A former college student from Leamington Spa is using his own experiences with hearing and visual impairment to support students in the classroom.
Patrick Byrne completed a part-time Level 2 Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools course at Royal Leamington Spa College in September 2020.
He is visually and hearing impaired and is using his own experiences in education to help young people who are going through similar experiences to his own.
During his course he took on a work experience placement at the college in the Maths and English department, supporting students with GCSE learning.
After completing the placement he continued volunteering in the department and has now been supporting tutors for more than five months.
Day-to-day he works for Sense in Leamington Spa, which supports people with complex disabilities and offers them support in the community. He also volunteers at Oxfam.
The 27-year-old, who attended Trinity Catholic School, has worked for Sense since graduating with a degree in English and History at Reading University in 2016.
He has decided to pursue a career in education and hopes volunteering at the college can help him to build up vital experience but also use his experience to improve the learning experience for students.
Patrick said: “I have always wanted to help people and use my experiences to do that, which is one the main drivers behind me looking to pursue a career in education.
“The goal is to help students with disabilities to fulfil their potential. While there is still a long way to go to stop discrimination, education for people with hearing and visual impairment has drastically improved since I first left school.
“Schools and teachers are more open to new ways of working, and technology has helped a lot too.
“Having that experience of going through education has been important to me. It allows me to understand what they are going through and be empathetic to people with the same impairments I had.
“If I enable someone to understand something, facilitate them to learn something new, that is a real win for me.
“Going back into education and back to college was the right choice for me and I hope it shows that you can go back to learn even if you have already studied for a degree.
“The course at the college was great and has given me great foundations to build on, be that with a job in education or by studying for a Level 3 qualifications.”
Victoria Newman, Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools course tutor at Royal Leamington Spa College, said: “Patrick started our level 2 part-time course in September 2020, and made rapid progress through the written units.
“Pandemic conditions made it difficult to source a school/college placement, so he set about focusing on his written assignments. In September 2021 he started his placement with us at Royal Leamington Spa College and has become a valued member of our team.
“Patrick has positively used his personal experience of visual and hearing impairment in supporting students in the classroom, and it is fantastic that he is continuing to support students through his voluntary commitment to the college.
“He is a talented, committed and resilient learner and I’m confident he has a bright future ahead in education.”
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