Teaching assistants and learning support assistants are often thought of as having quite similar roles and although the terms are often used interchangeably by recruiters and definition vary from school to school the two roles do have several distinct differences. To help you decide which job to go for in your first role in education we have created this guide so that you can see which would suit you best.
The core difference between the two is that a learning support assistant role is more likely to be focussed on pastoral development than a teaching assistant role. Learning support assistants are more likely to be hired for intervention work, which usually means working one-on-one to support a student who has fallen behind their class and may have special educational needs. On the other hand they can also be hired to support the gifted and talented children who need more challenging work than the rest of the class and reach their academic limit. This is why LSAs often come from backgrounds in psychology, and the most successful LSAs are usually calm, sensitive people who can be patient with the students and sympathetic to their needs. Although LSA roles can lead to teaching just like teaching assistants roles do, some choose it as a way of getting practical experience for careers special educational needs and other psychology based careers.
Teaching Assistants are expected to concentrate more on academic support and are less likely to have 1:1 roles. They are usually employed to help students across the class, ensuring they are focussed on the lesson, giving them tips and answering questions just as a teacher would. Despite this they are still expected to develop relationships with the students and act as their role model. The most effective teaching assistants are often more outgoing, chatty and well-organised and usually looking to gain experience and start teaching careers.
If you are still unsure which role is right for you take a look at the jobs posted on our website or give us a call and talk through your options with one of our senior consultants.