UCAS Teacher Training's blog

Advice from current trainees, newly qualified and experienced teachers, teacher mentors, and tutors.

I always wanted to teach, but life happened – Tracey Brown

I had always known I wanted to teach, and it had always been in my mind to find a way to get into the classroom. But life happened and I found myself working in a bank for 18 years, dreading going into work. One day I decided to do something about it. At that stage I didn’t have a degree, so I started by going to evening classes to try and find a subject I was interested in. It wasn’t until I took an evening class in Biology that I even considered science. I took my HNC and then secured a place at university studying Biomedical Science. Having completed that, I was offered a funded Masters and eventually I did a PhD. 
All the while I was learning, I was still aware that the ultimate goal was to teach and during my PhD I secured a place on SCITT programme. Unfortunately my situation changed, and I realised that paying to train wasn’t an option. I came across Teach First and went along to the Milkround Presentation at the Newcastle University campus – and immediately decided to apply. Having my training funded and going into a school where I would really be needed definitely appealed to me. 
I had lots of support throughout my application process, right through until I finished my training. I remember having a particularly difficult period during the Summer Institute, whilst training in my local area. I had a complete panic, I had kids at home and I was away from them – I thought ‘I can’t do this!’ But there were lots of people to speak to, giving me gentle encouragement and advice and I just kept going. Taking it day by day, using the support systems in place and even just knowing that there were people who were there to help me through it was reassuring.
I’m now in my third year, I stayed on in the school I was placed in through Teach First and my job couldn’t be more different from working in that bank. I can say that 90% of the time I love my job, and in comparison I remember quite literally hating the idea of going in to my old job. I used to dread it. I love my job now, and yes I have a huge work load, but it’s so rewarding.
My highlight from the last three years was in my second year. I had a really low ability year 11 Additional Science class who were really struggling.  We were set to do a lesson on the heart, and instead of working through diagrams on a Power Point – I contacted a local butcher and organised for him to save me a batch of pigs’ hearts.  We dissected the hearts in class and every single person got involved somehow.  They were all engaged with the subject, and energised by it for the first time. They were the only class to experience working on a real heart – it was the talk of corridors. Another teacher even asked to use the spare hearts I had left over, his pupils were envious. 
I think that’s when I first learned a really valuable teaching lesson – not to rely on Power Points too much. It’s easy to go into minute details and over-plan. Good lessons need to be flexible, which is really hard to do when you first start teaching, but you need to be able to work with your pupils and accept you might need to adjust your plans to keep them engaged.

If you liked this…

Shane and Janie share their stories about why they chose a career in teaching:

I can think of no career more rewarding – Rachel Mowbray

Prior to starting my training with Ark, I was a Captain in the British Army Intelligence Corps. During my service, I worked with vulnerable people from across the world. What I witnessed during my time in Helmand, Afghanistan, was a society where children were born into mostly hopeless futures. Futures where basic security was absent, hospital care limited and education non-existent for most. At home in Britain, I can think of no career more rewarding than one that is dedicated towards offering a fair chance and future for our next generation.

While there are many other teacher training providers, for me, Ark’s mission of giving every young person, regardless of background, a great education meant that I could take forward the sense of purpose I had serving in the Army into my next career.

Having just finished summer school, what really stood out the most were my fellow trainees and the sense of camaraderie that quickly developed; being with a like-minded group of people, with an assortment of fantastic achievements already behind them, was very inspiring. As a complete teaching novice, I found the training that we received was easily digestible and hugely supportive.

I am looking forward to taking the techniques and lessons from summer school forward into the classroom and really getting to know my year ones.


This was originally posted by Ark Teacher Training and is published with kind permission.

If you liked this…

Gabrielle and Tom share their stories about why they chose a career in teaching:

What I know now: A message from the other side of teacher training – Gabrielle James

From teaching assistant to qualified teacher – Tom Savagar

Training later on in life – Ness Cohen

I went into teacher training at 34, which was ten years after I originally thought about doing. However, for me, it was far better timing to have trained later on in life. I believe that there are pros and cons to training at various ages, but for me, I entered into the profession with a lot of life experience behind me, having been fortunate enough to do a lot of travelling and seasons living in the French Alps I have the ability to offer pupils an insight into potential life adventures and hopefully inspire them to want to explore the world and a variety of careers.

I believe that the SCITT programme I completed was the best pathway for me into teaching and am a strong advocate for this route. It offers a gentle approach into teaching that isn't weighed down with too much paper based university assignments. 

