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

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing software co...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate / Digital Account Exe...

Guru Careers: Junior Designer / Design Graduate

£18k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Junior Designer / Design Graduate to join...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas