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  • School Avoidance is on the Rise

    Emotionally-based school avoidance (also known as 'anxiety based school avoidance') is rising and children are beginning to have their voices heard. The children that can’t go to school can be the most courageous children you will ever meet. They are making a stand against a system that they feel does not serve them or their mental wellbeing. They know themselves and what they need emotionally. Children are responding to what their bodies and brains are telling them, but they can't always communicate their needs. They don’t always have the words to explain themselves or sometimes they don't have the support to provide the evidence. During the pandemic we all experienced a different way of living and working and children especially adapted hugely to how they were learning. Even those of key-worker families that attended school, did so in different classes and had to get used to a different environment and structure to a normal school day. Some children that attended school, thrived in a quieter atmosphere and some felt a little anxious about the home-learners returning to school. On the other hand, some SEND children were thriving at home and felt anxious about returning to school. It showed children and families that there was another way to learn without being taught in a mainstream setting. The pandemic taught us a lot about what children need educationally this is potentially one reason why school avoidance is on the rise. When you show people there is more than one way to do something they were originally struggling with, it's natural for them to gravitate towards the option of home-learning or online learning.

  • Autism and Anxiety Teacher and SENCO Training

    Our Next STLS training session in Ashford is on the 22nd March covering Autism and Anxiety. Sara Cave, our Communication and Interaction specialist, will be hosting the training and is really looking forward to helping build everyone's confidence around these areas. This training is a brilliant opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of ASD and Anxiety. Alongside building your knowledge you will also learn positive techniques and responses which will benefit your pupils, their mental health and the classroom environment as a whole. If you feel this training will be beneficial to your or your colleagues please email Lizzie at to request a booking form.

  • Welcome back!

    Welcome back to Term 4. We hope you all had a wonderful half term and are ready for the build up to Easter. The STLS team have hit the ground running this week with training and plenty of school visits. Sherrie had a successful training session on Tuesday helping teaching staff upskill on their knowledge with Dyscalculia and how to assist with maths difficulties with their pupils. Heather and Amy also had a training session on Tuesday covering Behaviour Awareness and Emotional Regulation. The teaching staff that attended this session were brilliant participants and hopefully left with extra confidence in their abilities to help their students. The Behaviour Awareness training was so popular that unfortunately we had to turn people away, however Amy and Heather would be pleased to hold the session again so keep an eye on our training schedule for any updates. Our training schedule can be found on our website as always and is kept up-to-date daily. As always please feel free to email me with any requests or information at I hope you have all had a great first week back!

  • February Half Term Activities in Ashford

    If you're looking for things to do around the Ashford, Kent area then here are a few local activities, some of which are perfect for children with sensory needs and SEND

  • Behaviour Awareness and Emotional Regulation Training

    Don't miss out on our upcoming training after half term with Amy Honey and Heather Woodcock covering Behaviour Awareness and Emotional Regulation. An excellent opportunity to focus on any barriers and upskill within this area.

  • SEMH Useful Links and Resources

    Please see below a few useful websites collated by the Ashford STLS team focusing on SEMH (Social Emotional and Mental Health). UP stands for 'Unlocking Potential'. They work collaboratively with communities to enable children and young people with social, emotional, and mental health needs to unlock their full potential. Downloadable resources to support wellbeing and emotions, Interventions and Learning Support. Resources that helps young people, parents and carers and practitioners to understand emotional wellbeing and resilience – this content is downloadable with video guidance.

  • Dyscalculia and Maths Difficulties Training

    Don't miss out on our upcoming training after half term with Sherrie Hogg on covering Dyscalculia and Maths Difficulties. An excellent opportunity to focus on any barriers within this area.

  • Book your Virtual School Kent Workshop - Working with Children with a Social Worker

    DO YOU WORK WITH CHILDREN WHO HAVE A SOCIAL WORKER? Virtual School Kent and the Education Psychology Service invite you to be part of multi-agency workshops to collectively think about the support needed for this group of young people in the Shepway & Ashford area. Even if you missed the first workshop you can still book on to the following 2. You will gain a deeper understanding of ACES (adverse childhood experiences), discuss what works and review evidence, interventions and their impact. It'll give you a chance to highlight what can be developed in schools and the systems children are placed in. For further information on how to book, please take a look at VSK's flyer below.

  • What Happens During a SENCO Forum?