I happened to teach six subjects in my training year which is unusual, but I do feel that it has proved the possibility to be multi-disciplinary and that subject variety can really motivate a trainee to be diverse from the beginning of their teaching career. This can be an advantage as once you become a qualified teacher you can be asked to teach various subjects.

I originally wanted to teach Art at college level, but after research I realised that there were redundancies in further education. I then looked at secondary level but there wasn't any financial help for Art, so I trained in Design Technology (having obtained a degree in Art & Design). In a large school, such as the one I trained at, there are several subjects in a D&T department, enabling me to teach several subjects. I quickly realised that I was best at Food Technology (having cooked in ski chalets in the French Alps for two years I had the experience behind me to be competent enough in this subject and it fuelled me to become passionate about food and cooking). My Food Technology mentor urged me to follow a path into specialising in this subject.

After applying for a couple of design jobs, I realised that my passion lay in food and so I applied for two jobs to teach this and got the second one, which is at a small, local grammar school. It has been a fortunate first teaching post, and there are plus points to working in private schools, for instance extra holidays and a more relaxed atmosphere.

My NQT year so far has been tough but manageable and helped by having picked the most suitable subject and working for a really great school.


Feeling inspired?

Find out more about becoming a teacher.

From PGCE to NQT – Karishma Raja

I moved to China straight after graduating and taught abroad for two years before applying for my PGCE course at UCL Institute of Education (IoE). I chose this course because I enjoy the academic side as opposed to going through another route. I’m now looking forward to starting my NQT year.

Interview tips

  • Make sure you brush up on your subject knowledge, they will test you. You should bring in your own experiences of what happened at school and what inspired you.
  • Usually the university will give you tips and a brief of what you need to know and bring, but going the extra mile - showing how much you care, and how you are willing to learn - will help you nail the interview.
  • In addition to this, it is important to be calm and relaxed, and enjoy the interview. You will get to meet new people on the day, so talk to them, and get to know about their experiences.

Teacher training tips

  • You usually get one day of seminars and the rest in a school. This was the way I wanted it as you are supported and you get to understand the pedagogy side of it. We have had some of the best talks given to us at university and this had provided invaluable information to us.
  • Remember if you choose this route to expect a multitude of lectures and seminars, these are all very engaging. At UCL IoE, we had voice trainers where we were all singing in our lecture, in addition to this, we have had professors that have come from around the world and all over the UK and have had them give us advice and opinions. I also set up a twitter account @MissEconomics for the student body to keep updated with work, and also pointing them to the right articles.
  • Talk to the people you meet on your course (if you choose a PGCE course) and pool your resources together. In addition to this, plan your lessons with someone else, and see what ideas you may come up - don’t be stingy about it! Remember, this profession does entail sharing.
  • What I learnt was to make your resources from scratch, although it may be tempting to use what has been produced. It works out a lot better to build your own as you’ll be able to cut down the time you spend planning.
  • In class, keep things current and up to date - talk about the new Ed Sheeran album and keep students interested, bring your life into it. I certainly did with my travels and discussed the pollution I faced when I was working in China. I brought in real life examples as much as I could with the cars in China and how they are regulated on number plates, then relating it to government policy and how that affects China as a society and their quality of life.


Feeling inspired?

Find out more about becoming a teacher.

I just knew I wanted to change lives – Emmanuel Awoyelu

My journey into teaching hasn’t always been smooth sailing, partly because I didn’t always want to be a teacher. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved working with young people, I love teaching and learning new things but the job profile for a teacher (especially after working in a mainstream school for four years) just never appealed to me.

I guess I always doubted myself because of my own expectations of a teacher. I was convinced not many teachers had left school with four A-C GCSE’s and believe it or not, I just thought I didn’t fit the profile of a teacher. A young black male who has a bit of an East London twang to his talk and GCSE certificates that might as well have said “Thanks for turning up to the exam today”.

What I didn’t do was look at myself and see all the qualities I had to bring to the table. I was young; yes that is a quality thank you very much. I was relatable to the pupils I was working with (Important when working with inner city kids), I had a passion to make an impact in the lives of young people and I was willing to learn, to develop myself and be a better version of myself every day.

Up until the day I started my NQT year in September 2017, I still doubted myself.  Fortunately for me, I was employed in a special behaviour school. Sounds crazy but this is exactly where I wanted/needed to be. It was an opportunity to work with the children who were disadvantaged and to some extent written off, just like myself when I was a child. The role also suited the qualities I have to offer and I can only be grateful that a special school was crazy enough to employ an NQT to teach children with behaviour problems. That faith shown in me has contributed massively to my personal development.

