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An Interview with Aaron Pape

Interview with Aaron PapeAaron Pape – CPT3A

Aaron currently teaches Sociology at a Sixth Form College in Bexhill-On-Sea. Aaron completed the Certificate in Psychometric Testing, Assessment and Access Arrangement (CPT3A), which he was enrolled onto by his workplace. Aaron was happy to study with Real Training as his colleagues stated to him that it provided all the necessary elements to obtains the qualification needed.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training? 

Real training provided very good provision of guidance in how to navigate around the website and how to access the resources available to the delegates. The tutoring was also of a good standard, guiding myself on where to improve certain aspects of my work but also allowing myself to steer the ship of my own learning. Some of the tasks required were of a challenging nature, which was very good for academic and professional practice. The course met my expectations and I would recommend it to those wishing to pursue a career within the realms of SEN or access arrangements.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

Particularly with the AAC, it has allowed me to complete a Form 8 to the appropriate JCQ standards, which has helped the college with completing access arrangements.

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 am now aware of the immense testing and research that is undertaken to compile these psychometric tests. It has helped me in further my educational development early on in my career. I hope to further my knowledge in the subject area and help those members of staff who may have questions about exam concessions and JCQ regulations.

Lastly, what are the top 3 things you are looking to do within your setting, since completing the course?

1. Educating staff members of the requirements of exam concessions.

2. How to implement and write effective normal ways of working testimonials.

3. As a teacher myself, being more vigilant in students who may be entitled to exam concessions.

DfE grant funding announcement – how to apply for grant funding

Senior Mental Health Lead Training – how to apply for grant funding                                                        

senior mental health lead grant

The Department for Education (DfE) has just announced the next round of grant funding for senior mental health leads, for all state-funded schools and colleges in England. This article provides information on how to apply for grant funding for the Real Training Senior Mental Health Leadership courses.

We are pleased to share that further funding available for senior mental health lead training, means that up to two thirds of eligible settings will have the opportunity to benefit from the training by the end of the 2022-2023 financial year! Applications are now open, and in this article, we guide you through the steps to complete the process. 


Step 1 – Read the guidance for grant funding to ensure eligibility

The DfE has published a comprehensive guide to applying for grant funding. Initially, we recommend you visit this page, which offers a useful overview of topics such as what the grant must be used for, eligibility criteria when to complete the submission and so on. It will also provide information regarding creating a ‘DfE Sign-in account’ which is necessary in order to access the form. 

You can also visit this page which will offer more information on the conditions of the grant and application guidance. We highly recommend you read all of this information to avoid submission errors that could delay or invalidate your application unnecessarily.

Note: if you are not eligible for funding, don’t worry as we have non-funded places available too. Our courses are just as relevant to those working in non-state or international settings as well.

Step 2 – Decide on the course you wish to apply for grant funding

In order to receive the grant payment, you will need to confirm to the DfE which training course you have chosen.

At Real Training, we offer two DfE quality-assured Senior Mental Health Leadership courses. Click the links below to visit our course pages and learn more:

Senior Mental Health Leadership Certificate (SMHLC) – aimed at those who are new to a Senior Mental Health Leadership role or are aspiring to become a leader in this area.

Senior Mental Health Leadership – Advanced Award (SMHLAA) – aimed at those who have some experience in the role, and have some existing training in mental health leadership.

If you are unsure which of these is best for you, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our experienced course advisors who will be happy to help, either by email info@realgroup.co.uk or by phone on +44 (0)1273 35 80 80.

We encourage you to apply for a grant BEFORE you book a course if your place is reliant on this funding.

Step 3 – Collate information for your setting in preparation for application

It is important to ensure you have the relevant information to hand in and that certain conditions are met before commencing the application process. This includes, but is in no way limited to:

  • Having a commitment from your setting’s senior leadership team to develop a whole school, college or centre approach to mental health and wellbeing
  • Details of your senior mental health lead, who will receive the training in 2022 to 2023 financial year, to oversee your setting’s whole school, college or centre approach
  • Authority to submit a claim for this training grant on behalf of your educational setting

Having this information readily available will enormously reduce the time it takes to apply and helps ensure correct information is provided first time.

Step 4 – Complete the application form

Once you have all of the necessary information required, you can access the form here. At this point, you will need to log into your DfE account. It is important to check all the details that the DfE holds for your account –  you can complete this form if any of them are incorrect. You will then be guided through the application form, step-by-step.

