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An Interview with Vicky Hewlett – CCET

Vicky Hewlett – CCET

Vicky currently works in a mainstream secondary school in Coventry. When asked about her special interests in SEND, Vicky highlights SPLD with a keen interest in Autism and ADHD too! Having completed our CCET qualification earlier this year, we asked Vicky to tell us about her learning journey;

What made you choose Real Training over other options?

A colleague suggested Real training to me. When I realised I could learn completely online (especially due to the pandemic as I had been shielding) and in my own time, it sold itself to me!

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

To be honest I’m not really sure what I expected. I completed my degree at the Open University, so have experience of distance learning. I guess I thought it would be like that. However, it far surpassed my expectations. Campus online is a great tool. I am a lurker, so I really enjoyed looking at everyone’s comments and experiences without feeling forced to interact unless I wanted to. My tutor support was fantastic. I can not fault Nareesa at all.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

I am now the second qualified assessor for psychometric testing. Additionally, when I have finished, I will be another member of staff qualified to give access arrangements. This will benefit the school in many ways, including assessing students for literacy needs and implementing relevant strategies to support them. Furthermore, the ability to provide access arrangements for the relevant students will have a great impact.

How has the course helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

I hope to be able to use my knowledge and skills learned, to help the students that I work with. Through assessing them and providing strategies to overcome difficulties we may uncover throughout the process. I also hope to inform the teaching body, as a whole, what they can do to better support our students through quality wave 1 teaching. In the future, I hope to complete a Masters with Real training. I would like to be able to qualify to assess for and diagnose, dyslexia.

An Interview with Grace Arnstein – iSENCO

Grace Arnstein – iSENCO

Grace currently works as an SEN and EAL teacher in a bilingual school in China. Her special areas of interest include; Dyslexia for children learning English as an additional language, Autism Spectrum Conditions and Social, Emotional Mental Health difficulties. Grace recently completed the iSENCO with us at Real Training. Below Grace tells us how she found her time studying with us.

What made you choose the Real Training course over other options?

After researching a number of different courses, the Real Training course appealed to me due to its online delivery and the variety of courses they offer. I hope to go on to complete their courses in ASD and SEMH this coming academic year.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

The flexibility of the Real Training course meant I was able to manage the assignments and learning in conjunction with my job. It meant it supplemented my work as opposed to being an additional burden. Tutor support has been fantastic throughout and I have really valued the feedback given.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

The course supplemented my work at school and has enabled me to secure a job as SENCO next year. The reflective aspects of the programme encouraged me to identify areas of strength within my practice and highlight areas for improvement. It has enabled me to help improve SEND provision across the school.

How has the course helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

I hope to complete further courses with Real Training and complete the full masters in SEND. The iSENCO course has been useful, relevant and interesting.

An Interview with Matthew Burdett – NPQSL

Matthew Burdett – NPQSL

During Matthews time studying with Real Training, he was the assistant headteacher at an international school in El Salvador. Since his completion of the course in 2020, Matthew has been promoted and is now the head of secondary. Matthews school is a 3-18 international, bilingual through-school where they speak both English and Spanish. We caught up with Matthew to discuss his time studying with us.

What made you choose the Real Training course over other options?

I chose Real Training for two main reasons. Firstly, the ability to study entirely online meant that it fit my context, which meant I was able to work remotely while keeping up fully with the online materials. Secondly, I was able to join a cohort immediately, rather than wait until the beginning of the academic year. This helped me to get going and plan my time effectively to use the extended summer holiday to make real inroads into the project.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

I was incredibly impressed with all aspects of the course. The online materials were easy to access and the activities were well organised. The tasks were introduced with very clear expectations. It meant that I always knew what I needed to do and rarely had a problem with any of the research materials. When I did struggle, my tutor, John Wilkinson, was always quick to reply with a full answer.

This was especially important when my school closed in the final third of my project, as I had to develop my final report with only partial evidence. Johns advice carried through to a mark of 26/28 for my NPQSL, something I am really proud of.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

My project itself helped to raise awareness of curriculum issues and as a direct result of my work on the NPQSL course, we are now developing a clear curriculum strategy to push the school further. The course has also helped me to see the links between the myriad of school issues and how having a single vision for the school helps to bring harmony where otherwise we might pull in different directions.

How has the course helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

My project was about the importance of a cohesive curriculum. It’s definitely helped me to understand how to ensure that a project gets to the end, and perhaps more importantly, how to pick myself up when I stumble. The course firmed up a lot of things that I intuitively knew to do – but I had not fully grasped the importance of vision and getting the goals right in the early stages.

I’m naturally a ‘how’ person, and the course has helped me to strengthen the ‘why’. Since the pandemic changed our model of education and my school is likely to have a total of one year online, this has been ever more important. I feel that I have been able to articulate a clearer sense of purpose after having worked through the course materials and figured out not just what education should be about, but how to bring others along with me.

An Interview with Jessica Milnthorp – NASENCO

Jessica Milnthorp – NASENCO

Jessica has recently completed the National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO) with us at Real Training. Working in a mainstream primary school as the current SENCo/Inclusion Lead, Jessica says her special interest areas are Autism and SEMH. We wanted to hear more from Jessica about her time studying with us. Here’s what she had to say;

What made you choose Real Training over other options?

Real training’s course offered lots of flexibility to study around other commitments such as work and family. The resources and recommendations available are invaluable and the tutors are always available to offer help and support. The forums gave me the opportunities to share and network with other SENDCos who understood the role and could offer further support and guidance.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

I heard about Real Training through a recommendation from a colleague and the course lived up to my expectations. I really enjoyed completing the course and found Campus Online to be well organised and easy to follow. Being able to set my own deadlines enabled me to use my time effectively to complete the modules and progress at my own pace. Tutors offered help and support throughout the modules and I found the constructive feedback, given after the submission of learning logs and assignments, helpful in developing my knowledge and skills further by deepening my thinking.

I particularly liked the modules that required me to look closely at my own settings policies and procedures for SEND. Exploring how to adapt and improve these to be more effective. Therefore having a greater impact and improving the overall learning for our SEND pupils.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

The course has given me the confidence to implement change within my school and offer CPD opportunities for staff to better support children with SEND in and out of the classroom. This has made SEND a priority within my setting. The biggest impact at school has been the implementation of a more child-centred approach and ensuring strong links and good communication between teachers, parents and the children.

This has had a positive impact on children’s learning through personalised provisions and teachers having a better understanding of needs. Achieved by breaking down the barriers to learning and planning using the best resources available to allow our children to thrive and succeed.

How has the course helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

The course has strengthened my knowledge of SEND and given me the confidence to support others within my setting. It has allowed me to increase the status and importance of SEND and enabled me to support teachers. Providing them with a better understanding of the graduated approach. I will continue to improve the provision of SEND and allow the child and parents’ voices to be heard. I hope to give all learners the opportunities in life to achieve and aspire to be the best they can be. Every Child, Every Chance, Every Day.

An Interview with Rimante Songailaite – iSENCO

Rimante Songailaite – iSENCO

Working as a learning support coordinator, Rimante is interested in all aspects of SEN and additional needs. She does note a particular interest in Dyslexia and reading development. Alongside the importance of emotional regulation in a child’s learning and development. Rimante is currently based in Malaysia at an international school offering British style education to boarding and day students. Having recently completed our International Award for SEN Coordination (iSENCO) we asked Rimante how she found her time studying with us.

What made you choose Real Training over other options?

I found out about Real Training whilst researching different SEN courses online. I was immediately drawn to Real Training as I liked the convenience of their courses being delivered entirely online. The course outline was exactly what I was after at that time in my professional career, so I didn’t need to look any further. I found their website was designed very well and gave clear explanations about each and every course.

Upon contacting Real Training with I found the enquiries team were incredibly helpful in answering all my questions about courses, eligibility and any other concerns I had. I have also joined several professional groups on Facebook and saw lots of people recommending Real Training and providing great feedback.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

I really enjoyed my journey with Real Training and the course has exceeded my expectations. The course itself has been planned out really well and each strand has covered topics in-depth. All the different modules and activities are both theoretical and practical. I prefer learning to be practical and not just theory-based, so this worked well for me. The course has allowed me to reflect on myself as a person and a professional and I would say that now, after completing the iSENCO course, I am a much better professional.