Another key factor in my personal development is my participation in the development programmes that are available for teachers. I went into teaching wanting to make an impact on the lives of young people but through my teacher training I never considered with serious thought ‘how?’ - I just knew I wanted to change lives.

Now I have moved to the Diverse Leaders programme funded by the Department for Education (DfE). I am fully reminded that the teaching profession is one of the best, if not the best job, you could have. A career that allows you to make a positive impact on the lives of our future generation, by teaching and inspiring them using the ideas, talents and brains we have. WOW.

In education there is a whole community of people that not only shared the same goal, but a community that made me authentic. My experiences, values and knowledge of BAME communities provide experiences for others, some common some new. I can shape curricula to widen the experiences of my students. In a sector where only 7.4% of teachers are BAME, it is important that students get that chance to understand that diversity matters not only as a theme but as an evolution of society.

How can we create more diversity? Well for one, I am doing it now by encouraging more students from BAME to get into education careers. I know there is a cultural discord where teaching is not regarded in the same way as engineering or medicine but the reward of this career is far greater.

The #BAMEed network will guide you to a community to develop, coach and nurture more diverse teachers and leaders within our education system. From Head of departments and Head of year roles to Head Teachers and CEO’s of Multi-academy trusts there is support to advance careers. The impact that you can have in orchestrating diversity in education should not be underestimated.

Let’s transform education, together.

Emmanuel @MannyAwo

Feeling inspired?

Find out more about becoming a teacher.

The dos and don’ts of differentiation – Rachel Orr

What is differentiation?

The education dictionary defines it as this: Differentiated instruction is the way in which a teacher anticipates and responds to a variety of students' needs in the classroom. To meet students' needs, teachers differentiate by modifying the content (what is being taught), the process (how it is taught) and the product (how students demonstrate their learning).

I always say to student teachers, established teachers, and TAs when they are working with groups – what difference are you going to make to these children’s learning because of your input working with them? If the adult is simply keeping children on task or under control, is the learning right for these kids?

I like to associate differentiation with shoes:

  • If we walk around in ill fitting shoes that are uncomfortable, too big or too small we will struggle to learn.
  • When our shoes are too big we have not yet secured the foundations of prior learning to be able to take the giant leap – there are too many gaps.
  • When our shoes are too small we are lacking any challenge because we can simply achieve the task without any thinking – this can lead to disengagement and switching off to learning just as much as when our shoes are too big.

We need comfortable shoes that enable us to be excited about learning, engage, explore, investigate and dive in. However, we need to recognize when our feet have grown and our shoes are becoming a little tight and we need to go shopping for the next size.

How can we make sure we do not put a ceiling limit on learning?

We need to celebrate the differences as they bring different dynamics to the classroom. We need to ensure we don’t put children and students into categories – encourage them to be unique and not try to be like someone else. Children very quickly work out where they stand in a class depending on the table they are on, especially if it never changes. If you set according to ability are you putting a ceiling limit on the learning because of the smaller range of ability, especially in a lower ability set? Children needs sparks. They bounce off each other.

Why do we need to be creative when differentiating?

Make sure you are not capping the learning for children simply because you think they can’t manage it. Ensure all children are able to access the learning at their level but with great challenge. A lot of differentiation is done well through outcome. The biggest difference is simply not accepting a pupil’s first response. Careful questioning and guiding is key to making them responsible and taking charge of their own learning. Pupils can raise their own bar when there is a can-do and inclusive culture.

Aim high. Be the best you can be. There aren’t any limits.


Rachel Orr is a former primary head teacher from the north east of England. Over a 20-year teaching career, she’s worked in a range of primary schools, and has significant experience of curriculum structure, planning, organization and delivery. An education consultant and author, her new book 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Differentiation (Bloomsbury Education) is out now. Find her on Twitter @RachelOrr

If you liked this…

It’s one of a series of blogs to help make your introduction to teacher training a little easier. Get up-to-speed with some of the topics you’re likely to encounter in your training:

Five ways to ensure a successful ITT year

There’s more to assessment than meets the eye

Getting behaviour right from the start

How to support children with SEND in the mainstream classroom 

Join the revolution: evidence-based teaching

Tips for trainee teachers – Helen Lambourne

Teaching is incredibly rewarding but the training is tough. This is what I learnt on my training course:

1. Use your mentors

They are the most valuable asset you will have when you are training, so utilise them! Ask them if you are stuck on a lesson idea, not sure about the scheme of work, want to check you are marking assessments correctly or struggling with the workload. They've been teaching longer than you and would have gone through the exact same process and problems as you. So, you are definitely not alone when you are training.

