Youth work and social care news from around the world

Links from around the world of youth work and social care:

  • SEND complaints: guide for young people: The Department for Education (DfE) has published guidance for young people aged 16-25 in England who are unhappy with their special educational needs and disability (SEND) provision or support at school or college, and need help and guidance on how to resolve disagreements.
  • UK Youth Parliament surveyThe UK Youth Parliament has launched a Make your mark survey of the views of young people aged 11-18. Young people are invited to take part in the ballot to decide what members of the UK Youth Parliament should debate and vote on to be their campaign in 2019. The survey closes on 10 October 2018.
  • Vulnerable young people: The Home Office has published a summary of the 11 local authority-led projects in England receiving grant funding from the Trusted Relationships Fund to help youth workers, police, nurses and other professionals working with vulnerable young people aged 10-17 who are at risk of child sexual abuse, criminal exploitation or peer and relationship abuse.
  • Revised Police & Criminal Evidence Act Codes of Practice (PACE): Changes to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act Codes of Practice, codes C (detention), H (detention – terrorism), E (audio recording of suspect interviews) and F (visual recording of suspect interviews), came in to force on 31 July 2018 including changes that are of particular significance to children and young people.
  • New unit to tackle exploitation of vulnerable young people: The Department for Education (DfE) has announced plans for a new national response unit to help local authorities in England support vulnerable children at risk of exploitation by criminal gangs. The new unit, which will operate from 2019 up until 2022, will address child sexual exploitation together with other crimes, such as gang and drug activity, which exploit vulnerable children and can lead to children going missing.
  • First ever study of serious case reviews of sudden unexpected infant deaths: The research was conducted by academics at the University of Warwick who aimed to develop a detailed understanding of the circumstances of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) cases subject to serious case review.  Key findings include: domestic violence, mental health problems and substance misuse highlighted as factors; most cases occurred when intoxicated parents shared sleeping surfaces with child; and many happen following a sudden change in family circumstances.

Stranger hailed ‘hero’ after helping Farnborough autistic child on train

The mother of a five-year-old boy with autism has hailed a young man a “hero” after he stepped in to help calm her son during a difficult train journey.

Gayna Pealling hailed Daniel Ball, 21, from Farringdon, “my hero” after he distracted her son Jack when he became distressed on a train to Farnborough.

She posted images on Facebook of Mr Ball playing with Jack, which have been shared hundreds of times.

The pair have since began campaigning to raise awareness of autism and ADHD.

Ms Pealling, a single mother from Farnborough, Hampshire, was travelling home from Portsmouth when her son Jack began having a “meltdown”.  She said:

“I can’t thank Dan enough for what he did that day.  Strangers just think my child is misbehaving but it is just his condition. I got a lot of bad looks from a lot of people on the train – which didn’t help the situation.”

Dan helped distract Jack, who was shouting and swearing, by asking him to come and draw with his sister Amy, Ms Pealling added.

The pair have since set up a campaign to help raise awareness of the condition with the help of Mr Ball’s mother Barbara, who has worked in the special needs sector since 1976.

Mr Ball also has a fundraising page for the National Autistic Society which has already exceeded its £1,000 target.  He said:

“I thought that, as people have taken the time to like and share the post with the photos of me in, they might be able to share a few pounds and – hopefully – we can make a bit of a difference”

The team has created badges which say “The Rescuer” and “Come to my rescue” which they are urging people to wear on public transport to help bring attention to parents with autistic children who may need help.

Mrs Ball, said:

“Judging by the response to Gayna’s Facebook post, most parents would be grateful for a smile, a nod or a word of support or even an offer to help in an extreme situation such as Gayna and Dan found themselves in.”

Christmas video 22: 10 year old girl Kaylee Rodgers sings brilliant version of Hallelujah

Christmas video 22: 10 year old girl Kaylee Rodgers sings brilliant version of Hallelujah

A 10-year-old girl from Northern Ireland has gone viral after a video of her singing a variation on Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ for her school choir performance was posted on Facebook.

Kaylee Rodgers, from Donaghadee, County Down, has autism and ADHD, and began singing as a way to build her confidence.

The video of her singing the Killard House school choir’s version of ‘Hallelujah’ has attracted more than 200,000 views from people around the world.

It was originally posted by parent Nichola Martin, who was proud of her son Blake who also took part in the choir.

Kaylee told ITV that she was excited just to be singing, but that it was also “amazing” that the video had received so much attention.  She said:

“I just loved doing it.”

