Your Virtual Summer Fun Guide from Sky Badger (Guest Post)

How can you offer fun and interactive activities to your children during the summer holidays? How can you have days out without leaving the house if you are shielding at home? Our friends from the charity Sky Badger have kindly provided these ideas in this wonderful guest post.

Sky Badger to the rescue!

During the global pandemic we got used to staying at home, following Joe Wicks and wishing we could get to the end! Attempting to improve our language with Holly and cooking like a demon with Jamie.

Now however, we are in limbo between being safe to go out and try to do more normal activities and being scared that we may bump into an infected cat!

Is taking the kids on a virtual safari to Woburn enough and how can we use that experience to encourage other activities for the next fortnight? (Although fortnite is probably what half of our kids are upstairs playing!)

Wanting to bring summer fun activities to you during the holidays and making sure we are safe is going to be a challenge, but we will certainly try to include some great ideas to keep those little heads, hands and feet busy leaving you time at the end of the day to enjoy a glass of vino in the garden.

NASA Virtual Tour

NASA are still offering virtual tours of one of their hangars, wind tunnels, lunar operations and zero G as well as lots of amazing videos and photos of equipment used to research our universe. When this is over, I’m pretty sure you can re-purpose some of those Amazon boxes into a lunar module!

The Museum of The World

This one is one of my favourites, The British Museum and Google have created an amazing historical tour all at your fingertips leaving you wanting to do more research or even dress as a caveman or woman for the day.

BBC Bring the Noise

Fancy being a bit more musical? You can with this great BBC Bring the Noise production. An interactive way to incorporate music with sensory activity in a gentle and fun way.

Stories with Mr Tumble

Who doesn’t love Mr Tumble!  Here he incorporates Makaton with his unique style to create fun and easy to follow stories.

Camping at home

I love camping and not being able to go has made our summer feel a bit flat, especially as we live in a flat…no garden!

Why not set up camp in the living room? You can recreate those lovely trips by having dinner under a sheet of stars or sharing stories by torchlight and snuggling down in your sleeping bag on the sofa cushions.  Seriously though it’s not too hard to do and great fun. 

My mum used to drape a sheet or two over two dining chairs on our little patch of grass and my friends who lived a few doors down and I would raid the dressing up box and spend all day playing in and out of the camp with our favourite toys and being brought our meals outside.  It also helps that the loo isn’t far away too!

I wish I had a photo of the amazing wigwam my dad made us out of some wood and hessian sacks which we painted with all kinds of native american images. 

There are some great ideas on Pintrest for indoor camping if you’re lacking in inspiration.

I’ve also found this great blog about indoor camping and camping at home, a great way to explore nature in the garden, view nocturnal visitors…especially badgers, or set up a makeshift bird table and bath to view the flying visitors during dawn chorus.  Fun games of cricket, rounders or hide and seek are always great at home and don’t need lots of space.

Animal Attractions

Finally, if your summer isn’t complete without a trip to the zoo or a safari park then Newquay Zoo has created a virtual tour including some of their most loved species that you can see at home and they regularly add more each day, you can see many webcams dotted around the zoo, even Meerkat feeding time! There are also heaps of fun fact sheets and activities to download and print.

For more fun but safe ideas check out Sky Badger’s stuck at home guide.

Have fun, we will keep adding more and more throughout the summer to help keep you happy and busy!

Kim, Team Sky Badger

Would you like to support Sky Badger?

If, like us you think that the work Sky Badger are doing is brilliant, and you’d like to either get involved or make a donation to support this wonderful charity, you can find out more on their website.

Are you seeking SEND staff or work?

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

Autism, Bullying and Me (Guest Post)

Dr Emily Lovegrove, AKA “The Bullying Doctor” has recently written a book called “Autism, Bullying and Me”. This is a fantastic anti bullying resource for all teens, parents, carers and education professionals. In this guest post, Emily tells us a bit more about what drove her to write this book and what you can expect to gain from it.

I was constantly rebuked, as a child, with “Why can’t you be normal?” My parents, staunch pillars of the Methodist community, used threats, beatings and withholding food and freedom to change me. To no avail. I thought I was normal. I just thought everyone else was… well… weird. I didn’t understand their ‘rules’. I thought them bizarre and illogical.

At primary school I kept to myself, but at secondary school I did eventually make a best friend – who bullied me. Nonetheless I much preferred this to being on my own.

