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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.

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.

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.