Student volunteers help pupils with special needs

09 May 2008 00:01:00.000

Postgraduate students at The University of Nottingham are volunteering at local schools to help pupils with special needs.

Students working towards an MA in Special Needs have been putting their academic learning into practice at special schools in the city, where pupils have a range of learning difficulties and physical disabilities.

The partnership was set up by the University's Active Communities team, which works on dozens of projects to get staff and students out into the community, volunteering their time and skills to help others.

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Staff and students currently volunteer in many schools in Greater Nottingham to help with literacy, numeracy, language learning and other projects. But the nature of the latest project demanded a particular type of volunteer, with particular skills — which was where the MA students came in.


The Special Needs MA is a specialised course for people preparing for a career in the field. Course elements include training on specific learning difficulties including dyslexia, behaviour and relationship management, personal, social and emotional development, and supporting mental wellbeing.


A total of 23 students have been helping at the schools for half a day a week since the February half-term and will continue until the end of the school year in July. They are putting their studies to use in one-to-one work with individual children, and small group work, helping them in learning and creative activities and in accessing the curriculum more easily.


Students are working with special needs pupils at four special schools in the city: Shepherd School in Bilborough, Aspley Wood in Aspley, Nethergate in Clifton and Carlton Digby in Mapperley.


Lisa Owen, Project Manager within the University's Active Communities team, said: “This is a way of putting their academic learning into a practical context and enriching the student experience, while bringing benefits to the pupils and the schools at the same time.


“Our approach has always been that the benefits to the partnership organisation have to be as great as the benefits to the volunteers themselves. It has been a real partnership between Active Communities, the course leader on the MA and the schools involved.”


The Special Needs MA is taught at the Centre for the Study of Human Relations, within The University of Nottingham's School of Education. The course is led by Dr Edward Sellman. More details are available at:



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Notes to editors:

journalists wishing to arrange photographs of the volunteers in schools should contact Lisa Owen in Active Communities, on 0115 846 8114, or Tim Utton in the Communications office, on 0115 846 8092.


The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 70 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.


It provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy).


Its students are much in demand from 'blue-chip' employers. Winners of Students in Free Enterprise for four years in succession, and current holder of UK Graduate of the Year, they are accomplished artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators and fundraisers. Nottingham graduates consistently excel in business, the media, the arts and sport. Undergraduate and postgraduate degree completion rates are amongst the highest in the United Kingdom.

Story credits

More information is available from Lisa Owen , Project Manager, Active Communities, on +44 (0)115 846 8114,
Tim Utton

Tim Utton - Deputy Director of Communications

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8092 Location: University Park

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