Children with high functioning autism in SEMH settings. Are they failing at education or is education failing them? (Guest post)

An SEMH school leader, Graham Chatterley has become a regular guest-blogger for Axcis. In this post, he discusses the suitability of an SEMH setting for students with high functioning autism, and what mainstream settings can do to better support children on the spectrum.


The range of needs that we work with in SEMH is vast, and on the whole the children are in the right place and we are the best option to meet their needs. Smaller classes, more staff time, more individualised learning and more understanding of how to get the best out of the children, is what they need and on the whole our children make enormous progress. Unfortunately during our process of looking beyond the behaviour and focussing on the child, there are times when the lower level behaviours have to be ignored. We cannot tackle every swear word and every piece of aggression in a punitive way because that is the approach that failed them and why they ended up in the SEMH setting in the first place. So we have to be different and we have to approach the children’s learning in a different way.


Balance is important but it is the different approach and looking at the reason they are being aggressive or abusive that allows us to build relationships. It is far easier to row with somebody who rows back and gives them something to ‘fuel the fire’ . It is much harder to continue an argument with someone who won’t take you on, in the end you feel silly or just give up.


Children who have anger which comes from trauma, or rejection, or frustration at a learning difficulty are rightly placed with us and we can teach them to manage that anger, re-build self-esteem and make them better prepared for society. These are children who come to us filled with negative emotions which no school could have been prepared or equipped for. They were already exhibiting abusive language, aggression and violence long before they changed setting. They need a setting like ours and the alternative things we can offer. Often in these intense situations, we are not even dealing with the child themselves, but rather a fear and emotional defence mechanism they have created in order to survive the life experiences they have had. By seeing through this, not engaging with it and allowing the child to come through it we can teach them self-control.


For so many children (like our majority) who have experienced attachment trauma in one form or another and are overpowered by their emotions, we are equipped to manage them well. However, there are still children coming to us who are portrayed on paper as angry and aggressive who in reality are nothing like that. The reason they are angry and aggressive does not come from home. It is not an emotional defence mechanism created to survive because of abuse or neglect or rejection. It is because their mainstream school hasn’t taken the time to understand them and their different needs. They haven’t noticed that their way of learning is different – because their autistic needs aren’t obvious they are misunderstood and the following pattern often emerges:


  • Due to the fact they are intelligent, when the child with autism has said they don’t understand something they are dismissed as work-avoiding.
  • When they have pursued an explanation they may have been seen as difficult.
  • When they haven’t received the explanation they will want to know why.
  • They will then have been told they are behaving incorrectly.
  • They don’t want anyone to think badly of them and want to explain themselves because being ‘naughty’ was never their intention.
  • They get accused of answering back.
  • When they challenge this they are told they are being defiant.


Put yourself in this child’s shoes, would you not be frustrated? Would you not be angry? Is it not possible that could bubble over into aggression? What if this happens every day?


I’m sure many of us have been in a position where we couldn’t get a point across, get people to listen to us and felt like we were speaking a foreign language. This is how many children with high functioning autism often feel in mainstream school and sometimes that frustration boils over. The decision then is what do we do with them – the options are:


  • Recognise the child’s needs and adapt our practice to suit, try hard to understand their differences and how they learn. Help them understand themselves, why they find situations difficult and offer a safe place. Thereby allowing them to achieve in a mainstream setting.
  • Identify their autistic needs, explain the process to them and the reasons for it so they don’t feel rejected and a failure. Then find them a mainstream or specialist setting better equipped to meet their needs and allow them to thrive.
  • See a defiant, naughty child who is difficult and focus on the behaviour not the individual. Explain nothing to them, reject them and leave them thinking there is something wrong with them. At which point the child is often identified as too high ability for an SLD or MLD setting and as a result is sent to an SEMH setting.


What is best for the child?

