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An Interview with Karen Goulden

Karen Goulden – CPT3A and DPRW

Karen currently works as a Specialist Teacher for the Dyslexia Outreach Service, her main area of interest is Dyslexia. Currently based at a secondary school, Karen’s role entails devising support plans for pupils aged 5 to 18 from across Norfolk. Karen has completed CPT3A and DPRW with us, so we caught up with her to see what she had to say about both courses.

What made you choose Real Training over other options?

I have completed a range of courses over the last five years but I find the Real Training courses the most practical and accessible. The layout of their online platform, Campus Online, is easy to navigate. Relevant support materials were available at every stage and the information was always up to date. I also found it easy to monitor my own progress throughout the course, seeing what work had been completed and what was left to finish. This kept me focused and motivated.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training? 

The courses have been very practical and completely related to my line of work. All tasks and assignments were relevant. My tutor was very responsive and I loved the access to the library and chat forums. It was also helpful to be able to refer to the work of previous delegates for guidance.

How do you think the course will impact your school?

Obtaining my APC will give schools and parents confidence in the reports that they receive. Thanks to my time on both courses I will also feel more confident about those reports. Furthermore, I have been able to share lots of information from the course with my colleagues, for example; the most relevant tests to use, the length of time we should spend on an assessment and creating our own assessment framework.

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

Completing the course has improved my confidence in the work I do. Secondly being able to share information with colleagues has led to greater consistency in the team’s report writing. It has certainly made me a more reflective practitioner. I look forward to obtaining my APC but irrespective of this, my overall understanding in putting together all the elements involved in diagnosing Dyslexia has been improved.

Top Tips from 4 Educational Professionals







During the summer holiday, we often like to take the time to reflect and catch up with some of our past delegates – educational professionals from a wide range of settings and locations worldwide. Throughout August, on our Real Training social media platforms, we shared some of their top tips around best practice for special educational needs (SEN) and inclusion in schools.  

We think their tips provide other educators with invaluable advice and insight into how best to support all children and young people in educational settings. In case you missed those posts, you can find all of the top tips together below and on our Twitter and Facebook pages. If you have any tips you would add, please add some comments on the posts.

Working with children with SEN – Beverley Williams 

  1. Don’t stereotype people on the autistic spectrum
  2. Avoid sensory overload but always tailor strategies to the individual’s needs
  3. Look out for those who don’t feel they fit into any specific group
  4. Understand, they may find it difficult to learn about things that are not of interest to them
  5. Provide opportunities for individuals to restore and refresh using whatever strategies work for them – and never assume what these may be

Ensuring inclusivity within your school – Taneisha Pascoe-Matthews

  1. Create strong communication and collaboration between families, schools and other stakeholders
  2. Implement up-to-date policies and leadership adhering to both the Children and Families Act (2014) as well as the SEN Code of Practice (2015)
  3. Ensure staff have the necessary training and attitude toward inclusivity
  4. Encourage peer support and a sense of belonging this will improve wellbeing and ensure a sense of inclusion
  5. Implement a pupil-centered approach focusing on individual needs

Discussing SEN with parents – Dorthe Allen

  1. Be open and honest when you explain your observations and how the school can provide support
  2. Show parents that you are there to support their child both academically and pastorally
  3. Communicate clearly and meaningfully, avoiding jargon and technical terminology
  4. Be well prepared and show parents any reports, screener results and teacher observation documents that help to demonstrate the student’s need(s)
  5. Discuss strategies for school and home that will support and nourish the student

Working with children with EAL – Nicholas Wilding

  1. Develop relationships by meeting students and parents at the point of admissions and begin to build a student profile from a wide range of data
  2. Adopt the ‘All Teachers are English Teachers’ approach, providing staff with training and skills to develop the resources needed to support language needs
  3. Implement ongoing assessment and effective use of data to track progress
  4. Upon graduation, clear assessment and graduation expectations should be shared with all stakeholders
  5. Post-graduation, students and staff are supported through resources and in-class support with families informed of their child’s successes and targets

If you have any questions relating to any of the top tips in this article, please get in touch via social media, our website or email us – info@realgroup.co.uk.

