Teaching difference: Minimising bullying of those with learning disabilities and autism

Dr Mark Brookes MBE, Advocacy Lead at Dimensions UK

More than a third of students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) experience bullying while in mainstream education1. While bullying at this age often stems from a lack of understanding, for those in the receiving end, the issue often follows them into later life. In fact, according to a Dimensions survey, 73% of those with a learning disability or autism have been subject to hate crimes, with 78% feeling they were targeted due to their disability2. Education will be key to overcoming this shocking statistic. We must equip our teachers with the resources and knowledge to inform the students in their care, and ensure children grow not only to understand, but to champion diversity and difference. Discussing difference Children who are taught about diversity at a young age are often more accepting of those who are different from themselves. While this can be a challenging topic to introduce to the classroom, teachers must feel able to approach this topic with their students. As part of the #ImWithSam campaign, Dimensions has developed a KS3 lesson plan that can support teachers in discussing difference and diversity. Focusing on three key themes – health and wellbeing, relationships, and living in the wider world – the plan offers a number of useful activities designed to raise questions and encourage positive discussion.  Encouraging communication Some 75% of young people with autism have experienced bullying and, alarmingly, half do not feel safe while at school 3. It is imperative that these students can speak up, yet this often isn’t the case — many children with learning disabilities and autism who experience bullying often feel their concerns haven’t been heard, while bullying robs many of their confidence, leaving them afraid to report concerns. Sometimes, it can be difficult for teachers and students to communicate, so we must better prepare our teachers to deal with incidents of bullying involving those with learning disabilities and/ or autism. Teachers should be aware of any behaviours of distress, why they occur, and understand that these behaviours aren’t voluntary. Often simple measures, such as talking in a quiet environment, the presence of a parent, or the use of visual cues, can help students to open up, feel comfortable, and share their experiences4. Overcoming ignorance Bullying and hate crimes come in many forms, and go beyond verbal and physical abuse. Dimensions’ #ImWithSam campaign shared the stories of those with learning disabilities and autism and the hate crimes they have faced, from theft to sexual abuse, and ‘mate crimes’ where they are befriended and coerced out of money or possessions5. Dimensions’ research shows educating our young people about difference is the most effective way to prevent such incidents from occurring6. Teachers should encourage empathy and understanding among their pupils by encouraging them to reflect on ways those with differences are perceived, judged, described and treated and the impact this can have; as well as ways to challenge and change these negative behaviours. Overcoming bullying Name-calling and exclusion on the playground can have a devastating impact on the lives of its victims. Past surveys show 56% of children with a learning disability have cried as a result of bullying, while 33% have hid away in their bedrooms7. Likewise, those bullied during their early years are up to three times more likely to self-harm once they reach adolescence.  We must equip teachers with the knowledge to educate pupils on diversity and end persistent bullying which disproportionately affects those who are seen as being different. After all, all children deserve to learn and grow free from fear or mockery, and those with special educational needs and autism are no different. Author: Tracey Garcia, Involvement and Engagement Manager, and Dr Mark Brookes MBE, Advocacy Lead at Dimensions UK   1. https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-8812/CBP-8812.pdf 2. https://dimensions-uk.org/get-involved/campaigns/say-no-autism-learning-disability-hate-crime-imwithsam/know-more/ 3.  https://www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk/information-about-autism/in-education/bullying 4. https://dimensions-uk.org/get-involved/campaigns/say-no-autism-learning-disability-hate-crime-imwithsam/i-am-a-teacher/ 5. https://dimensions-uk.org/get-involved/campaigns/say-no-autism-learning-disability-hate-crime-imwithsam/ 6. https://www.dimensions-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/Im_With_Sam_Final_Dossier_REDUCED.pdf 7. https://anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/tools-information/all-about-bullying/at-risk-groups/sen-disability/do-children-send-experience-more  

