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workload query - pmld/sld/asd compared to mainstream

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by sparklyrainbowfish, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. Hi everyone
    I have been interested in working with children with ASD for some time, and am just beginning to look for posts which are suitable.
    I have seen a job advertised in a special school catering for children with SLD, PMLD and ASD. The children are taught in groups according to their SEN type, so there are no mixed SLD and ASD classes for example. The set-up looks excellent and I have heard only good things about the school.
    My question is - how does the workload compare to that in a mainstream primary?
    I can imagine that prepping, resourcing, assessment and planning takes up the majority of the time; with marking being much less (especially as I have Y6 in primary mainstream!). What sort of time do people generally get in and leave at your schools? How much work needs to be done at home? Right now I get in about 30-45 mins before school starts (it's not very near to me) and generally leave around 5.30 on average. I end up doing work at home at least 2 or 3 nights a week plus one day at the weekend.
    In addition, there is the possibility of it being a subject leader position - which will mean looking at the curriculum provision, differentiating, providing suggestions for teachers across the whole school etc. I imagine this aspect of it would take longer than in a mainstream school due to the very different types of children in this special school. The majority are at low p levels but a small number get up to NC level 1 or 2; and most are non-verbal.
    I would really appreciate an honest comparison of how the workload differs. Am I right in thinking that the school day itself is really intensive but means not much gets taken home - or am I just kidding myself?
    Thanks a lot,
    sparkly
     
  2. Hi everyone
    I have been interested in working with children with ASD for some time, and am just beginning to look for posts which are suitable.
    I have seen a job advertised in a special school catering for children with SLD, PMLD and ASD. The children are taught in groups according to their SEN type, so there are no mixed SLD and ASD classes for example. The set-up looks excellent and I have heard only good things about the school.
    My question is - how does the workload compare to that in a mainstream primary?
    I can imagine that prepping, resourcing, assessment and planning takes up the majority of the time; with marking being much less (especially as I have Y6 in primary mainstream!). What sort of time do people generally get in and leave at your schools? How much work needs to be done at home? Right now I get in about 30-45 mins before school starts (it's not very near to me) and generally leave around 5.30 on average. I end up doing work at home at least 2 or 3 nights a week plus one day at the weekend.
    In addition, there is the possibility of it being a subject leader position - which will mean looking at the curriculum provision, differentiating, providing suggestions for teachers across the whole school etc. I imagine this aspect of it would take longer than in a mainstream school due to the very different types of children in this special school. The majority are at low p levels but a small number get up to NC level 1 or 2; and most are non-verbal.
    I would really appreciate an honest comparison of how the workload differs. Am I right in thinking that the school day itself is really intensive but means not much gets taken home - or am I just kidding myself?
    Thanks a lot,
    sparkly
     
  3. Hi
    I moved from mainstream to a PMLD/SLD school and I would say the workload in some ways is less.
    For a start you will have far less pupils in your class - I went from 30 to 6 and so that will have an impact. However the resources and planning for your pupils will be individualised so bear that in mind. Planning will need to be very detailed as it's very small steps and individual, however one thing that struck me was how much repetition pupils need so planning I'd done for a week in mainstream would suffice for a whole half term in many ways.
    The pupils do not record work in the way that mainstream pupils do so there is no 'marking' or lots of worksheets and folders etc to manage but the emphasis will tend to be on documenting evidence of learning through observation , annotation and photographs . There will be some 'work' to go into topic books and photos but again in much smaller numbers.
    You will need to make more resources and spend time getting physical resources together - make friends with velcro and laminating pouches now ! - but you will soon forget what a photocopier looks like.
    Each school will have different assessment systems but you still have the same PPA as mainstream colleagues so again you're at an advantage with less pupils.
    There are more reports and liason with outside agencies to do than in mainstream.
    Re the subject co-ordinator role there will be something in place at the school already and you will not be expected to know everything - get help from other co-ordinators and you'll probably find familiarisation with this role will be part of your Performance Management.
    As a class teacher you always feel you could do one more thing but the hours you put in seem absolutely fine and I think you will find the home workload less - let's see what others say!
    Good luck if you decide to go into it - I've never known anyone want to go back !
     
  4. I agree with the pp. I would say it is slightly less but your actual day in school can be far more intense than in mainstream (behaviour management, medical issues etc, no lunch because of child having behaviour issues - I make sure my TAs have a lunch). The things that take up most of my planning time are writing IEPs, very detailed planning (but like pp said, repetitive), writing and attending different types of reviews (annual, LAC, PEP etc) and some time making personalised resources (velcro is well used!!) I do find that I make less than I did in mainstream and obviously things are only used by 6 children instead of 30. Resources need to be far more practical so are often bought rather than made. Luckily the special schools I have worked in tend to be better resourced than the mainstream schools I have taught in. It is the best job in the world.
     