It wasn’t until, in middle-age, when I went to university to study psychology, that I realised that most people could be predicted to act / react in a similar way! But that still left a lot of individuals who acted and reacted, like me, in different ways.

I began to look at what exactly normal is. And found that there is no such thing! There is simply average. And that transformed how I felt about everything. (And eventually led to my seeking confirmation that I was a perfectly normal autistic.)

After my science degree I was offered a funded PhD, looking at how appearance affects adolescents. Unsurprising to me, teens in a huge variety of schools confided (in interviews and questionnaires) that they feared being in any way different as this usually resulted in teasing… and then bullying. Interestingly what they most wanted was not revenge, but popularity! This meant that standard adult responses like ‘Just tell and adult’ that resulted in punishment / humiliation of the perpetrator – who then frequently ‘got their own back’ – were rarely effective. We spent a lot of time examining what we thought bullying was – and the myths that surround it, like ‘bullying makes you stronger’ (it doesn’t – feeling bullied, or watching others get bullied – can affect your whole life negatively).

What these teens really wanted was self-empowerment!

And although I now had enough information to complete my PhD, I was intrigued. What might help with this problem? I looked into the research with those who are disfigured – either congenitally, from surgery, or from an accident – and examined how they are encouraged to cope with looking different and being viewed negatively. I then took the strategies devised for this population back to those hundreds of teens and together we worked and experimented on which strategies were particularly helpful to them – and why. Needing to validate this scientifically, I taught endless groups of teens the revised list of strategies with them filling in questionnaires before, after… and at six months later. Rewardingly there were significantly marked positive differences! Once they had a variety of strategies to use for themselves, they declared they were not only more likely to ignore a lot of minor bullying, but also much more confident about insisting their concerns were heard and dealt with if the bullying was serious.

This book, Autism, Bullying and Me, is the book I needed when I was a teenager (and, if I’m honest, as an adult too)! Based on those years of research on difference and bullying, I began to engage with individuals in the autistic teenage community, as a therapist. Again, we looked at all those anti-bullying strategies. And again, we experimented – what was particularly helpful given that many of us struggle to name our emotions and are often hugely sensitive to various things like touch, taste, light, sound? It turned out we may take a little longer, we may be more vulnerable to bullying, and we may do things differently… but essentially the strategies still worked. Autistic children and teens too felt that huge need for self-empowerment. And I think having an autistic adult to help them was also key!

Practising dealing positively and successfully with aggressive behaviours changes the way that we view the world. It helps to stop ‘black and white thinking’ (they are wrong, I am right) and ‘catastrophising’ (I am never going to find a friend). Knowing we can do this forms a solid basis for higher self-esteem. There’s lots of info in this book on what bullying is – and what advice really isn’t helpful! Such as CAN you ‘Just ignore bullying’? (No, because your body has a natural stress reaction making absolutely sure you are about to react in one way or another!) There’s stuff on how and why bullying starts, and how being seen as different in any way can affect whether we are more likely to attract that negative attention. And how to change that in subtle ways.

But most of all I hope this book shows that even if we thought it was impossible to change the way others view us… it absolutely isn’t! All we need is a commitment to love and respect ourselves to ensure that others recognise we are a vital part of all those individual, not-average but normal humans that make up our diverse society.

Copies of the book can be bought from all the usual book retailers – but if you would like a signed copy with a message, please go to (go to their menu, and type the title and there it is!) HUGE thanks – and I so hope it’s useful to teens, their parents and for teachers… 😊 Dr Emily Lovegrove (Find Emily on Twitter @TheBullyingDr)

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

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

Is lockdown an opportunity to open our eyes to our vulnerable children? (Guest Post)

Graham Chatterley is a SEND Consultant and Trainer who regularly contributes to the Axcis blog. In this post, he reflects on lockdown and discusses the opportunity it can give us to better understand the needs of some of our most vulnerable children.

During lockdown, I spent some time on social media and I kept seeing similar posts. Some saying it’s OK to be a bit irrational in our behaviour, to feel restless, irritable and even be disproportionate in our reactions. These comments were widely shared and applauded – but why?


