Our delegates, tutors and module leaders have one overarching focus that informs all that they do – to make a real difference to the lives of those with SEND.
Find out what they think of our courses below.
Our delegates come from a wide range of backgrounds and educational settings to improve their professional practice.
Whatever their level, whatever their experience, our courses and qualifications:
‘I am a SENCO in a two-form-entry primary school in a very affluent area which also has a very high deprivation rate.’
‘My MA tutor at a London university recommended Real Training. I told her that my new head teacher wanted to appoint me as a SENCO and she suggested Real Training.’
‘The course has helped me to set up the correct targets, create an action plan and put the right provision in place for the children in my school. It has also given me the right guidance to enable me to hold key meetings with staff, parents and external agencies.’
‘It’s given me a clear understanding of exactly what I need to do to improve the outcomes of the children in my care. I could do it while I was either at work or at home. So, I could pull up my case studies and have them to hand at work to use and reflect on. Then, I could go back home and speak to people on Real’s Campus OnlineTM forum. I never felt lonely.’
‘A huge amount of structured expertise will work its way into their professional practice.’
‘Because you have to have it! However, more importantly, it will make a real difference to your professional life and the way in which you support children and liaise with parents and staff.’
‘I work with seven to eight-year-olds. I do a lot of assessing in-house in the workplace and a lot of one to one support for universities.’
‘I received a mailshot about converting Masters-level (M-level) credits. In fact, I had 120 credits with Dyslexia Action with my PGDip. I wanted to bite the bullet, so I looked at all of the courses that you have on offer, called up and spoke to Siobhan and Jane – who would eventually become my tutor. And everyone was so nice, helpful and supportive that I couldn’t resist transferring my existing credits to Real Training so that I could start to build credits towards my MEd.’
‘It got me back into rigorous academic habits – critical analysis, research methods and theory. It also enabled me to be much more circumspect about silver bullet approaches – if you do this, this child will be able to read immediately, etc. Moreover, it encouraged real critical research, which is crucially important, because a lot of money is wasted implementing changes in schools that haven’t been tested in research. Also, my tutor Jane, she was amazing, so good and supportive. When I did my PGCert and PGDip we didn’t have any face-to-face tutorials at all and the experience was really isolating. In stark contrast, Jane was always there when I needed her and she was so helpful – even with essay writing and so on. You know, when I felt that it was a bit overwhelming she was always there – so please make a special mention of Jane.’
‘It has improved my confidence. I felt that I could demonstrate my competence and I could say, look here are the results, have a go at this and it works, sort of thing. So I have been able to examine different aspects of my professional practice and reassure myself with reliable research and theory that is backed up. I also like the fact that there is a clear focus on ethical implications.’
‘They can offer real competence and the ability to examine things critically and carefully, certainly before they launch into something that might waste money in a particular setting. Also, they will be able to work out how to effect organisational change best. Ultimately, it has had a really positive impact on my practice.’
‘It gives you the ability to learn a lot about your subject area and back it up with theory. Jane is amazing, the course is very well structured, and the website is really easy to follow, flows really nicely, and you can take it at your own pace. It gives you the opportunity to reflect on your own practice and others’ practice too. There were points where I thought, why am I doing this? But I was always encouraged to carry on and I received lots of really useful feedback. So, ultimately, it’s really rewarding.’
‘I am the senior inclusion leader and SENCO in a junior school of 520 pupils in Dorset.’
‘I came across Real Training at the Times Educational Supplement‘s annual Special Educational Needs exhibition in Islington. I was looking for a face-to-face course that dealt with the rather complex area of assessment and Real Training’s course fitted the bill.’
‘It was brilliantly organised. The face-to-face three days at a good hotel covered a lot of complex information in a clear and comprehensive way.’
‘It’s been absolutely invaluable on a number of fronts. I set up my own business as an SEN advisory teacher and one of the key parts of that was assessment. Without the course, I would not have understood what the test materials were; what the language meant; what the data showed; and how to check for a valid test.’
‘They will be able to make sense of assessment and be selective about the particular tests to use. They will be able to structure reports properly and construct them in a way that makes it easy for parents to read.’
