Special School

Post 34: Week of 5-9 June 2017

Half term was last week which meant no income. Funny then how all I seem to do on my time off is spend money on the house and family! I also spent a lot of the time writing some of my first reports. It took me 45 minutes for the first couple, then when you get into the swing of things I can get it down to half an hour or so. Writing a nursery report obviously isn’t as detailed as those of the older classes but I still want to write plenty and give it my own style – not much copying and pasting believe it or not. I sent the first few to my Key Stage leader and she said they were great so to just carry on like that. By the end of half term week I’d done 9 reports. I was pleased with that seeing as I didn’t start until the Wednesday.

On Monday, Tue and Wed I taught in my regular nursery class with no major issues. I didn’t get a call for work on Thursday so did another couple of reports. It is slightly annoying to feel that I have to do school work on a day where I don’t get any pay, but then again most reports are done in teachers’ own time.

On Friday morning It got to 8.25am with no call. When it goes past 8am the chances of getting work are slim so you don’t expect the call. But when the phone rang I had a big jump. I have never received a call this late for work to start immediately (I have received mid-morning calls to start in the afternoon). My caller from the agency said it was for a special school and would I be interested? Now I have taught plenty of children with SEN in my mainstream classes but I have never experienced even being in a special school. I had no time to think about it so said yes. She told me it was for an early years class but that was all she knew. I explained I would never get there for the start of lessons but she said not to worry they will expect you as soon as you can.

In the end the traffic was surprisingly light and I arrived at the school just after 9am. As I was signed into the entrance and given a visitor’s badge there were loads of kids still arriving with lots of chaperones. They had all arrived from minibuses and taxis from all over the city. They were being held up because a child had started kicking off behind the main door so all doors had to be locked and we were just waiting for the situation to be brought under control. Exciting start! The lady at the reception window also told me it wasn’t an early years class, it would be a mixture of Years 3,4,5,6! My worst fears usually! I was brought up to the class and found myself in a classroom with the main TA and 4 children. I didn’t know the class would be that small but as I found out later most of the classes are these numbers due to the complex needs of the children. I had to get right on with it as school had already started. With lots of help from the TA we worked our way through the morning.

We started by going into the hall and doing some exercises which I took over once I saw what was happening. Then back to class for main starter. One boy decided he wasn’t going to cooperate and he was taken immediately to another class (a regular occurrence, not just because I was in). I got to know the boys pretty quickly. Their needs differed, some were emotional, some were physical, others a mix. The first session flew by before we had to go into the hall for assembly. It was a lively assembly. I sat with the 3 remaining boys on chairs together whilst lots of other children were sat with other staff. The adult-child ratio was very high and some children were moving about, others were sat watching. Despite being noisy the teacher leading the assembly just got on with it. It lasted 10 minutes then everybody back to class. My class were now going swimming so we joined with another load and got the coach there.

I used to live next to (and teach at) this swimming pool so I was on familiar ground. The staff actually all get in the pool with the children. As I had no costume I stood on the side walking along trying to teach from there. I was soaked with all the splashing! The children absolutely loved it in the water.

Going swimming took a big chunk out of the morning so we only had a few minutes left back at school before lunch. I had to sit with my class for half an hour to make sure they ate properly and behaved.

In the afternoon I taught from the left-over planning and we did some Spanish, DT and they had a bit of spare time to choose. I had a nice chat with the TA at playtime who was the stable factor all day. She said the boys had had a good day as the rest of the week had been challenging at times (even today she had to forcibly take a couple of them out for getting aggressive before they calmed down and were let back in). Their chaperones came for them at home time. I had made it through the day!

It was very enlightening being here today. I was glad I took the placement. The standard of care they were offered by the school was to their credit (they recently got Outstanding from Ofsted). The TA said they were all of to the pub (she even invited me but I politely declined) and I could imagine that this was a draining job and that they were a very tight staff. I bet they go to the pub a lot! I was hit quite a lot today by one of the boys but only because that was his way of getting my attention. I had a bit of a sore arm but nothing too bad!  I can only imagine what some of the other staff go home like. All I saw and got the impression of on my one day here was a school and staff who really went out of their way to care for their children. It is to their credit.

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