2. Make friends with the other trainees

Other trainees are another useful asset. They are going through exact same thing as you at the exact same time. If you're lucky, you might be placed in a school with another trainee. Make friends with them. Try to have catch up sessions with them.  Bounce ideas off them and vice versa. I am still friends with one of the trainees from my host school and since he teaches English, he proof-reads my application letters!

3. Ask for help

I cannot stress enough how important this is, and I only wish I would have followed this advice when I was training. I'm not ashamed to admit I struggled while I was training. As an August baby, straight from university, I was easily one of the youngest trainees on my course, if not the youngest so naturally I wanted to prove I deserved my place on the course and how good a teacher I could be. However, this meant that when I was struggling to juggle the planning, teaching, creating resources and marking I didn't want to admit it. To me, admitting I was struggling meant that I was a failure, I was wrong. It was only when my training provider realised I was struggling that I got more support. With hindsight, I had nothing to worry about. They were really supportive and had helped other trainees in the exact same position as me in the past. We had a meeting to discuss how they can help me, and how I could make changes to help myself. As a result, I became a better teacher.

4. It gets easier once you qualify

You will hear this a lot. When you train, you have to fill out lesson plans for every single lesson, but when you qualify you don't have to which vastly reduces your planning time (my plans are my lesson PowerPoints). You also have access to pre-prepared schemes of work and lessons which is another bonus (although you do have to adapt them occasionally).

5. Finally, it will be stressful

You will wonder why you decided to teach, but the lack of a social life, late nights planning, working in school holidays, occasional emotional breakdowns (trust me, every teacher does!) and the stress will be worth it when in July, the children say they will miss you when you leave, you have your QTS, and the world is your teaching oyster.


You can follow Helen’s progress as a newly qualified teacher, and experience of being a trainee teacher, on her blog.

Teacher training: book reviews

In addition to your course reading list, there are plenty of practical teaching books and how-to guides you may find useful during and after your teacher training. Our trainee and NQT guest bloggers have reviewed three popular teaching titles to get you started, but there are many more out there depending on the phase, subject, or topic you wish to explore – so get reading!
1. Teach Now! The Essentials of Teaching by Geoff Barton (Routledge Education)
If you are looking for an all-encompassing guide to teaching, Geoff Barton, with a wealth of experience teaching and writing, is someone you can trust to know what he’s talking about. His book, Teach Now! The Essentials of Teaching, is written in a colloquial, engaging style which provides refreshingly honest insights into the job.
Teach Now! is aimed at people considering teaching as a career, or those about to begin their Initial Teacher Training (ITT) but it works well as a guide for Newly Qualified Teachers looking for a summer read to reflect on what they’ve learnt and prepare for the new term. The book is a perfect introduction to everything you will tackle in your ITT, and the accompanying website provides some excellent resources to help you through the year. Barton suggests that you use the book as a working document, annotating pages and responding to the ‘Talking Point’ questions and quotes from teachers featured throughout the book. This concept works well as the ideas raised will challenge you to discover what you agree and disagree with and will ultimately help you to establish your teaching persona. 
The book’s strength is that it contains information that you aren’t necessarily given during your ITT; particularly revealing are the chapters on dealing with the worst-case scenario at a parents’ evening and tips on how to write good reports (and avoid common mistakes). The book lives up to its name, covering everything you would want to know about teaching and offers practical advice about tackling your ITT so you can make an informed decision about whether it is the right job for you.
Reviewed by: Gabrielle James
2. Teacher Toolkit by Ross Morrison McGill (Bloomsbury Education)
Having just finished my training course I thought I’d been taught everything I needed to know. However, as I started to read, I realised that there is a lot of useful advice and information in this book.
Teacher Toolkit is split into five sections, all of which contribute to the make-up of a ‘Vitruvian Teacher’ (Resilient, Intelligent, Innovative, Collaborative and Aspirational). It covers everything you could possibly consider in the teaching profession (I’m not exaggerating), including a section on becoming a form tutor, and a section on ‘Emotional Intelligence’, both of which I enjoyed reading and would recommend.
Throughout the book there are tips, tricks and lists to keep any teacher in check, but especially helpful for new teachers like myself. It’s surprising how many things in this book I hadn’t thought about before, for example; the importance of differentiating homework. The best thing about the book is the honesty; the author shares a lot of his own experiences, a lot of them from his training or early years, making it even more accessible to the trainees and NQTs like myself. These experiences were not always positive ones either, which is rare to find in teaching books. I found myself trusting his words of wisdom even more, having heard of his struggles.
All in all, I would absolutely recommend this book to NQTs and trainees alike. I think the smart layout and informal nature is not only clear and easy to understand but it’s an absolute pleasure to read and I look forward to using it as a guide to the first years of my career. 
Reviewed by: Lauren Gaisford
How to Survive Your First Year in Teaching by Sue Cowley (Bloomsbury Education)
There’s an adage that it’s only once you pass your driving test, and begin driving independently, that you truly begin learning to drive. A similar point can be made about teaching, as while your teacher training is intended to replicate as much of the experience of the teaching profession as possible, your first year of teaching is something of a quantum leap from where you stand at the end of your training, and so it follows that most people approaching their NQT year have an understandable level of anxiety. Sue Cowley’s How to Survive Your First Year in Teaching is a possible remedy to this, offering practical advice on strategies and approaches for the coming year.
Behaviour management is a particular source of worry for many NQTs, and the chapter on this goes into significant depth on how to form your own behaviour management style and strategies. This is one chapter which would be useful to not only look at before beginning the year, but throughout the year, as a tool to diagnose why certain strategies might not be working with your class at the moment, and what you can do to deal with this. Unlike much writing on behaviour management, Sue seems quite pragmatic, acknowledging that a ‘one size fits all’ approach ignores the diverse ways that poor behaviour manifests itself, and offering a range of ideas for how to deal with such behaviour.
All in all, this book, which is written in the same informal yet professional style as Sue’s Getting the Buggers to Behave, serves as a solid book to reference throughout the year, as well as a reassuring look at the profession for people approaching it with a sense of trepidation. While the NQT year is universally regarded as being a stressful, while rewarding, process, this book certainly makes survival seem more possible.
Reviewed by: Tom Savagar