Once complete, you will be asked to agree to the declarations set out in the grant terms and conditions. You will then receive an email of confirmation, containing your claim reference. It isn’t possible to make amendments to the application form once submitted. However, if errors have been made or circumstances change, you can submit another application, the details of which will be used, and previous applications disregarded.

Step 5 – Book your course

Once you have received confirmation of your grant, you can visit our booking form to book your place on one of our Senior Mental Health Leadership courses. The DfE has committed to offering senior mental health leadership training to all state schools and colleges by 2025.

Step 6 – Confirm your chosen course with the DfE

The DfE will ask you to complete a further form to confirm that you have booked your chosen course. You will only be able to access this form with an invitation from the DfE. This will enable them to authorise payment of your grant.


An Interview with Susana Cortez

Susana Cortez

Susana Cortez – NASENCO

Susana is a SEND Specialist lecturer, she has worked with non-verbal students and has a special interest in autism, she is also very keen to develop her skills as a SENCO. Susana currently works in the Inclusive Leadership Department at West London College. She completed the NASENCO course with us in 2021.

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

I was recommended via google, it was a great option because it was online. I could work it around my own routine and complete the course on my own time.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training? 

The course was fantastic and extremely informative, my tutor was absolutely amazing and she always supported me with constructive feedback. The course was really helpful and it helped me to understand some areas I wasn’t so comfortable with (founding, leadership). The online library is spectacular and the resources are really appropriate, everything is well organised between each strand. The course met my expectations and I would definitely enrol onto another course.

How has the course helped make an impact at school? 

This course gave me the support to go back and reflect on our LSA support and on what we could eventually do to improve it by creating action plans and new CPD using LASs views and perspectives. Our CPD week is now also based on LSAs views and we covered a range of different topics to make staff more confident. 

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?

This course helped me to develop my leadership skills and this will help me to go further in my career and accept/look for jobs on management and SEND coordination. This course gave me better skills on the way that I work with teacher’s assistants and I am now feeling more confident on this area too understanding the big impact of working well with all staff around our students.

Lastly, what are the top 3 things you are looking to do within your setting, since completing the course?

  1. CPD – Levels of support – LSAs
  2. Visual impairment resources and strategies  
  3. Teachers CPD – How to make an effective use of our LSAs

World Autism Acceptance Week 2022

This week (28 March to 3 April) is World Autism Acceptance Week 2022!


Autism AwarenessPioneered by the National Autistic Society, it aims to draw attention to the 700,000 adults and children living with autism in the UK, as well as educate those who may not be aware of the condition, and make the world a more friendly place for those affected.

According to the National Autistic Society, autistic children are three times more likely to be excluded from mainstream school, and more than 80% have experienced mental health issues within the education system in the UK.

Many have been dealing with even more challenging conditions over the last couple of years, including rapidly changing routines and circumstances that can be incredibly disruptive, disorientating and traumatic for those affected by autism. To raise awareness around autism, one important characteristic felt for many individuals on the spectrum is the need for social camouflage: masking. A big challenge faced by someone with autism is fitting their lives into a neurotypical world, which is why you will see puzzle and jigsaw symbolism, encapsulating this human experience. 

What is masking?  

‘Autistic masking, camouflaging, or compensating is a conscious or unconscious suppression of natural autistic responses. It is hiding or controlling behaviours associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that may be viewed as inappropriate in situations.’

[Autism Awareness Centre Inc.]

What are the signs? 

  • forcing or faking eye contact during conversations
  • imitating smiles and other facial expressions
  • mimicking gestures
  • hiding personal interests
  • developing a repertoire of rehearsed responses to questions
  • scripting conversations
  • pushing through intense sensory discomfort including loud noises
  • disguising stimming behaviours

Raising awareness around masking is a great step towards building a safer community for people with autism spectrum disorder. It must be a group effort to break down a societal standard to ‘fit in’. To best describe the experience, a poem written by Virginia Betts articulates masking in a beautiful manner. This poem was recently published in The Spectrum Magazine, produced by and for Autistic people.





Autism Spectrum Conditions – Real Training

Having a theoretical and practical understanding of aspects of autism, like masking, makes a positive difference to young people with autism spectrum conditions. Fortunately, these topics and more are covered in our module; Autism Spectrum Conditions. It enables educators to bridge the gap and make a real difference to children and young people with autism. 