Campus Online is really easy to navigate and it is very well designed. High-quality reading material and other resources have been readily available, with recommendations for further reading. Access to the EBSCO host platform has also been invaluable. Furthermore, the discussion form is great! It has given me an opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas with like-minded professionals and engage in discussions. It has been really useful to read other delegates thoughts and get some inspiration. Each assignment came with very clear success criteria and it was reassuring to know what the expectations were.

Lastly, tutor support has also been great, my tutor was always available via email and offered video conferencing too. I found this to be very beneficial.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

Strand 3 and 4 activities and assignments were my favourites. The topics we have covered were very relevant and it was very inspirational having to review your own current practice and systems in place. Strand 3 included a placement visit and the school I worked with have been very supportive. I have learnt so much and the overall experience I have gained throughout has enabled me to review and update our current policies, practices and procedures.

Strand 4 focused on the classroom context – your everyday job basically. This learning experience has allowed me to reflect on the way I carry out my job and the ways I could improve my practice. Consequently, this has improved the support our students are receiving and ensuring that each and every student can reach their full potential.

How has the course helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

At times, it was quite challenging, having a full-time job and trying to write masters level assignments, but I have thoroughly enjoyed this course. It has been a very rewarding experience. I feel a lot more confident as a professional now, having had a chance to further develop my knowledge, skills and understanding of SEND.

It has been a challenging year with a global pandemic sweeping through the world. Initially, I was only planning to successfully complete the iSENCO course. However, this learning experience has piqued my interest so I am certain that I will be looking at other options in the near future. One thing for certain though, I know that if I decide to continue with my professional development, it will be with Real Training.

An Interview with Caroline Dodsworth – CPT3A & DPRW

Caroline Dodsworth – CPT3A & DPRW

Caroline currently works as a freelance SEN consultant, assessor and tutor. Working across a variety of maintained and independent schools as well as working independently as a practitioner. Caroline works in multiple schools across London and Dubai. With a special interest in Dyslexia, Caroline completed her MA in 2014 entitling her dissertation “Teaching Strategies for Dyslexic Writers”. Having formerly completed CPT3A and more recently our Dyslexia Professional Report Writing (DPRW) module we wanted to find out what Caroline thought of her time studying with Real Training.

What made you choose Real Training over other options?

Real Training offers the best value for money courses, leading to recognised professional qualifications. A former colleague recommended Real Training to me when I was considering undertaking CCET a few years ago – CCET is the first component of the CPT3A qualification.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

The online courses offered by Real Training allowed me to study anywhere in the world. This was especially important as I have dual UK and UAE residency. The assignments in the Real Training modules are broken down into a series of smaller tasks, which assist you with the larger assignments. I found this helpful as it prevents the feelings of becoming overwhelmed, which is particularly important when combining study with a busy working life.

Campus Online is structured in a way that allows you to monitor your progress throughout your chosen course. Showing you how much of the course you have completed and how much you have left. Again, this is helpful for planning your assignments around a busy workload. The library resources are excellent and it is helpful to be able to see the previous work of other delegates.

The tutors at Real Training are responsive and supportive. They always provide constructive feedback and recognise that their students are often long standing professionals.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

The CPT3A course (made up of both CCET and AAC), that I undertook several years ago, had a direct impact on the school where I was working as a SENCO. It meant that as a qualified access arrangement assessor, the access arrangements testing could be brought in-house. This saved the school time and money.

Having recently completed the DPRW course, in addition to my previous qualifications, I am now fully qualified to provide full diagnostic assessments. These provide a much more holistic and rounded view of a student. Additionally, this will assist in ensuring that they receive the most appropriate intervention. Working independently also means that these skills will be applied widely.

How has the course helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

The DPRW module has deepened my knowledge of assessment, when to seek the support of other professionals and the need for consistent format in report writing.

I hope to apply these skills for the benefit of students both in schools and independently in the future.

