Planning for an autism friendly Christmas (guest post)

Sue Goldman

Sue Goldman is an autism education specialist offering support, advice and teaching to autistic children, their families and educational settings. She has kindly written us this guest post about planning for an autism friendly Christmas.



Music, glitter, festive foods, surprises, colour, presents, lights, concerts, people… and more people!


There is so much to love about Christmas time but also so much to challenge our autistic pupils. As timetables and routines are thrown to the wind, many of us relish the freedom and unpredictability of the festive season but, for autistic children, the loss of safe structure can feel confusing and worrying. There is concern about what lies beneath wrapping paper, the profusion of visual and auditory stimuli can feel overwhelming, the constant stream of people in both public and private spaces can just be too much – and this can lead to stress, meltdowns and shutdowns.


However, I bring good tidings…!


There is much that we can do to support our pupils through this very special time of year, helping them to enjoy the wonderful stuff whilst minimising the tricky bits.

Know your students

Preparation and planning are key elements of a successful autism-friendly Christmas. Keep up the visual timetables, giving the right amount of advance warning for your particular pupil. Some will need more preparation time, some will find waiting hard to handle. As always, be guided by your knowledge and understanding of the individual you are working with.


Surprises are generally quite hard for an autistic child to cope with. Involve them in decision-making and be creative when thinking about how to help them to enjoy the surprise elements of Christmas. For example, you could wrap presents in cellophane, which preserves the excitement of unwrapping while reducing uncertainty. If the class is having a party, try asking your autistic pupil to help you to set it up while the room is quiet. It can be much easier to be part of creating the transition to a party room than to enter a room that is so different to normal.


Food issues are magnified around Christmas, both for children who love food and for those who have very selective diets. In general, it’s a good idea to stick to familiar mealtimes, foods and routines as much as possible, whilst also offering opportunities to step out of comfort zones in a safe way. New foods can be introduced through play, which offers a low-anxiety strategy for helping pupils to become familiar with unusual smells, tastes and textures. Cinnamon play dough anyone?

Plays, concerts and all that jazz!

Practise, practise and practise again! Autistic pupils can and should have the opportunity to be part of Christmas celebrations, including plays and concerts, but you will need to think about how to fit their role to their abilities and preferences. They may need more opportunities to practise than other children, maybe starting with a trusted adult, then building up to a small group, then to a bigger group and finally to the full group with an audience. Don’t underestimate how much courage and energy this can take for them, but don’t deny them the chance. They may surprise you! The behaviours that we expect at Christmas (for example, decorating a tree or giving presents) can also be practised through fun, structured turn-taking games – adapt the words of a simple tune to create a clear beginning, middle and end to the game, make or find some appealing props and off you go…!

Play to their strengths

Play to their strengths. Autistic pupils are unique, complex and hugely rewarding to work with. When you discover what they like and are good at, they will often bring exceptional commitment, focus and talent to the activity or task, and there is no joy as deep as autistic joy! So harness their autistic superpowers! Your Christmas will be better as a result.

Remember to relax!

Remember the importance of rest and relaxation! Christmas is an all-singing, all-dancing, bells-and-whistles-on sensory smorgasbord, which can just be too much. Encourage breaks during which your autistic pupils can do whatever they need to do to help themselves to stay calm and well-regulated. Provide quiet spaces or access to outdoors to give decompression time and let them know that you will be responsive to them when they communicate – through words or through actions – that they have had enough.

Further reading

For more thoughts, I would recommend the excellent NAS guide to Christmas, which parents may find particularly helpful (, and also the advice for pupils produced by the fabulous autistic young people at “Ambitious About Autism” (

***I wish you and your pupils a sparkling and peaceful Christmas***


Note: I am deliberately using identity-first language (‘autistic child’ rather than ‘child with autism’) as the autistic community expresses a clear and strong preference for this.


More information at


Register with Axcis and become connected to a range of specialist and mainstream schools in your area for work.

Huge thanks to Sue for this fantastic submission. If you’re interested in working with SEND students, either in a teaching or support capacity, why not register with Axcis or check out our jobs pages today?

Elf on the shelf ideas

Do you need some elf on the shelf ideas for this December? If so, why not take a look at some of our suggestions below? During December, we will be running our own elf on the shelf campaign, so keep an eye on our social media pages for even more ideas!

