Working for Axcis Bristol is “a highlight of my week”.

Want to know what it’s like to work for Axcis? We’ve invited some of our contractors to write a blog for us. This week’s article comes from Barbara Horton who works for our Bristol Office. Barbara is a teacher who has worked for many years across mainstream and special needs settings, and now works for Axcis on a contract basis to give her the flexibility to work on her writing career too. This is what she has to say about the experience…

If you need SEND work in Bristol, our team at Axcis will look after you. Credit Flickr CC

I taught for over 30 years in mainstream and special schools and my last job was head of English in an adolescent mental health unit where I was responsible for managing the unit and teaching English across four centres. I worked with young people with a variety of mental health issues- anxiety, anorexia, bulimia and those coming to terms with diagnoses of ASD and other issues.  I also liaised with schools to facilitate a phased and supported return to education for the individual students. I loved this work and although it was often exhausting, it was exhilarating too.


After the publication of my second novel, I was offered a two year post at the University of Plymouth as the Royal Literary Fund writing fellow. I worked with undergraduates, post graduates and academic staff all aspects of their writing, from essays, presentations, dissertations and critical and reflective thinking.


I now work on a free-lance basis and I run creative and academic writing workshops in schools and universities all over the UK. I am a consultant fellow for the Royal Literary Fund, working with businesses on producing writing audits and in universities providing immersive writing courses. In addition to this, I run a writing squad for young writers and a reading group for adolescents with mental health problems. I still write and my sixth novel is to be published next year.


My life is very busy and I had no intention of teaching on a full-time basis again although I did miss teaching and contact with students and families. I heard about Axcis through three colleagues who had been on an excellent course run by them.


I was interviewed by the lovely Matt in Exeter and he made the whole process very easy and within a short time I was offered work with a Year 10 student who had considerable gaps in her education due to a childhood spent in care. This has been enormously rewarding and when she passed both English GCSE exams with much higher grades than expected we were both exuberant.


I was then asked to work with her 10 year old younger brother who has complex special needs. I work closely with the school and we concentrate on literacy progression. He has made steady improvement in reading and writing and shown a tremendous growth in confidence and concentration.


The children I work with are in a highly supported and happy foster placement and I work closely with the foster carers to ensure that I am kept up to date with changes in their lives and any areas of concern. My teaching time there is a highlight of my week.


I learned so much in my years of teaching and it is a privilege to continue working for a few hours each week. It is particularly rewarding because young people who have had a disrupted education and been beset by emotional traumas are often vulnerable and anxious. It is often difficult for them to keep up with their peers academically and this can increase their lack of self-esteem and be detrimental to their well-being. Working on a one-to-one basis helps to establish trust and allows continuity, something that has so often been lacking in their lives. It has allowed us to address the areas where they feel they have a specific weakness and concentrated time together has produced great results both academically and in increased level of confidence.


I have been well supported by Axcis over the last three years and they are only ever a phone call away.


Barbara Horton


If you are interested in working for Axcis Bristol, get in touch today for a chat with one of our friendly consultants.

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