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See what our tutors and delegates think…

Our delegates, tutors and module leaders have one overarching focus that informs all that they do – to make a real difference to the lives of those with SEND.

Find out what they think of our courses below.

What our delegates say

Our delegates come from a wide range of backgrounds and educational settings to improve their professional practice.

Whatever their level, whatever their experience, our courses and qualifications:

  • Build their competence and confidence.
  • Enrich their practical skills.
  • Enhance the educational outcomes of those who they care for and teach.

Poonam Ahir

What do you do?

‘I am a SENCO in a two-form-entry primary school in a very affluent area which also has a very high deprivation rate.’

Why did you decide to study the National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO) with us?

‘My MA tutor at a London university recommended Real Training. I told her that my new head teacher wanted to appoint me as a SENCO and she suggested Real.’

What was your favourite part of the course?

‘The course has helped me to set up the correct targets, create an action plan and put the right provision in place for the children in my school. It has also given me the right guidance to enable me to hold key meetings with staff, parents and external agencies.’

What impact has it had on your professional life?

‘It’s given me a clear understanding of exactly what I need to do to improve the outcomes of the children in my care. I could do it while I was either at work or at home. So, I could pull up my case studies and have them to hand at work to use and reflect on. Then, I could go back home and speak to people on Real’s Campus OnlineTM forum. I never felt lonely.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘A huge amount of structured expertise will work its way into their professional practice.’

Why would you advise someone to take this course?

‘Because you have to have it! However, more importantly, it will make a real difference to your professional life and the way in which you support children and liaise with parents and staff.’

Karen Cameron

Karen Cameron

What do you do?

‘I work with seven to eight year olds. I do a lot of assessing in house in the workplace and a lot of one to one support for universities.’

Why did you decide to study the MEd SEND with us?

‘I received a mailshot about converting Masters-level (M-level) credits. In fact, I had 120 credits with Dyslexia Action with my PGDip. I wanted to bite the bullet, so I looked at all of the courses that you have on offer, called up and spoke to Siobhan and Jane – who would eventually become my tutor. And everyone was so nice, helpful and supportive that I couldn’t resist transferring my existing credits to Real so that I could start to build credits towards my MEd.’

What was your favourite part of the course?

‘It got me back into rigorous academic habits – critical analysis, research methods and theory. It also enabled me to be much more circumspect about silver bullet approaches – if you do this, this child will be able to read immediately, etc. Moreover, it encouraged real critical research, which is crucially important, because a lot of money is wasted implementing changes in schools that haven’t been tested in research. Also, my tutor Jane, she was amazing, so good and supportive. When I did my PGCert and PGDip we didn’t have any face-to-face tutorials at all and the experience was really isolating. In stark contrast, Jane was always there when I needed her and she was so helpful – even with essay writing and so on. You know, when I felt that it was a bit overwhelming she was always there – so please make a special mention of Jane.’

What impact has it had on your professional life?

‘It has improved my confidence. I felt that I could demonstrate my competence and I could say, look here are the results, have a go at this and it works, sort of thing. So I have been able to examine different aspects of my professional practice and reassure myself with reliable research and theory that is backed up. I also like the fact that there is a clear focus on ethical implications.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘They can offer real competence and the ability to examine things critically and carefully, certainly before they launch into something that might waste money in a particular setting. Also, they will be able to work out how to effect organisational change best. Ultimately, it has had a really positive impact on my practice.’

Why would you advise someone to do this course?

‘It gives you the ability to learn a lot about your subject area and back it up with theory. Jane is amazing, the course is very well structured and the website is really easy to follow, flows really nicely and you can take it at your own pace. It gives you the opportunity to reflect on your own practice and others’ practice too. There were points where I thought, why am I doing this? But I was always encouraged to carry on and I received lots of really useful feedback. So, ultimately, it’s really rewarding.’

Littlue Smith

What do you do?

‘I am the senior inclusion leader and SENCO in a junior school of 520 pupils in Dorset.’

Why did you decide to study the Certificate of Competence in Educational Testing (CCET) with us?

‘I came across Real Training at the Times Educational Supplement‘s annual Special Educational Needs exhibition in Islington. I was looking for a face-to-face course that dealt with the rather complex area of assessment and Real’s course fitted the bill.’

What was your favourite part of the course?

‘It was brilliantly organised. The face-to-face three days at a good hotel covered a lot of complex information in a clear and comprehensive way.’

