21.12.10

Yes Sir!
My Secret Life As A Special Educational Needs Teaching Assistant At last an update! Some of my faithful readers will be aware that for the last six months I have been a teaching assistant in the Special Educational Needs department at a local school. This couldn't have been a more drastic U-Turn in my career/life. One minute, I'm performing at the Cochrane Theatre with a Sink Plunger over my face, the next I'm sat in a school office being interviewed and suggesting learning strategies for a child with autism. Talk about culture shock. I was offered the position in May (on my birthday I think) and started working for the school the day after Hannah and I finished our Unit 14 assessment, just in time to see out the last month of the school's summer term. A Chinese Dragon Head made with the kids during Activities Week.
The children greeted with me with wide-eyed bemusement - I don't think they ever actually understood what it was I'd been doing at university and what interested me. In fact, they couldn't understand what sort of person I was. Two of the cards I received from students on my last day at the school - there were some obvious themes in their choice of cards - runner beans and 3d glasses! I thought that was rather a good description of me actually!!
I met and worked with some absolutely fantastic teachers and children during my 6 months with the school, and it will be an experience I will never forget - although at times it was hard work and incredibly frustrating, it was never dull, and every day was different and always posed a challenge. Bringing some Central Saint Martins creative thinking to a secondary school near you...!
I've come away from the school with a brilliant understanding of the educational system and the complexities of Special Needs - I really understand now what these words, in particular, mean. I managed to throw myself into every aspect of school life - I took on the role of Support Form Tutor (which meant I ran my own form with another teacher), helped out during Activities Week, assisted the school's Christmas Panto, gave a talk to GCSE Art students about further education in the arts, and went on two school trips - one three day residential trip with the Language Unit students to an activies site, and then a trip to a Christmas Market with 94 year 7s on the Southbank.
Residential Trip Rules: The Shelter Building Contest!In November, students in a class I assisted in organised an event for the Macmillan Cancer Support Charity. We hosted our own coffee morning: Here are some of the delicacies that the students made - Jack and Ryan made a quiche on my request! During my time at the school I was called 'Sir', 'Mr Barnett', 'Mr Barny', 'James', 'Gok' and (in honour of my Blue Peter Jumper) 'Peter'. Good Times. Friday was my last day at the school and I received lots of lovely cards and gifts and a rather rowdy round of applause from the students during our last assembly together. A London Return beckons.

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