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 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
- 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
Apprenticeships relevant to this role include:
- intermediate early years practitioner
- advanced early years educator
- advanced teaching assistant
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. This can sometimes lead to paid work or a chance to get relevant qualifications.
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. Check job vacancies with schools, local authorities and academy trusts to find out what schools want.
It'll help if you have some relevant skills like communication methods including British Sign Language or Makaton. or have some understanding of the needs of pupils with disabilities or conditions like sensory impairments or autism.
The National Association for Special Educational Needs produces useful guides and runs training courses and events.
Professional and industry bodies
You could become a member of National Association for Special Educational Needs for professional development.