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An Interview with Sharon Drinkwater

Sharon Drinkwater – Social, Emotional and Mental Health

Recently, Sharon Drinkwater completed the SEMH module from our MEd SEND programme. Working within an independent SEN school in North Lincolnshire, Sharon is an assistant SENCO and on the safeguarding team. Her special areas of interest include; Autism and SEMH. We caught up with Sharon to find out how she got on studying with us.

What made you choose Real Training courses over other options?

I chose Real Training because it was flexible as it allowed me to complete the work in my own time.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

I found the course interesting and easy to engage with and the course material was set out well. My tutor Katie was extremely helpful and quick with communication, always sending supportive messages. I feel that the course material was informative, will be useful in day-to-day practice and in developing my professional practice and understanding.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

During the course, I found the provision map and analysing practice to be most beneficial. Since the course, I have been able to use my knowledge in designing and implementing new SEMH interventions within my work setting.

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

Professionally it has given me the confidence to look deeper at whole-school approaches. I will be looking to develop this further over the next academic year.

An Interview with Patricia Henderson

Patricia Henderson – AAC

Patricia has completed a multitude of courses with Real Training, most recently our AAC qualification. Prior to this, she has also completed; General Learning Difficulties (Skills & Knowledge and Application & Reflection), Dyslexia: Leadership & Intervention and CCET Online. Based in Malaysia, Patricia works at a secondary international school as a Learning Support Teacher. Talking about her specific interests in SEND, Patricia said “I have an interest in all SEND and ways for students with learning differences to be supported and included in the whole school curriculum.” We wanted to catch up with Patricia and talk about her time studying with us.

What made you choose Real Training’s courses over other options?

I was looking to work towards my Masters in SEND and I found Real Training in a google search. I liked the range of different topics it covered and that it was your choice to choose which topics suited you, your professional development or what you were interested in.

I also liked the fact that it was done at your own pace at times that suited you and didn’t have set deadlines etc. Once I had done one course I was hooked and knew I would see my way through to the completion of my Masters in Education (MEd) with SEND with Real Training.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

Each course definitely met, if not exceeded, my expectations. I enjoyed and learned something from every single one. I found Campus Online was really easy to use and made it easy to contact people. It was equally easy to get help when I did encounter any issues. I would also praise all of the tutors I have had for being both accessible and helpful.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

I have gained a lot more confidence in dealing with data and how it can support students with SEND. This has also allowed me to direct more useful interventions and supports for these students.  I have improved my knowledge to such a degree that my work was used as a case study in the Global Assessment Conference 2020 with Matthew Savage, which then led to me writing a blog for GL Assessment. You can find this here – https://www.gl-education.com/news-hub/blogs/the-data-triangulation-challenge-tricia-henderson/

This was followed by GL Assessment asking me to be part of a panel about wellbeing for FOBISIA.

All of these things have increased my confidence and have allowed me to share what I have learned with others. Clearly displaying the benefits to the school and how my skills are used to support our students and 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?

Using what I have learned, I am able to look deeper into data, testing and what tests to use for specific learning differences. I am now qualified to complete testing within our school, as well as looking at necessary access arrangements and interventions as a result of those tests.

Both additions to my skill set will help students and parents going forward from both an in-class educational aspect and for exams and access arrangements in their later exam years.  I hope to continue to look at different types of learning differences and how I can best support our students to achieve their best potential.

An Interview with Lena Ramzi – iSENCO

Lena Ramzi – iSENCO

Lena is an Inclusion Teacher for years 6 and 7 at an International British School in Dubai. Her specialist area of interest within SEND is communication and language. Having recently completed the iSENCO qualification, we caught up with her to see how she found her time with us.

What made you choose Real Training over other options?

I decided to complete this course with Real Training thanks to a recommendation from my current line manager. 

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

I was really pleased with my experience. The support offered to me by my tutor was incredibly helpful. The advice I received was always useful. I would have enjoyed more zoom meetings with both my tutor and fellow delegates. I was, however, also pleased with the technical support teams who were always prompt in responding to and handling any queries. 

During the course, I found having access to examples of tasks extremely helpful for completing assignments, alongside the excellent programme resources. The completion of iSENCO with Real Training has encouraged me to study further with them, which I am looking forward to.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

The iSENCO qualification has allowed me to obtain a broader overview of how SEND is managed and supported in other international schools in Dubai. This is due to the opportunity to complete a placement in another school which was a highly beneficial part of the course. 

Thanks to this understanding, I am now able to bring best practices back into my own school which will have a profound 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?

Professionally, I hope to become the Middle School SENCo within my current setting. I was required to complete this course in order to apply for SENCo roles. Thanks to my successful completion with Real Training, it will now be possible for my school to offer me the position of Middle School SENCo. 

Personally, I am looking to complete my masters in SEND, using my iSENCO as 60 credits toward Real Training’s MEd SEND Programme. I would highly recommend Real Training and I am grateful that this course was available to education professionals like myself, who are working/studying in international settings. 

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 Arnstein 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 Burdett 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 forum 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.

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