Pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN) often require additional time, patience, and support to learn at school. A Teaching Assistant with special education needs training dedicates their time to assist children and young adults, working closely with them to ensure they get more out of each lesson. There is no doubt that a Special Education Teaching Assistant is a pivotal figure in a pupil’s learning journey.
If you are interested in becoming an SEN Teaching Assistant, then we can give you a taste of what it’s like to work in this role. Continue reading to learn the responsibilities of a TA and the SEN courses you can take to achieve your goal.
The Purpose of a Special Educational Needs Teaching Assistant
Dyslexia, Autism, Down Syndrome, and other learning disabilities can all make learning more challenging. Through quick thinking and a close bond with each pupil, Special Educational Needs (SEN) Teaching Assistants minimise these challenges.
They will adapt and change the way each lesson is taught, explaining new concepts in ways they know their pupil will understand, based on how they prefer to learn.
An SEN Teaching Assistant guides their pupils through their time at school, helping them to interact with others and build positive relationships. By doing so, they familiarise other pupils with SEN children and encourage an inclusive environment.
Core Responsibilities of an SEN TA
As an SEN Teaching Assistant, the work you do is undeniably valuable. You will:
- Identify the individual needs of each child
- Assist pupils both inside and outside of the classroom
- Take charge of behaviour management
- Assist with communication, personal care, physical assistance, and any other tasks that may be required
Together with the Teacher, you create a safe, stimulating, and supportive learning environment. Once you have finished your Special Educational Needs courses, you’ll work closely with many children, gaining their trust and getting to know each individually. This enables you to recognise and appreciate their unique personalities and work hard to make school a positive and rewarding experience.
The Role Day to Day
While your responsibilities are determined by your pupils’ needs, generally you will:
- Prepare learning resources
- Support schoolwork under the supervision of a Teacher
- Implement individual education, social, behavioural, and personal care programmes
- Help children understand instructions by repetition, re-phrasing, and demonstration
- Adapt conventional teaching methods to meet the individual needs of pupils
- Encourage children’s confidence, self-esteem, independence, and communication
- Recognise signs of distress and offer reassurance
- Safeguard their physical, social, and emotional welfare
- Attend to their physical needs
- Provide feedback to Teachers and parents
- Complete records
- Assist Teachers
You’ll adapt the curriculum to the learning styles of each child. By tailoring lessons, you help them to progress at a comfortable pace, allowing them to learn and gain value from their school experience. This increases the chances of them becoming more confident and independent in life.
If you assist one child full-time, you’ll act as a point of contact for both parents and Teachers, communicating triumphs and setbacks with their wider support network. So, everyone is on the same page and replicating successful learning strategies outside the classroom, giving your pupil the best possible chance of success.
Typically, you’ll find employment opportunities in mainstream schools, whether it is in the classrooms or within specialist units. SEN Teaching Assistants also work in special schools where support is provided to children with severe or complex special educational needs.
Generally, as with most Teaching Assistant roles, you’ll work during school hours Monday to Friday. Though, if you work within a special school, some of these are residential. So, you may be required to work evenings and weekends.
After completing SEN courses and getting the job you want, you will likely be offered a salary between £12,000 to £23,000 per year, with higher wages being offered to those with further training and experience.
Many schools will give you access to specific training like the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) courses. Or courses dedicated to conditions like Dyslexia or Autism.
As you gain experience you may take a course to become a Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA). Or you could take further studies to become a fully qualified special educational needs or mainstream Teacher.
Qualities of an SEN Teaching Assistant
As with all teaching roles, you need to be calm and have patience. This and the ability to work well with children is essential, but there are wider skills and personality traits that are important when working with children with special educational needs. We have outlined some of the key things you need to know:
- You must be in tune with the children you work with
- How well you know a pupil can be the difference between a positive or negative experience
- Recognising signs of frustration can help you change the situation before problems arise. Failing to notice could make things worse
- Kindness, sensitivity and understanding are essential
- What may be possible one day may not be the next. You must respond to every situation positively and continue to work through challenges as they arise
- You’ll be flexible and open to change, taking the initiative where required and have excellent problem-solving skills
- Behaviour management is also beneficial as you have to be comfortable handling confrontation and challenging behaviour
Additional skills like British Sign Language or Makaton can also be highly desirable to schools and helpful to your work. So, while or after studying SEN courses, UK learners, can add another string to their bow.
How to Become a Special Educational Needs Teaching Assistant
SEN courses should be your first point of call as they will get you prepared for a career in this sector. You will gain a solid understanding of the educational setup and how to support children and young adults through their academic journey.
You need to gain a relevant qualification to work as a Special Educational Needs Teaching Assistant. If you’re already a qualified Teaching Assistant, you can take additional SEN courses to gain the specific knowledge required. Otherwise, you can take particular courses that provide everything you need.
Our Level 3 Diploma in Supporting Teaching and Learning is a course that does just that. It qualifies you as a Teaching Assistant who can also provide specialist support.
To achieve this Level 3 qualification, you will need to complete a series of assignments online, based on 16 modules that will be covered during your studies. You will also need to secure a work placement, where you will undergo direct observation.
You can expect the following outcomes when you study this course:
- You’ll learn about the rights of disabled children and young people, plus those with special educational needs
- Through the different modules studied, you’ll develop skills that help you work effectively in a specialist support role. This will help you to understand the different requirements of those with emotional, behavioural, social development, sensory and/or physical needs
- As part of this course, you’ll complete a work placement in an education setting. This helps you get hands-on experience, which is often required by most employers. A placement allows you to gain confidence in the classroom and apply what you’ve learnt in the real world
Once qualified, you’ll be eligible for support positions in:
- Infant of junior schools
- Special schools
- Secondary schools
- Independent schools
There is also potential to study a foundation degree at university, giving you the opportunity to become a Teacher later on, should that be your goal.
Awarded by the NCFE and recognised by Ofqual, it demonstrates a high standard of education to potential future employers.
Study a Special Educational Needs Courses
If you have completed the above course and would like to learn about special educational needs in-depth, then consider our SEN courses. We here at Stonebridge Associated Colleges boast a wide range of options, including the Special Educational Needs (SEN) – Advanced course.
While studying this SEN course, you will explore the following modules:
- Definitions and Key Principles of Special Educational Needs (SEN)
- Moderate Learning Disabilities
- Behavioural, Social, and Emotional Difficulties
- Specific Learning Difficulties
- Speech and Language, and Global Communication Issues
By gaining this insight and knowledge, you will be able to apply for specialist roles that provide support to children and young adults who have special educational needs. What’s more, this SEN Teaching Assistant course can be completed from the comfort of your own home as it is studied entirely online.
Study SEN Courses Online
Stonebridge Associated Colleges is a leading UK distance learning provider, meaning you can study our courses online, from home, around your current commitments.
If you’re looking to make this career change, you can gain the ability to do so by studying our SEN courses. UK learners don’t need to waste another second! Enrol today by giving our Course Specialists a call on 0121 392 8288 or reach out to us online. Alternatively, click below to explore our course options!