1 Wrapping paper fun

2 Reading time

3 Syrup sharing

4 “Snowball” fighting

5 Snow angels

6 Nativity costume fun

7 Movie night in

8 Marshmallow toasting

9 Hide & seek

10 Game time

We hope you like our elf on the shelf ideas – we’d love to see yours, so why not share your suggestions below, or tag us on Facebook or Instagram? Keep an eye out on our social media pages in December for some of these images, plus many more elf on the shelf ideas you can use for inspiration at home or at school.

Are you seeking SEND work or staff in England or Wales?

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?

Axcis Candidate of the Term Winter 2019: Nominations

Who has been nominated and why for the Axcis Candidate of the Term winter 2019 awards? Some of the lovely nominations we have received are listed here. Why not take a look?


Sandra, working for Blake, Axcis London

The reason I would like to nominate Sandra is that in the year she has worked with her client she has enabled him to make more progress with his communication and life skills than the previous 3 years at a very expensive independent special school specialising in ASD.  As I understand it she has made a huge difference to not only his life but the lives of his family as he can now communicate with them and can engage in activities he enjoys including sports and cooking.

Georgios, working for Blake, Axcis London

We’d like to nominate Georgios – he’s great!

Sian, working for Gemma, Axcis South West

Please can can I nominate Sian for the candidate of the term.  She has slotted into school life seamlessly and is always willing to go the extra mile.  Her role involves having to work in a variety of settings within the school and she manages each of these brilliantly, nothing seems to phase her.  This week Sian has been exceptional.  All our SEN staff have been out and she has stepped up to manage our ASC room with no fuss.  She has been really proactive in contacting me in the evening to find out about planning when she realised the room lead was out and offered to increase her hours to ensure the pupils had a familiar face.  Today she has had to manage a team of supply LSAs unfamiliar to the school to ensure all the children are getting the sight support.

Alison, working for Tamsin, Axcis Devon & Cornwall

Alison has been an excellent candidate she has worked for us as a Teaching Assistant and Teacher and is always prepared and ready for any eventuality! She is so flexible, arriving ready to be a Teaching Assistant but willing and happy to cover as a Teacher at very short notice. Alison does everything with a smile. The classes that she has been in have all said they would like her back if ever they needed cover again.

Pooja, working for Thomas, Axcis Manchester

We’d like to nominate Pooja because she’s hardworking and adaptable.  Able to work on her own initiative and always a positive member of the team.

Kelly, working for Cassie, Axcis North Wales

Kelly is in her second academic year with me.  Kelly works within the SEND area of the college, which is known here as Prep4Life. She is always willing to listen to any advice I offer her in ways which she can improve her skills and confidence when supporting students in college. Not only does she listen but she takes this advice and runs with it! Kelly has recently started working within a challenging group of students and has independently devised strategies to support these students which enables them to remain as independent as they possibly can. She has also guided new members of staff by advising them on strategies that she finds works best with the students. Kelly always goes that extra mile for all of her students and staff alike. She is a very kind and caring member of my team and it is a privilege to work with her on a daily basis.

Georgina, working for Tamsin, Axcis Devon & Cornwall

I would like to nominate Georgia for the Candidate of the Term award.  Since Georgia joined us in May, she has been an asset to our team and continues to show commitment, enthusiasm, passion and dedication within our setting.  Her relationship with our young people has flourished and she has without a doubt made a significant positive impact on their learning, behaviour and attitudes.  Georgia has been made responsible for her own small tutor group and is successfully managing her group in a calm and effective manner with positive results.  She is an absolute star, and don’t you dare book her out to anyone else!

Malcolm, working for Thomas, Axcis Manchester

In the short time that Malcolm has been at our provision, he has made a huge difference to not only the student he is supporting but also to other students. He constantly uses his initiative and is happy to roll his sleeves up and help out with our boys. He really feels like part of our team. Malcolm is fab!

Maryam, working for Jessica, Axcis Midlands

I want to nominate Maryam as she is always so calm and positive with our very complex needs children. She does not let any of the ASD behaviours affect her approach but treats the children respectfully and is responsive to their need. All of our staff have commented on her great attitude and willingness to help and she is has fitted into the team perfectly.

Emma, working for Blake, Axcis London

Emma, she goes above and beyond and completes everything with the child in the centre.

Louise, working for Cassie, Axcis North Wales

Louise has shown herself to be a real asset to our team at school.  She has worked really hard to improve the attendance of a previously disaffected year 8 student who she supports on a one to one basis.   Louise is professional, adaptable and has a can do attitude

Becky Jones, working for Cassie, Axcis North Wales

I would like to nominate Becky for this award because of her work-ethic over this term. She very quickly settled into a busy additional needs department in a often challenging environment. 

Her role has involved working with our most vulnerable and challenging learners across key stage 3 & 4. She has worked with a number of learners from Traveller backgrounds who are often difficult to mange in the classroom environment and whose attendance is often sporadic. She has managed their behaviour very well within the classroom environment and during break and lunch times. These learners respond well to her and know that they are able to come to her if they have a problem. They will work in lessons to please her and try their best on work, which is a huge achievement! 

Becky is able to work with the learners when they are having a difficult day and support their social and emotional needs. She is often able to discuss issues with them and support them to re-engage with their learning. 

As well as her great work with Travellers, she has supported other additional learning needs learners within small group intervention, on a one to one basis and within lessons. She has had a huge impact on a number of EAL learners who joined the school this term with very little English. She has helped them to settle into the school and learn school routines. She has supported them using a range of resources to help them to communicate with peers and staff and has taken a small group to develop their literacy/communication skills. It has been amazing to see how the confidence of these learners has increased in a short time.  It has been a pleasure to have Becky with us this term. She has developed a good relationship with many learners and the ALN team. 

Karesha, working for Liam, Axcis Liverpool

I would like to nominate Karesha Evans for candidate of the term.

Karesha has worked with us since the Summer and has been whole heartedly committed to working with a very challenging pupil. Other TA’s have come and gone as they have found the job too challenging. 

Karesha has shown that she cares about our pupils and she works hard to ensure h her 1-1 pupil succeeds. She has developed a great relationship with the child’s parents. 

Karesha arrives before her contracted hours and ensures she is fully prepared for the day ahead. She has shown she has good interpersonal skills and responds very well with direction from the class teacher. 

She is a joy to have working with our team

Christina, working for Liam, Axcis Liverpool

Chrissy will always go the extra mile for both the school and the children. She has shown excellent skill in working with pupils with additional needs and those who may be struggling in school due to difficulties at home. She has also created a wonderful display for Remembrance. She has joined in every activity from Maths & English to Swimming! 

Chrissy gets to know the children and consequently they love her as do we! 

Nominations are now closed

Nominations for Candidate of the Term are now closed. However, if you have an Axcis contractor who has gone above and beyond the call of duty, why not get in touch with us to nominate them for next terms awards? We appreciate every nomination, and so do our candidates! Winners for these awards will be announced soon – so watch this space!

Are you seeking SEND work or staff in England or Wales?

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?

Axcis December Giveaway: 2020 Calendar Craft Kit

The Axcis December Giveaway is for a set of 20 make your own 2020 calendars, plus 2 big packs of colouring pens to decorate them with. This prize – ideal to use in the first week back in January is sure to be a crowd-pleaser! Enter your details completely FREE of charge and be in with a chance of winning today.

About the prize

You’ll get 20 blank calendars to use with your class if you win the Axcis December Giveaway!
You’ll also get 2 packs of these lovely washable colouring pens to decorate them with.

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!


Are you seeking special needs work or staff in England or Wales?

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?

Top 5 Christmas Craft Activities

Are you looking for ideas for craft activities to do with your class in the run up to Christmas? Axcis can help! Our top 5 craft ideas are listed in this blog.

1 Paper plate wreaths

Using paper plates and decorating with any manner of accessories, you can let imaginations run wild with this simple, low-cost Christmas craft activity.

What you’ll need:
  • Paper plates
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Decorations – this could be paint, glitter, felt shapes, leaves and twigs collected either before, or during the session – anything goes!
What to do:
  • Simply cut out the middle of the plate and then decorate away!
Credit Flickr

2 Snow globes

Get your students to bring in a glass jar and help them to create a magical Christmas decoration with this simple yet effective craft activity.

