Introducing…Jessica (Axcis London)

Axcis is continuing to grow as more and more schools hear about us and start using our services. As a result, our London offce has a new consultant, so if you’re seeking work (or staff) in the Kent area, why not get in touch with Jess? Find out a bit more about her here.

About Jessica

I am a qualified social worker and hold a bachelors degree in psychology. Before joining Axcis, I worked with children who have special needs and behavioural difficulties in a child protection setting. My psychology degree provided me with diagnostic and therapeutic skills for working with children who have ASD, Asperger’s, ODD, SEBD, attachment disorder, ADHD and learning difficulties.

 

Jess Tester, Axcis SEND Consultant for Kent

My background in child protection has provided me with extensive knowledge related to safeguarding children. I have completed Team Teach, manual handling and Prevent training. 

During my career, I have also spent time working as a recruiter, and have helped clients to fill both short and long-term vacancies.

 

As a social worker I have a long standing passion for working with children and supporting vulnerable groups within the community. Axcis provides the perfect platform for me to combine this passion with my recruitment skills.

 

I have recently moved to London from Australia and in my spare time am enjoying making new friends and exploring everything this city has to offer.

 

Would you like to work with Jess?

Jess covers the Kent area for Axcis. If you are seeking work (or staff) in that area, then get in touch with Jessica today to see how she can help. Or if you’re seeking work in any other area, register online and we will put you in touch with your personal consultant in your local office.

 

Find your SEND Job for January here!

Find your next SEND job with Axcis

At Axcis, we have plenty of vacancies available for January, so if you’re a SEND teacher or member of school support staff, or are interested in becoming one, why not take a look?

Interested in getting into SEND?

Although we are always interested in hearing from experienced SEND teachers and members of school support staff, we also offer advice and training for those looking to get into this type of work. So, if you have a passion for special needs, and are currently available for work, why not give your local Axcis office a call today for a no-pressure chat to one of our consultants? Or click on the links below to take a look at a list of current vacancies?

Axcis London

Check out our London vacancies here

Or get in touch:

info@axcis.co.uk 

020 7580 2956

Axcis South West & Wales

Check out our Wales vacancies here

Check out our South West vacancies here

Or get in touch:

southwest@axcis.co.uk

0117 373 6127
wales@axcis.co.uk

0292 050 8733

Axcis Manchester & Liverpool

Check out our Manchester & Liverpool vacancies here

Or get in touch:

liverpool@axcis.co.uk 

0151 448 2810

manchester@axcis.co.uk

0161 413 6043

Axcis Midlands

Check out our Midlands vacancies here

Or get in touch:

midlands@axcis.co.uk

0121 647 7386

Couldn’t find what you were looking for?

If you couldn’t find the perfect role today, please remember that we have new positions coming in every day – some are filled so quickly that we don’t even have time to list them on our website! If you register online, we will create a profile for you and contact you when the perfect match comes in. So why delay, do it today!

Refer a friend to Axcis

Did you see a job on our pages which you thought could be perfect for a friend or family member? If so, recommend them to Axcis today and you could earn up to £250 in shopping vouchers – find out more here.

 

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 current work placement is coming to an end and you need work for January, why not get in touch or register with Axcis today – we’d love to help you find teaching or support work with special needs children near you!

Axcis December Giveaway: Magic Maths (Orchard Toys Game)

The Axcis December Giveaway is to win a copy of the teacher tested game “Magic Maths”. Suitable for children with a range of different special educational needs and disabilities, we are sure this game will be popular with your class!

About this prize

Magic Maths is an exciting maths game from Orchard Toys, designed for children aged 5-7. Players take turn to solve the sums and fill their boards with yucky spell ingredients, from worm-infested cupcakes to brains and bogies! once they have worked out the answer, the real magic begins rubbing the magical heat sensitive patch to see if their answer is correct. Featuring new competitive gameplay, fun wizard characters and a broad range of simple and challenging sums, this spellbinding game is bound to be a favourite amongst conscientious parents and budding Wizards!

