COVID and the lost transition time – where will it leave our children in September?

UK news has been dominated in the last few weeks by reports of how many children have been missing school due to being at home self-isolating. But June and July are critical times for preparing children for their September transition, so what will the fallout be like in the new school year and how can schools mitigate against the impact of lost transition time?

photo of child sitting by the table while looking at the imac
Home school is great but is it allowing for valuable transition time?
Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

The numbers

At the time of writing this article, The Metro reported that:

On July 8, 11.2% of all state school pupils were recorded as absent, up from 8.5% on July 1 and well over double the rate on June 24 (5.1%).

The vast majority of pupils missing from classrooms are self-isolating due to a possible contact (747,000) while 39,000 have tested positive.

A further 39,000 stayed off school with a suspected case but had yet to return a positive test.

That’s a lot of children missing school at the end of June and into July. Some might argue that this is not really a problem because it’s the end of the school year and children are mainly revising or doing fun activities now anyway – so in theory not a great deal of learning has been lost. However, it is a critical time for transition activities which take place to prepare children for a new teacher, class or school in September.

What are transition activities and why are they important?

Transition activities are activities aimed at reducing the stress of transitioning to a new teacher, school or year group. They usually involve students doing fun things with their new teacher so they can get used to them and start building a positive relationship ahead of the new school year. For children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), this can be especially important. Autistic children for example thrive on routine and knowing what comes next. It is therefore likely to be especially stressful for them to come to a new provision or class where they will not know their surroundings, teachers or support staff. For some individuals, this can trigger extremely negative reactions such as school refusal or emotional meltdowns – which doesn’t exactly set the stage for a successful term.

Even for children without SEND, it’s a lot to handle. My son is moving to year 3 in September in a lovely village school, but it took him a long time to get used to his year 1/2 (it’s a 0.5 form entry school) teacher and to develop a positive working relationship with him. He has been at home self isolating with me for two weeks (once because of being a contact then again when he contracted the virus). As a result of this, he has missed out on a host of opportunities to spend time and have fun with the staff who will be working with him next year. I’ve discussed in previous blog posts the importance of having positive relationships between children and their teachers – especially with children who struggle with social and emotional issues. Without this foundation, are teachers likely to launch into the curriculum with high expectations of their students in September without first having built a valuable relationship foundation? And will this lead to issues along the way making the transition more difficult for staff and students alike?

What can schools do to mitigate lost transition time?

It is really important (in my humble opinion) that schools take the time to think about how they can mitigate against this lost transition time. Here are a few ideas I have had which could help:

1 – New Teacher Pen Pal

What if the new teacher sent a note or a video message to each of the children they will be working with in September, telling them a bit about themselves and asking for the child to write or send a similar video message back? This could work while children are at home self isolating or during the holidays (which I know is non-contact time for teachers but we are living in unprecedented times…) Just seeing a familiar face and feeling like you know them a little bit can take a lot of the stress away for children when starting with a new teacher.

2 – Video Tour

If a child is due to start at a new provision or in a new classroom in September, being familiar with the surroundings can be helpful. It might therefore ease the transition if the new class teacher could do a video of the provision and/or classroom, telling the students all about it in a friendly and informative way. They could show them where certain resources are, how to get to the toilets and anything else that might be handy. Children who are particularly anxious about the move could watch the video as many times as they like until they feel familiar and less worried about their transition.

3 – Online Class Games

The provision or teacher aren’t the only things that could be new in September – some children will also be dealing with getting to know new classmates. Another suggestion might therefore be a whole-class group activity or two – perhaps a quiz or some show-and-tell sessions – anything that allows the children to see the faces of others who will be in their class come September and afford them a bit of familiarity. If it’s a transition to a new school, students could be coming from a range of settings, so an activity like this might be best done in an evening for maximum attendance – but again, it could prove to be worth it’s weight in gold.

4 – Start Slowly

If transition activities are not possible this side of the new academic year, how about doing them in September? Taking time to play games, build relationships and spend time together doing something fun for the first week or so of term could be of huge benefit to many children. Even better if a staff member already known to the children can be involved and gradually “hand over” to the new teacher.

Your Ideas?

Above are just a few suggestions for COVID-friendly transition activities that schools could run to support their students ahead of the new school year, but you may have more ideas… and we’d love it if you could share them! You could post a comment below or visit our Twitter page (@axcis) and use the tag #transitions to get the conversation going. You never know, your ideas could help children who have been stuck at home this half term!

Are you looking for a teaching or support job for September?

If you’re looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, why not register with Axcis, the SEND recruitment specialists? Or perhaps you need to recruit staff for your school or provision? If so, why not take a look at the Axcis Website, or get in touch today to find out how we can help?

