What does a SENCO do? How do you become a SENCO? Find out more about the role of the SENCO here.
What does SENCO stand for?
SENCO stands for special educational needs co-ordinator.
What does a SENCO do?
The SENCO is responsible for overseeing the day to day operation of the schools SEND policy. They ensure that all students with learning disabilities are well equipped to obtain the right help and support they need at school. The sort of responsibilities this role entails include:
Assisting with the identification of children with special educational needs.
Ensuring that the school keeps the records of all pupils with SEND up to date.
Assisting in the creating and maintenance of EHC (Education, Health and Care – formerly Statements) Plans.
Co-ordinating an appropriate provision for children with SEND, in line with their EHCP.
Communicating with parents of children with SEND.
Liaising with other providers, outside agencies, educational psychologists and external agencies.
What qualifications must a SENCO have?
Since the latest SEND Code of Practice was issued, only a qualified teacher can be a SENCO and any newly appointed SENCOs must achieve a National award in Special Educational Needs Coordination within three years of appointment.
What experience do you need to be a SENCO?
Although you could legally become a SENCO as soon as you become a registered teacher, most recently qualified staff would lack the skills, experience and status necessary to do the job effectively. A broad and balanced understanding of special educational needs and disabilities is crucial. This is because you will not only be responding to previously recognised needs, but you’ll also be pivotal in identifying needs as they arise and supporting the development of an EHC Plan where necessary. As the role involves a lot of liaising with other staff, parents, carers and outside professionals, you must also be a confident communicator. Members of the senior leadership team will often find the SENCO role easier to carry out because they hold a status which will enable them to implement change within their setting when required.
Every setting is different
The role of the SENCO can vary greatly from school to school. A small mainstream school may only have a handful of children on roll with very moderate needs, whereas a larger specialist SEND school may have a great many children with broad and complex needs. Therefore, the demands of the role are highly dependent on the provision you choose to work in, so you should only consider taking on this responsibility if you feel that you have the necessary knowledge and skills to perform it effectively.
Are you looking for a SENCO job?
As leaders in SEND, Axcis Education Recruitment are often asked by schools to help find SENCOs – either for interim or permanent appointments. If this is something that you might be interested in, why not register with us or take a look at our jobs pages to see what SENCO jobs we currently have available?
SEMH school leader, Graham Chatterley is a regular contributor to the Axcis blog, In this post, he discusses the power or project based learning.
I do a lot of outreach and much of the time I’m asked how we get the child back into class and re-engaged in the production line that is education.
The short-term answer is, we dont’! Not straight away, anyway. There’s no magic wand or ‘Supernanny’ strategy.
Usually, the child I have been asked to support is struggling in the school environment, and it can be for a range of reasons. It’s takes a lot of time and energy to get them where you want them, and even then they are unlikely to fit in the round hole (of school), because they are a square peg.
They may be a child whose early years have left them without the experience of boundaries and social skills needed to manage being thrust into an alien environment with 30 other children, lots of rules and turn taking.
Or they may be a child who has suffered trauma and has nothing but distrust and fear driving everything they do. Meaning they literally cannot think and cannot learn.
Or they may be a child with an additional need who is consistently working harder than anyone else in the class to maintain focus but still getting in trouble for not listening.
There are many different strategies I would recommend in terms of making the child feel safe, learn trust and find belonging. However I’m fairly consistent on how I advise getting the child re-engaged in learning.
Project based learning is nothing new but if it was used more and used well then there would be far less disengaged children in classes.
We get all excited when we do something cross curricular but what’s more cross curricular than doing maths, English, science etc whilst learning through history or geography? We have so many curriculum hoops to jump through that we simply can’t devote the time to do project based learning justice. Apparently, the latest piece of genius from Tom Bennett (the government’s new tsar on behaviour) is to bring back rote learning. If this happens, I’m going to be kept very busy!
The truth is that these projects don’t have to be planned and re-engagement is achieved through relationships. I’m going to use two very different examples of how projects can achieve ridiculous amounts;
Example 1: Worm
First one was whilst doing outreach, I went out to a school where a pupil was really struggling. I was told he was isolated due to assaults on staff and other children, he wasn’t engaging in class and didn’t want to learn.
