How to become a special educational needs (SEN) teaching assistant
You can get into this job through:
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- 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 Childcare
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Many teaching assistants have term time only contracts.
You can get more advice about working in special needs education through: