Julia Green is the Additional Learning Needs (ALN) Coordinator for Coleg Sir Gar. Overseeing 75 members of staff across 7 campuses, she acts as liaison for all ALN learners, parents and guardians, which equates to approximately 20% of the college population.
Julia completed the PG Cert SEN/ALN (Autism) course at USW in May 2021. Here she talks of her experience.
“When I heard about the course from Chris Denham at ColegauCymru, I felt as the Head of the Learning Support Department it was essential for me to enrol. I have specialist knowledge and qualifications in dyslexia and dyspraxia but lacked confidence in relation to autism. I wanted to upskill, to enable me to offer a better learning experience for learners.
The course was delivered online. I am based in West Wales, so this was hugely beneficial as it mitigated the need to travel. However, I had initial concerns as I like the interaction of a classroom. My fears were removed though. The course was well structured, the materials were exceptional, and Dr Carmel Conn was very supportive. I enjoyed the online element more than I thought I initially would.
Working full-time and studying for a professional doctorate as well, I had to be very strict with myself to set time aside to engage with the course work and materials. I enjoyed writing the assignments, reinforcing my knowledge, and putting my spin on my chosen topics of research.
On reflection, the programme has been immensely beneficial to my role and to the college. I spoke to senior management and said I wanted to upskill all the administrative and faculty staff on how best to support ALN learners, especially those with autism. As a result, we have scheduled two CPD days to achieve this objective. The event will be hosted as a collaboration between the Learning Support Coordinators, teaching and learning team and myself as ALNCo, who have experience of working with ALN learners, to share their wealth of knowledge and strategies as part of the event to all faculty teaching and support staff.
I am also part of a working party reviewing the college’s behavioural policy as it was felt that it was not conducive to ALN learners. We aim to launch the new, more person-centred policy next term, which will consider how autistic learners need to be supported. As an outcome of completing the autism course, I have identified the requirement of quiet spaces for ALN learners across our seven campuses.
Having already graduated from USW with a Level 7 and a MA in Leadership and Management, as well as a Level 7 in SEN (Specific Learning Difficulties) courses very early on in my career, USW has provided the pathway to the role I have now.
I am very proud of myself for staying motivated and completing with an overall distinction. I would highly recommend this course to fellow FE practitioners. As a level 7 course, it is demanding, but you get out what you put in. It is highly beneficial for a professional career in supporting learners with ALN and autism within further education.”
Find out more about the collaboration between ColegauCymru and University of South Wales to coordinate delivery of this new qualification.
Do you have a question?
Chris Denham is the ColegauCymru Transformation Lead for ALN. He has worked closely with the University of South Wales to coordinate the delivery of this programme of study, designed specifically for further education practitioners.