Teaching assistant, National Teaching Assistants' Day
Jump to main content
Search
shortlist register contact us menu
National Teaching Assistants Day

The Top 8 Traits and Qualities of a Great Teaching Assistant

Date posted : 15 September 2021

Just one sleep to go before our favourite day of the year! Tomorrow, schools across the country will join in a big jamboree in tribute to the unsung heroes of their classrooms on National Teaching Assistants’ Day

The centrepiece of the annual celebration is our TA of the Year competition. For the last few months, we’ve asked headteachers to nominate the teaching assistants at their schools who they just couldn’t do without; the humble superstars who have kept their classrooms running through hell and high water these past 18 tumultuous months.

We cannot wait to announce our winners tomorrow on the official NTAD website. We’ve received some truly inspirational nominations this year that have left our shortlist looking stronger than ever. 

These submissions paint an interesting and honest picture of a line of work that, too often, goes underappreciated in people’s thoughts about education. 

Ahead of tomorrow’s grand reveal, we’ve read through our shortlist and picked out the traits that schools cherish the most in their TAs. 

1. They go above and beyond

Reading over all the submissions, four words kept coming up again and again: ‘going the extra mile’. The most beloved teaching assistants consistently distinguished themselves by their dedication and willingness to give their all, even when they didn’t have to. 

Headteachers praised TAs for giving up evenings, weekends and even holiday time to support pupils, whether through putting on extra Zoom sessions during lockdown, running after-school clubs, or providing hot chocolate and snacks for pupils out of their own pockets. 

The best teaching assistants show “superhuman” commitment to their pupils, regardless of whether their own time is at stake. Another reason to raise a glass to them tomorrow. 

2. They form crucial relationships with vulnerable pupils

Teaching assistants give children the focused, one-to-one attention that a classroom teacher will normally be unable to provide in lessons of 30 pupils. This personal connection means that TAs can become truly life-changing presences in the lives of some of the most at-risk or disadvantaged pupils. 

Several TAs in our nomination list were commended by headteachers for the transformative effects they achieved for individual children. One teaching assistant was there on GCSE results day to celebrate with a child who had previously severely struggled in lessons, another helped a pupil with an Anxiety Disorder successfully overcome her problems with absenteeism, while an autistic child at one school was able to attend a residential camp because his TA was willing to stay there with him for the week too. 

3. Teachers find them indispensable

When nominating their favourite teaching assistants, teachers were prone to tell us about how they simply couldn’t do without them. 

TAs make these teachers’ working lives immeasurably easier by getting through to pupils where other staff members can’t. Our top 2021 TAs have also supported other staff members more directly by covering for them at short notice, letting them know about struggling pupils and even schooling them in the best techniques for minimising behavioural issues. 

This sense of duty to their pupils and their colleagues alike is a quality shared by all the best TAs. 

4. Parents love them too

A great TA’s popularity doesn’t end at the school gates. Our nominators were keen to tell us how their favourite teaching assistants were held in high esteem by parents too. And no wonder, given that these TAs were there at the school gates every day to deliver pupils back into their parents’ arms.  

5. They are always seeking to learn more

The keenness of our super TAs to upskill and further their knowledge was a running theme across schools’ submissions. Head teachers were eager to let us know about the courses and projects that their TAs were involved in of their own initiative, including Positive Behaviour Support Training and even a fully-fledged degree. 

This desire to really apply themselves is part and parcel of why teaching assistants are so treasured by their schools. 

6. They are the backbone of pastoral care

Teaching assistants are responsible for so much more than just academic support. A large part of their working day will be dedicated to making sure children are properly looked after. 

The TAs on our shortlist have put their time into ensuring children are properly fed, accompanying pupils with ASD to the playground so that they can participate in games with the other children and generally doing their utmost best to give children a sense of “belonging and worth”. 

A great teaching assistant helps make a school a safe space. We owe them a lot. 

7. They were essential during lockdown

The compassion and diligence of teaching assistants shone through the gloom and misery of our winter lockdowns. A recent UCL study found that teaching assistants were the ‘key’ to keeping schools open for vulnerable and key worker children. 

These findings are certainly reflected in the nominations we received from schools. These TAs delivered food and schoolwork to pupils’ houses, delivered ongoing support in schools each day, and took on new skills to set up remote learning technologies. 

While we’ve all been through a lot, things could have been so much worse without the dedicated work of our brilliant TAs. 

8. They are fonts of positivity

Reading through our nominations, we were struck by how many of them mention the infectious positivity and air of enthusiasm that these TAs carry with them. 

Being a teaching assistant is no picnic; the hours can be almost as long as the list of tasks they’re called upon to perform. So it’s even more impressive to hear that these TAs still manage to “bring joy to everybody” in their working lives. 

Through their enthusiasm and sunny dispositions, TAs bolster morale among staff and students alike. 