Now – not wanting to and not being able to are very different and what I saw was a child desperate to learn but who struggled.
My visit was in the afternoon. That morning, he had found a worm in the yard and his TA had put it in a box with some leaves and soil. He was supposed to be doing some maths worksheets – the same as the rest of the class – but he wasn’t engaging and kept talking about his worm. He was consistently redirected without success and was getting really agitated. I was supposed to be observing but I didn’t like the direction it was going in and I couldn’t help myself. I asked to see the worm and he was instantly back to calm. We talked a bit about where he’d found him and what he was called and what does he eat? If we didn’t know the answer to a question, we Googled the answer.
I knew he was supposed to be doing maths so I asked how long did he think he was? We did some estimates and then measured him (I’m assuming gender we never Googled that bit). We had a laugh at how wriggly he was and it was a 2 person job. I agreed to hold Wilbur (his choice) still while my 100% engaged child measured him out (sounds a lot like teamwork and communication to me).
If this worm was double the size how long would it be? If it grows a centimetre a week, how big will it be in a month? Now tell me that child doesn’t want to learn! And he was more than happy to write things down as well.
I could have been anyone and the anxiety of seeing me at the back of the room will have been real, but the interest in the worm gazumped the fear. Just like it would have gazumped the fear of working with others or following instructions, just like it would have helped tune out the other stimulus in the room.
My guidance went like this – in order to re-engage this child, it had to start 1 to 1 with a member of staff who has energy and enthusiasm to give. When that’s working, bring in another child to help on the project, then a small group, then a small group in class. No timescales – and expect it to be 2 steps forward and one step back but over time their own interests allow them to overcome the fear and allow the staff to build trust and belonging. Then, and only then does the classroom stop being such a scary place for a child like this.
Sadly, there are children who I work with where it’s too late to re-engage with mainstream. Often, due to life experiences beyond their control they believe that they are bad and worthless. They believe they can’t change and the world would be better off without them. They spend everyday trying to prove they are bad, often self harming and talking of suicide.
Every time you praise a child like this, it goes against what they believe and they will act out to prove you wrong. ‘It is better to live in the certainty of misery, than to face the misery of uncertainty’Virginia Satir.
It becomes easier to avoid praise altogether but you have to challenge the belief and you have to prove it wrong. It doesn’t matter how you do it or how long it takes.
Example 2: Lamp
My second example was something that presented me with such a great opportunity a few weeks ago that I just had to go with it. No planning – I just followed a path and saw where I ended up!
I was called to our primary department because this child was being aggressive. When I got there, he had stolen some keys and unlocked a side gate and taken the padlock. By the time I got to him at the front of school he had thrown the padlock over the fence into some bushes. He was still in crisis and my intention was to distract him so I said that now I had to be a detective and go check CCTV to see if I could find where he’d thrown it.
I asked if he had ever seen the camera room? He hadn’t and the thought of it gazumped what was driving his behaviours. He gave back the keys and off we went. He asked me lots of questions about the cameras and we had a spy around school. Then I could see he was sorry and suggested finding the padlock. He helped me playback footage and we had an idea where it was. He helped me look but we couldn’t find it, but we did find something else. We found a dirty, battered old lamp buried in the undergrowth (I know it sounds like the start of Aladdin but it’s not that kind of lamp). He was fascinated by it so I suggested that to make up for the lost padlock, why don’t we clean it up and paint it and make it an art project.
So off we went to tell the art teacher our plan and she went overboard with excitement – as I’d hoped she would. We set to work cleaning it up, we got the mud off and the spiders out ready for sanding down. We had to arrange time slots to work on our project, usually at the end of the day to give him something to focus on but with it never being behaviour dependent – because it’s a project not a reward and we don’t need to add extra pressure. We had to go to different staff for advice and equipment but we got it ready to paint.
We painted it and someone suggested it would look great in the art garden with flowers in. So we painted some flowers on it and went to get some flowers to put in it.
All that remained was to varnish it and ask our site supervisor to put it up. He even let us use the drill. So from the mistake of taking the keys and trying to put it right we had created something great, made a reparation and built some relationships along the way.