What you’ll need:
  • Glass jar
  • Strong/waterproof glue
  • Water
  • Glycerine
  • Glitter
  • Decoration or polymer clay
What to do:
  • Either make a Christmas decoration from clay and bake until hard, or use a shop-bought decoration (making the decoration could be done in an earlier lesson)
  • Glue to the inside of the lid of your glass jar
  • Fill the jar with water and add a teaspoon of glycerine (allow space for the decoration to displace some water)
  • Add a tablespoon of glitter
  • Apply glue to the thread of the jar and screw on tightly
  • Allow to dry
  • Voila! Your own snow globe

3 Potato-print Christmas cards

This classic activity is a must in the run up to Christmas and can be as simple or complicated as you like!

What you’ll need:
  • Card
  • Potatoes (or sponge also works well)
  • Paint
  • Stencils/cookie cutters
  • Overalls!
What to do:
  • First you’ll need to select a design. I chose Christmas trees
  • Cut the potato down the middle so you have space for the stencil/cookie cutter
  • Press the cutter into the potato – leave it in place while you use a knife to cut out the shape of the tree (or whatever design you’re using)
  • Put poster paints into flat trays/plates
  • Stamp away!
  • (We also used a carrot cut in half to create a “round” stamp as well as a star stamp)
  • Allow to dry flat to avoid paint runs on your finished cards
  • If you like, you can also add glitter, stickers or other sparkly embellishments to your dry cards.
Credit Flickr

4 Gingerbread men

If you fancy a bit of fun in the kitchen, why not do a bit of Christmas baking? Nothing says Christmas better than the enticing, spicy aroma of freshly baking gingerbread men!

What you’ll need:
  • Gingerbread recipe (we used this one)
  • Either icing sugar and food colourings, or some ready-made writing icing
  • Disposable piping bags with a tiny hole cut in the point are a great idea for easier icing if making your own icing
  • Silver balls/other cake decorations (if you like)
What to do:
  • Either make (or buy) some gingerbread men (if making allow to cool before icing)
  • Decorate as you like! (If making your own icing, ensure it’s a thick mix of icing sugar and water so that it doesn’t run/spread too much)
  • Allow icing to dry
  • EAT!
  • You may also choose to add a step to your activity by planning out designs for your men using pens and paper while your gingerbread men are baking!

Remember with food-based activities to check for allergies among your class members.

5 Napkin rings

This lovely activity will give your children something they can make, and then show off at the Christmas dinner table. For reluctant eaters, this may help to encourage them to participate in the traditional Christmas dinner.

What you’ll need:
  • Kitchen roll tubes or old curtain rings
  • Christmas decorations (either shop-bought or home-made)
  • Glue/double sided tape
What to do:
  • Cut cardboard tubes into small sections, or take the metal hook out of curtain rings
  • Provide a tray of decorations and glue
  • Let children use their imaginations to decorate their napkin rings!

Do you have a job for January?

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?

Who are Sky Badger and why do you need to know about them as a SEND teacher or TA? (Guest post)

In this guest blog, Naomi Tomkys OBE, CEO for Sky Badger, tells us all about the charity, what they do and how they can assist you with your SEND support needs. We think that you’ll agree that they are a super organisation with plenty to offer! Over to you, Naomi…

Let Sky Badger come to the rescue!

First of all, thank you. My name is Naomi and I work for Sky Badger, a charity that finds help for families with disabled children. Parents tell us that having you (the teacher or member of school support staff reading this) at their child’s school can often feel like the 4th emergency service, that’s why you get a big thank you from us.

When a family has a disabled child, and they’re struggling, they rarely know where to turn. Their friends don’t know how to help and professional medical or social care support can often take months sitting on waiting lists. And that’s where you come in. Teachers, TA’s and other support staff at school can sometimes be the only friendly faces they see.

The problem is that no one tells you about all the help there is. After all, you can’t possibly know about every medical condition and learning difficulty. You can’t know all there is about EHCP’s, PIP’s, blue badges, disability grants or specialist babysitting. There’s no way you can know all there is about helping siblings or finding info for grandparents….and that’s where we come in. Our little treat to you is Sky Badger. At Sky Badger you can find everything you need to support struggling families with disabled children.

