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Learning Support Assistant Qualifications: Key Requirements for Success

February 7, 2024

Table of Contents

Becoming a Learning Support Assistant (LSA) entails a combination of specific educational qualifications, essential skills, and competencies crucial for effectively aiding students in educational settings.

This article delves into the key requirements for LSAs, ranging from foundational educational credentials like a Level 2 or 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools to vital skills such as communication and adaptability.

Learning Support Assistant Qualifications

The role of a Learning Support Assistant requires specific educational credentials and a distinct set of skills and competencies. These foundational requirements are indispensable for individuals aspiring to support students effectively within educational settings.

Relevant Educational Qualifications

A Learning Support Assistant typically needs to hold:

  • Level 2 or 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools: These qualifications validate the assistant's capability to provide educational support.
  • GCSEs: Good passes in English and Mathematics, usually at grade C or above, are often required.
  • Higher Education: Some roles may prefer a foundation degree or an equivalent higher education qualification.

Essential Skills and Competencies

Key competencies include:

  • Communication Skills: The ability to communicate clearly and effectively with students, staff, and parents.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Being empathetic and able to foster positive relationships.
  • Organisational Skills: The capability to plan and manage tasks efficiently.
  • Adaptability: Flexibility to respond to various educational needs and classroom environments.
  • Teamwork: Collaborating effectively with teaching staff and other support colleagues.

Certification and Training

A Learning Support Assistant (LSA) is an integral part of the educational environment, providing crucial assistance to students with a variety of learning needs. The certification and training for LSAs are designed to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively support teaching and learning in schools.

Teaching Assistant Diploma

Candidates looking to qualify as LSAs can pursue a Teaching Assistant Diploma. This credential usually encompasses a range of topics, from classroom management to supporting children with special educational needs. The diploma often requires a placement in a school setting, giving practical experience alongside theoretical learning.

Special Needs Education Training

Specialised training in Special Needs Education is paramount for those LSAs who wish to focus on supporting students with additional needs. This could include courses or modules as part of a broader qualification, which provides insight into the strategies and resources needed to support students with Special Educational Needs (SEN).

Child Protection and Safeguarding

Child Protection and Safeguarding training is a crucial component of an LSA’s certification. It ensures they are equipped with the understanding of how to recognise and respond appropriately to issues of child welfare. LSAs must understand the legal and ethical obligations that govern their role in safeguarding children's well-being.


When pursuing a role as a Learning Support Assistant, relevant experience is paramount. It provides prospective employers with evidence of practical skills and a demonstrable commitment to supporting learning.

Previous Educational Setting Exposure

Candidates often benefit from having had exposure to educational settings. This could be through previous employment in schools or colleges. Employers value an applicant who:

  • Understands the dynamics of a classroom.
  • Demonstrates familiarity with educational terminologies and practices.
  • Shows a track record of supporting teachers and students effectively.

Voluntary Work

Volunteering is another avenue through which candidates can gain valuable experience. This might include:

  • Assisting in after-school programs or homework clubs.
  • Supporting local charities focused on education.
  • Helping at community centres with educational activities.

Such voluntary work signals dedication and provides practical experience in interpersonal and educational support skills.

Professional Development

Professional development is a critical component for Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) in maintaining and enhancing their skills. It ensures they remain current in educational practices and effectively support both teaching staff and pupils.

Continuous Professional Development Opportunities

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is vital for LSAs to keep their knowledge and skills up to date. The Department for Education recommends LSAs to:

  • Self-assess regularly to pinpoint areas for improvement.
  • Pursue relevant training courses that align with their professional goals and the requirements of their role.
  • Earn CPD accredited certificates, demonstrating their commitment and competency, with a typical benchmark being a minimum score of 60% to pass relevant examinations.

Workshops and Seminars

Participation in workshops and seminars provides LSAs with valuable opportunities to:

  • Gain insight into the latest educational research, strategies, and resources.
  • Interact with peers to exchange experiences and best practices.
  • Receive direct instruction from experts in the field, facilitating hands-on learning and immediate feedback.

