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Urgent: Transferring into Special Needs Education

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by ellenlilymay, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. ellenlilymay

    ellenlilymay New commenter

    Hi - this is an urgent and desperate plea for your advice if poss please.

    I'm an older teacher who needs (and wants) to continue working for another six years in an interesting educational area. I urgently need to find a new direction within Education which I could develop fully and gain expertise for the rest of my career and working life, as (despite an apparent "national shortage" of MFL teachers) I'm completely unable to find work in my current subject area (French) as I do not have a second language and it would take too long to acquire proficiency/quals in one.

    I would be keen to use my varied and extensive (secondary, post-16, even HE) teaching experience to get into some area of Special Needs Education in the post-16 or secondary sector (although would undoubtedly enjoy primary more however sadly I have no primary experience).

    I have looked at getting a job first, as people have kindly suggested, but these clearly state that they already require SEN experience and so am thinking I would need to do a qualification of some kind fairly urgently or some other method of convincing future employers.

    I would be grateful if anyone who is in SEN support or teaching let me know how they made the transfer into SEN. I have 2 family members with autism for example and appreciate first-hand some of the difficulties but otherwise would also be grateful to know from you where there may be the most demand hence the most work for an older person.
  2. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I left the mainstream and now work in an independent provider for children who have had difficulties, many of whom have learning difficulties of varying severity.
    I didn't need any exra formal training. However, the low salary is only workable because I have other strands of income; they don't use Teachers' Pensions which could also be a problem for you.
    Before I got into my present workplace, I had a zero hours tutoring contract with a provider of learning for children who had fallen out of the system. The key word was zero. In the 11 months I worked for them, I had six weeks of three afternoons a week (3hrs at a time) minding a child I was not really qualified to work with, followed by a gap, followed by 5 2 hour lessons with one pupil where I did feel I'd made progress.
  3. Lucilla90

    Lucilla90 Occasional commenter

    Is there any possibility you could do some volunteering at a local SEN setting, or shadow an SEN teacher, taking as many notes on strategies etc... as possible? Even if it was just for a few weeks at least it would show you whether it’s really the route you want AND show some inside knowledge for potential employers.

    NASEN has a lot of useful information and online training. Also, your local authority CPD set-up, though you may have to pay if not in a post.
  4. ilovesummertime

    ilovesummertime New commenter

    I would agree with @Lucilla90 in that volunteering would be a good idea if you can find the time. I went from mainstream to special schools and back to mainstream but in an area of SEND. I first moved to a special school after gaining experience working a little bit with Portage and just making the most of experiences in areas of SEND in my mainstream setting. I think as long as you can show a real interest, commitment, enthusiasm, some knowledge and to mostly be able to build up a good rapport with the pupils, there's no reason a special school wouldn't consider employing you. Good luck!
  5. Landofla

    Landofla Established commenter

    I’m thinking it would actually be easier to learn another language, Spanish for example. If you are fluent in French, I would have thought that you could self-teach yourself Spanish over six months or so.

    You say you are looking to “develop fully and gain expertise for the rest of your working life,” as in the next six years? Not very much time really and as I’ve found out, SEN takes years to build up the skills, knowledge and understanding. Basically, my concern is that you think moving to SEN will be easier than learning Spanish. Imo, it definitely won’t be.

    I suggest you try getting some SEN supply work and trying out the different areas. Autism is just one area and imo quite possibly the most complex... Very interesting nonetheless.
  6. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    I have A level French and Italian and would agree that learning Spanish, Portuguese or Italian to KS3 would be accessible and in 3 months and GCSE within 6.

    Also have you thought of working in primary schools and nurseries where they offer language lessons plus the option of Adult and Further Education? Please don't invest any big money in SEND courses as there are loads of Alternative Provisions which deal with SEND that are desperate for anyone with QTS to work there. Google 'Alternative Provisions plus the name of your borough' eg Alternative Provisions in Kent and you will see a list.

    SEND jobs aren't in huge demand and you will find, unfortunately that the reason you are not getting the jobs is because schools do not want to invest in older teachers. I am an older teacher and I know this from experience, so look to other PAID avenues, tutoring, private schools, primary and nurseries schools etc. and seek CHEAP AS CHIPS ways of getting the skills to make yourself more marketable.
    Landofla likes this.
  7. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    Landofla likes this.
  8. ellenlilymay

    ellenlilymay New commenter

    Hi -- I wanted to add that my post wasn't intended as a comparison of investment in SEND or in Spanish. I have no affinity whatsoever for Spanish - I have never in fact been to Spain - whilst I have a personal interest in 2 family members with autism as well as a hoard of past students with various concerns. I also feel that after 18 months of hitting my head on a brick wall trying to get ANY job, it is time I tried another angle whilst using my teaching skills. I'm not suggesting at all that getting into SEND is easy, etc. Apologies for any ambiguity in my posting.
  9. finfin

    finfin New commenter

    I moved into SEN after 14 years in mainstream. I have no extra qualifications, it just helped that I had a lot of the lower ability groups. You’ve taught SEN pupils, so that’s how you sell yourself. Also ask for a visit to the school as every SEN school is very different, I had a grilling from the Head on my visit and was asked to apply after it.
    I’m not sure where about a you are in the country, but I know that my school rarely gets anyone applying for their vacancies.
    I love it and can’t see myself going back to mainstream.

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