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What To Expect From An SEN Teaching Role

What To Expect From An SEN Teaching Role

If you’ve ever considered an SEN teaching or teaching assistant role but you’re worried about what to expect, read on to gain a little insight to see if it is a career path suited to you. Working with children with special educational needs in schools can be an incredibly rewarding but equalling challenging field and as a teacher or teaching assistant it can be a daunting aspect to dive into at first. Whether you’re a supply teacher, NQT / ECT or a teaching assistant, working in an SEN school might be completely novel to you but you are keen to explore it. As specialists in SEN recruitment, education recruitment agency, Initial Education, have outlined the top things to expect when working in an SEN school for the first time.

“When I first came into the special sector, people told me a lot about what pupils couldn’t do and I felt they knew what they couldn’t do. I always wondered what they might do.”

Mr Britten, Headteacher on BBC’s Life in a Special School

You’ve got to have Patience

The saying ‘the patience of a saint’ has never been more relevant when working with special needs children. When working in an SEN school, you’ll fast begin to notice that each student has their own way of learning and interpreting information and being patient with this is crucial. Dyslexia and Autism, amongst other learning disabilities, make learning more challenging for young children, meaning that more often than not they require extra time, patience and reassurance in the classroom. You will find that some students have shorter attention spans than others as they sit down to complete a task and quickly deviate from it, whilst others will require your attention elsewhere and so remaining calm and patient in order to put out one fire at a time is one of the best things you can do.

Every day is different

As part of the team in an SEN school, your day to day will consist of working with and assisting young children with learning difficulties, whether they be physical, emotional, behavioural, visual or hearing. As a supply teacher in an SEN school, you won’t be expected to provide a lesson plan, however adapting to individual learning plans and altering your teaching style to suit the differing abilities in your class is expected. Unlike mainstream schools, SEN schools tend to have smaller class sizes (6-12 students) along with a higher staff to student ratio so you won’t be left on your own

Working in an SEN school is SO rewarding

Whilst the prospect of stepping away from a mainstream school to a special school for an SEN teaching or SEN teaching assistant job may seem daunting, it can be one of the most rewarding things you do during your teaching career. Supporting the children that need it most, you will have the chance to have a real impact on a child’s learning, opening the doors for them to explore future opportunities that they didn’t believe possible. Watching a child come out of their shell, master a skill they have been struggling with or simply connecting with and building relationships with those around them can some of the most rewarding events you witness. Be prepared to be inspired by the sheer determination your students exhibit on a day to day basis, despite the challenges they face, we can guarantee your day will be made up with laugher and smiles from those around you.

Communication

Language and communication are crucial elements to succeeding within an SEN school and it is regularly seen as good practice to apply simple and accessible language whilst avoiding coming across as patronising. Try breaking down tasks into shorter, more digestible sentences and adapt your approach if you discover some students are still struggling. If you are working as a 1:1 teaching assistant in an SEN school, be sure to ask the class teacher what communication techniques are best to use, some children will comprehend everyday communication, whilst others might communicate most effectively though eye movements or technology, so outline this before you begin so that you can hit the ground running.

Makaton is a technique used by students that are non-verbal or struggle with communicating verbally and it’s an invaluable communication technique in SEN Primary schools. Many SEND schools will have students that communicate through British Sign Language (BSL), whilst you won’t be asked to use this method if you do not know it, be prepared for students to use sign language within the classroom. Whilst BSL is designed to assist those with hearing impairments, Makaton plays an essential part in supporting spoken language, featuring elements of BSL interspersed through sentences.

Pupil Profiles

If you are going into an SEN school to work as a 1:1 TA or as a teacher, pupil profiles are essential on your first day. A pupil profile details a student’s educational and medical needs, alongside an analysis of their specific motivators in order to keep children engaged and focussed on the task in hand. Expect to arrive at your school early and take a look through the pupil profile and discuss any other behaviour with staff before school starts – profiles aren’t always updated daily so its important to have the most up to date information.

The number of pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN) make up 15.5% of the population and this is increasing year on year. With an abundance of SEN teaching and teaching assistant roles available, if you’re a passionate and enthusiastic teacher looking for a new challenge, there’s no time like the present. Indeed as a SEND teacher you pick up a host of valuable and transferable skills that can contribute to making you so much more employable in your future career, wherever it may take you. If you are a resilient teacher or teaching assistant looking for a new challenge, get in touch with SEN specialist, Becky, at Initial Education today to find out what opportunities we have available in SEN schools.

