Brunel SEN MAT

Success Stories - Staff

Meet Claire Newham

I started working at Uplands School in September 2009 after having spent some time as a teaching assistant in a mainstream village primary school. I was employed as a teaching assistant within what was then called the PMLD provision. I had lots to learn about the more sensory/ holistic approach to teaching and assessing against a more multi-sensory curriculum. I soon found I loved this approach and looked forward to learning more.

As I progressed, I was then moved to an SLD provision where the students worked at a higher level and it related more to my experience as a TA in the primary school. I loved the challenges that this give me. I understood the pedagogy of teaching and learning and the importance of adapting my communication skills to support the students’ needs and learning styles and to create resources that supported the teaching and the teacher.   

Due to circumstances I then found myself lead of this class, quickly adapting to my new role and supported by other teachers and Jackie Smith (who was Headteacher at the time).

I then went on maternity for 9 months, enjoying being a mum of a bouncy baby boy who kept me on my toes continually!! During my time on maternity leave I was approached by Andy Segal (Deputy Head of Uplands and soon to be head of UET College now Horizons college) Andy asked if I would be interested in leading a Post 19 provision class at the newly created Horizons College. I jumped at the chance!

I worked at the College for 6 years, enjoying learning more about the adult provision and a more functional skills curriculum. Working with other professionals to deliver a positive and inclusive teaching environment for all.

After my 6 years at Horizons College, I realised I missed the school environment, the teaching and learning progression you get from students at school level. (College learners have often peaked by the time they get to college and become more lateral learners). I was approached by the amazing Fiona Clark, Head of Uplands School at the time, who encouraged me to apply for a new role at Uplands as a specialist teaching assistant and PPA cover for the head of department.

I loved this role and enjoyed working with the lovely Ian Blackwell who shared his knowledge and skills in working again in a more sensory/ holistic environment. After 2 years of working in this role I was asked to cover a class as lead. It was like history repeating itself, as I was again lead in a SLD/ ASC class. 

During my time at Uplands School and Horizons College, I hade been approached many times to qualify as a teacher but I felt that time was never right (excuses I know) having a  baby who  didn’t seem to need to sleep….moving house ….. life’s pressures and perhaps lack of confidence in myself, stepping out of the box.

This time when I was approached by Fiona, I felt the time was right (and I couldn’t think of any more excuses!!)   with her support and consistent encouragement, I applied for a permanent job as a teacher at Uplands School and I am now halfway through my first year of teacher training.

I am loving it and haven’t looked back. Yes, the course is tough and yes, some days I think why I am I doing this to myself(!) but in the long run it will benefit me and my family.

I am so grateful to the Brunel SEN MAT, Uplands School and Horizons college for giving me these opportunities to grow and progress in my personal development and look forward too many years ahead of me as teacher at Uplands school.

Claire Newham

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