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NQT in a special school

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by 123lalala456, Feb 24, 2016.

  1. 123lalala456

    123lalala456 New commenter


    I wondered if anyone has done this and what your experience was like as an nqt in a special school setting?

    I did not think any SEND jobs would come available and so started to think about applying for EYFS or KS1 as they're my other areas of interest. Then out of the blue two vacancies have come up. One in a school currently undergoing a lot of changes (RI Ofsted) but I had a good feeling about the place; it's to teach y7 however I'm doing a primary pgce (the school are fine with this - yet as I overthink I become worried I wouldn't manage the age range as well despite the fact I've worked with older people in an independent living setting). Another is a resource base attached to a primary school, it is not specified whether it's their KS1 or KS2 class but I also really liked the place when I visited there too. Both very different opportunities.The resource base seems an equally great opportunity but I worry with this situation that I may hold off on the first job, and end up not getting the other one! It could also be decided that the academy want me but not to teach the resource base and ask me to teach a mainstream class, thus passing up the SEN school job.

    I guess I am just worrying (I worry all the time) that should I go for a job and subsequently later decide to teach mainstream that I won't be employable; that I will have to stick with being in a special school. Lots of people keep telling me I should get a couple of years at least of mainstream experience under my belt before switching. But I worked as a TA before, and for half of, my degree and I feel like I do already have that experience behind me. I have experience from an independent living setting of working with young adults with disabilities and when I started my degree had the intention of teaching children with different learning needs.

    I am so conflicted, I feel like if I take a job too soon I will miss something that comes up later on but equally if I wait I could pass up something that seems brilliant just because I was holding out for something else...its so difficult.

    If anyone has any personal anecdotes or advice I would appreciate it. Whilst I am anxious about these decisions, I am at least grateful to have this choice! I care so much about finding somewhere I can spend a good few years of my career I think I overthink it all. Being a bit older I want to settle somewhere, so I think I'm putting a lot of pressure to find the best place for me to be

    Thanks if you've read through all my waffle this far! x
  2. jumpingstar

    jumpingstar New commenter

    As an resource base teacher who has come from mainstream with no specialist training myself, I can that is is do-able but I wouldn't recommend it for an NQT. There isn't SEND support like there would be in a special school and you kind of feel left out on your own. I have nearly 15 years experience of mainstream teaching and it has been an uphill journey for me and I have learnt A LOT from being chucked in at the deep end in the ARB. Of course this is ultimately the schools and your decision but for me knowing how much of a journey I've been on as a mainstream teacher entering a resource base I wouldn't think it would be suitable for an NQT personally.

    Depending on your SENDCO's experience in the mainstream would be the difference to your support but a lot of mainstream SENCO's have little specialist SEND training and with children with very diverse needs in an ARB they wouldn't always have the skills to support you. An ARB teacher also normally leads annual reviews, TAC's and does all the care plans, risk assessments etc. I think that is a lot to take on without having taught first or having your SENDCO training (I was a SENDCO for 5 years before going to the ARB). I don't know for sure, having never taught in special school but I would imagine you get more support with this in those settings.

    The special school is another matter which I am sure would be a different supportive atmostphere for an NQT just from having other specialist SEND teachers in your setting to bounce ideas off etc. Mainstream and special settings are VERY different though. I would go with your heart to be honest. There is nothing to say you couldn't switch later on but either way that you switch would be a learning journey.

    Hope that helps. As I said though - follow your heart as ultimately your gut will tell you the right decision to make.
  3. sofia_sen

    sofia_sen Occasional commenter

    I am an NQT in a SEN school and I am loving it!

    It does however hugely depend on the kind of school and the support they offer. I teach KS2, years 4-6 and in all honesty, I don't think I would have liked a year 7 class that much.

    I think that what you should do is ask the schools about the support they can provide you and, if possible, talk to current NQTs to see what their experience is like. I am doing my NQT year in the school where I trained and where I before that worked as a TA so I knew the school already very well.

    If you have any specific questions, let me know. But as the previous poster said: go with your gut!
  4. 123lalala456

    123lalala456 New commenter

    Jumping star thank you for your reply - it's a lot to think about especially with all that to take on. It's added to the questions I'll need to ask when there - the academy has a lot of schools and I believe an nqt with similar experience to me was placed in one of their RB and the SEND lead is very strong, I just obviously need to establish how much support they would be able to offer...Lots to consider.

    Sofia_sen thanks too; it must be great to know the school so well. If I make it to interview at least I'll be able to teach the y7s and see how that feels and get lots of my questions answered. I would've loved an opening in primary age!

    It's good to hear perspectives from you both, thank you.
  5. jumpingstar

    jumpingstar New commenter

    Exactly - it's all about asking the questions that will help you out in your decision.
    Get a huge list! ha ha
    Good luck - let us know which decision you make
  6. R13

    R13 Occasional commenter

    I'm offering an opinion from a different perspective to sofia_sen (As an experienced special school Head) but I have to say I would fully endorse what she has said.
    Special schools can be wonderfully supportive places to teach and to learn - get the right one and you'll have a great opportunity to flourish and make a difference. Ask those questions
  7. 123lalala456

    123lalala456 New commenter

    I've got an interview with the special school! So excited yet pretty nervous and my brain has lost all capability for rational thought.

    What would be good questions to ask about being an nqt? What sort of support should I expect too...We haven't covered nqt expectations and support so I'm not sure what's good or not?

    Fingers and toes are crossed that I enjoy the teaching part of the interview as only then will I know if I feel like I could do it well as a full time role. There is a group and individual task too; the content of which hasn't been revealed so my nervous mind is racing about what I might have to do!
  8. sofia_sen

    sofia_sen Occasional commenter


    I would ask who your mentor would be and how mentoring works in your school. I have regular mentor meetings with mine (during school hours) and she observes once every half term. Or more, if I want it.

    I would also ask about training. Since we are special we are not going to the LA trainings but we have trainings at school. Both work but make sure there is a programme in place.

    Ask about working hours and meetings after school.

    Ask about NQT time, I get half a day for training and almost a day for PPA which I know is a lot. Normally you get 1 day out of class for NQT and PPA combined.

    Ask about what support there is in school for specific students. Is there an ASD team to help? Somebody who can help you with tube feeding or manual handling? Are there therapists onsite? In my experience it makes things a lot easier.

    Ask about help with managing a team since that is probably something that you haven't learnt in teacher training and it's quite tricky by times. Same for handling difficult parents.

    And finally ask what happens if things go wrong. What is the support they can provide if you are struggling?

    Hope this helps!
  9. 123lalala456

    123lalala456 New commenter

    Helps massively! Thank you! It's all the little things that have popper into my head at some point that has disappeared as I'm so busy at the moment in placement.

    I might my epic list of questions and they decide it'd be too much work for them to have me - but at least I'd have covered the things that would put my mind at rest! Thanks x

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