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SoEStudent

Work Placement at Archdale School

BA Education, Culture and Childhood level 2 student, Michelle Martinez-Gill, completed her placement at Archdale School - a school dedicated to pupils with special educational needs (SEN). She is now volunteering there until the end of the summer term.

1) How did you find this placement?

As part of the BA degree, the School of Education supported us to select an appropriate placement in the form of a live placement or work-based project. The placement team officers have given us a list of providers along with short descriptions and links to their websites.

2) Why do you want to do this placement?

My interest in special education led me to choose this placement. I have experience in mainstream schools and ESL classroom settings abroad, but not much in special education settings. Hence, I wanted to gain more experience in this setting, broaden my horizons, and develop a deeper understanding of special needs.

3) What you did as part of the placement (your role and responsibilities)

I assumed the role of a teaching assistant. The responsibilities are, but not limited to, offering support to pupils, staff, the curriculum and the school.

4) What skills or improvements have you got from this placement?

Through careful observation, I learned the ins and outs of the classroom and have been a part of the team. What initially worries me is how I will be able to form meaningful relationships with pupils who are nonverbal, use limited words to communicate, or use Makaton vocabulary, which is a way to teach communication and language skills by using symbols, hand signs, or a combination of the two, along with spoken words. (Grove, 1990) As time passes by, I have learned some of this vocabulary and have applied it with the children. For example, on a typical Wednesday, the children have a PE lesson, soft play and phonics. In PE lessons, I would play catch with the children using a ball. They also had cooking/baking class on Thursdays of which I was asked to help. With frequent interaction, this has helped in fostering a good relationship with them.

When I finished my placement, I was surprised to receive a card made with children’s handprints and a small token of appreciation. Currently, I’m volunteering at Archdale School til the school year ends.

Find out more about our BA Education, Culture and Childhood at The University of Sheffield.

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Education Matters

Education Matters

Research at the School of Education, University of Sheffield. For more information about us, visit www.sheffield.ac.uk/education.