Apparently, it’s all down to this Amygdala thing in our brain and a built in FFF (fight, flight or freeze) response that means we can’t differentiate levels of threat, and because we have no flight available, we feel trapped. With flight not being an option, it’s causing more fight responses. For adults this is possibly physical but more likely verbal. The discomfort, irritability and restlessness is down to chemicals released in the body preparing you for a fight. If you don’t use them up, they hang around, making you feel ill, lethargic and down. Over time, this can damage mental health and relationships.

This is not new information but the difference is it is now affecting us, the adults more than ever. Many SEND practitioners and advocates have been trying to raise awareness of this in children for some time. Making the point that the amygdala can’t differentiate threats into high, medium or low. They are just threats. Children who have experienced adversity see threats everywhere. To us they might be small and insignificant, but to the child they are very real and often bring a disproportionate reaction. All too often this has been met with harsh consequence without understanding what was happening in that child’s body. Their brain may choose a fight response and often a physical one. School can make them feel trapped – so even if they wanted a flight response, there isn’t one. Even if they have managed incredibly well and resisted the fight response and controlled it; they are now sat in class with lots of unpleasant chemicals floating about. Making it exceptionally hard to sit still and concentrate.

Perhaps the isolation of lockdown can give us grown ups an understanding of how that process works because we have experienced it. We understand the disproportionate response to what was minimal threat in our eyes. Are we now better placed to be empathetic to that child’s needs and support rather than punish them? We will focus more on removing threats – no matter how small we perceive them to be because we better understand how it impacts that child? Even if we think the child has managed some fantastic self-control but needs to get rid of some adrenaline and cortisol, will we let them?


We also now have a better understanding of the impact of feeling alone. Many of us currently feel like we don’t belong anywhere right now and the impact of that can be equally damaging. Even though we are connecting with people we aren’t really with them. We feel down, frustrated, agitated and anxious. Again, it manifests as uncomfortable, fidgety and irritable feelings. We struggle to concentrate, can’t stay on task and may push people away.

The thing is, we are feeling that way because we are isolated and it is horrible – but it will pass. We will all get back to friendship groups and to feeling that sense of belonging again. However, there will be children who feel that isolation regardless of how many people are in the room. They believe other children don’t like them or are wary of them. They are constantly expecting rejection.

‘I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone’ Robin Williams.

If you feel alone, expect to be alone and fear rejection more than anything. The safest thing to do is to push people away. We are all experiencing this feeling right now. So, when we go back to school and we see children who don’t fit in, perhaps we now have a better level of understanding how they are feeling and we will prioritise making that child feel like they belong.

Most importantly though we have all now experienced isolation and the detrimental effects it can have. Surely, we can now agree that this is not something that should be used as punishment. For so many pupils the problems lie in the perception of threat and the isolation they already feel. How can we believe isolating them further can be beneficial?


When we return to school with this new awareness that tells us how children with trauma and adversity feel every day they are in school, there’s little excuse for the adults to not be more understanding and empathetic.

We have had a unique experience; we have walked a mile in the shoes of our most vulnerable children. Let’s not waste that knowledge and experience, let’s see it for the opportunity it is; an opportunity to be better!

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

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

5 simple science projects to try at home or in the classroom

If you’re looking for simple science projects to try at home or in the classroom then look no further. Here we bring you 5 simple ideas for experiments you can try with your little ones.

1 Make a Non-Newtonian Fluid

It sounds impressive but this experiment is startlingly simple to do. A nonNewtonian fluid is a fluid that does not follow Newton’s law of viscosity, i.e. constant viscosity independent of stress. In nonNewtonian fluids, viscosity can change when under force to either more liquid or more solid. Ketchup, for example, becomes runnier when shaken and is thus a nonNewtonian fluid.

How to make your own

To make your own non-Newtonian fluid, all you need is some water and cornflour or custard powder (which is made mainly from cornflour). Mix them together to form a paste and then try picking up handfuls and applying pressure/smacking the paste. It will turn from a sloppy mess into a firm surface/ball on impact. Children are sure to enjoy playing with this messy stuff and it’s a chance to explain an interesting scientific principle, too! They could try doing the same thing with regular flour to compare the results. There are also some great videos on YouTube of people running across a swimming pool filled with a non-Newtonian liquid which the children might enjoy seeing.

