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The journey so far – our delegates on studying with Real Training

We are always eager to collect the thoughts of our delegates. The majority come after they have completed their course. However, given the current circumstances, we felt it would be insightful to reach out to some of our current delegates to get their views on their course experience so far, and how studying during a global pandemic has affected their progress.

An interview with Eugene McFadden – NASENCO, intensive CPT3A

Eugene completed his intensive CPT3A course in 2017, and two and a half years later, joined Real Training again to begin his NASENCO qualification in January 2020, just as the enormity of the global pandemic was beginning to make itself clear. Here is his story so far.

How did you find out about Real Training and the CPT3A course?

“I became an assistant SENCO 3 or 4 years ago maybe, and I needed to do the access arrangements course because no-one else in the school was trained. I was speaking to one of the other SENCOs who said “You’ve got to do the Real Training one – it’s a lot quicker when you do the intensive course.” Because work is very busy and I have kids, I thought I’d rather have one, intensive hit. It was a really, really good course. It just worked really well. It was really professionally done, really well tailored to what was realistic and what we needed to do.

You’re now studying NASENCO with us. Tell us about why you chose Real Training for this qualification.

I was looking around at other NASENCO courses, which looked mind-numbing, and then I saw Real Training’s course. For one, it was cheaper than local council’s one, and the fact that it’s all online and flexible. Some [school] weeks are 60 hours, so fitting things in is a bit of a nightmare, but with a course like this, I can think “oh, I have an hour to myself, I’m just going to hit it hard and do something”. The access to the big database is really helpful as well. I really like the bar at the top1. It’s actually really, really positive when you’re really busy.”

How has your experience with the online NASENCO course been versus your expectations, and versus your intensive experience with CPT3A?

“The intensive works really well with CCET as you’re learning to do one specific skill in testing, so you really want that intensity. This (NASENCO) is a bigger-picture thing. You need to step back and digest more. I have a two-year old who doesn’t sleep through the night yet, so I’d find myself rocking her to sleep at 2am reading things I’d downloaded. It gives you a chance to just think, make the notes and everything. A lot of the bigger articles I ended up printing out, to put in a folder where I can take it home and read it at my leisure.”

What parts of the NASENCO course have you found particularly interesting so far?

“There’s the wider reading; you’ve got the Lamb report, you can see how one thing informs another, which is actually really important. It’s interesting to have a timeline of when things happened and why. We’re kids of the 80s and things were very different back then. It’s good to have that time to just think and take it apart.”

Have you been able to put anything in particular into practice already?

“Well, ironically, I’ve been interviewing people for HLTA jobs through Google Meets. It’s been interesting to be having discussions with them, and having interviewed successfully, I’ve got someone to train up. I thought about how my training on the NASENCO course has informed me  and have been giving them reading to do from that course, which is quite helpful. So yeah, it’s definitely been having an impact. It’s interesting because I’ve been reading about outreach work into primary schools, because we’re quite a big MAT, and we’re going to have some primary schools placed in our secondary school for a few weeks for summer term 2. I want to incorporate that as my primary placement.”

How has the current lockdown situation influenced your studies?

“It’s actually given me more time to do it! It’s difficult, because the first few weeks were just trying to set things up, and I’ve been into school a fair bit as well running things on certain days, especially for some of our higher-needs kids. But the days when I’m home… the first few weeks were difficult, trying to get my head-space around being at home and working while at home with kids running around. Once I got the hang of it, I thought I’d set aside a day here and there, turn the emails off, and crack on with the NASENCO course. There’s always someone knocking on the door with a problem [when you’re in school]. My quality of life has actually improved – I’m not working 60 hours a week and have time to spend with the kids.”

What are your hopes and expectations for the rest of the course?

“Definitely to get it done – that’s the first thing! Definitely start to use what I’m learning to move forward. I’ve already kind of moved forward. I’ve been on a journey with my TAs (I’ve got TAs and HLTAs), and I’ve been on a journey with everyone’s practice board [a reflective practice of how staff are working with SEN pupils], tweaking that practice, fine-tuning it more and more. It’s good, because a lot of the things I’ve come across I already believed or knew or learned about already, so it’s nice to have those things reinforced. My focus has been on wave 1 teaching, and I’ve brought the SEN team so far, and now it’s all about raising all teaching and learning – the best input for an SEN kid is going to be in the classroom, the teacher teaching them right – it’s now given me that confidence to start addressing the bigger picture. It’s like “that’s gone alright, now we need to start doing this…” A rising tide raises all ships!”

¹ Campus Online holds a comprehensive online library containing all of the reading necessary for completing the courses. Additionally, access to EBSCO online journal databases allows for further reading to expand knowledge and understanding of the course material.

