The Learning Support Assistant role is suitable for men and women of all ages.
It involves supporting young people with their education and enabling them to be the best they can be.
Learning support assistant (LSA) roles vary depending on the school you are working in and the needs of pupils. Most schools will have LSAs to guide pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN), like our schools.
So, bear in mind that the information provided here is specifically geared towards SEN schools, and LSAs within those settings.
What is a learning support assistant?
SEN learning support assistants are there to support teachers in helping young people with special learning needs.
There is no such thing as a typical day for a learning support assistant. It depends on so many factors, not least of which is the individual needs of each pupil. This is a very diverse role, and at times it can be physically demanding too.
In one sentence, you could say that the job of an LSA is to support SEN pupils through the academic, emotional, social, and personal elements of school life.
How to become a learning support assistant
There are several different access routes to become a learning support assistant, including college courses, volunteering, and applying directly.
Some of the qualifications that can help you on the path to becoming an LSA include:
- Level 2 and Level 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
- Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education Early Years Educator
- T level in Education and Childcare
At Family Care, you don’t need a formal qualification to become an LSA, as we will support the right people through the training.
Getting qualifications/experience of working with children in mainstream education is a common route for many people before working with children with special educational needs. You might even be able to get a placement working with SEN children while doing your course.
Skills and qualities of a learning support assistant
Becoming a learning support assistant is not just about your qualifications. In the words of our learning support manager Laura Watton, “You can have qualifications coming out of your ears, but there are other skills and qualities that are far more important!”
Here are just a few…
Sense of Humour
The best way to build connections is to make each other laugh. Sharing jokes also helps to build equal, reciprocal relationships. Laughing relieves tension and releases endorphins so everyone feels more relaxed and calmer. You want to share your best poo joke? Can’t wait to hear it!!
The antidote to anxiety is trust. Building trust with children should be the first thing that any professional works on. It takes as long as it takes, and you cannot move on to anything else until this trust is established.
Our SEN schools are for children who need a different approach from mainstream settings. Most of them will have experienced quite enough negativity in their educational experiences. Judgement and criticism will only compound negative feelings and potentially lead to masking and mental health needs. The best LSAs focus on the positives and talk about what HAS gone well more than what has NOT. The last thing children need is negative judgement.
If a session with a child doesn’t go as well as you had hoped, the first thing you should ask yourself is, “How could I have made that go better?”, or “What can I do differently next time?”. Blame should not be placed on the child. Instead, we need to look at what we as responsible adults should do differently. Own your mistakes and be honest about them.
“The children I work with can sniff out a fake a million miles away”.
Laura Watton, Learning Support Manager
Working with children doesn’t mean you have to assume some kind of alter ego. Just be your true, authentic self. How can you be trusted if you aren’t even revealing your true authentic self? Be honest and open about your emotions and feelings, and about your mistakes too. All of this will build towards a trusting and reciprocal connection that is vital for children to thrive.
What is is like to be a Learning Support Assistant?
We can’t speak for everyone, but we wanted to include this description of what it’s like to be an LSA from our learning support manager Laura Watton:
“It has always felt like a complete honour to support the children and young people who come through the doors of Family Care Education.
All of our children come to us with their own stories and baggage which makes it clear as to why they are with us and not in a class of 30 in a mainstream school somewhere. It would be fair to say that our children may have been through several Education placements and possibly residential placements before they arrive with us.
This knowledge gives you strength to ‘sit’ with children through their darkest moments and to whole heartedly join in when celebrating their successes, as most of all when they arrive with us the building of strong, positive meaningful relationships is what is needed.
To be a Learning Support Assistant with Family Care Education is to show children that they have someone in their corner, someone to believe in them unconditionally and that they too are worthy to believe in themselves. It is to whole heartedly believe in the good of a young person, to show that they too are worthy of good things.
It can be tough – many of our children have been through incredibly tough times and as we build on our relationships you might find that you are the one trusted adult that they feel they can share their load with.
However, as tough as it is, and as brilliant as it is to support a child through this, to allow them to feel safe, heard, trusted and be able to trust and settle to learn is an incredibly rewarding position to be in.”
Learning Support Assistant Salary
LSA salaries will vary depending on where you work and who for, your working hours, and your level of experience.
A typical learning support assistant salary at Family Care is between £9.00 – £10.50 per hour, or £13,500 – £15,700 per annum. And don’t forget, the role is term time only and includes 5-weeks holiday pay.
On top of that, you will have access to specific training related to your role and which will further your career opportunities. With experience, LSAs can take a course to become a higher-level teaching assistant, or even go on to become a fully qualified teacher.
“I started working here in 2008 as an LSA. Then I went to do my teaching degree, worked in mainstream, and then came back here 3 years ago as a teacher”
Sophie Bishton, Access School Teacher & former LSA
Learning Support Assistant Jobs
At Family Care, we are always on the lookout for positive people who are passionate about making a difference in children’s lives.
We have SEN schools in Macclesfield, Telford, and Shropshire. Our schools in Macclesfield and Telford are expanding to take on more pupils, which means we will need more staff to support them.
The first step is to visit our education vacancies page. We are regularly advertising fixed-term and permanent positions, but if there is nothing formally advertised we would still encourage you to reach out and express an interest.
Don’t delay! Give us a call on 0800 5 677677, or send your details via email to email@example.com.
Healing Pasts | Building Futures
0800 5 677677