2 Make Bath Bombs

My child LOVES bath bombs. Not only is it a fun craft activity to do, it’s also a great way to get him into the bath at the end of the day AND an opportunity to discuss science (it could also be added to our list of mother’s day craft ideas!). The fizziness of bath bombs comes from the chemical reactions that happen when the baking soda and citric acid come into contact with water. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, has the chemical formula NaHCO3. In water, baking soda quickly dissolves, and the positively charged sodium (Na+) breaks apart from negatively charged bicarbonate (HCO3-). Meanwhile, the citric acid also dissolves, with a single hydrogen ion (H+) separating from the rest of the molecule. Then, that positively charged hydrogen from the citric acid and the negatively charged bicarbonate from the baking soda mingle, very quickly undergoing a series of reactions. One of the end products is carbon dioxide (CO2). Because carbon dioxide is a gas, it forms small bubbles in the bath water, creating a delightful fizz. If there are perfumes or scented oils in the bath bomb, they are released into the air with the carbon dioxide bubbles.

How to Make Your Own Bath Bombs

You will need:

  • 1 Cup Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Cup Citric Acid
  • 1/2 Cup Epsom Salt/Bath Salt (for a more luxurious bath!)
  • 1 tsp Essential Oil (if you want them to smell nice!)
  • 3 tsp Oil (any is fine – I use almond – makes your skin feel soft)
  • Fee drops Food Colouring (if required)
  • Few drops Water to combine
  • Bowl
  • Whisk
  • Old Jar
  • Moulds (I use cake pop moulds but ice cube trays or even old yoghurt pots work!)

What do do:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk gently to mix evenly
  2. Combine all wet ingredients in the old jar, put the lid on and shake to mix
  3. Add wet ingredients to bowl – mix thoroughly until you get an even distribution of ingredients – it will resemble a crumbly mix at this point.
  4. Take handfuls of the mixture and push into your moulds – tamp them down firmly. If using a closed mould, leave a small gap as the mixture will expand a little as it dries
  5. Leave to dry for 2-3 days (the smaller the bombs and the warmer the drying location, the faster they’ll set). Don’t be tempted to turn them out before they feel dry and hard or they’ll fall apart.
  6. Turn out and enjoy in a lovely warm bath! Don’t forget to discuss the science as they fizz!

3 Microscope slides

Not all children will have a microscope at home, but if you have access to one, there are plenty of fun things you can look at with it. You can try finely scraping onion to get a very thin layer of skin and take a look at it under the microscope, or you could put some yeast in a bit of water until it starts to multiply then pipette a little of the mix out onto a slide to take a closer look. With either experiment, you should get to see some real life cells up close!

Learning about cells is a key part of the science curriculum, so follow up the fun by looking up cell diagrams and doing a labelled drawing, and you’ll be helping your child to either revise or get ahead with their school work – win/win! (Remember that plant and animal cells are different so be sure to use the right diagram!)

4 Bacteria and Hand Washing

This is a simple experiment that not only teaches scientific method, it also helps children to understand why hand washing is so important!

Simply take three clean bags, 3 slices of bread and do the following:

  • In the first, use gloves or tongs to put a slice of bread in the bag. This is your control.
  • In the second, after thoroughly washing hands with soap and water, use clean hands to put a slice of bread in the bag.
  • In the third (and this is the fun part), encourage your child to touch lots of dirty surfaces (think bin/floor etc) and then with dirty hands, put the third slice of bread into it’s bag.

You’ll need to leave it a few weeks to develop (ideally somewhere warm). The idea is that the third bag will develop lots more mould/bacterial growth than the other two, highlighting to your child the importance of hand washing! You can also use this as an opportunity to discuss microbes and how they multiply.

5 Bird or Insect Survey

This is one experiment that needs very little in the way of additional materials. Simply make or download a survey sheet (RSPB provide one as part of their Big Schools Birdwatch). Get outside, and get counting. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about different types of birds while also getting some fresh air and spending quality time together. In fact, studies have shown that bird watching can be very therapeutic and can help children who struggle with anxiety, so can be great for this, too. For an extra bit of science, try looking at beak shape and discussing how it is adapted to the types of food each bird eats. Or why males and females have differently coloured plumage.

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

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? Alternatively, if you are seeking SEND staff for your school or provision, or would like to refer a friend to us, pop us and email – we’d be happy to help!

Fun things to do at home on wet days with your children

Fed up of planting your child in front of a screen when it’s wet? Looking for something fun to do at home on wet days with your children? Here are 5 suggestions to get you started.