How to enter the Axcis December Giveaway

If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning this great prize, why not enter our giveaway? all you need to do is follow THIS LINK and select how you’d like to enter. It takes just a few seconds and is entirely FREE of charge. So why not take a peek now and get yourself entered into this month’s Axcis Giveaway?

Register today and work for Axcis

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?

 

Terms and Conditions are applicable to all giveaway entrants.

Candidate of the Term Winter 2017: Nominations

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

Michaela, working for Lauren (Axcis Liverpool)

I would like to put forward Michaela. She has impressed us with her ability to take on challenges and developed a great relationship with parents, class teacher as well as outside agencies. We are delighted with Michaela’s performance and believe she deserved recognition for her hard work.

Sergio, working for Nicola (Axcis London)

I would like to nominate Sergio! He has been so amazing since he has joined our school. Every class he goes into he gets so much praise and he has the ability to work with all pupils in school, from early years to post 16! Sergio is consistent, always happy and personable. He has been an integral part of a class team that has seen a lot of change this year which can be very difficult for our pupils. He works hard every day and puts the pupil’s needs first. Sergio more than deserves this award!

Samantha, working for Kira (Axcis Midlands)

I’d like to nominate Samantha. Extraordinary work in managing to engage every single one of her students to date…. all of whom have been out of formal education for lengthy periods, and tend to be very disaffected, with special needs. In particular, she has worked with a young person in care in Erdington and prepared him for his Functional Skills English exam. He was very anxious and refused to attend his Maths exam earlier in the week. She encouraged him to attend, accompanied him and care staff to the venue and remained on site whilst he sat the exam – the first ever for him and the first step towards taking GCSE’s.

 

Sam came to us as an ESOL teacher but her wonderful manner, enthusiasm and positivity makes her perfect for working with disaffected, hard to engage young people. In addition she is professional in completing her casework records and in her communications with other professionals. We are lucky to count her as a member of our team.

Lynette – working for Camelia (Axcis London)

Lynette is a well-liked and valued member of the team here at Chobham. She goes above and beyond to support the pupil she works with as well as the other children and staff in the team. Lynette is kind, helpful, flexible and extremely hard working. We are so pleased to have Lynette here with us at Chobham.

Anna – working for Kira (Axcis Midlands)

I would like to nominate Anna Lilley. She has been reliable and enthusiastic and flexible in where she works across the school. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from every class group she is placed in. Her interactions with the students are high quality and relationships with staff excellent. She is hard working and positive in her approach.

Modupeola – working for Louise (Axcis London)

I would like to nominate Modupeola Fatoyinbo. She is amazing in every way- motivated, animated, enthusiastic and extremely dedicated to the children she works with. She is an absolute asset to our school team.

Joanna – working for Helena (Axcis London)

I would like to nominate Joanna as one of our best staff member from Axcis.  She is calm, confident and teaches a group of our PMLD learners.  This is a new provision for the College and Joanna has been a integral part of it’s success in this term.

Paula – working for Nicola (Axcis Liverpool)

Paula is a very good candidate – has worked very well with a new pupil to school as her one to one

Rob – working for Sarah (Axcis Manchester)

We would love to nominate Rob.  He is one of the most diligent and hardworking LSAs I have come across in all the years I have worked in SEND. He has built a fantastic  relationship with his student;  he has fitted in really well with the staff team; nothing is too much trouble.  He has given up his breaks and lunchtimes without complaint; he has stayed late wait for his pupils’ taxi to arrive; he has worked extremely hard to resolve social and emotional issues that have arisen, some of which have been very serious.  He is keen to be part of the school community such as joining the school football team.  He shows initiative and problem solves without needing step by step guidance.  His communication back to myself and his line manager are superb.  I have no reservations in nominating him for candidate of the term!!

Zara – working for Kira (Axcis Midlands)

We would, of course, like to nominate Zara. From the very beginning Zara has always been happy to go the extra mile to ensure our pupils have the very best education. She has been a breath of fresh air in terms of informing all staff, not only of pupils SEND needs but also in strategies for lesson planning, ensuring staff are aware of children who have complex needs and having an open door for staff who wish to discuss individual pupils. Would we like to keep her here, of course we would in a perfect world and……………… she always has a smile on her lovely face and nothing is too much trouble.

Jon – working for Victoria (Axcis South West & Wales)

Jon has come and joined an established team and fit right in straight away. He goes above and beyond working with some of the most difficult kids in the school and engaging them in their education. He is always polite and upbeat with all the team members and the students alike.

Samora – working for Victoria (Axcis South West & Wales)

Samora has been with us since the beginning of September and he has found his place in our “Pathways team”. He is always enthusiastic with whatever task he is given and shows initiative to help other staff members. He has recently been put to work with our kids with ASD and he has built some great relationships which enable to the kids to get better access to education. He is a great member of the team and has established great relationships throughout the school

Curtis – working for Rebecca (Axcis Liverpool)

He’s been really helpful to me giving me tips and hints as to how to improve my swimming tuition. He’s lovely with the children and always friendly and professional. He’s really proactive in our swim sessions. He sees something that needs doing and does it quietly (like putting washing on and tidying up floats). He also seems to be an excellent addition in the Sports Arena to supervise behaviour and also give some of the enhanced kids a worthwhile and enjoyable session on a Friday (Jonathan has been loving it!) I’ve only spoken to Curtis once but he told me he’d been sorting out all of the PE equipment in the cupboard and has ordered new equipment for classes. Think he said he’s setting up a football team and maybe working with Jenny with how the sports arena can be used more inclusively at lunchtimes. He’s setting up a circuit training after school club and he’s created a whole bank of resources to use in those sessions which he showed me. Curtis also said he would be happy to do Aqua Aerobics sessions to help the children who have poor movement.

Tom – working for Victoria (Axcis South West & Wales)

Tom is currently working within our Key Stage 3 pathways unit and has established great relationships with students and staff. He has stepped up and taken on extra responsibilities during both staff absences and changes in the team. Tom is enthusiastic and energetic at all times and he shows great initiative helping other team members taking on any tasks that he is asked to do.

Kelsey – working for Victoria (Axcis South West & Wales)

Kelsey is calm and obviously cares for the students, She has established some great relationships and is an exceptional TA in lessons working both with larger groups and on a one to one basis with children who are struggling to engage in the larger groups. All of the staff are extremely complimentary about Kelsey and she has integrated herself into the team well.

Nominations are now closed

Nominations for Candidate of the Term Winter 2017 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 the winter term awards will be announced soon – so watch this space!

 

Axcis and the APPGA Inquiry

At Axcis we are extremely proud to sponsor the National Autistic Society. In the last year we have provided funding so that they could work alongside the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism to run an inquiry looking into how the education system is working for autistic pupils. Find out more about this research here and why we supported it, as well as some of the key findings.

About the Axcis/National Autistic Society relationship

Mark Lever, NAS CEO (right) with Catherine Friel, Senior Director of Axcis at a recent NAS Conference.

Axcis has been in partnership with the National Autistic Society since 2011 and we are proud to be their single biggest corporate sponsor. Since the start of this relationship we have worked together on a range of initiatives, from developing FREE online webinars about autism, to live Twitter chats with top autism researchers and professionals as well as many training events, seminars and conferences. Axcis also sponsors Network Autism, the National Autistic Society’s vital online service created to bring autism professionals together across over 12 professional sectors and from 90 countries.

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“The partnership with Axcis is one of the National Autistic Society’s most valued and long-standing. Their support over the last 6 years has allowed us to deliver transformational events, services and resources to professionals working with autistic people.” Mark Lever, CEO, National Autistic Society

 

We are extremely proud of this partnership with the National Autistic Society and hope that it will continue for many years to come.

The APPGA Inquiry

On the 6th April 2017, The All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism (APPGA) – a cross party group of MPs and members of the House of Lords – launched an inquiry into education for children on the autism spectrum in England. This followed a consultation that the National Autistic Society, working on behalf of the group, ran last year with autistic people and family members about their priorities for change. As part of that consultation, parents of children and young people on the autism spectrum and those on the spectrum themselves, told our friends at the National Autistic Society about the challenges they continue to face in getting the right educational provision and support in schools.

Key Findings of the APPGA report

The National Autistic Society has published a full report which you can find on this page. In the meantime, their 6 key findings are listed below:

 

  • 3 years on from the introduction of significant reforms to the special educational needs system in England, children on the autism spectrum are still being let down by the education system
  • Fewer than half of children and young people on the autism spectrum say they are happy at school. Seven in ten saying that their peers do not understand them and five in ten saying that their teachers do not know how to support them
  • 70% of parents say that support was not put in place quickly enough for their child. Nearly 70% waited more than six months for support and 50% waited more than a year
  • 6 in 10young people and seven in ten of their parents say that the main thing that would make school better for them is having a teacher who understands autism
  • 42% of parents say their child was refused an assessment of their special educational needs the first time it was requested
  • 40% of parents say that their child’s school place does not fully meet their needs

Axcis proud to support the APPGA report

At Axcis we believe that all children, regardless of their personal situation, deserve and have a right to a great education. This is why we are thrilled to be able to support initiatives such as this APPGA report. As a result of this piece of research we hope that the standard of education for children living with autism will improve. We feel that we are helping in other ways too – for example, by providing good quality autism training to our own teachers and members of support staff who work in both mainstream and special schools across the country on a daily basis. It’s all about spreading knowledge and good practice!

 

Huge thanks to the National Autistic Society for their hard work on this project and the many others they work on as part of their quest to support individuals with autism. We salute you!

Are you seeking work with young people with SEND?

If you’re not already registered with Axcis, but would like to seek a special needs 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.

 

Why the fear of Touch is leaving kids lost (guest post)

Graham Chatterley

Graham Chatterley is an assistant head at a school in Warrington for pupils with a range of SEMH needs. He has 4 children, the youngest 2 of which have varying ASD needs. One being very high functioning with some social and understanding difficulties, however managing well in Mainstream Primary. The other having significant ASD, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder needs requiring an SLD setting. This has put Graham in an unusual position of experiencing both sides of Special Education Needs which has aided his understandings of both. He has kindly provided this guest post for the Axcis blog.

Why the fear of Touch is leaving kid’s lost

Just for a second think about your day, your interactions with family, friends and work colleagues. Now relive that day and take out every piece of physical contact you had with other people. No hug for your family, no arm around your friend, no handshake at the start of your meeting. How different would your day be? How would you feel about it?

The importance of touch

It is widely recognised that touch between an infant and their primary caregiver is absolutely vital in that child’s development, understanding and feeling safe. So when a child starts school at age four, are they fully developed, understanding of the world and feeling safe enough to no longer need touch?

 

There has been a lot of research to support and I would 100% stand by the fact that it is easier to understand the emotional meaning of touch than understanding facial expression or tone of voice.

A stigmatised action

Despite this, touch has become an alarming word when used around children. Even though it is something that can be used in so many positive contexts, it has become attached to so many negative stigmas that it is now seen as a bad and inappropriate thing that has no place in schools.

 

It is this shortsighted view; this created negativity that leads to dangerous hands-off policies and educators who fear and doubt themselves, children who are put at risk when at school and who leave school not understanding touch as a means of communication and therefore encountering difficulties in their adult lives.

The flip side

On the flip side of this, appropriate, positive touch is a cornerstone of relationship building. Used correctly, it can break down barriers and allow us to see how a child is really feeling. It can be used to show a child that we are there for them or proud of them. It can allow us to keep them safe from themselves or others from them until a time when we can have a verbal interaction to find out what is wrong with them.