Before you start your course

Find out more about preparing for teacher training

Join the revolution: evidence-based teaching

For centuries teachers have taught the way they themselves were taught, or followed fads, fashions, and government initiatives. But this is changing. Over the last few decades researchers have rigorously trialled hundreds of thousands of teaching methods in real classrooms with real teachers. Some teaching methods, have been found to almost double the rate at which students learn.

As a consequence, teachers are taking back control of their own practice, and improving students’ achievements markedly. Why not come and join this revolution, transform the teaching profession, and make a huge difference to your students’ life chances?

Here’s just one of many methods that have done really well in classroom trials. Why do you think is it so effective?  Students are warned of the process before they start.

  • Students answer questions and put their name on their work.
  • They hand these in, and you give them out to other students to mark. (It’s best if students do not know who will mark their work.)
  • Students mark their peers work using ‘model answers’ or ‘worked solutions’ which say where marks are gained or lost.
  • You collect all the marked work, and hand them back to the student who answered the questions. Students each keep the model answers and mark scheme (most students will probably check the quality of the peer’s marking, but you needn’t).
  • You ask them what issues came up? What judgements were hard to make?

Why does the method work?  Students become very clear about:

  1. What they should have done. This comes from having to look carefully at the model answers while marking their peers, and when checking the marking of their own work.
  2. What they got right. The peer marking will tell them what they got right, and they can check this marking against the model.
  3. What they didn’t get right and how to fix it. The peer who marked their work will show them what they got wrong and again, they can check this against the model.  Helpfully, they have studied carefully the correct answers while using the model to mark the peer’s work.  And in checking the marking of their own work. Consequently, they can easily see the gap between what they did do, and what they should have done, and how to close this gap. 

The most powerful teaching methods get the students to do more, and often the teacher to do less. However, they are not easy methods to use well, and require skill, judgement and practice to get the best out of them. Not surprisingly these highly effective methods are greatly enjoyed by students. If students didn’t enjoy the methods, they would hardly work well.

So, it’s a win-win situation, the teacher gets to use more interesting methods, not to work harder than necessary, and to see their students really enjoying their lessons.

Come to the barricades!