Feel free to take a bit of time checking us out on our website and social media platforms and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, just email us and our wildly experienced team will sort you out. By the way, everything we do is completely free!

I’ll tell you a bit more about how Sky Badger was born in a mo. It’s kind of a cool story but first I thought you’d like a virtual Kitkat break – let us tell you about a few lesser known charities and organisations that families you work with might want to know about…

Looking for a free adventure holiday?

Over the Wall – Amazing transformational residential camps across the UK for children and young people facing serious health challenges. They also run camps for siblings and families too.

Need an IT grant for a disabled child?

The Children’s Hope Foundation – offers support to buy medical equipment, computers for educational purposes and days out.

Need a birthday cake?

Free Cakes for Kids – This charity came to the rescue when a mum we were helping was stuck in hospital and had to miss her youngest’s 6th birthday…a life saver! They bake for families who find it difficult to provide a birthday cake for their child. All cakes are baked 100% by volunteers, who operate locally and independently in their own private kitchens.

Do you have a student who has a condition you don’t know about?

Great Ormond Street – medical informationFantastic crib notes to get you started.

Hope that was useful. Loads more on the Sky Badger website too. But for now, let’s get back to our origin story, it helps knowing where we come from.

How Sky Badger began…

Sky Badger was created by four mums in October 2011. Between our 11 children, three are disabled and two have life-limiting conditions. The idea was to build a website giving families information that could really help. The problem was that so many charities have the same homepage; a sick kid with a massive ‘donate now’ banner. As a parent, I always felt that page was soul destroying, isolating and didn’t really fill me with positivity for the future. Website’s were tricky to navigate, info too complicated or out of date. That’s why Sky Badger needed to be different. it needed to be positive, full of great stuff, extremely easy to use, fun and totally free.

But why the name ‘Sky Badger’ I hear you ask? That’s simple. A little 7-year-old boy with special needs called Max invented Sky Badger. While playing Superheroes with his little brother, Max used to tie a tea towel around his neck and magically gain superpowers to win any battle. He would descend from the stairs with the deafening cry “Sky Badger to the rescue!”

We’d all like to thank Max for inspiring us to create Sky Badger. Especially because he’s my Max. Max became ill with his first serious seizure when he was 6 and has complex medical and learning disabilities. 8 years on, Max is a strapping teenager, taller than me even in heals. Without Max there would be no Sky Badger.

Max with his mum, Naomi on graduation day

Sky Badger now supports over 1,400 families and professionals every day. Since 2011, Sky Badger has helped countless families improve their disabled children lives by simply knowing where to turn for help. Whether that’s sky-diving in a wheelchair, getting a free laptop or knowing how to apply for a PIP… Sky Badger has it all.

This is the most important part though. Sky Badger is a virtual community that you need to be part of. About 20% of those we find help for are teachers, TA’s and social workers. We need you to make sure that families find out about us. Also, if you know about a charity or company that we should shout about, please let us know.

We also do lots of other stuff at Sky Badger including free downloadable disability awareness lesson plans and games for your classroom as well as lots of ways for you to get involved too…but for now, this is simply an introduction…Sky Badger is very pleased to meet you and we’re always here to help.

Thanks for reading.

Naomi Tomkys OBE, CEO, Sky Badger

Would you like to support this inspiring charity?

If you are keen to support a small, grassroots charity which works tirelessly to support the SEND community, you can donate to them here.

Seeking SEND work or staff in England or Wales?

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?

Delivering an equal right to sight to children in special schools (guest post)

Here Donna O’Brien, of the charity SeeAbility, talks about its groundbreaking work with a number of special schools, that led to the partnership getting the nasen Axcis sponsored award for provision of year, 2019!

SeeAbility is a national charity and we have been working for a number of years to help people with learning disabilities look after their eyesight. We were absolutely thrilled when we heard that our sight testing project, with a number of special schools, had won this prestigious award.

For the past six years we have funded a dedicated clinical team, providing sight tests and examining children’s vision, as well as dispensing and fitting glasses and providing reports to teachers on what children can see.

