Refocusing Assessment – a new resource for whole school assessment launched today!

A new resource – Refocusing Assessment – to support teachers and school leaders in developing a whole school assessment approach has been jointly published by three educational organisations. The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), and the Schools, Students and Teachers network (SSAT), who together work with thousands of schools across the country, have launched the resource today.


The move from a single national assessment system (levels) to a more flexible, school-determined approach has provided new opportunities but has also created some uncertainty for schools.


ASCL, NFER and SSAT suggest that the most effective school assessment systems are those designed by practitioners to suit their particular context, and have provided Refocusing Assessment as a free resource to help schools do this.


The organisations worked with expert panels, made up of heads of department and representatives from key subject associations, to shape the resource and explore how assessment works best in different subject areas.


The resource also seeks to dispel some prevalent myths around school assessment including the idea that national curriculum levels are banned, teachers need to show expected progress and that assessment or ‘data-drops’ have to take place at least half-termly.


Suzanne O’Farrell, Curriculum and Assessment Specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“This resource is unique in that it is created by teachers for teachers. It is a framework to support teachers which asks and answers key questions about assessment in the classroom, and ensures it becomes an effective tool to help pupils understand their learning and make progress.”

Reflecting on the resource, Alex Galvin, Senior Education Lead at SSAT, said:

“Although many schools have done amazing work on designing assessment systems over the past three years, it is clear that there is still a lot of uncertainty and that greater assessment literacy is needed in both initial teacher training and continuing professional learning. By coming together as a group of organisations, we hope this resource will help school and subject leaders reflect and reshape their assessment practices.”

Claire Hodgson, Research Director in NFER’s Centre for Assessment, added:

“We believe that assessments are important for effective teaching and learning and we work very closely with schools to help them achieve this. Discussions with the expert panels highlighted the good formative assessment strategies that already exist and Refocusing Assessment now gives us the opportunity to share examples of these valuable practices more widely. The aim of this resource is to engage schools in asking the right questions to ensure they have an assessment approach that works for them.”


This is a free resource for all schools made available by ASCL, NFER and SSAT. The resource, and additional subject resources are available here:

About ASCL

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) is a leading professional body representing more than 18,000 members, including education system leaders, heads, principals, deputies, vice-principals, assistant heads and business managers of state-funded and independent schools and colleges throughout the UK. ASCL members are responsible for the education of more than four million young people in more than 90 per cent of the secondary and tertiary phases, and in an increasing proportion of the primary phase. ASCL works to shape national education policy, provide advice and support to members and deliver first-class professional development across the sector.

About NFER

NFER is the leading independent provider of rigorous research and insights in education, working to create an excellent education for all children and young people. We are a charity, whose robust and innovative research, assessments and other services are widely known and used by key decision-makers. Any surplus generated is reinvested in projects to support our charitable purpose.; @TheNFER

About SSAT

SSAT’s work in helping transform education in England started in 1987. Back then our role was to support and nurture the first city technology colleges – the initiative that first proved the value of employers and schools working together to drive up standards. That work, underpinned by our ‘by schools, for schools’ ethos, laid the foundations for many of our activities today…the innovative leadership and teacher CPD programmes, the commitment to thought leadership and research and, of course, the network of school leaders and innovative teachers which still drives all that we do. Over this time, SSAT raised over £350 million of sponsorship for schools. For twenty-five years our work was largely government-funded. In 2012 we changed our status. As a new limited company we remain committed as ever to changing education by encouraging innovation and collaboration between schools.


Posted in News, SEND Resources

Simple Mother’s Day craft gifts you can make with your class

Are you looking for simple, inexpensive Mother’s Day craft ideas? Then look no further! You’re sure to bring a smile to mum’s face with one of these projects. From paper flowers and pots of love to simple beauty treats for her skin and hair – you’re bound to find something suitable here to use with your children in class or at home.