Colin Millar, head teacher at Killard House, said:

“For a child who came in P4 and would really talk, couldn’t really read out in class, to stand and perform in front of an audience is amazing.  It takes a lot of effort on Kaylee’s part.”

The alternative lyrics sung by Kaylee were written by contemporary Christian rock band Cloverton, who are based in Kansas.  Their version was posted on YouTube in 2014

A Makaton Nativity Play

born-this-nightRebecca Thompson created a wonderful Christmas resource a couple of years ago that is designed with Makaton symbols as part of it.  She is Mum of Jacob, a young boy with Downs Syndrome, and a Primary School teacher.  She’s now brought out a second Christmas resource.

The resource, called Born This Night, includes seven delightful songs, a simple humorous rhyming script and adaptable parts to suit small or larger casts.  The songbook is easy to use and contains everything you need to stage an enjoyable and memorable performance.


The Gold Star Inn tells the traditional Nativity story with the help of a donkey who likes to hum! It includes the ten fabulous new songs and two scripts, one for younger children and a longer script suitable for older children. Both stories can be adapted to suit the needs and abilities of groups of children and have proved popular with pupils and teachers in mainstream and special school.

It includes a professionally recorded CD with full performance tracks to listen to the lyrics and backing tracks for the children to sing along to when they have learnt them.  Price with licence for use in school £30.

Alternatively, parents and carers can buy the book and CD to learn and sing the festive songs at home (no licence required).  Priced at £20.

For more information about the plays or to order your copy visit Jacob’s Ladder Productions.

How to support siblings of children with additional needs

Caring for siblings of children with special needs

This is a brilliant blog post by Phoebe on the challenges siblings of children with additional needs go through.  Read and share this with others:

“She ruins everything!” I said to my mom when I was six and my big sister bumped into an art project I’d been working on all day.

And again when I was twelve and she wanted to hang out with me and my friends at my slumber party.

And again when I was seventeen and she snuck upstairs when I was watching a movie with a boyfriend.

Being fourteen months younger than my sister with Down syndrome wasn’t always easy. We were a grade apart in school, in a town where everyone knew everyone else. I was occasionally referred to as “Syble’s sister” instead of by my own name. When people made jokes about the kids on the short bus or “retards” I had to decide if I was going to stand up for my sister and bring more attention to myself or just let it go. And even at home, I tried to be perfect and low maintenance to make up for the extra work and attention my parents had to put into her.

And that’s why when I look into the eyes of my son David after he’s just said “He ruins everything!” referring to his brother with autism, I get it. I so get it. I get the frustration and the fear. I get the exhaustion and the embarrassment. I relive the moments I had at each stage I went through as a special-needs sibling. And it’s because of that experience I try to remember a few things.

Go read Phoebe’s blog for her advice on what she tries to do for her son, it includes:

  • I don’t shame my typical son for the way he is feeling in the moment.
  • I remind him our feelings can lie to us.
  • I celebrate the accomplishments of both boys.
  • I give him opportunities to grow in areas of interest.
  • I make sure we have one-on-one time together.
  • I say thank you every day.

23 Ways To Communicate With A Non-Verbal Child


The key to working with children and young people often centres on communication.  But how do you do this with non-verbal (or mainly non-verbal) children and young people.

Parents of children and adults with special needs contributed their best tips to Scope leading to these 23 ways to communicate.  This is a really useful read for those of us living with or working with non-verbal (or mainly non-verbal) children.

Here’s a few of my favourites:

2. Level it up

Playing and talking are easier if you can see each other. Sit so you are at the same level.

3. Talk about it

Eddy can’t speak and also has limited understanding but it is important to keep talking to him about what’s going on.

4. Eye contact

I put stickers on my forehead as a target for my son to look at.  This reminds him to look at people’s faces, so people feel more like he is engaging with them.

8. Find other means of expression

Give your child an opportunity to express themselves. Dance, music, drawing, painting, messing with textures, banging drums, shaking maracas – and join in too. Don’t be afraid to lay down with them on the carpet and see the world from their point of view.

9. It’s not obvious

Therapist often ask you to keep eye contact with them.  We (Aspies – people with Aspergers syndrome) often avoid eye contact because it helps us to focus on what someone is saying.  I find it hard to process verbal information and think about signals from someone’s face at the same time.

11. Create social stories

I have been creating my own social stories using pictures of my son and clip art pictures. You can find images of most things through Microsoft Office and easily type up your own personalised stories.

