Teaching Assistant of the Month Award
In our work supporting students with assistive technology, we meet some amazing teaching assistants who we would like to acknowledge. The extra work and the skills of these individuals have a huge impact on their students’ learning.
Make a nomination!
We will be celebrating the achievements of TAs across the Greater London area throughout the school year. If you would like to nominate a TA at your school who deserves special recognition for their hard work and dedication with supporting a CENMAC student then let us know! Download the nomination form and email the completed form to us at email@example.com using Subject line: TA of the Month Nomination.
Roula has really boosted her pupils’ confidence and is a real asset to our school
We are delighted to award the October 2023 Teaching Assistant of the Month to Roula Gonzi at Kidbrooke Park Primary.
CENMAC’s Specialist Teaching Assistant James Dewar-Hassan has nominated Roula Gonzi as teaching assistant of the month due to her excellent encouragement and commitment in supporting her student Ace using Clicker with his written work.
Kidbrooke Park Primary’s Headteacher said “Roula supports students on a 1:1 basis and is an expert at coaxing work out of the most reluctant writers. She has really boosted Ace’s confidence and is a real asset to our school”.
Roula Gonzi said “It is a pleasure supporting Ace with his work. Using the laptop helps Ace to get his guided reading, English and Science finished on time. He is able to read back his work easily and make any corrections needed.
Congratulations on this award Roula!
We are delighted to award the June 2023 Teaching Assistant of the Month to Ms Angela McKenna at Lyndhurst Primary School.
“Ange is a great TA in so many ways. She’s organised, she’s practical and reliable. She’s experienced and her observations are amazing – I always know I’ll get honest, high-quality feedback from Ange.
TAs can be nervous when an AAC device is introduced to a student, and Ange was no exception. However, she was able to overcome this, using the device as much as possible, letting me know in sessions if she hadn’t been able to find something during the week, and persisting when she felt unsure if her student Perez would get the hang of it.
Not only has Ange learned to navigate the system and model consistently, she is also great at finding opportunities to for Perez to develop skills and competence in different areas of device use, like greeting others and asking for help.” Olivia Walker, Speech and Language Therapist, Therapy Links UK
“Ange has approached the challenge of supporting Perez to develop his communication with positivity and dedication since his initial CENMAC assessment in November 2022. Under the skillful guidance of Olivia Walker (Advanced Specialist Speech and Language Therapist for Therapy Links UK), Ange actively supports Perez to develop his literacy skills and enables him to realise his communicative potential which is an absolute delight to witness.” Sarah McPoland, CENMAC Advisory Speech and Language Therapist
We are delighted to award the May 2023 Teaching Assistant of the Month to Katie Robertson at Pimlico Academy.
Katie Robertson really is a TA in a million! She works at Pimlico Academy and is a one-to-one support for one of our CENMAC students.
Katie supports Ruth in all her lessons and as she is a wheel-chair user, this can sometimes involve helping her to get to her lessons, or accompanying her to after-school club and her extra-curricular activities. She has made sure that she has an excellent knowledge of the equipment and is able to ensure that Ruth is using her laptop in most lessons and that she is typing much more for herself she makes effective use of it and all the support offered to her. Sometimes, when Ruth is getting tired, Katie will step in and type for her. It’s really impressive that she has ‘invented’ a system of colour coding the work with Ruth typing in black and her TA typing in blue to differentiate between the two, which is so useful for teachers to be able to see how Ruth is doing. She also gives up her time to attend concerts and camping weekends.
All of these things really help to make Ruth feel secure and to make fantastic progress. Thank you Katie for all your support!
We are delighted to award the April 2023 Teaching Assistant of the Month to Ms Jamila Douglas at Galleywall Primary City of London Academy.
