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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.

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.