Written by Jo Dilworth, SEND and Inclusion consultant, LGfL
The beginning of the academic year is an extremely daunting time for many of our young people, and most especially for those with SEND and/or SEMH needs. With new staff, routines, classrooms, subjects, equipment and sometimes new schools to get used to, this time of year often causes a lot of anxiety. Early September is also really busy for staff as they work hard to set up and implement new interventions and to support new students and colleagues.
There are many LGfL resources and strategies that can be used to ease this transition and to support us all find our feet at the beginning of the academic year. You can use them in school (if you have an LGfL or TRUSTnet internet connection) usually without logging in or anywhere else with your LGfL username and password. Here are 5 resources to get you started:
1. Don’t forget that you have access to over 15,000 Widgit symbols and over 1000 accessible symbolised resource sheets via www.widgit.lgfl.net which are really powerful at this time of year. You can create visual timetables to scaffold learners’ days and to remind them of their routines and you can also make the school and classroom equipment accessible. Many of these resources have been pre-made for you. Just click here to download and view these materials and to make more of your own. It’s well worth sharing Widgit symbols to support every day routines, like getting dressed, with home to provide consistency and to support transition at the beginning and end of the school day, too.
2. At this time of year, many inclusion staff will be organising a range of Literacy and Numeracy intervention groups. Many schools have reported on how helpful Grammar Explained and Maths at Home are for these groups as well as the Literacy and Numeracy resources in the ever popular Busy Things (especially the phonics resource maker linked from the front page when in teacher view). These resources are visual, short, multi-sensory and humorous, and have proved a great hit with students and staff alike.
Once you get confident with these, J2E tools, especially J2Blast for spelling, times tables and arithmetic, and Multemaths are other excellent resources which really support Literacy and Numeracy skills.
3. Staff may be arranging Speech, Language and Communication support for learners with needs in these areas. The Widgit symbols may help with this, but don’t forget Look Think Do also includes editable social stories and visual supports to support learners with autism and ADHD. The Helping to Change section might be particularly useful at this time of year. Thinking Skills for Life may help older students with Language and Communication Needs address topics within Relationships, Money, Citizenship, Leisure and Transport and this resource also includes some excellent Literacy and Numeracy resources for Secondary aged students. On Foot and other parts of the Transport section may be particularly helpful for those newly independent on their journeys to and from school.
4. If you have students with SEMH issues you may find many of the new mental health resources are extremely supportive. Healthy Minds, for example, includes a range of 20 minute resilience activities as part of an ongoing programme and staff CPD materials are included. The thousands of music tracks at Audio Networks can also be searched to find calm, peaceful tracks to support relaxation time. More materials in this area will follow.
5. Remember that if you have any new staff, we have plenty of SEND and Inclusion online and live CPD available. The EAL materials at www.eal.lgfl.net enhance staff practice, whilst the young interpreter scheme at www.yis.lgfl.net helps you to implement a buddy support programme. EAL, SEND and Inclusion training, free to LGfL schools is also available via www.training.lgfl.net and there are many training courses every term which you can sign up to at no extra cost. Free LGfL training can also be arranged by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.