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Welcome! First group of students join new primary programme

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Published on 30 September 2022

The new cohort of primary school trainees at the University of Sunderland
The new cohort of primary school trainees at the University of Sunderland

The University of Sunderland has welcomed the first group of trainee primary school teachers onto its innovative new programme.

Launching this month, BA (Hons) Primary Education with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) is an exciting addition to the University’s primary programmes and has been written in close collaboration with University partners working in SEND provision within the north-east. The partners will support the trainees during their school placements and through their roles as expert tutors delivering teaching on campus.

New Primary SEND student Molly Finnon said: “Induction week was an amazing experience. It allowed all students to get a good idea of the course alongside being a fun experience.” 

The week also provided opportunities to get to know one another and the wider primary team. Student Jack Walton commented: “It was great to meet lots of new people and the support from the staff was fantastic.”

Associate Head of School of Education for Primary Initial Teacher Training at the University of Sunderland, Vicki Stokes, said: “It is great to have a programme which so closely supports our partnership SEND schools in the development of their future teachers and gives those with a passion for this area of education to develop a wealth of knowledge and skills.”

Columbia Grange School is looking forward to working with our new Primary SEND trainee students.  Karen Addison, Pastoral Lead at Columbia Grange School said: “The new Primary SEND programme will give students essential practical experience in SEND. They will pick up skills on how to support SEND in the classroom, how to be part of a class team, and how staff work together for the best outcomes for the child.”

Professor Lynne McKenna, Academic Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society at the University of Sunderland, said: “The introduction of this innovative new programme is timely.  

At the end of March 2022, the government published its long-awaited SEND review. It was commissioned to improve an inconsistent, bureaucratic, and complicated system which often means delays in children accessing the right support for their needs. The SEND Review is a green paper setting out the proposals for the future of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and alternative provision systems. The proposals are not yet set in stone, but we are confident that the new programme will support some of the recommendations. 

“Our work in the area of SEND provision and research is longstanding at the University of Sunderland and we are continuing to build that reputation and aim to become a Centre of Excellence for SEND in the north-east.”

Sarah Martin-Denham, Associate Professor of Care and Education at the University of Sunderland, informs programme development for SEND in Initial Teacher Training and is the programme leader for the National SENCo Award. She is widely published in SEND, adversity, school exclusion and participatory research. Sarah leads commissioned research to improve experiences and outcomes for children and young people with SEND working with local and national partners.