Special Education Needs and Disability Teaching Assistants, also known as SEND Teaching Assistant’s, work under the guidance of teaching and SEND teaching staff, undertaking support programmes that enable access to learning for all pupils with special educational needs or learning disabilities.
A SEND Teaching Assistant (TA) will support pupils with all stages of the national Key Stage curriculum, levels 2 through 4, between the ages of 5 and 16.
What does a SEND Teaching Assistant do?
SEND Teaching Assistants work in a variety of educational settings, working closely with mainstream and SEND teachers in their day-to-day duties including helping plan lessons that contain accessible opportunities for learning at all ability levels.
Within this role you will utilise your knowledge of learning support, communication skills and creativity to develop a varied approach helping pupils with Special Education Needs and Disabilities understand the information presented and supporting them throughout their education.
You will need to use your passion for inspiring children to enjoy learning, encouraging them to take pride in their achievements, be confident in their abilities and play an active role in school life. Using a mix of resources to assist you broaden a pupil’s understanding and develop innovative ways to provide a supportive learning environment, where pupils can expand their knowledge.
Becoming a SEND TA is an excellent opportunity to make a big difference in a pupil’s education, to build upon your teaching support skills and to gain experience in a wide range of teaching methods, aids, and approaches.
Is a SEND Teaching Assistant job a good fit for you?
If you have an interest in teaching children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, working as a SEND Teaching Assistant is an invaluable opportunity to gain classroom experience.
If you are already a mainstream education TA, moving into a SEND role will enable you to adapt your teaching support skills to suit the specialised needs of children with learning difficulties.
It is important that in a SEND TA role, you gain knowledge of the broad variety of Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) and Additional Learning Needs (ALN) that are used. This experience will help you understand how to help each pupil access and enjoy various learning activities.
Having previous in-school teaching experience is desirable, but if you can demonstrate experience in caring for and supporting children between 5 to 16-years-old, involvement in voluntary excursions and evidence of personal knowledge of SEND and ALN, you may find that schools are supportive of new Teaching Assistants looking to specialise.
Your duties as a SEND Teaching Assistant will include:
- Supervise pupils with SEND and ALN, ensuring their safety and ability to access learning activities and understand the information presented.
- Aid the execution of education plans suitable to each pupils’ learning objectives.
- Build a trusting relationship with all pupils and communicate according to their understanding.
- Promote inclusion and acceptance, support diversity and ensure pupils have equal access to learning and development.
- Promote class interaction and ensure pupils engage throughout the lessons.
- Provide opportunities for developing independence.
- Create a purposeful, orderly and supportive environment.
- Assist with the display of pupils’ work and the planning of learning activities.
- Undertake administrative tasks as needed.
- Assist pupils with practical activities using a variety of teaching aids.
- Under the guidance of teaching staff, provide feedback to pupils, parents and carers about their progress, achievements and any problems that may have arisen.
- Promote good behaviour and encourage pupils to take accountability for their actions.
- Support the pupils with computer technology to access learning activities and assist them to develop competent usage.
- Prepare, maintain and use learning resources and assist pupils to use them.
- Follow child protection, health, safety, security, confidentiality and data protection policies and procedures, reporting any concerns to the appropriate person.
- Assist with pupil supervision, including before and after school and in break times.
- Accompany teaching staff and pupils on school trips and after school activities, taking responsibility for a group of pupils under the teacher’s supervision when needed.
- Assist with the supervision of pupils alongside other support staff during a class teachers’ absence.
Are you a good fit for a SEND Teaching Assistant job?
To succeed as a SEND Teaching Assistant, you will need to draw upon your understanding of Additional Learning Needs, and have:
- A good understanding of the national Key Stage Curriculum.
- Knowledge of various teaching methods appropriate for SEND pupils.
- A sound understanding of child development and learning.
- Demonstrate active listening skills and strong verbal communication skills.
- A dedication to establishing positive relationships with pupils and understanding their needs.
- The ability to provide individual attention, reassurance and support with learning tasks.
- Willingness and ability to adapt in response to changing circumstances.
- Monitor pupils’ responses and adapt to achieve the intended learning outcomes.
- The confidence to evaluate learning needs and actively seek new teaching methods.
- Provide feedback to pupils in a constructive way that reinforces learning.
- The ability to handle complex and sensitive issues with empathy and understanding.
- To be a supportive member of the SEND team.
- An interest in developing your personal and professional progress.
- The ability to use a computer competently, including the use of Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint.
Qualifications, Licences and Certifications
The essential qualifications required to become a SEND Teaching Assistant include:
- 5 GCSEs, including English and Maths, at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent.
- Experience in supporting children of the relevant age.
- A fluent level of spoken and written English.
You will need to have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. This is an enhanced background check.
There are no required qualifications for a SEND TA, but it is beneficial to have knowledge of the particular needs of the pupils you wish to teach. For example, if you are looking to support pupils with hearing impairments, it will helpful knowing sign language.
These qualifications are sought after in SEND Teaching Assistants, demonstrating that they have the standard of professional conduct expected:
- Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools.
- Level 2 Award in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools. (Induction Training for Teaching Assistants & Support Staff).
- Level 2 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools.
- Level 3 Award in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools.
- Level 3 Certificate Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools.
- Level 3 Diploma in Specialist Support for Teaching and Learning in Schools.
- Level 3 Teaching Assistant and Special Education Needs Quality Licence Scheme (QLS).
- Level 4 Higher Level Teaching Assistant Certificate.
Level 2 and 3 awards are usually knowledge-based qualifications that you can work towards before applying for a position. You can further your knowledge by studying for these awards once you are in a role. Most employers are supportive of personal and professional development and will often find ways to help you in your studies. For further details about gaining any of these qualifications, click here.
Employers will also be looking for those who are:
- Empathetic, caring and compassionate.
- Well-presented and professional.
- Positive, passionate and motivational.
- Supportive and understanding.
- Creative, flexible and resourceful.
- Trustworthy and ethical.
- Assertive and confident.
Where can a SEND Teaching Assistant (TA) job take you?
As a SEND Teaching Assistant there is lots of scope for enhancing your skills and knowledge. With qualifications available in dedicated subjects within the Special Educational Needs and Disorders (SEND) and Additional Learning Needs (ALN) fields, you can build a rewarding career deeply rooted in a caring and compassionate profession.
Starting out in a SEND Teaching Assistant position is also a great option if you are looking to become a Teacher, as you will experience a variety of teaching methods, settings and procedures. Immersing yourself in this role can help you decide if teaching is a good fit for you.
To help with the next steps in your teacher training, click here for our advice.
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