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Kasia Suchocka – Speech, Language and Communication Needs

An Interview with Kasia Suchocka – Speech, Language and Communication Needs

Kasia works as a Primary EAL Teacher in a British International School in Poland. She has recently completed our Speech, Language and Communication Needs – Skills & Knowledge module. This module carries 30 credits on our MEd SEND programme and is a great starting block toward either a PGCert, PGDip or MEd in SEND. Kasia has special interests in Dyslexia and Dyscalculia, hoping to learn more about them in the future. We had a chat with Kasia about how she found her time studying with us, you can see what she had to say below.

What made you choose Real Training over other options?

I heard about Real Training from my line manager who also started out by completing the SLCN module. She enjoyed it so much, in fact, that she went on to complete the full MEd in SEND with Real Training. 

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

At first, I was a bit worried that as a postgraduate course, it would be too academic but it turned out to be the most practical training at level 7 that I have ever done. It was intellectually challenging but closely linked to practice. Meaning I could apply my knowledge straightaway. Communication with my tutor was very efficient, she would reply to my emails literally within hours! Campus Online was very interactive with lots of opportunities to share ideas and learn from one another. I truly recommend Real Training. 

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

The course has helped me to raise teachers awareness of SLCN. Alongside this, my profiling template has been adopted by our inclusion department. 

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 deepened my knowledge about SLCN and better understood how to differentiate between EAL and SLCN. Thanks to the collaboration with SLT and other SEN staff, I learnt how to support children with additional learning needs. I hope to make a positive impact on SEN assessment practice in my current school. 

Living with Aspergers – an interview with SEN professional Beverley Williams

Beverley Williams is one of our delegates here at Real Training. She has had an expansive career, influencing the lives of many young people with SEN. Not only has Beverley completed multiple courses with Real Training and gained a vast amount of professional knowledge through SEN and safeguarding roles, but she was also diagnosed with Aspergers at around 50 years old. We thought it would be useful to share Beverley’s story, not only for those delegates looking to have an impact but also for those with Aspergers who may be looking for some advice. 

Discussing Beverley’s early life, there was a common challenge that she faced almost every day – being able to build meaningful friendships and understanding how to behave in certain social situations. During her time at primary and secondary school, Beverley found herself feeling exhausted by social politics. Something she also experienced in some of her job roles in later life. She acknowledges her personal daily struggle with this and now understands this to be part of her Aspergers. Explaining how she felt after her diagnosis regarding those social challenges, Beverley said “it has been really releasing on a personal level… I don’t feel I need to explain things to other people but it explains to me why I find situations hard”. Since her diagnosis, Beverley has felt a lot more confident in building relationships, explaining that now she knows what she is going to find tricky, she can prepare herself and put certain strategies in place to help her deal with different situations. 

I wanted to understand a little more about how Beverley thinks her experiences in early life influenced her approach whilst working with SEN children. She explained that she has always resisted stereotyping young people and children by their diagnosis. She explains that not everybody with the same diagnosis has the same limitations, behaviours and challenges. Her focus remains on the individual and she is highly conscious of the social isolation of SEN children, constantly working to combat this. Through her work, Beverley has noticed her ability to acknowledge each individual, recognising those who are on the edge of the social group and understanding that they may be happy there. Highlighting that this approach is strongly influenced by her experiences.

Following her own diagnosis, I wanted to know if Beverley felt her approach was influenced or changed in any way. Beverley explained the biggest alteration was a new awareness of females, acknowledging the likelihood of masking – not just Aspergers but all kinds of challenges. She feels this made her look more deeply into triggers and behaviours and spending more time getting to know each individual. 

Beverley’s learning journey with Real Training has seen her complete CCET and NASENCO. She is also currently working on the Autism Spectrum Conditions module. After gaining knowledge through her lived experiences with Autism and her varying professional pathway, Beverley continues to expand her knowledge. When asked about her time studying with us Beverley said My NASENCO tutor was fantastic. I explained about my Aspergers and she was really supportive. That gave me quite a lot of confidence to go onto the next course. I acknowledge that her support helped me to keep going and gave me the encouragement I needed. I never felt that she was making allowances nor do I think she was, but I did feel my tutor had an understanding of how I work best.”

