CPD for Teaching Assistants and Support Staff in Schools

CPD for Teaching Assistants and Support Staff in Schools

08 Jun 2021

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The role of any Teaching Assistant (TA) or support staff is to raise standards through the support of pupils, teachers, the curriculum and the school. Teaching Assistances provide support to the classroom teacher as well as helping, supporting, and challenging pupils within the learning environment. This article provides a brief overview of CPD, the professional development requirements, as well outlining the school staff competency framework.

Teacher Training and Development

Teaching assistants and support staff are a very significant and essential resource in primary classrooms, so much so that it is hard to imagine how schools could manage without them. At the time of writing, there are over 400,000 teaching assistants (TAs) and support staff working in the UK. Yet, despite the significant rise in the number of TAs working in schools, there has been little in the way of effective guidance as to what good practice looks like – at a school level, or at a classroom level.

Continuing Professional Development, or CPD is the improvement of professional and educational practice throughout a teacher or teaching assistant’s career. Professional development and CPD programmes aim to provide a practical framework for support staff to update their professional skills and knowledge on a regular ongoing basis that can help them to remain competent and enhance everyday teaching abilities.

Effective CPD for teaching assistant and support staff with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to contribute to the school’s overall aim of raising educational standards, uphold school policies and provide appropriate and reliable support for the school.

Teacher CPD training can lead to a more stimulating and effective teaching environment, and professional development can enable teachers and teaching assistants to obtain new techniques, share best practice, and apply fresh approaches to teaching that allows them to improve their ability both for students, as well as expand their own personal opportunity within the teaching industry. Maximising the quality of teaching through effective professional development will therefore be at the top of any school’s priorities.

Support staff training ideas

A range of different CPD courses aim to provide teachers, teaching assistants and school support staff with the knowledge, skills and confidence to deliver high quality education in the school environment. CPD is designed to support teachers in a simple but effective manner to personal improvement that does not have to be expensive or overly time consuming. For CPD courses to be fundamentally successful, they should be focused around being practical, applicable, affordable and enjoyable. These can be a mix of both “within-school activities”, and external CPD activities.

Within-school activities examples include coaching, mentoring, support for individual members of staff arising from performance management interviews, team teaching, sharing good practice, lesson observation and feedback, and whole school development activities.

External activities such as training courses for school support staff, accredited postgraduate study, conferences, industrial placement or work shadowing, and international study visits and exchanges.

TA and support staff CPD requirements

The Department for Education’s guidelines dictate that teachers are required to keep their knowledge and skills up to date. This means you are required to objectively assess your abilities and identify training that would bridge any gaps in your knowledge, or aim to improve any areas of weakness.

The DfE states that it is up to the individual to respond to advice and feedback from colleagues and leadership, and identify appropriate professional development programmes.

CPD provision will differ from school to school with a combination of structured programmes, one-off events from commercial providers to lesson study opportunities and school visits. Although the DfE does not outline statutory requirements on the content, duration or delivery method of CPD programmes in schools, they are clear that personal development of teachers must be a partnership between support teachers, head teachers and leadership teams.

They outline a set of criteria to measure the success of this collaboration:

  • CPD should focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes
  • Your training should be underpinned by robust evidence and expertise
  • It should include collaboration and expert challenge
  • Development programmes should be sustained over time
  • Professional development must be prioritised by school leadership

The Chartered College of Teaching (CCT) was opened in 2017 as the chartered professional body for the teaching profession. Teachers and those from the wider education community can sign up for a variety of different memberships for an annual charge, and benefit from access to research, events, and professional learning.

CPD for Teaching Assistants

Continuing Your Professional Education

Getting the best from a school’s teaching assistants or support staff means creating the right school ethos, proper training and effective deployment. As well as a clear structure, the key to successful performance management lies in the clear understanding that CPD is ultimately the responsibility of the individual.

A strong performance management cycle with ample opportunities for self-led CPD, is essential. Your school must value its teaching assistants enough to hold performance management meetings where meaningful targets and development paths can be created. When senior leaders and other staff show interest and follow the CPD of their teaching assistants and support staff, they are much more likely to take control of their own professional development and learning.

How to use the competency framework

A teacher competency framework provides the guidance to meet the industry standards. It documents clear and concise profiles of what all teachers including assistants and support staff are expected to know and be able to do, and how well at the different stages of their career.

The Department for Education (DfE) Competency Framework for Governance is designed to help governing boards assess what knowledge, skills and behaviour are needed to govern the school, or group of schools, most effectively. The framework is designed to help with board performance reviews, identifying training needs, succession planning and induction.

A competency framework is made up of 16 competencies, grouped under the headings of the ‘six features of effective governance’:

  1. Strategic leadership
  2. Accountability
  3. People
  4. Structures
  5. Compliance
  6. Evaluation 

Professional knowledge and skills within the workplace are underpinned by teachers' professional values. These competencies will serve as the basis for one’s development as a teaching assistant or support staff member.

Find CPD for Teaching assistants and school support staff

To help you and your school to successfully develop and enhance classroom teaching we provide a range of excellent training and CPD for teaching assistants and support staff delivered by our members across the UK – and now online.

The CPD Certification Service was established in 1996, and is the largest and leading independent CPD accreditation organisation working across all industry sectors. Thousands of CPD training courses for school support staff, e-learning programs, conferences, workshops and seminars are formally certified by us. Within the Education CPD Industry Hub, you can find a full scope of Education CPD providers and courses, covering a whole range of subjects.

We hope this brief overview article was helpful. If you are thinking of CPD accreditation for your existing courses and training events, please visit our become a CPD provider page or contact our team to discuss the next steps in how to become CPD certified.


CPD News Team

For more information from CPD News Team, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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