Join our sponsored walk to Snowdon for Sky Badger

If you’ve been paying close attention to our blog lately, you will know that we are doing some fund raising for an awesome SEND charity called Sky Badger throughout 2020. As part of this, our Midlands team are organising a sponsored walk to Snowdon on 16th May. If you’d like to join them on this walk, or sponsor their efforts, you can do so by checking out the information in this blog.

Climb the highest peak in Wales with Axcis!

Snowdon is the highest peak in Wales, at an elevation of 1085m above sea level, and the highest point in the British Isles outside the Scottish Highlands. It is located in Snowdonia National Park (Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri) in Gwynedd. It is the busiest mountain in the United Kingdom and the third most visited attraction in Wales; in 2018 it was visited by 558,000 walkers, with an additional 140,000 people taking the train. It is designated as a national nature reserve for its rare flora and fauna.

This isn’t the first time we’ve got outdoors for a cause. From abseiling adventures and night runs to doing the Three Peaks Challenge, our team like to get in on the action to support our chosen charities, and we are very proud of them for that.

Axcis staff abseil for the National Autistic Society
Axcis staff take on the Three Peaks Challenge

Why have we chosen to support Sky Badger?

This wonderful charity finds help and adventure for disabled children and their families all over the UK. They do this by building bridges between disabled children and the charities and services available to help. They find everything from disabled sports clubs to sibling groups to ‘make a wish’ charities and tell families about them though their website, social media platforms, videos, information packs and helpdesk. This small charity doesn’t attract national-level attention or huge charitable donations, so we are helping to shine a spotlight on them in 2020 so they can keep up the good work. Will you help?

How to get involved

If you’re not the active type or don’t have time…

If you’re more of a couch potato than a Saturday hiker, we’d love it if you could spare a few quid to sponsor our efforts – you can make a donation via our funding page. Any amount, no matter how big or small is hugely appreciated.

Or come for the walk!

However, if you’re keen to get involved yourself, we’d love for you to join us on the walk. Simply get in touch with our Midlands team – they will give you all the information you’ll need to join them on the day. You can either raise some money yourself and then make a one-off donation via our fundraising page, or you can pass the link onto your friends and family and ask them to sponsor you individually – whatever works best for you!

Help by sharing this blog or the funding link on social media

If you’d like to help but can’t spare time or cash at the moment, then no worries. How about trying to help spread the word, instead? We’d love it if you could share this blog to your own social media pages – or if you aren’t keen to do that, why not share our funding page? Here’s the link you need to do that: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/charise-clarke

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?



What’s it like to work for Axcis? Guest post from a returning teacher.

Dr Anne Bell has kindly provided this guest post for Axcis about her experiences of working for us. She talks about why she left the profession and how Axcis has helped her to regain her confidence and love of teaching.

Background: I am a Design Technology teacher with 24 years of classroom experience, middle leadership experience and experience as a teacher governor. In 2015, due to the stresses of the teaching profession, I decided to take a break from the chalk face to complete my Doctorate, spend time with my husband and re-evaluate what I wanted to do with life. After 12 months my husband had a cancer diagnosis. After his death I spent a while with grief, but in May 2019 I decided to sign up with an agency to explore options of what I could do, where I would want to work and to regain some self confidence in my abilities in working with children.

I originally signed up for a teaching supply agency, based in Bristol, who I never worked for as they only provided me one opportunity at a school that was further away than I was prepared to travel. I also signed up for a third agency, recommended by a friend, but did three days teaching supply work with them – mainly due work opportunities with Axcis meant I was not available to work for anyone else.

Axcis Education: I found the signing up process with Axcis Education professional and easy. I was contacted by phone to discuss why I wanted to join, what I was looking for and where I was prepared to work. I attended an interview in Bristol, in a central location which was accessible by train. At the interview my documents were checked, I completed the required paperwork – including a test of my understanding of safeguarding – had a photograph taken and I had an honest conversation with Laurence regarding expectations. I requested to start with Teaching Assistant roles within a 30-minute drive of my home base.

Working for Axcis: I have completed several different placements from single days, a week of half days several scattered days in the same school, week/two-week placements full time to a two-month block, full time. The posts have including one to one support in a primary setting, inclusion support in secondary settings, general support in special schools and whole class year six support. I have completed placements that have been pre-arranged as well as some that have come from standby.

When I receive a phone call from Axcis regarding a placement, it has always been professional, and they have made it clear where and when I am expected to work.  This has then been followed up by a text message and emails to confirm location and rate of pay. I have also been informed about dress code, expectations regarding the placement, a named contact, hours that I contracted to work as well as the length of the placement. After a placement Axcis contacts the school to make sure all is well. The Consultant in my area, Emma, has always been approachable and offered support if needed. She understands what I am looking for in terms of placements and we discuss the types of placements I have enjoyed the most. Emma has been available when I need her; I cannot fault her professionalism.

There are many advantages that I have found for with working for Axcis. I have had the flexibility to choose when I wanted to work, which has meant I can take longer weekend breaks when I need and have medical appointments without having to justify them. The work has fitted around my life; its easy to book the days I am unavailable on the online portal. There were not many days that I was available to work and there was none available; I felt that Emma tried to keep me in full time work as much as she could (even though I was happy to have some space and work part-time). I have been proud to represent Axcis, and I introduced a friend to the agency because I respect the ethos of the company.

I have been given the opportunity to visit such a range of schools and settings I now feel able to make a choice about my longer-term employment future. I realise that I particularly enjoy working with students with behavioural and emotional needs within extended school provision (although I have also loved working with Year 6 and getting work with such fabulous teachers). I start my new full-time permanent post as a Teaching Assistant in a PRU next week – entering my next chapter. I have Axcis to thank for helping me to find out what I wanted to do with my career and to provide opportunities that have improved my self-confidence, enabling me to apply for and gain this position.

Anne Bell 23/2/2020

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?

SEND News Update

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

Nasen News

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

NAS News

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

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

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?

School staff: How to beat the bugs and avoid sick days!

Everyone knows that schools are breeding grounds for coughs and colds during the winter months – and with current fears about the Corona Virus, there has never been a better time to take care of yourself and those around you. If you work in the classroom, how can you avoid picking up every bug that’s going round? In this blog, we give some useful tips.

Good Hygiene

One of the best ways to avoid picking up bugs is to maintain excellent personal hygiene and to encourage the students in your classes to do the same. Use a tissue to catch coughs and snot (then bin them!)… wash hands regularly with soap and water…avoid touching your face with your hands…by doing this and encouraging your students to follow suit, you’ll help prevent the spread of infection. Perhaps you could do a lesson focused on this at the start of the season and offer rewards to students who you see following the guidance?

Flu Vaccine

Many professionals who work in higher risk environments take the time to get themselves the seasonal flu shot. Although this will only cover you for a few major strains, it can be worth considering getting this at the start of the season – particularly if you’re in a high risk group. Guidance on who should consider getting the flu vaccine can be found here.

Healthy Eating

Eating a broad and balanced diet is one of the most crucial things we can do to keep ourselves healthy the natural way. By doing this, we can ensure that our body has the raw materials it needs to fight off infections when they arise – before they take hold. Here are some tips on what you should be including in your diet:

  • Lots of fruit and veg. At least 5 portions a day is the current UK guideline. Try to ensure that you include at least one portion with each meal, and carry additional as snacks. Pack a banana or some dried fruit in your school bag, make a batch of home-made soup and take it to work for lunch – if you plan how you’ll get enough then it’s really not too tricky!
  • More fish! Including oily fish like salmon or mackerel. Even if oily fish aren’t your thing, any fish will help to broaden and boost the nutrients in your body. Try opting for a tuna baguette/jacket potato over a cheese and beans one! If you really don’t like fish, opt for protein sources which are as nutrient dense and unprocessed as possible.
  • Less sugar and processed food. Ditch the instant noodles, cakes, biscuits etc. and make something fresh! Empty calories may make you feel full for an hour, or give you a hit of satisfying sugar – but they’ll generally add very little to your body in terms of valuable nutrition and they certainly won’t help you fight off infections.
  • Water. Listen to your body. Drink when you’re thirsty and stay hydrated. It will help your body to flush toxins from your tissues and keep you feeling alert throughout the day.

Nutrition is, of course a subject which can polarise people – but whatever diet you prefer, your food intake needs to be broad enough to cover all your nutritional requirements – so think carefully about what you’re eating if you want to avoid getting sick all the time.

Exercise

Moderate, regular exercise is recommended for keeping us fit and healthy in general. But does it affect your immune system and help to prevent illness? There is no definitive evidence to support this idea, but some of the theories are:

  • Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.
  • Exercise causes change in antibodies and white blood cells (WBC). WBCs are the body’s immune system cells that fight disease. These antibodies or WBCs circulate more rapidly, so they could detect illnesses earlier than they might have before. However, no one knows whether these changes help prevent infections.
  • The brief rise in body temperature during and right after exercise may prevent bacteria from growing. This temperature rise may help the body fight infection better. (This is similar to what happens when you have a fever.)
  • Exercise slows down the release of stress hormones. Some stress increases the chance of illness. Lower stress hormones may protect against illness.

Rest

While exercise can be good for keeping you fit and healthy, rest is also crucial. It allows your body time to repair itself and fight off any unwanted bacterial or viral infections. Make sure you get plenty of sleep at night, and don’t over-do it at the weekend, otherwise you may find yourself catching that classroom cold more easily than you might otherwise have done! Equally, take a break from exercise if you’re feeling under the weather – your body doesn’t have the resources to build muscle at the same time as fighting infections so keep the exercise level lower when you’re not feeling great and this will help you to fight it off faster.

Keep Your Gut Healthy

Your gut wall houses about 70% of the cells that make up your immune system. It therefore stands to reason that you’ll fight off infections more easily if you have a healthy gut. To keep this part of your body in ship-shape, you’ll need to consume both prebiotics (foods that feed your gut bacteria) and probiotics (foods that contain live bacteria which are beneficial to your gut). Some things you can consider consuming to promote gut health are:

  • Inulin – can be bought as a powder and easily added to a huge variety of foods and drinks – often comes from chicory root. (prebiotic)
  • Fruit and veg with prebiotic properties – such as banana, onion, garlic, apple skin
  • Fermented Vegetables – these are hugely beneficial to your gut health and can come in many forms, such as sauerkraut (probiotic)
  • Raw honey – is said to contain a vast array of useful bacteria and enzymes. DO NOT ADD IT TO HOT DRINKS or heat to over 40 degrees though – or you’ll kill all the beneficial bits! (probiotic)
  • Raw apple cider vinegar – again, this is reputed to contain huge amounts of beneficial bacteria and enzymes. As with raw honey, avoid heating it. Try making salad dressings with it, or drinking a tablespoon full mixed with a glass of warm (not hot!) water. (Probiotic)
  • Natural youghurts/unpasturised cheese – most of us are familiar with the beneficial gut bacteria which can be obtained from these sources. (Probiotic)

Cold and Flu Meds

If all else has failed and you have come down with a cold, most school leaders will expect you to lead by example and do your best to battle in to work, anyway. They expect children to build resilience and only take time off when they have a vomiting bug or particularly bad cold/case of the flu, so it’s important that you do the same.

So stock up on cold and flu meds, make a batch of healthy soup for your lunches and make sure you get plenty of fluids and rest when you’re home during evenings and weekends and you’ll be back to fighting-fit in no time!

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!

Natspec National Conference 2020, Proudly Sponsored by Axcis

The Natspec National Conference returns to Hinckley Island on 19 and 20 May 2020. The conference is the largest specialist event for FE professionals who work with students with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans and/or funded through the high needs system. Axcis are thrilled to again be sponsoring and exhibiting at this key event in the SEND calendar.

Find Axcis at the Natspec Annual Conference

About The Natspec National Conference 2020 – A Question of Quality

This year’s focus will be on quality of provision. It will seek to challenge, question and stretch your practice in all areas of provision. Having been through years of negotiating the external legislative, structural, systemic and funding changes since 2013, the time is now right for high needs FE providers to focus on their own practice.

So, whatever you need to improve – safeguarding, mental health, behaviours of concern, admissions and assessments, careers, information, advice and guidance and routes to employment, ways of working with PMLD learners, governor input – there will be sessions at conference to support you.

Conference speakers and workshop facilitators will be asking delegates to question their existing approach, to consolidate and improve good practice, and make changes where necessary.

This is a must-attend 2-day event for professionals working in specialist further education. It will be packed with best practice and cutting-edge research, leaving you with contacts, ideas and actions to take back to college. Bookings are open now on the conference website

At the Axcis Stand

As sponsors of this key SEND event for college professionals, Axcis will be exhibiting throughout the two days. Whether you are seeking a new SEND job yourself, looking for recruitment assistance for your college or provision, or would simply like to stop by and say hi, we’d love to meet you! All visitors to the Axcis stand will be offered a complimentary goodie bag and a friendly smile – we look forward to meeting you!

Need SEND recruitment help now?

If you are seeking SEND work or staff immediately and can’t wait to chat to us at the conference, feel free to get in touch with your local Axcis office today for a no obligation chat about how we can be of help.

Positive Behaviour Management Tips

What is the most effective way to foster positive behaviour in your classroom and how can you manage your more “difficult” students? Here are some of our top tips.

Adhere to the behaviour policy

While you may not always agree with it, following the behaviour policy of your provision is important. This document ensures that the rules and sanctions of the school are followed in a consistent way by all staff. This is especially crucial if you work in a school where students work with more than one adult. Students in secondary settings might see lots of different teachers in a week, and expecting them to remember different sets of rules and expectations for each class would be unfair and unrealistic – so be sure to read and follow the school behaviour policy.

Build relationships

If you want students to behave well for you, then they need to see you as a person and not a robot. Be personable, take an interest in them and they are more likely to relate to you and listen when you need to address behaviour concerns with them. However, there is a risk of being “too close” with students and this can sometimes result in breaching child protection policies, so be sure to make sure that boundaries are clear. For example, you shouldn’t offer to pick up a child and drive them home because it’s raining, or be friends with them on social media websites. It’s more about building a trusting relationship with your class than about becoming their friend. That’s not to say that you can’t talk to them about your hobbies or projects out of school or what you did at the weekend – just be wary of never taking it too far or getting too close.

Be clear on your expectations

Ensure that your students know exactly what you expect of them. This can be a useful first week of school activity to get everyone started on the right track – discuss class rules and make a list together – then put this list on the wall. Or even better – get your students to make posters or decorate a page in their exercise book outlining your expectations in the classroom so that you know they are understood.

Praise the positives!

Everyone loves encouragement and praise – I know I do, and children are no different. By praising the behaviours you want to see, they will inevitably increase. If you have a child who is prone to chatting when they should be working, there are two main things you can do to encourage the work over the chat. The first is setting them up for success. By this, I mean don’t sit them next to another chatty child or best friend! The are BOUND to want to chat and find it very difficult not to…which would be setting them up for failure. The second thing you can do is praise, praise, praise when they are sat working well. Even if they don’t seem bothered by your praise, they will be getting a little boost from it, and just as video games become addictive because they play on our pleasure responses in the brain, praise will do this for your students and you should find that they respond accordingly with more desirable behaviour. But it doesn’t happen overnight – your persistence and continuity with this is essential, too!

Be fair and consistent

If the police pulled you over and gave you a speeding ticket despite the fact you weren’t speeding – how would that make you feel? Angry? Cheated? Outraged? Well that is exactly how children feel if they are not treated in a fair and consistent way by the adults in their lives. So if you tell your class that they must stay in their seats but you then let the “usually good” child get away with it, but then sanction another pupil for the same breach of rules, don’t be surprised if they respond in a negative way or if their behaviour gets worse rather than better!

Seek to understand

Some children have difficult home lives, are being picked on by other children or have medical or learning needs which may have a negative impact on the way they behave at school. It is therefore very good practice to seek to understand the root cause of poor behaviour – especially if the individual in question has suddenly started to behave in a way that is out of character for them – as this can be an indicator that there is an issue which needs looking into.

