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Supporting children's development
Supporting children's development

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4 Identifying skills

Katie has identified the fact that she enjoys her role as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) and has no desire to become a teacher. The skills required to be a teaching assistant are complementary to, but different from, those of a teacher and she has a good relationship with the teachers in her school.

Activity 3

Timing: Allow about 30 minutes

When you attend interviews you will be expected to provide evidence of your skills so it’s a good strategy to think about these beforehand.

Specific skills

The following skills and qualities have been identified as required for working as a primary teaching assistant, but most are applicable in other types of work with children and young people:

  • nurturing skills;
  • listening skills;
  • ability to work under pressure;
  • ability to work independently, and as a member of a team;
  • understanding and awareness of children’s needs;
  • willingness to learn;
  • adaptability;
  • patience and a sense of fairness.

Try to identify one or two of these skills from your current role. This could be as a teaching assistant, employed in a school or it could be a more informal role, as a volunteer or within the family. Reflect on which of these are important in your work and think about how you would provide evidence of them if asked about them at an interview.

Try to avoid taking your employability skills for granted, e.g. by saying ‘well, I just do it’. In order to be successful in job applications and interviews it is vital that you are able to recognise the skills that you possess and can describe them effectively.

(The Open University, 2016, adapted from Childhood and youth studies qualification website)


You tend to take for granted the skills you have. You use these transferrable skills on a daily basis without necessarily being aware of them.

Katie has more opportunity to work one-to-one with individual pupils than the teacher. She plans to develop her skills in working with children with special educational needs and has taken action to start training in this field. Katie regularly reflects on her role and reviews her training needs.

You do not have to be in employment to start thinking about the skills you have already developed in relationships with children at different stages of their development. You may find that you have developed some of the transferable skills listed in Activity 3 and that these will stand you in good stead if you decide to work with children.

We hope you found this opportunity to reflect on your learning and practice a useful one and that you will build this into your practice as an ongoing process of recording and review.