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An Interview with Grace Arnstein – iSENCO

Grace Arnstein – iSENCO

Grace currently works as an SEN and EAL teacher in a bilingual school in China. Her special areas of interest include; Dyslexia for children learning English as an additional language, Autism Spectrum Conditions and Social, Emotional Mental Health difficulties. Grace recently completed the iSENCO with us at Real Training. Below Grace tells us how she found her time studying with us.

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

After researching a number of different courses, the Real Training course appealed to me due to its online delivery and the variety of courses they offer. I hope to go on to complete their courses in ASD and SEMH this coming academic year.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

The flexibility of the Real Training course meant I was able to manage the assignments and learning in conjunction with my job. It meant it supplemented my work as opposed to being an additional burden. Tutor support has been fantastic throughout and I have really valued the feedback given.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

The course supplemented my work at school and has enabled me to secure a job as SENCO next year. The reflective aspects of the programme encouraged me to identify areas of strength within my practice and highlight areas for improvement. It has enabled me to help improve SEND provision across the school.

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 hope to complete further courses with Real Training and complete the full masters in SEND. The iSENCO course has been useful, relevant and interesting.

An Interview with Rimante Songailaite – iSENCO

Rimante Songailaite – iSENCO

Working as a learning support coordinator, Rimante is interested in all aspects of SEN and additional needs. She does note a particular interest in Dyslexia and reading development. Alongside the importance of emotional regulation in a child’s learning and development. Rimante is currently based in Malaysia at an international school offering British style education to boarding and day students. Having recently completed our International Award for SEN Coordination (iSENCO) we asked Rimante how she found her time studying with us.

What made you choose Real Training over other options?

I found out about Real Training whilst researching different SEN courses online. I was immediately drawn to Real Training as I liked the convenience of their courses being delivered entirely online. The course outline was exactly what I was after at that time in my professional career, so I didn’t need to look any further. I found their website was designed very well and gave clear explanations about each and every course.

Upon contacting Real Training with I found the enquiries team were incredibly helpful in answering all my questions about courses, eligibility and any other concerns I had. I have also joined several professional groups on Facebook and saw lots of people recommending Real Training and providing great feedback.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

I really enjoyed my journey with Real Training and the course has exceeded my expectations. The course itself has been planned out really well and each strand has covered topics in-depth. All the different modules and activities are both theoretical and practical. I prefer learning to be practical and not just theory-based, so this worked well for me. The course has allowed me to reflect on myself as a person and a professional and I would say that now, after completing the iSENCO course, I am a much better professional.

Campus Online is really easy to navigate and it is very well designed. High-quality reading material and other resources have been readily available, with recommendations for further reading. Access to the EBSCO host platform has also been invaluable. Furthermore, the discussion form is great! It has given me an opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas with like-minded professionals and engage in discussions. It has been really useful to read other delegates thoughts and get some inspiration. Each assignment came with very clear success criteria and it was reassuring to know what the expectations were.

Lastly, tutor support has also been great, my tutor was always available via email and offered video conferencing too. I found this to be very beneficial.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

Strand 3 and 4 activities and assignments were my favourites. The topics we have covered were very relevant and it was very inspirational having to review your own current practice and systems in place. Strand 3 included a placement visit and the school I worked with have been very supportive. I have learnt so much and the overall experience I have gained throughout has enabled me to review and update our current policies, practices and procedures.

Strand 4 focused on the classroom context – your everyday job basically. This learning experience has allowed me to reflect on the way I carry out my job and the ways I could improve my practice. Consequently, this has improved the support our students are receiving and ensuring that each and every student can reach their full potential.

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?

At times, it was quite challenging, having a full-time job and trying to write masters level assignments, but I have thoroughly enjoyed this course. It has been a very rewarding experience. I feel a lot more confident as a professional now, having had a chance to further develop my knowledge, skills and understanding of SEND.

It has been a challenging year with a global pandemic sweeping through the world. Initially, I was only planning to successfully complete the iSENCO course. However, this learning experience has piqued my interest so I am certain that I will be looking at other options in the near future. One thing for certain though, I know that if I decide to continue with my professional development, it will be with Real Training.

Monique Van Zyl – iSENCO

iSEnCo delegateAn Interview with Monique Van Zyl – iSENCO delegate

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

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

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

What was your experience of learning with Real Training? 

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

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

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

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

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

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

 

Celia Mascher – iSENCO

 

An Interview with Celia Mascher – iSENCO

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

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

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

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

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

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

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

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

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

An Interview with Bronwen Brauteseth

 

An Interview with Bronwen Brauteseth – iSENCO

Bronwen is currently an Inclusion Support Teacher working in Dubai. Her special interest in SEND include; Social, Emotional and Mental Health and Learning Difficulties. She completed the iSENCO qualification with us in January 2020 and has since then enrolled on our Social Emotional and Mental Health module. This means Bronwen has 60 credits on our MEd SEND programme and is working toward another 30.

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

It gave me the option of studying and working at the same time, through distance learning. I found the opportunity of selecting course credits for an M.Ed programme was exactly what I was looking for.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training? 

I initially found the academic reading and writing tasks overwhelming but after setting up a study timetable and getting into a routine, I found the layout of the course extremely helpful for building your work towards the larger written assignments. While the course work is a lot to get through, with discipline and a good support team, I was able to get through it all. 

My tutor, Colette,  was extremely helpful and encouraging. I found that being in regular contact with my tutor helped to keep me on track and accountable. Colette has been extremely supportive throughout my learning journey as well as giving me guidance on various questions I have had during the programme. Her feedback on assignments has not only improved my confidence in writing the longer assignments but she also included very practical guidelines for each assignment.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

The course has given me the confidence to successfully implement interventions for students with SEND that are research-based and in doing so, I am able to support school-wide improvement targets. Leading the Teaching Assistants is a new role for me that was offered to me after completing the iSENCO course. By running regular training programmes on the various aspects of learning for students with SEND has allowed for further improvement of school-wide provision. 

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 helped me understand Inclusion and SEND provision in-depth and on practical levels, which has in turn given me the confidence to recommend and adjust school practices based on research as required. It has inspired me to implement new changes for the benefit of the students in need and supporting various staff members to better understand their role in supporting students with SEND. The course has given me the confidence to look at my leadership skills in a different light and challenge myself to continue my M.Ed studies. 

I found the practical assignments were extremely helpful in developing professional and reflective skills while the longer research assignments developed knowledge and a deeper understanding of the topics. Tasks with conversations with colleagues were helpful for guiding and improving practice.