Anti-Bullying Week in Schools

Anti-Bullying Week in Schools – One Kind Word

Throughout the week commencing 15th November, schools across the country will be celebrating Anti-Bullying Week, an annual event dedicated to raising awareness of bullying. As with Black History Month in October, this awareness event should not be limited to a week, however Initial Education, an Education Recruitment Agency, have come up with their top ways in which you can mark anti-bullying week in schools and make a lasting impact that gets children talking for weeks to come.

One Kind Word

This year’s theme centres around the concept of ‘one kind word’, creating the perfect opportunity to frame your messages around positivity and inclusion when discussing anti-bullying week in schools. Alongside combatting bullying, this theme was derived to highlight the importance of everyday kindness, helping to eliminate the issue at its roots. Encourage students to say one kind thing to each other every day when they come into class and ask them to pin point one positive aspect that they have got out of their day when the day comes to a close. Teach kindness and empathy from an early age and be sure that children will carry these values with them throughout their lives.

Anti-Bullying Week in Schools

Odd Socks Day

A concept that crops up every year, the 15th November is marked as odd socks day, encouraging children to celebrate and embrace their differences by standing out from the crowd wearing odd socks to school. Championed by CBeebies presenter Andy Day, this day always proves to be hugely successful in promoting the values of Anti-Bullying week.

Get Talking

As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved, so invite children into open discussions about what they think constitutes as bullying in order to educate them on key principles. Highlight issues concerning race, ethnicity, gender and appearance and emphasise that the use of prejudiced language towards someone as a result of one of these factors is unacceptable.

Additionally, building on social and emotional intelligence through having in depth discussions on bullying, children will be able to better spot clear patterns that lead to this unacceptable behaviour, helping to eradicate it from the classroom. Let children know where you are should they feel the need to speak up and dedicate a hour a day, perhaps in lunch or break time, to set aside to listening to those who are struggling.

Go Online

As always, the likes of Twinkle and the Anti-Bullying Alliance are on hand to provide some fantastic resources designed to bring Anti-Bullying week to life in your primary school. Indeed, both associations have teamed up with the BBC this year to create engaging and high quality resources designed to combat bullying.

We all play a part in preventing bullying and right now, with the rise in technology and online activity, it is now more important than ever to raise awareness and draw attention to the destructive behaviour that is bullying. As always, as an education recruitment agency we would love to hear your stories as to how you have marked anti-bullying week in your school. Whether you’re an experienced teacher, ECT or teaching assistant, share your stories with us via Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter!

It goes without saying that if you are interested in a career in education, get in touch today. With supply and longer term teaching roles in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, we will be able to find the best opportunity to suit you.

Celebrating Diwali in the Classroom

Creative ways to celebrate Diwali in the classroom

Every year Indian communities come together to celebrate the religious holiday Diwali, the celebration of lights. This year, the five day festival spans from the 4th of November to the 9th, providing a perfect opportunity to educate children with a range of literature, food and values that originate from the Indian festival. The celebration of lights does just that, championing light over darkness and good over evil, lighting up homes across the globe. There’s more to Diwali than just putting up some lights, if you’re looking for creative ways to celebrate Diwali in the classroom, carry on reading as Education Recruitment Agency, Initial Education, have come up with their favourite ways to bring even more magic to the festival of lights.

Host a Mela

A Mela is a type of Indian street fair where local residents come together to sell their home grown produce and handmade goods. Providing the perfect opportunity to ignite student’s creative sides, hold an arts and crafts lesson or day to create pieces that students can later trade in a year group-wide or school wide Mela. Not only does this inspire imaginations, this creative way to celebrate Diwali teaches children about significant ancient artifacts an sculptures synonymous with the religious festival.

A Festival of Lights

You can’t celebrate the festival of lights without a nod to the beautiful clay candles lit by Hindu, Sikh and Jain households alike in honour of the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. Allow students to decorate the classroom with clay tea light holders and LED lights to illuminate the room throughout the 5 day festival. If you want to go a little further, introduce the magic of rangoli patterns to the class, perhaps by using coloured pencils or pens instead of sand at first to keep the mess to a minimum.

Share Stories

Include students in story time by sharing Indian stories behind the origins of Diwali and encourage students to share their own anecdotes of what each tale reminds them of. Ask students to interpret the concept of light over evil and how this occurs in their everyday lives, perhaps even ask them to bring in an object that symbolises that concept most to them. Creating relatable situations, particularly for younger children, during story time can aid in magnifying the impact of the tale you are telling and encourages a collaborative atmosphere that can create personal connections to the legend.