Why do more females than males work in education and how can we attract more men?

In June 2021, the DfE released updated statistics on the school workforce in England. It shows that on average, 75% of teachers are female – this is consistent with data from previous years. But why is teaching still a female-dominated profession and how can we attract more males into the education workforce?

First, some stats

The most recent School Workforce Census reveals some interesting facts about the breakdown of staff in the sector. Some of these findings are summarised below:

  • 962,638 staff members are employed in the education sector – of these, 5 in 10 are teachers, 3 in 10 are teaching assistants and 2 in 10 are other staff
  • 461,088 teachers are employed – that’s an increase of 7000 since 2019
  • 271,370 teaching assistants are employed – that’s an increase of 6000 since 2019
  • 43,516 people have entered the profession since 2019 – that’s a decrease of 4%
  • 34, 116 people have left the profession since 2019 – that’s a decrease of 17% since 2019
  • The mean pay for a teacher in 2020 was £41,799 – an increase of 3.1% since 2019
  • Pupil to teacher ratio is 20.6 in primary settings and 16.6 in secondary – that’s fairly consistent with previous years
  • 75% of classroom teachers are female, and 67% of headteachers are female

So why are there fewer men working in education?

Tradition?

There could be a number of reasons why men are less likely to enter the teaching profession in England. One such possibility is that in the past, teaching was seen as more of a “women’s role”. This was because women were thought to be more nurturing by nature and more suited to this sort of work – perhaps because it involved children and historically, women stayed at home to care for the young while men went out to work. It is possible that this perception is still echoing through the ages. In my personal situation, it certainly played a part in my decision to undertake teacher training. Working term-time hours would allow me to be at home for any children that came along when they were on school holidays. Meanwhile, my boyfriend was out chasing the pound and getting into highly paid sales roles… so in part, an element of tradition may come into it.

Pay gap?

It is no secret that there is still a pay divide between men and women. The gender pay gap in 2020 among all employees was 15.5% according to the Office of National Statistics. The teaching profession keeps gender on a relatively level playing field when it comes to pay – there are nationally set pay scales and clear routes for progressing through the teaching ranks, so perhaps women are more inclined to go for a profession which is ultimately more likely to treat them fairly when compared to men. However, this does not hold true when looking at senior appointments as (proportionally) more men make it to headship level than women in the sector – so there is still a clear divide there.

Flexibility?

Women are more likely to require flexible work than men. They are likely to need a decent maternity package at some point in their lives and are more likely than men to request part-time hours due to family and other commitments. It is therefore possible that more women enter teaching with this in mind, whereas men may focus more on the “bread winning” aspect of their profession when choosing a career.

Why does the profession need men?

Regardless of the reason why fewer men join the education workforce, it doesn’t change the fact that more men are needed in the profession. At Axcis, we are regularly contacted by schools who feel that a man would be more suited to a particular role than a woman. This is often to do with the child or children in the class or the nature of the role. For example, a male PE teacher might be needed for an all-boys school because they will be required to enter changing rooms and a woman would be perceived as inappropriate for such a posting. Or in some SEND settings, older boys may need help with personal care matters such as going to the toilet and would be more comfortable receiving support from a male member of staff than a female. In other SEND situations, it may simply be a relational issue – children with SEMH concerns who have experienced trauma at the hands of a female may be better supported by a male staff member. Some children are also very strong, so schools supporting teenagers who are prone to explosive, physical outbursts may perceive that a male staff member may be better suited to work in such a class. Or a child may simply be lacking a male role model in their life and a school may feel that a male member of support staff would be appropriate. Whatever the reason, the profession needs more guys!

So how can we attract more males into the education workforce?

That is the million dollar (or pound) question. As employers advertising for staff, we are not legally allowed to discriminate on the basis of age, gender or a host of other factors, so we are treading on dodgy ground when it comes to advertising for male staff. That’s why we don’t see a great many adverts asking for this. However, it doesn’t change the fact that many schools are crying out for more male staff members. Perhaps the solution is for the government to make it a more attractive career option for men, but how could they do this? Simple – the same way that they make it more attractive for everyone – by listening to the workforce and responding.

Take South Korea for example, they have no problem recruiting male teaching staff because in their society, teaching is a very high profile job. Teachers have outstanding pay and conditions attached to the job and as such the profession has huge numbers of applicants. They can therefore be highly selective when it comes to who they take on and can balance gender etc. more easily. It also tends to raise the bar in terms of the quality of applicants. This in turn raises the public profile of teachers and keeps it an attractive career prospect. In contrast, when I trained as a teacher, I received comments ranging from “those who can’t – teach” and “must be nice to have a part-time job and all those holidays”. Public perception counts for a lot!

