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Our Delegate’s Projects


With our practice-led learning approach, our delegates have plenty of opportunities to put what they’ve learned into action and see tangible results in their educational settings. Some of our modules, such as the Enquiry-based SEND practice module, taken to complete the Masters of Education in SEND (MEd SEND) or Masters in Leading Inclusive Practice qualifications, specifically require delegates undertake a piece of enquiry-based professional action research, which will help you to examine your own practice and that of others.

We love to celebrate the amazing work that comes out of our delegates studying with us. This work isn’t just of a very high academic standard; it really goes on to make a measurable difference in the classroom and the lives of students.


Hannah Smith NASENCO - Masters Assignment 3

Delegate Name: Hannah Smith

Course: The National Award for SEN Coordination

Qualification Achieved: Postgraduate Certificate SEND: National Award for SEN Coordination

Project Title: Implementation of Precision Teaching to improve SEND children’s mathematical fluency

About Hannah: Hannah is an Assistant Headteacher, DSL and SENCO. Describing the school in which she works as a “bustling three-form entry school in West Yorkshire”. After completing the first 2 years of her degree at the University of Brighton, Hannah transferred to Bradford College. Whilst working in a 1 form first school, within a variety of roles from admin assistant, midday supervisor and teaching assistant. Starting at Wibsey in 2009 as an NQT, Hannah progressed to being a middle leader with responsibilities of SEND interventions and then on to being Assistant Head and lead in pupil premium progress across the school. With the current SENCO retiring, Hannah was asked to come out of class and be a full-time DSL and SENCO. She says “I miss being in the classroom with the children, but my role now is so diverse that no day is the same and I get to impact more children right across the school”. 

Through regular SENCO networking meetings arranged by the local schools in her area, Hannah had heard about the different courses available. Stating “I chose Real Training as I wanted the flexibility to do my job properly and give every effort to the children and families without having to take days away to attend sessions.” Hannah appreciated the communication with her tutor, alongside being guided through different aspects of the assignments. Explaining how she often struggles with getting started and Zoe (her tutor) was brilliant in redirecting her when needed.

The course really helped Hannah understand the legislation, research and progression in SEND over the years and how that impacts practice today. When completing paperwork for referrals or EHCPs I can see the reasoning and the thought process that has gone into ensuring the very best provision for all pupils.

Masters Assignment 3: At Hannah’s setting, 22% of pupils are on the SEND register. It had been identified that children on the SEND register were having trouble retaining number facts which in turn is impacting them mastering more complex skills and slowing down the progress they are making. After meeting with the Senior Leadership Team, it was decided that Hannah would do some research and speak to professionals for advice on interventions that could be implemented to address this issue. Precision Teaching was recommended by the Educational Psychologist (EP) and Cognitive and Learning Team from the local authority. 

After receiving this advice and doing some research of her own, Hannah and another colleague had training from the local authority EP team in precision teaching. Then taking this back to the school and trialling it with several children. All teachers were focusing on math skills for Precision Teaching. Recording progress on excel sheets and in files. The programme ran for 12 weeks. During that time, the staff said that the children’s confidence has improved alongside a willingness to answer questions, including more attempts at more challenging problems. Furthermore, the number of correct answers during mental arithmetic tests have improved and calculations have fewer mistakes in them. There was also positive feedback from the children involved, with all 3 children asked stating that they have been enjoying precision teaching and they are more confident with their fluency in maths. 

What next?: Hannah highlights that due to the current global situation, Precision Teaching is going to be vitally important for all children. With this in mind, all teachers have since set up their new Precision Teaching files and in the first week back in school will be working with the children to assess what skills they need to practice. 

Data will continue to be tracked and progress reported to governors, senior management and leadership teams. Precision Teaching will now be transferred to other areas of the curriculum to increase fluency in those areas too. There will also be advice offered to parents regarding how they can support the programme from home. 