‘I wish I had known sooner why I was different to everyone else, it would have helped me so much’

I’m not saying that we don’t have success with children with autism. We have had many come through and be very successful. We look way beyond the behaviours, allow them to understand why they find situations challenging, improve

Graham Chatterley is a leader at an SEMH setting and has children with SEND at home. We thank him for this insightful guest post.

social skills and most importantly get them to understand why they are different. If I had a £1 for every time a child gets to the end of their time with us or comes back as an adult and says ‘I wish I had known sooner why I was different to everyone else, it would have helped me so much’ I could retire now. We can help them to understand why people won’t always ‘get them’ and how to be themselves successfully in society. These are the priorities for these children – the academic stuff will take care of itself with an adaptive way of explaining. We can signpost them towards a career with an employer who will cherish their differences and see the potential. Sadly, this won’t happen if self-esteem is so low and anxiety so high they are scared to put themselves out there. However, there is no reason why mainstream settings can’t do these things. The problem for children with autism lies in the fact they will fit in even less around the children in an SEMH setting and they will pick up behaviour they would not have previously had – like bad language for example, because it is hard for them to distinguish what is correct and normal behaviour. Their ideal learning environment is one with reduced stimulus which is hard to offer them when they are surrounded by children in crisis. In reality, so many high functioning autistic children do not need an SEMH setting, they probably don’t even need an alternative curriculum, extra academic support, mentoring or smaller class sizes. They simply need somebody to take the time to understand them and the fact that their brain works a little differently.

How can teachers help to support autistic children more effectively?

  • If the child says they don’t understand then it’s because there is something they don’t understand. It may not be an obvious thing but be willing to explain it differently
  • Don’t ask them to move on! Don’t tell them it doesn’t matter! For a child with Autism this is impossible. Problems have to be solved and unless they are, there will be no moving on and the child will become more and more frustrated – and frustration can lead to aggression.
  • Don’t assume! Just because something doesn’t bother us or appears minor does not mean it’s nothing to them. Noises, textures and smells can be big things – and for a child with autism a scratching sound which seems negligent to us can feel like an alarm going off. Simply being aware of this and reducing exposure may be all that is required.


If we can make these concessions and become more aware of high functioning autistic children and the behaviours they may exhibit, then we can better support them. These children and young people can then manage successfully in mainstream settings and never need to feel that they are a failure or that they don’t fit in and need to be sent to an alternative provision.


Graham Chatterley

Are you seeking work with young people with SEND?

If you’re not already registered with Axcis, but would like to seek a special needs teaching or support position, why not get in touch or register today and find out how we can assist you? We have offices nationwide and a team of expert consultants who have proven relationships with specialist and mainstream schools in your area.


Introducing our new Axcis South West Consultant

Axcis is continuing to grow as more and more schools hear about us and start using our services. As a result, our South West team has a new consultant – Kathryn Fish (who is also Team Leader) , so if you’re seeking work (or staff) in the South Bristol or Somerset areas, why not get in touch with Kathryn? Find out a bit more about her here.

We asked Kathryn to tell us about herself:

Kathryn Fish, Axcis South West Consultant and Team Leader

Prior to joining Axcis, I spent over six years working within the education recruitment sector. I have been a Primary Consultant, SEND Team Leader, and more recently a Branch Manager. This experience has given me a firm understanding of not just what it takes to find excellent staff for schools, but also how to ensure that a team are performing well and working as a unit, supporting one another.


I have also previously worked as teaching assistant, supporting children who had challenging behaviour in PRUs and alternative provisions. This gives me the benefit of experience from “both sides of the fence” and allows me to have a deeper understanding of what qualities are needed in the staff I recruit for the provisions I work with.


I am passionate about my role with Axcis and I firmly believe that my team and I can make a positive impact on the children whom we ultimately support with the staff we recruit. We do this by carefully listening to the needs of the schools we work with, making sure that we only send staff with the right skills, qualifications, experience and (perhaps even more importantly), personality.


In my spare time, I do charity work for the Lymphoma Association and I enjoy sports such as kayaking, walking & entering 10k running events.



Would you like to work with Kathryn?

Kathryn covers the South Bristol and Somerset areas for Axcis. If you are seeking work (or staff) in this location, then get in touch with Kathryn today to see how she can help. Or if you’re seeking work in any other area, register online and we will put you in touch with your personal consultant in your local office.



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Resources to support autistic pupils with exams (guest post)


We are thrilled to feature this guest post. Courtesy of our partners at Network Autism, this is an invaluable selection of articles and resources for school staff on how to best support autistic pupils with exams.

Resources to support autistic pupils with exams

Axcis are proud to sponsor Network Autism

Exams can be a stressful for all students, particularly for autistic children and young people who may struggle with revision and the exams themselves. We have put together a number of articles and resources for school staff on how to best support autistic pupils with exams.