 

I am fortunate enough to work in a school that doesn’t see touch as taboo or inappropriate and is used to positive effect on a daily basis. It is in fact one of the best and most positive tools in my armory – whether it be to help communicate with a child, keep them safe or meeting a sensory need they have. I have done a lot of staff training in a lot of other schools on positive handling and I walk through every set of school gates expecting to be faced with the same misconceptions, stigmas and fears about the use of touch.

Touch as a communication tool for children

It is a given for many that an arm around the shoulders is a show of support, a pat on the back a form of praise, a ruffle of the hair a playful way of saying I like you or a hug to greet, nurture or comfort. These things are a given because we have experienced them. We had a ‘normal’ childhood and received them from adults and caregivers all our lives and we have learned what they mean.

 

What if a child hasn’t experienced this? What if the caregiver hasn’t done any of these things? What if that caregiver neglected these things or abused the use of touch? What if the only person to give any care to that child is a teacher or member of support staff? But the school says there can be no touch. How does that child learn what those things mean?

 

The simple answer is they don’t! Touch becomes an unknown thing, and that brings with it a fear. Or it was something genuinely negative and brings with it even more fear. When they go for their first job interview and are expected to shake hands, it brings with it fear and anxiety and they are immediately set up to fail. They cannot form effective relationships because they are scared by or don’t understand every aspect of physical contact so shy away from it. Or worse – repeat the misuse they suffered.

 

What if that child has additional communication needs? Speech and language support is going on all over the country in schools and a huge amount of time is spent on seeing and recognising body language, hearing tone and volume of voice but nothing on how touch is used to communicate – causing children to avoid it at all costs or get themselves into trouble.

Touch should be the cornerstone of emotional literacy because it is proven to be easier to understand than other forms of communication and can powerfully show emotions

Touch should be the cornerstone of emotional literacy because it is proven to be easier to understand than other forms of communication and can powerfully show emotions. If a child is upset and finds facial expressions difficult to read and doesn’t detect a soothing tone of voice, but finds a gentle arm around the shoulder calming, then should we really be avoiding this touch? Should we continue talking when we know what is more effective? Well this is the position staff are in when constrained by a no touch policy.

 

I want physical contact between my staff and their pupils. I want to see a pat on the back to say job well done, a holding of hands to say you are safe with me and an arm around the shoulder to say are you ok, do you want to talk about it? These are essential to helping children understand the meaning of touch and how it can be a positive thing.

Touch to keep children safe

Not only do they take away so much. No touch policies are dangerous!

 

Regardless of training or school policies, every teacher and teaching assistant has had to touch a child at some point. Be it breaking up a fight, stopping a small child running off or preventing an autistic child from walking into a road, it is the duty of care of the member of staff to keep that child safe, and that often requires them to be touched.

 

For me, I would rather they know how to do these things safely and I will champion positive handling till the day I retire but restraint is an argument for another day.

 

Having these skills serves much more of a purpose than just keeping everyone safe. Children with poor emotional literacy and feelings they don’t understand often react with aggression. Is it better for them to hurt themselves or another child? Or is it better for them to be held safely by me where they can release those feelings by fighting against me knowing they aren’t going to get hurt? I want them to find another way but at this stage it is the lesser of two evils. Again, put yourself in a position where you encounter a loved one who is angry and distressed. Do you spend ages talking to them or do you hold them as tight as you can and tell them it’s gonna be ok? I will talk later about the benefits of deep pressure touch but it is something we instinctively do without knowing why.

 

The stigma tells us that holding is used as a way of gaining compliance but the truth is that it is a last resort to keep everyone safe and a way of making a troubled child feel safe when they are at their most distressed. When a child of our own is young and distressed we hold them tight so they don’t hurt themselves and feel safe. Just because they are bigger is this a tool we shouldn’t use?

