How to become a teaching assistant: Stacey's story

Meet Stacey, 25, from Banbury. Find out what life is like as a teaching assistant. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

Stacey
"Working with children is challenging, but it is a job that you go home and think, I made a difference today."

What is your job?

I work with children from 5-11 years old, helping them in the classroom. Every day is a challenge. I don't know what I will be doing each day and that makes it exciting. The best thing is making a difference to children’s lives - it's wonderful.

In the morning I talk to the teacher about what we are doing. I prepare materials that the teacher needs. I promote children’s independence and help them to take control of their own learning.

Do you use any soft skills in your job?

Patience and timekeeping are really important. I need to be a a good listener too – primary school children like to express how they are feeling and it’s important that they know you are listening. Working in a team is also very important. You have to talk to teachers, head teachers and other professionals like speech and language therapists.

What subjects do you use everyday?

I use English and Mathematics. Drama has given me confidence – being able to project my voice and having a good posture has helped me in the classroom.

What was your pathway to your career?

At school I studied Health and Social Care. I then went to college and studied Childcare and Education, which I enjoyed. I then went and worked in a nursery for a little while. From there, I went and worked in a secondary school which boosted my confidence and professionalism. I always wanted to work in a primary school. I decided to apply for this job and I was successful.

Stacey and student reading a book
Stacey helps children with their reading.

Top tips

  • Know you want to work with children, but not sure exactly what kind of work? There are some great courses which will help you decide as well as developing your skills
  • Go for it and believe in yourself.

What to expect if you want to be a teaching assistant

  • Teaching assistant pay: £11,500 to £23,000 average per year
  • Teaching assistant working hours: Variable ranging from 32 to 40 hours per week
  • Typical entry requirements: You can get into this job through a college course, an apprenticeship, volunteering, or by applying directly. You can take a qualification like a Level 2 or 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools or a Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education. You'll usually need two or more GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 3 (A to D) for a Level 2 course or four or five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A to C) for a Level 3 course. You can also get into this role through a teaching assistant advanced apprenticeship or through an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in supporting teaching and learning in schools. You'll usually need some GCSEs (or equivalent), usually including English and Maths for an intermediate apprenticeship, or five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), usually including English and Maths, for an advanced apprenticeship.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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