Are you looking for an education job?

Whether you are male or female, young or old, if you’re looking for a teaching or support staff role in the education sector then we’d love to hear from you. Axcis Education specialises in special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This ranges from roles for support staff in mainstream primary and secondary schools and teachers for pupil referral units and MLD schools (which make ideal posts for mainstream teachers looking for a role that’s a bit different) to staff for more specialist settings for children with profound autism and learning/physical difficulties which generally require people with a bit more specialist knowledge. Whatever your level of expertise, why not get in touch with your nearest office or register on our website to start applying for our current jobs?

Axcis July Giveaway: Stomp Rocket

Whether you’re teaching children about aerodynamics, air pressure, space and rockets or just want to have a bit of fun, everyone is sure to enjoy playing with this stomp rocket! Enter our July giveaway for a chance to win one of your own.

About the prize

  • 100% KID powered: Run, jump and STOMP to launch these rockets up to 400 feet in the air — that’s longer than a football field, including the end zones!
  • Includes a Stomp Launcher and 3 Super High Performance Rockets. No batteries required; super easy, fast assembly
  • Take Stomp Rocket to the park or on vacation, and you’ll be amazed at how many children and adults want to play! Great for year round fun to get kids away from screen time and more active outside
  • Award-winning products from industry experts, including iParenting Media, Dr. Toy, and Creative Child Magazine. Great for year round fun to get kids away from screen time and more active outside
  • Pair with Stomp Rocket Science book and get kids interested in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) early. Ages 9 and up

How to enter

Our giveaways are always free to enter, no strings attached! We offer several entry methods so you can either take a quick peek at our Facebook page, Tweet us or sign up on our website for work and you’ll be in with a chance to win. Follow the link below and you’ll be sent to our third party giveaway page (run on there to keep things fair and square) – where you can choose your method of entry and get your name in the hat for this great prize!

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE

Are you looking for SEND work or staff?

If you’re looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, why not register with Axcis, the SEND recruitment specialists? Or perhaps you need to recruit staff for your school or provision? If so, why not take a look at the Axcis Website, or get in touch today to find out how we can help?

Please note, as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Any funds raised help us to maintain our charitable partnerships with nasen and the National Autistic Society.

Axcis SEND Book Corner

Do you want to stay up to date with the latest or most popular SEND books so you can support your personal or professional practice? If the answer is yes, then you’ve come to the right place – welcome to the Axcis SEND Book Corner!

This month’s books

ADHD is our superpower

If you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you might struggle with things like concentrating in school, or sitting still, or remembering lots of instructions. But ADHD is also a superpower.

In this book you will meet different girls and boys with ADHD who can do amazing things. You might recognise some of these strengths as things that you can do too! Some of these strengths help with everyday life, like being able to hyper-focus on a task or having boundless energy to try new things. Some strengths are superpowers for interacting with others, like having a strong sense of what is fair or entertaining friends and family to make them feel happy.

Why can’t you hear me?

In the early hours of 28th July 2016, Colette McCulloch was hit by a lorry and killed on the A1. Eighteen hours earlier she had walked out of the specialist care facility for autistic adults where she was being treated.

Here, Andy and Amanda McCulloch tell the story of their daughter’s life and untimely death: the years in which her autism went undiagnosed, her lifelong battle with eating disorders and the lack of support for her complex needs. The book is interspersed with Colette’s own vivid and eloquent writing, her poetry and prose articulating her experiences grappling with a world forever at odds with her. Colette’s story is a call to action and ultimately leaves a message of hope for a future in which autistic people will be better understood and able to flourish.

Understanding ADHD in women and girls

Written by expert professionals, this book provides comprehensive information about available support for women and girls with ADHD and tips for clinicians and professionals who work with them.

The symptoms of ADHD are no less impairing in females than males, but can be missed or misunderstood. This book arms professionals, parents, and women themselves as it maps out where to go for information, who can help and how to understand ADHD better. It explains routes to assessment and diagnosis for girls and young women, how to access support in education, available treatments, and the impact of living with ADHD on overall mental health. It explores the benefits of ADHD coaching for girls to help develop their unique strengths and talents.

There is also a focus on ADHD diagnosis for women in adulthood and specific advice about treatment and medication for later in life. Central to the book are the personal experiences of ADHD from women and girls from a variety of backgrounds. These tell of late diagnosis, missed opportunities, a lifetime of adaptations and the power of recognition and treatment and are powerful stories for professionals and individuals with ADHD alike.