Rachael Knight NASENCO - Masters Assignment 3

Delegate Name: Rachael Knight

Course: The National Award for SEN Coordination

Qualification Achieved: Postgraduate Certificate SEND: National Award for SEN Coordination

Project Title: A case study analysis of an individual child, focussing on the assessment, planning, implementation and review of an intervention to support the development of their emotional competence

About Rachael: Rachael is currently Head of School at Running Deer School, a small SEND provision based in woodland on the edge of Dartmoor. Working with children and young people who come from other settings, often feeling like they have failed, lack self-worth and do not trust adults in school easily. Rachael also works as Designated Safeguarding Lead and SENCO within her role. Prior to the work she does now, Rachael was a lecturer in initial teacher education at Plymouth University. She had also worked in a variety of SEND and mainstream schools before that. Rachael is passionate about inclusion, and the right for all children and young people to access learning. She studied NASENCO with Real Training and “thoroughly enjoyed it”. Rachael says “My tutor was incredibly supportive and her feedback was invaluable, the opportunity to have a placement in another school was so helpful and has really shaped my practice”. 

Masters Assignment 3: In her assignment, Rachael works with a young individual who has an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) along with a diagnosis of autism. The child attends a small independent school for young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN). In response to some challenging behaviour regarding the child’s ability to express emotions, the decision was taken to develop an Emotional Curriculum to be taught one-to-one on a weekly basis. Rachael’s assignment looks at the rationale behind the development of this and the approach taken to its assessment and implementation. She also goes on to analyse the impact of the programme on the child’s emotional and social competence. 

Using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SQD) scoring system to review the ‘before’ and ‘after’ SDQs, Rachael looked at 5 categories of behaviour. These were; prosocial behaviour, hyperactivity, emotional problems, conduct problems and peer problems. However, the category of hyperactivity was not considered as it fell outside of the remit of the Emotional Curriculum. Since the introduction of the Emotional Curriculum, scores for each category (except for peer problems – which scored close to average) alongside the overall total difficulties score showed a positive change. 

What next?: There have been positive changes in the SDQ score relation to prosocial behaviour, emotional problems and conduct problems and in the total difficulties score. As well as a decrease in autistic meltdowns, parents reported that they felt ‘he is much more able to describe how he feels and talk about his feelings’ than before the Emotional Curriculum had begun. 

Rachael also found that although the child had been able to correctly name emotions that a person may experience within hypothetical situations, he was often unable to recall how he had felt in situations. Rachael states “this is an area I wish to develop within the Emotional Curriculum, after first further researching the potential impact of ‘difficulty in forming a meta-representation of one’s own mental states’ (Lind, Williams, Grainger and Lansiedel, 2018, p. 16) on autistic children and young people, considering this from a neurodiversity perspective.

Edward Stones MEd SEND - Enquiry-based SEND Practice

Delegate name: Edward Stones

Course: Enquiry-based SEND Practice

Qualification achieved: MEd in SEND

Project title: An Online Study of Differentiation in Bruneian State Primary Schools

About Edward: Edward works for the Educational Development Trust (formerly CfBT) as a Specialist Language Teacher and regional SENCO. Attending to the needs of students studying in remote, rural schools in Brunei. Since graduating as a teacher from the University of East Anglia in 2003, Edward has worked predominantly in South East Asia as a teacher and HoD in the areas of EAL and Special Education. Through his research, Edward feels that he has been able to contribute to the greater understanding of SEN in Brunei. In 2016, Edward undertook his NASENCO course. Since then he has gone on to achieve the  MEd in SEND and CPT3A qualification with Real Training. Completing his MEd during the Covid-19 lockdown in Brunei, Edward had to change the nature of his research and design mid-flow. However, he explains “My tutors were very supportive and I was satisfied with the results as I managed to obtain and process a great deal of information from a large pool of teachers in Brunei on their personal views and ideas on classroom differentiation”. Edward’s research helped him develop more professional development opportunities and harness teacher’s views to make training on differentiation more meaningful and effective. Edward is proud to have earned a distinction for his MEd with Real Training and Middlesex University. Edward is currently establishing the first SEN consultancy in Brunei and is carrying out SEN and Access Arrangements assessments for students, both face to face and online. Edward says that Real Training has “…allowed me to greatly expand my working possibilities and given me the acknowledgement and accreditation that I sought”.

