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Returning to the classroom - teacher or TA for SEN supply?

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by becstar76, Feb 25, 2012.

  1. Hello everyone
    I am seeking advice/opinions from teachers in SEN schools regarding what I should do with regards to starting SEN supply work...
    I qualified as a teacher in 2004 and worked in mainstream primary schools until 2006 when I took on a unique role as a teacher and centre manager at an outdoor ed centre for Foundation, KS1 nad SEN children. In this role I had to devise and deliver curriculum-linked lessons for visiting classes using both indoor and outdoor classroom settings. As every class was new and different each day, had to be able to plan lessons creatively and differentiated to suit age, ability and need of class. I managed the day to day running of the centre, including school liaison, finance, resource organisation and purchase, writing risk assessments and other policies and procedures, training teachers on outdoor ed and even looked after a variety of arm animals! The SEN schools who bought classes to me were always impressed with the lessons I devised for them and often commented on my 'natural' apptitude for working with their children (one even said I should go to see them for a future job)!
    I was(very sadly) made redundant from this centre in May 2011 and since then have been working for a local environmental charity setting up a new environmental ed programme to deliver to schools. However, I am dying to get back to teaching and through my experience of working with SEN children at my last place (many local SEN schools visited me on a regular basis), I really want to teach in a special school. I LOVED working with these children and enjoyed seeing the benefits outdoor ed provides for these children (very sensory/interrractive/physical learning).
    Before I became a teacher, I was a support worker for 3 years for adults and children with learning disabilities so have not only had recent experience of planning for and delivering to SEN groups as a teacher (not in a 'traditional' school-based setting, granted), but I have also had experience of the more 'care-related' or holisitc aspect to their needs aswell.
    So, last week, I decided to take the plunge, I gave up my current job and signed on at a supply agency to start getting some more SEN experience with the plan to get a permanent position when I have more experience. I am also doing an afternoon a week voluntary work at a local SEN school (start next Wednesday). However, although I have requested teaching work, I am thinking that it may be better to do TA work instead to start with. Based on this brief run-down of my SEN experience, could any SEN teachers tell me what they think I should do? Would you be happy for someone like me to teach in your school or should I take a more 'assisting' role first? Obviously, the pay for a TA job would be significantly less than a teachers pay and with my husband currently unemployed through redundancy also, this is a concern. However, I also don't want to put myslef in the position where I am not doing the best job I can and I certainly wouldn't want to compromise the childrens education. Am I being to hard on myself or should I go in at the shallow end first?
    I am due to start supply work from 7th March onwards and I have enrolled on a 'Makaton for Professionals' course which takes place on 13th and 14th March. I am also swattin up on all things SEN related in the mean time. Any advice/comments would be greatly appreciated. Thank you :)
     
  2. Hello everyone
    I am seeking advice/opinions from teachers in SEN schools regarding what I should do with regards to starting SEN supply work...
    I qualified as a teacher in 2004 and worked in mainstream primary schools until 2006 when I took on a unique role as a teacher and centre manager at an outdoor ed centre for Foundation, KS1 nad SEN children. In this role I had to devise and deliver curriculum-linked lessons for visiting classes using both indoor and outdoor classroom settings. As every class was new and different each day, had to be able to plan lessons creatively and differentiated to suit age, ability and need of class. I managed the day to day running of the centre, including school liaison, finance, resource organisation and purchase, writing risk assessments and other policies and procedures, training teachers on outdoor ed and even looked after a variety of arm animals! The SEN schools who bought classes to me were always impressed with the lessons I devised for them and often commented on my 'natural' apptitude for working with their children (one even said I should go to see them for a future job)!
    I was(very sadly) made redundant from this centre in May 2011 and since then have been working for a local environmental charity setting up a new environmental ed programme to deliver to schools. However, I am dying to get back to teaching and through my experience of working with SEN children at my last place (many local SEN schools visited me on a regular basis), I really want to teach in a special school. I LOVED working with these children and enjoyed seeing the benefits outdoor ed provides for these children (very sensory/interrractive/physical learning).
    Before I became a teacher, I was a support worker for 3 years for adults and children with learning disabilities so have not only had recent experience of planning for and delivering to SEN groups as a teacher (not in a 'traditional' school-based setting, granted), but I have also had experience of the more 'care-related' or holisitc aspect to their needs aswell.
    So, last week, I decided to take the plunge, I gave up my current job and signed on at a supply agency to start getting some more SEN experience with the plan to get a permanent position when I have more experience. I am also doing an afternoon a week voluntary work at a local SEN school (start next Wednesday). However, although I have requested teaching work, I am thinking that it may be better to do TA work instead to start with. Based on this brief run-down of my SEN experience, could any SEN teachers tell me what they think I should do? Would you be happy for someone like me to teach in your school or should I take a more 'assisting' role first? Obviously, the pay for a TA job would be significantly less than a teachers pay and with my husband currently unemployed through redundancy also, this is a concern. However, I also don't want to put myslef in the position where I am not doing the best job I can and I certainly wouldn't want to compromise the childrens education. Am I being to hard on myself or should I go in at the shallow end first?
    I am due to start supply work from 7th March onwards and I have enrolled on a 'Makaton for Professionals' course which takes place on 13th and 14th March. I am also swattin up on all things SEN related in the mean time. Any advice/comments would be greatly appreciated. Thank you :)
     
