The Careers Adviser

How do you train to teach people with special needs? Can I join the civil service?


Special ambition

My daughter is 26 and has a drama in education degree. She wants to train as a teacher for people with special needs. Experience is no problem as she currently works as a classroom assistant with severely handicapped or disturbed children in special schools. Please can you advise on training possibilities ?

She will need to gain qualified teacher status (QTS) by doing a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) - she can choose whether she wants to teach primary or secondary children. The course will have sections related to special education needs (SEN). But trainee teachers can also supplement this - by asking to work in a relevant school, which your daughter is already doing, or choosing study units which focus on special needs. Once she has qualified status she can choose whether to work in a mainstream or special school. If the school she is currently working in offers posts under the graduate teacher programme (GTP), she may be able to apply through that and stay in the job she has. The GTP is a scheme aimed at those who want to continue earning while training, and is tailored to individual needs. Trainees must be employed as unqualified teachers and the school pays them at that level. If her school doesn't operate the scheme she might want to look for others offering GTP posts. Details of the scheme are on www.tda.gov.uk - follow the links for training processes and types of course. There are resource networks such as www.behaviour4learning.ac.uk to support the special needs trainee.

Civil wish

Do you know of careers advice agencies which specialise in helping people interested in working for the civil service? I would like to apply to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) at operational level, and would like help preparing for proficiency tests and interviews.

There aren't specific companies which will specialize in such a narrow field, but you should be able to find help with some of the tests the FCO is going to ask you to do. The first tests are online, and you will be sent an e-mail with a link to three scenario based exercises. You can't get hold of these in advance or find previous examples, but you get a dry run with a series of practice questions which you can do just before the test, also online. The FCO says all applicants satisfying the minimum requirements of the online exercises will be invited to attend an assessment session to do verbal and numerical ability tests, and practice papers for these will be sent out about a week in advance. Employers like the FCO are trying, through these tests, to establish innate abilities and are therefore protective of them. But you can get an idea what they are like by looking at sites like www.shl.com and www.psl.com; and private career companies offer similar tests - it will be cheaper if you attend a block test session with others. They will also help with forms and interviews. Be aware, though, that these are not the sort of tests you need to practice continually - you are not supposed to get any better at them - but it certainly helps if you have an idea of how the paper is going to look before you sit a timed test. The most important thing you can do before the interview is look closely at the competencies required, make sure you have some good examples of how you meet them, and know the answer to the question "why do you want to work in the public sector?"

Careers adviser: Andy Jackson, head of C2, The Careers Group, University of London.

Send your queries to Caroline Haydon at 'The Independent', Education Desk, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; or fax 020-7005 2143; or e-mail to chaydon@blueyonder.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you a recent graduate loo...

Guru Careers: Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant

£16 - 20k: Guru Careers: A Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant is needed to ...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor