Mar 272017
 
waaw17

This week is World Autism Awareness Week.  Here at Alfriston we started early and, on the occasion of the Singing Showcase we had a stall to display information about Autism when parents visited.  We also had a donations bucket on the stall and raised £116.55 for the cause.  Thank you.

This week, teachers at Alfriston will be asked to take part in a quiz about autism and pupils will be able to find out more about the condition by chatting with pupils who have been identified on the spectrum.  There will also be a chance to view excerpts from the feature film about Temple Grandin.

In the meantime, read on for some information about Autism from the National Autistic Society.

 

How does autism affect children, adults and their families?

The term ‘autism’ is used here to describe all diagnostic profiles, including Asperger syndrome and Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA).

  1. Without understanding, autistic people and families are at risk of being isolated and developing mental health problems.
  2. Autism is much more common than many people think. There are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK – that’s more than 1 in 1001. If you include their families, autism is a part of daily life for 2.8 million people.
  3. Autism doesn’t just affect children. Autistic children grow up to be autistic adults.
  4. Autism is a hidden disability – you can’t always tell if someone is autistic.
  5. While autism is incurable, the right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to people’s lives.
  6. 34% of children on the autism spectrum say that the worst thing about being at school is being picked on2.
  7. 63% of children on the autism spectrum are not in the kind of school their parents believe would best support them3.
  8. 17% of autistic children have been suspended from school; 48% of these had been suspended three or more times; 4% had been expelled from one or more schools4.
  9. Seventy per cent of autistic adults say that they are not getting the help they need from social services. Seventy per cent of autistic adults also told us that with more support they would feel less isolated5.
  10. At least one in three autistic adults are experiencing severe mental health difficulties due to a lack of support6.
  11. Only 16% of autistic adults in the UK are in full-time paid employment, and only 32% are in some kind of paid work7.
  12. Only 10% of autistic adults receive employment support but 53% say they want it8.

 

References

1 The NHS Information Centre, Community and Mental Health Team, Brugha, T. et al (2012). Estimating the prevalence of autism spectrum conditions in adults: extending the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey. Leeds: NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care

2 Reid, B. (2011). Great Expectations. London: The National Autistic Society, p7

3  Reid, B. (2011). Great Expectations. London: The National Autistic Society, p18

4 Reid, B. (2011). Great Expectations. London: The National Autistic Society, p8

5 Bancroft et al (2012). The Way We Are: Autism in 2012. London: The National Autistic Society

6 Rosenblatt, M (2008). I Exist: the message from adults with autism in England. London: The National Autistic Society, p3

7 The National Autistic Society (2016). The autism employment gap: Too Much Information in the workplace. p5

8 Bancroft et al (2012). The Way We Are: Autism in 2012. London: The National Autistic Society

 

Myths and facts about autism

Although over 700,000 people in the UK are autistic (more than 1 in 100 people), false and often negative perceptions about the condition are commonplace.

 

This lack of understanding can make it difficult for people on the autism spectrum to have their condition recognised and to access the support they need. Misconceptions can lead to some autistic people feeling isolated and alone. In extreme cases, it can also lead to abuse and bullying.

 

  • Autism affects more than 1 in 100 people – Over 700,000 people in UK are autistic, which means that 2.8m people have a relative on the autism spectrum.
  • People tend to ‘grow out’ of autism in adulthood – myth. It’s a lifelong condition – autistic children become autistic adults.
  • Autism affects both boys and girls – fact. There is a popular misconception that autism is simply a male condition. This is false.
  • Some autistic people don’t speak – fact. Some autistic people are non-verbal and communicate through other means. However, autism is a spectrum condition, so everyone’s autism is different.
  • Autism is a mental health problem – myth. Autism is a developmental disability. It’s a difference in how your brain works. Autistic people can have good mental health, or experience mental health problems, just like anyone else.
  • All autistic people are geniuses – myth. Just under half of all people diagnosed with autism also have a learning disability. Others have an IQ in the average to above average range. ‘Savant’ abilities like extraordinary memory are rare.
  • Everyone is a bit autistic – myth. While everyone might recognise some autistic traits or behaviours in people they know, to be diagnosed with autism, a person must consistently display behaviours across all the different areas of the condition. Just having a fondness for routines, a good memory or being shy doesn’t make a person ‘a bit autistic’.