Now every time that child makes a mistake, they know it can be repaired and every time they say they are useless and can’t do anything the lamp can be referred to as an example of what he can do. It was also carefully positioned to ensure that he would walk past it on the way into school every day.
What a wonderful metaphor for his own life – of something being broken, unwanted and worthless being turned it into something unique, beautiful and wanted.
With World Music Day around the corner, what better project to do with your children than create some instruments with them? Even better if you can bring a discussion about reusing or recycling into it, too! Here are our top ideas.
Easter Egg Maracas
The intention with this project is not to go out and buy a load of plastic eggs – the idea is to use what you have, so if (like me) you can’t stand to throw away the little pods that come in Kinder Eggs and you happen to have a drawer full of them at home, why not bring them in and let your class create some fun shakers or maracas with them? If the school canteen uses plastic spoons, collect and wash some and use these to create handles. With the addition of a few beans or a small handful of rice, you have the start of your DIY orchestra!
2 Tin Can/Crisp Tube Drums
Back to that “junk modelling” box to see what else I couldn’t stand to see go to landfill… and what do I find but some old crisp tubes and tin cans. Simply re-use the plastic lid, or stretch a balloon over the top and you have some instant drums.
3 Lolly Stick Harmonica
When browsing for ideas online, I came across this lovely idea to make simple harmonicas using some wax paper and lolly sticks. Most craft cupboards have these basic items, so why not give them a try?
4 Straw Pipes
By simply cutting straws to different lengths and taping them together, you can create this simple version of pan pipes. As this instrument is a bit less noisy than many, parents are sure to appreciate this one!
If you have a couple of old foil catering trays, you can create this fun instrument by simply taping them together and using a cardboard tube to strike them – GONG! Kids love this one!
Another chance to look through that junk modelling box for inspiration. If you have some bottle caps or something else that will suffice, you can have a go at making these simple castanets.
7 Mini Banjo
With some elastic bands, a lolly stick and a lid from an old jar, you can make these fun little mini banjos. Adjust the tension of the bands to create different notes and away you play!
8 Ankle/Wrist Bells
Take (or make) a bracelet and attach some bells to create some music while you move. Alternatively, attach them to paper plates for a home-made tambourine.
Do you like to craft with kids?
If you like the idea of crafting with kids, why not consider a classroom based role as a teaching assistant? At Axcis, we are always on the lookout for people with a passion for inspiring the next generation, so why not register on our website and see what jobs we can find for you?
Father’s Day is in June, so why not make use of these simple home made Father’s Day gift ideas? Ideal for use either at home or in the classroom, they need minimal materials and support to come up with a lovely unique gift for the number one man in your life!
1 Calendar Blocks
For a simple but effective gift idea, consider making calendar blocks. If you don’t have scrap wood off-cuts, why not raid the kids toy box? Most of us have a set of wooden blocks in there somewhere! To make this awesome gift, you will need:
2 Cubes of wood
One long/oblong block of wood (that the two cubes will fit on top of)
Velcro strips, magnetic tape or flat Lego blocks
Decorating materials – paper/card/paint etc
To make this lovely gift, start by decorating your blocks (or leave them rustic for a more natural feel). Then add numbers/fixings to each block as follows (or alternatively, if you have a set of magnetic numbers, you could use these instead, as we have done in the picture):
Block 1 (cube) – put numbers on each face of the cube – 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Block 2 (cube) – put these numbers of each face of the cube – 0, 1, 2, 6, 7, 8
Block 3 (oblong) – fix your Velcro/magnetic/flat Lego block to one face – your months will attach to this.
Using good quality card, or laminated paper, create 12 strips of the appropriate size and put each month of the year on them. On the reverse of these strips, put the “matching” Velcro/Lego or magnetic tape so that they will fix to your oblong block. Voila! You have a set of calendar blocks which can be used year after year.
2 Make a Mug
You can pick up a plain white mug from most supermarkets for about a pound, and you can get ceramic pens/paints from most good craft stores, or online. Along with a bit of inspiration, that’s all you’ll need to create a lovely personalised mug for your dad this Father’s Day. You’ll need to bake your mug at 170C for about 40 mins to fix the design and prevent it from washing off. Who doesn’t love a new mug? Ideal for use at home or work, your Dad is sure to appreciate this lovely personal gift.