Network Autism have published various articles on supporting autistic students with exams:

The National Autistic Society Exam guidance for parents and education professionals explores some of the particular challenges autistic pupils and students might face during exams, and what may help, looking at:
  • the difficulties for autistic young people
  • making appropriate exam choices
  • exam preparation and revision planning
  • support strategies
  • special arrangements for exams.
Sunderland Autism Outreach Team has produced this advice for staff, parents and students.



Thanks to Network Autism for this wealth of information on supporting autistic pupils with exams. Credit Flickr

There are various blogs giving insight on the difficulties of sitting exams for autistic students:

Main exam boards access arrangements:

The Equality Act 2010 (Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland) makes it unlawful for responsible bodies, for example schools and authorities, to discriminate against disabled pupils and students. Discrimination includes a failure to make reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils or students to allow them to fully participate in their education, including exams.

Below are links to the access arrangements pages of the main exam boards in the UK:

Further and higher education

The Equality and Human Rights Commission offers guidance on avoiding discrimination of disabled students.  It explains the distinction between making reasonable adjustments to exam arrangements, but not making them to competence standards, such as the admission criteria required to get onto a particular course, or a pass mark to an exam:
  • 5.39 The duty of FE and HE institutions to make reasonable adjustments for disabled students does not apply to a provision, criterion or practice that constitutes a competence standard.

Competence standards para 7.33-7.38, including: 7.38: 

  • Although there is no duty to make reasonable adjustments to the application of a competence standard, such a duty does apply to the process by which competence is assessed. So although an education provider has no duty to alter a competence standard, it needs to consider whether or not a reasonable adjustment could be made to some aspect of the process by which it assesses a competence standard.
  • Example: When assessing the competence standard of a person’s ability to read French it would be a reasonable adjustment to provide a visually impaired student with text in large font (if that was the adjustment the student required).

Competence standards (8.)

  • The application of a competence standard is not a provision, criterion or practice for the purposes of the reasonable adjustments duty and therefore a qualifications body does not have to make reasonable adjustments to the application of a competence standard.
  • The application of a competence standard to a disabled person is not disability discrimination unless it constitutes indirect discrimination.

Access Arrangements:

  • Access Arrangements allow candidates/learners with special educational needs, disabilities or temporary injuries to access the assessment without changing the demands of the assessment.
  • A reasonable adjustment for a particular person may be unique to that individual and may not be included in the list of available Access Arrangements.
  • How reasonable the adjustment is will depend on a number of factors including the needs of the disabled candidate/learner.  An adjustment may not be considered reasonable if it involves unreasonable costs, timeframes or affects the security or integrity of the assessment.
(Many thanks to Andrew Cutting, Specialist Exclusions & Alternative Provision Advice Coordinator for the National Autistic Society for the information on competence standards and access arrangements of this section.)

Autism & Uni

Autism & Uni is a European-funded initiative to help autistic students navigate the transition from school to university.  It has a specific section on how to manage exams.  This is primarily aimed at students, but would be useful for staff too. Universities can also download an online toolkit and best practice guides to support students.

Education Resources

We have also collated more general resources for education professionals to help support autistic students: Back to school: autism resources for school staff.

Network Autism education groups

The following Network Autism groups are for professionals working in nurseries, primary and secondary schools. You can view resources added by other professionals and share in discussions on various topics.
Group content is only available to Network Autism members. It’s free and quick to register:


Author: Nathalie Dick

Are you seeking work with young people with SEND?

Register with Axcis and become connected to a range of specialist and mainstream schools in your area for work.

If you’re not already registered with Axcis, but would like to seek a special needs teaching or support position, why not get in touch or register today and find out how we can assist you? We have offices nationwide and a team of expert consultants who have proven relationships with specialist and mainstream schools in your area.



Resignation date is fast approaching – should you wait or anticipate your recruitment needs?

With the deadline for school resignations fast approaching, should you wait for the outcome of your own recruitment efforts, or consider going out to agencies proactively?

When is the deadline for teachers and school staff to hand in their notice?

Most teachers are required to hand in their notice by the end of the half term holidays if they intend to leave at the end of term, while support staff may be on a four week notice period. However, some provisions may vary, so it’s worth checking your contract/school HR documents if you’re not sure.

When do schools advertise vacancies?

Schools will usually wait to find out exactly what their staffing situation is before advertising vacancies. This means waiting until after the resignation deadline and then advertising for

Once you know where you’re likely to have gaps in your staffing, why not contact your agency so they can start looking for new recruits on your behalf?

staff once their recruitment needs have been confirmed. There are various legal and financial implications if this process isn’t followed. However, it also means that most schools in a given area will be seeking staff at the same time. As a result, there may be huge competition for the best teachers and members of school support staff, and particularly those with specialist training and skills who will often have their “pick of the vacancies”. So, how can schools overcome this?