What impact has it had on your professional life?

‘It’s been absolutely invaluable on a number of fronts. I set up my own business as an SEN advisory teacher and one of the key parts of that was assessment. Without the course, I would not have understood what the test materials were; what the language meant; what the data showed; and how to check for a valid test.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘They will be able to make sense of assessment and be selective about the particular tests to use. They will be able to structure reports properly and construct them in a way that makes it easy for parents to read.’

Why would you advise someone to take this course?

‘I would have no hesitation in recommending this course. It’s given me a much better understanding of the whole process of assessment and also the ethical aspects of it. Now, I have a much clearer understanding of the need to check progress and use materials that you understand and that are also accessible to parents.’

Natalie Ghattas

What do you do?

‘I am the general manager of the ABC Diagnostic and Learning Center in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. I carry out assessment, intervention programmes and counselling for all those with learning difficulties.’

Why did you decide to study the Certificate in Psychometric Testing: Assessment and Access Arrangements (CPT3A) with us?

‘I wanted to learn about standardised assessments, place students on the right intervention programme, and provide them with access arrangements that suit their needs.’

What was your favourite part of the course?

‘I particularly liked the practical focus of the intensive face-to-face course. It was so good to work with different people from different cultures and backgrounds. We were learning about special education across cultures; this provided a valuable international forum for comparing practice.’

What impact has it had on your professional life?

‘It has helped me to administer the assessment across my organisation. It has enabled me to approach students; carry out the assessment; and provide feedback to parents too. I manage the assessments and love to do them myself too.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘They will be able to provide appropriate access arrangements and identify which access arrangements are suitable for each child to enable them to better function in their classroom setting. It has given me the real confidence to apply assessments to my students and set intervention channels based on meeting their needs.’

Why would you advise someone to take this course?

‘It’s a really great course. It is quite short and efficient and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in assessment and access arrangements.’

Jo Miller

What do you do?

‘I’m a learning support teacher in Key Stage 2 in a British school in Dubai.’

Why did you decide to study Autism Spectrum Conditions with us?

‘You were recommended to me by my previous SENCO. She said that I should go to Real to get the best training.’

What was your favourite part of the course?

‘The activities, the assignments and the development of real practical skills to carry out a comprehensive school audit. It enabled me to think about and tackle the future of autism in my school. Dubai is very different from the UK and autistic children can sometimes be stigmatised. I wanted to change that and Real enabled me to start that journey.’

What impact has it had on your professional life?

‘I have developed a far greater awareness of the huge diversity of needs of young people on the spectrum, and how I can positively support them in school. Being in the Middle East, I was concerned about how great a challenge the course would prove, but I have actually been able to identify a number of good and improving interventions that are being undertaken both in my own setting and in the wider community. It has given me a clearer direction on what aspects of support I need to focus on at school, and also how I might develop these in the wider Dubai community.’

How did you find distance learning?

‘I never felt like a distance learner. The communication with your team was outstanding and I had a constant conversation with my tutor and module leader throughout the course. The site is very well set out and accessible. I would leave quick comments/messages on the right hand side of the page and my tutor would get back to me in two seconds flat. It’s been absolutely brilliant. ‘

Why would you advise someone to do this course?

‘It’s an outstanding course that has really helped me to understand the complexities of the autism spectrum. It’s fantastic – every exercise and activity that I have had to do has translated perfectly into my school.’

Alison McHugh

What do you do?

‘I’m a SENCO at a primary school and also work with Key Stage 3 students as part of the British Dyslexia Association’s Children will Shine project.’

Why did you decide to study the National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO) with us?

‘The funding came out for the training and I needed to do a course that fitted perfectly into my busy family and work commitments. This was very good, because it fitted round me, as opposed to me having to fit round other people.’

What was your favourite part of the course?

‘All of it. Particularly, the clear impact that it has had on my professional life.’

What impact has it had on your professional life?

‘It’s really helped me prioritise things, It’s helped on the managerial side too: the paperwork, the organisation. It’s helped me to be proactive. I’ve carried out in depth studies of TAs which have enabled me to go to the head and say: ‘We need to change the way in which we are working and here’s the evidence to back it up.’

How did you find distance learning?

‘It’s been perfect, because it’s fitted in with my life.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘The ability to assess and understand a child’s learning in a way that is neither typical nor available in other forms of teacher training. It is a unique opportunity to develop a wealth of consultation skills.’