3 Lolly Pop Plant Pot
If you have a nice decorative plant pot, this is an ideal starting point. Alternatively you could use a plain white ceramic pot and decorate it in much the same way you can decorate a mug, then use it for this project.
Into the pot, place some florists oasis foam, or cut up some old polystyrene packaging to fit inside. Add to this a range of colourful lolly pops, and perhaps a cute home-made sign and voila! You have a lovely personal gift for dad!
4 Tin Can Desk Tidy
Cheap tins of tomatoes (without the pull tops) work well for this, because the old-school way of opening tins tends to leave you with a nice smooth top (no cut fingers from jagged tins, please!) and the acid from the tomatoes leaves the inside of the tin stain-free and easy to rinse out and use. Although any tin works, this is what I’ve personally found to be best for this type of project. Simple spray the can with undercoat to give a nice finish to work on, then decorate away for a personalised pen pot. You could even order some personalised pens/pencils to go inside as an added touch.
5 Dad Rocks! Paperweight
Next time you’re in the garden, keep an eye out for a nice big, round stone to use for this project. Again, spraying with undercoat first will give you a smoother surface to start working with. From there, you can decorate your paperweight using paint, sequins – anything really! Ideal for use as a paperweight but this could also be used to make a BBQ napkin weight or door stop – ideal for breezy summer days!
Any More Ideas?
Do you have any simple Father’s Day craft ideas to add to our list? Or perhaps you’ve made one of these and would like to share your efforts – either way, we’d love to hear from you!
Do you have an Axcis contractor who is doing a great job this term? Do you want to nominate them for an award? Find out what’s on offer and how to nominate them here.
At Axcis, we are extremely proud of the fantastic work our SEND teachers and support staff do every day in the classroom. We know that being a supply worker isn’t easy; often you are thrown in the deep end with challenging classes and little time to read up on school policy or procedure and your work could end at any given moment. And yet, we hear so much fantastic feedback about our candidates that we feel it is only right to give a bit of recognition where we can. Read on to find out how to nominate your favourite Axcis contractor for our Summer 2019 award.
What are we looking for?
We want to hear from you if you have an Axcis contractor who you feel has done a fantastic job, or who has gone above and beyond the call of duty. We know that it’s not just classroom practice that makes for a good supply worker – it’s also reliability, punctuality and willingness to step out of their usual role and take on things like school productions, trips and other extra-curricular work. Or perhaps they’ve helped to support other members of the team, made awesome strides forward with the children they work with and helped to affect positive change in the school they’ve been placed in. Whatever your reason, we are open to hearing about it!
How do I nominate?
Simply email Emily@axcis.co.uk if you have an Axcis contractor you’d like to nominate for an award, or contact your consultant. We have three £50 shopping vouchers to give out to our winners – intended for them to treat themselves to something nice! The deadline for entries is Friday 5th July, with winners to be announced a few days later. When you contact us, you’ll need to state the name of the contractor, along with the name of the school they are working in. We’d also like a short statement on why they should be considered for the award – it doesn’t need to be an essay – just a sentence or two. All nominees will receive a certificate of appreciation, so even if your Axcis contractor doesn’t win, don’t worry – they’ll still know they are appreciated, and this is what it’s all about, after all!
New for Summer 2019 – £50 voucher for schools!
This term, we are adding a new feature to our Candidate of the Term Awards. We will also be presenting a £50 voucher to the schools which nominated our winning contractors – what a super added bonus!
Don’t delay – do it today!
So, if you have staff from Axcis and would like them to be recognised for the fantastic work they are doing, don’t put it off – drop us an email now and we will make sure they are in the running to be considered for an award. We know you value their hard work, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to make sure they know too.
June brings with it World Music Day (on the 21st). So, with this in mind, we are giving away a fantastic musical instrument set to use with your children. Find out more, including how you can enter for a chance to win absolutely free of charge here.
