Sobhan Mohmand, Career Expert 24 May 2019
A Learning Support Assistant (LSA) provides educational and emotional support and guidance to students with learning or behavioural difficulties and special needs. The support provided can be with learning activities in the class or working alongside teachers to ensure that pupils are in a safe setting in which they are enjoying their learning and making progress.
If you have a passion for working with children and making a positive difference in their lives, then this is the ideal career for you!
Day-to-day activities and responsibilities
- Providing 1-1 and small group tuition to SEN students
- Assisting students who have difficulty with learning
- Preparing and delivering lessons, class activities and workshops
- Photocopying, printing and handing out lesson materials
- Supporting students with English as a second language
- Taking the register in the absence of the teacher
- Utilising a wide range of learning resources for learning purposes
- Performing break and lunchtime duties (if required)
- Going through internal and external verification (and observations)
- Supporting the organisation of extracurricular activities
- Participating in meetings, parents’ evenings and school training events
- Monitoring pupils performance throughout the year
- Managing student behaviour in classrooms and around the school
- Ensuring that the classroom is always tidy and in good order
- Helping students with overcoming their learning barriers such as Dyslexia, ADHD, Aspersers and Autism
- Supervising students during lunch and break times
- Preparing resources particularly tailored to individual learners
- Completing regular learner reviews for progression and development
- Providing support to the Learning Support Officer (as and when required)
Workplace and working hours
If you go for a full-time position as a learning support assistant, you will work up to 40 hours per week. You will start between 8.30am-9.30am (depending on the school) and will finish around 3.15pm-4pm.
You will mainly be situated in a classroom, with individual pupils or groups in a separate room. This will vary depending on the day and the activity being carried or if there are certain pupils who require extra support.
You may also be involved in activities such as school trips, staff training, meetings etc. This means you may be required to work extra hours.
Many learning support assistants work part-time.
For a full-time learning support assistant, the salary ranges from £12,500 to £20,000 per year, depending on the exact job specifications, previous work experience and location of the school. In London, you can expect to start off at £16,000 per year.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
Individual schools will have their own requirements, therefore the qualifications and experience will vary slightly. You can get an idea of what you may need by searching for jobs that are advertised locally. In general, there are no formal entry requirements for this position.
If you have any previous qualifications in childcare, nursery work or youth work, this can be very useful and increase your chance of finding work. Furthermore, employers may be willing to take you on and train you if you have enough experience of working with children.
There are different ways of gaining experience and qualifications to make you fit for this job:
- You can volunteer or help out in a local school.
- You can gain a Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools or Level 2 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools.
- You could also become a learning support assistant through an Apprenticeship scheme.
Skills and personal attributes
- You must have the skill and experience of effectively working with children
- You should be able to build good relationships with teachers, children, parents and carers
- You will need to have a basic understanding of child development and learning
- You are required to be creative and flexible
- Teamwork is extremely important, therefore, you must be able to work effectively as part of a team to achieve results
- You will need excellent reading, writing and numeracy skills
- You must be able to cope with stressful situations and misbehaved children
- It is advantageous to have some basic IT knowledge
Job likes and benefits
- The job is enjoyable and rewarding if you genuinely like working with children.
- With experience and further qualifications, you can progress in this role or move into another educational role.
- No two days will be the same as you will be supporting children as they participate in a variety of lessons and class activities on a daily basis.
Job challenges and disadvantages
- The salary for this role is considerably less than the national average of most jobs.
- Some days will prove to be challenging, particularly when working towards strict deadlines or dealing with children with behavioural issues.
Job progression and career prospects
You will normally start off working as a learning support assistant in a primary, secondary or special school. However, with experience, you can progress to become a teaching assistant at a college or university. There are also opportunities to get additional training and qualifications to become a fully qualified teacher.
According to government statistics, jobs in this role are projected to grow by 8.2% over the period to 2024 (Source: LMI for All).