Avoid fear and promote discussion and reflection

Fear of punishment can be a great way to get children to behave the way you want them to. But it doesn’t necessarily help them on an emotional level and can cause problems to become internalised and stored up, which can lead to issues down the line. These days, this is even recognised when it comes to dog training and many dog trainers will do their best to work on praising the positives and ignoring the negatives (unless absolutely necessary) – so why would you treat a child in a lesser way than you would an animal? If we want compliant behaviour, we need to provide support and guidance, not fear and punishment. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use sanctions – they are still a very useful tool in the classroom – but think about the way you implement a sanction. For example, if a child loses a break time for getting 3 warnings in class, use that break time as an opportunity to talk about why the child behaved in that way and encourage them to reflect/discuss their feelings with you, rather than making them sit in silence or bottle up their feelings. It’s important for children to know that it’s OK for them to make mistakes – it’s part of growing up – the important thing is how they respond to those mistakes and plan to work on self-improvement afterwards, and this is what you should be teaching them as a responsible adult in their life.

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?

Join our sponsored walk to Pen Y Fan for Sky Badger

If you’ve been paying close attention to our blog lately, you will know that we are doing some fund raising for an awesome SEND charity called Sky Badger throughout 2020. As part of this, our South West team are organising a sponsored walk to Pen Y Fan on 28th March. If you’d like to join them on this walk, or sponsor their efforts, you can do so by checking out the information in this blog.

Climb the highest peak in South Wales with Axcis!

Pen y Fan is the highest peak in south Wales, situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. At 886 metres (2,907 ft) above sea-level, it is also the highest British peak south of Cadair Idris in Snowdonia. On a clear day, the views across the Brecon Beacons are simply stunning – so what better way to spend a Saturday than to take on this challenge with Axcis!? In fact, this isn’t the first time we’ve got outdoors for a cause. From abseiling adventures and night runs to doing the Three Peaks Challenge, our team like to get in on the action to support our chosen charities, and we are very proud of them for that.

Axcis staff abseil for the National Autistic Society
Axcis staff take on the Three Peaks Challenge

Why have we chosen to support Sky Badger?

This wonderful charity finds help and adventure for disabled children and their families all over the UK. They do this by building bridges between disabled children and the charities and services available to help. They find everything from disabled sports clubs to sibling groups to ‘make a wish’ charities and tell families about them though their website, social media platforms, videos, information packs and helpdesk. This small charity doesn’t attract national-level attention or huge charitable donations, so we are helping to shine a spotlight on them in 2020 so they can keep up the good work. Will you help?

How to get involved

If you’re not the active type or don’t have time…

If you’re more of a couch potato than a Saturday hiker, we’d love it if you could spare a few quid to sponsor our efforts on the 28th March – you can make a donation via our funding page. Any amount, no matter how big or small is hugely appreciated.

Or come for the walk!

However, if you’re keen to get involved yourself, we’d love for you to join us on the walk. You can either raise some money yourself and then make a one-off donation via our fundraising page, or you can pass the link onto your friends and family and ask them to sponsor you individually – whatever works best for you!

Help by sharing this blog or the funding link on social media

If you’d like to help but can’t spare time or cash at the moment, then no worries. How about trying to help spread the word, instead? We’d love it if you could share this blog to your own social media pages – or if you aren’t keen to do that, why not share our funding page? Here’s the link you need to do that: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/charise-clarke

Key information for those taking part

We will be meeting up at 12pm at the Cwm Gwdi car park and doing the Cwm Llwch walk – but be warned – this is the “tough” way to the summit! Make sure you come prepared for all weather and with suitable clothing, footwear, food and drink to keep you safe on your way. It would be a good idea to get in touch with the Axcis South West & Wales office and let them know that you intend to take part – that way they’ll know to wait for you on the day if you’re running late!

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?

What about the forgotten children? (Guest Post)

Graham Chatterley is a father, teacher, education consultant and trainer. He was previously a school leader in a specialist SEMH setting and has children on the autism spectrum. He recently embarked on a new venture called “Challenging Perceptions”. In this guest post for the Axcis blog, he talks about the use of isolation and zero tolerance policies in schools and the impact they may be having on our young people.

