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Teaching in a special school?(11 Posts)
I’m an NQT in secondary, before qualifying I worked as a secondary TA for 3 years. I absolutely loved it, the main reason I decided to do the PGCE was for more money, and also I wanted a bit more mental stimulation/ challenge etc.
I do enjoy teaching, but I really miss being a TA! I miss the one to one, working with focused small groups, the celebrating small steps... whenever I’m observed feedback seems to be the same- great relationship with the kids, tone of voice, calm manner,
good explanations, but could improve on pace. I find I’m not enjoying the large classes, feeling like I always have to rush through everything because there’s so much content, not having the time to focus on individual student needs as much as I’d like to.
It got me thinking that maybe I’d be better suited to a special school. I spent a few days in one as part of my training and really loved it. It may be I’m idealising what it would be like... any special school teachers out there? And what would be the best way to get into it? I teach MFL and I get the impression that’s not generally taught in special schools, so would i even get an interview? I’m going down to 4 days a week in September so I was wondering about volunteering to go in to the school I visited during my PGCE to get a better idea.
I opened the thread with gritted teeth as they are often started by people who think it’s an easier ride in special schools. It Is Not.
You don’t sound like that at all. MfL is not generally useful in a special school but few secondary specialisms are. Most of our teachers were, once, primary teachers. Try your idea of volunteering (or, better still, get on the books as a supply TA or teacher) or just apply for some posts and see.
Or would you be interested in training to be a SenCo (or Inclusion Officer, or whatever they get called)?
Apply for some and see,
The students that will be with us for the next several years love languages, so even MFL could get you in. It depends on what the school require at the time.
It can be hard as well because the ranges within a class vary a lot but again based on the school.
Over the years we've had NQT with no educational experience at all. Or who have different areas of specialism.
Teaching in special school is not an easier option but it is a different option.
It has its challenges and not all classes are calm, easy and slow paced.
The idealism of one to one isalso not reality, you have a class of 6-12+ pupils who if in mainstream would have had 1:1 but in special school may just be you and 1 or 2 TAs.
Special school teaching is extremely rewarding but it's not for everyone and it is equally hard work and the workload is equally high, it's just different.
Certainly worth trying to apply. You’ll get an idea of whether you would fit when/ if you go for interview.
Expect a very steep learning curve - mine is still nearly vertical, every day, and I’ve been teaching in special schools for 14 years.
Thanks for the replies! I definitely don’t think it’s an easier option, but just maybe something I’m more suited to. I’ve thought about the Senco route too, but I think I’d rather be teaching than coordinating, which is what the Senco seems to do in our school anyway.
Can I ask did any of you do any particular training before going into teaching in a special school?
I teach in a special school. Was a mainstream primary teacher before. As I'm long-term supply, I don't think they minded that I didn't really have any SEN experience. I do have a somewhat relevant Masters and my own kids have SN.
This past year has been a huge learning curve. Like you, I much prefer the smaller groups and teaching life skills. However, I have never been so busy. The days are full on and classroom organisation takes a lot of work.
I'd definitely try some voluntary work first. I don't think you really need any particular training; most schools seem to want someone with the right personality. Good luck!
I worked as a Sen teacher in mainstream.
, was a senco in mainstream & have personal experience with children with Sen prior to teaching in a Sen school.
There are as many different experiences in 'special school' as there are 'mainstream school' though.
Some cater for children with profound and complex needs. Some deal only with children with SEMH issues. Some specialise in supporting children with autism. Some support children with physical needs, or sensory needs. Some will have a secondary curriculum that you would recognise - children moving from room to room, subject to subject, and others will have home based groups who struggle to move to different rooms / staff.
Special schools stuggle the same way as mainstream though, in that there are not enough hours in the day / minutes in the lesson, and that there are too many children in each class to really meet the needs in as you would like to in an ideal world.
I do second the suggestion of either volunteering or doing some supply work in a local special school to see what you like, and find out the frustrations..
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