Autism practical support

SSAT – Autism   Not sure if this is useful.

I liked it because there are some practical aspects for it rather than just rhetoric.

https://www.ssatuk.co.uk/programme-to-support-students-with-autism/

Ginny d’Orico, AHT (autism), and Natalie Henry, head of middle school, at times vociferously aided by nine ASD students, gave this presentation on supporting students with autism.

The presenters came from Oak Lodge, a mixed 11-19 special school and specialist cognition and learning college in Barnet. Some of the tips they revealed could be useful to teachers in mainstream in helping their ASD students.

Autism is a condition that makes it difficult for the individual to predict other people’s actions, explained Ginny d’Orico. For example, when talking to someone, people with autism tend to look at the mouth, not the eyes, so missing many cues relating to social information.

“These differences are important for us as teachers: if I’m gesturing to a chair, for example, it’s not obvious to them what I want them to do. A corollary of this is that it is difficult for them to recognise that we are a reliable source of support. This is why group work with ASD students can be difficult.”

Tackling anxiety among students with ASD

She pointed to research in neurology, such as that by Yale University and others, which has shown that it is this difficulty in information processing that leads to raised anxiety, which affects social communication and emotional regulation. So one key element in working with these young people is clear scaffolding in their environment.

The SCERTS programme (Social communication/ emotional regulation/ transactional support) provides the structure for Oak Lodge’s work to enhance engagement and learning among these students.

The teacher gently instructed the group: “hands on knees. Close your eyes. Deep breaths. Imaging sitting on a beach, listening to the waves, feeling warm. You feel calm and relaxed… Now open your eyes. Everyone feel calm and relaxed?”

Practical exercises

It appeared so. The students settled down to an exercise on completing achievement statements. Each student in turn completed sentences such as: “I am better at… using my words”; “I felt proud when… I did something different by coming to the Arsenal stadium”; “Now I can… listen in lessons and not shout out when the teacher is talking.”

The Oak Lodge team uses practical exercises to improve four aspects of SCERTS:

  • Task engagement and functional communications – visual charts attached to key rings and flagging tasks red (to do) and green (done) help here
  • Emotional expression – understanding their emotions and what to do about them
  • Transitions, both between and within activities
  • Interactions: developing a more adult style.

Visual-spatial processing is often a strength among these students, which can be used to help them learn. And students’ special interests can also help functional communication: for example, an illustration of a dinosaur with a speech bubble passing on the message.

In conclusion, Ginny d’Orico suggested four tips for teachers to make clear their intentions and enable students to achieve:

  • Provide visual support
  • Ensure a calm, productive class environment
  • Help students to predict what is expected of them
  • “But don’t say the same thing over and over!”

 

 

 

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Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (SEMH)

Following on from the last blog I am focussing on the new acronym SEMH or Social, Emotional and Mental Health difficulties. This was  previously known as BESD or Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties. The difference now is its focus on mental health and hence why the last blog also shares the mental capacity act.

Myself and many educators over the past years have raised concern about the emotional well-being and mental health of pupils – reflecting that mental health affects all aspects of a child’s development including their cognitive abilities, their social skills and their emotional well-being. To find out more you can visit youngminds.org.uk/ where they have more. But here are some statistics;

  • 1 in 10 children and young people aged 5 – 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder – that is around three children in every class .
  • Between 1 in every 12 and 1 in 15 children and young people deliberately self-harm.
  • There has been a big increase in the number of young people being admitted to hospital because of self harm. Over the last ten years this figure has increased by 68%.
  • More than half of all adults with mental health problems were diagnosed in childhood. Less than half were treated appropriately at the time.
  • Nearly 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression.
  • Over 8,000 children aged under 10 years old suffer from severe depression .
  • 72% of children in care have behavioural or emotional problems – these are some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
  • 95% of imprisoned young offenders have a mental health disorder. Many of them are struggling with more than one disorder.
  • The number of young people aged 15-16 with depression nearly doubled between the 1980s and the 2000s.
  • The proportion of young people aged 15-16 with a conduct disorder more than doubled between 1974 and 1999.

Within any role in school life where pastoral is within the remit, this is always a concern. Having been within the pastoral route and in many roles over the years, I have found that it is often those with poor behaviour that when one looks a little closer, (after ensuring that they are not just playing the naughty card) there is a possible mental health concern, but generally there is vulnerability as a given and as a result as educators part of our remit both socially and in law is to the vulnerable.

