Qualifications for an SEN Teaching Assistant

Written by pamela parker | 13/05/2017
Qualifications for an SEN Teaching Assistant
SEN teaching assistants help students with physical disabilities or emotional disorders receive the type of education they need. (school sign image by sonya etchison from Fotolia.com)

Special Educational Needs (SEN) teaching assistants help teachers in various capacities to support pupils with a wide range of physical disabilities or emotional problems throughout the United Kingdom. Some of these children have complex medical and psychological conditions that make it difficult for them to learn in a traditional educational setting. The work entails helping pupils achieve their learning goals under the supervision of a teacher.


SEN teaching assistants must be at least 18 years old. State school teachers are required to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). An ideal candidate must possess strong communication skills, patience and the ability to handle difficult situations in a calm manner. Other types of schools may require assistants to have training in specific areas such as sign language and Braille, as well as previous teaching experience.

Qualified Teacher Status

Qualified Teacher Status is a requirement to teach in state schools throughout England and Wales. Individuals who want to teach must complete the Initial Teacher Training program. The program is offered at different universities throughout the United Kingdom. Once the program is completed, the person must pass the QTS tests in literacy, numeracy, and information and communication technology. The exams test the person's literacy and arithmetic skills, as well as the proficient use of Microsoft Word, Excel and other office applications.


The SEN teaching assistant organises and moderates different educational and physical activities for the students. They help the students develop a better comprehension of school work and regularly assess students' progress. Due to some of the students' physical limitations, the teaching assistant must help the students learn how to be more independent when navigating their environment. They also need to create positive relationships with the students in order to provide the guidance and assistance the children need.

Interpersonal Skills

SEN teaching assistants must learn to be aware and take into account the feelings, views and behaviour of others. They must know how to effectively communicate with the students and the school staff to foster a supportive learning environment. The teaching assistant must be able to explain information to parents about the progress and development of their children. Teaching assistants should also be innovative and think of new ways to implement tasks that will continue to help the students learn.

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