University of Chester

Programme Specification
Teaching Assistance FDA
2014 - 2015

Foundation Arts Degree

Teaching Assistance

Teaching Assistance

University of Chester

University of Chester

West Cheshire College

Tameside College

University of Chester, Warrington Campus

West Cheshire College, Ellesmere Port

Tameside College



Residential and Open,

6 semesters

5 Years

Annual - September



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Education & Children's Services Academic and Professional Programmes

Foundation Degree Subject Benchmark Statements (QAA 2004)

Professional Standards for Higher Level Teaching Assistants (TDA 2007)

Faculty of Education & Children’s Services FdA Subject Assessment Board

Tuesday 1st April 2008

To prepare students to make a positive contribution to their own professional development and the wider Children's workforce;

To develop the knowledge, understanding and critical thinking necessary for high quality professional, anti-discriminatory and inclusive practice as a teaching assistant;

To develop students' ability to understand and apply the principles of evidence-based practice;

To develop students as reflective practitioners, with an understanding of the need for and a commitment to lifelong learning;

To develop an appropriate knowledge and understanding of relevant aspects of the National Curriculum for schools and related regulations and guidance;

To develop the professional communication skills necessary for the shared responsibility for the care and development of children and the maintenance of high professional values;

To develop the key skills expected of a foundation degree graduate and to apply these to professional practice and on-going personal development.

Knowledge and Understanding

Knowledge and critical understanding of the principles relating to children's learning and development (evidence specifically in ED5522)
Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the regulatory and legislative framework for children 5 to 15 (evidence specifically in ED4525 and ED4526)
Ability to apply underlying concepts and principles of working with children (evidenced throughout the programme)
How to plan, implement and evaluate the curriculum and pedagogy for children (evidence specifically through ED4501, ED4526 and ED5504)
Thinking or Cognitive Skills

Communicate ideas, principles and theories; create arguments and analyse effectively using written, visual, verbal and ICT media, with a sense of audience (evidenced throughout the programme). Demonstrate appropriate critical thinking skills and produce evaluative responses (evidenced throughout the programme).
Use a range of established techniques to initiate and undertake critical analysis of information relating to their work situation and to propose solutions to problems arising in the work setting (evidenced specifically in ED4501 and ED5504).
Reflect and evaluate self including the potential effect of personal attitudes, values and behaviours on work with young children, parents, colleagues and other professionals (evidenced throughout the programme).

Practical Skills

Demonstrate the experience, knowledge and skills that underpin good practice in Teaching Assistance (evidenced throughout the programme). Demonstrate an understanding of equality of opportunity and how to promote that within the work setting. (evidenced throughout the programme).
Design, implement and plan for an effective learning environment (evidenced specifically in ED4526)
Demonstrate qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility (evidenced specifically in ED4502 and ED5504)

Key Skills

  • Communication
  • Application of Number
  • Information Literacy and Technology
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving

Upon completion of the Foundation Degree students will be able to: Communicate ideas effectively in speech and writing.
Use and develop their own mathematical and scientific skills to ensure the effective delivery of these skills to children.
Use ICT to support their own development and the learning of children.
Improve their own performance through critical self-reflection, the implementation of evidence-based practice and continual professional development activities.
Work within a team to complete an agreed task.
Solve problems that may occur whilst carrying out the role of a teaching assistant within a school setting.
(evidenced throughout the programme).

Transferable Professional Skills

Undertake further training, develop existing skills, acquire new competences that will enable them to assume different and diverse responsibilities within the school setting (evidenced throughout the programme but specifically within ED4501, ED4502 and ED5504)

The outcomes and structure of this programme are centred on the development of the knowledge, understanding and skills that will support high-level professional practice in Teaching Assistance. It is guided by the "Common Core of Skills and Knowledge for the Children's Workforce (HM Government 2005) and the "Higher Level Teaching Assistants Standards" (TDA 2007). The programme structure has also been designed to embrace the vocational and work based principles of Foundation Degrees (QAA 2002) and Benchmark Statements (QAA 2004).

The campus-based activities acknowledge the considerable experience the learners bring with them and recognise the learning that will take place in the work place environment. All students will be expected to be working in schools and all module assessments recognise work-based skills.

Each level of the programme includes modules entitled ‘Practice based enquiry' (ED 4501 and ED5504) which guide the students to develop their own personal skills as a teaching assistant. The students will be required to obtain authentic work-based evidence and reflect on significant aspects of practice.

Students will normally attend once a week during term time (one afternoon per week) thus ensuring as little time as possible is required by the employer to release them from their work. The programme will be delivered over a period of two and a half years, allowing sufficient time in the students' busy work and family schedules to complete the required credits, whilst not making the programme so long that it no longer becomes an attractive proposition.

Along with the taught modular sessions on campus there will be opportunities at the end of every module to meet with their tutors to discuss work related issues.

This Foundation Arts Degree is located at levels 4 & 5 (1 and 2 HE) in The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (QAA, 2001).

