What Qualifications Do I Need to Become a SEN Teaching Assistant?

What Qualifications Do I Need to Become a SEN Teaching Assistant

Primarily, the job of a Special Education Needs (SEN) teaching assistant is to assist teachers facilitate the learning process of children with special needs, disabilities and challenges. These children are impaired one way or the other and it is reflecting on their educational performance.

They need more than just a teacher to attend to their special educational needs and that’s why a SEN teaching assistant becomes relevant. This also goes beyond children, they can be working with adults that have special needs too.

The nature of this job can be emotionally and physically draining most of the time. It’s something you have to brace up for if you are going in.

If you want to involve yourself fully in this career path, then you have to arm yourself with patience, sheer sensitivity, persistence, flexibility, tolerance and other handful of skills that will be required of you.

The Qualifications You Need

There are three routes to getting qualified as a SEN teaching assistant. They are:

  • College
  • Apprenticeship and
  • Volunteering

All three routes demands that you should at least have a General School Certificate in Education to begin and with at least a pass in numeracy (Maths) and literacy (English).

Your ability to understand the British Sign Language and any other training relevant to people with special needs will keep you on an edge over your equals in getting a job.

The College Route

Passing through the college route requires you to obtain a level 2 and 3 certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools or a level 3 diploma in Childcare and Education Early Years Educator.

In the course of going to college, you could be posted to some special education centers to gain the needed exposure and experience.


As an alternative to college, you could gain the relevant experience and know-how on the job by becoming an apprentice in a childcare or special education center. The apprenticeship comes in three ways:

  • Teaching assistant advanced apprenticeship
  • Intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in childcare
  • Intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in supporting teaching and learning in schools

But before you can begin this apprenticeship, you must have at least a General School Certificate in Education (GSCE) with a pass in maths and English also known as numeracy and literacy.


If you have passion for helping the helpless and the needy, then you can begin by volunteering in special needs education schools around you. While you are volunteering you can be learning from professionals. Volunteering could translate to getting paid in the long run.

After volunteering for some time, you could still keep your job while working out your qualifications that will grant you a platform to rise on the career.

Beyond all of these qualifications, most schools will still require you to pass enhanced background checks before you can become a full-time staff. You need to be clean and if you have any dent in your past bothering around criminality and felony, you might not be accepted.

These are the basic qualifications you will be needing to enter this career pathway. There’s always room for advancement and the role of Higher Level SEN Teaching Assistant is always a good prospect if you are in already.