How to become a Teaching Assistant!

Looking to become a teaching assistant? Bewildered by the vast array of Teaching Assistant courses and qualifications available? Let us put this in plain English in a very simple easy to understand format. 

When considering what course to take, it will be vital that at the end of it you achieve a recognised qualification. A qualification that is listed on the RQF is of utmost importance. So we have listed below what courses are on offer with UK Open College and who they are aimed at. Hopefully, this will help in making the right decision!

Note: Once qualified, a TA will work with children & Young people from ages 5-19 years in reception year and above. We also offer a range of childcare courses if your aim is to work in Early Years with children from birth to 4 years. 

Level 1 Teaching Assistant Courses

TQUK Level 1 Award in Preparing to work in Schools RQF This course is aimed at total beginners. Not studied for many years? Nervous about starting your learning journey? Maybe English is your second language? Sound familiar? Then this is the course for you! 

This course presumes no knowledge at all. Can be studied entirely online, allowing you to log in and out at anytime to suit over a 6 month period. We experience learners regularly complete this course in just a few weeks. It’s a great way of finding your feet and building confidence before progressing onto a Level 2 course. Admittedly, employment is limited at Level 1 but schools do advertise Level 1 positions fully understanding that applicants are new with limited experience, if any at all. We all start somewhere !

You are able to validate this qualification on the Ofqual Website here TQUK L1 Award in Preparing to Work in Schools (RQF)

Level 2 TA Courses

At Level 2 there are two different options. The TQUK Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools RQF and the TQUK Level 2 Certificate in Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools RQF. What’s the difference we hear you say? Let us explain !

If you decide to take an Award rather than certificate you are taking what is known as the knowledge only pathway, so theory only!  If you take a Certificate course then you will cover all the knowledge based units covered on the Award plus additional units that are practical. So to put it simply, an Award can be done totally online, whereas a certificate requires placement in a school setting.  Both courses carry fully recognised qualifications but learners who have completed the certificate course will have a major advantage when seeking employment. Do not underestimate the practical experience gained in placement.

This can be the difference between landing your dream job or not! 

The TQUK Level 2 Certificate in Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools is the direct replacement for what used to be called the Teaching Assistant NVQ Level 2. Note: NVQ’s for this sector no longer exist but are still accepted by schools for those learners who still possess them. 

Both qualifications can be validated on the Ofqual Website here  TQUK L2 Award in Support Work in Schools RQF and the TQUK L2 Certificate in Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools RQF

Level 3 Teaching Assistant Courses

At Level 3 there are three different options. Very similar options to those courses offered at Level 2 but a Level 3 course requires more detail within each of the assessments. For example a Level 2 assignment tends to be approx 2000 words whereas a Level 3 assignment is double at 4000 words. Level 3 courses tend to be aimed at those who already hold a level 2 qualification, those already experienced in the classroom and the TA role or those who have studied at a good level previously. For example: taken A Levels or attended university.  

Just like at Level 2 there is an Award at Level 3 too.

The TQUK Level 3 Award in Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools RQF is knowledge based and can be done totally online without the need for placement. Again, there is also a certificate course. The TQUK Level 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools RQF. This is the direct replacement for what used to be called the Teaching Assistant NVQ Level 3 and will require placement to achieve. 

However, at Level 3 there is also a Diploma course.

The TQUK Level 3 Diploma in Specialist Support for Teaching & Learning in Schools RQF covers all of the units contained within the L3 Award & L3 Certificate but also covers 4 additional units relating to working with children with Special needs & Disability (SEND). So if your aim is to become a Special Needs Teaching Assistant then the Level 3 Diploma is the course for you. Placement will also be required to achieve this qualification. 

All 3 qualifications can be validated on the Ofqual website here TQUK Level 3 Award in Supporting Teaching & Learning in schools RQF, the TQUK Level 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools RQF and the TQUK Level 3 Diploma in Specialist Support for Teaching & Learning in Schools RQF

Level 4 HLTA Courses

The icing on the cake! At Level 4, similar to Level 3 there are 3 options to choose from. Those looking to become a High Level Teaching Assistant or HLTA as commonly known, should consider one of the following options. Note: To achieve HLTA status you should complete a course containing practical assessment. 

Please be advised, Level 4 courses are aimed at those already qualified at Level 3 or those with vast experience in the TA role. Note: You are not able to become a HLTA if you are not a TA already. 

As part of the Certificate & Diploma courses, candidates are required to demonstrate the ability to take classes in the teachers absence.  This is impossible to do if not already experienced in the TA role. Bear this in mind if considering a Level 4 course. 