High School Students with Autism to Get Help Finding Their Career Path

francesca manca on Career Path

A Liverpool entrepreneur has launched the ‘first of its kind’ workshop for special educational needs high school students who want to find their career path in life or set up their own business. Francesca Manca, founder of Underwing has created the ‘Shaping Your Future’ programme. These sessions are for students with autism or special educational needs who are about to leave high school but don’t  know whether  higher education is for them/  have a business idea and need help turning it into a money-making business or job.  Francesca came up with the idea because as a SEN mum she experiences first-hand the lack of services and help in picking a higher education path or a career for people with special needs. She is also really passionate about educating the world about special needs and autism in particular, and a fierce ambassador of equal opportunities.  The workshops are delivered in partnership with schools across Merseyside and can be run individually or in small groups and tailored to suit the needs of the students involved. The full run includes four 90-minute sessions plus monthly follow-up accountability calls/emails/chats for six months.  The sessions show students how to identify their passions, skills, and take into consideration their needs when choosing their chosen job or career; how to write a business plan; how to market their business and how to overcome their unique needs. Francesca Manca, who works with entrepreneurs with special needs says, “This idea has been a long time in the making and I’m so excited to finally launch it.  “As a PDA mum, I experience first hand the immense lack of services people with special needs have to cope with once out of education. There is not enough information, not enough mentoring, no one to help give them direction or simply suggesting what to do, and how to find their ideal jobs or start a successful business. Courses for neurotypical people don’t work as they never take into consideration any behaviour or thought process ‘outside the box’. “My mission in life is to help people with special needs to go from a career/job where they are stressed, angered, overwhelmed, into a job/career they can do with passion, purpose and excitement. I can help special needs professionals change their job/career into one that doesn’t involve coping with stress and burnout, and is, instead, fulfilling and passionate. I help my clients eliminate the stress and anger of working in the wrong environment, and achieve their dream business/job in 8 weeks. So I figured that I could bring this work one step forward, and actually help who could be a future stressed out client pick the right path from the beginning! “At Underwing we have a lot of experience working with people with autism and special educational needs and are well-versed on how to make working as stress-free and seamless as possible. “Each individual can have their own restrictions such as sensory overload, needing longer breaks after meetings, struggling to complete important projects or being overwhelmed by too many social requests.  “If students don’t have a business idea yet, that’s ok too. We’ll work with them to understand their limitations, champion their strengths and look at their interests to develop a business idea and identify a career path that works best for them.”  If you would like to introduce the ‘Shaping Your Future’ programme at your high school, please email fran@underwingliverpool.com or info@underwingliverpool.com or fill in the contact form on the website:  https://underwingliverpool.com/contact/

Get ready for the relaxation of restrictions with Tillr’s Post-Lockdown Recovery Toolkit