1 – Sea Salt Spray

Give mum "beach hair" for Mothers Day by making this lovely salt spray. Credit Flickr CC

Give mum “beach hair” for Mother’s Day by making this lovely salt spray. Credit Flickr CC

Either save a spray bottle which can be re-used or buy an empty plastic spray bottle from your local chemist and you can make this incredibly easy gift which every mum will love!

What you’ll need:

  • Plastic spray bottle
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Hot/warm water
  • Almond oil (or any type of conditioning oil will do)
  • Plain envelope labels/sticky labels to “brand” your product


  • Fill your spray bottle with warm/hot water almost to the top
  • Add a big pinch of sea salt and a couple of teaspoons of oil
  • SHAKE for a minute or two (you could do this to music to make it more fun for your class and keep them going for long enough to dissolve all the salt)
  • Design a label and stick it on
  • Voila! A simple yet desirable gift that mum will love (especially if you know she buys sea salt spray for her hair!)


2 – Forever Flowers

Tissue paper makes for a more delicate finish to your Mother’s Day forever flowers. Credit Flickr CC

Turn old newspapers or coloured tissue paper into a pretty bunch of flowers with this fun, simple craft project

What you’ll need:

  • Newspapers or coloured tissue paper
  • Poster paints
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Scissors
  • Tape


  • Cut newspaper/tissue paper into circles (you could draw around a saucer or something of similar size like a roll of tape)
  • If using newspaper, paint and allow to dry. Skip this step if using tissue paper
  • Layer 2 circles of paper on top of each other and  fold in half
  • Lay a pipe cleaner in the middle (tape to secure) and then “roll” into a rose shape (it doesn’t matter if they are messy)
  • Pinch the bottom of the flower together and fix with a piece of tape
  • Fan out the top of the flower a bit with your fingers
  • Repeat until you have a bunch of pretty flowers!


3 – Toilet Roll Vase (ideal for your paper flowers)

What you’ll need:

  • Toilet roll tubes
  • Poster paints
  • Newspaper


  • Ball up some newspaper and shove it into the toilet roll tube to form a base (needs to be fairly tight) – put tape over bottom to hold in place
  • Paint pretty patterns or flowers onto toilet roll tube
  • Allow to dry
  • Voila – a vase for your paper flowers!

4 – Sugar and Spice Body Scrub

Make a simple body scrub for Mum which smells divine! Credit Flickr CC

A simple body scrub which can be made using cheap ingredients and which mum will love!

What you’ll need:

2 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs almond oil
1 tbs ground oatmeal
1 tsp ground cinnamon
A container with a lid or a small zip lock bag
Plain sticky labels


Mix all the ingredients together and spoon into your container. Design a pretty Mothers Day label for your body scrub. Give to mum!

5 – Love Pot

Turn an old flowerpot into a pot of love for Mother’s Day. Credit Flickr CC

Mum will love this flowerpot with love sprouting from it – a cute idea for a Mother’s Day gift

What you’ll need:

  • Small flowerpot
  • Stiff cardboard
  • Wooden skewers
  • Flower pot “oasis” foam or some polystyrene
  • Scissors
  • Double sided tape
  • Paint/glitter glue and any other craft items for embellishment


  • Either using a template, or by designing your own letters (teachers may need to differentiate on this one!), Cut out the letters L O V and E from your card TWICE
  • Layer the two L’s and sandwich a  wooden skewer between them. Use double sided tape to fix the two pieces of card together
  • Repeat for your other 3 letters (you could also do some added flowers for your pot – extension activity for teachers?)
  • Now cut a block of polystyrene or oasis to fit your flower pot
  • Paint and decorate your letters (and flowers if you’re adding some) and poke into the flower pot until dry


We hope you enjoy our Mother’s Day craft ideas – if you do these with your classes please send us photos – we’d love to see how you get on. Or post them on Twitter and @axcis in them to share your projects with us and the world.

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

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

Are you seeking work with SEND children? Axcis can help!

If you’re not already registered with Axcis, but would like to seek a SEND teaching or support position, why not get in touch or register today and find out how we can assist you? We have offices nationwide and a team of expert consultants who have proven relationships with specialist and mainstream schools in your area.


Posted in Candidates, SEND Resources

Axcis at the NAS Professional Conference and Autism Professionals Awards

As ongoing supporters of the National Autistic Society, Axcis were proud to again be the headline sponsor of this years Professional Conference. We also sponsored an Autism Professionals Award. Find out who won as well as what else made this years event a great one!

Day 1

Mark Lever, Chief Executive.The National Autistic Society's Professional Conference 2017, Harrogate International Centre.

Mark Lever, Chief Executive. The National Autistic Society’s Professional Conference 2017, Harrogate International Centre.

Day 1 of the conference opened with Mark Lever (NAS CEO) talking about the many fantastic initiatives the charity has undertaken in the last year. Their “Too Much Information” film was viewed over 70 million times and 1 in 30 teachers have now signed up to the “My World” campaign. Along with many other initiatives, this means that autism is now recognised and understood by more people than ever before. Good work, guys!


Keynote speaker Sharon King followed, giving an emotive talk about building relationships and trust between parents and services. As a parent of 3 autistic children, she has faced her fair share of challenges when dealing with professionals and it served to remind us of the importance of keeping families at centre of all discussions.


The day then broke into 4 streams – Early years to teenage, teenage to adult, transition to adulthood and adults on the spectrum.

The Axcis Bear Hunt and Selfie Competition were a huge hit!

The Axcis Bear Hunt and Selfie Competition were a huge hit!

This allowed delegates to focus on their area of interest. I sat in on the early years to teenage stream because I felt that this would be most relevant to the teachers and support staff largely recruited by Axcis to work with the schools we assist. If you didn’t follow our Twitter commentary on the day, you can look back over it using #profconf if you’d like to read more highlights.


Maja Toudal closed day 1 by talking about energy accounting. This was a fascinating insight into how a young person with autism uses the idea of managing an energy budget to keep her life in order, and avoid damaging chronic fatigue which could halt her progress in her studies and personal life. I felt that you didn’t need to be on the spectrum yourself to find this concept useful (I know it gave me plenty to think about!). The basic idea is that you need to understand what things energise you, and what things require a lot of energy (and this is different for everyone). You then make sure that whenever you “take out of your energy bank” that you also ensure you do something which puts some back, and essentially “balances the books”. A simple, and yet very effective concept.

The Axcis Bear Hunt and Selfie Competition

While all these fascinating talks were going on, the Axcis team were busy in the exhibition area talking to delegates about the service we can offer. As specialist special needs recruiters, Axcis are well placed to provide staff to many special schools and alternative provisions up and down the country. We also ran the ever-popular bear hunt, and this year we added a selfie

Axcis Awrd for Individual Acheivement of an Education Professional winner: Sharon Coles from STARS (Middle right, sponsor Emily Marbaix middle left). NAS Award Ceremony, Harrogate 2017.

Axcis Award for Individual Achievement of an Education Professional winner: Sharon Coles from STARS (Middle right, sponsor Emily Marbaix middle left). NAS Award Ceremony, Harrogate 2017.

competition for a bit of extra fun, too! Check out @axcis on Twitter to see more of the photos which were submitted for entry. Winners to be announced later…

The Autism Professionals Awards

On the evening of day 1 was the APAs. Each year, the NAS hold this awards ceremony to celebrate the hard work and achievements of those working with people on the autism spectrum. Among the awards was the one we sponsor – the Axcis Award for Achievement by an Individual Education Professional. The winner was Shannon Coles from STARS for her work with children with autism for over forty years. Shannon was touched to win the award and seemed very pleased to have been recognised for all of her hard work. The evening was great fun and it was truly humbling to see so many people who have worked so hard in the sector receive their awards.

Day 2

Day 2 began with the ever-popular Sarah Hendrickx who spoke about identifying and facilitating good quality of life for

Sarah Hendrickx. The National Autistic Society's Professional Conference 2017, Harrogate International Centre.