An Interview with Samantha Blackwood

Samantha Blackwood – NASENCO

Samantha works at a primary school in South Shields as the SENCO. Her special interest area of SEND is Autism. This is due to a noticeable increase in the number of students being diagnosed. Samantha is also interested in Dyslexia and Social, Emotional and Mental Health. Having completed the National Award for SEN Coordination with us earlier this year, you can see what Sarah had to say below. 

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

I chose this course because I was really keen on being able to do work in my own time. I needed something flexible that could fit in with my busy work and home life. Real Training really appealed to me as it offered exactly this. I had also seen lots of recommendations on Facebook SEND groups, explaining how easy it was to follow and that support was great.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

The course fully met my expectations. I felt supported throughout and really loved the flexibility element. I found the way the course was structured very good. The layout of the module page was also easy to follow and use. I was supported throughout by the tutor and found the messaging tool very useful. The support from other students was great and I really liked the tasks where we were encouraged to comment on each other’s discussions. I really loved the bar at the top of the page, a great visual tool to allow me to ‘see’ how I was progressing. 

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

The course has helped me to better understand SEND and the role of the SENCO. The modules have allowed me to identify the strengths of SEND in my setting and the areas of development. Creating an action plan was the best activity for me as it allowed me to prioritise areas to work on over the next year in the most effective way. I have already delivered some training to all staff on the Graduated Approach. I had a much better understanding of this after working through the modules. Meaning I felt very confident to deliver the training. Prior to the course, I would not have felt so confident with the topic. Clearly, I have learned a lot through the reading and research tasks that were set.

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?

It has helped me enormously. The leadership module strengthened my leadership skills. I feel the course has also led me to be successful in gaining the Deputy Head Role – which I will be starting this September. 


An Interview with Sadie Wilkinson

Sadie Wilkinson – CCET Intensive

Sadie currently works as a Science Teacher and is on secondment in the SENCo role. Earlier this year, she completed our CCET qualification and is now completing AAC. Working in a selective secondary school in Lincolnshire, Sadie has always had an interest in SEND. Her sister attended a special needs school and Sadie has worked in one since completing her Human Biology Degree.

Looking to the future, Sadie hopes to undertake the SENCo course, expanding her knowledge of SEN. Below, Sadie tells us a little bit about her time studying with Real Training, so far.

What made you choose Real Training over other options?

I had been looking at completing the CCET and AAC courses for a while and did my research into the costs and how to go about completing these courses. Real Training was a provider that came up a number of times during my research and I was intrigued as to what they had to offer. After reading up on how Real Training delivers the courses, what was included and the costs, I knew it would be the right choice for me.

Furthermore, recommendations from people on a forum I am part of also helped me decided to choose Real Training. It was important for me to know I could complete the work whilst in full-time employment – another factor in my decision.

In terms of course content, the ability to identify different tests and know which ones to use and when was vital. Everything I needed was available through Real Training.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

The course exceeded my expectations. I really enjoyed the 3-day intensive online option where I had a chance to meet other people who were just as new to this as me. We were split into smaller groups at times and asked to complete smaller tasks together and then re-joined the whole group to give feedback. It wasn’t 3 days of just listening to the presenters. We could ask questions at any point and the presenters were really helpful in providing us with the information.

Campus Online is so easy to use. The tasks are all laid out clearly and you can see what you need to do and how you need to do it. All work is uploaded onto here and you can contact your tutor at any time to ask for help. Feedback from your work is clearly given and you can see what you need to do to improve if needed.

My tutor was extremely supportive. My work was marked promptly, giving me time to make any amendments where necessary. I really enjoyed the course and feel I learned a lot from it. I will be looking to complete further courses with Real Training in the future and I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone else.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

This course, and my completion of AAC, will make a huge impact on our school. Being the only member of staff holding this qualification at present I will be able to promptly assess any students who require it without having to wait for the specialist assessor.

We currently pay for an external specialist assessor to come in and assess our students, having me in school able to do this will greatly reduce the wait time and cost, and give the SENCo relevant information on these students as quickly as needed.

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 given me a great deal of knowledge in educational testing. I feel confident in knowing which assessments to carry out and how to interpret the findings from these tests.

