The Ultimate Teaching Assistant Career Guide – Part Three
THE PINNACLE OF TEACHING ASSISTANCE – THE HIGHER LEVEL TEACHING ASSISTANT
Higher Level Teaching Assistants are tasked with doing all that regular teaching assistants do (that’s levels TA1, TA2 and TA3), but are also given increased responsibilities across the board. They can teach an entire class on their own, step into the breach for planned absence cover, and provide the Holy Grail for under-pressure teachers: time, so they can plan and mark. Hand in hand with these responsibilities, is a higher salary. Today, the average HLTA can earn £28,046 (this is the 2018 average salary, as according to jobs posted on TotalJobs); this figure compares to a median salary of £12,022 for teaching assistants (PayScale). HLTAs can also choose to take a foundation degree to set out on the path to becoming a fully qualified teacher.
So that’s greater responsibilities, a more diverse role in school life, potential for gaining a degree to become a fully-qualified teacher, and better pay. It then seems that aiming to become a HLTA is a goal shared by many who are working their way up the TA career ladder. In this blog article, we look at how ambitious teaching assistants can work their way up to HLTA.
“HLTA status has given me confidence. I really feel like an important part of the class and have a great relationship with the teacher, as well as a more in-depth understanding of the curriculum and the educational needs of the pupils.”
First things first: The three essentials to become a HLTA
In order to become a Higher Level Teaching Assistant, you’ll need:
- The support of your school and headteacher
- To be already qualified and working as a teaching assistant
- Funding – the most common source for which is your Local Authority. However if the LA cannot or will not cover your training, you can either self-fund or be funded by your school
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE HLTA PROCESS
- Step one – Gain support from your school
- Step two – Secure funding
- Step three – Identify any training needs
- Step four – Prepare for assessment
- Step five – Complete the assessment process
- Step six – Receive the outcome and decide the next steps
“I would thoroughly recommend HLTA status as it can map out a route to ensure your career develops. It also provides the balance of having an opportunity to lead as well as to assist. I have found HLTA status has really clarified my role”.CLICK TO TWEET
KEY QUESTION: DO YOU HAVE THE SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE NEEDED?
To be successfully accepted onto a HLTA programme, you’ll need to:
- Meet the 33 HLTA professional standards (read more here: The Candidate Handbook for Gaining HLTA Status)
- Be qualified in English and maths at Level 2 (or equivalent)
- Know how to use ICT to support your work
- Be trained in relevant learning strategies, e.g. Literacy
- Be equipped with specialist skills/training in a curriculum area, e.g. Sign language
THE HLTA ASSESSMENT PROCESS
With your level 2 qualifications in hand, you’ll be ready for placement onto a HLTA preparation course. This course will last for three days, and on completion you’ll be able to:
- Fully understand the professional standards required of HLTAs and how they relate to your work in school
- Fully understand the HLTA assessment process and have prepared assessment tasks ready for the visit to your school by an assessor
THE HLTA ASSESSMENT VISIT
The assessment will run for half a school day, and will be undertaken by an assessor approved by the Regional Provider of Assessment. They’ll ask and expect you to be able to…
- Explain your role in school
- Provide more detail on the activities you analysed in your assessment tasks
- Put forward evidence that supports your responses to the four assessment tasks
- Have your evidence verified by the headteacher (or delegated representative) and teacher(s)
- Meet the HLTA professional standards
“Gaining HLTA status has given me even more pride in my work and greater confidence in my ability to support the teachers and pupils I work with. Now I have been trained, I can use my skills to help plan and take certain parts of a lesson, under the direction and supervision of a teacher”.
KEY QUESTION: HOW MUCH DOES HLTA TRAINING COST?
Specialist educational trainers Babcock 4S currently charge the following prices for HLTA training….
- Three-day HLTA preparation course – £199
- HLTA assessment – £450
AFTER YOUR HLTA ASSESSMENT: WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Following moderation, an award letter will be sent to you from your RPA informing you of the result. This will usually be within eight weeks of the school visit. There are three possible outcomes:
- Standards met – This will mean that you are officially a HLTA
- Partial reassessment – Some standards (up to a total of three) have not been fully met. In this case you’ll need to: rewrite one or more of the tasks; create an additional task example or provide additional documentation (or any combination of the three).
- Standards not met – This will mean that you need further training or development, before becoming an approved HLTA.
We wish you luck in pursuing that next rung of the TA career ladder – and wherever you are, whether TA1 or HLTA-hopeful, remember that you serve an invaluable role not only in the classroom, but in the lives of students, teachers, parents and carers alike.