Food!

In line with the brightness theme, sweets are an integral part of Diwali celebrations, with the second day of the festival typically dedicated to the buying and sharing of sweets such as Halwa. Allow children to make their own sweets and take it in turns sharing tasks such as mixing to make sure that everyone gets a chance to be involved. Simple sweets to make include coconut Burfi sweets, made out of desiccated coconut, condensed milk and food colouring. Be careful of allergies as many traditional Indian sweets contain nuts and milk as a base, so be sure to read the ingredients list before sharing.

Other, more savoury snacks include bhajis, pakoras and samosas. Set children the task of going home and baking traditional Indian snacks over the weekend ready to bring in on the Monday.

As an education recruitment agency, we’d love to hear about the creative ways that you are planning on celebrating Diwali in the classroom, whether you’re an experienced teacher, ECT or teaching assistant, just get in touch via email, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter and be sure to tag us!

If you’re looking for a new challenge in Worcestershire or Gloucestershire and love working with children, get in contact with Becky from Initial Education today to hear how we can help find your ideal role.

Black History Month Round Up

As October comes to an end, we have reached the end of Black History Month, serving as a great time to celebrate some of the best dedications and tributes made in an effort to celebrate black history over the past four weeks. Schools across the country have been putting their own spin on this month’s theme and as an education recruitment agency, we’d love to hear how you celebrated in your school, whether you’re an experienced teacher, ECT or teaching assistant.

It goes without saying, that although we have come to the end of Black History Month, this is an issue that extends beyond a dedicated day, week or month and we should continue to devote time to learning about British history from all angles. Without further ado, lets take a look at the October round up…

Jacky Wright tops Britain’s most influential Black Briton’s list

The chief digital officer of Microsoft, Jacky Wright, made waves by topping the list of some of the most powerful figures from African and Caribbean heritage in Britain, coming in first ahead of Marcus Rashford and actress Michaela Coel. The esteemed business woman has called for ‘monumental shifts’ in becoming an equal society in Britain, and received the accolade due to the ‘sheer scale of work she is doing’.

A further influential figure that made an appearance was The Social Chain’s founder and the newest Dragon on Dragon’s Den, Stephen Bartlett. Stephen often recalls on his podcast and in his autobiography the journey from his humble beginnings in Manchester, to the development of The Social Chain (who, may I just add have a projected revenue of £1 billion by 2023) and his meteoric rise to become Dragon’s Den’s youngest ever panelist.

Dr Marcus Rashford

The man of the moment Marcus Rashford received an honorary doctorate from his hometown university, The University of Manchester, in recognition of his tremendous battle against child poverty in the UK. Indeed I’m sure as you all know, at the beginning the first lockdown in March 2019, the government announced cuts to free school meals for children and Marcus Rashford initiated and was incredibly instrumental in the campaign that forced Boris Johnson to U-Turn on the cuts. The star footballer became the youngest individual appearing on the Sunday Times giving list, and whilst there is still a long way to go in the fight against child poverty, it’s fair to say Rashford has made a life changing difference to many young children’s lives. As an education recruitment agency, ensuring that children are fulfilled both in and outside school life is a top priority for us, you can read more about Rashford’s campaign here.

Stan Horne

On the football theme, the Ex-Manchester City player Stan Horne became the first black football player to win the English Football league in 1965, and, 53 years later this month he was finally awarded his medal. After injury meant that Stan was unable to play in the majority of the championship, Horne was ‘overjoyed’ to have been awarded the medal after rules were overturned. Indeed, Horne reflected on the changing times, recounting how in the 1960s black football players were treated as a ‘novelty’, demonstrating the huge headway we have made in becoming an equal society and we’re not done yet.

Memorable Campaigns

This month the media has been awash with an array of captivating campaigns designed in recognition of some of Britain’s most influential characters. Some of the most notable campaigns that might have flown under your radar are those from Transport for London (TFL) and Google. Indeed, London’s famous tube map was re-imagined in tribute to some of the most critical Black Britons in British history. Each line is dedicated to a specific theme, for example the Bakerloo line pays tribute to the biggest sporting names, such as cricketer Everton Weekes, best known for his part in the trio ‘The Three Ws’ in the West Indies cricket team. Other notable characters include Edmund Jenkins, instrumental in leading the 1919 concert in celebration of Coleridge Taylor and poet Cecile Nobrega.

Its fair to say that this October, Black History has been at the forefront of people’s minds thanks to its increased presence in mainstream media. Without sounding like a scratched record, there is more to be done and this issue extends past the month of October.

