June 2017

Determined Sean returns to old school to inspire them

Read time: approx 1 mins

A determined UCB student with a debilitating condition that can slow learning has come full circle after securing a dream work placement with his old school.

Sean Mckeown, who has just completed his Level 3 Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools course, has been taken on as a trainee teaching assistant at Arthur Terry in Sutton Coldfield, which caters for children with special educational needs.

The 22-year-old, who has dyspraxia, has already made a huge impression as a much-admired support worker and a real inspiration to young pupils with his condition.

Keen to help pupils in the same boat after receiving “exceptional support” from Arthur Terry as a struggling schoolboy, Sean said he wanted to give something back.

“It’s like coming home,” he said. “The atmosphere is so friendly and welcoming – just like a family. It’s really nice to know people as people and not just teachers.

“The children are amazing. I love working with them and want to make a difference. I understand because I’ve been there, just a few years ago, so I know what they are going through and how best to support them.

“It’s about re-investing. If you give people time, they will achieve more and, hopefully, give that back.”

Sean was diagnosed with dyspraxia, which affects fine and gross motor coordination and sometimes speech in children and adults, at the age of two.

In Sean’s case, he struggled with issues surrounding organisation and orientation and had to work extra hard to stay on top of his school work. Strong family support, coupled with the school’s robust learning support policy, meant a carefully tailored programme of support was available throughout his entire time at Arthur Terry.

Jane Smith, UCB programme manager for Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools, said: “Sean has impressed his tutors at UCB by turning around his experiences as a child into a huge positive for his studies and career,” she said.

“He really is a remarkable young man who has been incredible in demonstrating what can be achieved with the right support and outlook.”

UCB’s Level 3 Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools course requires 300 hours of work placement and includes numerous modules based around supporting students, such as managing challenging behaviour and supporting learning activities.

Sean, who has also had a placement at Wilson Stuart School in Erdington, which caters for both children and young adults with special educational needs and learning disabilities, and works for Sutton Park Donkey Sanctuary’s Assisted Therapy Centre, said: “It’s a great course and UCB has been fantastic in supporting me.”

Sean now hopes to use the qualification to secure a position as a teaching assistant, a role he is keen to promote to future male TAs.

“Traditionally, the job is seen as more of a female role, but I’d like to see more males choosing it as a career option,” he said.

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