Higher level teaching assistants (HLTAs) have an increased level of responsibility. They usually undertake more complex tasks and tend to work more independently than other classroom-based staff. Under the direction of a teacher, they often plan, prepare and deliver learning activities to individual pupils, groups and (in the short term) whole classes. They also assess, record and report on pupils’ progress. They act as a special assistant for a specific subject (f.e. literacy, ICT, sign language), group (young children, teenagers, special needs, gifted and talented) or department and help develop support materials. In order to do this effectively, the HLTA must understand the aims, content, teaching strategies and intended outcomes. They likewise need to have a solid knowledge of the curriculum to make sure they teach to a high standard as well as a diverse portfolio of learning strategies and styles to enable each pupil to fulfil their potential. HLTAs should always have high expectations of all their pupils and respect them whatever their background (be it cultural, social, religious, linguistic or ethnic). It is expected that they support the inclusion of all pupils in the learning activities in which they are involved. HLTAs should also be able to work collaboratively with their colleagues and to liaise sensitively with parents and carers, acknowledging their role in pupils’ learning.
HLTAs should be aware of the legal framework underpinning teaching and learning and although not required to have a detailed knowledge of it, HLTAs should be aware of their statutory responsibilities and where to gain information, support and assistance when and if they need it. They should be familiar with their school policies and procedures, f.e. equal opportunities policy or procedures for health and safety. They should know the legal definition of Special Educational Needs and be familiar with the guidance about meeting SEN given in the SEN Code of Practice. HLTA are also required to achieve a nationally recognised qualification at level 2 or above in English / literacy and maths / numeracy to demonstrate that they are confident in these subjects and in teaching them to others. It is also required that HLTAs have a sound knowledge of ICT to advance their pupils’ learning and to be able to use ICT tools for their own as well as the pupils’ benefit. The term ICT is wide-ranging and includes internet, interactive whiteboards, cameras, printers, scanners, video and DVD. HLTAs should be familiar with age-related expectations of students, including being able to discuss development stages form birth to teenager including speech and language stages. To become an HLTA, the candidate must demonstrate that he / she has the skills, knowledge and experience to take on the role and that he / she is familiar and understands all 33 nationally agreed professional standards. Furthermore, he / she should also have previous experience of working with children of a relevant age. Last but not least, each candidate needs to have a recent enhanced DBS check done to comply with the UK legal requirements.