About the prize
This set comes packed in a handy carry-bag for easy transport and storage. If you win, you will get:
2 x Egg Shakers 2 x Wrist Bells 2 x Finger Castanets 2 x Clave 2 x Maracas 2 x Mallet 2x Small touch clock 1 x Wooden Xylophone 1 x Triangle with Striker 1 x Tambourine 1 x Rainbow Bell Stick 1 x Wood Sounder 1x Kids Zipper Handbag
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!
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!
Are you looking for something fun to do with your children during the school holidays or on the last day of term? Or perhaps these cute colouring sheets could be helpful for use during art therapy sessions? Download your FREE Axcis Andy and Lionel the Lion colouring sheets here.
Axcis Andy Colouring Sheet
Axcis Andy is a cute teddy bear and he’s been our mascot for some years now. Often seen at the schools we work with, or on our stand at conferences and events, he’s proven to be a popular addition to the Axcis team. Now available as a FREE colouring sheet download – get yours here!
Lionel the Lion Colouring Sheet
Lionel the Lion is a more recent addition to the team here at Axcis. We just couldn’t resist his furry face and felt that it was high time Andy had a friend to keep him company! Now also available as a FREE colouring sheet – get yours here.
How Andy and Lionel are helping out at schools
Andy and Lionel are more than just soft toys. In our recent post, we explored how they can be put to use at your school or provision – from being a “scare bear” to being a “reading buddy”, there are plenty of ideas – if you’d like to find out more, the full article can be found here.
Would you like a Lionel or Andy toy for your school or provision?
Do you need revision tips? If the answer is yes, then you’ve come to the right place. Find our top ten revision tips here:
1 Timetable and Prioritise
Making a revision timetable is a good idea, but don’t spend hours making it as this will eat into precious revision time! Guidance for making an effective exam timetable is as follows:
Sketch out a rough grid and put days/dates in
Put in dates and times of exams
Make sure you allow time to revise for the earliest exams first
Allow additional revision slots for your weaker subjects, but be sure to include your stronger subjects, too – even if you’re confident with them. A recap is still valuable!
Keep revision sessions to manageable lengths (perhaps an hour at a time?)
Build in breaks and plan how you will use those breaks (more on that later)
2 Past Papers
Making use of past exam papers is invaluable for revision. Not only will it get you used to the format of the examination, it will also help you to see common themes/topics or questions which tend to come up regularly. Your teacher will have most likely already used some past papers with you in class, but it definitely doesn’t do any harm to use as many as you can get your hands on!.
3 Avoid Distrations
When you should be revising, any distraction can be a welcome distraction! So try to turn off the TV and radio, and if possible, leave your phone in another room. Try not to let chores, chatting or anything else pull you off task when you are in the middle of a revision session. Every productive minute counts!
4 Build in Breaks
Make sure you build breaks into your revision schedule. There is no hard and fast rule on how to do this. What works for one person may not work for another. For some it may be a 5 minute break every 20-30 minutes. Others may find that 10 minutes once an hour or 20 minutes every two hours works better for them. The aim is to keep your brain at optimal learning level – so as soon as you start to feel stressed, anxious or your attention keeps wandering off… it’s time for a break!
When you feel stressed, your body releases cortisol – and this chemical has been demonstrated to block your ability to learn… so finding a way to keep stress at bay is essential for effective revision. It can therefore also be a good idea to plan how you will make use of your breaks. Walking, yoga stretches, meditation or breathing exercises can be a good way to keep a lid on stress and keep your brain in a learning state. Eating regular, balanced snacks and meals during your break time is also essential for this. Avoid sugary, starchy junk food and opt for quality protein, fruits and vegetables if you can.
5 Turn Revision into a Fun Quiz!
This may sound like a joke, but revising really can be fun! One of the ways I’ve done this in the past, and which I found really useful was to get a set of blank postcards and keep them by my notes. Whenever I came across a useful piece of information which I needed to remember, I’d turn it into a question – I’d put the question on one side of the card, and the answer on the other. I’d then team up with a friend or family member, get them to run through the questions and quiz me on them. Having the answers on the back means that I could also quiz myself! These cards would then make excellent travelling companions everywhere I went and could be turned into the questions to use for a board game, a quiz over a pint in the pub or to simply go over when I had a quiet 5 minutes. As you get closer to the exam date, you can start to discard the cards you know the answers to and focus on the ones you’re struggling with to make the process more efficient. These final cards can even go with you to the exam and you can go through them right up until the moment you enter the exam hall (leaving them outside before you go in!) There is also nothing stopping you from storing the answers to the tougher questions in your short term memory, and jotting them down on the back of the exam paper as soon as you’re allowed to pick up your pen if you’re worried you won’t remember them if and when the question comes up in the paper!