Lucy Fyffe, SENCO at Galleywall said “Ms Douglas works as a 1:1 TA with a pupil at Galleywall who has recently started using a Talker provided by CENMAC. Since beginning to use the Talker, the pupil’s language skills have exponentially grown, as well as his literacy skills and social skills. It has been life changing for him. Ms Douglas has been incredibly enthusiastic and supportive with helping this pupil to get the most out of his Talker. She constantly interacts with him through the Talker and gives him opportunities to progress his skills. Ms Douglas has a wonderful relationship with the pupil and is always beaming with pride when he talks or interacts using his Talker. She has gone above and beyond what we would expect of a 1:1 TA. She is having such an incredible impact on this pupil and we would like to thank Ms Douglas for her continued dedication and commitment to all the pupils at Galleywall.”
Ms Douglas said “It has been a pleasure for CENMAC to have extended their services to what is now a life changing form of technology for my 1:1. In addition it has been my honour to use it with my 1:1 and witness first hand CENMAC providing a talker which is his voice and him also discovering the power of his own voice.”
Congratulations Ms Douglas!
Portrait of Julia by her pupils.
We are delighted to award the March 2023 Teaching Assistant of the Month to Julia Konieczna at St John’s Catholic Primary School. It is clear Julia is enthusiastic and hardworking when it comes to working with the pupils at St John’s. She has been quick to learn how to use and implement the software and technology provided by CENMAC to support a range of pupils. She has demonstrated this by using Pictello to support a pupil with creating their own stories and Clicker 8 to help a pupil learn to read key words.
Julia has also supported the teaching of phonics through the use of iPads. Julia really understands the importance of the assistive technology provided and finds creative ways to ensure the use is maximised. Thank you to Julia for all her hard work and support!
Clare Barclay, SENCO at St John’s Catholic Primary School said “Julia Konieczna has been working as a Classroom Support Assistant at St John’s Primary School, Rotherhithe for the past three years alongside completing a part-time degree in Psychology with Birkbeck, University of London. Julia has been using CENMAC equipment with two of our Year 3 pupils, having started 1:1 sessions initially with one pupil just over a year ago.
Julia mainly uses Clicker 8 during the individual sessions but loves how CENMAC tailors the equipment and software to meet the specific needs of the individual child to support them in developing independence in their learning. She notes, “The benefits of using the equipment on a daily basis can be seen in the wider learning of both the boys and it is great to see the progress that they are making as a result of having access to both the iPad and the Surface Pro laptop, they look forward to the sessions and approach them with great enthusiasm.”
Julia is our CENMAC Champion! She has dedicated time to learning how all the different apps work and having a comprehensive understanding of their capability has had a noticeable impact on the level of engagement that both boys have during their sessions and, in turn, on their progression. The boys love using the technology and their eyes light up every time.
They talk eagerly to other pupils about their equipment and are working towards using the wider range of apps such as Hairy Phonics, Help Kidz Learn, Education City and Touch Typing independently within the classroom to supplement their daily intervention sessions.
Julia has a positive approach to any undertaking and has developed a great rapport with the pupils. Her calm demeanour helps the pupils who have complex learning needs to feel at ease when facing any challenge. She has truly gone above and beyond and we would like to thank Julia very much for her fantastic level of commitment.
We are delighted to award the February 2023 Teaching Assistant of the Month to Mrs Eleanor Codd at Gordon Primary School.
“Mrs Codd has been working 1:1 with Charlie for well over a year. Their relationship has meant that Charlie has gained confidence to take on new challenges. Mrs Codd worked carefully and thoughtfully to introduce Charlie to the laptop, pencil and to Clicker. She has shown that she has understood the value of the technology in enabling him to work more independently. It has supported her to reinforce previous learning to strengthen his knowledge and skills. As a result of her teaching, he is accessing whole classwork and is flying!”
Hannah Cuesta, SENCO, Inclusion Manager and Assistant Headteacher, Gordon Primary School
Mrs Codd said “It’s been great to see Charlie’s progress. He really enjoys using the technology provided by CENMAC which is supporting him to access more of the curriculum.”