‘I would have no hesitation in recommending this course. It’s given me a much better understanding of the whole process of assessment and also the ethical aspects of it. Now, I have a much clearer understanding of the need to check progress and use materials that you understand and that are also accessible to parents.’
‘I am the general manager of the ABC Diagnostic and Learning Center in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. I carry out assessment, intervention programmes and counselling for all those with learning difficulties.’
‘I wanted to learn about standardised assessments, place students on the right intervention programme, and provide them with access arrangements that suit their needs.’
‘I particularly liked the practical focus of the intensive face-to-face course. It was so good to work with different people from different cultures and backgrounds. We were learning about special education across cultures; this provided a valuable international forum for comparing practice.’
‘It has helped me to administer the assessment across my organisation. It has enabled me to approach students; carry out the assessment; and provide feedback to parents too. I manage the assessments and love to do them myself too.’
‘They will be able to provide appropriate access arrangements and identify which access arrangements are suitable for each child to enable them to better function in their classroom setting. It has given me the real confidence to apply assessments to my students and set intervention channels based on meeting their needs.’
‘It’s a really great course. It is quite short and efficient and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in assessment and access arrangements.’
‘I work as a clinical psychologist in private practice and also for a looked after children’s service.’
‘I have trained in some dynamic assessment (DA) instruments and so I was keen to see how CAP could expand on my skills in this area, especially with the LAC population who may struggle to engage with long assessments.’
‘I enjoyed it all.’
‘The course has enabled me to administer a detailed cognitive assessment in a significantly shorter amount of time than I perhaps could with traditional and regular DA tests. Being able to compare the profile of parents and teachers is also very helpful, as it tells me firstly whether they are seeing the same things and secondly, if not, then it enables me to generate some hypotheses about why this may be the case.
‘The detail within each domain of CAP has sharpened my general interview technique to cover areas of attention and perception, for example, that I would not have included before the CAP training.’
‘In addition to the above, CAP can provide a useful baseline measure when applied within a school setting. It acts as a springboard for bespoke recommendations and provides an opportunity to see if there have been any improvements at the time of re-test.’
‘For all of the reasons above!’
‘I’m a learning support teacher in Key Stage 2 in a British school in Dubai.’
‘You were recommended to me by my previous SENCO. She said that I should go to Real Training to get the best training.’
‘The activities, the assignments and the development of real practical skills to carry out a comprehensive school audit. It enabled me to think about and tackle the future of autism in my school. Dubai is very different from the UK and autistic children can sometimes be stigmatised. I wanted to change that and Real Training enabled me to start that journey.’
‘I have developed a far greater awareness of the huge diversity of needs of young people on the spectrum, and how I can positively support them in school. Being in the Middle East, I was concerned about how great a challenge the course would prove, but I have actually been able to identify a number of good and improving interventions that are being undertaken both in my own setting and in the wider community. It has given me a clearer direction on what aspects of support I need to focus on at school, and also how I might develop these in the wider Dubai community.’
‘I never felt like a distance learner. The communication with your team was outstanding and I had a constant conversation with my tutor and module leader throughout the course. The site is very well set out and accessible. I would leave quick comments/messages on the right-hand side of the page and my tutor would get back to me in two seconds flat. It’s been absolutely brilliant. ‘
‘It’s an outstanding course that has really helped me to understand the complexities of the autism spectrum. It’s fantastic – every exercise and activity have translated perfectly into my school.’
‘I’m a SENCO at a primary school and also work with Key Stage 3 students as part of the British Dyslexia Association’s Children will Shine project.’
‘The funding came out for the training and I needed to do a course that fitted perfectly into my busy family and work commitments. This was very good, because it fitted round me, as opposed to me having to fit round other people.’
‘All of it. Particularly, the clear impact that it has had on my professional life.’
‘It’s really helped me prioritise things; it’s helped on the managerial side too: the paperwork, the organisation. It’s helped me to be proactive. I’ve carried out in-depth studies of TAs which have enabled me to go to the head and say: ‘We need to change the way in which we are working and here’s the evidence to back it up.’
‘It’s been perfect because it’s fitted in with my life.’
‘The ability to assess and understand a child’s learning in a way that is neither typical nor available in other forms of teacher training. It is a unique opportunity to develop a wealth of consultation skills.’
