Kelly McLellan’s story – Straight to Teaching in SEND

Kelly McLellan is an unqualified teacher working towards Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) using the Straight to Teaching programme. Kelly works at Bandon Hill Primary School in a specialist area of the school called Oak Field. This area is a base for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and have class sizes of 6-8 pupils with a pupil to teacher ratio of 2:1. 

Kelly joined Oak Field in 2014 as a Teaching Assistant and was then promoted to a Lead Teaching Assistant, she came to the school with over 10 years’ experience in the field working with children who have Emotional Behavioural Disorders (EBD). With such an extensive portfolio and a true love for teaching in an SEND setting, Kelly wanted to become a qualified teacher and gain her QTS.

Straight to Teaching in a SEND school

Traditional routes into teaching normally require trainees to take time away from their school to study teaching practice, pedagogy and gain their qualification(s). For Kelly and other trainees within a SEND setting these routes are not feasible. Kelly’s pupils need consistency and continuity to maintain their emotional wellbeing, taking time out the school week to gain her QTS would have caused too much disruption.

With Straight to Teaching Kelly’s classroom could continue to run smoothly. At the beginning of the programme Kelly maintained her role as a Lead Teaching Assistant and over time built up to around 80% of a full teacher’s timetable before she was put forward for QTS Assessment. Throughout the programme Kelly needed to build sufficient teaching experience that could be assessed against all eight Teachers’ Standards and meet the Department for Education (DfE) criteria for Assessment Only, this was carried out in school using evidence such as lesson planning, marking, and reporting.

Kelly was supported by a Tes Institute pathway tutor who had an extensive background in SEND teaching. Her pathway tutor arranged school visits to observe lessons and provided support and feedback on areas for improvement.

Kelly’s current teacher status

At the beginning of July 2019 Kelly officially completed her Straight to Teaching programme and is due to have her QTS assessment in September 2019. Before applying for QTS assessment Kelly also needed to sit her GCSE equivalency tests, these were done during her time on the Straight to Teaching programme and were supplied by Tes Institute.

We recently had the opportunity to speak to Kelly about her Straight to Teaching journey and how she has found her road to gaining QTS:

‘Straight to teaching has been brilliant for me, I have been able to stay in a job I absolutely love. My classes are a maximum of 8 so the relationships I have with my kids are very close, also the level of interaction with parents is much closer than in a normal school as the kids need so much more support. I never thought I'd be able to do this training and still stay at Oak Field.

The online learning is based on the national curriculum so it has sometimes been difficult to relate to my class. However, it has given me a good understanding of school teaching standards and I have been able to take this and adapt to lower levels for my pupils.

My pathway tutor from Tes has an amazing background with SEN teaching, they are incredibly supportive and I’m very happy and comfortable for her to observe me as the feedback I get is so valuable.

I would definitely recommend the course, I have been able to achieve my dream job without having to give up work. We need two incomes and this route has allowed me to do what I love and still contribute to our home.’

From September 2019 we hope Kelly will join the Tes Institute 2000 #SuperHeroTeachers who have already gained QTS using our programmes.

If you would like to join Kelly and start your road to gaining QTS in a SEND setting have a read of our course page and apply today.