Teaching Assistant Award | March 2021
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.
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.