Sarah Hendrickx. The National Autistic Society’s Professional Conference 2017, Harrogate International Centre.

autistic adults. Sarah is an inspirational speaker who has a long history of touring the world and speaking at events such as this in a bid to spread awareness and positivity around autism. If you haven’t seen her speak before, she has lots of material on YouTube, so why not check it out?


I then sat in on talks by Judge Jane McConnell (Issues for families of autistic children coming to Tribunal) and Marguarite Haye (EHC Plans – getting education, health and parents to work together), both of which were highly informative (again, check out our Twitter page for more on this) before the conference came to a close with speakers Justin Price and Jamie Nicholls. The winner of the Bear Hunt was drawn from a hat and Corinne Morgan, Clinical Lead OT at St Dominics School was given a £100 voucher for Amazon which I am sure will be used to get something great!


A long journey home from Harrogate ended the conference for me, and although I was very tired, I came away feeling that I had learned a lot, met some lovely people and had plenty of ideas to share with my peers – a feeling which I am sure was shared by many of the other attendees to this years conference!



Posted in NAS and Network Autism, News, Training & Events

Help! I’m a new SENCO and don’t know where to start – blog by Gareth Morewood

If you’re new to the profession, the role of the SENCO might initially seem complex and unsupported. It’s important to know that you’re never alone! 


Over a typical week, I will receive about twenty e-mails and tweets from fellow SENCOs across the country and about ten or so from parents and carers.


I always try to spend some time each week answering each question in turn. This can be a real challenge, especially when I am travelling to events and school-to-school support work myself, in addition to doing my SENCO ‘day job’!


This week I received a lovely email from a new SENCO colleague who had typed into Google ‘I’m a new SENCO and need some help’, only for my name to pop up! I have never courted praise or chased followers, but always tried to set myself up as someone who can make a difference by sharing resources, helping colleagues and offering advice.


As I’m often answering similar questions from new SENCO colleagues, I thought it would be useful to collate my thoughts for the support of new SENCOs.

Don’t live in isolation

I have been a member of the SENCO Forum e-discussion group since the beginning of my career as SENCO. I am currently vice chair of the Advisory Group that helps keep the service free to use.


Gareth talking at the NAHT SEND Conference 2017

Gareth talking at the NAHT SEND Conference 2017

Now in its twenty-first year of operation, the forum provides an opportunity for (new and experienced) SENCOs and other SEND professionals to discuss issues, share information and pass on practical advice. This is often based on the first-hand experience of SEND professionals, along with relevant research evidence and local/national policy guidance.


Knowing I can seek the advice and support of my colleagues almost immediately has proven invaluable throughout my career, and it’s important that all SENCOs know that they aren’t isolated within their roles. The forum is an excellent way to get the help you need simply by sending an email.


Any questions about using the forum to disseminate information about SEND-focused research, policy and practice can be addressed either to me or the Advisory Group chair, Christopher Robertson.

Consider key priorities

SENCO colleagues often feel overwhelmed by the pressures and demands from lots of different areas. I wrote recently about my three-stage plan for school improvement, which may be as useful for new SENCOs as for more experienced colleagues and headteachers.


However, the key is always to think about priorities and not to do too much at once. Being reflective will allow for a more strategic approach, which is crucial if SENCOs are to meet the challenges faced day after day.

Define your role

The education system is currently under a lot of pressure, and schools are struggling with a multitude of financial constraints and significant curriculum changes.


In this context, I think it is important to remain specific when defining the role of SENCO. Don’t try to be ‘something to everyone’; be as focused and strategic as possible.


The SENCO works strategically with the senior leadership team to review and refresh a school’s provision for SEND, while also working with classroom/subject teachers to ensure that every child with SEND gets the most appropriate and personalised support possible.


Drawing clear distinctions between the responsibilities of staff is as important for new SENCOs as it is for everyone else.


The classroom teacher should:


  • focus on outcomes for the child when reviewing SEND provision
  • be responsible for meeting special educational needs, working in co-operation with the SENCO to develop a higher quality of teaching
  • have high aspirations for every student, with clear progress targets for pupils
  • be clear about how the school’s full range of resources can be used to meet such targets
  • involve parents/carers and pupils themselves when planning and reviewing progress.