6 Use the Syllabus or Course Overview
When revising, it’s useful to get a copy of the syllabus or course overview so that you can put your notes into a logical order and make sure you’ve covered everything that might come up in the exam. Doing this will highlight any part of the course you may have missed or lost your notes for and give you the opportunity to look them up or borrow the relevant notes from a friend.
7 Acronyms and Mnemonics
If you have lists of things to remember – like the names of the planets in the solar system – then you may find it useful to use acronyms/mnemonics to help you to remember them. These could be turned into simple posters to go on the wall so that you see them regularly and can keep reminding yourself of the things you need to learn. Here’s a good one for the planets of the solar system, to give you an idea of what I mean:
8 Write a Song!
If you’re a musical type, then putting key information you need to remember to some music may well help you to remember it. This strategy may not suit everyone, but could be worth a try. Alternatively, there are some superb songs already out there which you could use – try this one on for size (but don’t get distracted and spend hours on YouTube when you should be revising!)
9 Practice Essays
Much like doing past papers, if you have an essay based exam coming up, it can be useful to write some practice essays based on questions that have come up before. Try writing one, then covering it up and seeing how much of it you can remember/write out again without looking. When you get into the exam hall, it’s not likely that the exact same question will come up again, but it’s amazing how you’ll be able to re-use sections of your practice essays, or re-jig the answer to suit a slightly different question. Plus it will get you used to writing longer, essay-style questions which should help ease stress on the day.
10 Online Quizzes and Resources
There is a huge variety of materials and resources on the internet which can help you with your revision. One of my favorites, and one I used a lot when I was teaching is the BBC Bitesize resources. Again, try to avoid the temptation to spend hours looking for resources when you should be revising. Instead, it can be worth asking your teachers if there is a list of websites they might recommend.
On Friday 12th July, Axcis are thrilled to sponsor nasen Live 2019. Taking place at the Vox Centre in Birmingham, find out why we can’t wait for this essential SEND event here.
About nasen Live 2019
Nasen Live 2019 is a must-attend one day SEND Conference for all education professionals. Nasen Live is suited to any SEND professional and will provide a whole range of opportunities for delegates to learn and examine what effective practice for children and young people with SEND looks like. On offer will be a range of high quality seminars from high profile guest speakers as well as access to leading, award-winning exhibitors. The price of a ticket will provide you with access to any of the seminars available on the day, and what’s more you will also be entitled to 20% off advanced train travel with Virgin Trains!
1 – Access to any seminar on the day, plus food and a USB full of resources
Nasen Live 2019 tickets will get you access to any of the seminars available on the day, allowing you to choose which ones you are most interested in seeing. Delegates will also receive lunch/refreshments (yay!) and a USB full of useful resources, reducing the need for note-taking. Find a list of speakers here, and the full agenda here.
2 – Unparalleled networking opportunities
Nasen Live 2019 will provide the opportunity for SENCOs, teachers and all practitioners to update their knowledge and network with one another, as well as to learn from evidence-based practice.
3- Find out about the latest SEND products and services
There will be an exhibition to browse through in between seminars and during refreshment breaks. These include the latest SEND books and sensory resources as well as professional support for things like recruitment (come and say hi at the Axcis stand and see how we can assist your school with this!)
Book your place!
If this blog has whet your appetite and you’re keen to attend nasen Live 2019, why not book your place today? It’s also worth remembering that nasen gold members go for free, so if you’re interested in signing up with nasen, there has never been a better time to do so!
If you need help with SEND staffing, or if you’re looking for a new job yourself and can’t wait to speak to us at nasen Live 2019, why not get in touch or check out our jobs pages today and find out how Axcis can assist you?
We all know that we should keep children (and ourselves) cool in summer to prevent heat stress or any other heat related problems. But what can you do as a parent, teacher or carer to ensure your children enjoy the heat, but don’t suffer because of it? Here are our top 5 tips.