Students who have successfully completed a programme at intermediate level will have ‘developed a sound understanding of the principles in their field of study, and will have learned to apply those principles more widely. Through this, they will have learned to evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems.' Their studies will have had ‘a vocational orientation, enabling them to perform effectively in their chosen field" and they will have ‘the qualities necessary for employment in situations requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and decision-making'. (QAA. 2001:1)


Level-related criteria

Level 4

An emphasis on "knowing about" key ideas in Education; on acknowledging sources; on accuracy; on rational argument and the development of a questioning attitude.

The study skills required to study at HE level will be made secure e.g. library and internet resourcing, computer literacy, ability to articulate accurately and give presentations.

The learning is predominantly tutor designed and guided with scope for individual and group initiatives within this framework. The assignment framework allows for considerable individual initiative as assessments are linked to work practice in each module.


Level 5

At this level the students will be expected to demonstrate a critical approach to knowledge and evidence, to seek links between different theories on how children learn best and begin to develop mastery of complex skills and concepts to do with learning and development.

They will also be reflecting and evaluating their own practice in the workplace and making decisions about their own developmental needs, in order to carry out the role of an early years professional in the workplace. Whilst the learning design is largely tutor controlled there is learner direction in the particular focus of the work carried out.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
ED4501 4 Practice-based Enquiry 1 20 Comp
ED4502 4 Personal and Collaborative Learning 20 Comp
ED4503 4 Promoting Positive Relationships 20 Comp
ED4504 4 Safeguarding and Protection 20 Comp
ED4525 4 Assessment and Learning 20 Comp
ED4526 4 Effective Learning Environments 20 Comp
ED5501 5 Inclusive Practice 20 Comp
ED5503 5 Children and Young People's Health and Well-being 20 Comp
ED5504 5 Practice Based Enquiry 2 20 Comp
ED5505 5 Special Needs and Inclusion 20 Comp
ED5522 5 Creativity and Learning 20 Comp
ED5526 5 Learning through ICT 20 Comp

120 credits at Level 4 entitle the student to a Certificate of Higher Education 240 credits, including 120 at Level 5, entitle the student to a Foundation Arts Degree

Part-time students will apply to the relevant institution directly. Applications will be filtered through the admission systems; in some cases applicants may be interviewed by the course team prior to being offered a place on the course. This degree includes a specialist vocational component, underpinned by broad based academic learning. All people working, or on placement, in a school setting must meet the 'fit person' criteria for doing so, including obtaining the necessary clearance from the Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS). On enrolment, all students will be required to provide evidence of a recent DBS check. Successful applicant would normally have :

  • an NQF level 3 qualification in Early Years or Teaching Assistance or a related subject (not compulsory).
  • English and Mathematics at GCSE (or equivalent) grade C or above.
  • some experience of working in a school supporting learning either voluntary or employed.
  • meet the criteria for a 'fit person' to work with young children.

Students wishing to undertake this part-time course apply directly to the University. Applications are filtered through the admission systems. After an initial screening, suitable applicants are invited to an information session and individual interview session to ascertain the extent of their experience and their suitability to benefit from this programme. This ensures that applicants with atypical backgrounds for an HE programme are considered. As work-based learning is an integral part of the programme, discussions regarding work based learning take place on entry together with an assessment of the appropriateness of any current work experience.

Applicants are asked to supply a reference which confirms that they have had a minimum of two years experience supporting or managing provision for children and / or young people. As part of the application process applicants may be required to provide a written statement of no more than 500 words, which will be used to make an initial assessment of their basic skills and any learning support needs. The applicants’ experience, aspirations, motivation, work history, maturity and commitment will be discussed at interview and used, along with the initial assessment, to inform the guidance given, and ultimately whether a place on the programme is to be offered.

Accreditation of prior learning will be considered in line with the current policy of the University of Chester. This currently permits a maximum accreditation of 50% of the final award. Each candidate would be required to submit evidence of the outcome of their previous learning, whether experiential or certified. Applicants are likely to be:

  • Mature.
  • Employed in a school in a learning support/teaching assistance role.
  • In possession of a vocationalqualification at NQF level 3 or equivalent in Early Years or Teaching Assistance.

Supported by their school to undertake the programme

There are currently no Benchmarking Statements for programmes based on the practice of Teaching Assistance. However, in designing this programme the team have taken into account the subject specific standards - "Professional Standards for Higher Level Teaching Assistants" (TDA September 2007).The programme has also taken into account the following benchmark statements:- Foundation Degree Qualification Benchmark (QAA 2004)- Education Studies Benchmark Statements (QAA 2000).

Students will benefit from a variety of learning and teaching strategies chosen to best suit individual needs and desired outcomes. Methods will be aimed at achieving the acquisition of relevant knowledge and understanding in order to develop an informed understanding of practice. The programme will be delivered through a mix of lectures, presentations, group-work activities, case study, guided reflection and independent study, and as is important with a Foundation Degree, important learning will take place in the practice setting. The theoretical perspectives explored will enable students to reflect upon and share their experience in practice settings and to relate this to current thinking. The teaching approach will be largely activity based and participatory in nature with students expected to take a full and responsible part. Prior reading will be specified and is necessary for some sessions.

