Primary school learning support assistants, also known as teaching assistants or classroom assistants, support the work of primary school teachers. They tend to help pupils with special educational needs.
No set qualifications are required for learning support assistant roles. However, applicants need to show a good level of general education and experience of working with children. Learning support assistants tend to be trained on the job by experienced teaching staff as, to gain qualifications, learning support assistants need to be assessed on the skills they use while working in the classroom. Qualifications for learning support assistants already in employment include NVQs and NCFE certificates. Experienced learning support assistants with GCSEs to their name may go on to study for Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) status or may progress to degree-level study, which can help them to eventually achieve a teaching degree.
Learning support assistants need to be able to build strong relationships with children and teachers, be capable of working well under the supervision of a trained teacher, show an understanding of child protection issues, and be patient and organised. Anyone wishing to become a primary school learning support assistant must undergo checks for previous criminal convictions.
Jobs for primary school learning support assistants are available in state-maintained and private schools. Full-time and part-time learning support assistant jobs are available, as are temporary (supply) positions. Recruitment agencies are often a valuable source of learning support assistant vacancies.
Inexperienced learning support assistants may receive starting salaries of around £12,000 a year. Employees with qualifications typically receive higher salaries.