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


£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


You can study for a qualification like:

  • 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) for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course

More information


You can get into this role 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 for this route 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), usually 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 your local education authority to find out what each school wants.

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, Signature and the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

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
  • being able to use a computer terminal or hand-held device may be beneficial for this job.

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.

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Inclusion Support Worker

  • Wage : £120.25 Weekly
  • Location: Melton Mowbray LE13 0BN

Early Years Teaching Assistant Apprentice

  • Wage : £136.90 Weekly
  • Location: Durham DH1 5BG

Courses In England

Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools

  • Start date: 26 February 2019
  • Location: PLYMOUTH

Level 2 Certificate Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools (STL'S) (April Start)

  • Provider: Burton and South Derbyshire College
  • Start date: 30 April 2019
  • Location: Burton on Trent

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