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Sarah Johnson-Motyl – NASENCO, CCET, NPQSL, Enquiry-Based SEN Practice, Dyslexia – Leadership & Intervention

Why did you decide to study with us?

I discovered the Real Training courses when I was searching for an online course that could be flexible around my work and home commitments. When I started on my journey with Real Training I aspired to achieve the courses which could be combined to achieve a Masters qualification. At that time I was a single parent with 3 year old twins and a 5 year old, a full time job as a SENCO and so could not be away from home for childcare reasons. This ruled out most courses as weekend commitments were a pre-requisite which I was unable to do. Real Training allowed me to study at the times that suited me (evenings and early mornings) and having an online tutor meant I had flexibility to plan the tutorials and assessment work. I really liked the way the course was structured and it was easy to follow the pathway the from beginning through to final submission. The admin team and help desk always responded swiftly to any queries and so although the course used a remote model of studying, I never felt at a loss or unsupported. I liked the virtual community and the fact that we could all join groups and discussion threads from wherever we were in the world. This breadth of experience added the experience of being part of a group and we supported each other through this means.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

I have studied several courses and I have had a consistent experience with all my Real Training tutors – all have been utterly fabulous. I can honestly say they have been available at short notice for my questions (no matter how small!) and when I have needed additional flexibility to complete coursework they have been 100% supportive.

I like the fact that we are respected as professionals and there is an understanding that juggling family, study, work and of course ‘life’ means that sometimes more flexibility is needed. The encouragement of tutors spurs on any lagging motivation and the online system gives more support than any other course I have done, including face to face courses.

How has the course(s) helped make an impact at school?

I completed the NASENCO course and was able to apply this to both KS1 and KS2 cohorts. By achieving the assessor qualification, I complemented my practice as a SENCO to deepen understanding of complex needs as well as train staff to further enhance their own CPD within SEN. As an experienced SENCO, I mentored international students on their SEND doctorate and MA courses from Exeter University, as well as participated in their research into Lesson Study.

Sarah’s headteacher

‘Sarah created a whole school assessment plan which meant we identified and addressed SEN at the earliest opportunity. She has driven effective interventions for pupils with both specific learning difficulties as well improving outcomes for these pupils. Her ability to scrutinise assessment data assimilate test scores into necessary individualised programmes of study means nobody slips through the net’

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

I am looking forward to achieving my Masters qualification and also my National Professional Qualification in Senior Leadership. I love studying and am keen to further progress my practise next year.

Not sure which course I will enrol onto next… possibly NPQH! The world is your oyster with the REAL training programmes!

Catrin Brauner – NASENCO, CPT3A

Why did you decide to study with us?

I looked into Real Training as so many people across the UAE had recommended them to me as a good way to increase my knowledge and skills. I initially approached them as I needed to build my skills in understanding access arrangements and assessing learners but quickly realised how much more they had to offer. The range of courses is impressive and it’s easy to plan a CPD route that fits with your interests and other commitments. The ongoing tutor support is something that made real training a very desirable training provider. I was also very impressed that courses were accredited with Middlesex University which allows people to work towards a Masters Qualification in SEN. 

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

All of the courses I have enrolled on have exceeded my expectations. The first course was a mixture of face to face and online, both parts were delivered seamlessly. The detail and structure that goes into the planning of the courses allows for delegates to feel guided throughout the course, even when there is no face to face element. The course tutors are extremely knowledgeable, approachable and helpful; they respond quickly to any messages and are always willing to help.

I am currently completing the NASENCO course, despite being a UK qualification it is extremely applicable to anyone working in SEN or leadership. The course takes a true 360o approach to ensure delegates have a chance to develop all the skills required to be an inclusive leader of SEND. The course is arranged in a multi-faceted manner which increases engagement and allows people to work to their strengths.

How has the course(s) helped make an impact at school?

The CPT3A course has had a huge impact on the children I work with and the provision we can offer in school, as well as helping me expand my understanding and skills significantly. The skills learnt allow us to understand our pupils in more depth in order to create the provision they deserve. This has been well received by all stakeholders including parents, governors, teachers and the children.

I am currently about halfway through completing the NASENCO course. The course has helped me reflect more on specific areas of what I do and find out what other schools are doing which is hugely helpful. I now have a better understanding of the history of SEN as well as current policy. This has helped me update some school approaches and action plan for the future.

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

The CPT3A allowed me to have a deeper understanding of the pedagogy behind a lot of teaching tools and assessments. This has helped me use data to better understand, and therefore support, children’s needs on an individual level.

On the other hand the NASENCO course has taught me more about leadership, strategy and bringing about positive change. I believe both courses have allowed me to be better at my job and allow me to be a better leader and teacher.

Poonam Ahir – NASENCO

What do you do?