‘Because it will make you realise that there’s a lot more around the child than just the child as well. It will help you to work with the parents because the parents are just as vulnerable as the children.’
‘I teach some groups in curriculum support. I also do some learning mentor work, but my main role is as the school’s specialist assessor.’
‘I’ve always been interested in testing. My background as a mental health nurse is something that we did use as part of our screening and profiling of patients and clients. So, when I moved over to work in a school setting, it wasn’t totally alien to me and I’m quite good at it really. I establish a rapport with students, I also do the initial interview before the assessment, so I can build up a very good picture of need by doing the interview and the testing, which helps us how to decide what access arrangements we need to use for those students who require them. In each instance, I try my best to ensure that all of my documentation is very comprehensive so that there is no doubt that this student needs what they should have.’
‘I really enjoyed the residential part of the course. Meeting people from different educational backgrounds and the face-to-face interaction with the tutors was really good… I got a good feel for what was needed and could ask questions. Any queries that I had, I was able to put to my tutors who I came into contact with on the AAC and the CCET.’
‘It’s had a massive impact really. My salary’s increased, first and foremost. I’m the only person in the school who can do the testing. So, I’ve become the person who staff come to when they have general day-to-day classroom queries about students who aren’t doing very well. At first, the query has to come through the head of learning support – as I’m not the person who the referrals initially come to as I just receive the referrals. But I love my new role. It’s positive and I really enjoy it.
‘If I had to pare my job right back to just what I want to do, then the testing would be just it. Because I love how I can put the students at ease, which helps them to cope with the elements of pressure on them to obtain the result that they want. Obviously, we need them to be at ease first and foremost, but I really enjoy the testing.’
‘It’ll enhance your expertise. It’s quite a specialist role, so it’s really good for the school, as they won’t need to get someone in, they’ll have someone who knows the student, and it’s a truly holistic approach to testing. Obviously, we’re painting a picture and testing’s only one part of it. But it’s a really key part and I also get to know the students; which is good.’
‘I think that it enhances your profile within the workplace. It keeps you in touch with current methods of assessment and it’s really important CPD. We all need to be current in our practice. But, ultimately, if you’ve got this, it puts you in a very strong position in the workplace because, usually, you’re the only person in a school/setting who can carry out this work. Of course, schools can pay for an EP to come in (which we used to do before I did the training), but, ultimately, it will save schools money.’
‘I am a specialist teacher.’
‘I decided to study CAP as part of my training as a thinking skills specialist.’
‘I would say that my favourite part of the CAP course was the task analysis side of things: being able to describe the relationships between the cognitive demands of tasks and the difficulties a learner may experience with that task.’
‘The CAP course has really helped to develop my understanding of the thinking process and the cognitive demands of tasks. CAP provides a structure through which a profile can be generated so that interventions can be targeted specifically and progress can be evidence based.’
‘I think that after doing this course, the individual possesses the ability to analyse the cognitive profile of a learner. By this, I mean that they can identify areas of strength and areas that need development and the relationship of those areas to curriculum tasks and/or everyday functioning.’
‘The CAP course is interesting and engaging and provides meaningful insight into the needs of learners. It also offers dynamic, practical and evidence-based interventions.’
‘I am a SENCO at a mainstream co-ed school with approximately 1,100 pupils.’
‘I have to have this award to work in this area. I found Real Training on the Internet, rang them up and quite liked them. I then went to plead my case with the school and they helped me to pay for it.’
‘Funnily enough, I particularly enjoyed the bits on legislation and the reflective learning logs.’
‘I’ve become a much more reflective practitioner. I was reflective before, but my thoughts were all over the place. Now, I can organise these thoughts and am proactive about changing and implementing things.’
‘It will really help them to develop the right skills and competence in their legislation, research, processes and good practice guidance.’
‘Because it’s made a real difference to my understanding and practice.’
‘I’m a dyslexia specialist and work in a mainstream college with 5,000 students and 400 staff.’
‘I wanted to enhance my existing testing skills and a psychologist at my college recommended Real.’