There is much debate at the moment about the use of isolation and zero tolerance. Powerful people in education favour a zero tolerance approach that is punitive in its response to behavior. Many settings that use zero tolerance claim that once a child is removed from class they are supported, that it is never for longer than a day and they are with other children. This is challenged by professionals who believe the practice of isolation and zero tolerance to be dated, ineffective and often misused. It is predominantly vulnerable children who are repeatedly hit with these sanctions.

The argument for the success of these isolations and punitive approach is that it sends a clear message to the other children of what is acceptable. This teaches them how to conform to rules and will make them a good citizen. However I’m not sure this is what is happening.

The argument against is that vulnerable children who, due to trauma or having additional needs such as speech and communication difficulties find systems like this extremely difficult to navigate. Repeated failure and the perception of threat cause these children to adopt survival strategies in order to cope.

Flight

Children who know they are failing will often mask with behavior because they have an unmet learning need. For those children the fear of failure drives everything. We have a built in fear of rejection from when we were cavemen, failure means rejection, rejection means being alone, being alone means you are getting eaten. We no longer have the reality of being eaten but nobody has told the underdeveloped brain that. Rather than getting laughed at and rejected for being stupid and failing it is better to choose a flight response. Avoid the work with behavior or get sent out, flight achieved. Repeat this cycle enough times and you achieve ‘persistent disruptive behavior’ and will be excluded. Usually for a specialist provision to identify the additional need – but often too late to do enough about it.

Fight

What if everyday involved survival? What if you arrived at school forecasting failure? What if you expect to be challenged the second you walk through the school door? What if attack is the best form of defence?

For a child who has experienced trauma, this perception is an everyday reality. Expectation that they will fail, forecasting being attacked, believing that nobody likes them, expecting rejection. This child will perceive everything as a threat and be ready to fight at any moment. Hypervigilance means they react on impulse, are often full of adrenaline and stress hormones and in a zero tolerance environment those threats are everywhere, They may not be real and life threatening but when you can look at a pen and see a path to your own death, the perception is more important than the reality. When challenged this child will fight, most likely verbally but sometimes physically. Repeat this cycle enough and you have ‘aggressive/ violent behaviour’ and this child will also be excluded, probably much quicker. Usually to go to a specialist provision where they build relationships, are made to feel safe, trust adults and find children they belong with.

There are very successful mainstream schools who don’t adopt a zero tolerance approach who still use removal. Getting a distressed child away from the distressing environment is good practice, but as a way to teach children about their behavior rather than a means to punish. These schools realise that there is an underlying feeling driving the behavior and that comes from experiences. They must use empathetic and understanding staff/pupil relationships to change experiences. It doesn’t happen over night and it doesn’t mean no consequences as is argued by a lot of zero tolerance supporters. What it means is that they gain safety and trust first and then teach behavior. The 2 go hand in hand.

Children’s mistakes are opportunities to learn a better way, and most importantly they aren’t shamed for having feelings. They are taught to be guilty about the behavior that resulted from the feeling but the feeling itself gets the validation it needs and we make a plan to change the behavior. It is a process and a culture, it’s not a magic wand strategy. The message given when we punish children who can’t control their feelings is a dangerous one.

Freeze

This is where my biggest concern lies. Children who express their emotions inappropriately, either through a fight survival strategy or through a flight one will eventually get the support they need. They will eventually end up in a setting where they are loved and supported.

What about the children who have the same experiences and the same additional needs but who freeze when faced with adversity? They have learned from witnessing the zero tolerance approach that the best way to survive is to hide and blend in. Despite having all of the dangerous feelings that other children have, safety comes from suppressing them. We have been teaching boys that they can’t show they are hurt or upset and need to be tough for years, but look at the different between male and female suicide rates.

We are at best not noticing what is happening to these children, and at worst deliberately ignoring them. They are being forgotten in favour of the high achievers or the high tariff pupils. They have made themselves invisible and many schools have become compliant in this. They don’t cause any bother and don’t take up any resources.