  3. dzil

    dzil Occasional commenter

    SIgn up for and apply for the teaching roles. You have the experience, enthusiasm and commitment required to get you to interview I think. That's usually what the SMT look for. They'd expect to support you as well as provide you with a comprehensive induction package if you were employed on a contract. That is what special schools usually do anyway for any new member of staff.
    You do need to know what type of special school or unit you want to work in (there are a lot: generic all age schools, schools for pupils with SEBD, autism, PMLD, SLD, sensory difficultie, just primary age pupils, just secondary and so on.) YOu'd need to be sure you are aware of relevant assessments for learning, the national curriculum relevant to the age you want to teach and how that curriculum can be adapted for pupils working at the P levels and things like that. Given you've been out of the classroom for a long time I suspect the aappointments pannel would want to ensure you had a good grasp of the whole national Curriculum, not just the "outdoors" bit. Nothing to onerous they'd just wnat to know you'd kept in touch with classroom practice. Your strength would be that you had had to know the curriculum and adapt it to a specific setting as well as to the differet abitity and age groups in your former job so adapting it for the classroom won't be too challenging.
    A lot of teachers who come to us as supply teachers often get asked to cover as teaching assistants (on TA pay) if they are available and we don't have teaching work. I'm sure the supply agancy will offer you both types of work if you let them them know you are willing and want the experience.
     
  4. Hey! Thanks for the advice! As you have stated, because I have been out of the school system for a while, it's things like assessment techniques and methods, monitoring and evaluation that I am most out of practice with (not having had to do this in my last job). I am hoping that I will begin to pick this up again whilst in schools and watching how they work. Is there anything I can do to swat up on this in the mean time? Any good websites or information/examples out there in relation to SEN APP? I downloaded the P scale level descriptors and a bit of info from the NASEN website but would like to get hold of more. Thanks[​IMG]
     
  5. dzil

    dzil Occasional commenter

    Hi again,
    Getting to know the P levels is a great start. Many schools use B Squared or PIVATS to break down the P levels even more. I've put a link to some basic information on PIVATS in the resources bank.
    https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/What-is-PIVATS-6002185/
    I've also got a link to a useful recording doc. for Science at the P levels
    https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/Recording-science-in-the-P-levels-6002544/
    For pupils working at the very early P levels (mainly pupils with PMLD) it's well worth looking at the Welsh Routes for Learning stuff.
    https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/Welsh-routes-for-learning-information-and-documentation-6001831/
     
  6. You are a star! Thank you so much for those links - lots of great info/examples. XX
     
  7. I agree you should go for the teaching roles. Because special schools are so diverse, no new teacher could have exactly the same kind of background or experience. I came from a mainstream school and was supported in my induction in my special school. I wouldn't worry too much about assessment as you would be shown what to do and I've found that different special schools use different methods anyway. Even if you had experience with the same form of assessment a school uses, it's likely the school's use of it would have developed according to its own individual character.
    If you would like more info on PIVATs, I've attached two resources which I made for staff in my school. These show how the PIVATs performance indicators (sort of) match up to APP reading and writing. If you haven't used PIVATs before these can look a bit confusing but hopefully it will help you see how they fit in with what many schools are doing. Sorry, I don't know how to add a direct link to these but I think if you click on my name it should get you there.
    So, go for teaching roles if you can but if you are prepared to take on TA roles when there is no other work available, this can only help add to the range of schools you have experience (and contacts) in. I wouldn't market yourself as a TA first and foremost though as you risk underselling yourself. Schools may wonder why you wanted to step back. I think your creative approach to teaching will help you get an ideal teaching role; it's just waiting for the right one to come up. I hope you get on well.
     
  8. Loony tunes

    Loony tunes New commenter

    H, if you're doing supply work there's no harm agreeing to do TA work in special schools, just make sure you tell the agency you won't do mainstream TA work or you'll just become cheap labour. I started off doing supply as a TA in a special school - it gave me loads of experience, gave me opportunity to observe some fantastic teachers in practice and meant that when a teaching job came up, I was in the perfect position to get the role. Worked for me and there's no way I'd go back to mainstream now. Good luck!
     
  9. Thanks for both of yours advice and for the extra information. I will definitely go for as many teaching assignments as possible and then top-up with TA work if no teaching jobs are available. To be honest, I am just looking forward to getting stuck in and getting back to what I love. It will be scary to start with as I haven't been in a 'normal' school setting for ages, but I know it won't take me long to settle into it. Thanks everyone for your advice, comments and the information. I will let you know how my first day goes[​IMG] xx
     
  10. Hey guys! I got the job!!!!!![​IMG] I really enjoyed the interview - the Head and Deputy were lovely. I thought I'd be waiting over the weekend to hear as they said there were a number of people they had just interviewed over the past few days and potentially a couple more to see. They said they would call next Tuesday or Wednesday but within an hour of me leaving the school, my agency called me to say they wanted me!!!! I start on 23rd April.
    Thanks you for your best wishes and advice - I am a very happy (and slightly stunned) SEN teacher[​IMG] xx
     
  11. Congratulations. I thought there'd be plenty of people wanting to snap you up. All the best.
     
  12. dzil

    dzil Occasional commenter

    Yeh! So pleased.Welcome to "special", the most frustrating, challenging and rewarding job in the world! [​IMG]
    Look forward to supporting you once you get settled.
     

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