Top 10 tips for new teaching assistants
Here are our key tips for new teaching assistants – if you follow this
guidance, you’re sure to perform like a star TA!
1. Be friendly and approachable – this might sound obvious, but you need to be
friendly, supportive and approachable. This applies to both fellow staff and students.
After all, if you turn up to school in a grump, or sit in the corner like a shrinking violet,
just think about the impression you are creating… being approachable and proactive is
a huge part of being an effective TA.
2. Find out about the students you’re working with – to be an effective teaching
assistant, you’ll need to find out as much as possible about the students you are
supporting. This might include reading their EHC Plans, speaking to class teachers and
the SENCO to figure out what motivates them, what stresses them and how you might
best provide support
3. Enhance your SEND knowledge – if the students you work with have special
educational needs or disabilities (SEND – and it’s likely that they will), then make sure
you understand the conditions they are dealing with. There is lots of information out
there about types of special needs and how to effectively provide support so read up if
you want to do the best job possible. If you have any questions about any particular
needs be sure to give us a call.
4. Find out about the school behaviour policy – if you are supporting children who
exhibit challenging behaviour, you’ll need to be familiar with the school policy on
behaviour management. There may be a whole-school approach which you should be
using. It is also worth speaking with the classroom teacher about this to find out what
their advice is.
5. Work closely with parents and carers – guidance regarding EHC (Education, Health
and Care) Plans tells us that parents, carers and other healthcare professionals should
be working closely together to support children with SEND. You should make a point of
finding out how your role plays into this and communicate with other professionals and
parents as appropriate about the progress and development of the children you are
6. Be prepared to help with personal care and medical needs where necessary –
some teaching assistants will support children who have personal care and medical
needs. This might include helping with feeding, going to the toilet or administering
medication. Staff members who turn their noses up at providing such support are
not likely to be seen in a positive light, so do your best to go into school with the
mindset that you’ll tackle any task required with positivity and enthusiasm (even if it’s
a part of the role you’re not keen on!)
7. Attend meetings and training – schools may ask you to sit in on meetings or attend
training sessions. Even if you feel that this is outside of your contracted hours/job
description, you should try to attend these sessions. Not only could they provide you
with useful skills and information to enhance your own career, they could also help you
to ultimately provide better, more effective support for the children you work with.
8. Be flexible – although a school may hire you with a specific child/group of children in
mind, you could be asked at any time to alter your remit and help elsewhere in the
school. You’ll need to remain positive when faced with changes like this as schools are
under constant pressure to deploy staff in the most effective way possible, and this
may include moving your around on a moments notice.
9. Go above and beyond – doing things outside of your contracted hours, such as
helping with sports clubs, school plays or musical performances are what will make you
stand out from the crowd – so if you want to be seen as a valuable member of staff,
you should make a point of getting involved in things which are above and beyond the
call of duty.
10.Stay calm! The last tip I’d like to offer is to remain calm. Schools can be stressful
environments at times, and it can be easy to allow yourself to become stressed. This
can negatively affect both your own performance and the progress of the children you
work with. So do your best to keep calm – you may find articles and videos online
which can offer you some useful tips for this if you are a bit of a stress-head!
If you follow the tips above, you should quickly make yourself an invaluable member
of staff no matter what school you work in!