Contacting agencies

Agencies are viewed by many schools as a “last ditch effort” to find staff and only contacted when all other efforts have failed. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Agencies can also help with long-term recruitment planning, and provide a useful service which can act both as a backup plan to your own efforts as well as a standalone recruitment process.

A useful strategy for working in partnership with your agency

If you are fortunate enough to fill your vacancies as a result of your own recruitment methods, that’s super and will  mean zero costs are associated with your agency backup plan


Rather than wait until you’ve hit a dead-end with your own recruitment efforts, why not work in partnership with your agency right from the start? In this way, you’re likely to get access to the best staff (because they’ve not yet been snapped up) as well as preferential rates because you’re showing your agency that you’re investing in them as a partner rather than as a service to be used last-minute alongside lots of other agencies. Here is a suggested strategy which you might try out:


  1. Have a meeting – take the time to meet your consultant, make sure they know what your setting is like and what sort of people fit in well. You should also talk thought what sorts of skills  and experience you usually look for along with any other considerations you usually make when recruiting staff. If you do this proactively, you won’t need to do it when things get busy at the end of term when you’re frantically trying to find last-minute staff.
  2. Anticipate your staffing needs – even if you don’t yet know exactly what your staffing needs are, most school leaders will be able to look at previous years in order to identify a pattern and get an idea of how many staff they are likely to need. You may also have a sense of who is looking to leave. Make a list of what staff you think you’re likely to need.
  3. Formulate a plan with your consultant – talk through your likely staffing needs with your recruitment consultant. This will allow them to start advertising for suitable staff, as well as speaking proactively with existing candidates on their books. Once you nail down your exact needs, you can relay this to them to help narrow their search. By doing this, you get a head-start on finding the most suitable staff for your vacancies. You can, of course still go through your own usual recruitment methods, but with the added benefit of knowing that your agency is also working away in the background. This is also a great time to come to an agreement regarding rates if you hire any of the agency staff. If your agency knows that you’re working collaboratively and exclusively with them, you’re likely to be able to agree a discount on their usual rates.
  4. Consider agency staff alongside your own shortlist – there is nothing to stop you from interviewing agency staff alongside any candidates which you’ve shortlisted as a result of your own advertising. This will broaden your options and help to ensure that you have the best possible person for your vacancy.
  5. Additional benefits if you choose agency staff – If you decide to go with a candidate put forward by your agency, you also have the added benefit of taking them on a supply basis to start with – essentially giving you a trial period with them before offering a longer-term contract. The agency will also do all the paperwork, reducing the amount of compliance you’ll need to do before they can start work. If you prefer to offer a permanent contract from the word go, this is also usually still an option with agency staff.
  6. If you don’t hire agency candidates – if you are fortunate enough to fill your vacancies as a result of your own recruitment methods, that’s super and will  mean zero costs are associated with your agency backup plan. Plus, the agency will already have some candidates on their books which you may feel are suitable for short-term supply work or for other vacancies which may crop up last-minute. In addition to this, your consultant will have a really good idea of what you’re looking for, so when future recruitment needs arise, they will already be in a great position to find you suitable people quickly.

To anticipate or wait – conclusion

Call us if you would like to work as an Axcis partner for your next round of recruitment

As there is no cost associated with using an agency until you actually find someone you want to hire, it seems that using your agency to both anticipate your staffing needs and to act as a recruitment backup plan is an idea well worth considering. As SEND specialists, here at Axcis, we’d love to be your chosen agency for SEND teaching and support staff needs, so if you’d like to work in partnership with us for your upcoming vacancies, why not get in touch with your local team today and have a chat with your personal consultant?

SEND News roundup from our partners

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.

NAS News

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


Get the latest SEND news here with Axcis

  1. Autism and creativity
  2. Autistic filmmaker selected for the Cannes Film Festival
  3. Sir Michael Rutter interviewed by Jack Welch
  4. New autism research podcast
  5. New European project focusing on autism and employment
  6. New journal explores autism and adulthood

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.


