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Secondary School Educational Needs and Disabilities Support

Not only was the location perfect for me, but the University had a reputation of providing a supportive environment for students. I needed to work part-time alongside my course, so knowing support was available if things ever got too much was really important to me.

Why I chose to study at Leeds Trinity

Not only was the location perfect for me, but the University had a reputation of providing a supportive environment for students. I needed to work part-time alongside my course, so knowing support was available if things ever got too much was really important to me. I spoke to Dr James Jackson over email before I applied and asked him (many!) questions. Whereas other universities didn’t get back to me or told me to just come to the open evening with my questions, James somehow found time to send me really helpful and in-depth information, tailored to my situation. I therefore felt like I really knew the course before I started. When I visited for the open evening, the University had a friendly atmosphere and I liked that it was situated outside of the city, with green and airy surroundings.

Helena Rogers main image.

The highlights and my favourite aspects of the course

I really enjoyed meeting people from so many different backgrounds and making new friendships, despite the interruption of COVID-19 making it difficult to socialise! The course attracted people with extremely diverse experiences, but everyone had an interest in psychology in common. It was really interesting to hear everyone’s reasons for doing the course, which made me realise how many different paths the course helps with. I learnt a lot from meeting people I usually wouldn’t cross paths with, and this was a real highlight for me. Along with social conversations, there was lots of in-class discussion, meaning you had the opportunity to learn about different perspectives and experiences within the group.

Another highlight was learning about contrasting approaches in psychology.  I found the research methods module really interesting, as we learnt about the differences between quantitative and qualitative approaches. Both tutors were passionate about their particular approach, and it was great to figure out where you would situate yourself and why. Being able to reflect a little on your own worldview and how this shapes your approach to research was definitely eye-opening. This really allowed me to find my stride when it came to my thesis, where I was able to choose the approach that most suited me.

One of my favourite aspects of the course was the interactive nature of the modules. When learning about different measures and ways of collecting data we always had the opportunity to complete them for ourselves. This included questionnaires, card sorting exercises, cognitive tests, and even an IQ test. Not only was it quite fun to ‘assess yourself’, but it allowed us to consider the participant experience, along with the merits and limitations of each tool.

The guest lectures were also a highlight for me, as they gave us the opportunity to learn about psychology in practice. These included an educational psychologist, a cognitive behavioural therapist, and a researcher. There was an element of careers guidance in these lectures, as you were able to see some of the different routes out there.

Experiences that opened up to me while studying

I had the opportunity to interview educational psychologists for my thesis, which helped me to gain a deeper understanding into the role. This piece of work is hopefully going to be published in an educational psychology journal. As I aspire to become an educational psychologist in the future, the conversations I had during interviews, along with the opportunity to publish work, should strengthen my application for doctorate courses. The opportunity to publish work is not something I expected at all when I started the course, but the excellent support of my thesis supervisors has made this an exciting possibility.

Feeling supported

I felt very well supported throughout my time at the university. When I first started the course I booked an appointment at the Learning Hub and they helped me to plan out study time alongside my job to make sure I met my deadlines. This made things feel much more manageable. They also helped me to plan out my first essay and proofread it for me. As my background was in humanities rather than science, they helped me to make sure my language and style was appropriate. They gave me some helpful feedback and offered to do this for as many essays as I needed.

From a more pastoral side, I did have an anxiety ‘wobble’ at one point during the course. Though this wasn’t really related to the course or the workload, when I let the student support team know they were really helpful. I was contacted by a Student Liaison Officer who offered to meet with me and signposted me to further support and on-site counselling. She also reassured me that she could speak to my tutors about attendance or deadlines if needed. Though I didn’t feel I needed to take up this extra support at the time, it really helped just knowing it was there.  

Work after graduation

My role involves supporting students with special educational needs and disabilities at a secondary school in Leeds. My aspiration is to become an educational psychologist, so I’m working to build up my experience in order to apply for a doctorate. The course has really helped me to apply psychological theories to my work when thinking about how best to support children and young people. The doctorate course wants to see your ability to do this, which my MSc has definitely prepared me for.

My advice to prospective students

I would say if you’re looking for a course where you know you’ll be well supported, especially if your circumstances aren’t 100% straightforward, then Leeds Trinity is a great option. I think as long as you speak to staff at the University about your situation there will always be people who can offer support. I would also say that I found the first term the most intense in terms of workload, so don’t let this panic you when you first start! As long as you spread your work over the term it’s completely manageable, and things do get easier. The year goes very quickly so enjoy it!