 

Dawn Johnson – SENCO, North West Kent Alternative Provision Service – NASENCO Course

What drew you to study with Real Training

I have heard of Real training as a reliable provider from a number of colleagues. Your company has a good reputation, and my DH/SENCO at the time had already mentioned your course before we had a little reshuffle of roles and I began to transition out of the English classroom and into the SENCO role.

How your experience has been vs your expectations so far

I have completed online training, including a PAPAA one-year course in the past with other providers and am very impressed with Real Training’s approach to online learning. I have found the site incredibly easy to use, the resources are quite varied and the discussion boards are well organised and easy to use. I am still learning how to use EBSCO but am sure, once I am used to they process, it will become faster and easier to access exactly what I want (I have only been enrolled since the end of April, so have not used every element of the site fully yet). The online notebook is very useful as I can make notes as I read or access slideshows. Overall, I would say it is a surprisingly well-presented, flexible course with an intuitive design for users.

What elements have been of particular interest/use to you so far

I have engaged far more with the discussion activities than on any previous course and have found the notebook, library of previous essays and general range of resources very helpful.

How you are managing your time to complete the work

I am stuck at home shielding with my husband who is also working from home. I work on the course more in weeks where I am needed less for school-based work, as I also run whole-school CPD and, during lockdown, we have had to adapt this rather a lot! The flexibility to use the course from half an hour to a whole day at any point has made this possible.

How the current lockdown has affected your studies

I have had a lot of tasks to complete at home for school but have had a lot more time that I had anticipated for the course. I was taking on areas of SENCO work while still preparing all of my classes for GCSEs and only working 3 days a week prior to Covid-19 – in a way, the lockdown has helped a lot with my availability to train! Being able to continue to work and train on something useful and relevant while shielding has definitely helped me to maintain good mental health during this time.

Your hopes/expectations/ambitions for the remainder of the course and beyond

Well, if we are talking hopes and dreams, I dream of a world where nobody has to use Harvard referencing ever again! (I completed my PGCE in 2000, that’s a long time to forget how to do these things…) Ultimately, I hope to be able to furnish myself with the theory and knowledge to succeed on my return to school, when I assume more of the role and responsibilities of the SENCO post. I would like to know I am doing everything I possibly can to support our pupils and this course will help me to ensure this. I have considered possibly using the points from the NASENCO course and my PAPAA to go on and complete a Masters…we’ll see.

Vicky Bradley – CPT3A

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

Real training was recommended to be by a SEDNCO forum that I am part of (on facebook). I enquired into how other SENDCOs had qualified to submit access arrangements and a few members of the group had said that they trained with Real Training and that it was a really useful course. It was really easy to enrol on the course and it provided me with not only the qualification that I needed but a much more detailed understanding of psychometric testing, which I did not learn about on my NASENDCO award the previous year.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

CCET – The course was really well thought out and made some quite complex concepts understandable to me. The face to face session were brilliant with a small group of us going through the three days together, we were able to discuss with others and ask questions that you rarely get to ask when you are in school.

The online tasks were clear and well supported with good resources. It was easy to follow instructions and the tasks made sense in terms of the work that we had done in the face to face sessions previously. The examples of best practice/work submitted was particularly helpful.

My tutor has been amazing, she responds so quickly to any questions that I have and any work that I submit. Comments are always clear and helpful; I have learnt a lot of doing this course and from my tutor.

I would recommend real training to anyone looking for similar courses, the online platform is easy to use, clear and provides all of the support materials needed. The tutors are excellent and very quick to respond to questions and mark work submitted. I feel that I have learnt a lot and have a great understanding of psychometric testing now.

AAC – I would recommend real training to anyone 100%. Information is so clear and guidance is easy to follow. Tasks are set out clearly and success criteria is understandable. All resources that I needed were there for me. Everything is easy to find and easy to use.

Tutors are excellent, always available to answer questions or provide guidance and very quick to mark any work submitted. Sophia was so helpful, always available to answer questions and so quick with replies and marking submissions. She was very knowledgeable and gave me useful and constructive feedback.

Excellent resources, I particularly found the examples of good work helpful.

Thank you to everyone at the Real Training team, I have had an excellent experience and enjoyed the course.

How has the course(s) helped make an impact at school?

CCET – I now have a greater understanding of how to deliver tests, interpret the results of tests, and feed back to parents in written and verbal form. I know how these can be used for exam arrangements as well as to inform good practice within school. This course has really changed my understanding of reports that I receive from Educational Psychologists, Speech and Language Therapists and other external agencies.

AAC – This course has enabled me to give students specific feedback about areas of strength and further development.

When I trained to be a SENDCO, I had very little understanding of access arrangements, the rules surrounding them and how to apply for them. The AAC course enabled me to ensure that students have the correct access arrangements in place, that I can clearly explain these to students and their parents so that I am making sure that my students have a fair chance at success.