The headteacher and SLT should:


  • consider how SENCOs fit into the strategic management of the school, including how they feed into strategic decisions
  • ensure that the SENCO has sufficient time and resources to carry out their responsibilities, with sufficient administrative support and time away from teaching to enable them to fulfil their responsibilities (Code of Practice section 6.91)
  • foster a strong relationship between school and parents/carers, meeting parents/carers at least three times each year (Code of Practice section 6.65).


It is always good to have a strong relationship between SENCO and SEND governor. Optimus members can download our toolkit of resources to help develop better collaborative working.


The SENCO should:


  • oversee the day-to-day operation of school’s SEND provision
  • coordinate provision for children with SEND
  • liaise with the designated teacher for a looked-after child with SEND
  • advise on using the graduated approach to develop SEND provision
  • advise on the use of delegated budgets and other resources
  • liaise with parents and carers of children with SEND
  • work with other education settings and external agencies
  • liaise with the next providers of education to facilitate transition;
  • work with the headteacher and governors on the Equality Act
  • ensure that SEND records are kept up to date.


However new to the role of SENCO you might be, you’ll never be alone! There is plenty of advice and support out there.


After all, if there is one thing I’ve learnt over the last 20 years, it’s that SENCOs are a generous and supportive bunch!

What’s next?

If you can attend one event this year, let it be the 15th annual SENCO Update conference on Thursday 25th May.


This will be the perfect opportunity for SENCOs to reflect on current success, set clear action plans for next steps and leave with a renewed focus on your provision.


Enter the code GM when registering to receive a 10% discount!

Resources and advice

Gareth Morewood

Gareth is Director of Curriculum Support (SENCo) & Specialist Leader of Education at Priestnall School, Stockport and Honorary Research Fellow in Education at the University of Manchester. He has authored a number of articles, books, academic papers and publications which can be found on his website This article was originally published on his blog and has been reproduced with his kind permission.

Posted in SEND Resources

Candidate of the Term Spring 2017: Nominations

Who has been nominated and why for the Axcis Candidate of the Term Spring 2017 awards? Some of the lovely nominations we have received so far are listed here, so why not take a look?

COT - spring 2017Maria – working for Amanda in our Liverpool office

Maria is a fantastic SEN TA and BSL Instructor, she has a passion for SEN and has a lot of experiene working with differing special needs, including sign language for visually impaired pupils. She has developed her skills through education and has the ability to relate to a range of pupils, including those with challenging behaviour. Her school said that they think she’s doing an amazing job!

Anna – working for Amanda in our Liverpool office

Anna is an experienced Learning & Development and FE Tutor who has worked within PRU’s, EBD, Custodial and other educational dwellings, delivering Maths, funcitonal skills and life skills from KS3 – 4, to adults. She has been working hard to support EBD children with Axcis and her current school tells us that she’s doing an excellent job.

Amanda – working for Hayley in our Liverpool office

I’d like to nominate Amanda please.  She’s doing some fantastic work with some extremely challenging cases.  Amanda always goes the extra mile to get the best for her young people and families, which has included early morning pick-ups to get children into school,  arranging and delivering food parcels in times of crisis and taking young people out on (and taking part in) enrichment activities – amongst many other things. Amanda is always positive and available to help her colleagues with cover for duties, pick-ups and joint visits.  She just gets on with the job whatever’s thrown at her and is a pleasure to have in the team.

Ann – working for Lauren in our Liverpool office

Ann is a calm, passionate and personable primary school Teacher who since taking early retirement has been working within special needs settings on a contract basis for Axcis. Her current school placement tell us that “she really is amazing and goes above and beyond for the pupil she supports”.

David – working for Hayley in our Liverpool office

David is an experienced secondary Science teacher with a vast experience in special educational needs and aiding the progress of pupils experiencing barriers to learning. His current placement school tells us that “David is very reliable and really lovely with our pupils and staff – definitely gets our vote!”