Why would you advise someone to do this course?

‘Because it will make you realise that there’s a lot more around the child than just the child as well. It will help you to work with the parents, because the parents are just as vulnerable as the children.’

Louise White

What do you do?

‘I am a SENCO at a mainstream co-ed school with approximately 1,100 pupils.’

Why did you decide to study the National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO) with us?

‘I have to have this award to work in this area. I found Real Training on the Internet, rang them up and quite liked them. I then went to plead my case with the school and they helped me to pay for it.’

What was your favourite part of the course?

‘Funnily enough, I particularly enjoyed the bits on legislation and the reflective learning logs.’

What impact has it had on your professional life?

‘I’ve become a much more reflective practitioner. I was reflective before but my thoughts were all over the place. Now, I can organise these thoughts and am proactive about changing and implementing things.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘It will really help them to develop the right skills and competence in their legislation, research, processes and good practice guidance.’

Why would you advise someone to do this course?

‘Because it’s made a real difference to my understanding and practice.’

Jacqui Wolff

What do you do?

‘I’m a dyslexia specialist and work in a mainstream college with 5,000 students and 400 staff.’

Why did you decide to study the Certificate of Competence in Educational Testing (CCET) with us?

‘I wanted to enhance my existing testing skills and a psychologist at my college recommended Real.’

What was your favourite part of the course?

‘I liked the individual attention and the quick response actually. Whenever I had a question or something wasn’t clear, I would get an immediate response to help me progress. Most of this was online with a few days’ face-to-face.’

What impact has it had on your professional life?

‘It has clearly improved my report writing, the way of looking at different results when you’re assessing – all of that was very well explained and tweaked by the excellent teachers.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘They will really be able to write reports, assess and test.’

Why would you advise someone to take this course?

‘It’s essential if you want to get the best out of your assessments and testing.’

What our module leaders say

Our module leaders are experts in their field. They drive our modules, lead our tutors and guide our students.

They are high-profile practising individuals and know their subjects inside out.

Julie Cozens

Biography

Julie is an educational psychologist and a qualified teacher specialising in literacy and interventions for dyslexia. She has delivered dyslexia training to teachers and trainee EPs at Exeter University and has made key contributions to the development of dyslexia policy and practice in a number of local authorities.

Julie also works as a module tutor on our new Dyslexia: Professional Report Writing module.

Why study Dyslexia: Leadership and Intervention?

‘We have created an online academic community which is really user friendly and interactive, to ensure that the experience of distance learning with us is not lonely. These modules will give each student an essential overview of a complex area. They will learn how to identify dyslexia and how to support each learner through programmes and interventions across the school. They will also know how to lead and manage the school’s dyslexic provision and harness the environment to increase support and change outcomes.’

Why are these modules different?

‘Some courses take a particular view of dyslexia. We don’t! We acknowledge the range of theories and views about dyslexia and believe that this approach is key to treating such a complex condition effectively.’

What are the typical backgrounds of those who take the course?

‘They are teachers working in a range of age groups both nationally and internationally. Many of them are in, or are about to take on, a management role.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘This module gives students a really full picture of the complexities and controversies that inform dyslexia. It gives you a brilliant overview and prepares you for complexity.’

What are you proudest of?

‘It grapples with some quite complex theories. However, because it’s grounded in people’s everyday practice, it hangs together in a way that is meaningful and relevant to people.’

Ruth Deutsch

Biography

Ruth is one of the UK’s leading dynamic assessment and cognitive education trainers. As an educational and child psychologist, she combines clinical practice with training, consults to the Hope Centre in London and teaches on the Doctorate for Educational and Child Psychologists at the University of East London and Queen’s University, Belfast. She is also co-author of the Cognitive Abilities Profile.

Why study Dynamic Assessment and Mediation of Cognitive Functions?

‘Dynamic Assessment helps our students to understand their pupils’ thinking and the blocks in their thinking. It deepens each teacher’s awareness of the difficulties that may be lying in the way of their pupils becoming more effective and efficient learners.’

Why are these modules different?

‘It is the first distance learning module which touches on dynamic assessment. It gives them the beginnings of tools and an important classroom approach to the understanding of what dynamic assessment is and what it focuses on. It makes a very important contribution to the wider understanding of learning.’

What are the typical backgrounds of those who take the course?