  1. One in five children could be at risk of mental health issues, study suggests
  2. Contact’s school transport petition is nearly at 10,000 signatures
  3. SeeAbility publishes report into special schools sight testing
  4. Exciting job opportunities available at nasen
  5. nasen secures DfE funding for support for the workforce in SEND
  6. nasen to host NEW important SEND early years resources

Are you seeking work with young people with SEND?

Register with Axcis and become connected to a range of specialist and mainstream schools in your area for work.

Register with Axcis and become connected to a range of specialist and mainstream schools in your area for work.

If you’re not already registered with Axcis, but would like to seek a special needs teaching or support position, why not get in touch or register today and find out how we can assist you? We have offices nationwide and a team of expert consultants who have proven relationships with specialist and mainstream schools in your area.


Teachers and support staff – why you should consider doing BSL (British Sign Language) training…

Are you a teacher or member of school support staff with an interest in working with children who have a hearing impairment (HI)? If so, then you should probably consider doing some British Sign Language (BSL) training, if you haven’t done so already.

How many children in the UK have a hearing impairment?

We are always on the lookout for BSL trained staff here at Axcis

One in seven people in the UK and one in two people over the age of 60, have some degree of hearing loss according to The Royal National Institute for Deaf People. According to the statistics, over 120,000 deaf adults and about 20,000 children in the United Kingdom use BSL to communicate with other people.


Of these 20,000 children, many will need a teacher or member of school support staff who can use British Sign Language. This is because, although these children may be learning to lip read, there are often situations in the classroom where someone is speaking too quickly, or their mouth is not visible as they talk. It might be because the teacher is facing the board, or simply because the HI child isn’t looking directly at the person who is trying to get their attention. In addition to this, we must consider children with other special educational needs which may limit their ability to learn to lip read. It is therefore essential that we have staff available who can offer BSL support.

HI support staff are often BSL translators

If you are working/seeking work as a member of HI support staff, you may find yourself effectively working as a translator between a teacher (who may have no BSL knowledge at all) and a child who can only communicate in this way. It is therefore often essential that you are a strong verbal communicator, as well as being well versed in British Sign Language if you are to effectively provide support in a classroom setting.

What level of BSL training is required?

Most schools will ask for staff who are trained to a minimum standard of British Sign Language Level 2. This gives a strong enough foundation to support children, although if you are trained to a higher level, this is of course even better! Sadly, level 1 training alone is not usually sufficient, so if your current training is to BSL L1 standard, it would be well worth considering taking it to the next stage if you’d like to work in schools.

I’m a TA/Teacher who would like to do some BSL training – where can I sign up?

If you are a teacher or member of school support staff who would like to enhance your employment prospects by undertaking some BSL training, the options are vast! From various online courses, to home study, evening classes and intensive weekend classes, there is bound to be something to suit you. Your local college or university is usually a very good place to start. However, we would recommend checking that whatever course you sign up for will end up with an official award/qualification – this will help you on your road to further study and/or work.

I’m BSL trained and would like to find teaching or support work in schools – how do I go about this?

If you are already trained to BSL Level 2 or higher, and you would like to work in a school setting, why not contact your nearest Axcis team? You will be put in touch with your personal consultant who can discuss your skills, experience and needs in detail, and help to guide you to a suitable place of work. Many of the schools and alternative provisions we work with can offer support and on the job training, so don’t count yourself out just because a you haven’t done classroom based work before.


Finally – don’t forget that at Axcis, we offer a generous refer-a-friend scheme, so if you’re not looking for work but know someone else who might be, why not contact us with their details – you could earn yourself up to £250 in shopping vouchers as a thank-you!


Detecting and Supporting Anxiety in the Classroom

Mental health has never been in the headlines more frequently than it has been of late. Changes in legislation have put greater emphasis on teachers and other school staff to support children with social, emotional and mental health issues (SEMH), but do you know how to detect and support anxiety in the classroom?

Detecting Anxiety

In their useful booklet, the Mental Health Foundation give lots of helpful guidance on how to spot anxiety. They tell us that:


Like young children, some school age children can become over-anxious. This can be a real concern for parents and professionals working with them. Signs of anxiety in children of this age include children who:

  • are extremely shy, timid and clinging

  • have real difficulties mixing with other children

  • have difficulty getting off to and staying asleep

  • have repeated nightmares (more than one a week)

  • have repeated complaints of headache or tummyache

  • are constantly asking if things are all right or other ways of asking for reassurance


The Teenage Years

Learning how to recognise and support anxiety in the classroom has never been more important.