12. Make ‘flash cards’

Take photos of a non verbal person’s favorite toys, family members, objects eg cup, biscuit etc. Choose the most motivating items to begin with. Print and laminate them postcard size. Giving a choice of no more than three cards at a time, encourage them to choose by pointing or touching. May also be helpful to put the relevant sign on the back of photo as a reference for others

19. Communication passports

A communication passport is a one page document that the child has with him or her all of the time. It gives the people they meet basic information about how they communicate and what support they need. You can find out more about communication passports at

22. Personal portfolio

Cerebra provides a free service to help parents create a personal portfolio for their child aged 16 and under. A personal portfolio is a user-friendly booklet about your child to introduce them to others. It is especially helpful when your child has communication difficulties. Very useful for teachers & professionals.

23. Intensive Interaction

I have two children on the spectrum, aged 7 & 5. Intensive Interaction helped me stay sane and unlocked the barriers so I could communicate with them.





Sally Phillips on parenting a child with additional needs in church

Sally PhillipsRuth Jackson from Childrenswork Magazine has done a great interview with actress Sally Philips on parenting a child with additional needs in church.  Sally and her husband have three sons and Olly, their eldest (aged 11) has Down’s syndrome.

RJ: Not every church has the necessary resources and manpower to serve children with special educational needs (SEN). Do you have any advice for churches and children’s workers?

SP: Good will is a good start but it’s often not enough. Generally, children’s workers are not prepared enough and the activities not differentiated enough so that kids with SEN can access them. There’s also a lack of volunteers. In school, Olly has one-to-one support. In church, he doesn’t, even though he still needs it. In school, his lessons are adapted, in church, he has to do the same as the others. If you prepare the lesson with multi-sensory options, all of the children will benefit, as there are many typically developing kids who prefer different ways of learning.

Incidentally, more traditional forms of church are much easier for SEN adults to access than ‘as the Spirit leads’ churches. The ritual and physicalisation of worship and prayer, the prayer book that they can follow, the same pattern every week, the weekly Eucharist etc are very helpful for people whose primary mode of communication may not be verbal.

Sally goes on to give some really helpful practical ideas that churches can use to be more inclusive to children with additional needs – it’s well worth taking the time to read this.

SEN Conference – Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants

The last session of the Hampshire County Council SEN Conference was entitled “Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants” and led by Rob Webster, Principal Special Needs Officer

HCC governor services

Working in HCC since April 2013.  Was at the Institute of Education in London before that.

Some aims:

  • Understand why schools need to examine how TAs are used
  • Take a closer look at factors that affect TAs effectiveness
  • What is the role and purpose of TAs?
  • Explore things shcools could do different.  Maximising the impact of TAs.


There is an assumption that TAs help raise pupil standards, but there had been little systematic research on impact over long-term and under everyday classroom conditions – there had been bits on literacy interventions etc.  The Deployment and Impact of Support Staff (DISS) project (2009) focussed on all support staff, especially TAs.  This then led to the Effective Deployment of TAs (EDTA) in 2011.

Scale of the DISS project

  • 17,800+ biennial national questionaire survey.
  • Analysis of impact of TA uspport on 8,200 pupils in 153 mainstream schools.
  • Observations of 680+ pupils and 100+ TAs in 114 schools.
  • Detailed case studies in 65 cschools.
  • Interviews with 280+ heads, SENCos, teachers and TAs.
  • Analysis of adult-to-pupil talk (teacher and TAs) in 16 lessons

Comparison of TA Support verses non TA Support within a classroom environment.

Year National Curriculum sub-level
English Maths Science
1 -1.5 -1
2 -1.5 -1 -1
3 -2 -2
6 -1 -0.75 -1
7 -2 -1.5
9 -1 -0.75 -1
10 -1*


  • expressed as 1 GCSE grade


  • Pupils with Statements profoundly affected by current arrangements: those with the most TA support, made the least progress.
  • Used statistical techniques that control for variables known to affect attainment (e.g. SEN, FSM, prior attachment).
  • It is NOT the fault of TAs
  • Organisational and structural factors over which TAs have little or no control.

Issues of

  • Conditions of employment
  • Preparedness
  • Characteristics

DISS: Which pupils do adults work with


Interaction by pupil level of SEN Teacher TA
Non-SEN 55% 27%
School Action 24% 32%
School Action Plus or SEN statement 21% 41%

TAs rarely worked with middle and higher attaining pupils.  The higher the level of need, the more interaction with TAs and the less interaction the teachers.