Thank you for your hardwork and dedication Mrs Codd!
Happy New Year! This month we are celebrating all the TAs who were nominated for Teaching Assistant of the Month in 2022. We want to thank them for all their hard work and commitment to supporting their students.
December 2022 – Sandra Vanderslaghmolen at St Joseph’s Catholic Junior School
November 2022 – Isabel, Mohamed, Rani and Kelly at Charlton Park Academy
October 2022 – Vana Avgerinou at Putney High School
September 2022 – Georgina Wisson at Elm Green School
June 2022 – Brenda Swann at Lambeth College
January 2022 – Edward from Lambeth Academy
Sandra Vanderslaghmolen at St Joseph’s Catholic Junior School
This month we are delighted to award our Teaching Assistant of the Month to Sandra Vanderslaghmolen. She has been working really hard supporting a student at St Joseph’s.
Advisory Teacher Vicky Annan said “Sandra attended our Clicker 8 training at Friar’s Primary and has been putting her training into practice ever since. Sandra is really passionate about providing the best support for her student and is using lots of her own time to plan and prepare resources. Sandra has created some fabulous examples of this by using Clicker linked to her students reading and writing targets. The assistive technology has been a great way for her students to access learning.”
Sandra said “CENMAC has been a tremendous help day-to-day here at Camberwell St Joseph’s Catholic Junior School. As a Teaching Assistant working 1-to-1 with a SEND pupil, I rely heavily upon Education City and Clicker 8. Both resources are fantastic tools for visual learners and offer pragmatic and differentiated solutions in a very accessible format (like worksheets, matching activities and learning videos). Furthermore, I thoroughly enjoyed CENMAC’s Clicker 8 workshop, which taught me a great deal about its versatility and range. I particularly appreciate the fact that I can now produce and fine tune my own resources so they are completely tailored to the needs of my pupils.”
Isabel, Mohamed, Rani and Kelly at Charlton Park Academy
This month we are very happy to award our Teaching Assistant of the Month to the entire support staff team, Isabel, Mohamed, Rani and Kelly, in Marble Arch classroom at Charlton Park Academy. Their great team work and enthusiasm for supporting our augementative and alternative communication (AAC) students, not only during Abdi Omar’s AAC weekly chat group, but throughout the week is having a really positive impact on their communication.
Our wonderful consultant Abdi Omar has Cerebral Palsy and uses AAC to communicate. Abdi uses his own experience to encourage students to use their devices by giving them a series of fun activities during the session. We notice the more students have role models of those using devices the greater the impact on their own abilities.
Abdi will be running a session as part of CENMAC’s Thursday Thirty free training sessions on Thursday 1 December, 15.30 to 16.00 GMT (30 mins) – Strategies to help motivate students using AT & AAC. This session is suitable for TAs, teachers, the school SEND team, parents and carers and AT and AAC users. Sign-up.
Vana Avgerinou at Putney High School
Our Teaching Assistant of the Month is awarded to Vana Avgerinou in recognition of her support for a student with a vision impairment. Vana has supported her student with her use of technology. Vana has the right balance of knowing when her support is needed and when her student can access her learning independently.
“As a Learning Specialist and LSA for Visual Impairment in Putney High School, I integrated tools from Microsoft suite in the classroom, particularly TEAMS and OneNote, to enable a visually impaired student to access resources independently of and simultaneously with her peers. It has been incredibly rewarding to see the student’s confidence and self-advocacy skills grow as a result. Technology has removed barriers to her learning and enabled her to thrive in and out of school. It would be wonderful if more pupils with special needs were enabled in a similar way. I am grateful to the QTVI service in Wandsworth and the CENMAC team for supporting me in this journey.” Vana Avgerinou
From the student “Dr Avgerinou has changed my life at Putney High so much, that when I imagine school without her, I simply can’t. Coming into secondary school I was scared to be disabled and timid in asking what I now know to be my right, but Dr Avgerinou encouraged me to embrace it in a way that has helped me stand up for myself, become confident in my disability and helped me pursue ambitions of mine. I doubt I would have achieved much of my academic success if I didn’t have the level of normalcy she provided to my life; that I could be a normal child in school, not labelled by a disability, is something every disabled child deserves and I am forever grateful to have received it.”