The argument in support of the zero tolerance approach is that by not strongly/obviously dealing with challenging behavior, it sends a message that it is OK to behave that way. However this doesn’t really happen, I’ve been in lots of situations where a child has behaved poorly – the idea that one child throws a chair so everyone gets up and throws a chair just isn’t reality. It could just as easily be argued that the message taken by the child is it isn’t OK to feel that way. If I let my feelings get the better of me I will be rejected, nobody is interested in how I feel, what I feel is bad, I am bad. When we shame children for feeling bad we are completing a cycle that is never going to allow that child to thrive.

Withdraw

We have all been in a position where we have been scared, outraged or upset but not able to express those feelings. Whether the reason is to be strong for someone else or to save face or to not inflame a situation, we have all done it at some point. We also know how exhausting and difficult it is to do. For example when your boss is totally out of order having a go at you and you are outraged. The amount of effort that goes into self-control and stopping your feelings from overwhelming you is huge. We are angry and we want to tell them straight but we have to suppress it or we will risk being fired.

Imagine that every day, and in some schools all day long. Every encounter, every lesson. With the concentration required to suppress feelings, how can you possibly concentrate on the work? Well that’s just it, many children in this situation can’t. Some can cope just enough to tick along unnoticed in the background but never achieving what they are capable of, never thriving and never meeting projected grades. Rather than recognise this and support them, many schools will assume that they aren’t trying hard enough or they don’t do enough at home or its parents not pushing them. However, it is my belief that schools often create a culture of fear – which in turn creates another feeling for the child to suppress, something else to worry about rather than the lesson content.

In extreme circumstances children can’t access any of their thinking brain because it’s all about survival. For children hiding, survival is about accessing just enough!

How is it that children truly learn? They learn by making themselves vulnerable, they learn by risking failure and they learn by putting themselves out there. When you are focused on surviving and you are asked to embrace those scary feelings this isn’t going to happen. Putting up a hand, engaging in discussion or taking a lead aren’t going to happen in a culture of fear because if you make a mistake you will be punished, you will be shamed.

The reason these schools without zero tolerance are more successful in terms of behavior is down to safety and trust – the rise in progress is merely a side-effect. Children feel like they belong, they feel like they can take chances and won’t be shamed. Feeling something isn’t wrong even if it sometimes overwhelms you and you make a behavioural mistake. Those children, in those environments feel safe enough to be vulnerable and they don’t spend all of their time trying to suppress feelings and instead open their mind to learning – both academically and behaviourally. Instead of low self esteem leading to frustration, anger and aggression, it can lead to belonging, self-control and happiness.

Fizz

For years I have been doing the fizzy pop challenge. The child has negative experiences and we shake the bottle. Eventually the bottle is visibly fizzing and will explode if opened. We talk about de-escalation and not opening the bottle because we can see the fizz. Too many schools are ignoring the fizz and doing too little to prevent the explosion.

What if the child doesn’t have the fizz?

What if everything is about suppressing that fizz?

Where does that fizz go?

It goes inward.

It goes in a box with all the other negative feelings they are overwhelmed by; all the anger, sadness, frustration all go in the box. Unfortunately they can’t differentiate so all the hope, joy, optimism and creativity go in the box, too. Feelings are bad, if I don’t feel anything l can’t feel hurt.

Or perhaps the fizz is released later, they can’t hurt others so they’ll hurt themselves. How many children in zero tolerance environments survive all day and self-harm at home? I think the figure would be worrying.

In the moment when I ask those staff which child would they rather have, they always want the fizz. Well then lets teach children that fizz is OK and that its OK to spill a bit sometimes. The great thing with spills is that if we clean them up quickly no harm is done. If we leave it whilst we tell them off, send them out or punish then it will leave a stain.

So why not hand them a cloth and teach them how to clean it up.

Graham Chatterley

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?

Children’s Mental Health Week 2020

Place2Be launched the first ever Children’s Mental Health Week in 2015 to shine a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health. Now in its sixth year, they hope to encourage more people than ever to get involved and spread the word. 

Children’s Mental Health Week 2020 – Find your Brave

From 3-9 February 2020 schools, youth groups, organisations and individuals across the UK will take part in Children’s Mental Health Week. This year’s theme is Find your Brave.

Bravery comes in all shapes and sizes and is different for everyone. Bravery can be about sharing worries and asking for help, trying something new or pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. Finding your Brave can build your confidence, self-esteem and make you feel good about yourself. 