child on laptop using Post-Lockdown Recovery Toolkit

It is acutely ironic that 2020, a number associated with complete clarity of vision, is a year of unmatched confusion when it comes to looking into the future.  Given the unprecedented nature and scope of the restrictions imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, nobody can claim any expertise in knowing what happens next.  However, it can be stated with certainty that the organisational and logistical challenges associated with the relaxation of lockdown will be enormous.  Local government will be faced with a fiendishly difficult task in overseeing and implementing measures introduced by Whitehall.  Increasing numbers of local authorities have turned in recent years to Tillr, the developer of a software platform that facilitates the rapid digitalisation of operational and regulatory procedures. Councils have been asking with some urgency for content related to Covid-19 to be added to their Tillr accounts. They need help protecting their staff, the public and local businesses. Tillr has responded with a Post-Lockdown Recovery Toolkit, which will help with the creation and maintenance of Covid-secure workplaces, open spaces and local amenities.  A nation is looking for answers – at Tillr, we believe we are in prime position to deliver one.  Tillr: A story of innovation and excellence In the five years since Tillr was founded in 2015, our eponymous platform has become a trusted and reliable name in the sphere of digitalisation of local authority processes.  More than 20 councils across London and the South-East have turned to Tillr to save time and money by digitalisingtheir operations in areas such as sports and leisure, waste management, parks and open spaces and highways.  The immediate result of working with Tillr is a reduction in administrative tasks, followed by a gradual improvement in the way a client understands its own data through enhanced analytics.   Key to Tillr’s growth has been the way we position ourselves as a partner rather than simply a service provider. Our six-strong team works closely with clients to ensure the platform meets their requirements.  Every client is different – and the platform is designed to be highly configurable to cater for the particular circumstances of each organisation and the use they wish to put it to.   An asset that’s fast to install and roll out The flexibility of the Tillr platform will be a crucial facet of the Post-Lockdown Recovery Toolkit. Each local authority will face varying challenges when the time comes to implement and monitor activities after restrictions on people’s movement are relaxed.  Our toolkit contains templates that will help with areas such as social distancing, the unauthorised opening of premises and the implementation of policies relating to new rules governing locations such as shops and restaurants.  Speed is key. This is an asset that can be delivered quickly – and updated fast too. If an announcement in Westminster changes social distancing parameters at 5pm, that will be reflected in our service by 9am the following day.  The toolkit has already been used to good effect. One London borough was concerned about breaches of social distancing guidelines in its parks and decided to start monitoring. We added a template to its Tillr account within 24 hours of receiving the request so that the council could record instances of breaches. We know there will be considerable interest in this product across the public sector. We have had discussions with the Mayor of London’s office, the Greater London Authority and several boroughs in the capital, as well as Sussex Police.   Free of charge to existing customers  Tillr does not see this asset as an opportunity to exploit the desperation for solutions in the post-Covid world. We want to make it as easy as possible for local authorities to access the toolkit and trial it.  We believe there will be a strong response from the public sector, so we are making is available quickly and on a non-profit basis.  Indeed, existing council customers – more than 20 bodies across the South-East – will be offered the toolkit completely free for 12 months, provided they agree in advance to contribute to the content on the platform.  Variations to help related sectors Tillr is already actively preparing to develop a separate version for police forces, whose requirements will be different to those of councils. We are in discussions already with Sussex Police, one of two forces who already take advantage of the Tillr platform. After that, we believe there could be yet another version for educational establishments such as schools and nurseries, where the application of social distancing restrictions will be particularly challenging.  It is also possible that the toolkit will become available to the private sector, where there will be post-lockdown issues for businesses such as restaurants, pubs and those in the events industry.   Contact us today to access the toolkit We are in discussions with existing clients already. But for those new to Tillr, the best way to register your interest is to contact us on hello@tillr.io or via our website.  We suggest getting in touch as early as possible so that you can be ready to implement and monitor post-lockdown restrictions as soon as they are in place. Get ready for the relaxation of restrictions with Tillr’s Post-Lockdown Recovery ToolkitGet ready for the relaxation of restrictions with Tillr’s Post-Lockdown Recovery Toolkit

It’s time to shake up how we identify literacy difficulties

A literacy lesson in primary school classroom

When you struggle to read it puts you at a potentially life-long disadvantage, says Bernadette McLean, so it’s time to look at new methods, such as AI, to help identify literacy difficulties. Literacy skills are fundamental to so much of school life and beyond, it is hard to comprehend that each year in the UK almost 148,000 children leave primary school unable to read to the expected standard. Maybe this figure would be easier to swallow if children were catching up during their time at secondary school. Unfortunately, despite a plethora of thoughtful initiatives and the huge amount of old-fashioned, sleeves-rolled-up hard work many schools put in to making this happen, there are still children whose reading ability stops progressing when they transfer to their senior school. It is far from uncommon for a young person to end up three or even more years behind his or her chronological reading age by the time they leave school. Those at the highest risk of being left behind in the literacy stakes are pupils with dyslexia, estimated to be about 10% of children in this country. In my view, these are some of the children who are being robbed of the pure pleasure of getting lost in a good story, as well as being placed at a massive disadvantage when it comes to attainment in exams, motivation, building self-esteem and engagement. As we already know early intervention through testing is by far the most effective approach to boosting reading skills and positively changing children’s life chances, what options do we have for changing how we do things? Time will tell  A key thing to bear in mind is that testing a child’s reading skills, ability and comprehension is a very difficult task. There are a whole host of multifaceted cognitive and linguistic processes that come into play. Words being read are transformed into speech sounds, which connect to meaning by matching up with vocabulary or general language knowledge – but it’s not a linear process. All of these activities are part of an information loop which continuously feeds back to a child and strengthens itself over time. Regardless of this complexity, the most widely used reading tests are one-dimensional. It’s for this reason that the phonics test children take in Year 1 – and again in Year 2 if the previous year didn’t go so well – is widely regarded as being problematic. Teaching children to read single sounds or words doesn’t help check whether they can infer meaning or understand. As children grow older, then reading tests often focus on scoring comprehension. But again, a simple score doesn’t tell you how the child is reading, which means two children with the same score might often need very different types of intervention. Friendly algorithms An exciting development in the process of how we test reading and uncover literacy barriers is in the use of AI technology, which helps dig deeply into what is really going on when a child reads. Research on the relationship between reading and eye movements is constantly being updated but, with 5000 scientific studies behind it, the evidence base is strong – tracking eyes picks up minor differences in how the brain processes text on lexical (verbal), syntactic (word order), semantic (interpretation) and structural levels. Therefore, as we track how a child’s eye moves, it is possible to get a view of the linguistic processes going on inside that individual’s head. This reveals a large amount of information about the cognitive interplay and how different components work together. The same algorithms can also be used to highlight the risk of dyslexia, and other reading difficulties, without the need for long assessment times. Making a difference Such detailed information is enormously helpful in practical teaching terms. Imagine a graph with two axes, where horizontal is decoding and vertical is comprehension. Results from this AI testing from Lexplore Analytics can place children at a precise spot in terms of identifying the difficulties they are experiencing with reading, so the right interventions and support can be put into place to help them progress. This is important because methods that work well for non-dyslexic children may actually be confusing or potentially detrimental for those with reading difficulties. There are other benefits to using the latest technology tools to deliver more advanced assessment too, in terms of screening more quickly and allocating specialist teaching resources where they’re most needed. But the bottom line is that if we miss the opportunity to intervene when we can, and fail to ensure children are well equipped with the personalised strategies that are appropriate to their individual thinking style – thus enabling them to decrypt the reading code – then we risk severely letting those children down. This is not something that any of us wants to see happen. Bernadette McLean is an independent literacy consultant for Lexplore Analytics and was previously principal of The Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre.    