All cats are on the autism spectrum

This updated edition of the bestselling All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome provides an engaging, gentle introduction to autism.

All-new cats take a playful look at the world of autism, and these fun feline friends will strike a chord with all those who are familiar with typical autistic traits, bringing to life common characteristics such as sensory sensitivities, social issues and communication difficulties.

Touching, humorous and insightful, this book evokes all the joys and challenges of being on the autism spectrum, leaving the reader with a sense of the dignity, individuality and the potential of autistic people.

PDA in the therapy room

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) presents a unique challenge for professionals, whereby conventional therapy methods are often perceived as demands and met with opposition where they normally would have proven effective. This guide sets out the most effective strategies for clinicians to provide the best care for children with PDA, adapting conventional modes of therapy to suit their needs. Methods include indirect techniques such as play-based therapy or trauma-informed approaches enabling the child to process their experiences on their own terms.

With additional guidance for supporting the families of patients and addressing common obstacles, this book provides understanding and guidance for professionals making a difference to the lives of children with PDA.

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

If you’re looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, why not register with Axcis, the SEND recruitment specialists? Or perhaps you need to recruit staff for your school or provision? If so, why not take a look at the Axcis Website, or get in touch today to find out how we can help?

Please note, as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Any funds raised help us to maintain our charitable partnerships with nasen and the National Autistic Society.

Supporting post-pandemic SEND mental health

Last week, Axcis sponsored the National SEND Conference and as such, I was able to go along and sit in on many of the discussions and seminars taking place. What became apparent very quickly was the importance of supporting mental health in schools post-pandemic.

How has COVID affected child mental health?

Firstly, although I am talking about post-pandemic support, I am all too aware that we are not out of the woods yet. With a Delta Variant working it’s way around the country, and 10% of those hospitalised with it having had two vaccinations, it is clear that this thing is not over yet. But we can hope that school closures are now a thing of the past and that schools can move to a “post pandemic” mindset when teaching and supporting our children and young people.

At the National SEND Conference, statistics were shared which suggested that there was a big split in the effect COVID had had on the mental health of our young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). About 50% reported experiencing a negative impact due to changes in the way schools were run or services were delivered (or not delivered as the case may be). Some families felt isolated, unsupported and as a result experienced a negative impact on their mental health. This, in turn has led to a huge increase in referrals to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). Sadly, the service is not able to cope with such an influx of need and as a result, waiting lists are long and many children and young people are being turned away altogether.

Where can they turn for help?

It is the front line teaching and support staff in schools, as well as the families themselves who have been left to pick up the pieces. But how can they help and what support can be offered?

Parents – reach out so you don’t feel alone

Parents who feel overwhelmed by the situation may have a tendency to close off from others, looking inward or trying to handle things by themselves when external support feels limited. However, it is important to remember that you are not in this alone. In fact, by discussing your feelings with school staff, you are offering them the opportunity to help – and most people who go into the education profession DO want to help you. So let them know what is bothering you, how it’s making you feel and how you might imagine a way out of the mire.

School staff – listening is crucial

When we are looking to rebuild the mental health of our young people, taking time to listen and understand the concerns of our students, parents and other stakeholders is absolutely crucial. If we can’t understand what is causing the deterioration of mental health, then we don’t have much hope of helping to reverse it. It is therefore of the utmost importance that we find time to talk. Feeling heard can be hugely therapeutic in itself so if you are a teacher or school leader, do not try to “solve” problems at this stage, simply listen to students, parents and carers with empathy and understanding. Use the strategy of repeating back to them what they have just said (in your own words) to show you are hearing and understanding what they are saying. ASK what support they would like to receive – it all helps in the relationship building process and in finding a way to move forward. Do not make promises you can’t keep as this will undermine the trust you are building. Simply listen with warmth and empathy.

Follow up

After initial conversations, keep the lines of communication open. Look for ways to create further trust between students, parents and school staff. We are all human, after all and the positive impact of building an honest, open and trusting relationship is such an important step on the road to recovery.

My own story

My own son has struggled with his behaviour at home and at school. The traditional rewards and sanctions were not cutting it and his behaviour remained erratic, causing him to experience social and emotional problems at school and sometimes at home. Constant punitive measures affected his self esteem and seemed to be making the situation worse, not better! But things started to turn a corner when he had more child-led play time at home with myself and his dad, and when his teacher took the time to build a closer relationship with him. Regular home-school communication meant that we could quickly identify where he needed support and offer him this rather than constant sanctions for getting in trouble. I’m pleased to report that by doing these simple things, everyone concerned with the education of my son is happier – and he is progressing well and building his self confidence and self esteem back up. Where policies and procedures failed, a bit of human connection is succeeding, so I am a huge advocate of this approach!