The recently introduced, TQUK Level 4 Award for Higher Level Teaching Assistants RQF can be completed fully online without the need for any placement work at all. Ideal if placement is not available to you at this particular time. All units on this course are knowledge based (theory). However, once you complete the these theory units this course can be topped up to the Level 4 certificate or Level Diploma at any time in the future by adding the practical units at a later date, if and when placement becomes available. 

The TQUK Level 4 Certificate for Higher Level Teaching Assistants RQF course contains 7 units in total. The same 3 theory units covered on the Level 4 Award plus 3 practical units. There is even a unit covering SEN. Perfect for working 1-1 with children & Young People who experience additional needs. 

The TQUK Level 4 Diploma is brand new and introduced in 2024. Covering 10 units in total, this course covers all 7 units from the Level 4 Certificate plus 3 more practical units not covered on any other HLTA course. By viewing the syllabus for each course on the website you will see the difference in content covered. All 3 courses carry fully recognised qualifications. 

Again, you can validate these qualifications on the Ofqual website here TQUK Level 4 Award for Higher Level Teaching Assistants RQF, The TQUK Level 4 Certificate for Higher Level Teaching Assistants RQF and the TQUK Level 4 Diploma for Higher Level Teaching Assistants RQF

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

This may explain the differences between the various courses and levels available but we have also added some FAQS for your viewing. 

Do I have to take a Level 1 course first?

No, this is only suggested for those learners who have not studied before or for a very long time. It’s aimed at boosting confidence or those learners where English is a second language.

Do I require placement?

A placement is required to take a Certificate or Diploma Course. It is not required if taking an Award. For employment purposes we advise candidates to consider taking a course with placement where possible. Placement should be arranged in a school setting in reception year or above. You will require access for a minimum of 6/7 hours per week. This can be a fully day or split into two mornings or afternoons. The more you access the classroom setting the better. 

Does UK Open College arrange placements? 

Unfortunately not! We are dealing with students all over the world making this an impossible task. Candidates are advised to contact schools locally and offer to volunteer in exchange for their assistance in helping you with your course. Schools love volunteers !!

How long should I be in placement for?

Candidates should be in placement from the start of their course through to the very end. We cannot accept you onto any Certificate or Diploma course until you have a placement confirmed. 

Are your courses fully recognised and accepted by Ofsted. 

Absolutely! We have inserted links above to each course direct to the Ofqual website. Ofqual is the regulator of qualifications in England & Northern Ireland. This proves the value of our courses and qualifications. Within each course description we have listed the qualification reference number too. 

Note: These are not accepted in Scotland and Wales as regulation is different. 

Do I need qualifications in English and Maths to enrol?

No!, Although some schools prefer their TA’s to hold a min of Level 2 in Maths and English, this is by no means compulsory. They are not required to take a course with UK Open College. 

Do I have to wait until September to enrol?

We are asked this question almost every day! Traditionally, local FE colleges enrolled in the summer ready to start in September. With online learning this is not the case! We enrol 365 days a year! Enrol to suit your own circumstances. Each students situation is different. Enrol to suit you personally! 

Do your courses carry UCAS points?

Yes, but UCAS points only apply to Level 3 courses. Within the course description you will find exactly how many are awarded. It’s different for each course, so please check if this is important to you. 

Is it important I achieve an official RQF qualification?

Yes 100% ! Ofsted will not accept any qualification that isn’t listed on the RQF.  We are contacted regularly by learners who have achieved online CPD & QLS courses with various colleges and online providers in the hope of qualifying as a TA only to be left very disappointed. These will not be accepted by schools or Ofsted. There is a reason CPD courses are cheap. Be warned !

Will I have a tutor for support?

Yes of course! All learners are able to correspond with their tutor through our learning platform via email. We also have our head of department available via telephone during business hours to talk you through anything you may not understand or require help with.

In addition to this, we also offer optional drop in sessions and 1-1 tutor sessions via zoom upon request (Small fee payable for zoom sessions) 

What is a typical Teaching Assistant Salary?

This varies from area to area. You can visit the National Careers Service for a better idea of what you could earn once qualified. Alternatively, you can visit one of the major job sites for a live example 

If you still have doubts or any questions you want to ask, then contact us on 0121 792 3872. We can even arrange 24 hour access (Free of Charge) to any of the courses listed above on our online platform. We are that confident you will love our courses, we even back them with a 14 day money back guarantee.