SEN teaching is a very rewarding job. Here an employee from Athona’s education recruitment division explores the ins and outs of SEN ,with a family member who has worked in this profession for over 20 years.
The term Special Educational Needs (SEN) covers a wide spectrum of children and adults that have needs or disabilities which affect their learning. From mild learning difficulties to the more severe, there are educational institute’s to support these children.
In order to get a better understanding of what is expected of a teacher who teaches those with severe disabilities, we interviewed a teacher who has taught in SEN schools for 23 years. Before being headhunted for her current role, this teacher taught Home Economics in mainstream schools for over 20 years, so she has plenty of experience in both areas of education.
As always with teaching, there is a big element of caring, but when teaching those with SEN there is considerably more. Especially those with severe disabilities, you have to be prepared to administer drugs, oxygen and clear up their mess (to name but a few), as well as teaching them the national curriculum. You must be incredibly versatile, imaginative and have a good sense of humour. We know you need this with most jobs, but working with those with severe disabilities, you can have all manner of things thrown at you – mentally and physically!
Apart from the child’s well-being, your main reach is to encourage the child’s independent skills. You must teach a child to know what they want and to be able to communicate this to another person. It seems a basic skill for most, but it takes a child with severe learning difficulties time in order to process this information and put these skills into practice.
That is just one of the things that teachers and support staff are lacking in this type of school environment – time. The pressures now for meeting the grades of the National Curriculum are high and can, more often than not, distract from the main purpose of this type of job – meeting the child’s personal needs.
Our experienced teacher did say that they have witnessed at times a rise in the level of bad behaviour they see from children now and they believe it is because of these time constraints. The teaching staff are under enormous pressure, largely by the curriculum put in place to make these children perform at a certain level in a shorter time frame than before, fuelling bad behaviour, stemmed from the child’s frustration.
Sometimes you have to come to terms that the child’s disabilities are so severe that they will not improve to the level expected of them. Therefore, they will continue to need everything done for them, with your job being to make sure they are included at all times and given the chance to try.
This is just one teacher’s view, but one that has had a wealth of experience, so it can’t be all bad! The team they work with are very supportive, one of the most supportive she has ever encountered – there’s something about the children that you teach that brings you closer as a team. Most of all, when you do break through a child’s barriers or even see the smallest of improvement’s in them learning the skills to look after themselves, then that just puts the proverbial cherry on the cake.
If you love the idea of a challenge, yet rewarding job, then please contact our SEN Recruitment Specialist on 01277 245840 to discuss further the opportunities available to you.