Can AI in schools help keep learning personalised?

AI in schools - children read with a teacher

   Aritificial intelligence (AI) is now helping teachers to identify issues such as dyslexia. Wendy Francis-White, assistant headteacher at Hawkedale Primary, discusses using AI in schools to assess pupils’ needs more effectively… The country’s primary schools are bursting at the seams. One in five primary schools in the UK is full or over capacity according to the latest government figures, in spite of the additional 59,000 primary school places created since 2017.  As a result, many schools are continuing to increase pupil numbers to meet the needs of local families. Hawkedale Primary is one example of this. Having embarked on our own journey in 2015 when we were a single form infant school, five years later we are a primary school welcoming 210 pupils. That’s quite a leap for us, but you can be sure that your school is growing in the right direction when one of your pupils describes it as ‘like a big family’ to Ofsted inspectors. Personal approach  A challenge for any growing school is to make sure the close community pupils have enjoyed continues to be nurtured as the school gets bigger. A key advantage of working in a relatively small school is that you can really get to know your pupils well and you build close relationships with their parents too. The size of our school had always enabled our teaching team to understand individual pupils’ strengths and spot when they need support. So it was important for us to keep that personal touch at the heart of the school and to be able to motivate pupils and inspire them to achieve their potential just as effectively in our newly expanded school. It might surprise some to know that AI in schools has played a key role in helping us to achieve these goals. A new vision An influx of new pupils can change a school community and present a wide range of different issues to address. That’s where AI in schools comes in. When you have more children to focus on and support, AI can help provide information to teachers about how their pupils learn. One such area was literacy. Literacy equips children with a solid foundation for their education, and without a strong vocabulary, good comprehension and sound decoding skills, children can start to feel cut off from an early age, unable to access a textbook or enjoy a story. Through our sudden growth, we noticed that more children were arriving in school with a weaker vocabulary and we saw an increase in pupils struggling to develop the literacy skills they needed. Although our teachers have a very good sense of what is behind the issues, the more help you can get to spot concerns early, the better, especially with a growing number of pupils. With our new vision for technology, we started looking at how it could help and we discovered an innovative eye-tracking tool that follows a child’s eye movements as they read a set text and then compares it with 30 years of research on other children’s eye movements. Within minutes, the tool from Lexplore Analytics spots if a child may be at risk of specific reading difficulties such as dyslexia, identifies if it’s phonics or another issue they are struggling with and helps teachers determine if they have developed the relevant reading skills for their year. Targeted support When one of our pupils had been scoring below average in literacy practice questions for her SAT assessment, it set alarm bells ringing. The AI identified that phonics and reading comprehension were the issue so her class teacher could focus the intervention accordingly. The child’s parents were brought in to help at home too and the pupil went on to achieve a higher than expected score in her SATs as a result. Another pupil clearly loved reading but tended to choose books that were aimed at much younger children. Both parents and her teacher were concerned that dyslexia was behind their child’s behaviour. However, when the pupil took the assessment using the AI tool it showed that in fact her reading ability was above average and that while she seemed to enjoy less challenging books, she was perfectly capable of reading a broader choice of topics. This new information prompted parents and teachers alike to encourage the child to choose books she would enjoy, but that would also match her reading abilities. In this case, the AI helped us prevent a child from simply coasting and helped her achieve her full potential. As Hawkedale grows it is almost inevitable that additional tools and different approaches will be adopted to help manage change. Advances in technology such as AI in schools can be used effectively to help schools understand the issues children experience and provide earlier intervention and support for their pupils. Our methods may evolve as our school gets bigger and new innovations present new solutions. But no matter the size and shape of our school, meeting pupils’ needs will always remain central to everything we do and every decision we make. For more information about how AI in schools can help to identify reading difficulties, download AI – the perfect teacher’s assistant from Lexplore Analytics.  