  5. thanks Rachel and kitkat for your replies.
    They are both really encouraging!
    I certainly expect that there will be lots of reports etc and detailed plans to do - but the school is well resourced and all plans are in place so will just need personalising, not started from scratch (a great help for newbies!)
    As for the lack of lunch - I'm lucky to get 10 mins at the moment, what with dealing with behaviour, children with "issues" that need pastoral support, preparing for the afternoon etc. So having less lunch isn't really a problem.
    I am really excited at the prospect, it sounds amazing, I've always been in awe of people who worked in pmld schools and I can't believe I am considering it for myself!
    Just two other things - 1) do you get an opportunity to do planning with your TAs and 2) How early do you need to be in in the morning to get all ready for the day?
    thanks [​IMG]
     
  6. 'Resources need to be far more practical so are often bought rather than made. Luckily the special schools I have worked in tend to be better resourced than the mainstream schools I have taught in.'


    I would say, from my experience, that this is very lucky and unusual. The schools I have worked in or have had contact with tend to spend 90% of budget on staffing. Add the need for minibuses and art materials, and you have no money left for resources. I teach in a generic special school with pupils in my class ranging from p2 - Level 1. This means I have to make a huge range of resources from scratch. I would say all my colleagues arrive around one hour before school and leave approximately two hours (or later) than the pupils. Fridays are a little different. We all do a LOT of work from home at evenings and weekends.

    Take a looks at Ibuzzybea's wonderful website (a fellow contributor) http://www.alljoinin.net/All_Join_In/Ideas_Gallery.html
    to get an idea of some of the resources you may have to make. I personally find it can take longer to prepare my physical resources than it takes to make my worksheets for my more able pupils. What do others find?

    Photograph evidence takes lots of time, and recording in workbooks also takes time. I am a perfectionist and I like to think I strive to get the most from all my pupils, so that does need to be borne in mind. However, as I have pupils with such different abilities and learning styles in one class I often teach (well plan, so that my TAs and I can deliver) up to four different lessons within one lesson. Of course, there is repetition in this. However, new elements may be added at all times. This said, as they get further through the year planning does get much faster as you know all the pupils and can predict what they might achieve.

    It is also worth saying that every year I have taught a different class or mixture of pupils. In five years I have taught pupils from ks2 / 3 and post 16 ranging in ability from p1 - Level 2. This means I cannot repeat as much from year to year as a mainstream teacher might be able to do.

    All this said, both jobs cannot really be compared. If I see a lesson is not working, I can just change things and not have to worry about constraints of curriculum and things like SATs. I would never work in mainstream. It is a different job. I LOVE the relationship you can develop with your pupils, and this comes from having such a small number of pupils.

    Good luck! The hard work is worth it!
     
  7. Sorry- not sure where all the spaces went!
     
  8. Thanks knit chick for your different viewpoint on it. I don't mind hard work if it's worthwhile! I do dislike paperwork just for the sake of it(!) but hey, you can't win them all [​IMG] I certainly wouldn't mind spending time making resources and keeping records up to date; and I think planning would take me a long time as I'm not used to it, but the school does joint planning so hopefully that would help.
    I like a lot of things about the school I'm applying to, and am getting more and more convinced that I should go down the special school route. 8 years in mainstream and I just want to really do something worthwhile. I'm so excited at the prospect!
    I'll take a look at the website you mentioned, thanks.
    sparkly
     
  9. R13

    R13 New commenter

    In my special school I believe the teachers typically work longer hours and in a more intense situation than colleagues in mainstream. It's a personal opinion - but it's pretty well informed. It's a great job - but not one to consider if you want a job that's not demanding or exhausting.
     
  10. thanks R13.
    Longer and more intense days are not a problem - as long as I don't feel I'm getting nowhere 3/4 of the time like I do now! The amount of SEN in my mainstream classes over the last 3 years has rapidly increased, and the lack of support (of various types) has made it so much harder than I feel is necessary. At the moment, I am pretty much exhausted every night anyway after being on high alert for behavioural issues and their triggers all day long, attempting to deal with a huge variation of needs within the class, and finishing the day with 2 or 3 sets of 30 books to mark. Plus assessments, planning differentiated at least 4 ways, etc, etc. All of which is perfectly normal and expected in mainstream.
    It's just useful to know how it compares to special education - as they are so different.
    What kinds of things do you work on that take up the majority of your time - anything that hasn't been mentioned on this thread already?
     
  11. R13

    R13 New commenter

    It's hard work but we have some great teachers really making a difference to kids
    We really concentrate on the whole child at our school. A lot of time is spent supporting families and parents with behaviour and developing social skills. Curric reports, IEPs, Annual Review reports. Individual behaviour plans, social care reports and meetings, P Level assessments etc. are the main paperwork beside planning. There is so much differentiation - classes of 8 or 9 children between them working at say 7 levels.
     