Touch as a communication tool for staff

Many children can’t say how they feel or may lie about it. Often, children hide how they feel and give nothing away in body language – but the thing they cannot hide and the thing that betrays them every time is their heartbeat.

 

Anxious? Heart beat rises.

 

Frustrated? Heart beat rises

 

Angry? Heart beat rises

 

With boys, an arm around the shoulder and a subtle hand on the chest can give me the info I need to plan a course of action and prevent an escalation.

 

I know the immediate risk and can avoid making the situation worse by trying to get them to talk.

Touch to meet sensory needs

I have a far greater experience with sensory needs at home than I do at school but it is becoming more common in my setting. I have mentioned already that my youngest son has severe autism and massive sensory processing problems. He is under-sensitive to touch and when he is unsettled and/or disregulated he will crave a very deep pressure touch. Now I know that this is one of his many needs and I know that because of the specialist setting he is in he will have this need met.

 

My son is at the very high end of this spectrum with a sensory profile and an awareness of his needs. What about the children who are not as obvious and haven’t been identified? We are new to it at school and if I didn’t have it at home I probably wouldn’t see it; especially as much of the time the children don’t even realise it themselves. However, in my setting if a child initiates touch they won’t be turned away. This may not be the case in a mainstream setting where awareness of sensory needs is hit and miss and they may be denied the touch required to re-regulate themselves.

 

This may also be a reason why children end up getting themselves into a restraint situation when all they wanted was a squeeze in the first place. These sensory needs are far more common than people realise and staff need to be educated about them and not be afraid or feel restricted from supporting a child in need. It is not just for ASD pupils either, the links between attachment disorder at varying levels and system dis-regulation are proven. There are children in every school in the country affected by attachment to different degrees. All of these children will have sensory needs at one level or another. The problem is that if a child has a need that is not being met then that will be their primary focus. Not English, not Maths and therefore the child gets in trouble for not doing work and it spirals from there.

The common belief is that sensory needs are for special needs and this is simply not the case and if we meet the need we re-focus the child and put them in a better position to learn.

The common belief is that sensory needs are for special needs and this is simply not the case and if we meet the need we re-focus the child and put them in a better position to learn. If that need is physical deep pressure touch and we are a school where we can’t touch then that need will be met in another way like aggression or it won’t be met and that child will struggle all day to concentrate and stay on task. Eventually this will lead to frustration, anger and aggression.

 

Touch is like so many of the most important things in the world, it is divisive and can be misused but if we are scared of it or we remove it from schools then we lose so much and leave children confused and uncomfortable, not meeting their needs and leaving them unprepared for the real world where touch is a big part of everyday life.

 

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

Huge thanks to Graham 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?

 

From SEND teacher to recruiter – my journey

Samantha is a consultant for Axcis in our Midlands office. In this article, she tells us all about her journey from SEND mum to SEND teacher to SEND recruiter and why she’s glad she found Axcis.

Diagnosis in the family – the first step on the SEND road

Samantha Wilkins, Axcis Midlands

14 years ago I was called into my sons primary school to be told they were referring him to a child psychologist because he wasn’t learning in the same way as other children and wasn’t interested in making friends, this began the road to diagnosis and statementing as my son was first diagnosed with semantic pragmatism and then changed to high functioning autism, this means he suffers from a triad of impairments.

 

The road to diagnosis was hard not just for me as a parent but also my young son who didn’t like talking to strangers or entering new buildings, When we needed to choose a secondary school for him we went into a panic. He was offered a school without any specialist SEND staff. With the help of our MP we went to appeal and won a place at an outstanding teaching school, known for its support staff and SENCO.

The new school

From the very first time we entered the school in September the head teacher consulted with us and moved my son to a different form – giving him access to an experienced LSA. He has always been good at maths but struggled with other subjects. He was well supported through school and they made reasonable adjustments to engage him and allow him to recognise his intelligence and anxieties and thus he realised his full potential, in the end gaining 13 GSCE’s then 3 A levels and going on to study Nuclear physics at a Russel Group university (proud mum moment!)

