Friday 23 June 2017

Special education study awards now open

Every year, the Ministry of Education awards study scholarships to teachers who would like to pursue special education endorsement. Applications are open now for the 2015 round of awards, so if you’re thinking you’d like to give it a go, Barbara Tannant’s testimony might just give you the encouragement you need to grab an application form.

The vision of special education in New Zealand is to ensure that our education system works for everybody, including those with special education needs. ‘Inclusivity’ underpins education in this country as a whole, and it’s a concept that’s particularly relevant to special education. Inclusive schools are those that adapt to meet the needs of the student, rather than trying to force students to adapt to a ‘cookie cutter’ approach to education.
Everyone can learn
Barbara Hannant is a Resource Teacher: Learning & Behaviour working within Cluster 6 (Central West Auckland Team). Prior to becoming a RTLB , she taught extensively across primary, intermediate, and secondary school. She tells Education Gazette a bit about her personal connection to special education and her passion for helping every student get the most out of school.
Barbara’s story
“I was the recipient of a special education scholarship which I used to pursue my Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology in 2012/2013. I have been an RTLB for the last six years and before becoming an RTLB I taught across primary, intermediate, and secondary schools. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but it was not an easy path for me, as I am not naturally academic. My academic achievements have come solely through determination, hard work, sacrifice, and discipline.
“I have had to overcome some personal learning challenges. I am slow to process information. I have difficulty with memory, and I have some word retrieval and expressive language fluency issues. However I haven’t let these things stop me achieving academically. 
“I think this is why I am passionate about special education. I can relate to students who experience learning difficulties on many different levels. As a classroom teacher, I was desperate to help the children in my class who were struggling to learn, but I didn’t always know what to do when my efforts weren’t working.
“I believe all children can learn. Not all at the same pace or in the same way, but they are all capable of learning and making progress. The more I am able to understand the way that a child thinks and how they learn best, the more I can help their teachers to support them.
“In 2012 I was awarded a scholarship from the Ministry of Education that allowed me to complete my Master of Educational Psychology degree, which I was able to do well enough to be awarded the degree with Distinction. It has been a challenging journey working and studying, but receiving the study award helped immensely. My aspiration to become an educational psychologist was driven by a desire to support the children and schools of the West Auckland community where I grew up and work. Knowing that my university fees were covered meant that my family did not have to go into debt, and this took a great weight off my shoulders and allowed me to focus on the task at hand.
“I am still working as an RTLB but I am also currently interning as an educational psychologist. The two roles fit beautifully in allowing me to support teachers to effectively cater for the diverse range of students in their classes. Not only am I developing and maintaining teaching practices that create inclusive classrooms in my RTLB role, but by being able to bring a skilled psychological dimension, I am able to identify and support learning difficulties from within the classroom.
“My advice to teachers who are passionate about special education and are considering further study in the field, is to have a look at the range of Ministry study awards and scholarships available. The process was straightforward and incredibly worthwhile.”

To find out more about special education, or to apply for a study award or scholarship, go to: http://bit.ly/1sSmNt2
Special education study awards are available for the following areas:
* Autism Spectrum Disorder
* Complex Educational Needs
* Early Intervention
* Hearing Impairment
* Resource Teachers: Learning & Behaviour
* Low Vision and Vision Impairment
* Special Teaching Needs
* Adviser on Deaf Children
The following special education scholarships are also awarded yearly:
* Educational Psychology Masters Scholarship
* Speech Language Therapy Scholarship
* Sign Language Interpreting Scholarship
Psychologist internships are also available in special education in:
* Educational Psychology
* Child and Family