Aiden moved from Australia to London as a Science/Math Teacher, read on to see how he ended up teaching within a Autism Unit for four years!

‘In December 2010, after completing my University programs to become a fully-qualified teacher of science and maths, I made the bold decision to relocate from Australia over to the amazing city of London. Once I arrived in London, I secured teaching work very quickly and spent the subsequent four years working in a range of mainstream settings across London.

As much as I relished each of the experiences that I acquired from the different schools which I taught at during this time, little would prepare me for the opportunity which was next to be presented. After consultation with my teaching agency at this time, I was afforded the opportunity to attend a trial lesson for a potential long-term position in an autism unit in Putney (South West London). Admittedly, I was incredibly hesitant and reluctant to consider this opportunity initially, as I felt as though I didn’t have the relevant training and expertise to provide the level of differentiation required to support pupils on the autism spectrum.With immense amounts of reassurance provided from my consultant, who calmly explained that the most importance attributes to become a successful special needs practitioner are patience, compassion as well as a willingness to learn and adapt your practice in accordance with the individual needs of the pupils in your care, I finally mustered the confidence to attend this trial day. After an outstanding day spent teaching nine children in the autism unit, which I thoroughly enjoyed more than I ever could have imagined, I was then subsequently offered a permanent role at the unit by the headteacher. Needless to say, I accepted this offer with both pride and enthusiasm!

For the following four years; I experienced the greatest degree of satisfaction and fulfilment of my teaching career, supporting the academic and social needs of pupils on the autism spectrum. Admittedly, whilst this role entailed a steep learning curve initially, teaching in a special needs setting entailed supporting class sizes of only 6-8 pupils (a typical mainstream class can have over 30 children!), enabling me to really gain a unique insight into the academic and social needs of each pupil in my care! As well as the reduced marking demands (which I’d be untruthful if I was to say wasn’t also quite a perk), being in a position to support small groups of vulnerable children, making a profound impact on their academic and personal progress, was the most rewarding experience of my professional career to date!

My advice to any candidates (both teachers and support staff) considering a transition from a mainstream setting into an SEN provision, please do not feel hesitant owing to a lack of training and/or experience. The most important attributes, when supporting children with special needs requirements, are most certainly the willingness to display patience and compassion as well as a willingness to continually learn and adapt your approaches to suit the unique challenges of each pupil in your care. Not only will this role entail less marking, which was quickly becoming an unmanageable requirement in the maintained sector, the difference which you will be able to impart to the lives of vulnerable children will simply be unparalleled.’


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