‘Psychologists, SENCOs, specialist teachers and speech therapists – professions where assessment is very much within their framework of learning.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘The ability to assess and understand a child’s learning in a way that is neither typical nor available in other forms of teacher training. It is a unique opportunity to have a lot of consultation skills.’

What are you proudest of?

‘That we will reach a lot of teachers and students in the classroom. Ultimately, we want to get this specialist framework into the awareness and the practice of a much wider range of people. It is this aim that makes us proud.’

Kate Fieldhouse

Biography

Kate is an educational psychologist and has been the principal tutor on this course since its inception. She has helped develop the teaching and learning activities that have made it the industry standard for those wanting to understand testing and assessment in an educational context. Kate is particularly interested in access for, and assessment of, those with sensory impairment.

Why study for the Certificate of Competence in Educational Testing (CCET)?

‘Our course enables busy teachers and SENCOs to study what they want when they want. From Egypt to South America, from India to Greece, our online course enables students from the across the globe to explore educational testing in their own time, setting and place.’

Why are these modules different?

‘We have been running this course for a long time now and are one of its leading providers. We have a unique focus on psychometrics and testing and this focus is driven by tutors who are psychologists and experts in testing.’

What are the typical backgrounds of those who take the course?

‘A typical background would be a secondary teacher or SEN coordinator who is studying it in conjunction with the Access Arrangements Course.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘These modules are as important to the school as the individual taking it. Our course supports schools in demonstrating their progress and effectiveness. It also allows them to spend their money wisely by training up teachers and doing assessments themselves in-house.’

What are you proudest of?

‘When I get fantastic feedback that says how much they have enjoyed it, or how much they have learned.’

Brian Lamb OBE

Biography

Brian is a renowned expert in the development of SEND legislation, policy and practice. Author of the influential government-commissioned Lamb Inquiry, he works alongside charities, schools, local authorities and parents groups and has published widely and lectured on SEND issues.

Why study for Engagement: Improving Outcomes and Attainment?

‘It is fundamentally clear that the involvement of parents with the school, leads to better outcomes and higher attainment for students with SEN. Therefore, by taking this course, students will be able to fully understand the methods and ways of involving parents which will lead to significantly increased attainment outcomes for children.’

Why are these modules different?

‘The unique way in which the modules combine theory and practice allows the students to actually do practical learning within their own context. It is also uniquely designed to dovetail with the national guidance on SEN. It’s not just an add on. It’s a unique course that has been specifically designed and developed to encapsulate the latest SEN thinking and issues.’

What are the typical backgrounds of those who take the course?

‘It’s relevant to early years practitioners, teachers and those working in vulnerable learner settings. It’s particularly relevant to anyone who has taken the SENCO course and those who work with children with an SEN disability. In short, it’s relevant to anyone working with vulnerable learners, not just those with SEN.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘A real understanding of how the greater involvement of children, young people and parents in their education, will deliver greater attainment, better overall outcomes and significantly greater parental involvement in children’s education in the school.’

What are you proudest of?

‘The ability of teachers and practitioners to deliver genuinely enhanced attainment and outcomes,  and greater confidence for parents in their children’s education.’

Alan Macgregor

Biography

Alan was Kent’s principal educational psychologist. He co-created the CCET course and also happens to be the British Psychological Society’s senior verifier of standards. Alan’s knowledge of the course and his in-depth understanding of the pedagogy of learning for adults is a great asset. He is also a director of Real Training and co-designed the MEd SEND programme.

Why study for the Certificate of Competence in Educational Testing (CCET)?

‘This course will embed good assessment practice into each student’s assessment work. It will enable them to use tools – particularly psychometric ones – to make judgements about: where children are in their learning; how they have progressed; the extent to which they have progressed; and what the next steps are for their education.’

Why are these modules different?

‘First, it’s certificated and competence based. When you complete the programme you are signed off as a competent practitioner. This qualification is then placed on the British Psychological Society’s public register. Secondly, it’s a rigorous, innovative and interactive course that really challenges you. Virtually everybody who has completed the course has said that it was extremely hard work. However, they feel that it significantly challenged their practice and was vital to their professional development.’

What are the typical backgrounds of those who take the course?

‘The majority are teachers and the majority of those teachers are involved in the SEN arena/domain.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘It changes the way in which teachers work. It has led to a number of educational professionals going back to their institutions and saying that they need to think again about how they are approaching the assessment of children.’

What are you proudest of?

