Careers Guides

Becoming a SEN Teaching Assistant

Untitled design (10)

The Role of a SEN Teaching Assistant

A special educational needs (SEN) teaching assistant supports pupils with physical, behavioural or learning difficulties with the supervision of the classroom teachers. This can be supporting a small group of pupils or one-to-one, in a special SEN school or mainstream class.

The responsibilities of an SEN teaching assistant typically involve helping the pupils’ understand instructions and school work using techniques that work for them, encouraging pupils’ confidence and independence and providing feedback and assistance to teachers. You may also be expected to accompany the pupil in their spare time or with social activities.

SEN teaching assistants will get the same training as other teaching assistants, and patience, creativity and flexibility are vital in this role as the needs of each child will differ day-to-day and from one another.

The roles and responsibilities of teaching assistants are varied and differ between schools but here’s a general overview of the duties you can expect when becoming a SEN Teaching Assistant:

SEN Teaching Assistant Skills & Requirements

Though schools often set their own requirements for teaching assistants depending on theirs and their pupils’ needs, it’s a good idea to get a Level 2 Teaching Assistant qualification so you’ll have the knowledge that you’ll need for the position, as well as looking good to prospective employers.

Once you have your Level 2 Teaching Assistant qualification, you could look at expanding your skillset with a Level 3 Teaching Assistant qualification. You’ll be able to build upon your knowledge and earn a higher salary as you progress.

You could also need an A* to C grade at GCSE level in English and Maths or equivalent, depending on the workplaces you apply for, this is also a requirement for some teaching assistant apprenticeships and courses. If you don’t have either one or both of these you should look at taking either a Level 2 Functional Skills English course or Level 2 Functional Skills Maths course. A functional skills qualification is equivalent to having your GCSE qualification at this level, and can help you get into a wide range of jobs, not just in education.

Untitled design (1)
Untitled design (2)

SEN Teaching Assistant Salary

A SEN teaching assistant’s starting salary could be around £17,000 but the average salary for a SEN teaching assistant rises to around £20,000 which is about what you can expect as you progress in the position.

The highest earning SEN teaching assistants earn around £29,000 but this greatly depends on factors like where you live, how much of the year you’re working, and your level of experience and responsibility.

SEN Teaching Assistant Working Hours

The average working hours for a full time SEN Teaching Assistant are 32-40 hours a week subject to term times. Some staff work all year round while some take term holidays.

The summer term stretches from the end of the Easter break to mid-July.

It includes a half term week long holiday in late May.

This is usually the busiest time, with later students sitting their GCSE’s.

The academic school year starts in early September, with the term stretching till Christmas.

The winter term is a half term holiday, usually a week long at the end of October.

Most schools have a 2 week end of term holiday stretching over New Year and Christmas.

This is the spring term and stretches from early January to Easter.

Easter usually falls on a different weekend each year, so the end of term two-week break can be either early April or late March.

This term also included a week-long half term break, usually in mid-February.

Untitled design (3)
Untitled design (4)

SEN Teaching Assistant Career Progression

After starting out as a teaching assistant, you’ll have the opportunity to increase your salary and role responsibilities by progressing to a new level.

Typically, there are three levels of experience within the standard teaching assistant role each with their own pay scale/salary. Although most Teaching Assistants go on to become Teachers there’s plenty of options available to further your career for example:

There is also the option to go into a specialised role such as an SEN Teaching Assistant or a HLTA (Higher Level Teaching Assistant) which would offer a higher salary and more challenging role.

Ready to start your journey?

We offer both Level 2 and Level 3 Teaching Assistant Courses & Qualifications. Some of these may be eligible for government funded learning meaning you could study for free subject to eligibility.

Here's how to get started: