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How to enjoy being a Special Needs Assistant in a Primary School

26 Jan

These are my tips for getting the most out of working 1 to 1 with statemented KS2 children.

Smile, a lot. Being happy is infectious.

Do not try to be friends with the child, your role is to be an adult in school that they like (most of the time!) and respect.

Never lose your temper – always be polite, well mannered and thoughtful. I have visualised myself as a Jedi master (use whatever image you can relate to) in my head to maintain my external serenity. Swear inside your head if it helps.

Always use positive body language and never roll your eyes behind the child’d back. They can sense this.

Talk privately in the staffroom (with the door closed) to your colleaugues to get out your frustrations, if the child is having a trying day. Ask for help, other staff may have useful suggestions. You will feel better after telling someone else you are having a bad day.

Be a Reflective Practitioner. If something you try doesn’t work, write it down and use it to think about what to try next time. Keep a personal record of good and bad days, and what did and didn’t work. There may be an official book to write up in, remember to put positive comments in it too.

Talk to the child at breaktimes and find out what they are interested in. Use their interests to make some of their work more appealing to them or say “How would Doctor Who answer this question?”

Don’t bore them with long stories about yourself. Tell them little bits about your family, your pets, what you watched on TV (if it’s a show they like too) etc. to engage them to talk to you about themselves.

Be on their side if there is a fall-out with another child or adult in the school. Even if they are at fault, sympathise with why it happened and help them to make things right again.

If you feel yourself getting stressed or wound up in a tricky situation, tell another adult in the school. They can either take over from you for a few minutes or back you up.

If the child has anger issues, agree a signal between you and the teacher, so you can signal them if the child is starting to get angry. Learn what triggers the child in lessons and to read their body language, so you can suggest moving to the shared area and away from the classroom, before they get angry in the classroom. It is easier to deal with their anger, away from an audience of 29 other children.

If you use a Red Card system to fetch help from a designated adult, carry one in your pocket at all times and know where the card is placed in the classroom. Make sure the other chldren in the classroom know what to do if they are asked to take the Red Card. Be aware of which staff are not in school each day, if they are part of the team to help you.

Do not be afraid of asking for help if you feel you cannot cope with certain behaviour. Observe how other staff deal with similar situations and decide what you could try another time.

Be firm. Do not ever be wishy washy. Children are experts at working out the weakest link and emotionally manipulating that person. Do not be that person.

Have fun! Be enthusiastic! Exclaim whow much you are enjoying the lesson!

A good phrase to use it “Talk to me and I will help you.” Do help. Ask around. Let the child know who you have asked and what you found out to help them.

Praise them. Remind them regularly of their strengths and what they do well. Use the school reward scheme and their individual one (if they have one). Tell other adults in the school in front of the child, how happy you are with them when they have worked hard. Tell their parents too at hometime.

Remember to communicate good things to their parents, as well as any tricky issues. Make sure that it’s not all negative.

Be open and honest in meetings. Take your personal notes about what did and didn’t work in tricky situations.

Being a Special Needs Assistant isn’t for everyone, but there is so much to learn from it and so many times that you can go home knowing that you have made a difference to a child’s life.




It’s now May, yes really!

1 May

We were spoilt yesterday as we had sun. I dried 2 loads of washing. I read my book in the garden. Today, the weather is back to usual – miserable greyness and lots of rain.

Things to Look Forward to in May

Inset Day on Thursday (polling day) No plans made, am waiting to see what the weather does.

Bank Holiday on Monday. Again, will see what the weather brings.

A friend’s wedding (sadly I can’t go, as working in a school means no term time holidays)

Jubilee Celebration Day for Brownies & Guides at Squirrel Woods. I’m going along as a Brownie helper, it was fantastic last time we went. It includes lots of games, archery, climbing, a BBQ & singing around the campfire.

UFS school trip to Sheffield Tropical House. I haven’t been since we lived in Sheffiled & Kate was a toddler (she is now 10). They have meerkats, so I will be very happy.

My birthday. I will be Very Old.

Breaking up for half term.

Packing for our week’s holiday to Jersey to stay with my parents and go to a wedding, over half term. Beaches. Sun. No work.

The Things We Stoop to since Being a Mother

15 Mar

This morning’s school run saw me taking Cravendale labels off some bottles in someone’s recycling bin (left on the pavement as it’s bin day) as my daughters desperately want the “free” Kermit backpack. They actually want one each, but are going to have to settle for sharing as I doubt we’ll collect 20 codes, let alone 40.

I had to pretend to not be embarassed as other mothers walked past me wondering why on earth I was rummaging in someone else’s recycling bin. It will no doubt be the talk of the playground as I’m co-chair of the PTFA & presumably it’s not the sort of behaviour expected of me.

I’ve spent an hour in school this morning drinking tea & starting off several cupcakes that the top part of KS2 are making for Mother’s Day. It seemed like such a good idea at the time. Why doesn’t the PTFA buy some easy craft things & each child can make a present for their mum. Nearly 500 children that is. In 5 afternoons. With a handful of volunteer mums (why do dads never volunteer to help at school events?) I work 2 afternoons a week & those afternoons have been easier and less stressful than the afternoons I’ve been doing crafts in my children’s school. I even work in a school myself. I’ve suggested that we do it over 2 weeks next year, so we have twice a long & in theory half the stress. Ha ha ha …

The List

17 Feb

As inspired by a very old episode of Friends, where they all chose 10 people that they could sleep with, with no repercussions from partners.


George Clooney
Colin Firth (bonus points if he dresses up as Darcy)
Brad Pitt
Robbie Williams
The cute boy from Mama Mia in the surf (bonus points if he sings Lay All Your Love on Me too)
Johnnie Depp
David Tennant (plus a tardis)

In no particular order. More thought needed too!

Will You Be My Valentine?

16 Feb

As it was half term, I spent Valentine’s Day with my children, while my husband was at work. He excelled himself though by presenting me with a card and a heart-shaped box of Thorntons chocolates over breakfast. This is a step-up from the norm, as previous years have seen him totally forgetting and panic-buying me a card and flowers in Tesco on the way home from work in the evening.

The Ocado weekly shop was due on the day too, so I added a Waitrose £20 meal deal to it. We had brie and roasted tomato tartlets (the next day actually) chicken in a mushroom sauce, steamed asparagus, courgette and green beans, parmetier potatoes and Gu chocolate souffles (mostly eaten by the children) Plus a bottle of rose cava, yum! Half of the cava is still in the fridge though.

The girls decorated the table with hand-made paper hearts and candles. It was a romantic meal for 4 🙂 Followed by a lush bath with snow fairy, my absolute favourite lush product 🙂

Did you do anything special?