Project Goals: Edward investigated the problem of classroom differentiation, carrying out action research online with English Teachers in Brunei. Edward obtained qualitative feedback from teachers through an internet survey and online interviews. Transforming this feedback into a comprehensible format helped stakeholders such as the Bruneian Ministry of Education understand what methods need to be employed to improve classroom differentiation. Edward attempted to answer the following questions in his research;

  1. What strategies do teachers use to differentiate (in terms of content, process, product, grouping, learning environment) in Bruneian classrooms?
  2. What benefits/disadvantages do teachers see in differentiation?
  3. What impact does differentiation (or lack of differentiation) have on students?
  4. What do teachers offer in terms of enrichment?
  5. What training do teachers want related to differentiation?
  6. What are the barriers to differentiation?

Research Findings: Below is a brief summary of some of Edwards findings, in relation to each research question.

  1. According to the qualitative data, teachers’ strategies focused mainly on using differentiated texts. Only one teacher mentioned using mixed ability grouping, which has been found to be preferable as it allows students to see themselves in a variety of contexts and aids the teacher in “auditioning” students in different settings and with different kinds of work (Tomlinson, 1995, 1999).
  2. Teachers summarised the benefits of differentiation as increased attainment through personalised learning, more choices of learners and increased motivation.
  3. It was clear that teachers think the biggest impact of differentiation is that it meets children’s social and emotional needs. ‘Improved Confidence’, ‘enjoyment’, ‘motivation’, ‘self-esteem’ and ‘excitement’ were mentioned several times by teachers in the study.
  4. 50% of teachers involved in the study claimed there were not enough enrichment programs in their schools.
  5. Just under half the teachers surveyed claimed to have never received any training on differentiation and only 5 additional teachers claimed to have received training related to differentiation since arriving in Brunei, largely provided by their school. 
  6. Edward acknowledges that the barriers to differentiation are complex and varied. Time and workload appear as significant barriers to a few teachers. As well as physical barriers there are the intangible; changing learner and school culture appears to be a barrier as perceived by some teachers. 

Edward feels that his study was unique and beneficial in terms of highlighting differentiation as an issue and allowing teachers to find their own voice, compare barriers and share their strategies. The 2020 study revealed that new thoughtful strategies and commitments are required to ensure the continuation of classroom differentiation. All teachers involved in the study were interested in receiving further training on differentiation and the Stakeholder Group met with the management team at the Bruneian MoE to air the results of the survey and discuss opportunities for action in 2021. All Bruneian students will surely benefit from the more inclusive approach which is advocated in this study.

Rivkie Ives MEd SEND - Enquiry-based SEND Practice

Delegate name: Rivkie Ives

Course: Enquiry-based SEND Practice

Qualification achieved: MEd in SEND

Project title: Assessing teachers’ attitude and its impact on their inclusionary practise in senior school

About Rivkie: Rivkie is the current headmistress in Monsey Beis Chaya Mushka (MBCM). This is an all-girls high school in Upstate New York, USA. She has also previously worked as the SENCo in Lubavitch Senior Girls’ School in London. Rivkie is passionate about social and academic inclusion for all, especially those with special educational needs and disabilities. In her search for methods to increase the inclusion of all students socially, she began to run experiential workshops on social inclusion in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States. Finishing her Bachelor of Arts degree with the University of Greenwich, Rivkie then went on to gain her QTS and begin studying for her MEd in SEND with Real Training. Rivkie’s MEd was made up of the National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO), the double Dynamic Assessment qualification and completed with the final Enquiry-based research module. Rivkie’s research focused on the current practises of academic inclusion within her setting, MBCM. She states “I was amazed by how much my staff and I gained from this research and how much it has empowered us to forge on in our quest for academic inclusion for all students.” 

