We’ve been collecting your stories about the inspiring and encouraging experiences you’ve had at work during 2008. Here is a collection of the SEN themed responses you sent to the question, What has been your most positive experience at work this year?

“Introducing a new system in school that has meant significant progress for the SEN children targeted. Nothing is better than seeing children succeed and knowing you helped that come about.”

“I have recently qualified as a Teaching Assistant. I have been on some courses, mainly speech, and I also work with a statemented child as well as other S.E.N’s. I have decided that that is what I would like to train for and today I was given a mentor who is a SENco and has been a teacher for a good many years. I really enjoy my job and want to help disadvantaged children get through their school years as well as they can.”
– Teaching Assistant

“My Home Educated, Autistic Spectrum Daughter being interviewed at Cambridge, receiving offers from 4 Universities to read Law and accepting the one of her choice. She is thoroughly enjoying her intellectual equals, her campus flat and flat-mates, social life and also her studies. I chose to home educate reluctantly because my daughter could not cope with the social aspect of school. It has paid off big time letting her develop at her own pace and she is now a very well balanced and mature young lady rich in life’s experience.”
– Mother and Home Educator

“I gave an assembly during National Dyslexia Awareness week about challenges I faced as a student at school with Dyslexia. I explain how frustrated and de-motivated I got not being able to put the ideas in my head clearly on the page. Then one day when I was 9 years old a visitor came into our classroom. She asked if anyone wanted to learn to play the clarinet. I was the only child who put up their hand. This moment changed my life, as I discovered that I could communicate through music without my Dyslexia getting in the way. I managed to turn the frustration I had in the classroom into the determination to succeed playing an instrument. Since the assembly I’ve been amazed by the number of students who have come up to me and said that the assembly inspired them to succeed at something.”
– Director of Training School

“There have been several great teaching moments I personally experienced in 2008. The one that stands out about the rest surrounds a young boy who has a type of dwarfism and unfortunately some medical complications to go with it. When I first met him back in February of this year, I was not sure how the Life Skills personal safety training programme would suit some of the restrictions that he has with his body. As often is the case, his physical difficulties simply meant his personality was that of a giant. His attitude towards life was inspirational with him regularly telling me stories of his success in the dwarf Olympics and other athletic events. It became very clear to me that this young man would not only absorb the content of the Life Skills for Children course easily but would also be a great person to teach the programme to other young people. He regularly assists the teaching team by delivering the Life Skills material to children as young as 5yrs. He uses his own experiences to influence and persuade young people around him that anything is possible with the correct mental approach. He also recently assisted the Life Skills team in presenting the programme to a selected audience of MP’s, Ministers, Teaching groups and special guests. A true inspiration…”
– Headteacher

“I have instigated a CAF for a young family with two delightful little girls, both with a statement of special needs for profound learning difficulties. The mother has been deeply distressed and her self esteem was very low. At our last meeting she was able to confidently tell us that she has been put into the highest level for a maths course she is undertaking and she now has ambitions to qualify to work with children with special needs. She continues to be easily upset but has good strategies fore dealing with this and we are all very proud of her. WOW!”
– Primary Headteacher

“Seeing children who were unable to perform many co-ordination tasks totally blossoming and enjoying these activities. It was gratifying to hear from staff members that this positivity had filtered into the classroom and had impacted positively on the rest of the children’s school work.”
– Special needs co-ordination club teacher

“We have successfully integrated our first pupil with Downs Syndrome into our school. Not only have the staff embraced this challenge but also the pupils have been amazing. He certainly enriches our school life and is also an asset our school community. In order to make this a positive experience for all we received excellent guidance from a local school which has had success in this area. This highlights how rewarding my job can be and just how amazing my team, school, and community are, especially when we are so totally over stretched.”

“When an SEN pupil achieved a B at GCSE ICT, he worked really hard and I was really pleased for him”
– Head of ICT

“I run a 2x weekly spelling club, using phonics. The group has 5 members, one of whom is dyslexic. At the start of the year, the child in question wrote in an illegible, typically dyslexic style. He is now able to write half a page with few spelling mistakes. Today in the after school club, he wrote 5 sentences, two of which were totally accurate. One was- The church stands at the end of the road. Another was, I found the missing wallet in a field. Progress has been startling. He claims that the progress is a result of his breaking the words down phonically.”
– Literacy coordinator

“GCSE day and seeing the students I have supported gain success especially 3 that had a few barriers in their way, be successful and move on to college.”
– Teaching Assistant

“We have a little girl in Year 1 in our village school who has Hemiplegia and who has little use of one side of her body. Against all odds she has taught herself to walk and at sports day this year there were many tears in people’s eyes when she took part in everything, supported by her TA, running, balancing, throwing and thoroughly enjoying every minute. Her 2 little friends (all 3 inseparable) supported her throughout, and even waited for her to catch up at times. An attitude and outlook on life for us all to aspire to.”
– Headteacher

“In our primary department key stage 1 we have a selective mute with English as a second language, I cover for the teachers ppa 1 lesson a week. The most positive experience so far this year had to be the other week when we had drum love in to work with the pupils, they were playing the African drums. All pupils had a drum, however the selective mute needed to go and blow her nose, whilst we were in the toilets the drummers began to play again, she shouted at the top of her voice “Wait, I’m coming”. Although it may not sound much she had not spoken since she joined us in September. How can you have a more positive experience, she is now speaking more and more.”

“Working in a diverse school where up to 77% pupils are EAL, it is invaluable to see parents/guardians and communities working closely with us to support their child’s learning experience. I feel very proud and enriched by seeing the very daily smiles our new arrivals have when they come to school and feel secure and safe to learn.”
– Phase Leader and EAL Coordinator

“We introduced THRASS (by Alan Davies) to whole school. I had children enter my class from Albania, Russia, Poland etc with no English. They left my class in July knowing that ‘bird’ has 1 ‘b’ and ‘rabbit’ has 2. This was only possible because of THRASS. A Slovakian child with no English in Sept leaves reception saying “Queen starts with ‘c’ sound’ it’s wonderful!!
– Class teacher

“Undertaking the 1:1 responsibility for a fully statemented child. I have found skills that I didn’t know I possessed and feel confident to carry out this job.”
– L.S.A.

“I have a deaf boy in my class, each day presents its unique challenges…. but I marvel at his determination to success and his unquestioning acceptance of his circumstances. He is a constant reminder to be GRATEFUL for what you are and MAKE EACH MOMENT COUNT. I’m so glad our paths have crossed.”

“Using bluecam for small group of SEN children. I used it via the interactive whiteboard, and to see their faces as they watched themselves deliver their facts about the ancient Greeks was a joy.”
– Primary Teacher

“Working in a complex special needs class and trying to make lessons interesting for children with learning difficulties is hard. I taught a class who had had countless supply teachers before I took over and got through an inspection too. I found using pictures, stories, video and DVD in my lessons brought them to life and one of my students who moaned about everything turned to me and said that he had enjoyed my lesson!! That makes everything worth while in my book.”
– Supply Teacher

“I have been working with a boy who is showing signs of a possible Autistic Spectrum Disorder and learning difficulties. He is in Primary Four yet is working at a Primary One level. As he has yet to be statemented and therefore there is no classroom assistant, he has not been able to receive the one to one attention and support he needs, although the class teacher tries very hard to divide her time between him and the needs of the rest of the class. During my two day weekly placements in this classroom I am able to work with him on a one to one basis and it is very rewarding to see the progress he makes when he is allowed this support and the pleasure he shows when he begins to understand new work and learns how to read or spell new words. This is a very positive experience and confirms why I want to be a teacher.”
– University Student on Placement