TEACHERS are being offered the chance to learn what it’s like to work with children with special needs as a Weymouth school opens its doors for a five-week course.

Wyvern Academy in Weymouth was the first special school in the county to offer extended five-week placements as part of the Dorset Teacher Training Partnership (DTTP) – a one-year route into primary teaching for high-calibre graduates.

Thirty partner schools share responsibility for management of the School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) course, with trainee teachers spending around 24 weeks on teaching placements, which must include two to three days in a special school.

Mel Lane, assistant director at DTTP, said: “Some of the trainees will be hoping to go into special needs teaching, others into mainstream, but a placement at Wyvern Academy is an invaluable experience for them all. “Our colleagues at Wyvern are so generous in the support they give the SCITT trainees, all of whom have learned a huge amount there and been very positive about the experience. “We are so pleased to be able to offer them these placements.”

The latest trainee, Sue Shirley, said: “I have never worked with children with disabilities before and it was quite an eye-opener.

“I really enjoyed working with a class of children without verbal communication and was impressed by the communication aids put in place, such as the use of iPads.

“It was wonderful at Wyvern School. They have a really supportive team who work very closely to get the best from the children in very challenging situations.

“It is a very special school and I will never forget working with the children in the swimming pool and in the nursery room, which were so different to any other school situation.”

David Tomlinson, deputy head of Wyvern Academy, said the school benefited enormously from being involved in training the teachers of tomorrow.

“The trainees we host are committed and motivated, and really passionate about what they do. This enriches classroom activities no end.

“Stepping up our involvement is a real winner for all involved.

“The mentoring process is very rewarding for our staff, and pupils benefit from interactions with a wider variety of professionals.”

The majority of pupils at Wyvern have substantial global developmental delay, emergent communication skills and are highly dependent.

Some have additional disabilities including cerebral palsy, sensory impairment, autism and/or complex needs including challenging behaviour.

For more information visit dttpscitt.co.uk