Cosy covers from BundleBean – for everyday adventures in all weathers!

Children in wheelchairs with BundleBean covers

Enjoy easier days out with our Wheelchair cosies – that fit effortlessly on to all special needs buggies, manual and powered wheelchairs.  They come in two sizes – a child size suitable for 3+ years and an adult size recommended for anyone from 130cm tall to full size adult.  Child Size: 80cm wide by 1m long  and Adult Size: 90cm wide by 1.40m long (we suggest you check the length of legs and footplate before ordering). Waterproof, warm and easy to stow in its own stuff-sac, these covers are super easy to fit in seconds – no need to remove harness or get out of the wheelchair to fit.  They come with a compact stuff sac for easy storage. The cheerful designs are sure to brighten even the greyest day and provide a fun talking point. A lovely way to customise a boring wheelchair! Our cosies are easy to fit with no fiddly fixings, non-restrictive and comforting. A signature pouch pocket to keeps hands warm and useful things within reach.  Perfect for anyone with sensory issues who don’t like feeling restricted and great for children who like the reassuring comfort of a blanket that can be taken everywhere – BundleBeans are also great for car seats, planes and hospital visits. BundleBean is a small business that is dedicated to designing high-performing products to make days out easier in all weathers.  We pride ourselves on personal customer service and thoughtful, practical designs. KEEP WHEELCHAIR USER WARM AND DRY – with a 100% waterproof shell and cosy fleece lining, these covers will keep you cosy and comfortable in all weathers EASY TO FIT UNIVERSAL DESIGN – easy to fit in seconds with no need to get out of the chair.  Can be fitted by the user to aid independent living, where appropriate.  Fits all manual and powered wheelchairs. REASSSURING AND PRACTICAL – designed with the wheelchair user’s needs in mind: comforting without being too restrictive for sensory issues, can withstand kicking, can be folded down to access PEGs / administer medication, contrast Velcro tabs to help with limited sight STUNNING DESIGNS – our fashion-led, Scandi-inspired designs are here to brighten up your day and provide a talking point – a great way to cheery up a boring wheelchair! RRP £29.99-£44.99 from www.bundlebean.com

The roaring twenties – what lies ahead for educators?