What if school staff are too busy?

Despite having a legal duty of care, some school staff may simply be too busy to take the time to listen to students, parents and carers. If this is the case, perhaps schools should consider hiring a learning mentor or an additional member of support staff for help. This person can be hired specifically to spend time building this relationship with students and parents. There really is nothing like feeling someone has your back, especially when times are tough.

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

If you’re looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, why not register with Axcis, the SEND recruitment specialists? Or perhaps you need to recruit staff for your school or provision? If so, why not take a look at the Axcis Website, or get in touch today to find out how we can help?

Simple home made Father’s Day gift ideas

Are you looking for simple Father’s Day gift ideas you can make at home or at school using simple craft items? If the answer is yes then you’ve come to the right place! These 5 ideas are sure to get your creative juices flowing.

1 Calendar Blocks

For a simple but effective gift idea, consider making calendar blocks. If you don’t have scrap wood off-cuts, why not raid the kids toy box? Most of us have a set of wooden blocks in there somewhere! To make this awesome gift, you will need:

  • 2 Cubes of wood
  • One long/oblong block of wood (that the two cubes will fit on top of)
  • Velcro strips, magnetic tape or flat Lego blocks
  • Decorating materials – paper/card/paint etc

To make this lovely gift, start by decorating your blocks (or leave them rustic for a more natural feel). Then add numbers/fixings to each block as follows:

Block 1 (cube) – put numbers on each face of the cube – 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Block 2 (cube) – put these numbers of each face of the cube – 0, 1, 2, 6, 7, 8

Block 3 (oblong) – fix your Velcro/flat Lego block to one face – your months will attach to this.

Using good quality card, or laminated paper, create 12 strips of the appropriate size and put each month of the year on them. On the reverse of these strips, put the “matching” Velcro/Lego so that they will fix to your oblong block. Voila! You have a set of calendar blocks which can be used year after year. You can add another set of blocks for days of the week if you wish, or you can leave this part off – it’s up to you!

2 Make a Mug

You can pick up a plain white mug from most supermarkets for about a pound, and you can get ceramic pens/paints from most good craft stores, or online. Along with a bit of inspiration, that’s all you’ll need to create a lovely personalised mug for your dad this Father’s Day. You’ll need to bake your mug at 170C for about 40 mins to fix the design and prevent it from washing off. Who doesn’t love a new mug? Ideal for use at home or work, your Dad is sure to appreciate this lovely personal gift.

3 Lolly Pop Plant Pot

If you have a nice decorative plant pot, this is an ideal starting point. Alternatively you could use a plain white ceramic pot and decorate it in much the same way you can decorate a mug, then use it for this project.

Into the pot, place some florists oasis foam, or cut up some old polystyrene packaging to fit inside. Add to this a range of colourful lolly pops, and perhaps a cute home-made sign and voila! You have a lovely personal gift for dad!

4 Tin Can Desk Tidy

Cheap tins of tomatoes (without the pull tops) work well for this, because the old-school way of opening tins tends to leave you with a nice smooth top (no cut fingers from jagged tins, please!) and the acid from the tomatoes leaves the inside of the tin stain-free and easy to rinse out and use. Although any tin works, this is what I’ve personally found to be best for this type of project. Simple spray the can with undercoat to give a nice finish to work on, then decorate away for a personalised pen pot. You could even order some personalised pens/pencils to go inside as an added touch.

5 Dad Rocks! Paperweight

Next time you’re in the garden, keep an eye out for a nice big, round stone to use for this project. Again, spraying with undercoat first will give you a smoother surface to start working with. From there, you can decorate your paperweight using paint, sequins – anything really! Ideal for use as a paperweight but this could also be used to make a BBQ napkin weight or door stop – ideal for breezy summer days!

Any More Ideas?

Do you have any simple Father’s Day craft ideas to add to our list? Or perhaps you’ve made one of these and would like to share your efforts – either way, we’d love to hear from you!

Are you seeking SEND staff or Work?

If you’re looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, why not register with Axcis, the SEND recruitment specialists? Or perhaps you need to recruit staff for your school or provision? If so, why not take a look at the Axcis Website, or get in touch today to find out how we can help?

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Top ideas for teacher gift baskets

Do you have a teaching assistant going off to do a PGCE and want to wish them well with a home made gift basket? Or maybe you just want to make up a gift for a teacher and don’t know what to include. These ideas should get your juices flowing!

Teacher Training PGCE Student Planner

This lovely planner is a great idea for friends or colleagues who are going off to do a PGCE in September. It will allow teacher training PGCE (or equivalent) students to keep track of their important schedule in one place. It comes with a full month at a glance as well as an assignment due date space. This book also includes a project planner, to-do list, task list, notes and study planner.

Teacher Planner/Academic Diary

If you’re making a gift basket for a teacher rather than a trainee teacher, then this planner might be a better addition. It includes plenty of space for planning lessons, keeping records and making notes of deadlines. An essential bit of kit for the organised teacher in your life.

Pocket Tissues

A no-brainer for all teachers and classroom staff – tissues will always come in handy! Especially as we move in to the winter term of coughs and colds! Go eco-friendly with these cheeky panda tissues.

Hand Sanitiser

Keeping your hands clean in the classroom is key for all school staff – especially in light of the fact COVID is still hanging around! So why not add a bottle or two of hand sanitiser to your teacher gift baskets?

Mug

If you’ve ever worked in a school, you’ll know that mugs can be gold dust! So get your teacher a decent mug they can call their own. I liked this one, which has a bit of glam with the gold (watch out for microwaves though) and reminds us that teaching is a superpower!

Hand Cream

All that hand sanitiser is going to dry out your teacher’s hands, so adding a small tube of hand cream to their gift basket is a great idea. This one is on special at the moment, too – so get it while you can!

Whiteboard Pens

If you’ve worked in a classroom and picked up board pen after board pen only to find it doesn’t work then you’re not alone! Having your own set of whiteboard pens is invaluable, so make sure to add a set to your teacher gift basket. This set are on a great deal at the moment but plenty of others are available, too!

Essential Reading: Maximising TA’s

Rob Webster’s book, “Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants” is essential reading for all teachers, whether beginning or experienced. It’s a hugely respected, evidence-based book guiding teachers on how to get the best from the TA’s in their classroom. It’s a slightly more pricey addition to your gift basket, so may also be considered as a standalone teacher gift, but very much worth considering.

Behaviour Support Book

Behaviour management training is the most requested type of CPD requested here at Axcis, so a book on this subject is bound to go down well. Axcis Ambassador and behaviour specialist Graham Chatterley wrote the book “Building Positive Behaviour”. This book seeks to understand the language of behaviour and explain appropriate support interventions, rather than relying on the old “rewards and punishments” system which is so popular in most schools. We agree that this is a hugely forward thinking book and a treasure trove for all teachers, so would be another excellent addition for a teacher gift basket, or a standalone gift.

Snacks

No teacher gift basket would be complete without snacks! I’m suggesting protein bars or raw food bars because these should provide the necessary nutrients as well as giving a sugar boost when on the go during a busy teaching day. I love “Nakd” bars because they are virtually bomb-proof (no soggy banana stinking up your bag because it’s squished under your year 10 homework books), healthy and tasty – winner!

Booze

I’ll leave this one up to you! Sometimes it’s appropriate to include alcohol in a gift basket, other times it isn’t… You probably need an idea of whether the teacher you have in mind enjoys a drink and if so what their tipple is. Failing that, something like those little handbag concentrated squash things might come in handy at school when your only drink options are often tea, coffee or water, so one of those might be nice to include, too.

Any other ideas?

Feel free to Tweet us @axcis if you have other ideas for teacher gift baskets, or if you have photos of baskets you’ve made that you’d like to share. Our teaching staff have had a tough year, so don’t forget to make them feel appreciated before school breaks up for summer, and good luck to those teaching assistants who are starting their teacher training in September. We wish you all the best!

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

If you’re looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, why not register with Axcis, the SEND recruitment specialists? Or perhaps you need to recruit staff for your school or provision? If so, why not take a look at the Axcis Website, or get in touch today to find out how we can help?

A quick note..

Please note, as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Any funds raised help us to maintain our charitable partnerships with nasen and the National Autistic Society.

How to be autism friendly at school (guest post)

Crystal Hart has kindly provided this guest blog for Axcis and our partners at the National Autistic Society. Crystal is currently working for Axcis London in a primary school with SEN/D students. She has worked with these students for around four years now. She studied an undergraduate degree in special educational needs and is currently studying a masters in the same subject. Crystal has been around people who have special needs all her life. This has made her passionate to learn about the subject as much as possible and support children with SEN/D. In her spare time, Crystal really loves to sew and enjoys taking her two dogs on long walks. In this guest blog, she talks about the importance of being autism friendly in school settings.