An Interview with Dorthe Allen – SEND Programme

Dorthe Kronborg Allen – SEND Programme

Dorthe currently works as an SEN consultant in a variety of international schools all over the world. When asked what her special interest areas are in relation Dorthe says “Autism and the neurological/cognitive function of those on the spectrum”. Having studied both the Autism Spectrum Conditions and Speech and Communication modules with us at Real Training, we wanted to know how Dorthe got on and what her plans are for the future.

What made you choose the Real Training courses over other options?

I like that it is created for professionals working in the education system and that it is fully online. The range of modules on offer and the ability to study the specific areas that I am most interested in also influenced my decision to study with Real Training.

Having worked in education for the past 22 years I know which areas I need to expand on. This also meant I avoided having to “go through the motions” of completing units that I am already an expert in. During my search for a provider, I failed to find any others whose programmes were so well geared to people like me, whilst also offering a university accredited MA course.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

My tutors have been great, always providing useful and thoughtful advice as well as consistent support. I am quite an independent learner myself and I found my tutors to be very understanding and respectful of this. I have enjoyed the EBSCO access, assignments and course resources that were available. They were always relevant and provided me with a good springboard for further research and questioning.

Even though the course is online there is flexibility to combine your own study style with the Campus Online requirements. I prefer to keep notes on paper and this was encouraged by my tutors, I was not asked to transfer these to electronic versions which I appreciated. As a busy SEN consultant with a workload that includes training teachers, writing articles and assisting schools to develop their SEN policies it is important for modules to compliment my work. This is exactly what I felt the Real Training courses did.

How have the courses helped make an impact at school?

Previously, I had been the sole inclusion teacher for an international school with an SEN register of over 80 students. My time on the course helped with provision planning, more effective IEP wording and developing better policy implementation processes. This was done by developing my understanding of the international school’s SEN arena with regards to the provision of both internal and external support.

I consistently used the skills I gained in provision mapping and understanding of screeners and assessments available for a range of SEN. Including effective use of teacher and parent surveys for flagging learners with ASD and formalising the diagnosis process. I was able to evaluate the schools procedures using the course resources and knowing where to look for extra resources to address particular needs.

How have the courses helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

I came to Real Training with a substantial knowledge of differentiation and SEN teaching strategies gained in my 22 years as a teacher of Drama, EAL and SEN. The courses have been most valuable in cementing my existing knowledge within the official setting of SEN provision. Essentially, I have gained a greater understanding of the following;

  • Connections between school policy and provision
  • Practice in identifying, adapting and using a variety of standards and frameworks for improved SEN provision
  • SLCN and the rising prevalence of this particular needs

I have thoroughly enjoyed the reflection and critical analysis of my own practice, required by the course. I have also been able to clarify the professional direction I would like to take. As a result of my studies, I have seen instant growth in my consulting business due to having a faster and more efficient way of working, thanks to a broader range of resources that I developed during my studies. I plan to graduate at Masters level and then start a PhD with a specialisation in ASD next year.

An Interview with Mark Beales – NPQH

Mark Beales – NPQH

Mark is currently working as the Head of Senior School in an Australian International School in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Having previously completed our NPQH course, we wanted to hear from Mark how he found his time studying with us.

What made you choose the Real Training course over other options?

I was looking for a provider who could work with teachers based overseas. The leadership elements of the course looked particularly interesting, which is why I chose Real Training, via a Google search.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

The course is a detailed look into what it takes to become a school leader. As someone who has worked in international education for nearly 20 years, I wanted to look at some of the non-academic issues that school leaders deal with. Issues such as recruitment, budgeting and general principles of leadership were of particular interest to me, and these are covered in detail in this course.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

As a result of taking this course, I have established links with other international schools in my city. This has led to training days involving teachers from both schools.

How has the course developed you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

The course has given me a detailed look at the qualities needed to become a school principal, and what steps I can take to develop them. The forums include highly-experienced school leaders, and having the chance to talk with them and exchange ideas was invaluable. The feedback from Real Training’s own course leaders (all of them experienced principals) was excellent.

An Interview with Maria Pantoulia – Dyslexia: Leadership & Intervention

Maria Pantoulia – Dyslexia: Leadership & Intervention

Maria works at an international secondary school in Luxembourg where they study the British curriculum. Her daily role at school is Academic Support Assistant. When asked whether or not she has any special interests in SEND, Maria highlighted Dyslexia and concentration difficulties. Hence her decision to study our Dyslexia: Leadership & Intervention, Skills & Knowledge module. Below, Maria explains how she found her time studying with Real Training. 

