From SEND teacher to recruiter – my journey

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

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

Samantha Wilkins, Axcis Midlands

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

 

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

The new school

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

The next step on the SEND road – teaching

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

 

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

 

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

From SEND teacher to SEND recruiter

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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