We would love to know how you celebrated Black History Month in your school, get in touch today to share your ideas! If you are an experienced teacher, NQT/ECT or teaching assistant we’d love to hear from you.

If you are looking for a new role in Education, Initial Education is an education agency serving a fantastic range of school in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, so get in touch today if you are an experienced teacher, ECT or teaching assistant looking for a new role! Find us via email, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or give us a call on 01452 740 001.

World Mental Health Day – How You Can Help

With mental health awareness becoming an ever-pressing issue in our day-to-day lives, it seems fitting that each year we dedicate specific time to addressing the subject. An issue that extends past one day or awareness week, we discuss what you can do as a teacher to help both colleagues and students alike to raise awareness and help to improve well-being within schools.

World Mental Health Day

Ask The Questions

The stigma around mental health is slowly diminishing, however people are often still too afraid to ask. Get to the root of wellbeing issues in a school by asking the questions, whether that be through online surveys or 1:1 sessions with individuals. Resist the urge to simply ask how you can ‘fix’ the issue and focus on guiding conversations and ask instead how you can improve circumstances or make things better.

This can help pinpoint specific issues and often enables you to resolve them more efficiently than dancing around the subject. From this, you can take the time to talk and utilise school therapists to help get the best out of staff and pupils. For the majority, mental health problems are treatable should they be detected early, so take a time out and make this a priority.

Make it normal to talk

Its often difficult for children to express exactly how they are feeling, so make it easier by naming emotions and feelings in a way that children will identify with. Enabling the development of emotional intelligence will ensure that issues can be raised clearly. Try doing this through photo cards or a range of interactive activities to cement the process. Invite children to talk about how they’re feeling by asking questions such as “you look upset today, how can I help?”.

The organised chaos of a typical school day makes it hard to find the time to assign additional time to speaking to a student or colleague who seems particularly disheartened or low, however this is perhaps a more pressing issue than that never ending pile of marking sat on your desk. Taking the time can really make a huge difference to someone’s day or even week, so this mental health day make it more normal to talk.

Controlling emotions

The journey of learning emotional intelligence isn’t an easy one, but a key element is to develop specific strategies to regulate and control these emotions. This world mental health day, devote a few hours to talk and develop awareness into what your students are feeling and why they feel it. From this, you can assist in establishing a set of exercises that they can do to suppress this, whether that be star jumps or colouring.

“When adults support and encourage young children as they take risks, face obstacles, and grow from failure, young people learn how to bounce back from life’s ups and downs.”

— Marilyn Price-Mitchell, PhD (Quotes About Resilience That Foster Children’s Determination and Self-Confidence).

Make yourself approachable

When it comes to discussing personal mental health, making yourself approachable is pivotal in being able to help someone. Take part in a mental health first aid course and educate yourself around managing each situation, or simply make it known that you are there for students and colleagues should they need you. Encourage activities that allow students to get to know each other and you and make an effort to find out and show interest in what students get up to when they’re not at school. Everyone’s favourite topic is themselves so start the day with an open dialogue to ignite a positive feeling from the outset.

Make Use of Online Resources

As a crucial issue making significant headway in becoming an integral part in the school curriculum, there are some great online resources available that you can integrate into your lessons. Of course, teaching resource site Twinkl features a plethora of free to download activities, from positive affirmations to mindfulness and breathing exercises. Additionally, charities such as Young Minds understand the juggling act that teachers re having to go through on a daily basis and are providing everything you will need to come together for a fundraising day on 8th October 2021 through the #HelloYellow campaign.

We’d love to see how you’re spending world mental health day in school this year, tag us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter!

If you’re looking for a new challenge or change of scenery, Initial Education would love to hear from you so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via email or call us on 01452 740 001 (option 3).

Key Strengths of a Great Teaching Assistant

Teaching assistants form an integral part of our education system and are crucial to supporting both teachers and pupils in and outside of the classroom. Working 1:1 with students that need a little more guidance or working in larger groups in primary and secondary school settings, a great teaching assistant is able to encourage and develop students to get the best out of their learning.

So, we’ve established the importance of teaching assistants, but what really are the key strengths of a great teaching assistant I hear you say, well the team at Initial Education have come up with the key strengths that they look or when hiring teaching assistants.

Building and maintain strong relationships

Whilst maintaining long-lasting bonds with pupils seems an obvious requirement for a good teaching assistant, great teaching assistants are also able to build those relationships with their colleagues and parents to ensure that pupils have a strong support network built around them. Trust is crucial to any successful relationship, so get to know your pupils, their parents, and teachers in order to get the most out of the learning environment.

