Course studied: Early Years and Special & Inclusive Education
We now offer: BA (Hons) Special Educational Needs Disability and Inclusion
There are so many opportunities available at NTU but it’s down to you to be active in taking advantage of them!
More about Caitlin
We spoke to Caitlin about her wealth of experience working and volunteering in education, care and charity settings both in England and overseas. Disability advocate Caitlin is a graduate of Special and Inclusive Education and Early Years, specialising in autism and we spoke to her about her time at NTU and beyond.
Can you tell us why you chose to study at NTU?
I chose to study at NTU because there were only a handful of universities that offer my course. Out of the ones I visited, I loved Clifton campus the most; how it was a “bubble” campus, the amenities close by, it seemed very social and sporty and when speaking to staff who worked there, such as lecturers, they seemed very interested in me and I still remember the conversations I had with them to this day! Myself and my Mum came to the open day and both got that feeling of “I can picture myself here”.
Tell us about some of your memories of NTU?
I learnt so much from my course! It wasn’t just surface level, we explored so much and having placements and hearing other people’s experiences really developed my learning. Having lecturers and peers that share the same passion as you is key! I’ve learnt to be more confident, from putting my hand up in lectures to going to a new social, putting yourself out there sparks conversations with people you might have never met and can lead to interesting conversations and lifelong friendships. Being a Covid graduate, my friends and I spent a lot of time cooking for each other so I guess I learnt how to cook too!
Did you do anything extra to enhance your employment prospects?
Having a part time job and placements really helped; there were some I loved and some I didn’t, but this helped to shape my career as I wouldn’t have to waste my time doing a job I hate. Also, having that experience is something I talk about in job interviews or can apply past experience to the next. Placements especially provided me with opportunities I didn’t think were possible; I taught in Sri Lanka for 6 weeks which I found through the employability team. They further helped highlight the importance of CV’s and LinkedIn and provided many useful workshops.
What does your current working day involve?
My main job was working at a charity that supports children with special needs and disabilities. Everyday is different because we know every child is different! We put sessions on for different age groups and abilities as well as supporting families. During sessions, myself and other advisors would talk to parents/carers and offer advice or be a listening ear whilst their children play in-front of us in a sensory and safe environment. I was working here to save for travelling but it was the best job I’ve had!
More recently, I got a teaching job in Spain as an English language teacher. The mornings always consisted of lesson planning then I taught lessons in the afternoon. Starting with our younger children, we go over more basic English through play based learning. Usually our children in senior school are taking exams, so lessons will be tailored to them. School will end at either 8 or 9pm as we have adults attending in the evening to learn English too. It sounds like a long day, but in true Spanish style we have a two hour siesta at lunch.
It is really interesting adapting to a new way of teaching; following a new curriculum, a different lifestyle and especially a new language (Spanish) - this has made me learn so much about the English language and in turn, helped me to teach my students.
What attracted you to this field of work?
I had volunteered with this charity before university. Studying special educational needs at university only increased my passion for this field.
My love for travel was born when I undertook a teaching placement in Sri Lanka. I love learning about other cultures and experiencing a different way of life. I’ve learnt teaching techniques in one country that I can apply to the next! It was here I learnt that my degree can take me anywhere!
What have been the highlights and biggest challenges of your career so far?
Learning a new language has its challenges. Don’t expect to know everything overnight. Where you can, practice where possible; watch a tv show in that language, download Duolingo or go to a language exchange. Immersing yourself in their culture too will help to develop your knowledge.
At my previous job, sometimes it’s easy to get too emotionally invested. When working with children and their families, you can’t help but think if you did everything you could for them. I found in these situations, talking to colleagues was essential. They might advise what you could further say, but 90% of the time they will give you a hug and reassure you that you did everything you could.
I would say a highlight was being invited to speak on the radio about an upcoming event we had at our charity called “SIBS4FUN”. I also attended an awards evening and we won an award for it! Both were pretty special because I had been involved with this event for a number of years prior.
And of course another highlight is exploring new countries and meeting people who you might not come across at home!
What are you plans for the future?
To carry on travelling as much as possible! This summer I will be working at an American summer camp. This will be a special needs camp which I’m very excited about!
Finally, if you had a time machine, what would you go back and tell yourself at uni?
Go to your lectures, go to that social event, take that part time job or join that society you (a bonus if you’ve never actually done it before e.g. skiing!) You are constantly meeting new people and you never know where these new connections might lead to. There are so many opportunities available but it’s down to you to be active in taking advantage of them!
Still need help?
Bethan BurroughesBA (Hons) Education
Brenda Amponsaa-SafoBA (Hons) Childhood (Psychology)
Cassy Sinclair-PatelEducation (Early Years)