Riana Shakil, special education needs teaching assistant
"Each child gets one-on-one attention at all times, from a nursery nurse or SEN teaching assistant. We have children who are seriously ill. Some are totally dependent on oxygen, or may need a nebulizer. Lots of children are fed intravenously. One boy has brittle bones and we have to be really careful how we move him.
"So it's quite a physical job. They arrive in their buses, in wheelchairs. We have to transfer them with hoists to what we call a working chair, with trays, for their time in the school. It can take 10 minutes to hoist them from one chair to another.
"Each child gets nappy-changed twice a day. That takes 20 minutes each time. Some have braces to straighten their spine, and we take those on and off, which takes five minutes each time. It all adds up. And it can be emotionally draining, because they are suffering. It makes you realise how lucky you are.
"I'm part of this community. At first I wanted to do something voluntary here. But then I was offered a part-time job. And when they saw me working for a while they offered me full time.
"It's so satisfying to know that you make a difference. Just making them comfortable is a big help. Most of them really enjoy school.
"I work mostly with an autistic child, and I get a lot of smiles and hugs from her. I know she's happy to be here. Some of the parents can see the difference in their children when the buses come to collect them from school – they have had a happy day.
"I’ve been here nine years. Most of us were not qualified when we started. Training has been on the job. It’s on-going and I’ve done so much.
"We’re teaching them to make choices, like what toy they would like to play with, and we teach them to be tactile. We look at their facial expressions, body language, though most can’t use their limbs properly, sometimes it's as if you’re dealing with a baby. We bring in numeracy and literacy, by using number songs, nursery rhymes. Some are blind, so then the teaching is all tactile, about things they can feel.
"I’ve got three children of my own. My kids go to the after school club so that I can finish my day here. I'm a very organised parent!"