Teaching pupils with special educational needs and disabilities is one of the most rewarding positions I could possibly think of. Prior to starting my teacher training, I worked in a school for pupils with autism spectrum disorders and fell in love with the job and the difference that one person can make to a child’s life, even something as simple as providing a child with a way to communicate their choices of drink or snack can greatly improve that individuals quality of life.
After four years of working with these pupils, I moved from Surrey back to Staffordshire in order to be closer to my family. I spent weeks thinking about what I was going to do. I considered many options, then, on a late night job hunt, I stumbled across Keele and North Staffordshire Teacher Education (KNSTE) who were offering a Primary PGCE with a specialism is SEND teaching. I knew right then, it was the course for me.
Honestly, the application process was so quick and easy, the only real niggle was writing the personal statement. I am very lucky; my family are mostly teachers, so I got a lot of support with writing my application. However, there are loads and loads of services out there, designed to help people wanting to be a teacher, have a look if you are unsure, or just befriend a teacher, there are lots of us!
When writing your personal statement, the best advice I can give you is be yourself. Every teacher — or trainee teacher — I have met is incredibly passionate about education and about helping pupils (particularly SEND teachers!) and when writing your statement, let that passion shine through, let the reader know what shaping future generations will mean to you.
For me, everything happened so quickly. I sent off my application via UCAS and within two days, I had an e-mail inviting me to an interview a week later. Despite applying in July/August time, KNSTE were more than accommodating and set up an interview with children that attended a holiday club. Then before I knew it, it was September and I was going into school!
I still remember my first day in school, and the feeling in the pit of my stomach as I walked in to a special needs school, known for accommodating pupils with high levels of challenging behaviour. I met my class, I met my teacher educator (the teacher at the school who you work with and who’s class you teach) and by the end of the day I didn’t want to go home! The class were lovely and accommodating and the staff were so nice, I thought I had hit the ITT jackpot, that was until I text my new teacher friends and they had all had equally as exciting days.
This year has flown by, and I still cannot quite believe that I only have three weeks left of my second placement. I have loved it here too, despite it being a mainstream setting. (Side note to any future SEND teachers, you probably will have to teach mainstream during ITT, but it isn’t as scary as you think!). I honestly look forward to the next few years of my career because I am doing what I love, improving the lives of pupils with special educational needs.