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Would working as an SEN LSA for a year or two after PGCE help me eventually teach in SEN setting?

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by livi_rachel_whitehouse, Jan 2, 2019.

  1. livi_rachel_whitehouse

    livi_rachel_whitehouse New commenter


    I am currently heading into the second term of my PGCE year and I am specialising in SEND. However, whilst all my peers also on this specialism are doing their middle placement in an SEN setting, I have been placed in a mainstream school but in a class with a couple of students with significant needs. I do have some experience in SEN settings from my undergraduate degree but I am aware that it is not close to as much experience as the rest of my SEN pathway peers and would not be enough to secure an NQT year/future teaching post at an SEND school.

    My question is, if I want to pursue a career in the SEND school environment, would it be sensible to work for a year or so as an LSA/HLTA in an SEND school to further my knowledge and experience? I feel that my passion for education lies in this area but that I need to further my own confidence and experience. I have heard some people give warnings that not going straight into NQT year after PGCE can be detrimental and I have also heard opposing views? Can anyone give any advice?

    Thank you in advance!
  2. Wotton

    Wotton Lead commenter

    do your NQT year get it out of the way in a non send school. Continue with sen CPD and then apply for send teaching jobs. Show your interest and enthusiasm for send.
    If you work as a LSA for 2years then you will still be a nqt. Having experience in a non send school will help you to be aware of the ability of different children, there are plenty of children with send in mainstream.
    You could do some voluntary work with send in clubs.
  3. dzil

    dzil Occasional commenter

    It all depends on the type of SEND school, your previous experience and your enthusiasm really.
    You stand a good chance of getting an NQT post in a special school even if you have not got much experience teaching special students. If you see an NQT post advertised that could suit your skills I think you should apply anyway. Anyone going into special teaching should expect a very steep learning curve and it’s arguably harder for an NQT as you have to adapt everything and differentiate way beyond what is required in mainstream (think a different level for every member of the class and around a 5 year ability spread between children of the same age)
    I know of many special schools who look for good teachers with a real enthusiasm for working children with sen. Each special schools is different in ethos, depending on the student’s needs. The schools expect to have to train anyone new, not just NQTs.
  4. livi_rachel_whitehouse

    livi_rachel_whitehouse New commenter

    Thank you for your advice - it’s really helpful! I will be applying for NQT posts in SEND schools but was just unsure as to whether my relative lack of previous experience in a special school would be a problem! If this was the case I would be more than happy furthering my SEN education by working as an LSA/TA for a year if it meant securing a future job (however some people have said this would make it harder to get an NQT job after and others have said the opposite so it is hard to know)! I am really enthusiastic about working in the SEN environment.

    As my undergrad degree was specifically physical education most of the experience I have in SEN is teaching PE, although I did spend a half day a week for half a term in the classroom on an undergrad placement also.
  5. livi_rachel_whitehouse

    livi_rachel_whitehouse New commenter

    Thank you for your advice! Yes others have said the same about getting the NQT year done straight away. Do you think working as an LSA in an SEN school for a year prior to my NQT would make it harder to secure a job? My thinking was that it would be a good opportunity to further my knowledge and understanding before kickstarting my career.

    I will definitely look into some work in SEND clubs though, I was thinking this is how I would spend the school holidays.
  6. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    I think that as a rule working as an LSA harms teacher applications as it is gaps in your teaching practice.

    SEN schools welcome NQTs like any other school would. Person type matters more as does sheer willingness to cope, neither of which can be seen on a CV. You either last for 6 months or 10 years, whether you are an NQT or an experienced teacher, and in some ways the earlier you are in your career the better.
    Wotton likes this.
  7. balletomane

    balletomane New commenter

    I agree with Flanks. I teach in a SEMH school and most of the teachers had no experience of SEN outside a mainstream context when they joined. By contrast, I have never taught in any school except this one. The school looks more for these qualities than for a ton of SEN-specific experience - can you be very patient, are you flexible enough to respond unfazed to difficult situations as they arise, etc.

    Some SEN schools do have different requirements (for example, to teach deafblind children/those with a multi-sensory impairment you would need post-qualifying SEN experience and to be prepared to work towards an extra qualification), but there is no reason why an NQT couldn't get a foot in the door from what I've seen.

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