1 – Build a sensory den

If you’re looking for something fun to do, why not build a sensory den together?

We all have tables, chairs, books and blankets that can be turned into a den, and most children love a bit of den building! Once you have a completed shell, why not add some of the following ideas and turn it into a sensory den?

  • Disco/coloured lights or lamps
  • Water/lava lamp
  • Music – either playing songs on a device, or why not introduce some instruments to your den?
  • Soft fabrics/craft materials – you could even dangle some from the ceiling!
  • Soft toys
  • Any other sensory toys you might have – think of things that turn, click etc. (fidget spinner anybody?!)

Once you have built your den, you could make a sign to go above the door – there’s another art and craft activity you can add on! Then, if you’re allowed in, why not sit and read some books together? Or simply explore the items in the den together and make up a story about them all. Or you could sing along to some nursery rhymes/favourite songs.

2 – Teddy bear tea party

Are you dreading another monotonous lunch/tea time where you’ll spend half of your time trying to get your child to sit nicely and eat their food? Why not have a teddy bear tea party instead? By getting your child involved in making the things for the tea party, not only are you doing another activity together, but they are also more likely to want to eat what

Your teddy bear tea party could even include play food!

they’ve made, too! Win, win! Here are some ideas for simple things you can make together:

  • Finger sandwiches – you’d better find out teddy’s favourite flavour first, though!
  • Popcorn – who doesn’t love the smell of fresh popcorn? It’s healthier and more fun to pop your own, too.
  • Carrot/cucumber/fresh fruit pieces – the more attractive the presentation, the more likely children are to eat it, so why not get creative and see what shapes you can make things into?
  • Home made cakes or biscuits (or both if you’re greedy like me!) If you aren’t much of a baker, it doesn’t take much effort to melt some chocolate and mix it with rice krispies or corn flakes to make a simple but yummy pudding!
  • Jelly – use little shot glasses or bowls for teddy bear size portions – children love it.

If you host your own teddy bears tea party, we’d love to see your pictures! Tweet us @axcis or tag us on Facebook @Axciseducationrecruitment.

3 – Balloon Disco

Most children love balloons and dancing, so why not blow up a dozen balloons, turn out the lights, shut the curtains, put on a disco light (if you have one), clear some space, crank up the tunes and just have a good old boogie together? You’ll be burning plenty of calories and getting some good exercise, too. You could even add to the fun with a bubble machine if you have one, but be careful as floors can get quite slippery if you use them inside.

Another way you could add to the fun is to see who can come up with the craziest disco outfit – time to get the face paints and dress-up box out!

4 – Puppet Show

Create your own puppets and put on a show! Credit Flickr

If you have some puppets in a box, then great! If not, then you could spend some time decorating some old (but clean!) socks to create your own (check out our guide to making puppets here).  Then you need a stage – the dinner table or the back of the sofa will usually do. You can spend some time coming up with a story or just having some free-play with your puppets together. Or take it in turns to put on shows for each other. You could even video some on your phone or camera to show friends or relatives later. Many children love to see themselves on video, especially if it’s with something they have made or done.

5 – Stopwatch Challenges

This one is good if you are entertaining more than one child. It can them how to play fairly as well as how to be a good winner or loser! All you need is a stop watch or timer (sand timers are great because they are very visual – root through your board games to see if there is one in there perhaps?) Then you just need a piece of paper to be your score sheet and away you go. Some ideas for challenges you could do are listed below – but you can also create your own depending on what equipment you can find hanging around, or get the children to come up with some of their own challenges:

  • How long can you stand on one leg for?
  • How long can you bounce a balloon in the air for before it touches the ground?
  • How long can you balance a book on your head for?
  • Pull silly faces at each other and see who laughs first.
  • How many times can you throw a ball in the air and catch it before it drops to the floor?
  • Who can go the longest without moving/speaking (my mum used to love this one!)
  • Who can use a straw to blow a paper football across the floor and into a goal the fastest?
  • How many balloons can you pick up and put into a bucket in 30 seconds? (Make it harder by putting the bucket across the room and telling them they can’t use their hands!)

I’m sure you’ll have plenty of ideas of your own – why not share them in the comments section below?

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

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

Easter Craft Ideas – great to try at home

In this blog, we share some ideas for craft activities you could try in the classroom or at home to get the children in the mood for Easter! 

Easter Bonnets
Easter Bonnets aplenty! Credit Flickr CC

It’s a classic, tried and tested idea but one we simply have to include. Easter wouldn’t be Easter without a Bonnet!

What you’ll need:

  • Thin/Flexible card
  • Tape
  • Any craft materials you have!


  • Cut a wide strip of card for each pupil
  • Wrap it around their head (so that it fits) and tape to secure
  • Decorate with ears, flowers and any other Easter/spring ideas you might have!

Eggy Feelings Faces
Feelings eggs – a fun Easter activity for your class. Credit Flickr CC

Another simple idea and a slight adaptation from standard egg-painting activities, you could ask your class to talk about how they are feeling and make some Eggy Faces to reflect this. A great opportunity for an emotions and communication exercise – especially useful for children with autism.

What you’ll need:

  • Eggs (hard boiled probably best!)
  • Paint
  • Glue
  • Googly eyes


  • Discuss feelings and how faces reflect them with your class and explore how they are feeling today
  • Ask them to decorate an egg to show how they are feeling
  • As an add-on activity, you could ask children to identify how others are feeling based on what their eggs look like

Easter Sock Puppets
Sock puppets are a fun craft idea for any time of the year, but you could theme them especially for Easter with your class! Credit Flickr CC

A craft activity you could do at any time of the year, but one you could also theme specifically for Easter. Try making chick or bunny sock puppets with your class for a fun activity in the run up to Easter.

What you’ll need:

  • Socks (ideally not too old or smelly!)
  • Items to decorate them with – googly eyes, floppy ears cut from felt etc
  • Glue/needle and thread for more able children


  • Decide what animal you are going to make
  • Put sock over hand
  • Get a feel for where the eyes need to be and glue them on
  • Add ears, nose, tongue etc. and any other decorations

You could use your puppets to create a little play or to sing along to an Easter song!

Easter Basket Cards
Make these adorable Easter Basket cards with your class this Easter. Credit Flickr CC

Make these lovely Easter Basket cards with your class – who doesn’t love a bit of finger painting?!

What you’ll  need:

  • Card
  • Paints
  • Scissors and glue


  • On a sheet of card, paint brown “cross hatch” lines and allow to dry
  • Cut out a basket from the sheet
  • Glue to a piece of folded card
  • Finger paint lots of brightly coloured eggs into your basket
  • Allow to dry

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

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

A book that can help with speech delay – and endorsed by Phil Collins! (Guest Post)

In this guest post, Jules (AKA Julie Andrews), tells us about her new book, “Colin’s Missing Feathers” and how it can help children with speech sound delays. Plus an exclusive offer for Axcis readers.

Jules started writing picture books with simple speech therapy because, having spent 21 years working in speech and language therapy for the NHS and privately, she knew that for children with minor speech sound delays trying to get therapy was extremely hard. Parents, teachers and other caring adults recognise that children are using the wrong sound, but they don’t know how to help them. Jules wants to give parents some of the skills and activities they need to help their own children. Children can then go off to school and nursery as happy little individuals who can make themselves understood. The ability to use and say the correct speech sounds in words is also very important in learning to spell and read.     

Speech Therapy In Picture Books

I started writing a series of Picture Books with hidden speech therapy in them out of frustration at seeing so many preschool children unable to access a speech and language therapy. Sometimes it’s just that the teachers or the parents do not realise that a speech therapist can help their children to develop clear speech, others, it’s that there is no or minimal NHS resource available.

I contacted a couple of agents about my new concept, but as with speech and language therapy in general, the public perception of what we do is very poor; people think that speech and language therapists simply “Teach people how to speak proper.” This is the one thing we don’t do! As my books crossed the fiction/nonfiction boundary, I decided to self-publish… this has been a huge learning curve, as was finding illustrators and getting everything just right!

Speech sound substitutions are normal up to a certain age (see chart in my previous post for Axcis about speech development) but lots of children retain the substitutions and omissions, and consequently have difficulty in making people understand what they are saying. This then leads on to them having difficulty learning to read and spell at school, not to mention frustration at having to repeat themselves!