Signs of anxiety in teenagers may be slightly different to those of younger school age children. They might include things like:

  • under or over-eating
  • being overly concerned by the way they look
  • feeling very sleepy all the time
  • having panic attacks
  • harming themselves or others


It can be difficult to spot “problem” anxiety in teenagers as many of these behaviours are generally considered to be “normal” for children in this age group anyway! However, if they seem to be abnormal or extreme, then it’s likely that they need to be addressed.

SEND Children

Children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) may be more prone to suffering from anxiety. This could be due to their own physical or emotional limitations, or it could be due to the unwanted attention that they may receive from others, including bullying/being looked at differently etc. Most children have a strong desire to fit in so this can be especially distressing. Spotting anxiety in children who may have expressive limitations may sometimes be a challenge, so it’s really important for the staff who work with such children to become familiar with what is usual behaviour for that individual. In this way, it may be easier to spot if “abnormal behaviours” start to manifest as these could be early warning signs of anxiety.

Tantrums, outbursts and meltdowns

Children who are suffering with severe anxiety may express behaviours which could be perceived as “naughty” by the adults around them. Such behaviours may include things like sudden emotional outbursts, aggression, violence and refusal to follow instructions. It is important for teachers and support staff to recognise when this behaviour is out of character as there may be an underlying issue which needs to be explored. Simply “punishing” the child in question may exacerbate the issue, so it is important to explore whether there could be a reason behind it which requires appropriate support.

How can we support the children we have identified as being anxious?

We can all become anxious at times, and by adulthood, most of us have learned how to manage our anxiety. However, we are not born understanding how to do this – it is a skill and needs to be learnt. So how can we teach children to manage their anxiety?

Could bird watching sessions help to reduce anxiety in your students?

  1. We must first help children to recognise what is making them anxious – this is often most effective on a one to one basis – after class/school or during break time can be ideal times for a one to one chat.
  2. We then need to explore ways to reduce/manage that anxiety. Some suggestions for this include:
    • Talking therapy – Simply talking things through can be an effective therapy for many children and adults alike. If they prefer to do this anonymously, charities such as the Samaritans are an excellent resource. Younger children may find puppets or toys a useful vehicle for exploring their issues.
    • Stress relieving activities – It can be useful to identify which activities a child finds helps them to “de-stress” and encourage them to regularly do these. For example, bird watching has been cited as being very therapeutic for anxious children and adults alike, so why not put a bird table in the school grounds and have a quiet corner for observing them?
    • Controlled exposure to triggers – There are times when avoiding the things which cause anxiety is appropriate, but in many instances, it can  be counter productive and result in exacerbating the issue over time. If the trigger is something that the child really needs to learn to cope with – such as going to school for those who are school-phobic – controlled exposure may be the solution. A careful plan for a phased return to school combined with some talking therapy may be an effective solution
    • Controlled lead-time – For some children, time to process and anticipate an upcoming activity which triggers anxiety might be helpful – for example, children with autism may find this helpful. However, in other cases it may make the situation worse because the child has more time to worry about it beforehand. It’s important to know what works for the individual – you can find this out by chatting about with parents, carers or other professionals who work with that child or by trial and error.
    • Reassuring, supporting and empowering – Although a child may have a fear or phobia which may be considered to be irrational or silly by many people, it is a very real issue for that individual, so do not belittle the fear or tell them it’s silly. Your role is to discuss it with them and discuss ways that they may overcome it. Often, the child will come up with their own solution and all you need to do is encourage that and express your support and belief in their ability to do it. This will be very empowering and encouraging in itself.
    • Celebrating success – As soon as a child is showing an improved ability to deal with their anxiety, make a point of telling them that you’ve noticed and give them some support and encouragement. It’s amazing what difference a simple comment can make. Try saying something like “I’ve noticed how brave you’re being about coming into school now – well done!” to that school-phobic child (although doing this on a one to one basis may be most appropriate as most of us do not want our issues put in the spotlight in front of our peers!)

Understand that it’s a process

Children won’t learn to manage their anxiety overnight, so it’s important that both you, and they understand that it’s a process. It will take time and patience. There may be set-backs as well as great leaps forward. You must also remember that the responsibility does not fall entirely on your shoulders as their teacher or member of school support staff. As well as talking to parents and local health services, there are numerous other people and organisations who can help and offer support and resources. Some of these are suggested below:



The Samaritans

British Association for Counselling

Young Minds

Association for Adolescent and Child Mental Health

Are you looking for an SEMH Job?

