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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. 

Lauren Millar – CPT3A

An Interview with Lauren Millar – CPT3A

Lauren is the Education Support Co-ordinator for the Northern Regional College in Northern Ireland. They are a Further Education College offering a comprehensive range of qualifications for school leavers, full and part-time courses for adults, apprenticeships, professional qualifications and university accredited courses. We asked Lauren if she has any special interests surrounding SEND and she said “I am interested in Inclusive Education, particularly in identifying and reducing barriers to Education. I work with a cohort of students who have often disengaged in mainstream school. I do have a personal interest in Dyslexia and Autism as well.”

Completing the CPT3A qualification with Real Training this year, we spoke with Lauren to see what she made of the course and studying with us.

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

Real Training was the best option for me as it gave me the flexibility to study around my working commitments. I originally wanted to complete the course to become an assessor for Access Arrangements but I really enjoyed gaining in-depth knowledge about psychometric testing.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

Real Training provided excellent tutor support and gave me the tools and confidence to succeed in using this qualification to greatly advance the service we provide.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

This course has greatly benefitted the service we provide in Education Support as it has increased the range of services I am able to offer the students. I asked Stephen McCartney, our Head of Student Services, how he feels my completion of the course has had an impact. He said;

‘Apart from extending the knowledge of my staff, this course has allowed me to extend the services we provide to students who require Access Arrangements for exams. To have this capability on campus means that we can respond to student’s needs much more quickly and effectively. The quality of the provision we now offer is reflective of that provided by the course and we have been pleased to have been able to access such training’ 

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?

Having completed the course, I have been able to reflect back on my own professional practice. Not only in regard to Access Arrangements but how I work with and support students who have a range of needs. This has contributed to the service I provide within the College, not only with regard to Access Arrangements but in all I do.

 

 

Nick Wilding – MEd SEND

An Interview with Nick Wilding – MEd SEND

Nick is the Head of Student Support Services at an international school in Vietnam. Beginning his studies with Real Training in 2017, Nick embarked on our National Award for SEN Coordination course. A couple of years later this was followed by the Enquiry-based SEND module. Since then Nick has completed some of our free to access courses as well. Nick says that his special interests in SEN are; awareness, assessment and knowing the whole child, partnerships with specialist teams and development of staff. To see what Nick made of his time studying with Real Training please see below.

 

What made you choose Real Training over other options?

Initially, I chose Real Training because of its links with Middlesex University. I had studied previously at this university and therefore knew that the qualifications would be both recognised and credible. At the time I was working internationally and therefore required a course delivered 100% online. The costs were very competitive and the responses to my questions in the decision phase helped me decide that I should register and sign up because all of my questions and queries were answered clearly, quickly and sincerely.

The NASENCO award through Real Training became the obvious choice compared to other providers as they met my fundamental requirements. Due to the advice and support of the course leaders and tutors, the decision to study further with Real Training was made easy due to their expertise and the range of subject-specific courses. The Courses and Qualifications page on their website is like a ‘one-stop shop’ for a career in SEND provision.

Subsequently, my experiences have led me to recommend Real Training to many colleagues both in the UK and internationally.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

The first tutor feedback I received was both supportive and demanding. This set the tone for the academic standards. I was delighted that this was going to be a ‘real’ Post Graduate course and not a ‘pay your money, get your certificate’ style course.

It had been so long since I had written academic essays therefore the readily available access to advice on the Campus Online page, emails with tutors and online tutorials with the tutor were invaluable. The response time of tutors and support with Campus online helped with the momentum of my studies. I wasn’t able to study regularly each week so it was great that they were responsive when I most needed it.

I chose an online course to fit in and around my work and life. I must say the tutors and the design of the course allowed this flexibility. The setup of the course page allowed me to pick up where I had left off so I could clearly see what I had and hadn’t completed.

The links provided through all courses were essential to my success and to keep stress levels down. Living abroad limited my access to many texts and websites. Access to  EBSCO, the library and Campus Buzz were all sources that provided me with the range of knowledge required to pass the academic requirements of the course but to also feel that I had read extensively around the subject areas for personal growth also.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

Firstly, it has kept me motivated in my career during a phase of questioning where I should go next. The ability to build my course to include areas of interest in addition to fundamental courses for anyone involved at the front line of SEND provision and the push for inclusion.

The NASENCO course allowed me to go back to basics and ask myself ‘why do I do this’, ‘what is the purpose of my role in this setting’. Moving on from these starting points, the course also allowed me to use experience combined with ongoing research and legislation. I believe this gave me a platform on which to improve my own working practices and school policy and procedures.

The research project that forms the Enquiry-based SEND module, has allowed me to appreciate the correct procedure to carry out and implement change within a setting. My project evolved around the need to improve staff awareness, confidence and training when working with a growing range of SEND within the school. The final project focussed on TA staff. Subsequently, individuals and small teams have taken on extra training linked to the following: PE lessons, assessment, observations and working with parents. 

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?

As the role of SENCO evolves it was essential to my career that I studied and passed the NASENCO course. The Access Arrangements and the Middle Leaders courses have allowed me to keep up to date and refreshed in these areas with the latter being the stimulus for the school to encourage a number of middle leaders to follow this course to bring more joined-up thinking in the school with regards to SEND and EAL students.

The research-based project has widened my appreciation of the purpose and importance of research to provide solid evidence which can be woven with experience and the needs of the setting with regards to training and change in a school. Therefore, the course has opened more opportunities for me when applying for roles in both academic and pastoral pathways

Finally, as the courses are validated by Middlesex University London and the Professional Assessment Programme courses and qualifications also adhere to the standards set by the British Psychological Society (BPS), I am convinced that future courses targeting Psychology and Social/Emotional pathways will play a part in my training to help me evolve, explore and create wellbeing projects in the future. 

Heather Blackburn – NASENCO

An Interview with Heather Blackburn – NASENCO

Heather is a busy lady at her current school working as; Associate Assistant Principal, Head of Performing Arts, PE and Health and SENCO on the inclusion team. Heather states that as she has been learning she is gaining specific interests in; autism, attachment, dyslexia and ADHD. Working in a mainstream secondary school in North Yorkshire, Heather recently completed her NASENCO qualification with Real Training. 

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

Real Training has been recommended to me by others. However, the fact that it was online and could be completed at times to suit me was also an appealing feature of Real Training’s course delivery. 

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

It was very hard starting academic essays after 20 years. However, my tutor was very supportive and gave me lots of pointers. I enjoyed the course as it gave me enough background into SEN, alongside looking at local and national data. I also enjoyed the fact that I could produce PowerPoint presentations for assignments.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

The course has allowed me to make an impact at school as my understanding of specific areas surrounding SEN has improved greatly. For example, how to use the code of practice and the legal side of SEN along with the inclusion of parents and students at all stages. I have also been able to implement improved CPD for teaching assistants. Lastly, I now have a much greater knowledge of how to set up and develop sensory circuits which are having a positive impact on those children with additional needs.

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 gave a great deal of background detail into SEN and the changes that have occurred over time. It gave me much better insight into parents’ feelings and how important it is to ensure the needs of a child are met in mainstream schools. Schools have a legal responsibility to consider the equality and disability act and to ensure they don’t cause unnecessary distress to children with SEN. I feel my understanding of the impact of reasonable adjustments and how necessary they are for some children has developed. The course also gave a greater understanding of the graduated approach and how this should be shared with all teachers. Alongside, how SEN is the responsibility of all staff and not just the SENDCO.

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