Making the Leap from Teaching Assistant to Teacher | learndirect

Making the Leap from Teaching Assistant to Teacher

Posted on 01/07/2020
Making the Leap from Teaching Assistant to Teacher

There are many great things about being a teaching assistant. From helping pupils reach their potential to supporting them with any issues they have, it’s an incredibly rewarding role to have. 

Yet, however satisfied you are with your job, it’s natural to want to progress your career.

Whether you’ve been a TA for years and want a change or have exhausted the avenues for progression in your role, becoming a teacher is the logical next step. 

Making the leap from teaching assistant to teacher will allow you to develop as a professional. It’ll also enable you to start an exciting new chapter in your life. 

Personal benefits aside, qualifying as a teacher will enable you to shape young minds and even shape the future of education. 


How Will Things Change?

One of the crucial differences between being a teaching assistant and a teacher is the level of responsibility you have. Becoming a teacher will see you move from a support role to that of an educator. 

As a teaching assistant, you will have supported teachers with their lessons and worked with a handful of children with specific needs. However, as a teacher, you will be responsible for planning, preparing and delivering lessons based on national curriculum guidelines. 

Although you will still nurture and develop young minds, your focus will be on the classroom as a whole. You will be in charge of educating your students or pupils, tracking their progress and shaping how they view education.

You will also have more of a voice in the school environment. You’ll work closely with your school’s leadership team to help affect change and ensure the smooth running of the school. 

You will have a closer relationship with parents and carers too and may even work with support workers to implement appropriate safeguarding measures. 

A teacher isn’t just someone who teaches. By becoming a teacher, you will become a support system for your students. You will be responsible for their welfare in the classroom and outside of it. 

learndirect | Making the Leap from Teaching Assistant to Teacher | How Will Things Change?


Why Make the Leap?

There are many reasons why people qualify as a teacher. From the greater responsibility it awards you to the financial rewards, there’s a whole host of benefits to becoming a teacher. 

You’ll Boost Your Salary

Newly qualified teachers in England and Wales can enjoy a starting salary of between £24,373 to £30,480 per annum depending on where they’re based. 

In Northern Ireland salaries range from £22,243 to £37,870 per annum. In Scotland, teachers can earn up to £36,480 a year.

That’s up to an additional £26,000 a year in comparison to the starting salary for teaching assistants (approx. £11,000). 

You’ll Change Lives

Being a teacher means that you’re responsible for how pupils or students learn and engage with their studies. Nothing beats the satisfaction of seeing children flourish in their learning. 

The moments you spend with your students will shape their interests later in life and help them navigate the most crucial years of their life. 

As a teacher, you will help to mould children into well-rounded individuals. 

You’ll Never Stop Learning

By becoming a teacher, you’re devoting yourself to lifelong learning. With each lesson you prepare, you will be researching and discovering new things for yourself. 

You will get to dig deeply into topics you love and have the chance to boost your knowledge every single day. 

Plus, no day will ever be the same. This means that there’s plenty of opportunities to develop your skills and learn from the students around you too.

learndirect | Making the Leap from Teaching Assistant to Teacher | Why Make the Leap?


Where to Start

Settling on a new career can be exciting but a little daunting too. That’s why you need to have a clear picture of what your next steps are in achieving your goal. 

As a teaching assistant, you will already possess the classroom experience and essential skills required to teach. All you need to do now is get the right qualification under your belt.

To become a qualified teacher, you’ll need to undertake Initial Teacher Education or Training (ITET) with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). You can achieve this through Straight to Teaching, a school-led QTS development programme, or by studying at university. 

If your school doesn’t participate in the Straight to Teaching scheme, you’ll be responsible for organising your higher education training. The route you take to getting a recognised teaching qualification depends on the level of qualifications you already have.

If you have a degree…

If you’re a graduate teaching assistant, you can apply for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).

To be eligible for study, you’ll need at least a 2:2 degree and have passed a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.      

This post-graduate programme is designed to help you develop your teaching skills and will qualify you in 1 year.

If you haven’t got a degree…

Then you’ll need to apply for an undergraduate ITET programme at university with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). 

The most popular way of achieving this is by studying a Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree with QTS. This qualification is ideal for prospective primary school teachers and takes 3 years to complete.

However, Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BSc) education degrees with QTS are just as useful. This is especially the case if you have a specific subject in mind that you want to teach. 

Each degree programme typically takes 3 – 4 years to complete and are popular with aspiring secondary school teachers.

learndirect | Making the Leap from Teaching Assistant to Teacher | Where to Start

Haven’t got the relevant qualifications to study at university? You can still qualify as a teacher. 

If you haven’t got any A-levels, you can go to university with an Access to Higher Education Diploma. This diploma is an A-level equivalent qualification and widely recognised by universities across the UK. 

Not only will it qualify you to study at degree-level, but it’ll fully prepare you for university life. So, there’s no need to worry about returning to education later in life – you’ll receive all the support you need.

What’s more, this diploma can be studied online, from the comfort of your home. This means that you can study at your own pace and around your teaching assistant job. 

Once you’ve completed your diploma, you will be able to apply to start your degree. Access to HE Diploma students typically complete their studies in 9 – 12 months. This means that, if you follow this route, you’ll be on track to qualify as a teacher within 4 years. 


Whichever route you take to qualify, you can look forward to a fulfilling and stimulating career as a teacher. You’ll work in a job that challenges you to grow professionally and personally each day, and in which you can make a true difference to a child’s life.  


Ready to take your career in education to the next level? Take a look at our Access to Higher Education Diploma (Education) today! 

learndirect | Making the Leap from Teaching Assistant to Teacher | CTA