I am not professing this is easy not least because mental health concerns can relate to anxiety, eating disorders, self harming or harming others, low self-esteem and depression. For example this week I walked into a classroom to cover  a lesson of year 11’s, the majority of whom after trying the naughty card realised that they just needed to get on with their work, but there were still two young people who displayed a huge difference between their verbal and written ability – which is always a red light to me I always wonder what support they need. There was also a child struggling in ethics when the topic was drugs, throughout he was constantly rapping the table and using his compass to draw on his arm, getting deeper and deeper? Following up on this I find that he is dealing with a parent involved with drugs, due to this the student absolutely hates drugs, but felt unable to talk about any of this during the lesson.

Vulnerable children often use words as their first line of defence, because if they get the other person child, young person or adult to go away then they never have to explain any further… and in their eyes wont get hurt again. The adult at the other end of it hears the words at a loud level, usually accompanied with anger, high pitch, accusatory and personally related comments and reacts to that, as I used to. Now though after so many experiences I wait until it is calm, maybe even days later and address it again, once they know you can be trusted, it is interesting how behaviour changes.

Recently we have all heard of media personalities who have and are going through the courts due to alleged historical abuse. How would we feel if we missed a child in our care that needed our support? I agree these are extreme circumstances, but the initial support that centres on mindfulness ( Mindfulness is described by The Mental Health Foundation as ‘a way of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing and yoga.) are just prescriptions for well being.  Making them the only focus are just as concerning as ignoring the awful things that children go through and expecting them to just deal with it. We mus ourselves be non-judgemental and seek a solution to the problem not hope that one policy fits all.

Over my career I have experienced many kinds of vulnerabilities and it concerns me that we are moving into a time where more historic abuse is going to come to the fore for boys as well as girls as older people get more confident to speak out. Lets not carried away with these high profile cases because in our back yards the food banks are increasing daily the number of parcels given out  … I ask how many children are already in poverty and in our classrooms?

Just a thought …..    If you didn’t know where your next meal was coming from would you care if you were level 6a or 6b or predicted a D and you were capable of an A?

 

Vocational and academic education will only be valued equally when they are equally valuable.

I was very interested in this speech this week.  It touches on the changes to education with the Butler Act and then to modern day.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-skills-summit-importance-of-technical-and-vocational-training

I have been an advocate of vocational and academic education being equally valued since my late teens. This was when I realised that my teachers were suggesting I studied economics, history and geography for A level and couldn’t see why I wanted to do woodwork and technical drawing, despite being involved with preparation for my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award where I chose practical options that I passed successfully at every stage.

In later years as a teacher in charge of a large group of over 200 children with very diverse skills and abilities I worked around the legislation at the time to ensure my children got the best for them to reach their potential. By the end of year 11 20 of my students had studied more technically practical subjects as well as the statutory English, Maths and Science. The subjects ranged from bricklaying to  painting and decorating.

Despite previous reservations it was recognised that the attendance and enjoyment of school improved and the young people left school with good results and in most cases ready made jobs in their chosen profession. They also had access to further training similar to todays modern apprenticeship. In comparison those who stayed on the traditional route found gaining jobs more tricky and two years down the line one of the original group was sponsored to a university place relating to the built environment.

For me its about Every child mattering –  as the saying goes – join this together with us needing to create wealth to ensure our economy grows and jobs for our young people to allow them to look after their families.

In my local area we are soon to see the University Technical College’s (UTC)  Engineering, Water and the Environment  planning application come into play as its journey to completion moves along. http://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=20814

A pre-planning consultation will now be held for local residents on Wednesday 5th February, 5-6.30pm, at Old Forde House, with the planning application being submitted during February.

Join the journey and follow its progress to ensure our young people really matter as individuals.

Leaders 2 -Strategic Planning and Development

As a leader you will need to ensure all of your teachers and learners receive the same curriculum to the same level using individuals skills, prior experiences and individual personality. Written like this it looks a large task but in reality it is made easier if you think about and follow your response to these questions.

