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02/07/2024  •  Blog, Career centre

How to become an SEN teaching assistant

Special educational needs (SEN) teaching assistants support teachers to help children with special educational needs and disabilities reach their full potential. They may be called special needs classroom assistants or special needs learning support assistants.

If you’re wondering how to become an SEN teaching assistant, this guide is for you. We will discuss the qualifications, skills and experience you need to apply for this role. Plus, we will show you what potential salary and career progression opportunities you have as an SEN teaching assistant.

Roles and responsibilities of an SEN teaching assistant

The roles and responsibilities of a SEN teaching assistant focus on creating an accessible and successful learning environment for special educational needs pupils. On a regular basis, SEN teaching assistants will:

  • Adapt teaching support and prepare learning materials tailored to learners’ needs
  • Assist and manage behaviours and promote positive interactions
  • Create an engaging environment for learners to encourage pupils’ participation in the classroom
  • Assess and assist with the students’ progress so they can change strategies appropriately
  • Communicate with parents, other staff and external professionals to make sure pupils are fully supported

As you progress your career, you may gain additional responsibilities or move to a different role.

The qualifications you need to become an SEN teaching assistant

There are two main ways to become an SEN teaching assistant. Both paths will give you the relevant skills and qualifications to prepare for the role.

College qualifications

A popular way to become an SEN teaching assistant is through a college qualification. You can complete one of the following courses:

CourseEntry requirements
Level 2 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent
Level 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent
Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education Early Years Educator4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent
T Level in Education and Early Years4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths

Apprenticeships

Another way to become an SEN teaching assistant is by completing an apprenticeship. These courses are a great way to gain experience alongside your qualification. You could complete any of the following:

Apprenticeship courseEntry requirements
Early Years Practitioner Level 2 Intermediate ApprenticeshipSome GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent
Advanced Teaching Assistant Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths
Early Years Educator Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths

How to get experience to become an SEN teaching assistant

Gaining the relevant experience alongside your qualifications can help you to secure a role as an SEN teaching assistant. Volunteering at a school or with a local authority is a great way to gain experience in the role. In some instances, your experience could lead to paid work.

Similarly, you could use previous experience in similar roles to apply for SEN teaching assistant positions. If you have experience as a classroom assistant and have worked with children with learning difficulties or disabilities, consider applying for SEN teaching assistant positions.

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Must-have skills to become a successful SEN teaching assistant

You will need a number of key skills to excel in an SEN teaching assistant role and effectively support pupils with diverse learning needs, including:

  • Empathy
  • Patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • Adaptability and resilience
  • Organisation and time management
  • Excellent verbal communication
  • Active listening
  • Understanding of teaching methods

Career progression for SEN teaching assistants

Becoming an SEN teaching assistant can open a variety of career paths for you. In your role, you may be able to train in British Sign Language (BSL), as well as complete courses on dyslexia and autism. With the right experience and training, there are many roles you can move to as an SEN teaching assistant, including:

  • Higher level teaching assistant (HLTA)
  • Special educational needs teacher
  • Mainstream teacher
  • Lead SEN teaching assistant
  • Inclusion coordinator
  • Specialist teacher
  • Educational psychologist
  • Special educational needs coordinator (SENCO)

SEN teaching assistant salary and pay

The average salary for an SEN teaching assistant in a permanent position is between £17,000 and £29,000. Many factors will impact your salary in this role, such as the location, what type of organisation you work for and your experience. Additionally, locum SEN teaching assistants can expect to earn £10.90 to £12 per hour or £95 to £100 per day.

Explore SEN teaching assistant opportunities with Liquid Personnel

Here at Liquid Personnel, our consultants can help you find your ideal role. Using our expertise, we’ll match your unique skills and experience with the perfect SEN teaching assistant opportunity. Discover the benefits of working with Liquid and see the potential for your next career move.

Register with us or apply to SEN teaching assistant jobs to see where your career could take you.

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