Tip 1: Understand your child’s medical conditions and medications
Preventing heat stress is essential for all children, but especially some with SEND. Some medial conditions can increase the risk of dehydration or can affect electrolyte balance. If you’re not sure whether your children are at risk from this, you should check with your GP or specialist as this is something you should be well informed on so that you can be prepared during hot weather. For example, some neurological conditions can interfere with appropriate sweating or the body’s ability to regulate temperature. Children with medical conditions such as anhidrosis (lack of ability to sweat) or hypohidrosis (reduced ability to sweat) can become severely overheated very quickly at temperatures that might feel mild to you. Some medications might also affect metabolism, appetite or urination (for example if the medication acts as a diuretic), so you should be aware of how any medications might affect your child’s ability to cope with hot weather.
Enjoy the sun and prevent heat stress with our handy tips. Credit Flickr CC
Tip 2: Use sunscreen, and often!
Even mild sunburn (you can tell if this is happening if the skin appears pink and warm to the touch) will hinder the body’s efforts to keep a child cool and maintain fluid balance, so make sure you use plenty of sunscreen. Even on cloudy days (did you know that 80% of UV rays can still penetrate cloud and reach your child’s skin?) you should make sure you apply sunscreen BEFORE sun exposure and often during time outdoors. Darker coloured clothing also helps to prevent sun exposure to the skin (because light coloured fabrics allow UV penetration). Keeping children indoors during the middle of the day when the sun is at it’s most intense is also a good idea. Try to encourage your child to wear a hat and sunglasses and do your best to provide shade. Remember that shade alone does not prevent UV radiation from reaching your children unless the fabric is treated specially for this purpose.
Tip 3: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, then hydrate some more!
Preventing heat stress can be helped by staying as hydrated as possible. Even if they don’t seem to be sweating much, lots of fluids will be lost through water vapour escaping through the mouth and skin. Milk is actually one of the most hydrating beverages you can provide, because it’s electrolyte content allows the fluids to be easily absorbed by the body, so make fresh milkshakes with fruit – you can even involve your children in making them to encourage them to drink readily! Failing that, offer frequent water or diluted fruit juice and do all you can to ensure that your child stays hydrated. Parents, teachers or carers can also help by setting a good example and doing the same! If your child is tube fed, ask the GP or specialist for guidelines on how much and what type of extra fluid you should give if your child will be exposed to hot weather. If your child cannot communicate his needs or you know there will be problems surrounding making him drink extra fluids then create a hot weather hydration plan with a physician or therapist.
Peeing less often, dark or strong smelling urine, or crying without tears are warning signs of dehydration.
Tip 4: Cool off often
If you are having a long day in the sun, make sure you have access to shade – this could be a beach tent, sitting under trees or going for lunch somewhere with air conditioning. Giving the body a chance to cool off will help with preventing heat stress on the body. If your child needs to wear compression garments then these will trap heat and prevent sweat evaporation, so removing them frequently may help. You can also get hold of cooling garments which help to keep the body cool. It’s a good idea to check with your GP or specialist first before investing in these though. Portable fans are useful for keeping cool, as are water sprays/misters if your child will tolerate you using them! The most effective way to cool down quickly is to get the body wet, and then introduce wind (a fan is fine). This will cause evaporation which will remove heat from the body quickly.
Tip 5: Monitor water sports
Playing in water is not the same as drinking water. This is a good thing since water = toilet to many children! Frequent hydration breaks are still necessary. Water reflects UV rays, even on cloudy days. Sunburn happens more quickly in and near the water. Wet clothes are less effective at blocking UV rays than dry clothes, and most swim suits do NOT contain UV filters – so this is something to be aware of – your child will need sunscreen on UNDER their swim suit as well as on exposed skin. If the water temperature is less than the air temperature increased urination and dehydration can occur, even on a hot day or while wearing a full or partial wetsuit.
Preventing heat stress is important – enjoy the sun, but do it safely
If you would be interested in a teaching or support position at a school or alternative provision, why not get in touch or register with Axcis today and find out how we can assist you? Alternatively, if you are seeking 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!