The practice-led learning approach will arm you with the ability to give each autistic child in your care the best possible outcome through practice-led learning. Additionally, you will develop the relevant skills and knowledge to close the autism support and teaching gaps in your setting, and gain a critical understanding of the relevant theories, research and policies, and the ability to assess knowledge and existing practice.

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. 

An Interview with Catherine Burton

                                                             Catherine Burton – CPT3A, AAC

Catherine BurtonCatherine has worked in education for over twenty years. She currently works in a Catholic Secondary School in West Yorkshire. Catherine has a keen interest in SEND, especially in Autism and Dyslexia.

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

After doing extensive Google research I chose Real Training. I was impressed with how clear and easy to navigate it was. There was lots of background information about the group and also clear information for each training course they had to offer.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training? 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Real Training. My course tutors were incredibly helpful and patient. Even though they worked part-time, I always received replies to any queries I had on the same day I sent them. Talk about going above and beyond! It has been a while since I have done any training but at no point did I ever feel unsupported. The customer care team were also excellent, I had a technical issue which was entirely my fault and it was dealt with quickly and efficiently.

How has the courses helped make an impact at school? 

The SEN department had gone through a complete staff change prior to me starting my role, the previous two qualified assessors had retired. The school had to ‘buy in’ an assessor for the class of 2022 students as their Access Arrangement Applications had not been processed. My qualification has had a significant impact on the school. The knowledge I have gained has allowed me to audit the current documentation which has resulted in four students now having Access Arrangements in place. We also have had several students whose parents have been challenging the school about what support their child should get, the knowledge which I have obtained has allowed me to advise the SENCO on what is and isn’t allowed. We now have two other staff members undertaking the course.

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

Having worked in education for over twenty years I thought I had a fairly good understanding of the evidence needed for Access Arrangements and how applications are made. The course allowed me to increase my prior knowledge bank and ‘fill in’ the blanks, meaning I now have a comprehensive understanding of the process from beginning to end.

An Interview with Katie Lohan

Katie Lohan – CPT3A

Katie has been working in SEND for ten years and is currently based at an international School in Oman. Since joining her current school as a SENDCo, working for students in early primary, she has done lots of work in literacy difficulties, speech and language, speech delay and engaging the children in picture communication. Since September 2020, with a history as a Primary teacher, she has now become SENDCO with responsibility of all students within the school. Katie also has interest in parent engagement. She spends a lot of time working with parents of children experiencing SEND, helping them navigate the systems and empowering them with knowledge which is not readily available in the Middle East.

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

When researching a course to undertake to gain qualifications for assessing, Real Training came highly recommended from many sources. As I am in Oman, a face-to-face course would not have been an option for me. The flexible nature of the Real Training course was a huge advantage for me as a lot of courses available have live classes at times that don’t line up with our time differences. The option to complete at my own pace was a huge positive also due to a busy workload and online school delaying some of the sections for me. It was easily accessible at all times.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training? 

From the very start, Real Training were great to deal with. I received my training manual in very quick time by the courier and was able to get started right away. The material in the manual was very well laid out and using it along with the online resources was great. The videos in particular I found very useful. The sample submissions and other downloadable documents were of great help also. The personal aspect to the course in terms of tutor feedback was excellent and one of the highlights for me. The feedback given was always constructive and supportive and well placed to guide and support. The forums where you could communicate with other participants was good also. It was comforting to read other’s thoughts and questions as often they were similar to mine. Campus Online was a very user-friendly platform and was always functional with no technical issues. This was reassuring when studying fully online. It was easy to navigate and well laid out section by section. Across the board, the Real Training team must be commended for their commitment to its participants and the quality of courses.

How has the course helped make an impact at school? 

Since completing the course I have successfully undertaken a schedule of different assessments to include the YARC, CTOPP2 and DASH. This was only possible through the experience gained in the CCET course. I have also put through a number of online applications for Access Arrangements for our GCSE students. The AAC section of the CPT3A was excellent in guiding me through the process. 

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?

As the only trained assessor in my school, it has been a great opportunity for me to develop in many skills particularly in assessing students of all ages. It has given me a lot more confidence in my assessing across the school. I hope to develop a coherent system of record keeping and assessment pathways for the school. Due to the school having no SENDCo up to now, this is something I will endeavour to achieve with the new qualifications to support me.

NPQs – National Professional Qualifications perfect for international settings

As you may have already heard, Real Training is now working in partnership with LLSE, an approved Lead Provider of the DfE-accredited National Professional Qualifications (NPQs), to deliver effective leadership programmes to leaders and aspiring leaders in international settings exclusively.