I asked Beverley to provide us with some of her top tips, not only for other delegates working with SEN children but also for young people with Autism, highlighting the kinds of things she wishes she knew in her younger years. Although Beverley had not yet been diagnosed while she herself was at school she now understands, through her diagnosis, why she found school hard. You can see her top tips below.

Beverley’s Top Tips for working with SEN children

  1. Don’t stereotype people on the Autistic Spectrum, they are as individual as everyone else.
  2. Provide a range of strategies to mirror the range of people.
  3. Give students the opportunity to work in a calm area, avoiding sensory overload. Always tailor these strategies to their individual needs and preferences.
  4. Look for those on the edge of the group who don’t feel they fit into any specific group.
  5. Focus on an individual’s interests and strengths and then build these into your learning strategies for them. In my experience, people on the Autistic Spectrum are more likely to be engaged in their learning if you encourage them to go deeper with specific interests instead of broadening their general knowledge.
  6. Understand, if you can, that what is important to you may be totally irrelevant to someone on the Autism Spectrum and they, therefore, may not see the point in learning about some things, which may seem trivial and pointless to them.
  7. It is often exhausting for children on the Autism Spectrum to comply with expectations. If they comply at home, they might not have the energy to comply at school and vice versa. Provide opportunities for the individual to restore and refresh using whatever strategies work for them- don’t make assumptions about what these are.

Beverley’s Top Tips for young people in education with Autism

  1. It’s ok to be different, everyone is!
  2. You don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not. It’s exhausting.
  3. Find a teacher or other member of staff you can talk to.
  4. Ask for a quiet area you can go to if you need to take a break from the noise or light, etc. If you feel embarrassed to ask for this perhaps you could find a ‘job’ you need to do.
  5. Don’t let people ‘pigeon-hole’ you or put you ‘in-a-box’ to fit their expectations.
  6. It’s ok to make a mistake because it’s all part of learning. Getting something wrong isn’t a failure, it simply means you have learned something new.

Andy Kingdon – CCET Intensive (Campus Live)

An Interview with Andy Kingdon – CCET Intensive

Andy recently took part in our CCET Intensive, January 2021 event. These events are usually held in various locations across 3 intensive learning days. Under the current circumstances, they are taking place intensively online via Campus Live. Andy works as a Learning Support Teacher and SpLD literacy intervention teacher for an independent school in Devon. In regard to SEND he has special interests in Dyslexia and behaviour. Read on to see what Andy had to say about his time studying on our CCET Intensive course and his plans for the future.

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

I had colleagues at work who had also completed this course with Real Training. Thanks to their suggestion that this would be a good fit for what I needed, I went ahead and booked with Real Training as well.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

Firstly, the course was well run during the three-day intensive online learning. All three days were very intense but the delivery was brilliant and there was plenty of time built in to talk to other participants on the course and reflect upon the learning. Completing the three-day intensive course and completing the work set in the evenings helped to cement my understanding. Secondly, after the three-day part of the course, the support I was given from my tutor was brilliant. He replied to my emails very quickly and often marked my work within 24 hours, providing insightful feedback.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

Thanks to my completion of the CCET Intensive course, I am now able to test all the pupils I teach. I am now actively doing this and assisting in making helpful judgements on what support they require. 

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?

Since completing CCET, I am now looking to continue my learning journey by enrolling on the AAC course. After this, I would like to look into becoming an Accredited Level 5 Dyscalculia and Maths Learning Difficulties Teacher.

Monique Van Zyl – iSENCO

An Interview with Monique Van Zyl – iSENCO

Monique currently teaches English Literature and Studio Art at an IB International School in Beijing, China. She has a keen interest in SEND but more specifically in Social Emotional Mental Health (SEMH). Completing her iSENCO qualification with us in 2021, Monique has now gone on to start our SEMH module as part of our MEd in SEND programme. Monique talks a little more about her learning experience with Real Training and why she has chosen to study further with us below.

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

Real Training was recommended by a friend who had completed the course a few years ago. This program suited me because of the variety of options available to make up the master’s degree. The timing of the course was also very flexible and I appreciated the option of finishing modules sooner than the scheduled submission dates.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training? 

The support during the iSENCO module was incredible. Feedback happened much faster than I expected, and genuine efforts were made throughout to assist me during the tasks. As my teaching setting does not have a SEND department, I started this course with very little knowledge or experience in this area, but my tutor carefully guided me through my initial insecurities. The platform is intuitive and easy to use, which was quite different from what I had experienced before when studying with online universities.  

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

The insight provided by the iSENCO course has been invaluable, not just for my own practice, but for my entire school setting. I have been able to share new ideas and practices that have had a direct positive impact on our learners. They have also been able to guide teaching staff to implement these strategies in their own classrooms. Although we are still a long way off from implementing the most up to date SEND policies in our school, with the help of Real Training’s iSENCO course, I have been able to persuade management to start improvements.

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?

As an educator, I have been able to grow in my understanding of SEND structures and the accompanying whole-school implementations thereof. Before the iSENCO course, I was unaware of the intricacies involved in running a SEND department, and I have a much more in-depth knowledge and understanding regarding the lack thereof in my setting. I am now, instead of finding fault and assigning blame to various departments, able to assist department heads in finding ways to support their pupils, usually by finding alternate and creative solutions to do so.

I believe, as a future iSENCO, the creative problem-solving skills gained through this course will help me assist and support both teachers and students better than any other program I previously considered. I look forward to stepping into a new career with Real Training as my guide.

 

Stephen Oswald – CPT3A

An Interview with Stephen Oswald – CPT3A

When Stephen moved to the UK he sought ways of expanding his experience in primary and secondary teaching. He found working with young people post 16 was a refreshing challenge. He is currently a Specialist Assessor and SENCo at a large multicultural sixth form college in south-east London and Kent. 

What made you choose Real Training over other options? 

When the college where I worked was taken over by a large collegiate early in 2013, more specialist assessors were needed as soon as possible. My senior colleague recommended Real Training for their efficiency, adding that I could qualify within a year. 

 

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

My colleague’s advice was sound. As soon as funds were available, I applied for CPT3A and finished this course ahead of schedule. Not long after qualifying, JCQ stipulated that the assessor’s qualification must be at level 7 and should reflect 100 hours of practical input.  It was really helpful when Real Training re-issued my certificate in 2015 – with a supporting letter-  to confirm that these requirements indeed have been met.

Throughout all courses with Real Training, I really benefited from the prompt formative feedback on submitted work. The online programmes are easy to navigate, and progress can be self-monitored instantly. It is impossible to miss a component, which actually did happen when I followed another course with a different provider – luckily, they gave me some extension…

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

My CPT3A course has helped me to appreciate that a substantial number of young people in every cohort need an extra depth of understanding and guidance. For that reason, I continued studying ASD and Dyslexia at Post-Graduate Diploma level. This extension has helped greatly in finding ways of making ILP’s and EHCP’s work as secondary school pupils transfer through to sixth-form. Annually, I take care of around 45 EHCP reviews across sites.

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?

Real Training has better equipped me for my role as a Specialist Assessor and SENCo. Per year I have meetings and administer assessments with over 300 students across sites. It is very rewarding playing a small part in the students’ progress and assisting them in overcoming obstacles – always realising that ultimately it is their endeavour that sees them through in triumph. 

Real Training has also prepared me to lead insets and training – to new teaching staff in particular. About meeting the needs of students with disabilities, learning difficulties and EAL. I have also been able to specialise in writing and illustrating training material for in-house use, aiming for the greatest clarity possible, through brevity, logic and humour. 

At present, most work in Additional Learning Support is done via video-link. This has for me only been possible thanks to a solid basis of practice-based training and application of skills in real-life pre-Covid, and I look forward to a safe opening up of society and really see our students back again.  

How TAs can best support pupils’ SEMH needs

The implementation of evidence-based SEMH interventions by teaching assistants

In a recent webinar for the Federation of British Schools in Asia (FOBISIA), Real Training Educational Psychologist Dr. Hannah Fairall discussed the implementation of evidence-based Social, Emotional & Mental Health (SEMH) interventions by Teaching Assistants (TAs). The topics covered included how the rise of teaching assistants can be leveraged to deliver crucial support to pupils with SEMH needs, how universal targeted and specialist evidence-based approaches can be used to deliver targeted interventions in the classroom on a 1:1 or small group basis, and the importance of effective implementation.

