There seems to be a lot of confusion over the ‘right qualification’ to work in a school environment and to be honest, it can be a bit of a minefield!
In the first instance, if you want to work in a school then the best route is to start to volunteer in a school, each school is very different and each key stage is as well. You should then speak to your headteacher/ local education authority as each area has different criteria to become a TA, some schools don’t ask for any qualifications whereas others do as well as a certain level of English/maths qualifications.
A lot of schools have funding for staff to access apprenticeship qualifications. If this is the case then there is only a level 3 qualification available to access the funding. Government reforms to the apprenticeship system have led to the development of the Level 3 Teaching Assistant Apprenticeship Standard. We, therefore, offer the Level 3 Diploma in Supporting Teaching and Learning qualification which fully maps to the knowledge, skills, and behaviour requirements the Standard demands. (Cache website 3/2021) If however you are not going down the apprenticeship route then you have a lot more qualifications to choose from, some providers will be able to offer the adult loan or you may choose to privately fund the course.
You may think why should I pay for the course when I can get a ‘free one’? Depending on the finance offered to you, you may have to undertake English/maths/functional skills alongside your main qualification, with the apprenticeship route you have to complete the standards as well as the diploma.
Another consideration is the timescale, some finance/loans will have a specific length of time that you have to stay on the course, so if you want to complete earlier you can’t. This is the same if you choose to go to a local college, you will have to attend classes, weekly for a certain timescale. Ifyou choose to self-fund then you can complete the course at your own pace. There are two levels of qualifications to choose from, either level 2 or 3, depending on your
experience in schools, level of education, English and maths qualifications would determine which is the best level for you. A good training provider will help and support you to be on the right level to help you achieve your end goal, there really is no point in being on a course that you will struggle with. Learning is a journey and should be enjoyable! Both levels of qualifications now cover a much bigger age range to enable learners to work in a school or college.
AT LEVEL 2:
Award in Support Teaching and Learning
This qualification is an introduction to the knowledge and understanding needed to work in a school or college environment. It can apply to the many varied roles that full and part-time support staff may fulfill including administrative roles, site support roles, technical roles, and volunteers, as well as roles that work directly with children and young people in the learning environment. This is a knowledge-only qualification and you do not need to be working in a school to complete it, you can progress to the level 2 certificate when completed.
Certificate in Support Teaching and Learning
The Level 2 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning has been designed to provide learners with an understanding of the knowledge and skills needed when working directly with children and young people in school or college environments. It covers a wide range of areas including children and young people’s development, supporting children and young people’s positive behaviour, and communication and professional relationships. It’s aimed at learners working in roles that support pupils’ learning in primary, secondary, or special schools, as well as colleges. To complete this course you MUST be working/volunteering in a classroom in a school.
AT LEVEL 3:
Award in Supporting Teaching and Learning
This qualification provides learners with an understanding of the knowledge needed when working directly with children and young people in a school or college environment. It will enable learners to gain an understanding of elements including children and young people’s development and safeguarding their welfare. However, it will not qualify you to work as a teaching assistant and will provide underpinning knowledge only. This qualification is suitable for learners who are not yetworking in a Level 3 school or college role but are able to achieve at this level. It is also suitable for initial training.
Certificate in Supporting Teaching & Learning
This qualification provides learners with an understanding of the knowledge needed when working directly with children and young people in a school or college environment. It will enable learners to gain an understanding of elements including children and young people’s development, safeguarding their welfare, and communication and professional relationships. To complete this qualification you must be working or volunteering directly with children in a classroom environment for a minimum of 100 hrs.
Diploma in Supporting Teaching and Learning
This qualification provides learners with an in-depth understanding of the knowledge and skills needed when working directly with children and young people in school and college environments. It covers all aspects of specialist support including planning, delivering, and reviewing assessment strategies to support learning alongside the teacher; bilingual support; special needs support; and personal development and reflective practice. This qualification is aimed at learners working in roles that offer specialist support for pupils’ learning in primary, secondary or special schools, as well as colleges. As learners need to show competence in both skills and knowledge, they will need to be working or be on a practical placement during the taught programme of study in a learning environment (school or college). At diploma level, we recommend that the learner undertakes 200 hours of placement in a real work environment. The level 3 qualifications are part of a nested suite of qualifications. Qualifications within a nested suite allow learners to top up to a qualification that is the same level and subject within the Award, Certificate, Diploma structure. To clarify if you are working with children in a mainstream school/college and not supporting children who need specialist support then you should complete the certificate, the diploma has additional units that relate to children who need specialist support and it may be hard to achieve the diploma if not. You can always top up your qualification at a later date.
AT LEVEL 4:
This Level 4 qualification aims to provide professional development opportunities for practitioners working in the school and college workforce. This qualification will embrace the wealth of experience, proven knowledge, and skills of the learner in a teaching and learning environment. It will challenge the learner in both daily practice and theoretical understanding. Learners will acquire and use skills of leadership, mentoring, coaching, and reflection as they
complete the qualification through work-based learning opportunities. Upon achievement of this qualification, the learner will be equipped as an Advanced Practitioner.
The Advanced Practitioner will use crucial leadership skills to mentor others across all roles and responsibilities in the school or college workforce. This is not an HLTA qualification, HLTA is a status, and TA’s who wish to become HLTA should speak to their headteacher/line manager to discuss how to demonstrate the 33 standards needed.
The qualification is aimed at learners who are employed in suitable roles within schools or colleges. Previous Level 3 study is a clear advantage but wealth of experience, knowledge, and understanding working in schools or colleges is a requirement for this CPD qualification.
One last thing, choose your training provider/college carefully, ask around, get recommendations. Look at the awarding body’s website, do a centre search, ensure that the providers are registered to deliver the qualification. Look at OFSTED, if the college, training, or apprenticeship provider offer loans/ funding they will have to be inspected by OFSTED, although centres not offering the funding route do not need to be inspected, although they are quality assured by the awarding body. When speaking to the providers, find out exactly what you are paying for, you should have access to your assessor on a regular basis, be supported by them either by email/face to face, telephone calls. You should not pay extra to be observed in your setting if it is a requirement of the qualification nor should you be observed by someone in your school! You should also not have to pay for the awarding body certificate! If you are unhappy with the training/apprentice provider or college, speak to the awarding body.
The very last thing – Enjoy your course!