HLTA Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

An HLTA, or Higher Level Teaching Assistant assists teachers inside and outside the classroom. Their primary duties include preparing lesson plans, teaching classes and reporting on student progress.

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HLTA duties and responsibilities

The duties of HLTAs vary depending on their school and their special areas of interest. However, some of the common responsibilities of HLTAs include:

  • Preparing classrooms for lessons, including setting up televisions for video presentations and sourcing books and handouts for students
  • Teaching classes unassisted, especially when Teachers are ill or on leave
  • Planning and delivering learning and enrichment activities, either with Teachers or independently
  • Working with small groups of students or individuals needing special attention
  • Developing specialist curricula in areas of interest
  • Assessing students’ progress and discussing development with Teachers, parents and Carers
  • Consoling students who are unwell, injured or upset
  • Supervising student groups on excursions and at sporting events
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What does an HLTA do?

Like regular Teaching Assistants, HLTAs perform educational duties to reduce the responsibilities of Teachers. However, HLTAs can perform more complex and responsible tasks than standard Teaching Assistants. Their efforts ease the pressure on Teachers, allowing them more time to prepare lessons and mark assignments and exams. Since HLTAs can prepare lessons and teach classes, they also help students receive uninterrupted learning when their regular Teachers are ill or on leave. The expertise of HLTAs also helps schools deliver specialised curricula and improve outcomes for students with special needs.

HLTA skills and qualifications

HLTAs help Teachers and students using a variety of hard and soft skills. A successful HTLA candidate will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications that include:  

  • English, mathematics and other relevant subject knowledge
  • Computer literacy, including confidence in incorporating computers into classroom lessons and using digital record-keeping software
  • Verbal and written communication, including active listening, for effective classroom instruction and understanding students’ needs
  • Interpersonal skills, including etiquette and social awareness, for working with students, Teachers and Carers
  • Fluency in other languages, including sign language, in some cases
  • Understanding of the expectations of the EYFS or relevant curricula (KS1, KS2, KS3 or KS4), marking criteria and ideal learning outcomes

HLTA experience requirements

HLTAs need experience working as Teaching Assistants. This experience helps people learn how to work well with Teachers, students and Carers before they receive additional responsibilities. There is no set period of time people should work as a Teaching Assistant before becoming an HLTA. Teaching Assistants typically start working towards becoming HLTAs once their school and Head Teacher recognises their potential.

HLTA education and training requirements

HLTAs need Level 2 or equivalent qualifications in English/literacy and mathematics/numeracy. After receiving these qualifications, Teaching Assistants must complete a three-day HLTA preparation course. An Assessor then visits the Teaching Assistant’s school to determine their suitability. If Teaching Assistants pass this assessment, they can work towards satisfying the 33 professional standards required for HLTA status. While it isn’t essential, some people may also attain the Higher Level Teaching Assistants Level 4 Certificate to distinguish themselves from other candidates.

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HLTA job description FAQs

What makes a good HLTA?

Look for candidates with extensive experience working as Teaching Assistant, ideally as an HLTA. If your student body has students with special needs, HLTAs who have worked in the special needs sector or who know sign language may be beneficial. Candidates with any special skills, such as fluency in different languages or experience in pastoral care can enrich your school.

How can I feel confident my HLTA is of good character?

Most school subject the candidates on their shortlist to enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service checks. These enhanced checks show whether candidates have any spent and unspent criminal convictions, police cautions or reprimands. They will also tell you about any other relevant information police have on file about your candidates. Knowing whether candidates have a clean record or not can help you decide whether they are suitable role models for your students. You should note that passing these checks is a condition of employment in your job description.

What qualities do successful HLTAs have?

HLTAs are personable, warm people who are comfortable building relationships with Teachers, students and their Carers. They are sensitive to the needs of children, yet also know how to be tough when students require discipline. They are patient and can stay calm even when children are challenging them. Working with children can be unpredictable, but good HLTAs are flexible enough to adapt, yet organised enough to make sure students still achieve their learning outcomes. Their creativity helps them engage children in the classroom and plan interesting lessons.

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