Anna – working for Tom in our London office

I would like to nominate Anna for Candidate of the Term. She is always positive and flexible about where she works in our school. We have seen on a number of occasions how she is supporting children in developing their play skills when they are outside at break times in addition to her work in class.  She has stayed on well beyond the hours she is paid for in order to help the class teacher prepare resources for the children in order to support them in their learning.

Emma – working for Hayley in our Liverpool office

Emma is a qualified ICT Teacher who has been working in one of Liverpool’s largest and toughest Secondary Schools. Emma has been teaching all lower ability sets and working with the SEN Students for the past 5 years and has a keen interest in working with hard to reach students. She’s currently in a teaching placement with Axcis where she’s doing a brilliant job. Her school were keen to nominate her for an award.

It’s not too late to nominate

Simply email if you have an Axcis contractor you’d like to nominate for an award, or contact your consultant. There are two awards available for the term – one for London, and one for our Regional offices. The prizes are £75 in shopping vouchers – intended for the winners to treat themselves to something nice! The deadline for entries has been extended to Friday 24th March, with winners to be announced a few days later. When you contact us, you’ll need to state the name of the contractor, along with the name of the school they are working in. We’d also like a short statement on why they should be considered for the award – it doesn’t need to be an essay – just a sentence or two. All nominees will receive a certificate of appreciation, so even if your Axcis contractor doesn’t win, don’t worry – they’ll still know they are appreciated, and this is what it’s all about, after all!

Don’t delay  – do it today!

So, if you have staff from Axcis and would like them to be recognised for the fantastic work they are doing, don’t put it off – drop us an email now and we will make sure they are in the running to be considered for an award. We know you value their hard work, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to make sure they know too.

Posted in Candidate of the Term, Nominations

FREE Fantastic St Patrick’s Day Activities

It’s St Patrick’s Day on Friday so why not get your class involved with some of these interesting, engaging activities?

As always at Axcis, we have been busy scouring the net to find you some useful and FREE classroom activities. We’ve found some on the Foodoppi website which are well thought out and well worth a look!

What St Patrick Ate

The “What St Patrick Ate” information sheet gives a lovely description complete with images to explain what St Patrick would have eaten. The website also contains lots of lovely ways to utilise this information, like pretending to be a food historian and planning a St Patrick’s Day lunchbox!

Did St Patrick Invent Cheese?

Probably not, but it’s possible – take a look at this fact sheet and use it with your class, then try comparing cheddar to cottage cheese and learn about how to turn one into the other!

St Patrick’s Day Limericks

Who doesn’t love a limerick? And when is it more appropriate to write them with your class than on St Patrick’s day? Download this guide and examples sheet to get the creative juices flowing!


Their website has lots of other ideas for St Patrick’s Day, so do take a look – we highly recommend it!


Are you seeking teaching or support work?

If you’re not already registered with Axcis, but would like to seek a SEND teaching or support position, why not get in touch or register today and find out how we can assist you? We have offices nationwide and a team of expert consultants who have proven relationships with specialist and mainstream schools in your area, so if you need work, why not register now?

Posted in News, SEND Resources

Forget about the price tag? Funding reforms for High Needs – A guest post by Clare Dorer, CEO of NASS

 Clare Dorer, CEO of NASS writes this guest post for us about funding reforms and how they affect high needs students.


Claire Dorer, CEO of NASS

Claire Dorer, CEO of NASS

It seems like not a day goes by without us hearing something about a public service experiencing financial pressure. Up until now, this has generally been related to the NHS or adult social care but in recent weeks we have started to hear about schools and local authorities that are worried that they have insufficient funding to meet needs.


This is a live issue for special schools. Most local authority special schools are full, some almost to bursting point, and we are even starting to see full schools in the independent and non-maintained special school sector. At the same time, the Government is currently consulting on reforms to how money for SEN (‘High needs’) gets allocated to local authorities. At the moment, the method of deciding who gets what is largely based on what authorities have spent in past years – not very scientific or equitable. The government is proposing moving to a formula-based approach so that there is a fairer way of funding.


The government has recognised that it would be unhelpful if any local authority lost funding under the new system – something we were grateful to see. However, the proposed new system assumes that the numbers of children with High Needs will remain static and bulging special schools suggest that this is not the case. Effectively, we will be finding ways to make the same amount of money spread across more children and young people – not a position schools or authorities feel comfortable with.


For NASS, the discussions around funding have come at the same time as a major review of Residential Special Schools, led by Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of Council for Disabled Children. This is the first time the Government has looked closely at special schools since 2003 so we are keen to make sure we gather lots of evidence for the review! When money is tight, scrutiny is often closest on those placements that cost the most amount of money – usually those for children and young people with very complex needs. We want to help the Government think about what life is like in our schools and to reflect the struggle many parents have in accessing specialist provision. We are currently gathering survey responses from parents with children in residential provision and have been amazed by the number of responses we have received – over 140 in 2 weeks. Each story is unique but we are already seeing some common themes. For the vast majority of parents, a special school place was an active choice and very much valued. However, many parents noted the struggle they had been through to get their placement and the lack of support they had received early on. Whilst parents are generally very happy with their child’s school there was a huge sense of sadness and frustration that their child was not living at home.


Our research is raising lots of questions. We would like to see parents have easier access to specialist placements and not to have to face such a battle to get them. However, we would also like to see more investment in supporting children in their local areas. If we only focus on how we fund the most complex we will miss the real opportunity – to improve parental confidence in the ability of mainstream schools to be able to meet the needs of children with SEND. As a group of specialist schools, we would love to see better structures for those in the independent and non-maintained sectors to be able to share their expertise with mainstream schools but we think this is something the funding reforms miss. We often hear politicians and policy makers talk about a ‘continuum of provision’ for children with SEND – let’s start making that a reality.


You can find out more about the High Needs Funding Consultation at:


You can find out more about the Lenehan Review at:


Claire Dorer is the CEO of NASS – the national membership association for independent and non-maintained special schools. NASS works with 300 schools across England and Wales.


Posted in News, SEND Resources

Reach Out CPD – did you know about this amazing and FREE online primary science training?

At Axcis, we are always looking for useful resources to share with our teachers and support staff. Find out more below about this FREE online CPD training and lesson activities for primary science. Many of these ideas could easily be adapted for SEND, so why not take a look?

If you are seeking primary science training or lesson ideas then look no further than Reach Out CPD. Credit Flickr CC

What is Reach Out CPD?

Reach Out CPD is a FREE online resource to help primary school teachers with the science curriculum. The site has been developed by a team of educational and production experts from Imperial College London and Tigtag. Reach Out CPD is the winner of the 2016 BETT award for Best Open Education Resource.

What is available?

Their website is completely free to sign up to and you can select whether you are upper or lower primary, or doing skills-based teaching. Once you select your preferred option, you will be directed to a series of 20 minute modules which you can undertake online. The website is extremely user-friendly and well laid out. You’ll be able to track which courses you’ve done, make your own personal notes and each unit ends with ideas for lesson plans and activities. It’s a fantastic resource that all relevant staff should take a look at.

Are you seeking teaching or support work?

If you’re not already registered with Axcis, but would like to seek a SEND teaching or support position, why not get in touch or register with Axcis today and find out how we can assist you? We have offices nationwide and a team of expert consultants who have proven relationships with specialist and mainstream schools in your area, so if you need work, why not register now?

Posted in News, SEND Resources

Network Autism discussions relaunched

As proud sponsors of the National Autistic Society, Axcis are thrilled to report that Network Autism, their vital online service for professionals is now open for all to view – no need to register to get involved – find out more here.

Axcis are proud to sponsor Network Autism

Axcis are proud to sponsor Network Autism

Our colleagues at Network Autism report that:

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve relaunched the discussions section on Network Autism and made them open for all to view!


We’ve refreshed all the content and added lots of new interesting discussions. We’ve also kept some of the older ones that we think you’ll still find useful such as posts on therapies, behaviour and education.