    Our SENCO Forum is organised termly by the Ashford STLS team, but is also held by other independent communities of people, mainly education professionals, across the area. Every forum focuses around those with a particular interest in special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and our forum has a more localised viewpoint, helping to connect SENCO's within the Ashford district between Secondary and Primary settings. Most of our attendees are SENCOs (special educational needs coordinators) however we do also have other members of staff from our local Ashford schools attend. Everyone who is involved in SEND is welcome and may find the forums useful, including teachers, assistants and headteachers. The forum provides opportunities for people to ask questions, offer suggestions, discuss and debate. It also gives our STLS team and the SENCOs that attend a chance to share information and resources, in the field of SEND. It can be a very informal discussion around any barriers some staff members may be facing, utilizing other colleagues' knowledge while enjoying a hot drink and a biscuit. For upcoming dates of our SENCO forums, please look at our training schedule here: which is updated regularly. Alternatively you can email Lizzie at for any more information.

  • Coping with Uncertainty in Everyday Situations Intervention Group for Autistic Children

    Have you heard about the Coping with Uncertainty in Everyday Situations (CUES©) parent group? It's a programme for parents of autistic children experiencing anxiety. This programme offers training and access to the CUES© materials for delivery in clinical services. Details about the training workshops are below: When? 10am-1pm Wednesday 8th March 2023 AND 10am-1pm Wednesday 15th March 2023. Delegates need to attend both sessions. Where? Via Microsoft Teams. Links will be sent to delegates following registration. What is involved? Training is provided on how to deliver the CUES© programme and support parents of autistic children and young people experiencing anxiety due to difficulties with uncertainty. The CUES© intervention programme supports parents to gain confidence in their ability to recognise and manage their child's difficulties with uncertainty through group learning opportunities. To deliver CUES, you will be required to attend two training workshops. You will be provided with the workshop training slides and CUES© therapist manual pre-workshop. Following attendance at both workshops you will also be provided with: PowerPoint slides for the 8 therapy sessions (electronic version) All corresponding handouts and worksheets for parents (as pdfs) A copy of the Uncertain Situations semi-structured interview (as a pdf) A certificate of attendance After the second workshop you will be sent an anonymous feedback form to get some feedback from you about the training and to help us to plan for future sessions. To book just fill in this registration form: There will be £50 charge for the training and all of the materials, payable upon registration via card payment. 20 spaces will be available for the training sessions.

  • How can we support learners with Dyscalculia and Dyslexia

    How can we support learners with dyscalculia? Maths is a hierarchical subject where topics are revisited at a more and more complex level. Therefore, if early concepts have not been understood, this will impact on later learning. In early learning, children should not just be taught the digit symbol and the name but also form an internal visual representation of that number, in other words ‘see’ the number as a dice pattern or numicon tile. This helps establish a good understanding of the relationship between the name of the number, the symbol and its magnitude or size. Children then need to develop flexibility of number and know how numbers are made up, for example, 6 can be; 4 + 2 Double 3 5 + 1 7 – 1 This is equivalent to being able to match letters to sounds when learning to read. Thereafter all concepts need to be modelled using concrete materials such as Cuisenaire rods, dice patterns, Dienes apparatus and similar. The main cause of failure in maths is when the symbols have no meaning and children are taught in a procedural way, not understanding what they are doing and therefore not being able to remember the procedure or having the confidence to look for different ways to solve the problems. We also need to be careful to use maths language correctly and ensure that its meaning is understood. Good sources of information: maths explained Ronit Bird Video Emerson, J. & Babtie, P. (2015) Understanding Dyscalculia and Numeracy Difficulties. London: Jessica Kingsley Hornigold, J. (2015) Dyscalculia Pocket Book. Winchester: Teacher’s Pocket Books Hornigold, J. (2017) Understanding Learning Difficulties in Maths: Dyscalculia, Dyslexia or Dyspraia. London: McGraw-Hill Ronit Bird – Workbooks and ebooks, Moorcraft Paul (2014) It Just Doesn’t Add up. St Albans: Tarquin Reasonable Adjustments Dyslexia can have a substantial and long term adverse effect on normal day to day activities, and is therefore a recognised disability under the Equality Act 2010. The Act states that schools and higher education institutions have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled students (this includes students with learning difficulties such as dyslexia). The duty to make reasonable adjustments requires a school to take positive steps to ensure that pupils with additional needs can fully participate in the education provided by the school, and that they can enjoy the other benefits, facilities and services that the school provides for pupils. Often reasonable adjustments are minor changes and don't have to involved costly materials or additional staff time. Small considered changes can have a big impact on a student's education. Examples of reasonable adjustments: Offer alternatives to writing as a key method of recording Provide handouts that contain the learning points rather than asking pupils to copy text from the whiteboard or take notes Repeat instructions/information and check for understanding of tasks Use a visual timetable with colour coding and symbols Alter format options onscreen on an interactive whiteboard Encourage peer support to record homework tasks in the planner Provide access to assistive technology such as a computer, for pupils who find it difficult to read large amounts of text or to write quickly enough in class Use multisensory ways of teaching. Allow time to respond as many dyslexic students are slower to process information Break information up into smaller 'chunks'. These simple changes can benef

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