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)

£11,500 Starter

to

£23,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

30 to 40 term time

You could work

evenings occasionally

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

College

You can 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

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'll usually 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

More information

Apprenticeship

You can get into this job through:

  • a teaching assistant advanced apprenticeship
  • an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in childcare
  • an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in supporting teaching and learning in schools

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, 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

Volunteering and experience

You could get experience by volunteering in a local school or with a community organisation. This can sometimes lead to paid work or a chance to get relevant qualifications.

Direct application

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

Each school sets its own entry requirements. Check job vacancies with schools, local authorities and academy trusts to find out what schools want.

More information

Career tips

It'll help if you have some training in supporting children with special needs, for example British Sign Language.

Further information

You can get more advice about working in special needs education through Mencap, the Royal National Institute of Blind People and Skills for Schools.

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
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • knowledge of psychology
  • 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

Day-to-day tasks

In this role you could be:

  • preparing learning materials under the supervision of the teacher
  • working inside or outside the classroom with individuals or groups
  • adapting support according to needs
  • looking after children's physical, social and emotional welfare
  • creating a stimulating environment
  • giving information and help to teachers
  • keeping records and attending review meetings

Working environment

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

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

Career path and progression

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

They may also provide training on learning difficulties like dyslexia or autism.

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

With further study you could become a fully qualified SEN or mainstream teacher.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Teaching Assistant

  • Wage : £126.75 Weekly
  • Location: Mansfield NG21 9NS

Teaching Assistant Apprenticeship

  • Wage : £147.90 - £279.14 Weekly
  • Location: London E6 5NA

Courses In England

Level 3 Diploma In Specialist Support of Teaching and Learning in Schools (STL'S) (September Starts)

  • Provider: Burton and South Derbyshire College
  • Start date: 29 April 2020
  • Location: Burton on Trent

P-HAC CACHE L3 DIPLOMA IN SPECIALIST SUPPORT FOR TEACHING & LEARNING IN SCHOOLS (NOT L3 LE)

  • Provider: CHESTERFIELD COLLEGE
  • Start date: 14 September 2020
  • Location: CHESTERFIELD

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