Throughout the programme students will be encouraged to be critically reflective; listen carefully to the views of others; to question values and opinions; to investigate evidence and to draw their own informed conclusions. They will be encouraged to develop as independent learners and to develop the skills of collaborative and negotiated learning.

Methods employed in each module will identify and analyse the core generic issues that are relevant to the support of learning and teaching. Students already working in particular school Key Stages or aspiring to do so, will then be given the opportunity, through differentiated tasks and assessment assignments, to investigate in depth those issues that relate specifically to their actual/anticipated employment practice. This will be supported by learning material which may be in hard copy and/or electronic (module folders on the intranet) format. For example, with regard to the topic of ‘assessment' the essential features will be introduced and analysed through whole-class activity with subsequent opportunity for students to complete further work that is key stage specific.

Similarly, placements will be agreed in particular key stage environments according to a student's current employment or career aspirations. It is strongly felt by the programme team that this methodology will create the breadth of perspective and flexibility that might be expected of someone with this level of qualification. In common with other programmes this provision has its own intranet site on Moodle. This will hold programme advice and guidance and module specific learning material. This site is externally accessible to all registered students.

The programme will be available part-time, through modules scheduled usually on one afternoon per week.

This programme will attract mainly experienced practitioners with supportive employers but it is possible that some students may be new to the profession and will be on placement in school in a voluntary capacity. In both cases, students will be supported in the school environment. The programme leader and the team will retain the overview of placements. The full range of learner support systems will support students on the programme.

One taught module ( 20 credits) will be the focus of study each term. In addition students will be engaged with another module which will span two terms enabling 60 credits to be undertaken every two terms. The modules delivered over two terms will include the practice based enquiry modules ( ED4501 and ED5504).

Along with the taught module sessions in college there will be opportunities for tutorial support.

Assessment will take a variety of forms particularly appropriate to this work-based programme e.g. reflective portfolio, reflective essay, presentation, analysis of work-place scenario and case study. The form of assessment chosen for each module is the most appropriate to enable students to demonstrate their achievement of stated module learning outcomes. The nature of the particular assessment tasks will recognise and encourage the synergy of work-based learning and academic study which is a distinctive feature of the Foundation Degree such that 'technical and work specific skills' are 'underpinned by rigorous and broad-based academic learning'.

Where appropriate assessment tasks will model and require the critical analysis of professional practice, e.g. the use of folio and case study material. All assessment is undertaken in accordance with the University of Chester's regulations and requirements. In general terms, students are assessed on their ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding, in breadth and in depth, of the subject matter studied; discuss, interpret and critically analyse a range of literature; utilise effectively the transferable communication and rhetorical skills of speaking, listening, reading, writing and arguing; conducting independent and collaborative research, using relevant skills and methods (including ICT where appropriate). The assessment methods used in each module correlate with the learning outcomes for that module. Where feasible, assessment will be used to inform tutor planning to ensure that subsequent teaching addresses the identified needs of the students. Students are clearly informed about the assessment requirements of each element of their programme. The formal assessment requirements are described in each module descriptor. As well as generic assessment criteria that relate to the level of performance, students will be provided with assignment specific criteria that relate to the learning outcomes for that module in the module handbook.

Graduates will be committed to promoting the learning and wellbeing of children whilst in the school environment. They will have the underpinning knowledge and practical skills to both support the teacher in promoting effective learning in a classroom, and to be able to take responsibility for teaching groups of children themselves. See section 26 for detail on the personal and professional characteristics of graduates on completion of this programme

The institutions are committed to diversity and equality and West Cheshire College is a specialist vocational provider of education and skills training. They are inclusive institutions, which put the needs of each individual learner at the heart of their mission. The institutions have established cultures where learners are encouraged to disclose their disabilities and differences and where Equality and Diversity are routinely celebrated. All marketing is designed to be free from any form of discrimination and to encourage students from all backgrounds to contact us.


In order to ensure that the needs of all students are met any barriers to access (physical, environmental and curriculum) are identified and removed. All learning materials and teaching and learning sessions are designed to be free from racist, sexist and other discriminatory assumptions and practices


All student needs are identified during initial assessment, induction and enrolment and the appropriate support is provided through the Learning Support teams.


The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.



The development of teaching assistants as a profession in schools as central to the Government's commitment to improve standards of pupil performance and to reform the workload of teachers. Teaching assistance is a career pathway in its own right and this programme will be an important way in which practitioners can gain a relevant academic award to support this. Nevertheless, some students will see the above as a stage on the road to gaining honours and post-graduate qualifications and so this programme will improve routes into the teaching profession. Other programmes within the Faculty of Education and Children's Services and the wider region will facilitate progression to Honours Degree and post-graduate study towards a career in teaching.

The University of Chester offers Part-time study at Level 6 to enable Foundation Degree graduates to achieve full honours. Students may apply for Level 6 study on a part-time basis on the Early Childhood Studies degree or apply for the BA Supporting Learning with Children and Young People which is a Level 6, part-time programme designed to enable students to achieve full honours.

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