Project Goals: Rivkie’s research goal was “to better understand how we can improve the inclusion of students with special educational needs (SEND) in our small faith-based privately funded senior school.” Rivkie looked at 3 specific research questions;

  1. What the attitudes of teachers contribute towards inclusionary practice in the classroom? 
  2. What existing strengths and competencies to promote inclusion are practices in the school?
  3. How may it be possible to build on existing strengths to expand the teachers’ inclusionary horizons and practices?

Research Findings: Rivkie’s findings were compiled from responses given by 70% of teachers asked. Below you can see the findings of the research in relation to the original research questions listed above. 

  1. The research suggested that there were two types of attitudes when it came to inclusion. The in-principle attitude professed by these teachers, who believe that all students should learn and is their responsibility, with the necessary tools provided. However, the research also revealed a practical attitude. Whereby, in reality, substantive inclusion, involving students learning side-by-side whilst progressing each on their level, did not appear to be occurring within the school. Rivkie also highlighted that none of their staff have received a basic education in SEND. Stating that “this would imply that through sufficient training teachers will develop the skill necessary for inclusion. Since the desire and rapport already exist.”
  2. When teachers were asked what strengths they already see in the school, 12 felt that support from their colleagues was a strength while 9 felt that support from the senior management team was a strength. Rivkie was surprised to find that quite a high number of staff highlighted the strong extracurricular offering that our school provides as giving prominence to all students including and especially those with SEND.
  3. Rivkie believes that although they may not have all the tools and training they would like, the ability to coach teachers in-house proactively and productively is something that can be implemented with ease and immediate effect. Stating “the availability of resources and tools enabling inclusion has already made its mark in our school. Teachers have modified books, Braille materials and printers, science manipulatives and the like. Teacher feedback makes it clear that these resources are being used and are impactful, thus emerging as yet another theme in the study.”

As a result of Rivkie’s research, an action plan has been put in place. You can see this below. Rivkie concludes her research in a sentence “empowered teachers lead to empowered students.”

Action Action was taken by whom? When? Evaluation:
Regular staff meeting to discuss the challenges of the students  Senior management staff via zoom Immediately at the start of the new school year, every two months thereafter Teacher, Parent and student feedback
Staff coaching Principals and/or hired teacher-coaches Immediate effect 1.    Teachers receiving professional coaching will fill in logs on how impactful these sessions have been.

2.    Teachers receiving coaching from senior staff or peers will give immediate feedback on how impactful the sessions have been.

Training to meet staff needs  Senior management staff
  1. The first training in September 2020 on group work
  2. November 2020 on differentiation
  1. Headteacher and/or presenter observation of group work
  2. Headteacher and/or presenter observation of differentiation
  3. Student feedback 
Training in social inclusion Senior staff

Form teachers

Head of extra-curricular activities

Youth leaders

Before the start of the year, the researcher to meet with the senior staff, form teachers, head of the extra-curricular activities and youth leaders to discuss ways to be more inclusive. Researcher to share research that was carried out including activities that can be used with immediate effect
  1. Interview teachers 1-8 again and see how they feel the social inclusion has progressed
  2. Researcher to observe students during free time to see if inclusion has improved
  3. Those involved in running and executing extra-curricular activities will chart progress in their attendance at events 

Zoey Slack NASENCO - Masters Assignment 3

Delegate name: Zoey Slack

Course: National Award for SEN Coordination 

Qualification Achieved: Post Graduate Certification – National Award for SEN Coordination

Project title: Social Use of Language Play (SULP) and Lego Therapy Interventions supporting Personal, Social and Emotional development of a child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC). 

About Zoey: Zoey started her career as a classroom teacher, in a mainstream school and has taught for 13 years. In 2018, she took up the role of SENCO in her primary school. Over the years of teaching in a school consisting of high social deprivation and an above-average percentage of pupils identified as having special education needs, this was an area of interest which Zoey wished to pursue further. Zoey spent one year in the role of SENCO before embarking upon the NASENCO qualification with Real Training. The course enabled her to understand the legislation and frameworks that underpin special educational needs and the role of primary settings. The ‘Masters Assignment 3’ task gave her invaluable insight to explore how specific social communication interventions impact upon female pupils, with a diagnosed Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC). Subsequently, this informed Zoey’s assess, plan, do, review cycle, reviewing current internal practices and interventions beyond those targeted at pupils with an Autism diagnosis and adopt a consistency in delivery amongst all colleagues for optimum impact on pupils’.