Georgina Wisson at Elm Green School
Georgina works at Elm Green School in Tulse Hill as an HLTA. Amongst her other roles, she has responsibility for facilitating the work CENMAC does in her school. She leads her team superbly so that they all know how to support the students using their equipment and software, and this has a discernible impact on her students and our ability to help them. One of the other TA’s said: “She is like everyone’s mum!” whilst describing how supportive she is.
Another role that she has developed in the school is the responsibility for making CENMAC referrals. She has been incredibly successful at getting her students accepted (16 so far and counting …) enabling our support to be made available for even more students.
Brenda Swann at Lambeth College
Brenda has been outstanding in her support working with students. It makes all the difference to the CENMAC team to have enthusiastic Teaching Assistants who are keen to support with all the technology.
“I obtain great satisfaction in my job because I can assist learners in achieving their full potential. For me, it is not only a job, but an opportunity to enable the learners to have a good learning experience. I encourage and motivate them to achieve and attain skills and qualifications to give them access to a good quality of life.”
Edward from Lambeth Academy
For me, working with my students means going above and beyond at all times to help best support their learning, development and wellbeing. Building a great rapport is vital and them knowing they have someone to confide in is essential for me. Working with my students means being a role model and reminding them that no matter what obstacles they may face in life, they can achieve anything they put their mind to. The sky is the limit!” “
Jane from Sheen Mount Primary School
The laptop has made such a huge difference to Matthew. Being able to type his work has freed up his creativity and enabled him to write much longer, more advanced pieces of writing. He is able to ‘mind-map’ when planning his work and then incorporate it into the finished piece of work. The fact that he can expand on his writing, add in more detail, and edit what he has written has really helped him enjoy English. The spelling function has also been very useful for him. It has made my life much easier as I can support him to reach his potential more easily.
Deborah, Specialist TA Speech, Language and Communication Resource
I am a Specialist TA for the speech, language and communication resource in a large all-through school in London.
In my role, I support students aged 11-16 both in their curriculum lessons and in withdrawal sessions. As many of our students face some difficulty accessing the curriculum, I am involved with CENMAC, from the point of referring the student, to them receiving and using their assistive technology. I have been able to see the positive impact that assistive technology brings to many of our students. Students have been able to gain a greater understanding of lesson content, been able to increase the depth of their writing and become more independent learners. I am able to see first-hand how the software is tailored towards the needs of the student. Working with the CENMAC team has been knowledgeable and rewarding. I am impressed with the way that the team support and understand the challenges that students can face in their education and together with school staff, can provide a way to help them overcome difficulties and achieve their full potential.
Angela from Bessemer Grange Primary School
I would like to nominate Angela for this month’s TA of the Month Award because of her fantastic support and integration of the CENMAC equipment into the ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis) approach.
Angela has a lovely relationship with the student she works with and the progress this student has made is significant. Angela has been proactive in learning about the various assistive technology and especially how she can adapt and integrate within the ABA targets. It has been a real pleasure working with both Angela and her student and wonderful seeing the impact of both effective support and tools.
Diana, Learning Mentor at Vanguard School
I’m extremely passionate about education, it’s such a remarkable reward for the students and myself, particularly when the students find something so challenging, and they have achieved this particular goaI. It is a delight to see their facial expressions and these moments make my day so bright.
One of my students who uses the CENMAC device and struggles with his reading, read the script of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” independently. It was such a tremendous achievement for him and I was so struck with amazement and joy for this achievement he had made.