‘I liked the individual attention and the quick response actually. Whenever I had a question or something wasn’t clear, I would get an immediate response to help me progress. Most of this was online with a few days’ face-to-face.’
‘It has clearly improved my report writing, the way of looking at different results when you’re assessing – all of that was very well explained and tweaked by the excellent teachers.’
‘They will really be able to write reports, assess and test.’
‘It’s essential if you want to get the best out of your assessments and testing.’
Our module leaders are experts in their field. They drive our modules, lead our tutors and guide our students. They are high-profile practising individuals and know their subjects inside out.
Mark is an educational psychologist and co-founder of the Nurture Group Network. He has a broad range of experience in SEND practice as a teacher, SENCO, lecturer, and mentor to students undertaking professional development training. Mark has lectured and tutored at the University of East London and is also a director and founder of Real Training.
‘You will develop your own practice-based evidence in your setting. This will build confidence around your work in schools and will help you transform your work in education. This module tends to be one of the final modules of the MEd qualification. As such, it rounds off your programme of study by embedding professional practice into your professional skills.’
‘This module – in fact all of our modules – are about helping professionals to feel more confident and competent in their work. As educational psychologists, we’ve all worked in schools with teachers and education professionals who want to know how to work best with children. We have all completed research to MA and PhD level and believe that practice makes a huge difference to the quality of education and life of children and young people.’
‘Generally, education professionals with an undergraduate degree.’
‘They can offer their colleagues a way of working in which they can reflect and bring about change. They will have knowledge of a particular way, a structure and a process of working so that they can continue to develop new knowledge.’
‘We’re building on each delegate’s practice, using the knowledge and skills that they have already attained, and bringing about real change in their practice.’
Siobhan is a director of Real Group and has been leading the highly successful National Award for SEN Coordination (NASCO) course since 2010. As a respected and experienced educational psychologist, she has worked with children and young people in mainstream and special schools for 15 years. Throughout this time, Siobhan has worked collaboratively with SENCOs and teachers in mainstream and special schools across different local authorities to support whole-school systems and interventions for pupils with SEND. Siobhan passionately believes in the National Award for SEN Coordination, because of its ability to support SENCOs across the UK and overseas in meeting the fundamental needs of children with SEND in schools.
‘It’s a guided, supported way of reviewing the current good practice, research and guidance documentation that are currently informing SEND practice across mainstream and special schools in the UK. It enables aspiring SENCOs, new-to-role SENCOs and experienced SENCOs to have structured opportunities to read the latest literature, apply it to current practice in their schools, and evaluate the impact of their practice within a supportive network of professionals.’
‘They offer distinct opportunities for SENCOs to spend as much time as possible located in their schools doing their job. It’s constantly evolving and developing in response to the latest research, guidance and feedback that we get from those on the course. As a practice-led online model, it also has some distinct advantages. We believe that it is not sufficient for our delegates to finish simply knowing more; indeed we feel that it has to feed into their practice and have a direct impact on the children that they work with. Without exception, our activities have been designed around giving each and every delegate access to new content, opportunities for implementation and then reflection on the impact of their practice within their setting. This approach has the best impact on both the learning of the children they support and also their learning as a SENCO.’
‘Typically, they are new-to-role SENCOs. As the course has become increasingly established, well-known and respected, we have an increasing number of experienced SENCOs who want to take it for their own professional knowledge and development. We also welcome aspiring SENCOs – those who are keen to do the study and be supported in their school as they are planning and preparing to take on the role of a SENCO.’
‘Our course equips people with an understanding of the need for their knowledge, skills and practice to have a direct impact on learners progress and for these outcomes to be evaluated. It also gives them the leading edge in an interview situation.’
‘We are continually asking delegates for feedback. One delegate submitted an evaluation yesterday and it was wonderful to read. As a direct result of our course, she felt that her knowledge of interventions and her ability to evaluate the impact and fine tune them had seen children with SEN at her school making accelerated progress and outperforming other pupils in the school who didn’t have SEN. It is particularly humbling to see that the skills and training that we offer are having a direct impact on the most vulnerable children.’
Julie is an educational psychologist and a qualified teacher specialising in literacy and interventions for dyslexia. She has delivered dyslexia training to teachers and trainee EPs at Exeter University and has made key contributions to the development of dyslexia policy and practice in a number of local authorities.
