What does a special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) teaching assistant do? How many hours a week do they work? What do they get paid and what qualifications and experience do you need to find this sort of job?
What does a SEND teaching assistant do?
Special needs teaching assistants help children with a range of learning, physical or behavioural difficulties. You may work in a special school that supports children with a range of moderate, severe or complex special educational needs, or with an individual pupil or small group of pupils in a mainstream class. You could have a different job title, such as special needs classroom assistant, learning support assistant, support worker or special needs assistant.
As a special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) teaching assistant, you may work with children who have:
- mild to moderate learning difficulties (MLD)
- specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia (SPLD)
- physical disabilities (PD)
- hearing or visual impairment (HI, VI)
- social, emotional or mental health issues (SEMH)
Typically, your job will involve:
- helping with school work alongside the teacher
- preparing learning materials, usually adapted from the teachers plans to suit the pupil(s) you work with
- encouraging children to be confident and independent
- helping children to understand instructions
- contributing to a child’s care plan (education, social, behaviour and personal)
- encouraging children to communicate, sometimes using non-verbal means of communication such as Makaton or PECs
- supporting children during social activities and outings
- helping children during therapy sessions
- recognising when children are upset and comforting them
- looking after children’s physical needs
Hours and Pay
You would usually work school hours, Monday to Friday, during term-time. However, many teaching assistants work part-time. You may sometimes go to training and meetings outside school hours. Some special schools are residential. If you work as a teaching assistant in this type of school, you may have to work a mixture of shifts covering seven days a week.
Salaries for full-time teaching assistants can be from £12,000 to over £17,000 a year. Salaries for full-time Higher Level Teaching Assistants can be between £16,000 and £22,000 a year. This varies depending on the Local Education Authority (LEA) and the responsibilities of individual jobs. Wage rates are set by each LEA or school. Teaching assistants who work part-time and/or paid term-time only would earn a portion of full-time rates (known as ‘pro rata’ payment).
What qualifications and experience do you need?
LEAs and individual schools decide which qualifications and experience they want applicants to have. You can get an idea of what you are likely to need by looking at jobs advertised locally or by checking your LEA’s vacancies online. You would normally need some experience of working with children or young people with disabilities or learning difficulties for this type of work. A useful way to gain experience is to volunteer to help in a local school for a few hours a week, or by signing up with a supply agency.
Although not all teaching assistants require official qualifications, there are some useful courses available through local colleges, which can help to prepare you for this type of work and are also useful if you have just started in a job, for example as a volunteer. These include:
- Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools
- Level 2 Certificate for the Children and Young People’s Workforce
- Level 3 Award in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools.
You will also need qualifications in literacy and numeracy at GCSE level or equivalent, especially for paid work. If you want to work with pupils with a hearing impairment you may need a sign language qualification at stage 1 or higher, for instance the Certificate in British Sign Language. Depending on what work you undertake, you may also need to do training courses such as Makaton, PECs, Team Teach, Moving and Handling etc. At Axcis, we offer many of these courses so can point you in the right direction if you’d like to do one.
Are you looking for SEND staff or work?
If you're looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, why not register with Axcis, the SEND recruitment specialists? Or perhaps you need to recruit staff for your school or provision? If so, why not take a look at the Axcis Website, or get in touch today to find out how we can help?