Becoming a higher level teaching assistant

28th March 2017 at 17:00
A higher level teaching assistant
Training to become a higher level teaching assistant is a great way for TAs to increase their responsibility and improve their salary. We look at what the job entails and how you can apply.

The Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) role was introduced in 2003, following workforce reform to raise standards and tackle workload in the classroom.

However, the big problem is the Government has cut all funding for support staff training. Heads and local authorities will no longer be given any specific budget to pay for employees to become high level assistants or to attend courses. The TDA, the organisation that had been providing funding, said local authorities and schools that wanted to continue training teaching assistants would have to pay for it themselves.

How does the role differ from a TA?

Higher level teaching assistant status is awarded to support staff who meet the national HLTA standards. An HLTA does all the things that regular teaching assistants do but the biggest difference is the increased level of responsibility. For example HLTAs teach classes on their own, cover planned absences and allow teachers time to plan and mark.

Because of this increased level of responsibility, HLTAs can expect to be paid a slightly higher salary than a regular teaching assistant. However pay rates are set by the employers and salaries can vary quite a lot - you’re probably looking at something between £17,000 to £24,000. This salary could increase with additional specialisms or SEND responsibilities.

The number of weeks you get paid for will also vary: some HLTAs are salaried all year round, but in most authorities it’s term-time only, on a pro-rata basis.

What’s the process of becoming an HLTA?

To become an HLTA you need to have the following in place:

  • You should already be a teaching assistant
  • The support of your school 
  • The support of your headteacher
  • Funding - the most common source of funding is the local authority (LA). If your LA doesn’t play ball then the programme can be self-funded or funded by your school.

Your training needs

During the HLTA assessment process you need to show that you meet each of the HLTA standards. To establish what you need to do to meet these standards you first have to complete a training needs analysis and complete the process of ‘preparation for assessment’.

The training needs analysis is carried out by your school, LA or regional provider of Assessment (RPA) and will identify where you need to extend your skills and experience. The training can come though development activities at your school or through your LA or via independent training providers.

You will also need to achieve a nationally recognised qualification at level 2 or above in English/literacy and maths/numeracy. Relevant qualifications are those recognised nationally as being equivalent to level 2 of the national qualifications framework (NQF).

HLTA preparation course

Once you’ve got the appropriate level 2 qualifications in literacy and numeracy, your LA will put you on an HLTA preparation course. The course will last three days and by the end of the course you should:

  • understand the professional standards and how they relate to your work in school 
  • understand the assessment process and have prepared assessment tasks and have prepared for the visit to your school by an assessor

During your preparation course you will be booked in for a school.  

The HLTA school visit

The assessment involves a half-day visit to your school by an assessor approved by your RPA. During the visit you’ll be asked the following: 

  • Explain your role in school
  • Give more detail on the activities you analysed in your assessment tasks 
  • Provide evidence that supports your responses to the four assessment tasks
  • Have your evidence verified by the headteacher (or delegated representative) and teacher(s)
  • HLTA professional standards

The HLTA professional standards set out exactly what is expected of teaching assistants working towards HLTA status. There are 33 standards, grouped under three main headings.

HLTA training costs

Training providers Babcock 4S currently charge:

Three-day HLTA preparation course - £199
HLTA assessment - £450

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