  • How will you develop subject policies then ensure all teachers” commitment to them?
  • How will you ensure the above particularly in relation to high achievement and teaching and learning?
  • How will you maintain a positive attitude towards your subject?
  • What data will you need to collect? How often will it need to be collected? How should it be sued to inform policies, planning, targets and teaching methods.
  • How will you establish short, medium and long-term subject development plans? How will you ensure that:-they contribute to the whole schools aims, that they are based on pupil performance data, identify targets for improvement within your subject and then most importantly ensure that they are understood by everyone involved, parents included.
  • How will you monitor progress made in achieving your subjects development plan and targets?

Leaders 1 – Teaching your subject

As managers of subject areas the following are things to think about to ensure effective teaching and learning.

  1. How will you (as a manager)  ensure curriculum coverage for your learners?
  2. How will you ensure that teachers are clear about the sequence of teaching in the subject and objectives of individual lessons?
  3. How will you provide guidance on choice of appropriate teaching and learning methods?
  4. How will you ensure that there is effective development in all current strategies including literacy, numeracy and technological skills?
  5. How will you establish and implement policies and practices for assessment, recording and reporting learners achievement including target setting?
  6. How will you set targets for a) learners and b) teachers in relation to standards of pupil achievement and quality of teaching?
  7. How will you evaluate the quality of teaching and then how would you use this good practice to improve teaching in your department?
  8. How will you establish a partnership with parents, community and businesses?

Alternative funding streams

Occasionally as senior managers we need to find alternative funding streams and one such place is the local business community.  Below is a letter that can be used as a starting point to ask for funds.  This letter is around the production of a proms/leavers’ book but anything else can be inserted easily.  The most important thing is to get the students feedback on companies they use and would like to see within their book.  Also if you have a prom committee or head boy/girl these are the things that they could either send out or follow up on their behalf relieving you the senior leader and allowing you to oversee but giving them confidence when dealing outside the school environment.

 

Address

 

Telephone

Email

Date

Dear Sir/Madam or the persons name,

At present, Year 11 students at (put in name of school) are preparing a leavers’/prom book. This book will be distributed to all Year 11 students at the end of this academic year.  The cost of producing such a publication is high and our students are having problems financing it, even though they are prepared to contribute to the cost themselves.

The students would be most grateful if you could consider sponsoring the book or placing an advert within it. The students have specifically targeted you as a business to support them as they themselves know of or use your product/service.

If you are interested in sponsoring or advertising in the book, please complete the tear off strip and return it to (name the person and their job e.g. Liz Foxwell Head Girl, or Liz Foxwell Deputy Head).  Alternatively you can contact her/him via ( put in email) or (add phone number).

We greatly appreciate your support.

 

Yours faithfully.

 

Name

Job Description

 ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

 

I am happy to sponsor/advertise in The (school Name) Year 11 Leavers’/prom book.

 

Company Name and address

Contact name

Contact Number and email

 

 

What is a good teacher?

Schools will now have new teachers arriving finding out what they need to start the job in September from newly qualified to those taking up their first management role.

Mentoring is really important for this group as they need to learn the schools ethos and how they fit within the community.  Some have very different ways of doing things but nevertheless get really good results.  So rather than seeing that they do things differently check whether they fulfil these attributes and this list from a school I previously worked at should help you make better judgements about your peers and their ability to do their job. This is particularly important of you are a new senior manager and have to observe other colleagues lessons.

Good teachers:

Are sympathetic to the needs and aspirations of all pupils –  I would add that as  senior manager this could be said of your staff as well.

Set clear targets and are able to provide positive reinforcement

Are able to engage and inspire pupils with their own enthusiasm

Have high expectations of all pupils – again as a senior manager just change the word to staff

Push all pupils to fulfil their individual potential – you can only do this if you know where they are and where they need to be.

Are both supportive and co-operative to colleagues – really important sometimes individuals forget it is not personal and by working as a team everyone achieves their best pupil or colleague.

Establish clear, consistent and realistic standards of behaviour – with realistic being the most important thing if they are not, you cannot sanction effectively and behaviour becomes a big issue. Secondly be consistent its the fairness that ultimately shows them that you are fair and finally as a team player within a set area or within the management team support those who establish these clear, consistent and realistic standards. Know what to do when they are challenged and need your help.

Know your subject area and employ a variety of interesting teaching methods remembering to include both boy and girl friendly activities as well as those that stimulate the kinaesthetic, and aural learners.