When incidents like this occur, within time it makes it so worthwhile, being there for the students and supporting them step by step. I often comment to my colleagues and students I want all students to have a fantastic experience at school because, on a personal note, my children experienced a great school experience and I strongly believe all children should, this is what I thrive on
Hassan, Bishop Thomas Grant School
It’s a great honour to be a recipient of such an invaluable award – this very much came as a surprise to me. I am, Hassan, a member of the Learning Support Department at Bishop Thomas Grant School. I would like to give my heart-felt thanks to Wayne and CENMAC for their outstanding training and support that I have received on a number of occasions. Their guidance has been crucial in my work at BTG.
At BTG, I enable children to access technology, for example, through the use of DocsPlus with its assistive features or Reader Pen. I use drop-in sessions once a week to ensure that our students are using CENMAC technologies and are becoming effective and independent learners. Sometimes, time is used to train up novice and less confident users.
I want to show my gratitude to the CENMAC team for being so helpful and patient in answering my many questions without whom it would not have been possible to receive this amazing award of acknowledgment.
Bimbola, St Joseph’s Borough
Hello. My name is Bimbola and my journey with CENMAC began in early spring 2018 when I joined my current school. No sooner had I started work, than I was signed up for the training. ‘What urgency?’ I thought to myself. Well, this was to be the beginning of an exciting, effective and efficient journey – not just for the pupils I work with, but for me as well.
The main app which is clicker 8 (formerly 7) has seen my pupils leave the burden and frustration of constant hand writing, to becoming authors of mini and giant books, diaries and reviews. Features like the voice-notes, word prediction had eased their writings. Also, the Clicker board has turned them into illustrators – they tell own stories, with their ink, paint and brushes. These features make their faces to light up and I always love it.
There has never been a dull moment with CENMAC. The regular review of the pupils’ work has led to various introduction of apps that are currently meeting the pupils’ need. From First keys App, helping with their vocabulary expansion and spellings, to Nessy Reading App which does a lot more in terms literacy and comprehension games. Recently, Kaz Flying start has also given one of the pupils a ‘flying start’ with his keyboard skills!
The ongoing technical support from the team has been second to none. Usually, you go for a training, and you’re left to get on with it. Mary especially, was just a keyboard away from my endless enquiries. On the whole, great experience.
Chloe, Charlton Park Academy
Chloe works really hard to ensure the needs of all students are met in her class. She is highly adaptable and supports students with a range of needs, for example those with complex medical needs, communication difficulties, visual, hearing and mobility impairments. She also supports those who struggle with their behaviour. She supports students to use a range of tools to help their communication and learning such as Clicker, Proloqo2Go, Grid, and Connect12. Chloe is always positive and makes learning fun. Students really enjoy working with her and have made great progress with the support and teaching she has given them.
“I really enjoy working with the students and seeing them achieve and make progress. I like building up relationships with each of them and using my knowledge of them individually to help them learn. I enjoy working at Charlton Park Academy.”
Jean, The Elm Green School
I’ve been working with SEN students for quite a few years now, both primary and secondary. I have to say teenagers are my favourites to work with, hilariously funny and annoyingly stubborn but definitely interesting and rewarding. Having equipment, as tailored as their CENMAC device, makes lessons much more accessible for students and makes a huge difference. Then, for me, watching their confidence grow is fantastic.
Phyllis, Furzdown Primary
‘My favourite part of my job as a TA is getting to work so closely with a child and therefore getting to learn so much about the child I work one-to-one with. Though it can be challenging, most of the time there’s a lot of fun to be had in the role. It’s very rewarding to hear that my input is helping the child and enabling them to work to the best of their potential with some extra support.
Thanks for naming me TA of the month!’
James, Corpus Christi RC Primary
‘Firstly, I would like to thank you for the award.