Which NPQs are Real Training now offering?

As it has in recent years, Real Training will continue to deliver the National Professional Qualification in Headship (NPQH) and National Professional Qualification in Senior Leadership (NPQSL). These courses cater for delegates in different stages of their career, enabling them to take the next step in their professional development. Our February 2022 cohort includes:

  • NPQH – This course is designed for international school leaders who are, or are aspiring to be, a headteacher or head of school with responsibility for leading a school.
  • NPQSL – This course is designed for school leaders who are, or are aspiring to be, a senior leader with cross-school responsibilities.

From September 2022, we will also deliver the National Professional Qualification in Leading Teaching (NPQLT), a course for teachers who have, or are aspiring to have, responsibilities for leading teachers in a subject, year group, key stage or phase. 

Benefit from our extensive experience delivering courses worldwide

NPQs delivered by Real Training are currently only available to the international market. Our extensive experience in delivering courses to delegates in over 100 countries worldwide during the past 15 years gives us unrivalled knowledge about how educational legislation and requirements differ from region to region. The courses are delivered by current leaders in international settings. This gives you peace-of-mind that, wherever you are based, the course will be highly relevant to your individual circumstances. In addition to the usual benefits of taking a leadership course such as this, our approach gives additional benefits to educators in international settings:

  • Our courses are delivered by current leaders in international settings, ensuring the content is highly relevant to your circumstances.
  • We have extensive experience in delivering National Professional Qualifications across the globe.
  • Work with facilitators who are experienced school leaders from the UK and international schools.
  • Share best practises and experience with educators in international schools who are at a similar stage in their careers.
  • Experience the National Professional Qualifications from the comfort of your own setting with Campus OnlineTM and Campus Live – the leading virtual learning environments for postgraduate study.

How to book your NPQ

We are currently accepting bookings for the first cohort, starting 4 February 2022. The booking form will close soon so don’t miss out. You can begin your application by completing the form found here. Please ensure you have Real Training selected as the chosen delivery partner.

If you require further information on any of our new courses open to international delegates, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via email info@realgroup.co.uk or by phone on +44 (0)1273 35 80 80.

An Interview with Ceri Matty

Ceri Matty – NASENCO

Ceri has always had an interest in SEND, since she started her teaching career 18 years ago. It became more profound when her son was born in 2008 and as he started his school journey, his SEND needs became clear. He has had an EHCP since Year 2 (now in Year 9) and a diagnosis of ASD. His journey, as well as Ceri’s own teaching, led her progressively into more depth in the study of SEND. This enabled her to better meet her students’ needs in class as well as ensure her son gets the very best support from his school.

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

As a full-time middle leader (not the named SENCO) and parent of 2, Real Training was the obvious choice for me. The delivery solely online meant that I could work flexibly around my work/life, whilst still achieving the same accreditation as a course that had face to face delivery. It came highly recommended on SEND teaching support groups I follow. The use of the online network, whereby you can share your thoughts, ask questions and offer support was fantastic and I actively encourage
anyone using Real Training to utilise it.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

When I initially started, the course felt overwhelming. However, after reading advice from other delegates I quickly found that the organisation of the course and units were incredibly well structured. This was because the structure allowed me to work at my own pace and equally provided lots of links to online resources, articles and relevant legislation etc. My tutor was fantastic, available for email or telephone support when required and checked in when I had not logged in for a couple of weeks to see if I needed support. The course, once you get through the initial introduction unit, is incredibly easy to navigate. Tasks are progressive and provide a great mix of theory and practical opportunity. Strand 2 and 3, take time as you have to plan, implement and review projects within your setting, so I actively encourage delegates to look at these relatively early to plan into your year of study. As I work full time, I found it easiest to keep the actual assignment write-ups to the school holidays and use my face to face time to enhance my practical skills within the workplace.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

Without hesitation, the support from the leadership team has been essential in the impact and outcomes. However, the knowledge that you develop enables you to motivate and enrich the learning of all staff within the school setting, which in turn enables them to support pupils with SEND. This ensures quality first teaching is at the forefront. SEND provision has and will continue to change based on the needs of those students in your setting – the course has made me realise that SEND is on an ongoing journey and I feel equipped with the tools and knowledge to ensure that the impact is not short term, rather sustained.

