- Support teachers to help children with a wide range of difficulties
- You'll need excellent communication skills & literacy/numeracy skills
- You could take a course to become a higher level teaching assistant
As a special needs assistant, you may work with a range of ages in a mainstream school or a dedicated special needs school. 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.
Your work will depend on the age of the children and their individual needs, but may include:
- 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
You'll work normal school hours, Monday to Friday during term time. Along with your classroom hours, you'll spend additional time planning lessons, marking work and taking part in school activities. You'll mainly be based indoors, but may travel for school outings and social activities. Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.
This role would be ideal for someone with sensitivity and understanding, patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations.
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 schools, local authorities and academy trusts to find out what schools want.
You'll need to pass enhanced background checks, as you may be working with children and vulnerable adults. You'll also usually need GCSEs in English and maths, or equivalent qualifications.
You may also need a college qualification such as a Level 2 and 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools or 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 these courses.
Many people also get qualifications or experience working with children in mainstream schools, then move into working with children with special educational needs.
Alternatively, you can get into this job through a teaching assistant advanced apprenticeship, an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in childcare or an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in supporting teaching and learning in schools.
Gaining experience by volunteering in a local school or with a community organisation can sometimes lead to paid work or a chance to get relevant qualifications. It'll help if you have some training in supporting children with special needs, for example British Sign Language.
With experience, you may take a course to become a higher level teaching assistant (HLTA) and with further study you could become a fully qualified SEN or mainstream teacher.