‘The knock on effect of all of this is that there are some children out there who have benefitted very positively from the changes to the professional knowledge and skills of the people who have done the course.’

Siobhan Mellor

Biography

Siobhan is a director of Real Group and has been leading the highly successful National Award for SEN Coordination (NASCO) course since 2010. As a respected and experienced educational psychologist, she has worked with children and young people in mainstream and special schools for 15 years. Throughout this time, Siobhan has worked collaboratively with SENCOs and teachers in mainstream and special schools across different local authorities to support whole-school systems and interventions for pupils with SEND. Siobhan passionately believes in the National Award for SEN Coordination, because of its ability to support SENCOs across the UK and overseas in meeting the fundamental needs of children with SEND in schools.

Why study for the National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO)?

‘It’s a guided, supported way of reviewing the current good practice, research and guidance documentation that are currently informing SEND practice across mainstream and special schools in the UK. It enables aspiring SENCOs, new-to-role SENCOs and experienced SENCOs to have structured opportunities to read the latest literature, apply it to current practice in their schools, and evaluate the impact of their practice within a supportive network of professionals.’

Why are these modules different?

‘They offer distinct opportunities for SENCOs to spend as much time as possible located in their schools doing their job. It’s constantly evolving and developing in response to the latest research, guidance and feedback that we get from those on the course. As a practice-led online model, it also has some distinct advantages. We believe that it is not sufficient for our delegates to finish simply knowing more; indeed we feel that it has to feed into their practice and have a direct impact on the children that they work with. Without exception, our activities have been designed around giving each and every delegate access to new content, opportunities for implementation and then reflection on the impact of their practice within their setting. This approach has the best impact on both the learning of the children they support and also their learning as a SENCO.’

What are the typical backgrounds of those who take the course?

‘Typically, they are new-to-role SENCOs. As the course has become increasingly established, well-known and respected, we have an increasing number of experienced SENCOs who want to take it for their own professional knowledge and development. We also welcome aspiring SENCOs – those who are keen to do the study and be supported in their school as they are planning and preparing to take on the role of a SENCO.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘Our course equips people with an understanding of the need for their knowledge, skills and practice to have a direct impact on learners progress and for these outcomes to be evaluated. It also gives them the leading edge in an interview situation.’

What are you proudest of?

‘We are continually asking delegates for feedback. One delegate submitted an evaluation yesterday and it was wonderful to read. As a direct result of our course, she felt that her knowledge of interventions and her ability to evaluate the impact and fine tune them had seen children with SEN at her school making accelerated progress and outperforming other pupils in the school who didn’t have SEN. It is particularly humbling to see that the skills and training that we offer are having a direct impact on the most vulnerable children.’

Margaret Mulholland

Biography

Margaret heads the new Development and Research Centre at Swiss Cottage Specialist SEN School. She has an exceptional track record of establishing innovative initial teacher education and professional development and leadership programmes. Margaret leads coaching and mentoring programmes for schools and local authorities and works extensively with the Institute of Education. In her leadership position, Margaret draws on the widest range of real-world situations to deliver cutting-edge practice-based learning and research underpinned by classroom experience. Her school (Swiss Cottage) is has received ‘outstanding’ Ofsted ratings in the last four inspections and is one of the most successful schools of its kind in the country.

Why study Teaching Children with Severe, Profound and Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities?

‘Those who study this course develop a really good and effective grasp of how to support complex learners in the classroom. They will not only get to really understand the social and emotional challenges that face practitioners, but will also get a holistic understanding of the nature of disability. At its heart, this course will deepen their knowledge and understanding of the various conditions that sit under the banner of profound and multiple learning difficulties.’

Why are these modules different?

‘It’s practice led, it’s about experiential learning, which is very much what the school that I lead is about and what we know to be the most effective agent for change and improvement. What’s unique is that usually there isn’t a lot of opportunity to engage locally with PMLD settings. So this is a way for people to engage with practice developed in a school (Swiss Cottage) that has a deep understanding of complex needs. Not only that, they will also feel a real part of the learning experience. It’s collaborative, joint learning which encourages dialogue. For people who work with children with complex needs, it’s about making the most of the opportunities.’

What are the typical backgrounds of those who take the course?

