🚧 NSCG | Q&A with Newcastle College's SpLD Tutor, Laura Flynn
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3rd March 2021

As part of National Careers Week, we have been chatting with Newcastle College's SpLD Tutor, Laura Flynn to hear about the studies she undertook to get into a specialist teaching role.

Q. How long have you worked at NSCG?

A. I joined the Newcastle College in September 2020, so I am a very new member of the team.

Q. What courses did you choose to study at College and University?

A. I actually studied here at Newcastle College during the academic years 2005-2007 over at the old college site and studied A Levels in English, Psychology and Sociology. I have very fond memories of my time at Newcastle College as a student, as I learnt a lot, had supportive tutors, and made friends for life here. I left Newcastle College with three A’s at A Level and gained a scholarship at Keele University, where I studied a Bachelor of Science dual honours degree in English and Psychology.

Training in any career is always ongoing, so to further my training I then attended Edge Hill University to qualify as a ‘Dyslexia Specialist Teacher’, on their Masters level programme.

Q. Did you always want to get into teaching?

A. From a young age, I was always interested in pursuing a teaching career, but then a part of me was always interested in the psychology of human behaviour too. This is why I chose to study both English and Psychology, as I was never fully set on a career goal until I studied my A Levels. It was good to have the choice of a few courses, to explore my options. Once I got to university, I was set on a teaching route, and so I applied for Keele’s Primary PGCE programme.

Q. Tell us about your work history – has your career changed much along the way?

A. After I graduated from Keele university, I worked in a Primary school. I particularly enjoyed working alongside and supporting children with specific learning difficulties. There was a former SENCO who worked there, (who has since retired), who saw that I had a passion for supporting students with neurodiverse needs and so encouraged me to consider a more specialist teaching route. I wish I had known that these specialist roles existed when I was younger. I then developed my training at Edgehill University and qualified as a ‘Dyslexia Specialist Teacher’.

Once I qualified, I got in touch with several companies who offered specialist provision to gain some experience. I’m very grateful to the manager of the Dyslexia Association Staffordshire, who took me under her wing and enabled me to use my qualification to develop my experience tutoring, screening, and assessing learners with dyslexia. This then gave me the confidence to apply for the role as a SpLD Tutor at NSCG.

Q. What additional training /qualifications have you gained to improve your career prospects or to specialise?

A. I completed a Level 7 Masters level degree at Edgehill University, which enabled me to teach and assess individuals with Specific Learning Difficulties. I’m always keen to upskill myself, and so regularly take part in CPD training, with a focus on dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism, ADHD and dyscalculia.

Q. What is a typical day like for you at NSCG?

A. What can I say, other than I absolutely love my role at NSCG. No day is ever the same and I work with such a friendly, supportive, knowledgeable team. They took me under their wing as a newbie and made me feel like I have always worked here. My day is very varied. I offer study skills support to students with specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism, ADHD etc… I also carry out exam access arrangements, screenings and full diagnostic assessments (for students identified as having a potential SpLD). It’s very rewarding knowing that I can help students to develop their own learning strategies through multisensory teaching and to identify their barriers to learning. This is what I aspired to do when I first trained as a Dyslexia Specialist Teacher.

Q. Do you have any advice for students who would like to pursue a career in a specialist teaching role?

A. Go for it! It is honestly the best thing I ever did and very rewarding. There are plenty of courses out there that can develop your knowledge and expertise, with the right drive and commitment to them. The courses I studied at Newcastle college acted as a key stepping stone to get me to where I wanted to be. There are so many specialist roles relating to education and special educational needs, which I wished I knew about when I was younger.