Currently we are working with the following schools in the London area: Perseid School, Village School, Moorcroft School, Grangewood School, Willow Dene School, Charlton Park Academy and RNIB Sunshine House, who have opened their doors and put their faith in us to support their pupils with their eye care. It’s been a fantastic experience and they rightly share the plaudits for the award!

Why sight testing?

We’re passionate about eye care for children with special educational needs and it is great to have the opportunity not just to blog about what our project does, but also to talk about sight problems in children with learning disabilities and autism. It is one of those areas of life where it might not be obvious there is anything amiss.

In fact there is a large body of evidence that children with learning disabilities are significantly more likely (28 times in fact) to experience eye and vision problems than members of the general childhood population. The more severe or profound a person’s learning disability, the higher that risk becomes. In our work we have found nearly half of children in special schools have a vision problem, and a third need glasses. Much of this was unknown until we visited the schools.

A full sight test examines not just the way the eyes focus but how they move, and check the health of the eyes. These tests don’t just provide the chance to understand what a child can see, but also provide a chance to prevent avoidable sight loss, even blindness if something serious is spotted early enough.  

That is why every child has a right to a (free) NHS sight test annually, with the expectation that parents will head to their nearest high street optician for their test. But for children with learning disabilities and autism, accessing those checks can be a real problem. In fact in our research we’ve found that 44% of the children we see have never had a sight test. We found children with autism were the least likely to have had a regular sight test.

For other children we know that routine eye care is actually going to the hospital eye clinic, which although necessary, might be the busiest and perhaps not the most convenient place for children with autism or profound or multiple learning disabilities to attend.

Happily, many of the children we have seen have vision problems which are easily treatable or can be completely or partly resolved with glasses. By fitting and supplying the glasses in school it means the children get them quickly and are supported to use them effectively. The familiarity of the school means there are children now receiving eye care who no one thought it would be possible to test, particularly given the perception that you must be able to read or sit still to have a full eye examination.

For example we have followed a young man called Nathaniel (pictured below, right, with our dispensing optician Mitch) since we first gave him a sight test at age 14 and found him so shortsighted that without glasses he would qualify as severely sight impaired. Now with his glasses he has 20:20 vision, he no longer shows behaviour that challenges and is leaving school for college this summer, continuing to learn and fulfil his potential.

What’s next?

Over 3500 sight tests later, and with over 1700 pairs of glasses dispensed, we’ve been sharing our findings far and wide to make the case for the NHS to fund eye examinations and glasses dispensing in all special schools in England – and in 2020 this should start to become a reality! We know what impressed the judges was how the project has shown how a model of care could be rolled out nationally to 120,000 children in these settings. The support of parents and teachers has also been fundamental.

Tina Harvey, Perseid School Head Teacher (pictured second from right at the start of this blog), has worked with us since 2013 as Perseid was the first school to partner with us: 

“The difference the project has made to our children is absolutely profound – especially for the children who had previously never been tested, and were found to need glasses. Many were living life in a total blur before. Now they are happier, more able to learn, feel less frustrated and have higher self esteem. It’s so exciting to know that all special schools will soon get the same opportunity as us.”

We’ll be working hard to ensure a new NHS programme follows the pioneering work at Perseid, and really benefits schools and pupils in the same way. It will be exciting to see what the NHS has planned. You can read more about the whole project at

In the meantime if you want to understand more about eye care and vision, why not read our mini guide with nasen Understanding the eye care needs of children with SEN and disabilities. It’s free to download so do take a look!

For more information on this work, contact Donna O’Brien, SeeAbility at or 01372 755063

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?

SEND News Roundup

At Axcis, we are thrilled to be associated with the National Autistic Society and nasen. Each month, we bring you the latest news highlights from our partners, so if you’d like to know what’s been happening with these great organisations and in the world of SEND, read on.

Nasen News

Below you’ll find a list of the latest SEND news from our friends at nasen. Each title is clickable and the link will take you to their website where you can find the full story.

Axcis are proud to sponsor nasen

National Autistic Society News

Below you’ll find a list of some of the latest autism news, compiled by our friends at The National Autistic Society. Each title is clickable and the link will take you to their website where you can find the full story.

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?

How to be the perfect cover teacher

Supply teachers can often find themselves thrown in the deep end when sent at short notice to a school or alternative provision. So if you are new to cover teaching work, or simply want to be sure that you’re being the best cover teacher you can be… read on.