The next step on the SEND road – teaching

This experience inspired me to become a teacher. I was once told by a support worker from Autism West Midlands that the best teachers of people with autism were the parents that had children with the condition because they truly understood the challenges these children have to face both with communication and sensory issues every single day.

 

I loved working as a teacher and spent several happy years supporting children with autism and other complex needs. It was great to feel that I was able to give something back  and be an active advocate for some of the most vulnerable children in our society.

 

However, during my time in the classroom, I also saw plenty of examples of poor practice. It was clear that not all staff were well trained in special educational needs and disabilities, and it was heart-breaking to see children not always receiving the quality of care and support which they both deserve and are entitled to. This was one of the things which led me to become a SEND recruiter.

From SEND teacher to SEND recruiter

I saw becoming a recruiter as a fantastic opportunity to work closely with schools, and to ensure that children with SEND receive the best possible members of teaching and support staff to work with them.

 

Since joining Axcis, I have visited many schools and had many discussions with senior leaders about how to best support the children in their care. It’s not an easy job – simply because of the sheer variety of special needs and the varying level of support needed by the children in our classrooms. But I do my best to understand not just the skills and qualifications needed by the staff, but the human element, too. It’s important to get the right personality when selecting staff to support SEND children. Some children respond well to bubbly, high energy teachers and support staff, where others might need a quieter, calmer personality to help them to engage with their learning.

 

This is why my mantra is listen, understand and respond. There is nothing more important in the recruitment process than understanding the needs of the children who the staff you select will ultimately work with – I find that if I get this first step in hand, then the rest naturally follows and I am able to select staff with not just the right qualifications and experience on paper, but the right personality too.

Are you seeking SEND work or staff in the Midlands area?

If you’re seeking SEND staff, or work in the Midlands area, why not get in touch with Sam today? Or if you’re interested in SEND work in other areas, register on our website or get in touch with your local office to find out how we can help you.

Introducing Erin (Axcis South West & Wales)

Axcis is continuing to grow as more and more schools hear about us and start using our services. As a result, our South West & Wales offce has a new consultant, so if you’re seeking work (or staff) in the Gloucester or Swindon areas, why not get in touch with Erin? Find out a bit more about her here.

About Erin

I hold an MA in International Education and prior to joining Axcis, I worked as the Head Counsellor/Supervisor for an American summer camp catering for children (from all over the world) aged 7-16. It was my job not only to interview, train and manage the summertime staff members, but also to ensure the health and welfare of the campers was placed at the forefront of the

Erin Walton

business.

Most recently, I was the Student Services Manager at Bath Spa University’s joint venture company, Bath Spa Global. On a daily basis, I worked with international programmes aimed at students who required additional educational support while embarking on their higher education journey.

Every child has the right to a fully supported and care-filled education, regardless of personal circumstances. It is our duty to speak out and stand up for those individuals who, for one reason or another, may not be able to do so for themselves. Children of all shapes, sizes and abilities are our future – we need to do everything we can to ensure that future as bright as possible!

In my spare time, many of my interests revolve around sport. I am the captain of my Bristol-based softball team and have just joined a touch rugby league.   As an American, I am an avid American football fan – a lifetime fan of the New England Patriots!

I’m always keen for a good hike, and will soon begin training for an attempt at the Three Peaks Challenge. Walking the West Highland Way has always been a dream of mine and I hope to tick that box off my list very soon!

Would you like to work with Erin?

Erin covers the following areas for Axcis: Gloucester and Swindon. If you are seeking work (or staff) in these areas, then get in touch with Erin today to see how she can help. Or if you’re seeking work in any other area, register online and we will put you in touch with your personal consultant in your local office.

 

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?

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

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 (www.autism.org.uk/christmas), and also the advice for pupils produced by the fabulous autistic young people at “Ambitious About Autism” (www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk/understanding-autism/christmas-tips)

***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 www.suegoldman.co.uk

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?

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