Zoey said the following, “this study and course have not only supported me in reviewing internal practices to offer the ‘very best’ for pupils within my setting but to share my knowledge wider, as a whole school SEND reviewer”.

Masters Assignment 3: In this assignment, Zoey outlines the need for this research, accompanied by data evidence. Highlighting that the child of interest had made minimal progress in the area of Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED) over time. Zoey’s result showed that compared to the average child who is expected to make one-development matters band progress over three terms, Child A only made one-development matters band progress over seven terms. She also found using the Boxall Profile assessments method that Child A had the following priority areas of need: showing insightful involvement, accommodating others and showing inconsequential behaviour. From this, the recommendations for areas of focus were; exploring imaginative play, encouraging small group interactions, involving puppetry play, nurtured turn-taking through a practical, kinesthetic approach. 

Following this, a SEN support plan was devised, targeting the specific areas of need. Targets were specific, measurable, achievable and realistic. Zoey goes on to discuss, interventions used by professionals to assist children with Autism. She discusses; Social Stories, Lego Therapy and Social Use of Language Play (SULP). She goes on to explain that for Child A, Lego Therapy and SULP are most appropriate and reflective of Child A’s interests and needs. Further discussions, regarding the delivery of the chosen interventions and evaluation of its impact over the assessment period, were detailed.

What next?: As a result of the impact of the interventions the decision was made to continue with the program devised for the child until the end of the Spring Term. This was as a result of positive feedback from parents, the child’s enthusiasm, the progress made and to observe the impact of the programs over a longer period of time. In conclusion, Zoey highlights that practice-based evidence, as well as the exploration of the published literature, is fundamental to whether programs actually work for pupils. Completing a small scale study, evaluating impact and then transferring these learnt ‘what works’ for pupils to the whole school, will benefit more pupils in their settings over time. 

Priyadarshana Shah MEd SEND - Enquiry-based SEND Practice

Delegate name: Priyadarshana Shah

Course: Enquiry-based SEND Practice

Qualification achieved: MEd in SEND

Project title: An account of an enquiry-based practice on the mathematical resilience of high school students with an individual education plan

About Priyadarshana: Priyadarshana completed her BSc (Hons) Psychology in the UK in 1993 and wanted to become an educational psychologist after that. At the time, individuals had to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and a minimum of 2 years teaching before applying for a Masters in Educational Psychology. Thus, Priya became a teacher and loved it! She has now been teaching since 1997. She started off teaching secondary mathematics in a private British community school in Kenya. She was also the SENCO from nursery to secondary for 7 years. In 2005, Priya joined her current school also in Kenya, as a high school math teacher as well as a learning support teacher. She has also worn the hat of an English as a second language (ESOL) teacher for a year at the school. Currently as a Learning Support Case Manager for grades 11 and 12, Priya was looking to gain a place on the British Psychological Society’s (BPS) Register for Qualified Test Users (RQTU). She found the Real Training CPT3A course online and was subsequently encouraged by her school to achieve the full masters. Priya’s research project has recently been published online by The International Educator newspaper, she also features on our delegate feedback page. If you would like to know more about her learning journey you can see this here.

Project Goals: Priya wanted to investigate how schools could develop resilience in math to tackle the issue of students who were struggling. In her research she asked 4 main questions, these were:

  1. How mathematically resilient are students with SEND?
  2. Does a course on how to learn math effectively support the development of mathematical resistance (MR)?
  3. What are the students’ perceptions of their own MR?
  4. What are the teachers’ perceptions of the MR of students?