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 develop a much higher depth of knowledge and understanding of SEND and will allow me to continue to develop within the school setting and beyond, ensuring that we continue to meet the needs of all our SEND students.


An Interview with Anne Louise Davies

Anne Louise Davies – NASENCO

Anne is currently the Assistant Headteacher and SENCO at a mainstream 11-18 secondary school in Westbury, Wiltshire. When asked if she has any special interests in SEND, Anne explained “Dyslexia has become my most recent interest as I am interested in understanding more about phonological awareness and verbal memory”. Anne recently completed the NASENCO qualification with us at Real Training, read on to see how she found her time. 

What made you choose Real Training over other options? 

A colleague of mine had previously undertaken the NASENCO qualification through Real Training and had recommended it. It also appealed to me as it was online learning and the assignment completion dates had not been pre-set and therefore offered me a huge amount of flexibility.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training? 

My experience of Real Training has been extremely positive and I have strangely really enjoyed the course and all the reading that was involved. It has been a long time since I have written an assignment but I found the whole process easier than I had imagined, due to the excellent structure and support from my amazing tutor Clare. When you first start the course it appears daunting but the ‘tick box’ approach to complete the different elements is very satisfying and the tracking tool that shows you how far through the course you are is also very motivational. 

Consequently, I have now signed up for the Certificate of Competence in Educational Testing (CCET) course. Even though the course is all online and I have not met my tutor I feel that the level of interaction has resulted in a relationship being established, her feedback was not only extremely helpful but was also provided promptly enabling me to make the necessary alterations while my research was still fresh in my memory. 

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

The course has resulted in a complete re-working of our SEND provision. This started with the visit to my placement school where I discovered how they developed their TAs and also the types of intervention they had to offer. I was also able to improve publications that we had on our website, including the SEND Information Report so that they met the requirements of the Code of Practice. My leadership approach has also been reflected upon and has resulted in a style that has now empowered the Teaching Assistants and given them a greater sense of responsibility. Basically, everything that is now in place is down to this course. 

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 added substantially to the amount of educational research I have undertaken and has offered views and opinions that I would not previously have considered. The new knowledge has been applied to my setting to improve the quality of our SEND provision. It is also a reminder of the importance of keeping my SEN knowledge up to date through academic research. 

An Interview with Emma Sison

Emma Sison – CPT3A Intensive

Emma currently works as a Deputy Examination Manager within a mainstream secondary school and sixth form in Suffolk, which has 1500 students. She has recently completed the CCET intensively with us and is now starting the AAC component of the CPT3A qualification.  When asked what her specific interest areas are within SEND, Emma explained that she is fairly new to the role but passionate about working alongside the school SENCO to support their students. We had a chat with Emma to see how she found her time on CCET and what her plans are once she has obtained the full CPT3A.

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

I originally found out about Real Training once I had been asked to do the qualification and it was recommended by a few of my colleagues. It worked really well being able to complete it online and have it fit around my current work situation. The time they give you to complete the course is enough to give you the flexibility and work at your own speed.

I also found it was really useful to be able to do the online aspect and chat with others in the same or similar situations.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

The whole experience with Real Training has been amazing! Angela was amazing at booking me onto both courses and answering all the questions that I had.

The online platform for the intensive course and the module page was also great – easy to navigate and the resources were well put together! The tasks following the day course put all the learning together in a great practical element, which tied everything together nicely. Being able to do the online training and be split into smaller groups for work was also useful to be able to almost have that face-to-face interaction.

Now I have attended the one intensive day for AAC (now doing my work on this) and the three days for CCET, both presenters and tutors are so great. Very responsive and the feedback given was clear, relevant and really useful for me going forward.

I honestly cannot thank the whole Real Training team enough for their support and commitment to everyone on the course. On top of this, it has given me a better understanding of SEND and what is involved in terms of AA.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

Despite not having completed the full CPT3A, I have already been able to push for more test kits to be purchased and streamline the process a little bit with our SENCO – who is already a qualified EAA assessor. Once I am also fully qualified, this will help a great deal.

Also as a non-teaching member of staff – I hope to be able to assess students as and when they are brought to my attention and ensure that support is in place early on in their studies.

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 been great to be learning again. The course has taught me a lot but also given me the confidence to be able to conduct educational testing.

I look forward to putting my qualification to use and doing the Access Arrangement Assessments in school. They are already in talks for me to oversee AA in other secondary schools in our Trust too – which will be interesting for me to be able to do.


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