How to Become a Qualified Teaching Assistant in the UK

Updated February 21, 2017

Teaching assistants provide support to the class teacher. They can specialise in a particular area, for example literacy, or provide general help during classtime. Teaching assistants are particularly valuable in large classes or during activities where more than one person of responsibility is needed to instruct the class. In the U.K., the Higher Level Teacher Assistant qualification was recently introduced to provide a nationally recognised standard for teacher assistants.

Organise a meeting with your headmaster and any other direct supervisors to discuss the HLTA process. The school needs to be able to provide adequate opportunities for you to gain the skills required to become an HLTA; therefore, you must obtain the support of the school headmaster before pursuing the assessment.

Arrange funding for your training and assessment. Funding options depend on what type of school you work for. If you work at an academy, independent school or technology college, they may offer to fund the assessment for you, or you can pay for the training yourself. Otherwise you may be able to apply for funding through the Training and Development Agency for Schools.

Undergo a training needs analysis. This process is conducted by a regional provider of assessment, and will help to identify skills you need to develop further before you can attempt the HLTA assessment.

Demonstrate that you have passed a nationally recognised level 2 qualification in literacy and numeracy. Obtain copies of your qualification certificates. If you have never obtained this qualification, you must demonstrate that your literacy and numeracy skills are equivalent to a level 2 standard. Call learndirect on 0800 100 900 to find out about literacy and numeracy courses.

Attend an HLTA preparation course. Preparation courses are conducted by certified training centres and run for three full days (or equivalent). The preparation course is designed to facilitate your assessment tasks, make sure you understand the assessment process and prepare you for the assessment visit at your school.

Register for your HLTA assessment online.

Undergo your HLTA assessment. The assessor will come to your school for one full day and conduct a number of meetings with you, your teacher and the headmaster. During this process, you must explain your role at the school and demonstrate that you have successfully completed the assessment tasks.

Wait eight weeks to receive the results of the assessment. If you have not passed all off the standards required to become a qualified HLTA, you will be advised of further assessment opportunities.

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About the Author

Charlie Higgins is journalist, editor and translator based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has written for a variety of lifestyle and niche market websites, including International Food Trader, The Olive Oil Times, microDINERO, Sounds and Colours, Connecting Worlds and The Buenos Aires Reader.