With my new knowledge and skills, I hope to be able to work alongside our SENCo department and support the school. Identifying students for assessment, assessing them, and then establishing how best to support these students through their years at our school is something I feel strongly about.

An Interview with Lisa Pongpiriyaporn

Lisa Pongpiriyaporn – SEND Programme

Lisa works as the K-12 ELL Coordinator at The KAUST IB School in Saudi Arabia. Explaining her special interests in SEND, Lisa said;

“Within a RtI framework, I’m interested in how schools create a robust tier 1 approach to differentiate and scaffold language and learning, reducing the need for tier 2 intervention. Current research around the science of reading and the impact of instruction on how children learn to read also interests me. Alongside, culturally responsive design for English Language Learners and developing intercultural competence within school faculty. Our school is currently using Universal Design for Learning as an approach and planning for learner variability is interesting to me”.

Having completed CPT3A, Cognition & Learning and Psychology for Education at Real Training, we wanted to catch up with Lisa to see how she found her time.

What made you choose Real Training courses over other options?

Real Training offers a range of courses that suited both my professional goals and my preference for flexible study. I like to determine my own study pathway, as I balance many professional and personal interests. Studying with Real Training has enabled me to do this, which means the study can be enjoyable rather than stressful.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

The study platform is accessible and well-structured with excellent support and guidance from tutors. As courses are contextualised in my current professional setting, I am able to explore relevant areas in-depth. This has benefitted my study but also my understanding and knowledge of the current research connected with my role.

How have the courses helped make an impact at school?

The course has definitely supported my professional growth and enabled me to be a more informed instructional coach and leader of teams. As an ELL Coordinator, part of a multidisciplinary student support team, I have a deeper understanding of my context and feel up-to-date with current research and evidence-based practices, meaning I feel better skilled to impact others.

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 increased and updated my knowledge and practice. I feel I can make better contributions and decisions at work. In the future, I aspire to lead a student support team.

An Interview with Sharon Drinkwater

Sharon Drinkwater – Social, Emotional and Mental Health

Recently, Sharon 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. 

Free 2021/2022 Access Arrangements Update (AAU) course confirmed

2021/22 Access Arrangements Update

The course is similar to last year’s in that there are two sections. The first section is an overview of the changes led by Nick Lait, Head of Examination Services at the JCQ. In the second section, there are further teaching exercises, videos of test reviews and MCQs which, if completed, give three hours of SASC accredited CPD*.

We are very happy to announce that our free 2021/2022 Access Arrangements Update (AAU) course has been confirmed, and is now available through Campus Online.

If you have already registered for previous years you will be able to access the new course via your Campus Online portal when it is released. If you have forgotten your log-in details, these can be reset automatically.

Whereas in the past the eligibility criteria for access to this update was a level 7 QTS-approved access arrangements qualification, this year, the free update is open to anyone in an educational setting with a professional interest in exam access arrangements, and this applies to both parts of the update. If you have any colleagues who you feel might be interested in this course, please feel free to share this email with them so they too can take advantage of this update.

Please note, this course is in no way a standalone qualification and does not in itself confer the right or ability to carry out access arrangements. If you wish to become qualified as an Access Arrangements Assessor, please follow the link for details of the Real Training CPT3A course.

*Please note, all activities in the second section will need to be completed to give you a certificate confirming 3 hours CPD and the SASC-accredited CPD hours for those that would find them relevant and useful.  

If you haven’t yet registered, you can gain free access by clicking the button below. Signing up takes a matter of seconds, with no lengthy booking forms involved. You can do this at any time.

Benefits of the free 2021/2022 Access Arrangements Update

Those registering for the free access arrangements update will:

  • Gain 3 SASC-accredited CPD hours upon completion*
  • Be fully up to date with the new JCQ guidelines and requirements for the academic year
  • Have access to a popular forum to ask questions of both peers and tutors about specific challenges
  • Be able to work through the course in their own time, as it is fully online
  • Have access to a certificate of completion

* Only applicable for those who hold a relevant QTS-approved level 7 Access Arrangements qualification

Book your place now in order to be completely up-to-date with the current guidelines for the coming academic year. Sign-up takes seconds.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at info@realgroup.co.uk, or call us on +44 (0)1273 35 80 80 and we’d be happy to help

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.

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