Being autism friendly

Working in an autism provision can be very rewarding. No two days are ever the same! Some days will be great, with the children learning well and behaviour is good. Conversely, some days will be noisy and children may struggle to stay on task. But every day is busy. When a child finally achieves something you have both been working on for a while, it is a big YES feeling and so perseverance is a very important skill. It also takes a person with kindness, patience, empathy, and resilience to work with autistic children, as well as a lot of energy!

Resilience

Being able to bounce back quickly from situations that arise is a big must. You will experience situations that are not the ‘norm’ daily as no two children are the same. Having resilience as stated above is key to managing these situations.

Patience

There are many skills you will need to work with autistic children. Patience is one. Some children learn through repetition and so being patient while they process the information given is important. You may have to wait 10 or even 20 seconds or possibly up to a minute for a child to process what has been said to them and give an answer back.

Positivity

Positivity is also an important skill, you may not think it is, but it is! Sometimes being positive is hard especially when you are having a bad day. However, the children will sense your feelings and feed off them. This is counter productive to their learning, so try to stay positive!

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is needed when supporting autistic children. They will need emotional support as well as learning support each day. Coming to school may be scary for some children – transitioning between classrooms, or even just using the toilet! I once worked with a child who would only use one toilet in school and when lockdown came that toilet was changed. The child was upset and could not understand why he couldn’t use his normal toilet. I took him to the new toilet and just stood outside it with him for 5 minutes each day for 4 days. Then the fifth day we stepped inside. By the tenth day he was sitting on the toilet! So being sensitive to their emotions, even if we do not understand why is important.

One size does not fit all

A key mistake to avoid is thinking that all autistic children are the same.  They are not! Some children are low on the spectrum and so are social partner children, who need extra emotional support to express themselves and teaching support to access the curriculum. And some children are high on the spectrum and may possibly need less educational support and more emotional support for socialising. Each child will have different needs, some have more needs than others.

Sensory needs

Autistic children may also have different sensory needs. This needs to be remembered when making your space autism friendly. Some children on the spectrum get distracted easily by bright colours and so when making displays, try using muted tones such as light grey and silver. Space may also be an issue. Try to have space between each desk/workstation so the child does not feel ‘closed in’.

Visuals

Visuals can be used for timetables and for talking. This helps the children understand what they are doing during the day, such strategies might include using a now and next board, communication boards and sign language such as Makaton or SignAlong.

Communication

Creating a means of communication within the school environment is crucial, and this will tie in with any visual work you are doing. Having a quiet area in the provision so that children can go for quiet time if they need it is also helpful in managing potential meltdown situations. Some autistic children like quiet, so ear defenders are also handy to have available.

Regulation Station

At our school, to make the provision more autism friendly, we also have a ‘Regulation Station’, where children can go if they feel dysregulated. There are ‘Zones of Regulation’ which are essentially little boxes in traffic light colours so the child can place their name in the box they feel shows how they are feeling and can sit for a while to calm and until the are ready to go back to ‘green’ again. This is especially helpful for children who struggle to express themselves verbally, as is so often the case with autism.

In summary

There are many ways to support autistic children, but the most important thing to remember is that they are all different, so do not assume that one strategy will suit all!

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

Looking for a SEND teaching or support job? Or perhaps you need to recruit school staff? Take a look at Axcis Education, the SEND recruitment specialist.

Axcis June Giveaway: Floor Keyboard

June brings with it World Music Day – as this is a hugely popular event in the school calendar, we thought we’d offer this fantastic floor keyboard as our June Giveaway prize. Find out more plus how to enter completely free of charge here.

About the prize

This interactive musical play mat can be used as a basic keyboard or it can be switched to make other musical instrument noises, including violin, saxophone and guitar. Children can jump, run, crawl or walk on the keys to make the corresponding noises. We think this is a great sensory toy which also gives early years or SEND children the opportunity to learn about music in a fun and engaging way.

Cant wait and want to buy one? You can do so here.

How to enter

Our giveaways are always free to enter, no strings attached! We offer several entry methods so you can either take a quick peek at our Facebook page, Tweet us or sign up on our website for work and you’ll be in with a chance to win. Follow the link below and you’ll be sent to our third party giveaway page (run on there to keep things fair and square) – where you can choose your method of entry and get your name in the hat for this great prize!

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

If you’re looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, why not register with Axcis, the SEND recruitment specialists? Or perhaps you need to recruit staff for your school or provision? If so, why not take a look at the Axcis Website, or get in touch today to find out how we can help?

Please note, as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Any funds raised help us to maintain our charitable partnerships with nasen and the National Autistic Society.

Great interview questions for special needs teachers

What makes a good SEND teacher and how can you spot one at an interview? These questions should help…
Credit Flickr

What would you do if a student was misbehaving or being disruptive?