With the current pandemic, SEMH needs amongst school-aged children have become a central concern, addressing issues such as anxiety, depression, isolation, and grief management. Even prior to this, 1 in 10 pupils aged 5-16 suffer from a clinically significant mental health illness, and 1 in 7 have less severe problems that nonetheless interfere with their development and learning.

The rise of Teaching Assistants, and how to maximise their impact

The rise of Teaching Assistants in classrooms has been meteoric since 2000, with 35% of staff in primary schools and 15% of staff in secondary schools being TAs in 2015. This rise, coupled with the governmental efforts to raise educational standards and reduce teacher workloads, leads naturally to the question of how to effectively leverage this workforce, particularly in the field of SEN. Blatchford et al (2015) found lower levels of progress amongst pupils receiving most support from TAs. The proposed explanation was that TA resource was not being effectively utilised, possibly because TAs were used as an alternative to ‘teacher time’, and that those with greatest need were often taught by the least qualified to do so.

Interventions for supporting SEMH and the three-tiered structure

According to Carroll & Hurry (2018), there are three ‘tiers’ of approach when it comes to SEMH support within schools:

Carroll & Hurry, (2018)

  1. Universal – whole-school initiatives which foster an environment of emotional wellbeing; for all students
  2. Targeted – small group or one-to-one support inside or outside of the classroom; for some students
  3. Specialist – intensive one-to-one which can involve contact with professionals from different agencies; for few students

Universal Interventions

Universal initiatives are those such as the PACE model, developed by Dr Daniel Hughes. This aims to enable staff to engage with children who have experienced neglect, abuse and trauma. Although there is little research of its use in isolation, there is considerable practice-based evidence from parents, staff and professionals of its use as part of a wider intervention.

The PACE model contains four elements:

The PACE Model (Dr. Daniel Hughes)

Another possible universal-level intervention is mindfulness. The aim of this is to learn to be aware of thoughts and bodily sensations in order to be able to better cope with daily emotions and challenges. This has shown promising impacts on wellbeing, aspects of cognition, physical health, and academic grades.

Targeted Interventions

Targeted, one-on-one or small group interventions, delivered by TAs, have the potential to deliver tangible positive effects on the mental health of children in the classroom. Six evidence-based interventions are discussed:

Emotional Literacy Support Assistant Training (ELSA) – This training enables TAs to deliver 1:1 or small group interventions in several areas of need, including managing emotions, social skills, and bereavement. This covers all age groups.

The Homunculi Approach – this flexible cognitive behavioural therapy is a 10-week programme and seeks to identify emotions and social situations to build social and emotional resilience. This can be especially appropriate for children who have high-functioning ASD.

LEGO-based Therapy – here, children work collaboratively to create models. This approach works well with ASD or other social communication difficulties at primary and secondary levels.

Nurture Groups – supported by two members of staff, groups of between 6 and 12 spend part of the school day in a nurture group setting. This has been seen to have a positive impact on emotional, behaviour, and learning.

Circle of friends – a support network developed around individuals in the school community that helps with social skills and friendships. There is evidence this approach has positive benefits, which are likely impacted by teacher attitudes, classroom climate and school ethos.

CBT Programme approaches – Books such as ‘Starving the Anger’, ‘Gremlin’ and ‘Think Good Feel Good’ are widely available, and help children to understand emotions and physical responses. The efficacy of CBT is supported by a strong evidence base.

The importance of implementation

Dr Fairall points out that understanding the implementation of these approaches is key. Implementation is the process by which an intervention is put into practice, and concerns what an intervention consists of when delivered and thus the enactment by school staff. This highlights the importance of proper training for educational staff involved in this implementation. Implementation is linked strongly to the intervention’s outcomes, thus the chances of success.

SEMH needs

Educational Endowment Foundation (2019)

The process is four-fold. It begins with identifying the priority and exploring the available practices to best address this within the school setting. After this adoption decision, a clear, logical plan is outlined and the readiness of the school to deliver is considered and staff and infrastructure prepared. Once delivery has begun, implementation data is used to drive adoption and adaptation, reinforcing initial training with follow-on support to solve problems that might arise. Finally, the stable use of the intervention is established, scaling up begins, and good implementation practices are rewarded.