Priya focused on high school students with an individualised education programme (IEP) from grades 9 to 12. Her other participants were parents, high school, and high school math teachers. From the students, 32 out of 33 were given permission to take part, the whole Learning Support (LS) team gave their consent to take part, administering the written tasks, questionnaires and intervention. Finally, the math department gave their consent to participate in the research – allowing observation of some of their classes, answering teacher scaling questions and writing reports on students.

Research Findings: You can see Priya’s findings to each of her questions below:

  1. How mathematically resilient are students with SEND?

It was predicted that the scores would be lower than the published research because of two barriers – their SEND and gaps in math skills and knowledge due to their status as ‘third culture kids’ (TCKs). However, this was not the case – in reality, the sample was comparably resilient to the normative sample of the research.

  1. Does the intervention support the development of MR?

 Yes, the sample was somewhat mathematically resilient to start with, albeit, the intervention has generally developed their MR positively.

  1. What are the students’ perceptions of their own MR?

Immediately after the intervention, student perception on a scaling question ranged from 3 to 10. The most frequently occurring score (mode) is 7. This is an indication that students perceived their MR as good.

  1. What are the teachers’ perceptions of the MR of students?

Priya found there to be mixed results. Pre-intervention there was support in acknowledging that students with an IEP need help in math and struggle. However, the maths teachers’ reports on students were varied. Alongside this, there was some indication that grades are not a good measure of MR and tell nothing to students and parents of their MR.

Overall, Priya found that the Stanford University free online course ‘How to Learn Math: For Students’ made a positive impact on the MR of students with an IEP in her setting. As a result of Priya’s research, the school’s action plan will prepare all students to learn math effectively by becoming mathematically resilient.

Jo Johnson MEd SEND - Enquiry-based SEND Practice

Delegate name: Jo Johnson

Course: Enquiry-based SEND Practice module

Qualification achieved: MEd in SEND

Project title: An evaluation of STLS collaborative teacher coaching on school capacity for meeting the needs of learners with SEN

About Jo: Jo started her career as a speech and language therapist and worked in both mainstream and special schools. After qualifying as a teacher in an SLCN Specialist Resource Provision, worked as an outreach teacher in mainstream schools and as a SENCO. Following that she took up a role in the Specialist Teaching and Learning Service (STLS) with Kent County Council as a specialist teacher for cognition and learning and continues to support pupils in local mainstream primary and secondary schools. Jo is also the author of ‘Sounds into Words’, a Language For Learning resource designed to support differentiation of the Letters & Sounds Literacy programme for pupils with Speech, Language and Communication Needs. The Enquiry based SEND practice module gave Jo the opportunity to explore how mainstream teachers can best be supported by specialists such as STLS to adopt a wider range of whole-class inclusive teaching strategies. This allowed her to develop an innovative approach to working with schools using the principles of Lesson Study and peer coaching. She has been invited to present her project at the Inclusive and Supportive Education Conference (ISEC) ‘Closing the Research to Practice Gap’ in 2021. 

Project goals: The project research aimed to explore the extent to which collaborative teacher coaching builds capacity in schools to meet the needs of learners with SEN. In a collaborative classroom, teachers combine their strengths to work together, coach one another and provide the best possible environment for their students.

Joanna considered four main research questions during her project;

  1. How does collaborative teacher coaching develop Senco confidence and effectiveness as a contributor to the development of Quality First Teaching (QFT) for SEN?
  2. Which aspects of collaborative teacher coaching are most useful to teachers?
  3. To what extent does collaborative teacher coaching improve pupil learning?
  4. To what extent is collaborative teacher coaching an effective and manageable way for STLS to deliver training to develop QFT for SEN in schools?

Across three primary schools in Key Stage 2, six focus pupils with SEN were identified along with a ‘team around the class’ which consisted of the class teacher, a second teacher from the same school and the SENCO.

Research findings: Jo organised her findings under three questions;

  • How does collaborative teacher coaching develop SENCO confidence and effectiveness as a contributor to the development of Quality First Teaching for SEN? 