Geoff Petty is one of the UK’s leading experts on teaching methods. An experienced teacher and former teacher trainer, his best-selling books Teaching Today and Evidence-Based Teaching are valued for their down to earth, no-nonsense practicality. His new book, How to Teach Even Better: An Evidence-Based Approach (Oxford University Press) is coming out next year. You can follow him on Twitter @GeoffreyPetty

If you liked this…


It’s one of a series of blogs to help make your introduction to teacher training a little easier. Get up-to-speed with some of the topics you’re likely to encounter in your training:

Five ways to ensure a successful ITT year

There’s more to assessment than meets the eye 

Getting behaviour right from the start

How to support children with SEND in the mainstream classroom 

How to support children with SEND in the mainstream classroom - Cherryl Drabble






There have been many changes to education for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in the last few years. The 2014 ‘The Children and Families Act’ brought a clear expectation that most pupils with SEND would be taught in a mainstream school, and that every teacher is a teacher of SEND. This is all rather daunting for new teachers and NQTs.

As a trainee teacher or NQT, you will be aware there is very little training out there to prepare you for the challenges you face in the classroom. I suggest you read around these five main areas of special challenges that you are likely to find in your classroom:

1. Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC)
The first thing to remember is that no two children with special needs are alike. They may share the same label or diagnosis but they may present themselves and behave very differently in the classroom. For example, Autism, including Asperger’s syndrome is a huge spectrum and you may find that you have children displaying all manner of signs and symptoms. Some will have communication difficulties, some will have acute social anxiety and some may have behaviour challenges. These children can be anywhere on that spectrum from mild to severe.

2. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Similarly, children diagnosed with ADHD will display different signs and symptoms. Not every child will display all the signs all of the time. The main challenges seen include difficulty waiting their turn, wanting everything their own way, no sense of danger, emotionally incontinent, impulsive and restless and a lack of focus.

3. Dyslexia
There are many children diagnosed with Dyslexia within our mainstream classes and it is important to understand how to teach children with this diagnosis. Be aware that some children are wrongly diagnosed with Dyslexia as it is actually a language based disorder rather than a visual difficulty. Once you are clear on that fact you will see that signs and symptoms include delayed speech development, difficulty expressing themselves writing, difficulty sequencing instructions and difficulty with organizational skills.

4. Learning Difficulties and Disabilities (LDD)
Learning Difficulties and Disabilities is an umbrella term for any learning or emotional problem that affects a child’s ability to learn in the same way and at a similar rate to their peers. Some common types of LDD include Dyscalculia, Dysphasia, Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy and delayed development. Of course, it is possible that that ADHD and ASC may co-occur under this heading. Some children will be mildly affected and others will need much support. The terms Moderate Learning Disability (MLD), Severe Learning Disability (SLD) and Profound and Multiple Learning Disability (PMLD) are also used interchangeably with LDD although all these conditions are very different.

5. Behaviour challenges
That brings us to behaviour challenges. Children who display severe challenging behaviours in mainstream classrooms will generally have an underlying cause for this. All children will try to push the boundaries at some point but these are children who regularly disrupt lessons and may be violent. Try to remember that all behaviour is a form of communication. What is the child trying to tell you? If you can work that out you will be able to help the child.

My advice

Inclusion is the main aim for all of these children. As a teacher, it is your job to work out how to include these children in all lessons and activities. My advice is to ignore the label and to look at the child in front of you. Think about how you can help them. Remember, every teacher is a teacher of special needs and you must not hand them over to a Teaching Assistant.

My top tips would be to make it visual. Many children with SEND are visual learners often due to lack of verbal communication. Provide visual instructions and give plenty of time for the child to process what they have been asked to do. Think about communication methods. Give the child a way to let you know if they don’t understand as this will make many behaviour problems magically disappear. Create a SEND friendly classroom. This might include plain walls, fewer bright colours, less clutter, easy access, calm environment and a place to go to if feeling stressed. Remember that a classroom fit for a child with SEND is a classroom that is good for all children.

Above all else have fun! These children will stretch and challenge you but they will also bring you great rewards when they master something you never thought they would. Cherish those wow moments and learn from every single child.


Cherryl Drabble is an assistant headteacher at an outstanding school in Blackpool, and has 14 years' experience in teaching children with special educational needs. An ITT and NQT mentor, she has an MA in Inclusion/SEN and nine years' experience as a Senior Leader responsible for CPD. Cherryl is a successful blogger, and is the author of Bloomsbury CPD Library: Supporting Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (Bloomsbury Education). Follow her on Twitter @cherrylkd

If you liked this…

It’s one of a series of blogs to help make your introduction to teacher training a little easier. Get up-to-speed with some of the topics you’re likely to encounter in your training:

Five ways to ensure a successful ITT year

Common myths about the brain and learning

There’s more to assessment than meets the eye 

Getting behaviour right from the start

Join the revolution: evidence-based teaching