 

Finding the optimal conditions through which to deliver effective implementation is key. School staff must be aware and committed to the intervention. Those delivering the intervention must be properly supported through the process. Additionally, the wider ethos and climate of the setting must be conducive to the intervention being implemented effectively.

Furthermore, research from Humphrey (2013) suggests three elements that influence outcomes of SEMH interventions:

  • Participant reach is crucial for equality of access to interventions. Educational settings should consider how students are referred, and that the correct interventions are available to all those who could benefit from them.
  • Fidelity is the extent to which critical components of a programme are present. This may manifest itself in such ways as schools adapting interventions to suit their setting, which can lead to positive outcomes for students.
  • The number of sessions, much like a medicinal dosage, should be sufficient to encourage the intended positive outcomes. Those schools that deliver the required number of sessions achieve better outcomes than those who do not.

Implementation of Emotional Literacy Support Assistant Training (ELSA) (Fairall, 2020)

Finally, Dr. Fairall presented her own doctoral project on the implementation of the ELSA programme. It was found that schools can implement the programme in different ways, and there was a range of factors at different stages of implementation which supported effective implementation. 

An implementation resource has been created for schools, which draws on the findings of the present research in conjunction with implementation literature. This resource is aimed at Senior Leadership/SENCOs, and may also be discussed in conjunction with the ELSA. The resource aims to provide guidance and support specific to the stage of implementation the school are in. This resource can be adapted in light of further research into this area.

Conclusion

In summary, with the correct training, implementation, and support in the teaching space, TAs can be more than capable of delivering evidence-based SEMH-related interventions that have tangible positive effects on the pupils who take part. In line with the Educational Endowment Foundation guidance, TAs can be effectively used to deliver 1:1 targeted interventions, and are a largely untapped educational resource that can be better utilised for the betterment of the educational setting at large. It is possible to support student’s SEMH needs through the tiered approach, and TAs are a key part of the successful delivery of these interventions. In order to achieve the best results, it is important to school staff understand and are fully behind the interventions, and understand the practice behind effective implementation.

Find out more

You can find out more about this topic through our Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs SEND Programme module. Alternatively, our sister company Dyslexia Action has a short level 5 CPD course The Emotionally Connected Classroom. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@realgroup.co.uk or on +44 (0)1273 35 80 80 if you have any questions.

UK Children’s Mental Health Week & Leading Inclusivity

UK Children’s Mental Health Week & Leading Inclusivity

This week is UK Children’s Mental Health Week. Set up by children’s mental health charity Place2Be, it aims to bring to the national attention the importance of children and young people’s mental health. For 2021, the theme is ‘Express Yourself’’ and is all about finding ways to share feelings, thoughts, or ideas, through creativity. This could be through art, music, writing and poetry, dance and drama, photography and film, and doing activities that make you feel good. At a time of extreme mental and emotional stress for everybody, this can be an incredibly effective way to communicate difficult thoughts and feelings.

 

Understanding Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs within your educational setting

According to Place2Be, around one in three children in every primary school class has a mental health difficulty, and many others struggle with challenges including bullying and bereavement. In particular now in these unprecedented times, many will be dealing with issues they may not have faced before, such as isolation and loneliness, anxiety and depression. Having the theoretical understanding and practical skills to make a positive difference to young people with mental health challenges has become more vital than ever. Fortunately, these topics and more are covered in our module; Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs (SEMH). This 30 masters-level credits module is available as part of our Masters in Leading Inclusive Education (MALIE) Programme, and our Master of Education in Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (MEd SEND) programme.

 

SEMH & MALIE

MALIE is an exciting, distance-learning pathway for education professionals from all phases and settings, who wish to progress into leadership roles or to develop their leadership skills, in the crucial area of inclusion. Developing inclusive education practice to support the needs of all learners is one of the most important challenges facing education professionals today. After completing your mandatory Leadership of Inclusive Practice module, you are free to choose two from six 30 masters-credit modules, of which Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs (SEMH) is one. The MALIE Programme aims to develop your skills and confidence to enable you to lead inclusive practice in your setting, allowing you to create a safe, supportive learning environment for students with special mental health needs.