‘Many of them are already working in settings with complex needs learners and want to develop their expertise. They may be teachers or teaching assistants who have worked in special settings before, but haven’t necessarily worked with or led teams with complex learners. It’s a way for them to develop their expertise and confidence in a school-based setting so that they can refine their practice. It’s about taking an intervention, support strategy, or resource, and thinking about how effectively it supports a learner. Then maybe improving upon it, because you have the opportunity to reflect or read or engage through the module. It is this that allows you to deepened engagement with the student.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘An excellent grasp of how to support complex learners in the classroom.’

What are you proudest of?

‘We are pleased that we can give people the opportunity to learn and develop an understanding of children with complex needs within their educational setting. The course empowers our learners and their students. It enables students, wherever they are, to engage and improve opportunities and outcomes for children with PMLD. Ultimately, it improves their confidence, knowledge and engagement.’

Sarah Norris

Sarah Norris

Biography

Sarah recently joined Real Training as a senior educational psychologist, having had over 13 years’ experience working within a local authority. She has worked extensively with schools and young people with a range of SEN needs and across all age ranges. Most recently, Sarah has specialised in the field of mental health and young people with social and emotional needs. She has a diploma in solution-focused practice, has worked therapeutically supporting young people, and developed, delivered and managed an early intervention-based approach with a mental health service in her previous local authority role.

Why study the National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO)?

‘At the moment, we are bringing it into line with the new legislation that comes into force this September (The Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice). This will place the latest guidance on the practical approaches that they need to take in their setting/school at their fingertips. It will provide a shortcut – an easy way for them to understand all of the changes that are happening – that will be relevant and applicable to their practice in their setting. SENCOs will also be able to present this information to staff and colleagues in schools and won’t have to trawl through reams and reams of information to get to the heart of the matter.’

Why are these modules different?

‘The online course is truly practice-led. The online learning signposts and directs every step of the way. It’s a really engaging way to learn.’

What are the typical backgrounds of those who take the course?

‘SENCOs and aspiring SENCOs pretty much without exception.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘They will be the person in the school who has the most up-to-date information and access to resources – in terms of the prospective changes – so they will be able to support and advise their colleagues. They will also be able to help their colleagues deal with more generic issues – such as SEN and/or supporting young people in their schools or their educational setting. They will have the ability to take more of a systemic approach to their organisation; and will develop enhanced skills that allow them to reflect and think about their own practice. This will not only help them in their assignments, but will also aid their reflective practice skills and analysis – which will benefit their school/setting and their career.’

What are you proudest of?

‘As an educational psychologist, I feel that interventions are critical. We have got to get much better at interventions and ask the right questions: what do we want to achieve; and what outcomes do we want to help each young person meet? Remember, come September, the Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) will be much more outcome-focused. This programme will help our delegates to recognise and adapt to this shifting culture, enabling them to focus on how to use resources and how to effectively target the right interventions with limited resources. It’s about using the best intervention for each young person. Are we asking the right questions and are our interventions really working? In essence, this programme equips our delegates with the right skills to enable them to make the right interventions… I am proud of that.’

Philip Prior

Biography

Philip Prior is the strategic psychology lead for Real Group. In this role, he has been developing high-quality consultancy and direct psychology services to schools, local authorities and other commissioning organisations working with children and young people. Previously, Philip was principal educational psychologist in Medway and Wandsworth. He has extensive experience both as a practitioner and senior manager and has been a visiting psychology lecturer at a number of universities. He was also involved in supporting the development of three-year doctoral training for EPs. As a practitioner, Philip has worked across both educational and health settings and has a particular interest in working with young people experiencing psychological disturbance and related emotional, behavioural and social difficulties. He is a strong advocate for client-led and solution focused approaches when working with children and their families and believes that integrated psychological services offer the best opportunity to deliver holistic and effective interventions that lead to enhanced and sustainable client outcomes.

Why study Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties?

‘The subject area and these two modules are fascinating and illustrative. There is something profoundly important about working with children and young people and trying to help them to change the course of their lives. It is an endlessly interesting area and the modules reflect that. You are dealing with a whole range of needs right through from children with serious social/environmental difficulties, through to children with defined psychiatric/psychological difficulties and everything in between. But, essentially, you are trying to work out (forensically) what the issues are and how best to help each child. Every child is unique and you have to try and work out a path through layers of complexity. It’s a great challenge but a worthy one and these modules are designed to help you with that challenge.’

What are the typical backgrounds of those who take the course?