At Axcis, we work with numerous mainstream and specialist schools who are on the lookout for staff to help them support children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) issues. If you feel that you could be a classroom assistant or teacher in a role like this, why not register or get in touch with us today?




Nasen Live 2018 – 3 reasons you should book your place (if you haven’t already!)

On Friday 6th July, Axcis are thrilled to sponsor nasen Live 2018. Taking place at the Birminghgam ICC, find out why we can’t wait for this essential SEND event here.

About nasen Live 2018

Last years conference was a great success. From left to right: Emily Marbaix (Axcis), Adam Boddison (nasen), Sara Wills (Axcis) and Mat Webber (Axcis)

Nasen Live 2018 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 (£149 for members or £199 for non-members), will provide you with access to any of the seminars available on the day, and what’s more you will also be entitled to 25% off advanced train travel with Virgin Trains!


Find out more:

3 Reasons to book your place for nasen Live 2018


1 – Access to any seminar on the day, plus a USB full of resources

Nasen Live 2018 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 a USB full of useful resources, reducing the need for note-taking!

Axcis Stand

Come and say hi at the Axcis stand and find out how we can help with your SEND recruitment needs.

2  – Unparalleled networking opportunities

Nasen Live 2018 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 that has whet your appetite and you’re keen to secure your place at nasen Live 2018, 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 2018, why not get in touch or check out our jobs pages today and find out how Axcis can assist you?


Room to Reward – what is it and could anyone in your setting be a “hidden hero”? (Guest post)

We all know a Hidden Hero – people who do so much, for so many and ask for nothing in return. All over the country, there are millions of people making a difference and having a positive impact on the lives of those in need. In a world that often seems overly negative, cynical and selfish, these are the people we should celebrate. These are the people Room to Reward was created to say ‘thank you’ to.

So, who are – or what is – Room to Reward?

We are a unique volunteer recognition charity created to give a little something back to those who do so much for others. Our hotel partners donate their anticipated unsold rooms to the scheme, our charity partners nominate their special staff and volunteers for a break – we have the absolute pleasure of making it happen!

How it Works

Room to Reward focus on giving unsold hotel rooms to our “Hidden Heroes”

We invite our charity partners to nominate their ‘Hidden Heroes’ – staff or volunteers who consistently go above and beyond in their dedication and commitment to the charity – to enjoy a complimentary short break. We offer:


  • A one or two-night break
  • Bed and breakfast
  • A choice of over 150 hotels located all over the U.K.


Most importantly, we are able to offer these breaks at absolutely no cost to the charities or the Hidden Heroes (with the exception of travel). Room to Reward runs on the generosity of our hotel partners who donate rooms in periods when they know they will not be at maximum capacity.

How do you become a charity partner?

If your school or alternative provision is a registered charity, or if you work alongside any registered charities, then you could potentially become a Room to Reward partner. For more information, contact Joe Langtree on or Katy Hamer on

The Story so Far

Our roots lie in the hospitality industry. In 2015, Nic Roach – Chairman of the Nicholas James Group and owner of Harbour Hotels – founded the charity. Every night of the week, approximately 140,000 hotel rooms across the U.K are unsold. Over the course of a year, this equates to around £5 billion of wasted assets. Nic’s idea was to take these empty rooms and put them to great use in a meaningful way.


We are proud of – and extremely grateful for – the response to our initiative from both the charity and hospitality sectors. From humble beginnings, we have grown to include hotels right across the country. There’s something for everyone with an R2R break – city centre properties, luxury spas, castles in the countryside, rooms overlooking the beach…

The Hidden Heroes

Charity volunteers can benefit from a free mini break as part of this wonderful scheme

In March 2018, we had the pleasure and privilege of saying ‘thank you’ to the 200th Hidden Hero to be nominated through Room to Reward. The nominations we receive are compelling, moving and inspiring. They show just how many ordinary people there are out there doing extraordinary things to make the world a better place.


People like Margaret, who 60 years ago helped found The League of Friends of Bridgnorth Hospital and has been a vital part of keeping the community hospital going ever since. Or Alan and Beryl, who have helped more than 400 children in Uganda get an education that they otherwise would have missed out on. Or Mandy Garford of the National Autistic Society – close friends of R2R – whose amazing work saw her named as the ‘Most Inspirational Volunteer’ at the recent Autism Professional Awards. It was our pleasure to support the awards with a week’s holiday in Mudeford – donated by one of our fabulous supporters – for Mandy and family.


