Taught courses v distance learning

I have braved Turnitin and eBart and submitted my first module for the SENCO course. A few of us went out for a bite to eat and a chat to celebrate the handing in. Invariably we started to talk about the course – is it worth it? What are we gaining? How is this course compared to other SENCO courses? How are we managing to write essays and do the job and have a life?

Our course provider tells us, perhaps unsurprisingly, that our course is highly rated and one of the best in the country. It is certainly one of the more expensive ones. Our course gives us several full taught days (in a nice location with a good lunch!), experienced tutors and a good chance to meet other local SENCOs. One person with whom I used to work has also ended up as a SENCO in a local school and has just started to receive fliers from different providers. One is  fairly local to us and is £200 cheaper – it also has a lot less time at taught sessions. I went to the Education Show where one provider had a stand – their course was less than half the price and completely distance learning.

In this day and age with school budgets being stretched to breaking point the cost of the course does become a significant factor. The government aren’t actually worried about the technical details of the course – how many hours you are taught, how many words each essay is etc. They are concerned that all new SENCOs achieve a masters level accreditation within 3 years of being in post. Is it worth spending £2000 on a good course or is  £800 on a distance learning course sufficient? After all both fulfil the government criteria.

Discussion showed that we would all hated the thought of doing the course alone, without meeting up with each other and having some directly taught input. The taught days have definitely been worth it (and not only for the lunch). The content has, at times, been a little heavy and overwhelming but by discussing it with each other we’ve made sense of it.

One module is now done, we can’t do anything about it now. At the next taught day, the week after the holidays, we get the results – the knowledge that no one has previously failed does not mean that we are not still all nervous. By this point in time we also need to have the first cycle of our Action Research (module 2) planned and some of the reading done.

Now I know why we have holidays!

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Taught courses v distance learning

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