I started the series of 16 stories with the /ck/sound, this is the most common substitution in children around 2 to 3 years old…

Colin’s missing feathers – is a picture book aimed at 2 to 3-year-olds. But unlike other picture books, it has speech therapy for children who can’t say the /ck/ sound. Millions of children all over the world struggle to say this sound that is made at the back of the mouth. Instead, some children tend to substitute it with the front sound /t/ thus a toddler sitting in the trolley in the supermarket, pointing at the bottles of Coca-Cola will say “Tota tola.

As a bonus, parents, teachers and grandparents can visit my website and download a full programme of activities to address the /ck/ sound delay.

The picture books differ from the widely available books that focus on speech sound awareness. Speech sound awareness books are simply stories with lots of words that begin with the target sound the child is unable to say (if they could say the sound just by listening, wouldn’t they have already done that?).

In the stories the character has the same issue as the child and, throughout the story, the character meets problems because of his speech sounds. Colin ultimately finds a solution and reaches a happy ending. Children will immediately be able to copy the solutions and with practice, will be able to overcome their own speech sound delays.

As an exciting bonus for me was securing support from Mr Phil Collins (Yes, the Genesis singer & drummer) in the form of the following statement, which I will of course use in my endeavour to ensure that every parent, grandparent and early years provider knows the that these books are available and affordable for use with their children.

 “Jules has been working hard to help children with speech and language difficulties for many years. I was more than happy to help her out with sponsorship in the early days, so that she could attend postgraduate courses to increase her knowledge and skills. This helped her to help children and that’s what really matters to both of us.”

Phil Collins

Author info

Jules graduated in 1997 with a degree in speech and language pathology and therapeutics from the City of Birmingham University. She is a highly experienced speech therapist with particular skills in the areas of autism, early literacy development but generally loves to help anyone who is experiencing problems in communicating! Over the past 19 years she has attended training in the UK, USA and Australia in order to maximise her knowledge and skills to help children and adults with speech, language or communication issues.

Jules has written for educational publications such as SecEd, The British Journal of school nurses and Speech & language therapy in Practice. She is passionate about applying her knowledge into practical materials that really make a difference to the lives of children. She currently holds a small private caseload and consults as an Expert Witness for SEND Tribunal assessments countrywide.

Read Julie’s last article for Axcis about speech development here.

Find Julie on;

Get free advice and more info at;

Exclusive offer for Axcis readers

Axcis readers can obtain a free copy of the animation of Colin’s Missing Feathers when they purchase the e or print book from Amazon. Simply email Jules a copy of your receipt and she will transfer the animation via WeTransfer.

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

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

Working from home wellness top tips (guest post)

Sorcha Gavin is a Senior Consultant and Wellness Co-ordinator for Axcis Education. In this blog, she shares her top tips for staying sane when working from home during this unprecedented time. Whether you’re spending time helping with distance learning or doing planning and preparation work ready for when schools go back – her tips are sure to be helpful.

Sorcha Gavin

Try to wake up at the same time everyday

The dream of being able to get up when you want can be short lived if you don’t do it with intention!  … aim to get up around the same time every day, this helps stabilise your internal clock and improve your sleep and mood overall. You’ll feel more refreshed, less tired and more able to concentrate for longer periods of time.

Don’t be in a rush, give yourself plenty of time

Plan to have around an hour or preferably longer to make sure you’re not in a rush or stressed out before you start your day . Your mind needs sufficient time to wake up before doing any work. Try a meditation or different breathing techniques to start your day proper. (Really good app which I swear by – over 22,000 meditations for any area in your life..). It’s also a good idea to get washed and dressed as usual to get yourself into a work mindset for the day.

Take time to eat a proper breakfast

It’s probably the most important part of any daily routine! Working on an empty stomach is going to reduce your ability to concentrate and leave you with lower energy levels in the morning. You should really try to eat something filling and healthy to make the most out of breakfast. A balanced meal is really the best idea. You’ll find yourself with more energy, improved concentration and a better mood.