Making the discussions section open for all to view means you will no longer need to sign in to view and read the discussions. You will still be required to register or sign in to post or respond to a comment but it will now be easier to read and share discussions via email or on social media.


This is a great time to get involved, collaborate and start sharing ideas. Whether it’s a useful resource or website you’ve found, a difficult situation with someone you support, or just a general question about autism, share it within our forums and get support from some of the 10k professional members of Network Autism. There are lots of different forums set up in the discussions area so take a look and get involved!

Find out more and get involved

If you are not already familiar with Network Autism, it is a UK wide autism specific collaboration with international reach. It is a dedicated, supported space where all those seeking to develop and contribute their skills, knowledge and practice in the area of autism can come together to network and share good practice. The unique multi-disciplinary and multi-national nature of this space will enable cross fertilisation of ideas and experience that over time could lead to the development of innovative practice and drive change across the autism sector.

Axcis Andy checking out our jobs pages!

Axcis Andy checking out our jobs pages!

Are you seeking work with individuals with autism?

If you’re not already registered with Axcis, but would like to seek a SEND teaching or support position, why not get in touch or register with Axcis today and find out how we can assist you? We have offices nationwide and a team of expert consultants who have proven relationships with specialist and mainstream schools in your area, so if you need work, why not register now?

Posted in NAS and Network Autism, News

Is your school or setting following the SEND Code of Practice? Alex Grady from nasen offers support and advice for schools

Huge thanks to our colleagues at nasen for submitting this guest post for us. Alex Grady, nasen Education Development Officer talks about the SEND Code of Practice and offers advice for schools still struggling to implement it.


Alex Grady, nasen

Alex Grady, nasen Education Development Officer

The SEND Code of Practice 2015 has been the catalyst for the biggest changes in provision for pupils with Special Educational Needs (and now Disabilities too) in a generation. But how are schools (and early years and further education settings) managing to meet its requirements and recommendations? We take a look at some of the commonly raised aspects of the code and offer some practical advice.

Person-centred practice: children and young people

The code covers the age range 0-25, and quite rightly places the child or young person at the centre of decision making. In practice, this means they need to be prepared for and supported to become actively involved in setting targets as well as evaluating their own progress towards them. It also means actively identifying what is important to them now and in the future. Person-centred practice is a thread which is evidenced in all aspects of school life and which may need to involve a real culture change.

Person-centred practice: parents and carers

Due to their age and/or needs, some children and young people with SEND cannot advocate on their own behalf. It is parents and carers who are the experts regarding their child and their knowledge can really help professionals as part of a partnership approach. But remember that parents and carers may not be familiar with the educational terms and processes used by professionals so it is important to ensure that they have the information they need to make informed decisions, and to keep regular lines of communication open.

The graduated approach

Don’t be afraid of it – assess, plan, do, review is what you do all the time when teaching. But remember that ‘do’ is really important; ensure that you and your colleagues are actually ‘doing’ what’s been planned and allowing enough time for it to have an impact, whether this is running an intervention or trying out a new way of presenting information, for example.

SEMH and ‘behaviour’

The change from ‘BESD’ to ‘SEMH’ was one of the most significant in the new code; we now need to look past the behaviour to the underlying cause(s) i.e. what the behaviour is communicating. This works best if your whole school ethos emphasises mental health and wellbeing, starting with the premise that everyone in the setting will treat each other with respect and understanding within a resilient and nurturing environment. If there are needs that cannot be met from within your setting, use expertise as recommended by your SENCo.

The broad areas of need

The code clearly states ‘the purpose of identification is to work out what action the school needs to take, not to fit a pupil in a category’ so consider all of a pupil’s needs, not just those with which they have been labelled, alongside their strengths. Target support wherever it is most needed at any one time, remembering that this may change. If you believe a pupil’s needs are quite different to those described, discuss this with your SENCo.


You are not on your own with SEND: join nasen (, look on our website and the SEND Gateway ( where you will find lots of resources to support you, soon to include a brand new section where you will be able to see (and upload) examples of good practice in SEND from across the sectors.


Alex Grady

Posted in NASEN, News, SEND Resources