Jo found that the project provided the framework, time and opportunity for SENCOs to re-engage with the classroom and share their expertise more effectively with teachers. SENCOs unanimously agreed that they had found the Project’s focus on pupil learning rather than teacher practice extremely helpful.

  • Which aspects of the collaborative teacher coaching process were most useful to teachers?

Prior to the project teachers expressed feelings of vulnerability about the slow progress and lack of engagement of their SEN pupils and described their learning as unpredictable and difficult to assess. Teachers were unanimously positive about the shift of the evaluative gaze away from them and onto the learning of their focus pupils.  “Having that focus on the teaching strategies is the one thing, one of the many things, but the one thing that is having an impact on their learning even now”.

  • To what extent does teacher coaching improve the learning of pupils with SEN in the classroom?

Data from lesson observations and work sampling showed improvement to pupil learning when appraised against the lesson objective and success criteria, as shown in Fig. 6:In one of the most powerful moments of the project, a class teacher remarked that it was the first time his focus pupil had been asked to write and not cried. 

  • To what extent is collaborative teacher coaching an effective and manageable way for STLS to deliver training to develop QFT for SEN in schools?

All the research data indicated that collaborative teacher coaching is an effective way for STLS to work and although initially appearing more time consuming, the time invested was comparable with a typical cycle of school visits over a year for one pupil – approximately 9 hours. From the STLS perspective therefore this model appears to offer a manageable alternative to individual casework while also building capacity in schools to teach inclusively.

Overall, this project had a positive impact on the learning of the focus pupils, increased the perceived effectiveness and confidence of the participants and offered a and manageable alternative model for STLS engagement with schools.

Bronwyne Van Zyl - MEd SEND - Enquiry-based SEND Practice

Delegate name: Bronwyne van Zyl

Course: Enquiry-based SEND Practice module

Qualification achieved: MEd in SEND 

Project title: Picture This! Spelling

About Bronwyne

Bronwyne van Zyl is an experienced Specialist Dyslexia Teacher with 17 years of international experience. She specialises in the fields of specific learning differences and academic assessment and has focused on empowering children with learning differences and building their confidence. She is the author of Picture This! Spelling, a pencil-free approach to effectively teach irregular word spelling using visualisations and mnemonics.  Fun, creative and effective, it has been proven to deliver results, increase self-esteem and academic progress.

She studied with Real Training in order to attain her Master’s degree in SEND, having started her learning journey with us by completing the CPT3A course, qualifying as a Test User and Access Arrangements Assessor. As part of her MEd SEND, she conducted research on tailored spelling intervention.

Project goals

The goals of Bronwyne’s project covered three research questions about the efficacy of spelling interventions across a variety of specific needs. The hypothesis was if spelling error trends are analysed and investigated and multisensory interventions are implemented targeting those errors, then hopefully we would begin to see an increase in spelling scores as well as an increase in confidence within the classroom.

The research questions were:

  • How can spelling interventions be tailored to target students specific needs based on set parameters and error trends?
  • How can we develop a more consistent approach to spelling with regards to the delivery of the intervention and in-class support, across years 1 – 3?
  • When spelling error trends are targeted within an intervention, do we see a holistic improvement with regards to confidence, skill and attainment within the classroom?

Research findings

The research was focused on Foundation stage 1 to year 3 at a British school in Dubai, which caters for children 3-18 years of age.

  • 94% of students showed improvement in obtained standardised scores from baseline to progress assessments.
  • 91% of students taking part in the research indicated an improvement in self-confidence between the start and end of the interventions.

Project impact

As a result of this research, the school identified spelling intervention as being in need of further investigation, and that baseline data could be used to identify students who needed support.

“Based on the research undertaken I further developed a spelling programme called Picture This! Spelling. The programme is an innovative pencil-free spelling programme that addresses irregular words and supports retention and recall through the use of visualisations and mnemonics.”

Picture This! Spelling has subsequently been published and has been awarded the British Dyslexia Association Assured Product Status, making it accessible to schools all over the world.