  12. Can you let us know how you get on Sparkly. I am in a similar situation. I'm a y6 teacher too and have been thinking for a while about moving to a BESD school. Working with children like this is the part of my job I find most rewarding now but get very frustrated about SATs expectations getting in the way. I am very nervous about making the move for various reasons. One worry is how easy it would be to eventually move back to mainstream if you wanted to. However, from what I have heard, nobody seems to want to move back. Also, another concern is if I could actually do the job well enough..as work experience is very different to doing it every day. Although I remember thinking the same about what I do now. Good luck.
     
  13. sueemc

    sueemc New commenter

    have found this thread so interesting! I've just completed my first half-term in p/sld/asd special school from Y6 mainstream with a p/t TA. From 30 pupils to 8 or 9. It is very different and I am loving it. I have 5-6 other adults so that is also a huge change too (prob, the trickiest bit) - consequently planning is much more detailed (lessplan for every lesson). I am discovering differentiation - I have P4/5-L1, and while in Y6 I would differentiate max 5 ways, I am still doing that or more with 8 or 9 children. Also, communication is a much bigger deal - I have children who sign (makaton), some using symbols (PECS) and some who speak or use a combination.
    The whole child is definitely something we think about all the time. The incidental learning/discrete opps. are much more a focus.
    APP has been broken down into smaller steps - see bsquared (so is equal, if not, more time consuming), and although I dont have 90 books to mark each day, I have photos to organise and annotations.
    As everyone has already said, I spend a lot of time making/finding resources but the benefit of knowing they will be used over and over!
    I would imagine it would be hard to move back to mainstream after being out for a while, pace is dramatically different. Altho I spose there's a senco option? I dont think anyne would want to go back would they? I have never met such dedicated and talented teachers as I have in special - and the children are so rewarding!
     
  14. I think I must be lucky then! I don't spend half as much on resources as I used to when I worked in Early Years mainstream and had a class of 30 with 7 SEN children on IEPs. I used to have to buy EVERYTHING from paint, pens and ingredients for making playdough to washing up liquid and spray for the tables at the end of the day. I think I must have worked in very poorly funded mainstream schools where paper was actually guarded under lock and key and buckets were carried around the classroom when it rained!
     
  15. Hi,
    I have been working in SEBD schools for the last 15 yrs or so and have come across the full range of SEN needs. My advice would be to consider the flexibility of preparation especially with SEBD. Teachers who expect to use "bought" resources run the risk of firstly being underprepared and secondaly and most importantly of possibly projecting a lack of investment in the children themselves. In SEBD relationships are everything, so a worksheet or activity that is individually personalised not only improves the learning but also the relationship. This makes your job much much easier in the long run but even though there are only 6 -8 pupils also bear in mind you may need to consider 3, 4, 5, 6, or more options for each lesson and if you want to develop a relationship that reduces confrontation and improves your connection you will need to be Over prepared, if that is possible in this sector ? I feel that SEBD education requires much more time , creativity and investment, not that these are missing from good mainstream teachers skills, they are more likely in SEBD to avoid flying chairs, punches or verbals in an SEBD environment. Therefore, if you choose to work within SEBD expect more than any other sector to get out what you put in, and that means always have something else that is more appealing ready to present or you may run the risk of a pupil taking out their frustrations on you ? In short preparation and working from home during the week will increase but reports writing at the end of the year and marking should be less overall I think you find you have more to do for 6-8 SEBD pupils than for 30 mainstream if you want the daily to be less stressed ?
    Hope that helps ... ?

     
  16. In the special school my unit is attached to, class sizes are never more than 6, even with the MLD classes, and some classes only have 4 pupils. They are all staffed on a 1:1 basis but I know that is unusual and I think it makes us an expensive option.
     
  17. Boogum

    Boogum New commenter

    <font size="2">Secondary Special for students with PMLD and SLD. Mixed ability groups range from P2 to level 3 National Curriculum with a bias towards the P4 - level 1 although every class has at least one wheelchair user and two people below P4. we move rooms and teachers every 50 minutes (5 lessons a day)</font><font size="2">We have 8 -12 pupils in a class and usually one teaching assistant, occasionally two if there are major moving and handling issues plus one teacher per lesson. Ratio of between 1:4 or 1:6.</font> <font size="2">Definitely not enough, but we are at full stretch funding wise. It does restrict what we can do. Have to make do or borrow and pay back staff (leaving a class without a TA) if you want to go out of school or if your class goes swimming.</font>
     
  18. I should perhaps add that my school is a residential school which takes children from a lot of different local authorities (mainly other authorities in the South East of England). Students are sometimes funded wholly by their LEA while some students are funded on a 50:50 LEA and Social Services split. We also have a few students who have been placed with us on Social Services recommendation because their parents struggle to cope with their complex needs at home and would benefit from a residential placement (these are mainly students with very severe challenging behaviour). Thus, our staffing ratios are probably (although I may be wrong) very different to day special schools.
     
  19. Great to hear all your different experiences.
    One more update - I have an interview later this week [​IMG] Now need to get prepared!
     
  20. Thanks daydreamer!
     

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