Supporting pupils with SEND

Image of Liz

Liz began her degree in early years education studies knowing she wanted to work with children, but she wasn’t sure what career was right for her. After completing a placement at a special school, Liz decided she wanted to help fulfil children’s ambitions by becoming a teacher in a special school. Read Liz’s story on her journey and the rewards of teaching pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

“After finishing my degree, I worked as a teaching assistant at various schools for children with autism. I then began working at a special day school and secured a place on the Brays Teaching School program, which specialises in SEND training.

I was initially concerned that I would find the academic side of the course difficult, as I’m more of a practical person. Also, my son was only six months old when I started the course. Yet the valuable support I received from the school and my university mentor gave me the confidence to complete my assignments and to achieve what I set out to do. I particularly enjoyed the practical elements of the course and my placements were marked as ‘outstanding’.

I now teach in a primary school for children with autism. This year, the pupils in my class are non-verbal and all have sensory issues, which can be a challenge at times, but the rewards of teaching this group makes up for any challenges along the way.

I enjoy working with children whose progression may be in small steps, such as completing an activity independently or developing the ability to sit and work for a short amount of time, which they might not have been able to do when I first taught them. This means they are slowly but surely working towards their independence, which in later life will be so important to them.

As a teaching assistant I worked with one child who, when I started, wouldn’t come down from the window sill and would shout and swear throughout the day. Over time I was able to get him to work at his work station and his behaviour improved dramatically. Even though sometimes he would still become upset, he was able to calm down much more quickly and carry on with his learning.

This showed me that all children should be given the opportunity and support they need to learn, and that all children need different strategies to learn to reach their potential.  

In order to fulfil a student’s potential ambition, I need to look at each child as an individual. When I plan lessons, I try to cater to the individual child’s learning style, whether it’s primarily visual, auditory or – as is often the case - kinaesthetic.

Having smaller classes of around nine also means that you get to know the children on a more personal level and have the opportunity to work daily with each child on a one-to-one basis.

I would advise anyone who is thinking of getting into teaching to consider teaching in a special school. Every day is so different and when you see progress in a child - no matter how small - it is so rewarding for all involved.”

Register with us for help and support on your journey into teaching pupils with SEND.