The programme has since been used by specialist teachers working with students who have severe to moderate learning barriers, as well as in Early Years education, English as an Additional Language and those learning English for the first time, further cementing its value within inclusive learning environments.

“I developed the programme based on my research and the 3 schools across which I work are all using it now and having great success. The students are motivated, engaged and progressing well.”

Bronwyne has been invited as a guest speaker at conferences and workshops across the UAE, as well as becoming a Specialist Assessor registered with the British Psychological Society. She remains passionate about “finding alternative methods of instruction to accommodate all her students, ultimately opening up possibilities for progress and achievement.”

Alison Szalay MEd SEND - Enquiry-based SEND Practice

Delegate name: Alison Szalay 

Course: Enquiry based SEND Practice module

Qualification achieved: MEd in SEND 

Project title: Top Banana: The IPEELL Approach

About Alison: With a background as an early years teacher, Alison had specialised in helping pupils with literacy difficulties. Alison previously worked as an advisory teacher for literacy and taught family literacy. As her career progressed, she specialised in teaching pupils with cognition and learning needs, particularly dyslexia, and now works as a specialist advisory teacher for a local authority and a SENCO. Having previously studied postgraduate qualifications in dyslexia and the National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO), Alison completed her MEd with us at Real Training. The Enquiry-based SEND Practice module gave Alison the opportunity to explore writing composition and metacognition in depth. It informed a better understanding of how to target writing composition and led to the opportunity for Alison to work as a trainer for the National Literacy Trust, and to study the area in more depth through a PhD.

Project goals: This enquiry focuses on researching the impact of a metacognitive writing intervention, known as IPEELL. This is a mnemonic for ‘Introduction, Point, Explanation, Ending, Links, Language’ to target compositional skills for a group of key stage two pupils with special educational needs (SEN). The project aimed to discover the impact of the intervention on three main elements; writing composition, attitudes toward writing and pupils’ metacognition about writing

Alison considered four main questions when approaching her research:

  1. How do pupils feel about writing?
  2. What do the pupils know about how to improve their writing and how to be a writer?
  3. What impact does the intervention have on the pupils’ writing composition? 
  4. What are the resulting implications for school?

To answer these questions Alison carried out the following steps in her project:

  • Identifying a group of key stage two pupils attaining below age-related expectations in writing 
  • Finding out more about the pupils’ understanding of their own learning in relation to writing 
  • Developing and implementing a writing intervention over a five-week period
  • Evaluating the impact of the intervention and identifying implications for the pupils and school

Research findings: In line with the four questions highlighted above, the findings for this project were divided into sections. 

First of all, Alison looked to understand how the intervention impacted the five pupils’ attitudes towards writing

  • There was some impact noted, with four or five pupils talking more positively about writing in the post-intervention interview. 

The second finding looked at pupils’ knowledge of how to improve their writing and be a writer

  • The evidence suggested that the project had some positive impact on the pupils’ knowledge of this, with indications of increased metacognitive knowledge and control post-intervention. The data suggested that pupils knew more about the features of writing composition, talked about their own actions when writing and used their metacognitive knowledge about writing by applying the target writing features.

Thirdly, Alison’s findings surrounding the impact on the pupils’ writing composition showed the following:

  • All five pupils applied more features of writing composition in their independent writing post-intervention, indicating that the intervention had made a positive impact on their progress.

Alison created a bar graph to show the comparison of each area pre and post-project, you can see this below:

Project impact at school: 

As part of Alison’s project she also considered what the resulting implications for the school were. She highlights that “given the evidence base that the school now has, an intervention using this model should be considered for other pupils who experience difficulties with writing composition. It will be important to adapt the writing focus and features so that they are appropriate for their age and learning level.”  

Alison created an action plan to be carried out in the school in the six months following her project implementation. The main outcome was the delivery of ‘Top Banana’ as an intervention to target improved writing, delivered by teaching assistants, with class teachers remaining responsible for high-quality whole-class teaching.

In conclusion, Alison states “In addition to my own professional development, this enquiry has built on and developed practice at school”. 

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