‘Teachers who are already working in the field, who are working in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), independent schools or maintained schools with children with SEMHD.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘It will improve their professional expertise and confidence and give them a real framework to work with – because it is essential to have a framework when you work with children and young people with SEMHD. Our delegates will also be provided with the latest research and will be able to use that research to inform their thinking when they are working with families, young people or other members of staff. Each module will help them to make sense of particularly complex situations and respond appropriately in a positive way. In essence, it’s about understanding complexity and being able to work out what’s important and what’s not. To be able to focus on the things that you can change and succeed with, as opposed to attempting the impossible. It’s about having a practitioner framework around which you can build.’

What are you proudest of?

‘The difference that this approach can, ultimately, make to the lives of those children and young people with SEMHD.’

Dr Sue Sheppard

Biography

Sue is a senior specialist educational psychologist working part time at the Lorna Wing Centre for Autism (part of the National Autistic Society). She has been a specialist ASD advisor/EP for a number of London boroughs for over 20 years and has also worked as a specialist teacher. Sue has been instrumental in setting up provision for children and young people with ASD across early years, primary and secondary and has an eclectic career portfolio covering lecturing, training, consultancy and diagnosis and assessment. She is a specialist speaker in autism for EPs in training at University College London and has worked in collaboration with other universities – her doctoral research focused on autism outreach services. Sue has significant experience of supporting learners online and has been a module leader on a number of ‘special needs’ programmes for various universities.

Why study Autism Spectrum Conditions?

‘It provides our students with the practical opportunities to reflect on their current work and to evaluate ways to take it forward. They will increase their knowledge and get up to date with the latest research – particularly in regard to the complexity of autism spectrum conditions. Moreover, there are a lot of programmes and training courses on autism that simply impart knowledge. This course is so practice-based that it grows and extends knowledge for each student in their setting.’

Why are these modules different?

‘It’s practice-based and the learning activities are very much about the things that you would hope teachers would be doing anyway. It caters for all kinds of students and is studied across the globe. With some students, you help them to recognise what’s good in their practice and take it forward. With others, they’re starting from scratch, so I give them a platform to instigate real change. We’re broad, not narrow. We structure the assessments in an open way, so that people can make them fit their particular learning situation.’

What are the typical backgrounds of those who take the course?

‘It’s quite a mixture really. Some are very experienced and want to reinforce and extend their learning, whilst the younger ones are keen to develop a more specialist focus. Some international students get involved because they’re trying to get autism provision established in their own country. Sometimes we also work with parents who have a child with a diagnosis of autism.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘A reflective stance nurtured and developed in Real Group’s unique online community.’

What are you proudest of?

‘That it’s making a real difference to how learners with autism are being supported. This course enables delegates to think outside the box and adapt and change their practice. it also gives international students the knowledge, understanding and confidence to say: “You know, hang on a minute, there’s all this research, all this evidence, that we should be doing this and acting as advocates for the young people that we are working with.”‘

Dr Mark Turner

Biography

Mark is an educational psychologist and co-founder of the Nurture Group Network. He has a broad range of experience in SEND practice as a teacher, SENCO, lecturer and mentor of students undertaking professional development training. Mark has lectured and tutored at the University of East London and is also a director and founder of Real Training.

Why study Enquiry-based SEND Practice?

‘You will develop your own practice-based evidence in your setting. This will build confidence around your work in schools and will help you transform your work in education. This module tends to be one of the final modules of the MEd qualification. As such, it rounds off your programme of study by embedding professional practice into your professional skills.’

Why are these modules different?

‘This module – in fact all of our modules – are about helping professionals to feel more confident and competent in their work. As educational psychologists, we’ve all worked in schools with teachers and education professionals who want to know how to work best with children. We have all completed research to MA and PhD level and believe that practice makes a huge difference to the quality of education and life of children and young people.’

What are the typical backgrounds of those who take the course?

‘Generally, education professionals with an undergraduate degree.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘They can offer their colleagues a way of working in which they can reflect and bring about change. They will have knowledge of a particular way, a structure and a process of working, so that they can continue to develop new knowledge.’

What are you proudest of?

‘We’re building on each delegate’s practice, using the knowledge and skills that they have already attained, and bringing about real change in their practice.’