  • Teachers spent more time explaining concepts.  TA explanations were sometimes inaccurate or confusing.
  • Teachers provided more feedback.  TAs more likely to prompt pupils and supply answers.
  • Teachers linked current lesson to pupils’ prior knowledge, promoted pupils’ thinking and cognitive engagement in a task.  TAs more concerned with task completion.
  • Teachers ‘open up’ talk; TAs close talk down.


  • 75% teachers have no training to work with/manage TAs
  • 75% teachers no allocated planning or feedback time.
  • Teacher-TA meetings depended on TA’s goodwill.
  • TAs underprepared: having to tune into teachers talk for content/instructions.

Key messages from the research

  • Pupils with SEN receive more support from TAs than teachers
  • TA support is alternative to teacher support – not additional
  • Pupils with SEN separated from classroom, teacher and peers
  • TAs have main responsibility for teaching pupils with statements
  • Training for teachers key factor in current arrangements
  • TAs pedagogical input is well intentioned, but unlikely to narrow attainment gap
  • Currency of statements seem problematic as written in hours for TA.

Implications for practice

  • A fundamental rethink is required if schools are going to get the best use from their TAs – and help pupils.
  • Organisational and strucutral factors need attention:
  • Deployment of TAs (and teachers)
  • Practice: TAs interactions with pupils
  • Preparedness of teachers and TAs.

Rethinking the TA’s role

  • Pupil Premium is built on spending the money leading to outcomes, but that isn’t the case.  It is how and on what you spend it than can cause outcomes to be met.

Effective Deployment of TAs Project

  • Collaborated with 40 teachers and TAs in 10 schools (20 pairs) with the aim to develop and evaluated alternative strategies to TA preparedness, deployment and practice under normal funding.
  • Developed over one academic year, spending one term on each of the three areas.
  • This has become the basis for Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants which has a programme of work that any school can work through and examine how they use TAs.

Conduct an audit

  • Changes cannot be decided until you know what requires change.
  • Decision-makers: make sure you know what you think you know.
  • Obtain objective and subjective pictures of current practice.
  • Opportunity to identify and build on existing good practice.
  • Check out

Decisions about deployment

What do you want the role and purpose of TAs to be?  Teaching role and non-teaching roles (admin, SEAL, mobility, class organisation).  This is a collaborative process of challenge and change – not about assessing how effective TAs are.  The problem arise when TA role “drifts” from non-teaching towards teaching.  25% of the school workforce are currently TAs.

Key questions

  • Can/should TAs be as effective as teachers without the same professional development?  Or pay?
  • Should TAs routinely teach pupils with the most demanding SEN?
  • If TAs can be as effective as TAs then teachers should be worried as they cost a lot less!

TAs and Pupils with SEN

What OFSTED are looking for:

Quality of teaching – Inspectors must evaluate the use that is made of TAs.

The Teacher is responsible for progress and development of all pupils.

TAs and Interventions

When TAs lead interventions they often get positive outcomes.  Why does this impact get lost in the terms of wider/annual attainment?  There often seems to be the world of the Classroom and the world of the TA with the pupils having to make the link themselves.  Teachers and TAs need to help them make sense of this.  An interventions health check:

  • Are we using good intervention programmes, are we using good programmes badly?
  • Do we need to update the training?
  • How effective are our reporting mechanisms to teachers?
  • Do teachers engage with interventions and progress data?

Making best use of TAs time

A third of the time teachers are just being part of the classroom audience – that raises questions around value for money.  The TA repeats word-for-word the teachers instructions for a specific child, creating “stereo-teaching” – the child is now trying to listen to two voices instead of one.

Decisions about Practice

Set TAs free from unhelpful patterns of behaviour that underpin less effective types of talk:

  • The impulse to complete tasks
  • Not allowing time for pupils to think and respond
  • Taking peer role of “talk partner”

Teachers use more open ended questions than TAs who used closed questioning.    Need to reflect on forms of questioning that keep responsibility for learning with pupil.  Pupils can become dependent on TA, they can almost not engage with work unless TA does the work for the pupil.  Changing this helps to avoid spoon-feeding and pupils developing independence.

Key Findings

All the schools involved made widespread changes “no going back” to how things were.  Teachers spent more time with pupils with SEN – a professional satisfaction.

  • Teachers made better use of TA time in lessons.
  • TAs questioning improved.
  • Quality and clarity of lesson plans improved; less “going in blind”.
  • TAs feel more valued, appreciated, more confident about role.


