Life as a SEN teaching assistant – Halim

Working in education isn’t always the career path some people aspire to work in from a young age, but the desire to inspire young people and help shape someone’s future can ultimately lead you to the profession.

This is the case for Hamil, a Teaching Assistant who has worked in the education sector with Sugarman Education for the last two years. Having previously worked with children in other roles, it was a friend who suggested supply teaching maybe for him.

He said: “My last job was in marketing and did some sports coaching on the side. I enjoyed working with young people and decided it was something I wanted to do more of in my career.

“My previous roles have been very different to teaching, but my experience in coaching sort of pushed me towards that.”

Hamil has found long term work with Sugarman Education and has worked specifically in SEN schools, something which was a new challenge for him.

“It was really eye-opening for me. I’ve never worked with SEN children, but here you get an insight into their lives, what they are going through back at home and even the difficulties they have with their parents.”

“Each child is special in their own way”

Working with several different after school sports teams, Hamil has experienced working with children of all ages and abilities, some from the age of 3. This has given him the chance to be adaptable and appreciate the individualities of those he supports, both in and out of the classroom. 

“Each child is special in their own way. SEN children have lots of similarities to mainstream children but can’t express themselves as well, which can be challenging.

“I think SEN pupils are a lot more visual than mainstream pupils. One girl in my class is so artistic. She can see a picture once and draw it perfectly from memory. Another young boy has the most amazing memory, I sometimes worry about telling him too much, because he remembers everything!”

SEN lessons can be extremely different from those in a mainstream school. Keeping the children focused and engaged can be a big task, but Hamil has found that using exercise to keep the class alert and energised can really boost their productivity. 

Bringing out the best in the pupils

“Demonstrations and active lessons are key to getting the best out of the pupils. We have a stretching class every morning to prepare them for the day. 

“One child cannot extend his arms fully and doesn’t have a great range of motion. I handed him a small ball and turning his focus elsewhere, he can manage that extension and can keep up with the rest of the class.” 

To this day, Hamil is still in contact with a teacher from his school days, who he recalls made a real impact in his lessons and made time for each pupil. 

“My Primary School teacher, Mr Hunt, was helpful. He was relatable to the young ones and would listen to our music and tell us jokes. He was a PE teacher, so we always talked about football. I’m still in contact with him today and I help him with his after-school clubs and sports coaching.” 

Why supply teaching?

When asking Hamil if he would recommend supply teaching to others, he speaks of the flexibility of the role and how it fits around his lifestyle, along with the development opportunities that come with each role.

“I would say just take the risk. The hours are great. I get to finish quite early, so I can still take part in my coaching sessions. The staff are supportive and there are always new things to learn.

“My goal is to be a PE teacher in the future or work in a behaviour management role, something that is currently available in the school I am in now. I have a great relationship with the school and appreciate the support they continue to give me.”

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