I have extensive experience working 'at the coalface' within various roles in Education. Over the last 24 years I have held positions as a Teacher, Key Stage Leader, Senior Leader and Local Authority Moderator and each one has taught me varying skills that have allowed me to grow and develop as a practitioner.
One of my favourite roles was as a Senior Leader where I have provided school-to-school support as a Specialist Leader in Education. This role offered me the ability to support a wider reach of practitioners and work with them to drive improvements for SEND provisions in schools; something I am fiercely passionate about.
I have always been driven by the desire to make a difference to our most vulnerable. I have worked in mainstream schools where there has been a high level of need, including pupils with severe and complex needs. These pupils have needed significant adjustments to allow them to access the educational opportunities that supported them to thrive. They have required professionals who support their family/ carers to advocate for their needs; within a system where resources may not be available or easily accessible. I hope that this is what I have contributed to their educational journey.
Life Before Training
My own educational journey and childhood was challenging. I found learning and access to positive school experiences difficult. Before I went to university, I worked as a Cleaner and was then offered a promotion and worked as a Receptionist. I went back to college and later entered university as a mature student studying Politics and History.
Whilst at university I volunteered at a local school helping children to read. The school was in a high deprivation area and children were facing similar struggles with learning that I had faced. It was suggested that I should become a Teacher, that this was something I was good at (which I had rarely been told) and upon finishing my degree, I applied to do a PGCE in Primary Education. I haven't looked back since.
What key information about SEND should education staff be aware of?
People with additional needs have a love of learning, have strengths that provide valuable resources to a classroom dynamic, and have amazing self-taught strategies of perseverance, resilience, and kindness. Therapeutic understanding and support of their needs will result in the long-term development of prosocial behaviour and tapping into their strengths and amazing qualities. It is important to remember that we are all different and special and will all have an additional need at some stage that requires a helping hand or an adjustment to provide support.
My qualifications include National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH), Specialist Leader of Education for SEND, Specialist Leader of Education, Masters PG Cert SENDCO, Post Graduate Certificate for Education (PGCE), and BSc Hons Politics and History.
Sara was an excellent trainer. She was very aware of our needs and responded accordingly. She pitched the talk and discussion / activities just right. As a SENDCO herself, she was able to talk from relevant and first hand experience and answered our questions with up to date knowledge. That made a real difference.