‘We have created an online academic community which is really user-friendly and interactive, to ensure that the experience of distance learning with us is not lonely. These modules will give each student an essential overview of a complex area. They will learn how to identify dyslexia and how to support each learner through programmes and interventions across the school. They will also know how to lead and manage the school’s dyslexic provision and harness the environment to increase support and change outcomes.’
‘Some courses take a particular view of dyslexia. We don’t! We acknowledge the range of theories and views about dyslexia and believe that this approach is key to treating such a complex condition effectively.’
‘They are teachers working in a range of age groups both nationally and internationally. Many of them are in, or are about to take on, a management role.’
‘This module gives students a really full picture of the complexities and controversies that inform dyslexia. It gives you a brilliant overview and prepares you for complexity.’
‘It grapples with some quite complex theories. However, because it’s grounded in people’s everyday practice, it hangs together in a way that is meaningful and relevant to people.’
Ruth is one of the UK’s leading dynamic assessment and cognitive education trainers. As an educational and child psychologist, she combines clinical practice with training, consults to the Hope Centre in London and teaches on the Doctorate for Educational and Child Psychologists at the University of East London and Queen’s University, Belfast. She is also co-author of the Cognitive Abilities Profile.
‘Dynamic Assessment helps our students to understand their pupils’ thinking and the blocks in their thinking. It deepens each teacher’s awareness of the difficulties that may be lying in the way of their pupils becoming more effective and efficient learners.’
‘It is the first distance learning module which touches on dynamic assessment. It gives them the beginnings of tools and an important classroom approach to the understanding of what dynamic assessment is and what it focuses on. It makes a very important contribution to the wider understanding of learning.’
‘Psychologists, SENCOs, specialist teachers and speech therapists – professions where assessment is very much within their framework of learning.’
‘The ability to assess and understand a child’s learning in a way that is neither typical nor available in other forms of teacher training. It is a unique opportunity to have a lot of consultation skills.’
‘That we will reach a lot of teachers and students in the classroom. Ultimately, we want to get this specialist framework into the awareness and the practice of a much wider range of people. It is this aim that makes us proud.’
Kate is an educational psychologist and has been the principal tutor on this course since its inception. She has helped develop the teaching and learning activities that have made it the industry standard for those wanting to understand testing and assessment in an educational context. Kate is particularly interested in access for, and assessment of, those with sensory impairment.
‘Our course enables busy teachers and SENCOs to study what they want when they want. From Egypt to South America, from India to Greece, our online course enables students from the across the globe to explore educational testing in their own time, setting and place.’
‘We have been running this course for a long time now and are one of its leading providers. We have a unique focus on psychometrics and testing and this focus is driven by tutors who are psychologists and experts in testing.’
‘A typical background would be a secondary teacher or SEN coordinator who is studying it in conjunction with the Access Arrangements Course.’
‘These modules are as important to the school as the individual taking it. Our course supports schools in demonstrating their progress and effectiveness. It also allows them to spend their money wisely by training up teachers and doing assessments themselves in-house.’
‘When I get fantastic feedback that says how much they have enjoyed it, or how much they have learned.’
Sarah joined Real Training as a senior educational psychologist, having had over 13 years’ experience working within a local authority. She has worked extensively with schools and young people with a range of SEN needs and across all age ranges. Most recently, Sarah has specialised in the field of mental health and young people with social and emotional needs. She has a diploma in solution-focused practice, has worked therapeutically supporting young people, and developed, delivered and managed an early intervention-based approach with a mental health service in her previous local authority role.
‘Current data on young people’s psychological well being is clearly indicating our need to focus on this subject area and there is something profoundly important about working with children and young people and trying to help them to change the course of their lives. It is an endlessly interesting area and the modules reflect that. You are dealing with a whole range of needs right through from children with serious social/environmental difficulties, through to children with defined psychiatric/psychological difficulties and everything in between. But, essentially, you are trying to work out (forensically) what the issues are and how best to help each child. Every child is unique and you have to try and work out a path through layers of complexity. It’s a great challenge but a worthy one and this module is designed to help you with that challenge.’