Being a TA is the most rewarding job I can think of. I have the pleasure of working closely with children and being present to watch them develop as people is genuinely a privilege and an experience I would highly recommend to anyone. I greatly enjoy the creative colleagues I work with and they inspire me to interact in more varied ways with the children which, I hope, makes the learning process as fun as possible. I feel that being a TA allows me to get to know the children closely and hopefully give them the opportunity to express themselves as they choose, in a safe and non-judgemental environment. Lastly, there is not a day that the kids fail to make you smile and laugh, which really is the best experience and one I try to give back to them.’
Julie, Charlton Park Academy
This month we would like to nominate one of our fantastic Teaching Assistants here at Charlton Park Academy. Julie O’Neil has been providing daily support for a student who has been shielding since early March. At the start of lockdown there were several technical hurdles to overcome and Julie had to increase her digital skills rapidly. The student and Julie have a delightful relationship and I know we are all looking forward to the student returning to school.
Well done to Julie for providing such excellent support and becoming so skillful with technology.
‘I have worked at Charlton Park Academy for 11 years and since March of this year I have been working with one of our students remotely. We set up a timetable so she knew what lessons we had each day and we accessed Education City and Reading Wise, as well as doing the normal everyday lessons such as Maths and English. We also grew plants, measured their growth, created graphs and kept a diary of their growth. It is a nice way to keep the student in a regular routine, as well as having a familiar face every day. Plus, when other students had returned to school she was able to see her friends and chat to them online.’
Brooke, Woolwich Poly Sixth Form
‘I joined Woolwich Poly Sixth Form in 2017 and I felt so overwhelmed with the help, support and guidance I was given from all my teachers – especially from the Learning Support Department. This gave me the motivation to want to become a Learning Support Assistant.
I joined the Learning Support Department in September 2019 as the youngest member of staff. I quickly grew in confidence because I was enjoying my role. In class I have supported pupils with a range of needs. I have worked collaboratively with teachers to ensure our vulnerable students have the opportunity to access the curriculum. I am now confident to share ideas and this makes me feel like a valuable member of the team. Working with a pupil using a CENMAC computer, gave me the opportunity to learn about the support CENMAC provides and how it helps the pupil to access their work. The training I have had from CENMAC has been invaluable.’
Brooke has been an outstanding teaching assistant who has embraced the skills needed to support pupils using the Surface Pro computer. She has learned how to use the software and has trained other Support staff. Brooke also helped the students understand how to manage their work and structure their saved documents, in short, she has had a significant impact on the learning of the students she supports.
Francesca, More House
Francesca supports a student with a Vision Impairment who uses an iPad Pro to access her learning. When the student’s iPad was upgraded at the start of this term to a newer model, Francesca’s help and liaison with CENMAC was invaluable in ensuring that all the apps and documents stored on the previous device were safely transferred across.
Francesca remained calm and patient while working with the CENMAC team and we look forward to more collaboration this year to ensure that the student she supports continues to make outstanding progress.
“I have been at More House from the start of this academic year. Previously I have worked as a personal tutor. What I particularly relish in my job at the moment is seeing first-hand how my student is keeping up with her classmates and most importantly achieving her own academic merits. I am happy to contribute to her process to reach learning independence. On a more general note, this job is making me much more aware about visual accessibility and how it is fundamental for everyone.”
Kirsty, Southwark Park
Kirsty has worked as a TA for the last 15 years, with 8 of those being at Southwark Park. The student Kirsty supports uses an eye gaze device, a voice amplifier and just recently has had the addition of the No Isolation Robot.
Kirsty was involved in our animation project, supporting the students to access the online course as well as complete the course work in between sessions. It is not an easy skill facilitating and supporting students to access education while enabling them full independence and control and Kirsty does this brilliantly.
The positive relationship Kirsty has with the students is lovely and she really went above and beyond to ensure that any technical issues were resolved, and they could take part even within a pandemic.
The work of the students and what they have managed to achieve is a real credit to Kirsty.
Kirsty said: she is proud of the work at Southwark Park to help and support all children to grow, she loves working with the students.