Mark Lever, CEO of the National Autistic Society speaking about Room to Reward at this year’s Autism Professionals Awards, proudly sponsored by Axcis

The Future

Over 220 Hidden Heroes have now been nominated to Room to Reward. We know that there are many, many more to go. We are lucky to be able to read and hear amazing stories every day, and luckier still to be able to give a little something back to the people behind them.


Writing Tips for Teachers Assisting Children with ADHD (Guest post)

In this guest post, Grace Carter talks about how we can assist children who have ADHD with their writing. Many thanks to Grace for providing this article for the Axcis blog.

In this guest post, Grace Carter explores how to support children who have ADHD with their writing assignments.

Writing Tips for Teachers Assisting Children with ADHD (Guest post)

Studies have shown that ADHD does not have anything to do with intelligence; rather, a person with ADHD has difficulty with motivation, handling emotions, and organizing. These challenges mean that writing can be especially difficult for a student with ADHD. However, a teacher can help their student overcome these challenges with a few tips and tricks.

Aiding concentration

Students with ADHD often have a difficult time concentrating on assignments. You can help them by making your instructions as clear as possible, and by dividing your instructions into parts. The more precise you can be, the better; try not to leave room for interpretation. Also try and break down the writing assignment itself into smaller parts that they may tackle individually. Instead of looking at it as one large assignment, the student can approach it as several smaller ones. These mini assignments can be worked on in a rotation, allowing the student to switch from task to task as they please.

Getting thoughts organized

Brainstorming is a great way to get their writing assignment started. Students with ADHD often struggle to hold onto an idea, which can make it difficult for them to get started on their writing project. You can help by writing down their ideas as they come up with them. While you and your student brainstorm together, avoid anything that could interrupt their flow of ideas. Grammatical corrections and feedback can wait until later.

Some teachers have found success by having their students write down their ideas on individual Post-it notes and then grouping similar notes together.

Consider using a graphic organizer. A graphic organizer is a printed worksheet on which the student can write down their thoughts in the sections you have provided. These sheets are a good way around the mental roadblocks that can make writing difficult for someone with ADHD. Some teachers have found success by having their students write down their ideas on individual Post-it notes and then grouping similar notes together.

The writing process and online resources

Now that your student has some ideas down on paper, it’s time to get them writing. These online resources could help you assist your student:

  1. ViaWriting and Grammar Checker are good resources to help you make sure your student’s grammar is correct.
  2. Academized is an editing tool that has been suggested by SimpleGrad in Academized review.
  3. CiteItIn and EasyWordCounter are good tools to help with citations and keeping track of that word count.
  4. EssayRoo and Assignment Help are helpful writing communities.
  5. StateofWriting and MyWritingWay are writing guides you may find useful in assisting your student.
  6. PaperFellows and BoomEssays are useful educational tools recommended by the Huffington Post in Write My Essay feature.

Be their guide

“Start by going over the notes you made during the brainstorming session. Ask some questions to see if you can get them going. If they are still struggling then try writing a line yourself and have them put it in their own words,” suggests Richard Feldman, ADHD tutor at Assignment Help Service. As you continue on, your student will become more familiar with the process and require less help.

Accommodate when necessary

Your student with ADHD can excel with some minor accommodation. They may not be able to complete their assignment by the deadline you have assigned for the class. Remember that they learn and work a little differently than the other students, so they may need a little more time. You can also help them by allowing for procrastination. Yes, you read that correctly. Allowing time in between writing sessions for extra research or brainstorming will help your student with ADHD focus and finish their work.

Spelling and editing

Spelling and editing can prove especially difficult for students with ADHD. A teacher can help by introducing the student to spellcheck and grammar applications. Editing can prove a challenge since, by editing time they have gone over their writing assignment several times and may find it hard to concentrate on finding errors. You can improve their editing skills by having students practice proofreading one another’s assignments. Since this will be their first reading of the material, they will have an easier time concentrating, while learning the editing process.

Help your student succeed

With a few modifications to the learning process, a student with ADHD can greatly improve their writing. You can assist them by focusing their concentration, helping them brainstorm, guiding them through the writing process, accommodating their learning style, and using some innovative methods to teach them the editing process.



Grace Carter helps with content management at OXEssays and Assignment Writing Service. She is a business coach and teaches people how to improve business communication. Also, she is a proofreader at Revieweal, online reviews website.