One rare silver lining of this last year and all its miseries is that the vital work of teaching assistants has truly been thrown into sharp focus. The qualities and strength of character on display among our nominees can be found in TAs everywhere. It is high time that they are celebrated properly. 

That’s what National Teaching Assistants’ Day exists to do. Whether you’re a teacher, senior leader or teaching assistant yourself, click here to find out how you can join in the fun tomorrow. We hope you enjoy the party!  

If you’re a teaching assistant in search of work, Teaching Personnel is on hand to help you find your next job.  

List #1

Related posts

Tackling Absenteeism: Turning the Tide with our Attendance Mentors Programme

Teaser

Educators

Content Type

TP-Posts

Publish date

DD05YY

Summary

Poor attendance has been an issue across the UK since the pandemic. According to recent statistics, pupil absenteeism in England soared to 22% by 2023. This equates to over 125,000 pupils missing

Teaser

Discover how our Attendance Mentors Programme tackles pupil absenteeism in the UK. Learn how tailored support and proven strategies can boost school attendance and academic success.

Read more
Navigating Exam Stress: How to Help Your Learners

Teaser

Tips and Advice

Content Type

TP-Posts

Publish date

DD05YY

Summary

As the academic year peaks, the pressure of exams can overwhelm pupils. Many teachers believe that tests and exams have the biggest impact on students’ mental health. With GCSEs, SATs, and A-Levels

Teaser

Read more
How to Make Teaching an Attractive Career Choice

Teaser

Tips and Advice

Content Type

TP-Posts

Publish date

DD04YY

Summary

The teacher recruitment crisis is a priority for school leaders across the country. In the 2021–22 academic year, 4000 teachers retired, and 9% of the teaching workforce resigned, marking the highes

Teaser

Read more
Your Easter 2024 Payroll

Teaser

Educators

Content Type

TP-Posts

Publish date

DD03YY

Summary

Planning for the Easter break? The Teaching Personnel payroll team wants to make sure you get paid on time. This table outlines the Easter 2024 payroll date, along with the corresponding deadline

Teaser

Read more
Adam Davies

by

Adam Davies

Adam Davies

by

Adam Davies

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Working as a Supply Teacher
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Working as a Supply Teacher

Teaser

Supply Teaching

Content Type

TP-Posts

Publish date

DD01YY

Summary

Table of Contents 1. Why do people become supply teachers? 2. What does it take to become a supply teacher? 3. How can I find work as a supply teacher? <!-- b--> 4. How shou

Teaser

All your common questions about supply teaching answered

Read more
Alex Schulte

by

Alex Schulte

Alex Schulte

by

Alex Schulte

Navigating the Challenges of SEN Provision: A Call to Action in 2024

Teaser

Educators

Content Type

TP-Posts

Publish date

DD01YY

Summary

Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision in schools is a critical aspect of education that demands attention in 2024. According to the Department for Education, over 1.5 million pupils in England

Teaser

Dive into the critical world of Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision with eye-opening statistics and real challenges faced by schools. Discover the importance of tailored support and the impact on learners.

Read more
Recruitment and Retention for MAT Leaders

Teaser

Multi-Academy Trusts

Content Type

TP-Posts

Publish date

DD11YY

Summary

Laura Williams is an education leadership coach with fifteen years of leadership experience in education across business, operations, HR, finance and governance. She is a former Business Manager, CO

Teaser

Read more

by

Scott Owen

by

Scott Owen

Addressing Bullying: Transforming "Banter" into Respectful Dialogue

Teaser

Educators

Content Type

TP-Posts

Publish date

DD11YY

Summary

Creating a safe and nurturing environment for pupils is paramount in the age of evolving social dynamics. One issue that has gained significant attention in recent years is the distinction between

Teaser

Addressing the fine line between banter and bullying. Learn how seemingly harmless 'banter' can take a dark turn into hurtful bullying and the impact it has on students' well-being.

Read more
Adam Davies

by

Adam Davies

Adam Davies

by

Adam Davies

view of young girl with glasses from behind working on school work
Teaching Personnel and Ark Curriculum Plus Delivering Mathematics Mastery

Teaser

Educators

Content Type

TP-Posts

Publish date

DD11YY

Summary

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson addressed the Labour Party conference in October, where she announced plans to reform primary maths. Currently, one in four children leave primary school

Teaser

Discover how Teaching Personnel and Ark Curriculum Plus are revolutionizing primary math education in Leeds, Liverpool, Preston, and Sheffield.

Read more
Teacher in shirt and tie supervising students at desks taking exams in a school hall
How to Prepare Pupils for Their Mock Exams: A Guide for Educators

Teaser

Tips and Advice

Content Type

TP-Posts

Publish date

DD10YY

Summary

Mock exams are a crucial milestone in a pupil's academic journey, serving as a practice run for the real deal. As educators, you play a pivotal role in helping pupils navigate through these trial ex

Teaser

Our educator's guide offers tips to prepare students for mock exams, helping them gain confidence and perform well.

Read more
company logo
Search