Sam Blyth on what lies ahead for educators

New Year is traditionally a time to look ahead and consider the future, even if it falls halfway through the year from a teacher’s perspective. Nevertheless, this New Year also marks the beginning of a new decade, making it an opportune moment to stop and think about what trends might emerge in the education sector.  Through our ongoing work with schools and teachers we have been able to put together a picture of four pervasive themes that educators agree will top the agenda in 2020 and beyond. 1.    Return of Bring Your Own Device The 2010s were characterised by a battle between teachers and students over how mobile phones should be dealt with in schools. For some staff, the answer was full prohibition, with devices being banned from classrooms, corridors and in some cases whole schools. This was certainly one way to ensure that students weren’t able to use their phones inappropriately while in the classroom, but shutting off access to devices completely was ultimately deemed short-sighted. Instead of relegating phones and tablets to simply objects of distraction, many educators are now reassessing the way they are used, harnessing the power of technology to make lessons more impactful and engaging. Looking ahead into the 2020s more and more schools are going to find ways to use devices within the school walls, whether through blended learning, educational apps or as a mechanism to deliver assessments or feedback.  2.    Revamped careers guidance To say that career paths have shifted over the past ten years would be an understatement. With the boom in technology roles, as well as the impact of automation on the number of traditional jobs available to school leavers, the employment landscape has changed considerably.  The shifting job market needs to be reflected in the advice and teaching provided by schools. Already we have begun to see tech skills being prioritised in the curriculum, and this is likely to continue as the demand for employees with technological abilities, both soft and hard, increases. In addition, we will see the continued prioritisation of ‘learning to do’ – the independent research skills and practical application of knowledge which will prepare students for an unpredictable employment market. 3.    Personalised learning will be bigger than ever Any teacher will tell you that no two students learn in exactly the same way, yet the case that the classroom environment has traditionally focused in on a one-to-many or one-size-fits-all approach. However with the introduction of new education technology over the last decade, this has begun to change. We work with a number of schools who have brought in flipped or blended learning approaches, using in-classroom laptops or tablets to change the way that students interact with their work. For some teachers, this means taking a step back from the ‘chalk and talk’ approach, and giving their students the ability to seek out knowledge for themselves. Going forward this pedagogical style is likely to become more widespread as the need for students to have individual learning skills becomes more important.  4.    The administration burden will be significantly lessened Nothing sends a teacher into spirals of despair like the prospect of mountains of marking or having to photocopy thousands of worksheets. Fortunately, this stress looks to be on the way out as more and more schools adopt software, like Canvas, that enables grades, assignments and resources to be moved online.  By investing in technology that takes the administrative burden away from teachers, schools can allow them to focus on the real work of teaching. It’s likely that the next decade will see class sizes and the demand on teacher time continue to increase. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever that teachers have all the time they need to teach and support their classes, and technology should be a big part of making this possible.  Sam Blyth, Senior Director of Canvas EMEA

Enabling a mobile campus at Orchard Hill College

Orchard Hill College exterior

Enabling a mobile campus at Orchard Hill College, article from Paul Fisher, Technical Consultant at Parallels Orchard Hill College in London is an Ofsted Outstanding specialist college with six learning centres across London and Surrey where students with learning difficulties and disabilities over the age of 16 can access a range of specialist vocational programmes from animal care and catering to digital media and more.  In order to provide a modern working environment and up-to-date working experience, the college’s team of lecturers and staff—around 300 people—need to be able to remotely connect to their work computer desktops, and access all their applications, from anywhere in the college or at home, and on any device they choose. Remote Desktops for mobile working The college decided it made sense to go down the remote application publishing and virtual desktop route and its IT department assessed the market offerings. It discovered that a basic Citrix package meant that applications could only be published through XenApp. The college needed to be able to publish its own applications and desktops to laptops and mobile devices being used remotely, but to do this would need to purchase a more expensive license. In addition, the IT department discovered that managing the Citrix environment was complicated and they really needed to invest in some training which would dramatically increase the deployment time for the college. Because of the real potential for increased workload and costly upgrades, the college decided to go with Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) as a simpler and more cost-effective alternative. With just one license, everything is included. Why Parallels RAS? First and foremost, Parallels RAS eliminates the need for expensive add-ons. It is also so simple to set up and maintain, the college IT team can handle it all and there is no requirement for additional help from external technicians. RAS is an all-in-one solution that includes simple patching and updates to all clones, load balancing, automatic configuration of clients, and ready-to-go shadowing features that make technical support easy. Orchard Hill College found it to be quick and straightforward to migrate across to its new Parallels RAS platform. Instead of the anticipated months, completion took only a few hours, impressing the college’s IT department. BYOD made easy An additional benefit – and one that is greatly appreciated – is that faculty and staff at Orchard Hill College can now bring in their own laptops, tablets and mobile devices to work on. This is because Parallels RAS enables the college to implement a data-secure bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, which helps extend the life of its existing hardware and saves the college money in terms of buying replacement devices. The IT department is able to update the administrative documentation on any device, anywhere, including from the comfort of their own homes. The college currently supports BYOD devices that run Windows, Mac®, iOS, and HTML5 Client, and will add support for Chromebooks soon. Thanks to Parallels RAS, Orchard Hill College has been able to lower the total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) of its remote application management, which give the faculty and staff the ability to work on mobile devices and have a BYOD policy. The savings come from lower licensing costs, reduced additional application costs, an increase in efficiency to load balances, and server management optimisation.  Visit parallels.com/ras for more information.