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

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

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

What was your favourite part of the course?

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

What impact has it had on your professional life?

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

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

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

Why would you advise someone to take this course?

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

Karen Cameron – MEd SEND

What do you do?

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

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

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

What was your favourite part of the course?

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

What impact has it had on your professional life?

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

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

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

Why would you advise someone to do this course?

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

Littlue Smith – CCET

What do you do?

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

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

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

What was your favourite part of the course?

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

What impact has it had on your professional life?

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

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

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

Why would you advise someone to take this course?

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

Natalie Ghattas – CPT3A

What do you do?

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

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

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

What was your favourite part of the course?

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

What impact has it had on your professional life?

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

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

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

Why would you advise someone to take this course?

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

Dr Yehuda Marshall – CAP

What do you do?

‘I work as a clinical psychologist in private practice and also for a looked after children’s service.’

Why did you decide to study the Cognitive Abilities Profile (CAP) course with us?

‘I have trained in some dynamic assessment (DA) instruments and so I was keen to see how CAP could expand on my skills in this area, especially with the LAC population who may struggle to engage with long assessments.’

What was your favourite part of the course?

‘I enjoyed it all.’

What impact has it had on your professional life?

‘The course has enabled me to administer a detailed cognitive assessment in a significantly shorter amount of time than I perhaps could with traditional and regular DA tests. Being able to compare the profile of parents and teachers is also very helpful, as it tells me firstly whether they are seeing the same things and secondly, if not, then it enables me to generate some hypotheses about why this may be the case.

‘The detail within each domain of CAP has sharpened my general interview technique to cover areas of attention and perception, for example, that I would not have included before the CAP training.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘In addition to the above, CAP can provide a useful baseline measure when applied within a school setting. It acts as a springboard for bespoke recommendations and provides an opportunity to see if there have been any improvements at the time of re-test.’

Why would you advise someone to take this course?

‘For all of the reasons above!’

Jo Miller – Autism Spectrum Conditions

What do you do?

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

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

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

What was your favourite part of the course?

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

What impact has it had on your professional life?

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

How did you find distance learning?

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

Why would you advise someone to do this course?

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

Alison McHugh – NASENCO

What do you do?

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

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

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

What was your favourite part of the course?

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

What impact has it had on your professional life?

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

How did you find distance learning?

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

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

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

Why would you advise someone to do this course?

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

Allyson Pulleyn – CPT3A

What do you do?

‘I teach some groups in curriculum support. I also do some learning mentor work, but my main role is as the school’s specialist assessor.’

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

‘I’ve always been interested in testing. My background as a mental health nurse is something that we did use as part of our screening and profiling of patients and clients. So, when I moved over to work in a school setting, it wasn’t totally alien to me and I’m quite good at it really. I establish a rapport with students, I also do the initial interview before the assessment, so I can build up a very good picture of need by doing the interview and the testing, which helps us how to decide what access arrangements we need to use for those students who require them. In each instance, I try my best to ensure that all of my documentation is very comprehensive so that there is no doubt that this student needs what they should have.’

What was your favourite part of the course?

‘I really enjoyed the residential part of the course. Meeting people from different educational backgrounds and the face-to-face interaction with the tutors was really good… I got a good feel for what was needed and could ask questions. Any queries that I had, I was able to put to my tutors who I came into contact with on the AAC and the CCET.’

What impact has it had on your professional life?

‘It’s had a massive impact really. My salary’s increased, first and foremost. I’m the only person in the school who can do the testing. So, I’ve become the person who staff come to when they have general day-to-day classroom queries about students who aren’t doing very well. At first, the query has to come through the head of learning support – as I’m not the person who the referrals initially come to as I just receive the referrals. But I love my new role. It’s positive and I really enjoy it.

‘If I had to pare my job right back to just what I want to do, then the testing would be just it. Because I love how I can put the students at ease, which helps them to cope with the elements of pressure on them to obtain the result that they want. Obviously, we need them to be at ease first and foremost, but I really enjoy the testing.’

What can someone who has taken this course offer?

‘It’ll enhance your expertise. It’s quite a specialist role, so it’s really good for the school, as they won’t need to get someone in, they’ll have someone who knows the student, and it’s a truly holistic approach to testing. Obviously, we’re painting a picture and testing’s only one part of it. But it’s a really key part and I also get to know the students; which is good.’

Why would you advise someone to take the course?

‘I think that it enhances your profile within the workplace. It keeps you in touch with current methods of assessment and it’s really important CPD. We all need to be current in our practice. But, ultimately, if you’ve got this, it puts you in a very strong position in the workplace because, usually, you’re the only person in a school/setting who can carry out this work. Of course, schools can pay for an EP to come in (which we used to do before I did the training), but, ultimately, it will save schools money.’

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