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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.

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

Delegate name: Bronwyne van Zyl

Course: Enquiry based SEND Practice module (final module of MEd SEND)

Qualification achieved: MEd 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 Masters degree in SEND, having started her learning journey with us by completing the CPT3A course, qualifying as an 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 around 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 delivery of 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

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 (final module of MEd SEND)

Qualification achieved: MEd 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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