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Sarah Johnson-Motyl – NASENCO, CCET, NPQSL, Enquiry-Based SEN Practice, Dyslexia – Leadership & Intervention

Why did you decide to study with us?

I discovered the Real Training courses when I was searching for an online course that could be flexible around my work and home commitments. When I started on my journey with Real Training I aspired to achieve the courses which could be combined to achieve a Masters qualification. At that time I was a single parent with 3 year old twins and a 5 year old, a full time job as a SENCO and so could not be away from home for childcare reasons. This ruled out most courses as weekend commitments were a pre-requisite which I was unable to do. Real Training allowed me to study at the times that suited me (evenings and early mornings) and having an online tutor meant I had flexibility to plan the tutorials and assessment work. I really liked the way the course was structured and it was easy to follow the pathway the from beginning through to final submission. The admin team and help desk always responded swiftly to any queries and so although the course used a remote model of studying, I never felt at a loss or unsupported. I liked the virtual community and the fact that we could all join groups and discussion threads from wherever we were in the world. This breadth of experience added the experience of being part of a group and we supported each other through this means.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

I have studied several courses and I have had a consistent experience with all my Real Training tutors – all have been utterly fabulous. I can honestly say they have been available at short notice for my questions (no matter how small!) and when I have needed additional flexibility to complete coursework they have been 100% supportive.

I like the fact that we are respected as professionals and there is an understanding that juggling family, study, work and of course ‘life’ means that sometimes more flexibility is needed. The encouragement of tutors spurs on any lagging motivation and the online system gives more support than any other course I have done, including face to face courses.

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

I completed the NASENCO course and was able to apply this to both KS1 and KS2 cohorts. By achieving the assessor qualification, I complemented my practice as a SENCO to deepen understanding of complex needs as well as train staff to further enhance their own CPD within SEN. As an experienced SENCO, I mentored international students on their SEND doctorate and MA courses from Exeter University, as well as participated in their research into Lesson Study.

Sarah’s headteacher

‘Sarah created a whole school assessment plan which meant we identified and addressed SEN at the earliest opportunity. She has driven effective interventions for pupils with both specific learning difficulties as well improving outcomes for these pupils. Her ability to scrutinise assessment data assimilate test scores into necessary individualised programmes of study means nobody slips through the net’

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?

I am looking forward to achieving my Masters qualification and also my National Professional Qualification in Senior Leadership. I love studying and am keen to further progress my practise next year.

Not sure which course I will enrol onto next… possibly NPQH! The world is your oyster with the REAL training programmes!

Karen Cameron – MEd SEND

What do you do?

‘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.’

Why did you decide to study the MEd SEND with us?

‘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.’

What was your favourite part of the course?

‘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.’

What impact has it had on your professional life?

‘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.’

What can someone who has taken these modules offer?

‘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.’

Why would you advise someone to do this course?

‘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.’