Questions, Comments, Discussion

  • In your research were TAs more effectively used in Primary than Secondary given they more often stay in 1 classroom?  The research seems to suggest not, but there are greater challenges in secondary schools moving from classroom to classroom, where inconsistency is much more of an issue according to the research.
  • Where were the schools located?  The first study was from England & Wales and representative of the population, e.g. rural v urban.


Further reading

  • Reassessing the impact of Teaching Assistants – that’s the research
  • Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants – designed for Head Teachers and Teachers
  • Teaching Assistants: A guide to good practice – download at

SEN Conference – Pupil Premium

The third session of the Hampshire County Council SEN Conference was entitled “Pupil Premium” and led by Glynis Wright, County Inspector/Adviser (PDL)

HCC governor services

Outcomes, outcomes, outcomes

What do we want for all of our young people?

To maximise potential, to be self-assured, confident, enthused with great aspirations with life skills prepared for adult life.

Interestingly when we talk with parents they don’t include academic achievement.

The Pupil Premium has been given to this to help resolve this.

FSM, Service Children, CiC, SEN

In each school we will have pupils on FSM, pupils entitled to FSM but parents haven’t completed paperwork.  The news this week about pupils in Infant schools gaining FSM will change this, especially if widened to .

CiC may be worth double funding if they’ve been registered for FSM – £900 for FSM Ever 6 and a claim for being in care for 6 months plus.  Service children can claim £300.  Under Ever3 you can claim for 3 years after the parent(s) have left the forces.  So are you asking the questions that need to be asked.

SEN children some of whom gain additional funding, and some you find funding for from the budget.  If you have Service Children with SEN there is a concern over the delay in getting them assessed – the issue of turbulence contributing.

Who are the vulnerable groups in your schools?

What characteristics might they show?  Traveller families, SEN, CiC, high turbulence, young carers, EAL, BME, boys.  OFSTED will want to know how you’re addressing these issues, and what individual teachers are doing to address these needs.

For those CYP who are vulnerable but as yet gained no funding how can you scoop up and help them benefit from what htey’re putting in place.  218 out of 581 schools responded to Pupil Premium survey – used a small portion of Pupil Premium to better train Teachers and Staff, e.g. in doing 1-2-1 or peer educators – that is how it will be sustainable post 2015 if the funding stops.

Background to Pupil Premium

Introduced in April 2011 for FSM only at £450.  No real pressure on schools, and so an ad-hoc system developed with some schools putting it in general budget.  £623 in 2012.  £900 in 2013 with the proviso of accountability.  Only 47% of HCC Schools have anything on website in March 2013.  Will be £1,300 for Primary only on 1st April 2014.  Josie Matthews at HCC says still no news for Secondary, but £500 catch up for every child who arrives in school with no Level 4+ in English and Maths.

Sutton Trust EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit 2011 “What works”

  1. Effective feedback
  2. Metacognition and self-regulation
  3. Peer tutoring
  4. Early intervention
  5. 1-2-1 tutoring
  6. ICT
  7. Phonics
  8. Parental involvement

Sutton Trust Research 2013

  1. Effective feedback ££ +8mths
  2. Metacognition and self-regulation ££ +8mths
  3. Peer tutoring ££££ +6mths
  4. Early Years interventions £££££ +6mths
  5. 1-2-1 tutoring ££££ +5mths
  6. Homework (secondary) £££ +5mths
  7. Collaborative learning £ +5mths
  8. Phonics £ +4mths

What else

Sometimes schools are too focussed on academic – more of the same that has already failed them.  We need to help unlock their lust ofr learning.  Some of these soft interventions do make a real difference:

  • Breakfast clubs
  • After-school programmes – e.g. ROC challenge, school productions
  • Multi-agency teams in school
  • Parenting support
  • Allocate best teachers to disadvantaged children

Yes you need to show progress but there are other ways of measuring in addition to levels of progress.

OFSTED Report January 2013

Pupil Premium: How schools are spending the funding successfully to maximise achievement is the follow up to the report published in September 2012.  Need to use the Pupil Premium Analysis & Challenge Toolkit for Schools:

  • Governor’s knowledge and awareness
  • Leaders and managers actions
  • Pupil’s progress and attainment

Overall, will governors know and be able to intervene quickly if outcomes are not improving in the way that they want them to?

The Government have been very clever putting the onus on Governors and have parents as sentry’s checking up on this via the info you have to place on your website.