You should ask this question because SEND students often require a more individualised approach than students in mainstream settings and blindly following the school behaviour policy may not always be appropriate. You will want to find out if your prospective new hire understands this and how they would respond. When they answer, you should listen out for examples of how they have handled similar situations in the past and how this fits in with the ethos of your setting. You should be on the lookout for an understanding that one size does not fit all and that there might be a root cause or trigger in play where challenging behaviour is concerned. Bonus points if they talk about a need to consult the SENCO or an EHCP for tips on how to effectively manage individual students.

How would you assess the students’ learning and behavior progress?

This is a useful question because many SEND children are not able to be assessed using standardised testing. Instead, your interviewee will need to explore alternative assessment methods and will ideally use this opportunity to ask about what assessment methods you use in your setting. Listen out for experience of coordinating assessment data with other teachers or members of staff as they may have valuable information which can form an important part of any ongoing/casual or formative assessment.

What are your preferred SEND teaching methods?

With this question, you want to know that your candidate is aware of a range of established teaching methods and recognises how these vary from mainstream approaches. Specifically, their answer should mention individualised education plans (IEPs) and discuss how strategies will differ from student to student depending on the individual. You should be listening out for answers detailing the need for goal setting and modifying teaching methods to suit the needs and ability of each student.

Tell me about a lesson that didn’t go according to plan and how you adapted it to improve the outcome.

This is a useful question because it pushes your applicant to talk about perceived failure and how they handle such scenarios. Be wary of teachers who say that this has never happened to them – as an ex-teacher myself I am all too aware that your best laid plans will often fall apart before your eyes! An ability to notice when this is happening and adapt your lesson accordingly is essential. Answers may mention how the teacher has collaborated with other staff members after the fact to ensure that future learning materials are pitched appropriately. It may also be useful to ask how such situations made your applicant feel – if they are easily stressed when things don’t go to plan, then you may not wish to consider them for classes where this is likely to happen on a regular basis.

What are some creative activities you’ve planned that your students have loved?

Making learning fun for both staff and students is an important part of being an effective teacher. It helps to build trust, rapport and an enjoyment of coming to school – all very important things! If examples provided are limited to events which are organised by the wider school community such as World Book Day or school productions, try to encourage your applicant to provide examples from their personal lesson plans. Top marks if they mention subjects or topics which are usually harder to bring to life and make fun such as mathematics or handwriting. Explore how they made it fun and how they knew the children had enjoyed it. You might get some rather interesting insights.

Tell me about a scenario where you had to deal with a difficult parent. How did you address the situation?

Establishing supportive and healthy relationships with the students’ parents is almost as important as fostering good relationships with the students themselves. Parents may not always agree with the teacher’s methods, so avoiding friction is important. At the same time, teachers must be able to stand up for themselves and be advocates for their students. Listen out for answers which demonstrate a willingness to work with families and a respect for the opinions of others involved in the care of their students whilst being able to explain and defend any actions they feel are important, even if not agreed with. Balance is key with this one!

What got you interested in working with special educational needs and disabilities?

Understanding what motivates a candidate can help you gauge their fit. For example, a candidate may mention that they have family members or friends who have special needs, which may better equip them for the pressures of the job. Or they may come from another profession or have voluntary experience in the sector if they have no direct SEND teaching experience. You are essentially looking for understanding and empathy – not candidates who think this will be an “easier ride” than a mainstream classroom teaching job.

How do you keep track of your responsibilities?

Keeping track of the needs and evolving education plans for a full class of students can be tricky. This is why you will need teachers with excellent organisational skills. Candidates will have different methods for organising information and tasks, but the best ones will be able to demonstrate a number of effective strategies. If they have an aptitude and an appreciation for diligent record keeping, they are likely to do a more effective teaching job. It is also worth exploring times when they were not as organised, what the outcome of this was and how they got back on track.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect of this job?

Careers in special educational needs and disabilities can be stressful. It’s important that candidates recognise this ahead of time, or it may be tough for them to handle the pressure. Explore how they manage stress or difficult situations such as the loss of a student with a life-shortening condition. Talk also about how they might manage their students when difficult situations arise and how they offer support. Listen out for signs of genuine concern for the children and how they might encourage positivity in the face of adversity.

Do you need help with SEND staffing?

If you’d rather let someone else do the hard work for you, why not consider using Axcis for your SEND staffing needs? We source, interview and vet all teachers and support staff fully so you don’t have to! Or if you’re a member of SEND teaching or support staff seeking a new role, why not register with Axcis and find out what jobs we have available to suit your needs?

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