For anyone reading this who has found out they will be starting in ASD class or setting in September, firstly I would like to say Congratulations. It is such an exciting journey to be on. It can of course be hard work and take a while to get your head around everything but hopefully this blog post will be somewhat helpful and point you in the right direction for more information on any points. Everything takes time and will get done in time, go at your own pace and do what feels right for the children in your care. The main priority in the first few weeks is making sure the children feel happy and start to settle into their new environment. After this, everything else will start to fall into place. For anyone who is already in an ASD class and wants some guidance on paperwork, I hope you get some tips and tricks from reading this blog post. I’m going to write this blog under the following headings, so feel free to skip to the parts that are relevant to you: Pupil Profile Folder, Toileting Records, Special Needs Assistants, Parents/Guardians, Parent Questionnaire, Home-School Communication.
Pupil Profile Folder
Paperwork can be one of the most daunting parts of the job, it seems like there is so much of it to get your head around. Start by organising and reading the children’s reports and any information you have about the children. For example: Previous Individual Education Plans (IEPs), Previous school or preschool reports, Psychologist reports, CAMHS Reports, Speech and Language reports, Occupational therapy reports, etc.
Once you have a system in place that works for you, the paperwork becomes much more manageable. What works for me, after been advised during one of the SESS courses I took, is having a ‘Pupil Profile’ ring binder folder for each child in my class. A lot of the information in these folders is sensitive and priavte information, therefore these folders do need to be locked away. We have lockable presses in our classroom for this purpose or you could use a filing cabinet or similar.
Here is a photo of what my folder looks like:
It helps to get your head around what paperwork you have for each child and keeps it all together in one handy space for bringing to any meetings etc. about that child. The headings I use are in the photo above. I will add a little detail about each section.
1. Profile and Current I.E.P.
In this section I include any summary profiles about the student e.g. ‘Child Passport’. Their current Individual Education Plan
2. Previous I.E.P.’s
3. Assessment Reports and N.C.S.E.
I include any official assessment reports about the child from their psychologist etc. and any documents about the child from the N.C.S.E. e.g. extra SNA allocation, Bus forms.
Any medical information or reports about the child e.g. allergies, medicines etc.
Any behaviour related incidents, observations or forms.
Any reports or recommendations from the child’s Occupational Therapist(s)
Any reports or recommendations from the child’s Speech and Langugage Therapist(s)
8. Class Assessments and Observations
Any assessments or observations I have completed about the child e.g. preference assessments, academic assessments, class observations etc.
9. School Assessment and Reports
Any previous school documents, particularly useful if the child has been to another school/setting.
10. Parent/Guardian Correspondence
In this section, I include a parent questionnaire I send out over the summer with details about their child. I also include any correspondence with parents/guardians e.g. phone call and the topic we discussed, meeting and the subject of the meeting.
You may not need each heading for each child but these are the headings that have worked best for me over the years. Naturally some sections will have a lot more than others and some will fill up over time. In the ‘Parents Correspondence’ section, I include a form where I fill details about any phone-calls or meetings we have had and decisions we have made etc. It can be so handy to have this information to look back over. (pictured below). Again these folders are not a necessity, there are so many other ways of organising information about each child, especially electronically. Personally I like to have hard copies of some documents, some documents are sent out as hard copies and this is just what works for me.
Attached below is a picture of a sample toileting record I use. For different reasons, at different times, children may need their toileting recorded. Sometimes it is also helpful to have this record to show the Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) in relation to SNA allocations, to show the children need assistance when using the toilet. If there is a child being toilet-trained in your setting you might need a more specific record, this one is just a general one for all children. I like to print lots of copies to have them ready so I am not photocopying every week. We put ours on a clipboard, hang it on the door to the toilet and Velcro a pen to the record so we can quickly and easily fill it in.
Special Needs Assistants (SNAs)
The SNAs in your class will become like your family. I was so lucky in my first year working in as ASD class to be working with two amazing SNAs. They really showed me the ropes and guided me. It really helped that they had worked with some of the children before so they were invaluable in knowing what worked for some children equally as important, what didn’t work!
Building a good relationship with the SNAs you are working with is so important, you will be working together everyday. It is amazing to have a support like this. The best advice I could give is to have open communication, if you are trying something new or introducing something new, running it by them and asking their opinions is so beneficial, 3 heads are better than one! It also ensures everyone is on the same page and knows what is happening in the classroom.
Having a daily timetable for the SNAs you are working with is helpful, this way everyone knows what they should be doing and when. You could type one up, write it down, have a whiteboard in the room to write notes etc. whatever works best in your situation. I have found it so beneficial to have a quick 10 minute meeting at the beginning of the day to discuss anything that is happening that day, any changes to break times and any messages the parents have sent in e.g. how a child has slept, anything that happened the day before. This ensures there is open communication, everyone is on the same page and knows what is happening for the day ahead. We also have a quick 10 minute meeting at the end of the school day to discuss anything that went well, not so well, things we could improve or different things we could try in future. The SNAs fill out Care Notes for the children at this time and we fill out any observations or behavioural notes that we didn’t get to during the day. I use this time to send messages to the parents about the child’s day. When we do these tasks together it makes sure we can remind each other of different things that happened during the day that might otherwise slip your mind. These short meetings at the start and the end of the day work so well in keeping open communication and running the classroom.
Building a positive and open relationship with the parents/guardians you will be working with is so important to help benefit the child in your care.
Utilise the children’s parents/guardians of the children you will be working with. They will have so much knowledge about their child. Chances are they have done trial and error on lots of different strategies or approaches at home or in another setting the child has been in. To hear what works well and what doesn’t work well for their child is such invaluable information and could save you a lot of time trying out different things.
In June or over the summer months before the new school year, I like to send home a Parent Questionnaire to ask the parents to fill in much needed information about their children, things they are able to do, things they like/dislike, goals they are working on or would like to work on. I find this so beneficial to read through when planning the classroom and resources for the new school year. For example you may find out that one child is noise sensitive and another child in your class makes loud noises when they are upset so you might ensure they are not seated beside each-other on the first day and you might purchase a pair of headphones to have in your class.
Sample of the questionnaire below:
There are different ways of doing this. Some people like ‘Home Communication Diaries’, you could use an empty notebook or buy purpose made ones. I will attach some photos here. Some classes create their own ‘tick sheets’ (below)
Here is a link to the website that created ‘The Communication Diary’ shown above. If you contact them, they might send you out a sample copy to see if it is suitable for your setting.
More recently a lot of classes have moved towards an online platform. ‘Seesaw’ is a very popular one, I hope to begin using it with my own class in September. I think it could be useful particularly if part of our role could be home learning. Here is a link to their website if you would like more information:
That is a lot of information to take in, I feel like I could write an individual post on each topic covered here. I hope it has been helpful in some way to someone.
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