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Case Study

Eleftheria Dispiraki

Heraklion, Greece

MA Education

Lacking opportunities to teach in her own country, Eleftheria Dispiraki made the decision to move to the UK and enrolled on the MA Education course at Sunderland, specialising in SEND. She’s now putting everything she learned into practice as a primary SEMH teacher in London and hopes to become a SENCO one day.

I was teaching humanities back in Greece, but opportunities for teachers in my home country are very limited. I wanted to specialise in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and begin my career as a teacher in the UK so I could gain experience from a British educational setting and become an expert in special needs.

I chose to come to the University of Sunderland as they gave me the opportunity to study whilst providing me with free accommodation during the global pandemic, which was such a difficult time for everybody financially. I was also aware that the MA Education course is one of the best and most challenging in the UK. Sunderland is multicultural and home to lots of Greek students, so I knew people who’d studied here and could tell me all about their positive experience of both the University and the city.

My favourite part of the MA Education course was being able to study specialised modules around Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs. I’ve learnt so much during the course through the teaching and my assignments, but I’ve also been provided with the tools to specialise further within the field, learning about the interventions and frameworks I should be trained in in the future. I’ve learnt how to be a reflective practitioner, how to gather data, and how to evaluate pupils’ progress in much more effective ways. I also gained some valuable insight into how to support LGBTQ+ pupils and those who suffer from gender dysphoria.

I can now put everything I’ve learned at university into practice, as once I graduated, I took on the role of a primary SEMH teacher in South London. I’m absolutely thrilled that I made it, and in the future, I’d love to become a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO).

My advice to any prospective students considering studying at Sunderland would be to not overstress – enjoy every single moment of this journey. Always seek help if you’re struggling as the team is very supportive. I will always remember the support I received; it was incredibly challenging moving to a new country during a pandemic, feeling anxious about my assignments as well as being away from my family, but my Programme Leader was amazing and remains the kindest person I’ve met in England so far.

To sum up my experience, my journey was amazing. It made me feel much more confident, not just as a professional, but as an international individual living in the UK.”

Please note, the Special Educational Needs route is no longer available for this course – we now run a separate course, the MA SEND.

Published 15 June 2023

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