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Special educational needs (SEN) teaching assistant

Alternative titles for this job include Special needs classroom assistant, special needs learning support assistant

Special educational needs (SEN) teaching assistants support teachers to help children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Average salary (a year)

£14,000 Starter


£23,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

30 to 40 term time

You could work

evenings occasionally

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a special educational needs (SEN) teaching assistant

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • volunteering
  • applying directly


You could do a college qualification to help you get started, for example:

  • Level 2 and 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
  • Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education Early Years Educator
  • T Level in Education and Early Years

You may be able to get a placement working with children with special educational needs while doing your course.

Many people get qualifications or experience working with children in mainstream schools, then move into working with children with special educational needs.

Entry requirements

You may need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T level

More Information


To become an SEN teaching assistant, you could do the:

  • Early Years Practitioner Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship
  • Advanced Teaching Assistant Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship
  • Early Years Educator Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship

Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements but it may help you to get in if you have:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

More Information


You could get experience by volunteering in a local school or with a community organisation.

Volunteering can sometimes lead to paid work or a chance to get a qualification.

Direct Application

You can apply for special needs teaching assistant jobs if you have experience of working with children with disabilities or learning difficulties.

Each school sets its own entry requirements. You can check job vacancies with schools, local authorities and academy trusts to find out what schools are looking for.

More Information

Career tips

It'll help if you know different ways to communicate, such as British Sign Language or Makaton. It's also helpful to understand what students with disabilities or conditions need. This could include sensory impairments or autism.

The National Association for Special Educational Needs (NASEN) produces useful guides and runs training courses and events.

Professional and industry bodies

You could become a member of NASEN to find professional development opportunities.

Further information

Many teaching assistants have term time only contracts.

You can get more advice about working in special needs education through:

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • sensitivity and understanding
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to enjoy working with other people
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • active listening skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As an SEN teaching assistant, you could:

  • prepare learning materials
  • adapt teaching support according to student's needs
  • look after children's physical, social and emotional welfare
  • create an interesting environment for students
  • keep records and attend review meetings
  • work with professionals such as speech and language therapists

Working environment

You could work at a school, at a special needs school or at a pupil referral unit.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

Your school will give you access to specific training, like British Sign Language and Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) courses.

They may also provide training on conditions like dyslexia or autism.

With experience, you may could a course to become a higher level teaching assistant (HLTA).

With further study you could become a fully qualified special educational needs or mainstream teacher. You can learn about routes into teaching from Get into Teaching.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Level 3 Early Years Apprenticeship

  • Wage: £11,648.00 Annually
  • Location: MILL HILL, LONDON

Nursery Practitioner Apprenticeship

  • Wage: £13,312.00 Annually
  • Location: LONDON

Courses In England

L2 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools

  • Start date: 02 September 2024
  • Location: Hereford

Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools Level 2

  • Start date: 16 September 2024
  • Location: Southall

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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