Our next MALIE cohort begins on 15 February, and we recommend registering as soon as possible to allow time to process your application and payment.

 

SEMH & MEd SEND

Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs (SEMH) is also available as a skills & knowledge module in our SEND programme, recently shortlisted for the BETT 2021 Award in the Special Educational Needs Solutions Category. This module has been designed to develop your understanding of social, emotional and mental health needs, understand the skills that you need to use to make a positive difference to your setting, and develop the essential knowledge of the latest policies, theories and research. Completion of this module along with the Evidence and Pedagogy for Inclusion module leads to the Postgraduate Certificate in SEND: Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs (60 credits), or you can take the 30 masters-level credits to work towards a the Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits) or MEd SEND (180 credits).

Our next SEND Programme cohort starts 15 May, but you can book today.

 

SEMH CPD Unit with Real Group’s Dyslexia Action – The Emotionally Connected Classroom

The Emotionally Connected Classroom is a Level 5 unit provides an understanding of the impact of emotions on the thinking brain and its implications for learning. It aims to provide an introduction to key elements of current research and practice in mentalisation theory (understanding the mental state of oneself and others) and emotional coaching. The importance of connectedness and relationships is emphasised throughout.

This unit is suitable for TAs or those without a degree, as well as educational professionals looking for a shorter course. Like the MEd and MALIE modules above, this unit is delivered through our online learning platform Campus Online.

Our next cohort starts 17 March. For more information on this course or to book your place, please click here.

If you have any further questions or queries about any of these courses or qualifications, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on +44 (0)1273 35 80 80 or info@realgroup.co.uk and we will be happy to help.

Kirsty Ann Gibson – Speech, Language and Communication Needs

                            

An Interview with Kirsty Ann Gibson – Speech, Language and Communication Needs

Kirsty is currently working in an International School (IB) in Hong Kong. She is a primary classroom teacher for Year 3 pupils. Kirsty has a special interest in Speech, Language and Autism. She studied Speech, Language and Communication Needs with us at Real Training, one of our MEd in SEND programme modules. You can read a little more on Kirstys time with us below.

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

I like the manner in which the course is run. As a teacher, my schedule is very busy and unpredictable. With Real Training, you can work at your own pace. I also like the diverse range of modules that they offer. Most online Masters courses I looked at only offered training in Autism and Dyslexia. 

What was your experience of learning with Real Training? 

I found the tutor support to be exceptional. Janet always provided timely, constructive feedback. I have only been working with Sue for a few months, but she has been great too. The only stressful part of the course was trying to do the observations during COVID. I think that perhaps we could have been given videos to watch and analyse instead of trying to do everything over Zoom.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

After I complete the module in Speech, Language and Communication Needs, I met with a few colleagues to discuss my findings. Due to Coid, the groups were small, however, I did receive some positive feedback. From the teachers that attended, we were able to discuss and define the difference between EAL and SLCN. Often, many of our students are misdiagnosed. We also spoke about Wave 1 interventions, identifying what we were doing well and how we can improve. We also spoke about how we can train new teachers and what kind of support they might need in order to best support students with SLCN. During the presentation, teachers and learning enhancement staff discussed ways in which we can make our joint working environment better. 

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 feel more confident to identify and support students with SLCN and share my knowledge with other teachers. I hope to move into a learning enhancement teacher role when my masters is complete. 

Celia Mascher – iSENCO

 

An Interview with Celia Mascher – iSENCO

Celia is the Lead Special Needs Coordinator (SENCO) as a private school in Kenya and has recently completed our iSENCO qualification. Most of the children she works with are Kenyan nationals and come from within the local catchment area. The school’s primary section goes from grades 1-8 and they have around 200 pupils with about 20% of them on the Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) register. Celia has a particular interest in supporting children who are struggling with reading, read below to see what she thought of our iSENCO qualification.

