St Bartholomew’s Primary Academy has recently welcomed Mrs Holt-Jackson as our new Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator (SENDCO). As SENDCO, Mrs Holt-Jackson is part of the Senior Leadership Team at the school.
Mrs Holt-Jackson brings a wealth of experience to the role and has particular expertise in training teaching staff to work with children with Special Educational Needs (SEN). Using her Masters Degree, in which she focused on SEN training in the PGCE, Mrs Holt-Jackson has made it her goal to bring her experience of SEN practice to mainstream schools by giving specialist training that equips teaching staff with the skills and confidence they need to give effective support to children with SEN.
After completing a Degree in Psychology followed by a PGCE, Mrs Holt-Jackson began her teaching career in a mainstream primary school with the intention of going on to specialise in SEN. After a year, Mrs Holt-Jackson was made SENCO, which at that time was a supplementary, unpaid role. She explained that she did it for the love of it, having been inspired by her sister to work in SEN. Her sister has autism.
Mrs Holt-Jackson then became Director of Studies at a school that served children with profound Specific Learning Disabilities (SpLD) where 60% of the pupils were also diagnosed as autistic. Mrs Holt-Jackson described this role as really challenging but amazing and explained that the teacher/pupil relationship was a close one as teachers worked with the same pupils throughout the years and got to know them really well. The pupils at the school were not in mainstream education mainly because of behavioural issues and the school’s aim was to prepare them to return to mainstream education. Mrs Holt-Jackson found great fulfilment in this role and was sad to leave it but felt it was time to leave London.
Mrs Holt-Jackson is originally from Swindon and returned home to take on the role of Deputy Head Teacher at Drove Primary School where 90% of the pupils have English as a second language (EAL). This presented educational challenges that are very similar to those of SEN. She had a break while on maternity leave following the birth of her daughter, who is now 1, and spent some time reflecting on what would be the best next step for her career. She explained that, although she enjoyed working in senior leadership, she missed the contact with the children and when she applied for the role of SENDCO at St Bartholomew’s this felt like the right move for her.
In her spare time, Mrs Holt-Jackson draws on personal experience to do consultancy work at Bristol and London hospitals advising doctors on the real-life impact of genetic conditions. She has found the doctors to be very receptive to this and says they genuinely care and are eager to understand about the educational, emotional and social impact of particular genetic conditions.
Since starting at St Bartholomew’s, Mrs Holt-Jackson has brought passion and enthusiasm to the role and has greatly enjoyed meeting the children and their families. She invites any parents or carers that would like to meet with her to get in touch and she will endeavour to meet with everyone as soon as she is able. She works on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.