Despite growing awareness of the importance of children’s well being and psychological health, there is still paucity of information and training available. The SEMH module not only expands learning and knowledge, but it is truly practice led and links to real substantive changes in educational organisations. The online learning also signposts and supports delegates every step of the way, and is a really engaging way to learn’.
‘We have a wide range of delegates from those working in mainstream provision to more specialist setting both within the UK and internationally. Mental health is an issue for everyone working in education an this is reflected in the delegates who complete the course.’
‘It will improve their professional expertise and confidence and give them a real framework to work with – because it is essential to have a framework when you work with children and young people with SEMHD. Our delegates will also be provided with the latest research and will be able to use that research to inform their thinking when they are working with families, young people or other members of staff. This module will help them to make sense of particularly complex situations and respond appropriately in a positive way. In essence, it’s about understanding complexity and being able to work out what’s important and what’s not. To be able to focus on the things that you can change and succeed with, as opposed to attempting the impossible. It’s about having a practitioner framework around which you can build.’
‘The difference that this approach can, ultimately, make to the lives of those children and young people with SEMHD.’
Sue is a senior specialist educational psychologist working part time at the Lorna Wing Centre for Autism (part of the National Autistic Society). She has been a specialist ASD advisor/EP for a number of London boroughs for over 20 years and has also worked as a specialist teacher. Sue has been instrumental in setting up provision for children and young people with ASD across early years, primary and secondary and has an eclectic career portfolio covering lecturing, training, consultancy and diagnosis and assessment. She is a specialist speaker in autism for EPs in training at University College London and has worked in collaboration with other universities – her doctoral research focused on autism outreach services. Sue has significant experience of supporting learners online and has been a module leader on a number of ‘special needs’ programmes for various universities.
‘It provides our students with the practical opportunities to reflect on their current work and to evaluate ways to take it forward. They will increase their knowledge and get up to date with the latest research – particularly in regard to the complexity of autism spectrum conditions. Moreover, there are a lot of programmes and training courses on autism that simply impart knowledge. This course is so practice-based that it grows and extends knowledge for each student in their setting.’
‘It’s practice-based and the learning activities are very much about the things that you would hope teachers would be doing anyway. It caters for all kinds of students and is studied across the globe. With some students, you help them to recognise what’s good in their practice and take it forward. With others, they’re starting from scratch, so I give them a platform to instigate real change. We’re broad, not narrow. We structure the assessments in an open way so that people can make them fit their particular learning situation.’
‘It’s quite a mixture really. Some are very experienced and want to reinforce and extend their learning, while the younger ones are keen to develop a more specialist focus. Some international students get involved because they’re trying to get autism provision established in their own country. Sometimes we also work with parents who have a child with a diagnosis of autism.’
‘A reflective stance nurtured and developed in Real Group’s unique online community.’
‘That it’s making a real difference to how learners with autism are being supported. This course enables delegates to think outside the box and adapt and change their practice. It also gives international students the knowledge, understanding and confidence to say: “You know, hang on a minute, there’s all this research, all this evidence, that we should be doing this and acting as advocates for the young people that we are working with.”‘
Jane is a teaching fellow at the University of Birmingham and associate educational psychologist (EP) for Warwickshire County Council. She is a distinguished academic and teacher with over 30 years’ experience as a teacher and EP in nursery, primary and secondary schools. Throughout her career, her research and professional interests have focused on the effective application of psychology in the training and development of teachers and she has written a number of books and articles on psychology, critical reading and learning.
‘It’s a rare opportunity for learners to follow up on a topic and area that they are interested in which is related to their professional practice and can also be carried out in concentration with their colleagues.’
‘It gives our students a structure for negotiating and narrowing down the focus of their research and keeps it rooted in the practitioner area.’
‘They are all working in some type of educational setting.’
‘A structured approach to undertaking an enquiry within their own setting.’
The marrying together of practitioner needs with academic rigour. What Real Training does so well, is the distance learning element. It’s academic, rigorous, friendly, and the student is at the centre. The student experience on these modules is second to none. It shows that you can develop practical skills by distance learning. That it’s not just about book learning and doing exercises online… this is tremendously empowering for students.’