Interview with teaching assistant Julie Collins, find out about her experiences working in a special needs school.

Have you ever thought of working with children/people with special needs, read teaching assistant Julie’s own experiences working in the special needs sector.

Julie,53 worked in the civil service for thirty years before becoming a teaching assistant at Hope School in Wigan.

Only when Julie was offered voluntary redundancy from the civil service, did she take the leap and complete a level 2 teaching assistant course. Julie had thought about going into care for a long time,’ I didn’t know which way I wanted to go into it. It would have been harder to quit my job and do the course without anything to fall back on; however, with the redundancy, I could do the course and not have to worry about money.’

Julie’s first job after the teaching assistant course was at a public primary school, but as soon as a job opportunity at Hope School came up, she jumped at the chance.

Now Julie works with eighteen to thirty-year-olds, who have a severe range of disabilities. ‘ The school is a very happy and caring environment to work in, it is extremely rewarding. A little thing like a smile of a student makes it worthwhile.’

Julie says although it is rewarding, it can be hard at times. ‘You have to be positive, especially when some of the students experience seizures. You have to do your best to make the lives of the students as comfortable and as happy as you can.’

The school takes part in a range of activities to create a fun and positive environment, such as wheelchair dancing, sensory art, music therapy, and dance massage.

If you are thinking about working in a special needs school Julie recommends to ‘ go and volunteer in a classroom, but you can’t let it upset you. Be practical and put the students needs first.’




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