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

A friend recommended Real Training to me. I was interested in doing an MEd in SEND and had already checked out a number of universities. I chose Real Training because I liked the practical aspects of the courses offered. I wanted to be able to apply my learning directly within a teaching context. When I first looked at the courses available, I must admit that I was interested in doing almost all of them! However, I had to narrow down my options. I started with the iSENCO course because I felt it would give me a solid foundation in the different areas to do with SEND. Going forward, I am still trying to decide which courses would be most beneficial. We have children in our school with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Down Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy as well as those with speech, language and communication needs and learning disabilities. I am trying to decide which course would help me best support these children. 

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

Overall, I found learning with Real Training positive and helpful. The iSENCO course gave me the chance to assess the procedures in my school through the lens of research-based evidence. As a result, I ended the course with many ideas on how to improve and develop SEND provision within my school. I really valued the practical aspects of the course. The placement in a different school was eye-opening. The school I visited was very different from the one I work in both in terms of the student body as well as the level and type of learning support offered. I gained helpful new insights on how to deliver SEND provision. Campus Online provides the forum where you can interact with other students as well as delve into the research library to find articles and books needed for the various assignments. I learned new ideas and different perspectives from others on the course. In general, I found it very beneficial to set aside time to do some research on areas to do with SEND. The various tasks and assignments broadened my thinking considerably. The tutor gave helpful feedback on the assignments and was willing to have a chat via Zoom when I needed extra clarification. It is important to remember that the tutor is there to give support where needed. However, as this is an online course students may need to be more proactive in asking for help than perhaps would be the case with an in-person university situation. It is true that working online can be a challenge and requires a high level of self-discipline to get through the course material. There is also a lot to cover within the course itself so it can feel overwhelming at times especially with the many other responsibilities in school. Despite the challenges, I learned a huge amount from the course and I am very glad I did it. 

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

Following the completion of iSENCO course, we decided as a SEND team to carry out a thorough audit of our school’s data management systems. We realised that there was a communication breakdown in some areas, which meant that the progress of children with SEND was not being tracked effectively. We are now in the process of setting up procedures to ensure that all aspects of SEND provision are better documented. This includes setting up a detailed provision map and establishing a clearer referral procedure than the one we had before. In addition, I have updated the schools SEND policy to reflect a graduated Assess, Plan, Do, Review approach to SEND provision. I have carried out a series of training sessions with all the teaching staff to ensure that everyone is aware of the changes. The overall goal is to improve the communication and sense of partnership between the SEND team and class teachers. So far, the new procedures have been positively received. 

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 iSENCO course has been a journey of discovery for me and has given me a lot more confidence in my role as a SENCO. I now feel able to assess the elements of SEND provision within my school and objectively review those areas that need to be developed or improved. I also feel more knowledgeable about how to build a team based on collaboration while focusing on each team members strengths. One of the key aspects of my role is to promote and deliver continued professional development (CPD) for teachers in the school. The teachers have asked for further training differentiation strategies in their lessons. This course has given me the tools and ideas to implement CPD with greater self-assurance. 

David Griffiths – NASENCO & CPT3A

 

An Interview with David Griffiths  – NASENCO & CPT3A

David completed the Certificate in Psychometric Testing, Assessment and Access Arrangements course (CPT3A) in 2019. He has since also completed our National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO). David is currently the SENCO of a secondary school in the Midlands, he has a keen interest in psychometric testing and SEND. Read below to see how David felt about his time studying both these courses with Real Training. 

What made you choose Real Training courses over other options? 

Real Training was recommended to me in a SENCO network meeting. I did some research on the course, assessment material and previous student experiences. Based on what I had read, it definitely sounded well organised and suitable for my learning style.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

Overall, it went above and beyond my expectations. I chose the intensive route to complete CPT3A. The face to face content was excellent and really useful. The tutors were supportive, knowledgable and friendly. Everything was explained clearly and I received excellent feedback. Whilst studying NASENCO I found my tutor was really helpful and encouraging throughout. I received clear and concise feedback, regarding how to approach each assignment and meeting the assignment criteria. I was undoubtedly impressed and have since recommended Real Training to all of my colleagues and friends. 

How have the courses helped make an impact at school? 

Completing the CPT3A qualification has allowed me to conduct psychometric testing for Examination Access Arrangements. Resulting in better support for the pupils and broadening my skill set within the school. 

How have the courses helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

Studying with Real Training has strengthened my knowledge of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. 

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