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An Interview with Dorthe Allen – SEND Programme

Dorthe Kronborg Allen – SEND Programme

Dorthe currently works as an SEN consultant in a variety of international schools all over the world. When asked what her special interest areas are in relation Dorthe says “Autism and the neurological/cognitive function of those on the spectrum”. Having studied both the Autism Spectrum Conditions and Speech and Communication modules with us at Real Training, we wanted to know how Dorthe got on and what her plans are for the future.

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

I like that it is created for professionals working in the education system and that it is fully online. The range of modules on offer and the ability to study the specific areas that I am most interested in also influenced my decision to study with Real Training.

Having worked in education for the past 22 years I know which areas I need to expand on. This also meant I avoided having to “go through the motions” of completing units that I am already an expert in. During my search for a provider, I failed to find any others whose programmes were so well geared to people like me, whilst also offering a university accredited MA course.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

My tutors have been great, always providing useful and thoughtful advice as well as consistent support. I am quite an independent learner myself and I found my tutors to be very understanding and respectful of this. I have enjoyed the EBSCO access, assignments and course resources that were available. They were always relevant and provided me with a good springboard for further research and questioning.

Even though the course is online there is flexibility to combine your own study style with the Campus Online requirements. I prefer to keep notes on paper and this was encouraged by my tutors, I was not asked to transfer these to electronic versions which I appreciated. As a busy SEN consultant with a workload that includes training teachers, writing articles and assisting schools to develop their SEN policies it is important for modules to compliment my work. This is exactly what I felt the Real Training courses did.

How have the courses helped make an impact at school?

Previously, I had been the sole inclusion teacher for an international school with an SEN register of over 80 students. My time on the course helped with provision planning, more effective IEP wording and developing better policy implementation processes. This was done by developing my understanding of the international school’s SEN arena with regards to the provision of both internal and external support.

I consistently used the skills I gained in provision mapping and understanding of screeners and assessments available for a range of SEN. Including effective use of teacher and parent surveys for flagging learners with ASD and formalising the diagnosis process. I was able to evaluate the schools procedures using the course resources and knowing where to look for extra resources to address particular needs.

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?

I came to Real Training with a substantial knowledge of differentiation and SEN teaching strategies gained in my 22 years as a teacher of Drama, EAL and SEN. The courses have been most valuable in cementing my existing knowledge within the official setting of SEN provision. Essentially, I have gained a greater understanding of the following;

  • Connections between school policy and provision
  • Practice in identifying, adapting and using a variety of standards and frameworks for improved SEN provision
  • SLCN and the rising prevalence of this particular needs

I have thoroughly enjoyed the reflection and critical analysis of my own practice, required by the course. I have also been able to clarify the professional direction I would like to take. As a result of my studies, I have seen instant growth in my consulting business due to having a faster and more efficient way of working, thanks to a broader range of resources that I developed during my studies. I plan to graduate at Masters level and then start a PhD with a specialisation in ASD next year.

Dr Sarah Alix – Autism Spectrum Conditions

Dr Sara AlixAn Interview with Dr Sarah Alix – Autism Spectrum Conditions

Dr Sarah Alix is the current Programme Director for North Essex Teacher Training. When asked about any special interests she has in SEND, Sarah highlights Autism. Explaining that her son has Autism and it is a focus for her when training the trainee teachers at work. Based in Essex, this module is not Sarahs first with Real Training. She has also completed our; National Award for SEN Coordination and is awaiting the start of her next module Evidence and Pedagogy for Inclusion. This will result in Sarah obtaining a PGCert SEND: Autism Spectrum Conditions. Sarah will also have 120 credits on our MEd SEND programme, requiring only the final Enquiry-based module to achieve the full MEd SEND. If you would like to know more about how Sarah has found her time with us, she has kindly shared her thoughts below.

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

After looking at courses to gain further knowledge on SEND I decided to train with Real Training as I could do this online. I thoroughly enjoyed the NASENCO course. I liked the structure of the modules, it was easy to follow the process through with the tasks and tutor feedback before building up to the main assignment. A very good range of materials were provided, reading was given and directed to so I knew what to focus on. When I was looking for a course on autism and realised Real Training had modules on this, I decided this would be a good way forward due to my previous experience. I am glad I chose Real Training for this! I have learnt a great deal about the history and development of autism, developing practice in schools and the tutor has challenged my thinking on the terminology used. A thoroughly enjoyable course!

What was your experience of learning with Real Training? 

I really like the structure of campus online, I can see what I have completed, what I need to do next, what to focus on. Tutor support has been excellent, detailed feedback on tasks and assignments. The Reading has been focused and provides a challenge to my existing knowledge.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

I am taking some of my learning and developing trainee teacher knowledge, in this area. I  am also applying my learning to consider how we support trainee teachers that have autistic spectrum conditions. 

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 have developed my understanding further of SEND and ASD. I can now transfer this knowledge enabling me to better support trainee teachers, through my own better understanding. Whilst also supporting those with SEND or Autism Spectrum Conditions that join our course. I would like to continue to undertake the research module with a research focus on autism and trainee teachers next year, possibly writing this into a publication once the research is complete.

Jo Miller – Autism Spectrum Conditions

What do you do?

‘I’m a learning support teacher in Key Stage 2 in a British school in Dubai.’

Why did you decide to study Autism Spectrum Conditions with us?

‘You were recommended to me by my previous SENCO. She said that I should go to Real Training to get the best training.’

What was your favourite part of the course?

‘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.’

What impact has it had on your professional life?

‘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.’

How did you find distance learning?

‘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. ‘

Why would you advise someone to do this course?

‘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.’