Working with children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities by Jessica Wallace

Hi there! My name is Jess and I work as part of Thames Teachers Learning Support Division. The scope of my role includes working with Special Educational Needs schools and specialist staff. This is an area that is rapidly expanding at Thames Teachers and we welcome committed and enthusiastic staff to join the team.
Our staff are constantly learning about and adapting their approaches to working with children with Special Educational Needs  and disabilities (SEND). Flexibility, willingness and a positive attitude, not necessarily prior SEND experience, are key to effective support and teaching.
Here are some things to consider when supporting children with Special Educational Needs (SEND):
Attitude
– Working with children with SEND requires consistency, compassion and patience. Having a positive and pleasant attitude allows you to be approachable and engaging. Tact and sensitivity are essential as is a responsible attitude.

– As a support staff member being proactive and flexible within a classroom allows you to respond to the needs of students and teachers helping foster a safe, engaging and calm environment for the students in your care.
Preparation
– Working with children with SEND is rewarding and like any role comes with its own set of challenges. In order to equip yourself to effectively work with these challenges research the needs of the children you are working with. Educate yourself about the SEND you are supporting and how best to do so. Be proactive and ascertain whether specialist training (i.e communication skills training such as Makaton/ PECs) is useful in your role.

– Be sure to build relationships with parents, carers and teachers who interact with the children and observe how they do so- they will have a lot to teach you about how best to communicate with the children in your care.

– Some useful resources: https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/planning/jobprofiles/Pages/specialneedsteachingassistant.aspx https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resources-hub/special-educational-needs/ http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/ http://www.interventionsforliteracy.org.uk/ http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/ http://www.autism.org.uk/working-with/education.aspx
Communication
– When working with children with SEND be sure to be clear and concise in your communication. Use deliberate language and structure your communication and instruction so students are aware what is happening now and what is happening later to avoid confusion. Praise and positive reinforcement go a long way!

– Non Verbal communication is also very important for children who struggle to interpret the outside world. Be mindful of this and ensure that you keep an open and approachable demeanour. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from others!
As well as teaching support staff we also provide mainstream and SEND schools with teachers and specialists such as Inclusion managers, teachers of the deaf, SENCOs and welfare officers. We work in conjunction with senior leadership teams, specialist provision services and local authorities to ensure we provide the highest quality staff. We make sure to visit the schools that we work with so that we can provide you accurate and honest information about the environment you will be working in.
If you are looking to work with SEND please do get in touch about our current vacancies and September roles.

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