Use the management system and processes put in place to support teachers to do their job.  If you are on the team designing it them ensure they do what they say on the tin and are not heavy on time wasting exercises that get nowhere.

Be aware of an seek to establish relationships within the community

Prepare, support and contribute to the schools ethos

Make learning enjoyable not being afraid to laugh at themselves

above all like and respect the young people in their charge – if they do not it is  along day for both them and the pupils.

As a teacher do you fill a bucket or aim to light a fire?

WB Yeats, “education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire

How many teachers and Education Ministers  do you know that just want to fill up buckets? Where is the creativity and the personalisation that makes the spark or turns the light bulb on to education?

I believe I have blogged before about how a teacher making me look at some paper burning made me fascinated and turned me onto poetry and words. Not the type of thing that can be done in todays classrooms but her ingenuity allowed us as a class to smell, taste, look, listen and then choose words we knew to describe what we saw. That did more for me in primary days than sitting the eleven plus and how many others would say exactly the same thing?

Lessons to be learnt – How much trust should we give EAL TAs?

Lessons to be learnt How much trust do we give EAL TAs?

After observing some planning and teacher training in London last week the following occurred to me not as way of criticism but more as reflective practice and moving learning in the classroom along.

Clearly we should not give any teacher or TA (Teaching Assistant) 100% trust until we have assured ourselves that they are giving 100% correct instruction. As no teacher is a super teacher i.e.  never needing support, mentoring or guidance then why should we give EAL TAs (English as a second language Teaching Assistants) this trust and change policies to suit them?
Don’t  get me wrong I think TA’s and EAL TA’s in particular are great but we should not implicitly trust them to guide our youngsters in the ETHOS of the school, the teaching of academic concepts and language and assessment without having an overview of their abilities and skills ourselves as senior managers and governors.
I watched a situation recently where a group of excellent teachers were planning and talking about the use of technology available to support maths teaching. They were thinking really creatively about how they could teach in their classrooms (and not looking at a withdrawal group) a mathematical concept that the rest of the year were  learning. For me it was brilliant they were marrying their skills with technology to save time for them when planning and delivering, but increasing the children’s learning ability whilst making it interesting.

All went well until the TA that supports them became part of the discussion and within no time suddenly the TA had convinced them the group needed to be withdrawn and that it could take time for the children to learn it. What struck me most as an observer was that I had been in that situation many times but could see now that the TA  was steering our teaching. Today seeing it this way made me wonder what made these excellent practitioners take another persons word and run with it?

Why didn’t they question or try out their theory and review it if it didn’t work? They had built a translation requirement in, their practice was excellent, their topic was interesting, their own personal understanding of the concept was excellent and yet they let someone without the same or better credentials influence them and their decisions.

Something worth pondering on.

Lithuanian Alphabet

I just came across this Lithuanian ABC which I was saving in my files…not much use there… not sure where it came from but it may be useful as many Lithuanians are now arriving in European and American countries.

The alphabet has 32 letters made up of 12 vowels and 20 consonants – no wonder the children get confused. I just manage the five vowels in English!

The AlphabetAa Ąą Bb Cc Čč Dd Ee Ęę Ėė Ff Gg Hh Ii Įį Yy Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Rr Ss Šš Tt Uu Ųų Ūū Vv Zz Žž

Balsės (Vowels) 12 vowels
Aa Ąą Ee Ęę Ėė Ii Įį Yy Oo Uu Ųų Ūū

Priebalsės (Consonants) 20 consonants
Bb Cc Čč Dd Ff Gg Hh Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Pp Rr Ss Šš Tt Vv Zz Žž

Aa – agurkas
Ąą – ąsotis
Bb – baltas
Cc- cukrus
Čč – čiuožikla
Dd – dangus
Ee – erelis
Ęę – ęsame
Ėė – ėriukas, eglė
Ff – fėja, futbolas
Gg – gintaras
Hh – herbas
Ii – Inkaras
Įį – įdomus
Yy – yla
Jj – juokas
Kk – katinas
Ll – liūtas
Mm – mama
Nn – namas
Oo – oras
Pp – pagalba
Rr – ranka
Ss – saulė
Šš – širdis
Tt – teta
Uu – ugnis
Ųų – metų
Ūū – ūsai
Vv – vaikas
Zz – zebra
Žž – žolė