Put down the phone! (Unless essential)

It’s all too easy to pick up your phone or laptop as soon as you wake up and end up being glued to the screen for the rest of the day. A lot of us can’t avoid using a screen for work, so it’s worth having a break in the morning. Try…………. to not check your emails as soon as you get up, avoid social media/BBC News  and give your brain a more relaxed start to the day. Experts say that checking your phone first thing “frames the experience of ‘waking up in the morning’ around a menu of ‘all the things I’ve missed since yesterday. Too much screen time is bad for your eyesight and mind- blue light glasses may prove helpful…

Do something physical

Physical exercise is good for both your mind and body. Perhaps it could be some yoga or maybe just a small walk. You’ll feel more awake and both physically and mentally alert. Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic also means that you might not leave the house for extended periods of time, so getting outside and moving is important.(obviously still in line with social distancing)

Set goals for the rest of your day

When you sit down at your desk, take some time to plan out your day. You can set some goals as to what you need to do and when. It’s usually a good idea to start this before checking your emails, as these can distract you from major tasks and interrupt your schedule.

Now more than ever we find ourselves isolated and separate from people and our communities- it’s so important to stay connected, pick up the phone, speak to friends and family..

Useful apps for staying connected…

Download zoom for video chats,

House Party app which allows you to  video group chat ….

Not feeling the above? Why not write a letter, join a volunteer group or learn a new skill? YouTube is a gold mine of tutorials in a vast range of activities and crafts

A wise man recently told me that “ Time is now our most Valuable asset – We need to use it wisely

Stay Safe <3

Sorcha Gavin, find me on Instagram @sorchaslanuholistics

Are you seeking SEND work or staff during this unprecedented time?

Many schools are still open and supporting SEND and Key Worker children – so 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 Candidates: We are still finding you work!

Worried? Scared? Confused? Try not to stress – At Axcis, we are here to support you through this difficult time

As leaders in SEND, lots of the schools and residential care settings we work with are open and in need of help with their staffing. We still have roles for teachers, teaching assistants, care workers and other support staff.

What can you do to help?

  • If you currently have work booked with Axcis, be flexible and support your setting in any way that you can – make yourself indispensable and you’re likely to be kept working!
  • If you do not currently have work booked, update your supply days diary so we know what days you can work as needs arise. This way you will have the best chance of being contacted for work.

You may also find our coronavirus FAQ page about the current situation helpful in answering any other questions you have.

Together we will get through this, and your support during this difficult time is hugely appreciated.

Please keep an eye on our website and social media pages which we will endeavour to keep updated as the situation develops

Are you seeking SEND work or staff during the coronavirus pandemic?

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?

Coronavirus FAQ’s for supply staff

We have put together these FAQ’s to help you during these uncertain times

Should a supply teacher or support staff member still work if they are fit and able while schools are open?

Yes. Unless you, or a member of your household either has symptoms of the virus, or is in an “at risk” group, you should continue to work as directed by your school/Axcis consultant. Although many schools will be closed, some will still be operating to support children of key workers or those with EHCP’s – so do check to be sure if you are required or not.

Will supply staff still get paid when the school I’m working at has closed due to Coronavirus/Covid19?

If you have worked as a supply teacher or support staff, you will get paid as normal once your work has been confirmed with the school via a timesheet. Sadly, there is no contractual requirement for a school or hirer to pay supply teachers for advanced bookings. Nonetheless, some schools are agreeing to pay long-term supply staff during closures, and your Axcis consultant will be doing their very best to ensure that they secure payment for as many candidates as they possibly can. In addition to this, there is also a petition to the government to support supply staff during this difficult time. If you’d like to sign this, you can do so here:

Will I receive sick pay should I become ill with Coronavirus/Covid-19?

As with any illness, Axcis, or an umbrella company you are employed by will pay statutory sick pay to agency workers by completing form SC2, if you qualify and based on current government guidelines. However, there may be additional support offered by the government in this rapidly evolving situation, so if unsure, it’s best to refer to the latest guidance being offered and to consult with your chosen umbrella company.

What do I do if I am told I have been working at a school with a confirmed case of Coronavirus?

The virus is now fairly widespread across the UK and as such you should follow the guidance being offered by the government. This is currently to maintain social distancing, and to self-isolate if you or a family member shows symptoms. Whether others at your school or provision has shown symptoms is currently not a factor unless you become symptomatic yourself.

Where can I get accurate advice about schools and Coronavirus/Covid-19

Please keep up to date on the government website for educational settings

Is it possible to get supply work after schools close?

Yes – we will respond to the needs of our client schools as and when they stay open and require additional teaching or support staff. It is possible that teachers may be required for distance learning needs as well – we will update our jobs pages to reflect any current needs as they develop.

Are you seeking SEND staff or work?

If you’re looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, either now or for September, 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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