becoming an SEN Teaching Assistant is a rewarding pathway for those passionate about making a difference in the lives of children with special educational needs. With the right qualifications, experience, and dedication to continuous professional development, you can embark on a fulfilling career that truly makes a difference.