With relationships built on trust, it’s not uncommon for a teaching assistant to stick with one pupil throughout their primary or secondary school career thanks to the fantastic bonds that are built between themselves and a pupil.

Be prepared to be flexible

Teaching isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach and what worked with one class may not work with the next, meaning that teaching partners should be ready to adapt to different teaching styles on a daily basis. This is particularly pivotal when working in supply contexts as responsiveness and thinking outside of the box is fantastic for personal development.

Teamwork and Communication are KEY

Teamwork and communication are not only buzzwords that you use to bulk out your CV, indeed they are vital strengths to a great teaching assistant. Teaching assistants act as an intermediary between teachers and students, requiring you to relay and explain information accurately in a manner that your students will best understand. As we’ve discussed, it is so important to work closely with teachers and parents to ensure that student needs are correctly addressed and this strong communication skills.

Additionally, as a teaching assistant you will often be required to work with a number of different classes and pupils on a daily basis, amplifying the importance of exceptional team working and communication skills to encourage successful learning development.

Enthusiasm and Passion go a long way

A great teaching assistant will have a passion for working with and developing children, whether that be in early years, SEN or mainstream primary and secondary. An energetic approach will create an exciting atmosphere in the classroom, encouraging students to want to learn. What’s more, great teaching assistants will build on that passion but partaking in online courses designed to improve your competencies as a TA.

 

If you’re looking for a career change and think you would make a great teaching assistant, or if you’re simply looking for a fresh start in a new school, we have a great candidate and client base and we would love to hear from you!

Hiring an NQT : What To Look Out For

Hiring a new, inexperienced NQT or member of staff can be a tough decision, and although you may feel yourself gravitating to those candidates offering years of experience, a young or newly qualified teacher can bring so many strengths to your educational setting. Indeed, the drive and passion of new teachers is unrivalled, bringing with them a new approach and energy to the curriculum. Take a look at Initial Education’s key things to look out for when you’re hiring new teachers.

Flexibility and adaptability

At Initial Education we believe that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to teaching and the best teachers are those that are able to adapt to differing and challenging situations on a daily basis without getting flustered. When hiring an NQT, look at whether they have completed supply work previously or worked with both mainstream and SEN schools as this is a clear indicator of an individual’s ability to adapt to alternative environments.

Enthusiasm

Love what you do and do what you love. Teaching isn’t easy at the best of times so when hiring NQTs, look out for those that have a true passion for what they do and why they do it. Passion and enthusiasm go a long way in teaching as a teacher’s energy can easily be reflected onto those in the classroom, creating a great learning environment for all those involved. Indeed, when hiring an NQT you should consider that they are likely to incorporate new technologies into the classroom fresh from training, keeping pupils engaged and reinforcing their love for school.

Patience is underrated

A crucial skill that is often overlooked, educators that display patience and a degree of tranquillity are hugely valuable. Regardless of age group, pupils learn differently, misbehave, or simply struggle to process information in the same way. When hiring an NQT, look for those that are able to remain calm, cool and collected in even the most frustrating of situations in order to get the most out of their students.

Communication

Fundamental to teaching success, look for teachers that are able to effectively communicate with pupils, their parents and other teaching staff. Indeed, contributing to the learning development of students requires exceptional communication with other teachers in order to tailor your approach to each class. Additionally, building trusting relationships with parents and pupils is great for keeping students engaged in their learning, making the best teachers those that are able to demonstrate that they are able to provide effective and constructive feedback.

Furthermore, look at your existing team of staff and take into consideration the benefits that they would obtain from bringing on a newly qualified teacher. Indeed, this provides fantastic opportunities for existing staff to develop their own leadership and mentoring competencies, alongside reflecting on new techniques and practices.

Consider an agency

If you’re worried about the calibre of staff that you bringing to a school, whether they be newly qualified teachers of those with years of experience, consider looking to an agency for assistance. We’ve done the leg work for you and have a pool of the best NQTs and experienced teachers in the area, saving you time and worry. What’s more, we make safeguarding children our top priority, so when taking on a new teacher or teaching assistant from Initial Education you don’t have to worry. All our candidates are interviewed, and references are thoroughly reviewed prior to registration, in addition to an up-to-date enhanced DBS check.

If you’re looking for teaching staff for supply, temporary or longer-term work, we have a great pool of candidates and would love to hear from you, just get in touch.