"I do this job because I want to make a difference in children's lives. I don't go home the same person as I come into school in the morning because I have grown and learnt so much during the day."
Becky Clarke is the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) at a local secondary school.
As you need to qualify within three years of undertaking the role of SENCO, she chose to do the course straight away.
The University of Reading was the closest provider of the Pg Cert and was already actively working with her school for teacher training, so where to study was an easy choice for her to make."
"I did the course during my first year in the job and in a new school- it was a baptism of fire! What I loved was being able to put what I was learning into practice, sometimes the very next day and then reporting back on how it went when we next met up."
Being a mature student helped Becky as she felt she brought some relevant life experience to both her studies and her role. Skills like diplomacy are vital as a SENCO and you need to show both pupils and parents that you are listening.
Becky has grown in confidence as a result of gaining the Pg Cert qualification. She said: "New experiences are hard work but you gain so much from them. The self-discipline of studying again was hugely rewarding. It proved I could study in my 40's and alongside work too. It helped that what I was learning was for my job. Be prepared to ask lots of questions and admit when you don't know things."
After a Wednesday class, Becky often felt she needed a bit of time to process what she had learnt but then was back in to work the next morning. There was an element of information overload, particularly at first, but it was all so interesting and relevant that this helped her to take it all on board.Becky said:
"Putting theory into practice has been incredibly rewarding - it really works! I did an assignment on handwriting and undertook an intervention in school as a result. It was lovely to overhear another teacher say " you wouldn't believe the difference" and this was just between the Friday and following Tuesday. When we studied transitions I changed what I did in school as a direct result."
Becky absorbed all the new information provided on the course and found that it opened her mind to want more. This led her to actively seek out research papers to read on topics of particular interest or relevance.
Becky really benefitted from networking with others on the course and on a recent visit to the Institute of Education encouraged the current Pg Cert students to do the same. "It was lovely to come back to speak to the current students as an external expert. I can empathise with them having completed the course so recently myself. "
"It was great to have a discussion about how things differ from Primary to Secondary and within all the different local authorities. The networking and sharing of knowledge and information is such a great part of this course. It's good to hear how other SENCOs are dealing with things in their school."