Career progression for Teaching Assistants – Gain HLTA Status

Have you ever covered a class as a Teaching Assistant? Often TAs cover classes in the absence of teachers, which is in addition to their agreed responsibilities and they still get paid the same rate. So what’s the next stage in career progression for teaching assistants? Become a Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) and get paid for what you already do! This can also be a good step towards becoming a qualified teacher.

What is the difference between a TA and a HLTA?

If you are a TA then all that follows should sound very familiar. TAs main role involves supporting children’s learning and supporting the main class teacher. Some TAs will help set up equipment, especially in the EYFS and KS1, helping the teacher prepare the classroom for learning. TAs also help with termly displays.

A Higher Level Teaching Assistant does all of the above but has that extra bit of responsibility. HLTAs teach classes on their own without the class teacher, cover planned absences and cover teachers when they need to plan and mark work. You can take on some of the responsibility of a teacher without going through the process of becoming a qualified teacher.

Because of this career progression and increased level of responsibility, HLTAs can expect to be paid a higher salary than a regular teaching assistant.

What is the difference in pay between a TA and a HLTA?

Your starting salary as a TA is usually around £11,500 to £14,000. This can then increase to £17,000 with experience. However, if you progress your career as a teaching assistant and become a HLTA your salary can increase to up too £24,000 per annum.

Not only is the pay better as a HLTA but research shows that through this career progression there can be a rise in confidence and self-esteem for those becoming a HLTA. Having the HTLA status can provide you with more opportunity to extend your role and responsibilities within a school, which will then help with a further increase in pay.

HLTA instructing class - career progression for teaching assistants

What is the process and what is the cost of becoming a HLTA?

Applicants for HLTA status will need to be working as a teaching assistant in a school and hold a national qualification at level 2 (National Qualifications Framework) or above in literacy and numeracy. The school will need to support the application for HLTA status, as the Headteacher and other members of staff will play an integral part in all the stages explained below.

Aspiring HLTAs will need to demonstrate through their practice that they meet the HLTA standards for professional attributes, skills, knowledge and understanding. The first stage is for the school to identify any shortfalls in the applicant’s ability or knowledge and resolve this through training and/or opportunities to expand their experience, such as covering whole classes.

The Headteacher of the school will then need to approach a Provider of Preparation (PoP) to facilitate all the preparation before the assessment. The preparation for assessment will take 3 days. The cost of preparation varies between providers but typically either the school, Local Authority or applicant themselves will need to pay the PoP around £300-£400 for this part of the process.

Since 2012 the assessment of Higher Level Teaching Assistants has been done by the HLTA National Assessment Partnership, which operates locally within regions providing assessment and moderation for HLTA status. This national partnership is made up of Regional Providers of Assessment (RPAs), who appoint an assessor to attend at the school and do the assessment for HLTA status. All applicants complete the same assessment process and the agreed fee for assessment and moderation is £450.  Applicants can expect to receive confirmation as to whether they have received HLTA status within 8 weeks of completing assessment.

Summary – Why are there not more HLTAs in schools?

Gaining HLTA status is excellent career progression for teaching assistants. As well as gaining additional skills, responsibilities and job satisfaction TAs will get a pay rise. HLTAs are also thought to make a positive impact on schools and learning outcomes for students. However, since government cut the funding for support staff training, schools or local authorities have had to fund the preparation and assessment for HLTA status themselves. With a combined cost of around £850 they have been reluctant to do so and applicants are rarely in the position to pay the fees themselves.

If you are looking to progress from a teaching assistant to a qualified teacher then you should also consider the different routes to becoming a teacher.

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