Hands-on experience at Meath School

To mark Volunteers’ Week, an annual celebration of the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK, Rosie Fishlock shares how taking part in a work placement over the past seven months has potentially changed her career path.

After approaching I CAN’s Meath School in 2015, Rosie, a psychology student from Cardiff University, joined the school last September. 

“To complement my studies and personal interests, I was looking for some hands-on experience with children in a school environment, with the opportunity to see the work of speech and language therapists and other various professionals in practice. Meath School seemed the perfect choice for me.

Prior to starting at Meath, I was interested in a speech and language therapy (SLT) career but wanted to keep my options open and see what being an SLT was like in reality.

When I started, I was really excited to get to know the school and its children. I took the role of Learning Support Assistant (LSA), split across classroom work and the multi-disciplinary team in Meath’s Assessment Centre.

Seven months on, I now spend two days a week with the multi-disciplinary team, supporting the children, and seeing the process through from assessment to final reports.

It has been one of the most rewarding, eye-opening experiences. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a variety of children of different ages, abilities and diagnoses. I’ve obtained knowledge and insight into so many different areas of child development and speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).

One of the most beneficial things has been shadowing and assisting Gill, the school’s educational psychologist. She is always willing to explain the reasoning behind certain assessments and why she does them, and share observations and thoughts about the children. She has tied in knowledge that I’ve gained at university with what she does in practice.

My confidence has grown and I really enjoy the type of work the team does, and have found myself wanting to know more.

When I’m not in the Assessment Centre I assist in the classroom, programming the students’ augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices. It’s great getting to know the children and having the opportunity to work with all the different teams in different classes.

Now I’ve found my feet and gotten to grips with the techniques used, I feel more confident working with small groups of children and identifying ways to help them learn. It’s been very rewarding seeing the children progress over the school term, dipping in and out of their lessons and SLT sessions and witnessing how effective the multi-disciplinary team approach is.

Over the past seven months I have gained more than I could have imagined, both about children with SLCN, and also about working life in schools.

Working in the Assessment Centre has shown me the types of children I would experience if I were to pursue a career in this industry, and has clarified my views of each profession. Thanks to Gill and the assessment team, I’m now looking into a career in educational psychology, something I wasn’t really considering before.’

We will be speaking to Rosie again in July, when her placement comes to an end. Watch this space to find out more.

To find out more about Volunteers’ Week visit http://volunteersweek.org/ #volunteersweek