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?

CCET – The course has enabled me to better understand the strengths and areas for development of my students and in turn what we can best do to support them in their learning. I am able to understand and interpret results in Educational Psychology reports much more easily, which in turn lead to the students in my school receiving the right support provision. I hope to continue to develop my knowledge and understanding in order to continually provide the best support possible for my students.

AAC – I know have a really clear understanding of access arrangements, how to apply for them and the rules surrounding them. I am looking forward to seeing what impact this will have on the students that I work with and their exam grades.

Philip Helme – CPT3A

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

Having researched available courses I chose the Real Training online course.  Firstly, it allowed me to work at the pace I wanted and secondly, the information on the website was concise and easy to follow.  Also I contacted Real Training and spoke to Dana who provided me with lots of information and alleviated any concerns.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

CCET – The assessments and tasks whilst challenging focused my thinking and structured my learning. I enjoyed all tasks, especially the essays, which I had not done for a number of years. Yes, do it. The whole process was smooth and informative. This is probably the best course model I have ever used. Whenever I contact any of the different departments, they dealt with issues swiftly and in a professional manner.

AAC – Louise, was and is the ultimate professional providing clear and critical advice. She is a real asset to the assessment team with her knowledge and understanding. I was pleased she was my tutor. The tasks were relevant and appropriate with the requirement to know of the latest developments of access arrangements, Equalities Act and JCQ regulation. I found the library and other resources invaluable and would have struggled without them. I have thoroughly enjoyed coming back to studying and will look to continue in the future. Go ahead and do it, I have found it quite invigorating especially through the academic challenge it sets. Admin and finance were exceptional, technical was not need so by default were very efficient

How has the course(s) helped make an impact at school?

CCET – A more focused approach to supporting students, with clear and measurable interventions specific to their needs. We have developed a reading fluency group that will work on improving reading for students who have been identified as need support.

AAC – The ability to put in place interventions and support at an earlier stage so that normal ways of working or adjustments can be made at the earliest possible time. We have moved to test identify students as early a possible (start of year 10) and provide vital information to teachers, parents, SENCO etc.

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?

CCET – Awareness of testing and how the results can be utilised.

AAC – Ability to undertake tests and identify the needs of students.

Anna Russell – CPT3A

Which course(s) have you completed with Real Training?

CCET/AAC and I am now looking to extend this to study the Dyslexia: Professional Report Writing course to give me the Postgraduate Diploma SEND and then the Enquiry Based SEND Practice to get the Masters in Education. I will study both with Real Training due to the course content delivered and the support I received whilst previously studying with them. I feel the courses are designed so well that I will have the confidence and skills needed to take the next steps in supporting our students even further.

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

The course provided by Real Training was recommended by a colleague in another school. She advised me that it is a ‘full on’ course so I went in with my eyes wide open but at no point was I made to feel I was not going to succeed and be very good at my job when the course was finished. The intensive residential route appealed to me because I wanted to get away from the demands of my current job and be in an environment where we were all striving for the same goal. Being away from school enabled me to distance myself from everything else and therefore gave me the thinking space to concentrate on the course and the assessments.

I would recommend this route and using Real Training and their trainers to anyone, to ensure they successfully gain certification in a quick and professionally supportive manner.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

Feedback was always prompt; the same day at least and often within the hour. Barry provided professional and constructive feedback and with his help, I feel my work has been of a high standard. His presentation style on the intensive course days is engaging and knowledgeable. He gives you the confidence that the knowledge he is passing on, is valuable.

Barry has been a fantastic tutor throughout. He must work all hours as my feedback was always prompt and informative. He has helped me shape my current practice and has even had an input on my development plan. I can’t thank him enough.

The course was up to date and informative. All of our objectives were met on the day and the assignments ensured the theory was embedded and we are competent with our own practice.

The resource library was useful as a starting point for assessments but also for sharing policies and consent form ideas etc. Access to the e-library for assignment writing was excellent as so many of these resources have restricted access otherwise.
Having the resources available before the start of the course allowed me time to read through the paperwork prior to learning. This was important for me; someone that likes to digest the information at their own pace!

With Real Training you get professional, informative and helpful guidance from start to finish. Don’t go to any one else!

How has the course(s) helped make an impact at school?

Identification of needs has improved and staff awareness of the wave 1 in class intervention that can take place is better. Students feel better supported due to the knowledge staff now have on individual needs and what the assessment data shows the need to be. The knowledge staff have now, based on the training I have been able to pass on, means the class room experience is more inclusive.

I feel we are able to screen more students and even if this means the outcomes are good and no access arrangements need to be in place, at least we are all reassured we are doing the best for all of our students.

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?