Legal and Statutory Requirements

In the UK, learning support assistants must adhere to specific legal and statutory requirements before commencing their role within educational settings.

DBS Check

To work as a learning support assistant, an individual must have a valid Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. This is to ensure the safety of children and young people, as it will reveal any convictions, cautions, reprimands, or warnings the applicant may have received.

  • Type of DBS check required: Enhanced DBS check
  • Purpose: To safeguard the welfare of children and young people

Right to Work in the UK

Employers must verify that a learning support assistant has the legal right to work in the UK.

  • Documentation required may include:
  • Passport
  • Biometric Residence Permit
  • National Identity Card (for EEA or Swiss nationals)
  • Birth or Adoption Certificate, along with a government-issued document with the individual's permanent National Insurance number.

Personal Attributes

In the role of a Learning Support Assistant (LSA), certain personal attributes are essential for effectively supporting learning and catering to the diverse needs of pupils. These attributes enrich the LSA's ability to engage, motivate, and support students within the educational environment.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Successful LSAs must be equipped with strong communication and interpersonal skills to facilitate clear and effective interaction with students, teachers, and other school staff. They must be able to:

  • Articulate instructions clearly to ensure learners understand tasks.
  • Listen actively to student concerns and respond with empathy.

Patience and Adaptability

The nature of support work in education demands that LSAs exhibit both patience and adaptability. They need to:

  • Maintain composure during challenging situations.
  • Adapt teaching methods to meet the varied needs and learning styles of students.

Teamworking Abilities

Finally, LSAs must be capable of working cohesively within a team. Key aspects of their teamworking abilities include:

  • Collaborating with teaching staff to develop and implement support plans.
  • Sharing insights with colleagues to improve the overall learning experience.

Advancement Opportunities

As Learning Support Assistants gain experience and qualifications, they can pursue avenues for professional growth within educational settings.

Higher Level Teaching Assistant Status

To progress as a Learning Support Assistant (LSA), one potential pathway is achieving Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) status. This progression requires a demonstrable level of expertise and experience, and LSAs must meet stringent professional standards. Achieving HLTA status can enhance an LSA's capability to undertake more complex tasks and earn greater responsibility within the classroom setting.

  • Prerequisites: Varied experience as an LSA, coupled with robust knowledge of the curriculum.
  • Process: Undergo a preparation course followed by an assessment against HLTA standards.
  • Outcome: Increased recognition, higher responsibility, and potential for salary advancement.

Specialist Support Qualifications

Another advancement route is specialising in specific areas of learning support to provide targeted assistance to students. LSAs can undertake specialist support qualifications, which could range from special educational needs (SEN) to literacy and numeracy support.

  • Examples of Qualifications:
  • Level 3 Diploma in Specialist Support for Teaching and Learning in Schools.
  • Certificates in specific learning difficulties support.
  • Benefits:
  • Expertise: A deep understanding of specific educational needs.
  • Career Progression: Opportunities for roles such as SEN coordinator or specialist support lead.

Other Useful Resources

For anyone interested in a career as a Learning Support Assistant, here are some extra resources we have created.

  1. Understanding the Role: Discover what a Learning Support Assistant is and their key responsibilities in our article, "What is a Learning Support Assistant and What Does Their Role Entail?"
  2. Crafting Your CV: For tips on how to create an impactful CV for this role, check out our guide, "Learning Support Assistant CV: How to Stand Out."
  3. Interview Preparation: Prepare for your next job interview with our list of common questions and suggested answers: "Learning Support Assistant Interview Questions and Answers."
  4. Keys to Success: Learn what makes a successful Learning Support Assistant in our article, "Traits of Successful Learning Support Assistants."
  5. Job Description Insights: Get a detailed look at the job description for a Learning Support Assistant here: "Learning Support Assistant Job Description: A Detailed Overview."
Alex Lockey
Director | Bolt Jobs
Founder Alex Lockey is an expert in further education, learning, and skills sector. He leads cost-effective hiring solutions and is known for successful talent placements. Dynamic and driven, Alex seeks innovative solutions to solve sector hiring challenges.