Dr Jennifer Wills

Biography

Jennifer recently joined Real as a senior educational psychologist after having worked for local authorities and the NHS, providing psychological services in a range of settings around all aspects of SEN. Jennifer has specialised in early childhood development and the associated impact throughout childhood and adolescence on a range of social, emotional and learning factors. To this end, she has worked extensively with all networks around a child, including families, schools and other professionals as well as developing specific programmes targeted at certain needs. These included parent-teenager relationship building, promoting resilience and reducing risk, as well as therapeutic work with mothers and children recovering from domestic abuse. Jennifer also teaches at undergraduate, masters, and doctorate level.

Why study the Certificate of Competence in Educational Testing (CCET)?

‘All professionals who use assessments have such an important role and, I believe, a great responsibility to use this role in the most effective way possible. The CCET course ensures that you can learn everything you need to know to be able to embed brilliant practice when administering assessments and how to apply them on a useful, ethical and professionally sound basis.’

Why are these modules different?

‘The CCET course modules have been developed and updated over a long period, by expert psychologists and test administrators, meaning that it is one of the most thorough, interesting and innovative courses around. It is, of course, verified by the British Psychological Society and those who complete the course receive a recognised qualification in test use. The online element of the course sets it apart, too, meaning that you are able to fit the course into your own schedule, be flexible and in the context of your professional role.’

What are the typical backgrounds of those who take the course?

‘Typically, teachers and SENCOs, although I have recently been seeing more independent practitioners who wish to develop their skills and achieve competence in this area. Of course, many of those undertaking this course combine it with the Access Arrangements Course.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘Not only does this course lead to a high degree of competence in the individual assessment arena, but also an increased knowledge about SEN assessment in a wider, more systemic way. This course benefits a whole organisation by allowing you to think about how pupil progress is tracked and to ensure that this information is held and understood in the most useful way. Many delegates tell us after the course they have realised how systems within their school could easily and effectively be changed in order to achieve a better approach to assessment. Additionally, undertaking this course means that capacity around SEN and assessment is built within the school, meaning that external resources and funds can be used in a different way.’

What are you proudest of?

‘That by undertaking this course, professionals understand assessments and psychometrics to a much higher standard and can have more confidence in the decisions they need to make as a result. That means a higher quality of input and more effective support for the children and young people with whom they work. To me, it is so important to recognise that undertaking this course has an impact on the individuals you work with.’

Dr Jane Yeomans

Biography

Jane is a teaching fellow at the University of Birmingham and associate educational psychologist (EP) for Warwickshire County Council. She is a distinguished academic and teacher with over 30 years’ experience as a teacher and EP in nursery, primary and secondary schools. Throughout her career, her research and professional interests have focused on the effective application of psychology in the training and development of teachers and she has written a number of books and articles on psychology, critical reading and learning.

Why study Enquiry-based SEND Practice/Dynamic Assessment and Mediation of Cognitive Functions?

Enquiry-based SEND Practice: ‘It’s a rare opportunity for learners to follow up on a topic and area that they are interested in which is related to their professional practice and can also be carried out in concentration with their colleagues.’ Dynamic Assessment: ‘It’s an opportunity for students to learn about two different methods of assessing a learner: interactive on the one hand, and a two way process between the sector and the learner on the other.’

Why are these modules different?

Enquiry-based SEND Practice: ‘It gives our students a structure for negotiating and narrowing down the focus of their research and keeps it rooted in the practitioner area.’ Dynamic Assessment: ‘No other programme in this area offers such a qualification. Through this course, students will have some tools to work with that will be robustly academic. It’s rigorously academic and particularly useful for teachers.’

What are the typical backgrounds of those who take the course?

Enquiry-based SEND Practice: ‘They are all working in some type of educational setting.’ Dynamic Assessment: ‘They are not necessarily SENCOs, but they tend to be teachers.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

Enquiry-based SEND Practice: ‘A structured approach to undertaking an enquiry within their own setting.’ Dynamic Assessment: ‘Offer a different approach to assessment that is interactive. They will also be better able to make links between assessment and intervention.’

What are you proudest of?

The marrying together of practitioner needs with academic rigour. What Real Training does so well, is the the distance learning element. It’s academic, rigorous, friendly, and the student is at the centre. The student experience on these modules is second to none. It shows that you can develop practical skills by distance learning. That it’s not just about book learning and doing exercises online… this is tremendously empowering for students.’

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Meet one of our delegates
Jo Miller

‘The activities, the assignments and the development of real practical skills enabled me to carry out a comprehensive school audit… and to think about and tackle the future of autism in my school.’
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