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This report summarises research to the barriers to and drivers for participation in the Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) scheme from a range of stakeholders in schools and the wider system.

The researchers spoke to a number of stakeholders with interest in the HLTA scheme.

Case study visits to schools where staff had gone through the scheme were undertaken with:

  • Higher Level Teaching Assistants
  • teaching assistants (TA) who have not gone through the scheme
  • headteachers
  • teaching staff.

Further interviews were conducted with representatives from:

  • Regional Education Consortia
  • trade unions
  • Education Workforce Council
  • headteachers of schools who have not participated in the HLTA scheme
  • HLTA scheme briefers and assessors.

Main findings

  • The main conclusion drawn from the research is that the scheme is clearly valued across the sector and warrants on-going support
  • Widespread awareness of the HLTA scheme by stakeholders did not translate into understanding of the scheme. Most school staff and even some briefers and assessors referred to it as a ‘qualification’ or as a process of becoming a ‘qualified’ HLTA.
  • Career progression was the underlying rationale of the scheme amongst all stakeholders. This was also the key driver and motive for TAs to participate in the scheme,
  • Teachers who worked with HLTAs recognised associated benefits that come with professional development, in terms of increasing confidence in TAs and raising their status in the school.
  • A number of HLTAs said they would not have participated in the scheme had there not been a guaranteed HLTA post at the end of it, this lack of a HLTA post was also a key barrier for why TAs chose not to participate
  • TAs mentioned that the additional responsibilities and/or workload associated with the HLTA role were not reflected by the increase in income for the role.
  • Advantages for schools relate to finance and resource planning – HLTA status allows for planned teacher cover and/or emergency absence to be covered more efficiently and cheaper – particularly reducing the need for supply cover.


Research into the Higher Level Teaching Assistant scheme , file type: PDF, file size: 1 MB

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David Roberts

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