Upon completion of my PGCE in drama and SEN in 2001 I began my teaching career. I taught drama in mainstream secondary schools, to students across the age range 11-18. I then specialised in teaching students with special educational needs within mainstream schools. Gaining the PG National SENCO Award, and working as a deputy SENCO in a large academy enabled me to gain a deeper understanding of the complex yet unique nature of SEN departments in schools. It also allowed me to identify and deliver good classroom practice when supporting our most vulnerable learners. Understanding how to differentiate lessons to meet the needs of a range of students with different learning needs was a pleasure and a privilege. Although SENCO's are not required to have expert knowledge across all areas of SEN, I developed a specialist interest within the area of dyslexia and completed an MA in Specific Learning Difficulties. I recognised the prevalence of dyslexia in schools across all levels of academic ability and saw the importance of learning how to identify dyslexic students and support them appropriately in the classroom. Having gained an MA in SpLD, I became a BDA accredited Dyslexia Assessor. I co-established a private company called Yorkshire Dyslexia, specialising in providing dyslexia assessments to children and adults, access arrangements and CPD dyslexia awareness training (www.yorkshiredyslexia.co.uk)
There are two strands to my professional and academic background. Due to a personal family tragedy of unexpectedly losing my six year old son, Levi, to a brain tumour, I co-founded the charity Levi's Star Children's brain Tumour Charity, in his memory. We support chldren with brain tumours across Yorkshire ( www.levisstar.co.uk) . We have built the charity over the last decade and have created a specialist children's brain tumour educational outreach service, funded in the first instance by Macmillan. This service aims to support children who have survived a brain tumour, as they return to school and progress through school . My specialist SEN teaching experience allows me to provide intervention to brain tumour survivors at school, helping them develop skills that have been damaged by a brain tumour/subsequent treatment. Levi's Star also works closely with Leeds General Infirmary and holds an Honorary Contract with them. This allows me to attend brain tumour clinics on behalf of Levi's Star Educational Outreach Service, where I accept referrals from medical professionals and families of children with brain tumours.
Brain tumours are reported as being the biggest cancer killer of UK children. Of the children who survive brain tumours, there is growing recognition that many are left with life-altering physical, cognitive and social difficulties. Within my experience of running Levi’s Star Children’s Brain Tumour Charity, it became apparent that gaps exist not only in areas such as research into treatment/cures for brain tumours but also within educational support for children with brain tumours. Identifying how the needs of paediatric brain tumour survivors are being or could be met in school, is a central focus of this project. Researching the effectiveness of school support for children living with the effects of a brain tumour could play a key part of informing,enhancing and improving the quality of survivorship for this disadvantaged group of children. I am therefore interested in deepening my understanding of the following areas:
- What knowledge and understanding do SENCOs, teachers and teaching assistants have about the potential effects of paediatric brain tumours on learning?
- What support/intervention strategies exist for PBTS at school and how could these strategies be improved?
- What are the experiences/views of parents in the process of securing ongoing school support for their child following treatment for a brain tumour?
- How could school/parents work more collaboratively to ensure PBTS are fully supported throughout school?
- What are the views of PBTS about what is working well for them at school?
Levi's Star is also a member charity of the national brain tumour charity Brain Tumour Research www.braintumourresearch.org We support the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours who have recently launched an inquiry into the economic and social impacts of brain tumours. It is Levi's Star premise that appropriate and effective educational support throughout all key stages must also be made available to all children who survive brain tumours, to ensure quality of survivorship. Levi's Star Children's Brain Tumour Charity is funding my research, to help deepen our understanding of what works well at school for children living with the life long effects of a brain tumour, what could be improved and how.
- MA in Specific Learning Difficulties
- AMBDA Practising Certificate ( Dyslexia Assessor)
- PG National Award for SENCO
- PGCE ( Drama and SEN)
- BA (Hons) Dramatic Arts