Understanding the statistical analysis has informed my report writing and assessment feedback. I can write and speak confidently about these results now.
Sharing ideas with colleagues in a similar position has saved time and has proved to be a valuable moderation exercise.
The filming exercises were great! Daunting at first but now a useful tool for moderation and for ensuring we have consistency in the department moving forward.

Running through the AA process from start to finish has made me more aware of why we do, what we do!
I am happy now asking staff for their feedback as I now understand the full importance of this when making a valid application for AA.
I have improved the paper trail for AA applications to gather the necessary evidence to make an informed application

Catrin Brauner – NASENCO, CPT3A

Why did you decide to study with us?

I looked into Real Training as so many people across the UAE had recommended them to me as a good way to increase my knowledge and skills. I initially approached them as I needed to build my skills in understanding access arrangements and assessing learners but quickly realised how much more they had to offer. The range of courses is impressive and it’s easy to plan a CPD route that fits with your interests and other commitments. The ongoing tutor support is something that made real training a very desirable training provider. I was also very impressed that courses were accredited with Middlesex University which allows people to work towards a Masters Qualification in SEN. 

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

All of the courses I have enrolled on have exceeded my expectations. The first course was a mixture of face to face and online, both parts were delivered seamlessly. The detail and structure that goes into the planning of the courses allows for delegates to feel guided throughout the course, even when there is no face to face element. The course tutors are extremely knowledgeable, approachable and helpful; they respond quickly to any messages and are always willing to help.

I am currently completing the NASENCO course, despite being a UK qualification it is extremely applicable to anyone working in SEN or leadership. The course takes a true 360o approach to ensure delegates have a chance to develop all the skills required to be an inclusive leader of SEND. The course is arranged in a multi-faceted manner which increases engagement and allows people to work to their strengths.

How has the course(s) helped make an impact at school?

The CPT3A course has had a huge impact on the children I work with and the provision we can offer in school, as well as helping me expand my understanding and skills significantly. The skills learnt allow us to understand our pupils in more depth in order to create the provision they deserve. This has been well received by all stakeholders including parents, governors, teachers and the children.

I am currently about halfway through completing the NASENCO course. The course has helped me reflect more on specific areas of what I do and find out what other schools are doing which is hugely helpful. I now have a better understanding of the history of SEN as well as current policy. This has helped me update some school approaches and action plan for the future.

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?

The CPT3A allowed me to have a deeper understanding of the pedagogy behind a lot of teaching tools and assessments. This has helped me use data to better understand, and therefore support, children’s needs on an individual level.

On the other hand the NASENCO course has taught me more about leadership, strategy and bringing about positive change. I believe both courses have allowed me to be better at my job and allow me to be a better leader and teacher.

Natalie Ghattas – CPT3A

What do you do?

‘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.’

Why did you decide to study the Certificate in Psychometric Testing: Assessment and Access Arrangements (CPT3A) with us?

‘I wanted to learn about standardised assessments, place students on the right intervention programme, and provide them with access arrangements that suit their needs.’

What was your favourite part of the course?

‘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.’

What impact has it had on your professional life?

‘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.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘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.’

Why would you advise someone to take this course?

‘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.’

Allyson Pulleyn – CPT3A

What do you do?

‘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.’

Why did you decide to study the Certificate in Psychometric Testing: Assessment and Access Arrangements (CPT3A) with us?

‘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.’

What was your favourite part of the course?

‘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.’

What impact has it had on your professional life?

‘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.’

What can someone who has taken this course offer?

‘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.’

Why would you advise someone to take the course?

‘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.’

Melissa Skiles – CPT3A

Why did you decide to study with us?

As Head of Inclusion for an international British curriculum school in Dubai, the education and qualification provided by completing this course will help improve provision and support in the ever-changing and progressive private educational sector I work in.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

The course has exceeded my expectations – both in person and the online modules.  Throughout the duration of the course, the instructors have consistently proven themselves as consummate professionals but warm in their approach. They have also consistently demonstrated expertise and extensive knowledge of the content and its importance in the realm of education; they do so in a manner that is thoughtful and supportive. They organised varied content with real-world application and taught us the intricacies of such ethical work and practices and how to maintain those high standards.

How has the course(s) helped make an impact at school?

In a sector that is continuously evolving, it is imperative to stay on the proverbial edge of new assessment and understanding of the unavoidable biases within it, which this course helps us to understand, analyse, breakdown, and ultimately for the better of our students, avoid.

My school’s headteacher was excited for me to pursue this course as she knew the benefits for our students would be long-lasting and imperative to their accessibility in GCSEs.

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?

This is the first course since achieving my professional special education licensure (degree) that has had such a far-reaching impact on my career.  It is the bridge between the information I have learned to access and sharing that information appropriately, responsibly, and in an ethical manner that meets high professional standards.