What you should know about SEND teacher applications

SEND teacher roles

January to June is a key time for school recruitment and for roles working with people with special needs and disabilities as the New Year is often when management teams turn their eye to planning for the next academic year. But how do you make your SEND teacher application stand out from the crowd at a time when everyone is looking for a new job? We caught up with professionals in SEND recruitment to ask their tips on how to write successful job applications for these types of roles. Start with the basics Kelly Woollard is the lead SEND consultant at Clarus Education, one of the UK’s largest education recruitment companies. She deals with hundreds of teaching job applications every week and has the following advice.  “My first tip is to get the basics right. A good application will use clear written English with correct spelling and grammar and will be laid out neatly. It sounds obvious but when I’m sifting through applications, you’d be surprised at how many have mistakes or a messy layout. They immediately stand out for all the wrong reasons.  “Next you need to think about crafting a good personal statement. This will set your stall from the outset. Highlight your ambition and passion, key achievements, outcomes and impact for children. Selling yourself is something that a lot of people can feel uncomfortable about, but the way to get around it is to approach it as though you are talking about somebody else. Ask your friends, relatives or former colleagues for ideas about what they think you’re good at. Business networking sites like LinkedIn are also a great place to get professional recommendations, so use (and actively seek out) endorsements from here and paraphrase them on your application. “If you feel uncomfortable about asking people for help, consider how you would feel if the shoe was on the other foot – the fact that you work in education, and particularly in SEND, means that it’s probably in your nature to want to help others; it’s likely you will find that your own network will feel the same.   “In terms of layout, bullet points are a good option. We get hundreds of applications for each role, so remember the person reading yours is likely to have seen quite a few. Anything that keeps it short, snappy and to the point is a winner.  Highlight any extra curriculum activities you can do such as languages, Duke of Edinburgh, sports clubs etc.   “Photos can be a good idea and can make your application stand out, but it needs to be a head and shoulders shot that looks professional. A cropped photo from a night out is not the way to go.” Tailor your application to the specific SEND teacher role Amy Allen, founder of Senploy, the UK’s first jobsite dedicated to special educational needs and disabilities roles, has this advice: “You’ll probably know from experience that SEND teacher jobs often require application forms either as well as (or instead of) sending a CV. Often it’s because SEND teacher roles are publicly funded based at schools, colleges, councils and within the NHS, where it’s an integral part of the HR process. It’s also a way of the organisation gauging if your personality suits the type of role you’re applying for. “In our industry, more so than others, it’s essential to write an application that’s bespoke to the role. It can be difficult to stay motivated if you’ve written multiple job applications already, but by tailoring your application to the specific organisation you’ll make yourself stand out as somebody who is aligned with their vision and values. Read up on their mission statement and company ethos and demonstrate how you ‘fit’ with these. “As well as qualifications and experience, demonstrating ‘softer skills’ like empathy, patience and understanding are just as important for roles in the SEND industry, so potential employers will often ask you to fill in an application form with questions geared towards assessing these areas. Here is a chance to showcase your personality, the unique qualities you have that will mean you’ll excel in a role working with people with special needs and disabilities. I’d always try to weave in some real-life examples here – obviously it’s great if they’re work related but you can use situations from your personal life if they’re appropriate. Think outside the box!  “Another tip is to be wary of jargon, our industry uses lots of acronyms which can make you look unprofessional if you get them wrong.  Use correct and up to date SEND terminology then check and double check to make sure your using the right abbreviations. And if you’re not sure, use a full description. My one rule is to never guess as that could leave you looking unprofessional.   “When adding any training use the correct qualification like Team Teach, don’t abbreviate to TT. Always state the date you undertook the training as some qualifications need refreshing.”  Senploy is the UK’s first dedicated job site for careers in the special educational needs and disability sector, the website is packed with helpful advice for those looking for SEND teacher roles.