Kathryn Arnold previously wrote about the challenges of her Teaching Assistant course. In this post, Kathryn discusses her favourite modules and why.
When studying for the ‘Level 3 Teaching Assistant Diploma’ via Stonebridge Colleges, one of the modules that particularly interested me was ‘Supporting pupils with Special Educational Needs’. I have always wanted to specialise in this area, and whilst Stonebridge Colleges do offer a specific course for SEN teaching, I wanted to also learn how to work with mainstream children and how a mainstream school works as a whole.
I was firstly interested in studying the factors that may affect learning, for example; hearing problems, sight problems, attention span and maybe even family life at home. I learnt about ways to deliver equal opportunities to all pupils, and prevent barriers to learning. I feel a Teaching Assistant going into a school environment already knowing how to tackle potential learning barriers is so important and makes you successful at your job.
Within this module, you also learn about the roles of the teaching staff – the relationships formed between teacher and learner, the learning environment and the teaching skills needed for independent learning. This helped me to learn what my particular role as Teaching Assistant would involve, and the importance of my support and guidance to pupils. The part of this module which I found most difficult was all the information on current legislation and school policies. This, although extremely important, can be quite dull to revise. I did however enjoy learning about the wide range of support staff available and on board for pupils with Special Educational Needs – I was so wrong when I thought it was just the teacher and TA! You will learn in this module about the roles of support staff such as;
• Occupational Therapists
• Speech and Language Therapists
• Educational Psychologists
All these roles, alongside the class teacher and the Teaching Assistants, can provide equal amounts of support to these pupils. You never know, you might learn that another role suits you better! I think that knowing about everybody’s role within a school environment ensures great communication and support for the pupils.
You will also learn about resources available for pupils with Special Educational Needs, for example; Braille for blind pupils/pupils with poor vision, alternative keyboards for pupils with poor motor skills, and technology to maximise hearing. I found this information very useful, and it prepared me for resources that would have confused me had I not have learnt about their purpose.
Another extremely useful subject I learnt about during this module was case studies for pupils with Special Educational Needs. You can expect to feel totally confident going into a job in a school knowing that this is something you can contribute to. The module offers revision on how to write them, what they should include, the objective of a case study and the school guidelines on confidentiality. Knowing all of this information means that teaching staff can entrust you to do this job with ease! Case studies are a fantastic way to ensure the pupils needs are met, that they have learning outcomes and an appropriate challenge for their ability, and the learning experience and provision are suitable for them. If a pupil with Special Educational Needs is placed in a mainstream school, this should not affect their learning and they should feel comfortable and be able to meet targets in that provision.
The exam paper for this module contains 6 questions, each requiring at least a paragraph for an answer. This particular module, in my opinion, required the most writing and I think this is mainly because of all the legislation that goes hand in hand with Special Educational Needs. The main requirements for the questions are to describe, explain or outline certain aspects of what you have learnt. As I’m sure you can imagine, this means a sentence is just not going to cut it! Each question weights 5 marks, and therefore I always think it makes sense to raise 5 points/ideas. You most definitely have to refer back to your notes, use your brain and enjoy what you are learning about in order to pass this module. It is obviously important to fully understand, and I found the revision absolutely valuable to what I want to do with my life. I passed this module, which I feel hugely down to my genuine interest in the subject as it wasn’t easy. Finishing the module helped me feel prepared to work with pupils who have Special Educational Needs, and I really felt I could support them in preventing barriers to learning, and ensuring a great learning experience.