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1. Find out about the school

If you’ve been booked for work on the day, then you might not have time for research. But if you’ve been booked in advance, or if you’re getting public transport to your destination, you may well have time to find some information out about the school you’ll be working in. You could look at their website, Ofsted reports, or even social media pages and local papers. School websites may have policies and procedures published on them – this can help you to understand the day to day expectations and how the school runs. Ofsted reports may help you to understand the strengths and weaknesses in the school – which in turn can help you to understand where you can add most value. If you will be working in a specialist provision, the research you do should help you to better understand the range of needs within the school and what sorts of training and systems they use to effectively support their students. Research can therefore be a very valuable thing to do prior to going into a school.

2. Carry your DBS and ID at all times

A lot of schools will ask to see these documents before allowing you to undertake work on their site. Even if your consultant says they have sent vetting information to the school, it is a very good idea to keep these bits of paperwork with you in case the school wishes to see them or take copies for their own files.

3. Be on time

It sounds like a no-brainer, but any agency consultant will tell you hundreds of stories about cover staff who have been booked and then turned up really late for work, causing problems for the school they are in that day. Remember, cover staff are only booked when schools are not able to cover their absences internally – so by being late, you leave them in a sticky situation and it’s not likely to create a very good first impression or help you get invited back for more work in the future. Therefore, if you want to be the perfect cover teacher, you should aim to be on time for work!

4. Communicate effectively

If you are running late and it’s beyond your control, then the most important thing you can do is communicate this to your agency contact so that they can liaise with the school. Give an honest idea of when you will turn up so that alternative arrangements can be made until then. You should also make sure to apologise for your lateness to the school contact on arrival. We all have times when lateness is unavoidable – it’s how we deal with it that counts. Communication is also key throughout the day – always check what the expectations of you are, liaise carefully with other staff members and try to make sure you continue with the work the students are doing as seamlessly as possible. It’s also a good idea to check in with your school contact before you leave at the end of the day – you may need to get them to sign a paper timesheet or check if there is anything they need you to do before you head off-site. If they ask you to come back for a future booking, remember to communicate this back to your agency. It’s also essential to let your consultant know if there have been any problems or issues while at the school on a placement.

5. Carry supplementary work

Schools should always leave work set for cover teachers to follow – but anyone who has worked in the industry will know that this is not always possible. So a perfect cover teacher should always aim to carry a range of worksheets and activities with them so that they have something to fall back on. Nothing loses the engagement of a class faster than having nothing for them to do.

6. Don’t be a moaner!

Schools can sometimes be tough places to work – it’s no secret. But you should remember that school managers look for positive, pro-active, can-do type people. Therefore, if you spend your time complaining about not having enough information, not having set work, your journey or anything else, it’s likely to reflect poorly on you. If you’ve had a difficult time or don’t think it’s the right school for you to return to, just communicate this to your consultant at the agency – don’t bend the ear of school management (or any other staff members) as it can be perceived as offensive or rude and may harm your chances of getting future work – either in that setting or potentially in others, too!

Are you looking for supply teaching work in England or Wales?

If you think you’re the kind of cover teacher we are looking for and you are currently seeking work, 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?

FREE Christmas Activity Sheets

Axcis are thrilled to offer these free downloadable activity sheets to use with your school or setting. In this pack, we include colouring sheets, a festive wordsearch, crossword and maze. For the first 5 who post their festively coloured Andy or Lionel pictures on our Facebook page, there will also be a bonus craft kit on offer.

Axcis Activity Sheets

Below you will find images of the activity sheets on offer along with the link to download them:

Christmas Wordsearch

Christmas Crossword

Amazing Maze

Axcis Andy Colouring Sheet

Lionel the Lion Colouring Sheet

WIN a Christmas craft kit

Show us your colouring skills! Can you give Andy or Lionel a bit of festive flair? We have 5 Christmas craft kits to give away. Simply share your festively coloured Andy or Lionel colouring sheet to our Facebook page to be in with a chance of winning one. The first 5 images shared will be sent a craft kit.

Bag yourself one of these craft kits by posting your festive Andy or Lionel picture to our Facebook page

Are you seeking special needs teaching or support 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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