Life often throws challenges our way. Bravery isn’t about coping alone or holding things in. It’s about finding positive ways to deal with things that might be difficult, overcoming physical and mental challenges and looking after yourself. 

We all have times when we need to Find our Brave

Around three children in every primary school class has a mental health problem, and many more struggle with challenges from bullying to bereavement. Whether you’re someone who works with childrena parent or carerpassionate about spreading the word, or keen to raise vital funds for Place2Be, you can get involved and help to reach as many people as possible. 

About Place2Be

Place2Be is a children’s mental health charity that provides counselling and mental health support and training in UK schools, using tried and tested methods backed by research. 

They believe that children should not have to face mental health problems alone.   

Last year, Place2Be worked with 639 schools in England, Scotland and Wales, reaching 364,080 children and young people.  

In the same year, over 300 schools took part in their in-depth ‘Mental Health Champions’ programmes, equipping school leaders, teachers and staff with the skills and confidence to support pupils’ mental health. 

1,661 child counsellors took part in their training – from introductory sessions to their Masters programme, building an ever-growing body of professionals who specialise in working with children and young people. 

Support Children’s Mental Health Week Online

If you’re a keen social media user, why not support Children’s Mental Health Week online? Their full social media guide can be found here. In the meantime, they’ve provided some pre-prepared Tweets you can use – listed below:

  • It’s #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek: what are you doing to mark the week? It’s not too late to get involved! Visit childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk to find out more, and help @Place2Be to raise awareness of the importance of children and young people’s #mentalhealth.
  • What does bravery mean to you? This #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek @Place2Be want to hear your stories and advice on being brave. Share yours and help children and young people across the UK to ‘Find their Brave’. childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk
  • 1 in 8 children and young people have a diagnosable #mentalhealth condition. We’re supporting @Place2Be’s #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek this week to help raise awareness of the importance of children and young people’s mental health. Learn more: childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk
  • In 2018/19 @Place2Be worked with 639 schools, reaching over 364,000 children and young people. This #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek help them to reach and support more young people with their #mentalhealth. Just £7 could help a child access their support. donate.place2be.org.uk

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?

Axcis February Giveaway – Bill Rogers: Classroom Behaviour

Bill Rogers taught for many years before becoming an education consultant and author; he lectures widely on behaviour management, discipline, effective teaching, stress management and teacher welfare across the UK and Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Enter the Axcis February Giveaway for a chance to win a copy of his popular book: Classroom Behaviour.

About the prize

This exciting new edition of the best-selling and beloved teacher’s companion looks at the everyday behaviour issues facing teachers working in today’s classrooms. Describing real situations and dilemmas, Bill Rogers provides theoretically sound strategies and best practices to support you in meeting the challenges of the job, as well as building up a rapport with both students and colleagues to enable positive and productive learning environments. 

Written jargon-free in Bill’s accessible and empathetic voice it includes in-depth strategies, practical examples, case studies and pragmatic hints and tips to put in to practice. This will make for informative and inspiring reading to all those involved in educating our children and young people. 

The new edition has been revised and updated and now also includes access to an interactive website packed with a host of extra material to take you further. You’ll have access to: 

  • Videos of Bill demonstrating his behaviour strategies in real classroom settings
  • Podcasts where Bill explains his ideas and ethos in more detail as well as answering teachers’ FAQs
  • Extra reading material for even more support on difficult subjects
  • Behaviour Management Tool Templates to use with students in the everyday classroom
  • Role-play scenario cards to help understand and prepare for challenging situations

We often think of behaviour management in terms of dealing with challenging behaviour, but Dr Rogers begins by looking at classroom organisation and whole-class strategies. Alongside the theory, he provides examples that create a much deeper understanding of exactly what works and what doesn t.  – Special magazine 

How to enter

Our giveaways are always free to enter, no strings attached! We offer several entry methods so you can either take a quick peek at our Facebook page, Tweet us or sign up on our website for work and you’ll be in with a chance to win. Follow the link below and you’ll be sent to our third party giveaway page (run on there to keep things fair and square) – where you can choose your method of entry and get your name in the hat for this great prize!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

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?

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