What made you choose Real Training courses over other options?

The choice to study with Real Training came from a recommendation by the school SENCO, where I currently work. 

What was your experience of learning with Real Training? 

I loved the learning experience and particularly the fact that I could adjust studying to my personal needs and time. The flexibility of the course together with the support from the course leader and tutor made this experience valuable and stress-free at the same time.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

Through the Dyslexia: Leadership & Intervention course, I have learned how to design a professional presentation on dyslexia for training purposes. That experience has allowed me to train the rest of my team and also to prepare some whole staff training for September. Moreover, I have suggested a new template for the student profiles which again I have learned to design through my time studying with Real Training. 

How has the course helped developed you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

The course has helped me to understand better dyslexia learners’ needs and find the appropriate interventions for each case. I now feel more confident about how to support students with their learning. I am hoping for this course to be the beginning of my future career as an SEN teacher or SENCO. 



Gillian Holland – NASENCO

An Interview with Gillian Holland – NASENCO

Gillian is a music teacher and aspiring SENCO, currently working at an international school in Malaysia. Although she is interested in all aspects of SEND, most recently, Gillian has found herself studying Dyslexia in greater detail. Stating that her long term goal is to become an assessor, which she hopes will give her the ability to bring this skill ‘in house’ to the school in which she works. Having recently completed our NASENCO qualification, we caught up with Gillian to see how she got on. 

What made you choose Real Training over other options?

Living in Malaysia, I was looking for a course that I could largely complete online. Having found Real Training through a google search, I felt that the online delivery of the content along with the accreditation of a UK university was the perfect match for me. When exploring the course content in more detail I was really impressed with the depth covered and the variety of activities involved in the qualification. 

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

I have really enjoyed studying with Real Training and found the whole process of Campus Online straightforward and easy to navigate. I liked that the tasks were varied, but that you didn’t have to complete them in a specific order. This really helped me to make progress as it allowed me to complete tasks based on the timeframe I had available and make use of this effectively. I thought there was a good balance of ‘work based’ tasks involving some level of interaction with an aspect of school life, and research focused tasks asking for an opinion on a given text or concept. I also felt thoroughly supported by my tutor, Rachel, and knew that she was always at the end of a message thread if there was something I needed help with. The course exceeded the expectations I had and I would definitely use Real training for further studies.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

Two projects I thoroughly enjoyed were the final assignments for Strand 2 and 3. Both of these allowed me to explore something relevant to the setting I work in. As an aspiring SENCO, this was hugely important as it gave me valuable experience in the development of an aspect of school life. Helping me to consider ways in which I would approach this if I were a SENCO. In one of these tasks, I looked at the transition between KS2 and KS3 and found ways to develop a potential action plan to improve this for future learners. As an all-through school, I was able to look at both sides of the transition point and reflect on what is needed to ensure that SEND learners were able to move through to the next stage in their education with as much support and preparation as necessary.

The second area I explored was the movement of SEND learning and pedagogy to online platforms as a result of the pandemic. Being able to research something so relevant was interesting and it was a great way to explore best practice from many different settings and countries across the world. I was able to use this and bring together ideas to adapt to my current school.

How has the course helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

I was initially apprehensive when I began the course as my last period of high-level studying was 10 years prior when I completed my PGCE. However, the way the course is organised really helped me to ease back into this process and there was so much support available to ensure that my writing and work was to the level required for a Masters. My original plan was to just complete my NASENCO qualification, yet the course and the content have encouraged me to look beyond this to explore further options for my professional development. After much consideration, I have decided to work towards my Masters in SEND. I have just started my Level 7 Structured Intervention in Literacy and Dyslexia with Real Training’s sister company ‘Dyslexia Action’ and then I plan to return to Real Training to complete the ‘Enquiry-based SEN’ to complete my Masters. The decision on which route to take was difficult as there is so much choice available to you, but after emailing the team at Real training and discussing my options I am really happy with the decisions that I have made. 

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