 

 

Meltdown

Many autistic people experience meltdowns. The public often find it hard to tell autism meltdowns and temper tantrums apart, but they are different things. You can help by understanding autism, the person and what to do if you see someone having a meltdown.

A meltdown is ‘an intense response to overwhelming situations’. It happens when someone becomes completely overwhelmed by their current situation and temporarily loses behavioural control. This loss of control can be expressed verbally (eg shouting, screaming, crying), physically (eg kicking, lashing out, biting) or in both ways.

What to do

If someone is having a meltdown, or not responding to you, don’t judge them. It can make a world of

difference to someone on the autism spectrum and their carers.

  • Give them some time − it can take a while to recover from an information or sensory overload.
  • Calmly ask them (or their parent or friend) if they’re OK, but bear in mind they’ll need more time to respond than you might expect.
  • Make space − try to create a quiet, safe space as best you can. Ask people to move along and not

to stare, turn off loud music and turn down bright lights – whatever you can think of to reduce the

information overload, try it.

 

Watch

My Autism and Me

Screentime and Wellbeing – Guidance for Parents

 Uncategorized, Whole School, Student Council, Community Links, esafety  Comments Off on Screentime and Wellbeing – Guidance for Parents
Feb 212017
 
chart 1

Screen Time and Wellbeing

Introduction

There has been much interest in the amount of time our teenagers spend online and looking at a screen and speculation about the possible impact on their wellbeing.  Particular concerns have arisen about the light that is emitted from our mobile devices and how these affect our brains and our ability to sleep.  This concerned us here at Alfriston because lack of sleep affects the memory and learning capability of our pupils.

However, recent research, from Oxford University, suggested that screen time can have significant beneficial effects on young users.  They found that digital connectivity enhanced creativity, communication skills and development.  They suggested that there is an optimal amount of screen time or a “Goldilocks” zone as they put it, about two hours on a smartphone each day, for example.

 

Our Survey

We decided to ask our pupils what they thought about some of these issues and to formulate some guidance for parents.

 

The Student Council formulated some questions and issued a questionnaire to our pupils.

Do you enjoy using the Internet?

Do you think the Internet is mostly safe or unsafe?

Do you think using a computer or tablet etc late at night interferes with your sleep?

Do you talk to your parents or other adults about the things you do on the internet?

How long do you think it is reasonable to be using your device each day?

From what time do you think it would be reasonable for parents to say you must stop using your device?

Is it OK to use your device at the dinner table?

Is it OK to use your device when there are visitors to your home?

Is it OK to use your device secretly (eg without your parents knowing)?

Is it reasonable that your parents or other adults should be able to look on your device to see what you have been doing?

Have you ever been bullied online?

Have you ever been mean to somebody else online?

 

Our Findings

We were not surprised to find that the vast majority of pupils enjoyed using the Internet.  However, it was surprising that so many of them considered that, on the whole, the Internet is unsafe.

chart 1 chart 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

This seems to underline the importance of making sure that parents and other adults are equipped to support our pupils through their online experiences.

Most pupils also assessed that using their devices late at night did affect their ability to sleep well

chart 3

 

 

 

 

 

Additionally, the majority of pupils were also accepting of the idea that it was reasonable to limit the amount of time and the latest time that they should be allowed to use their devices.

chart 5 chart 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it came to questions of netiquette, our pupils also had some clear cut views, although they were divided on whether parents should look on their devices to see what they were up to.

 

chart 6 chart 7 chart 8 chart 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was pleasing to find that the number of pupils who consider that they have been bullied online is relatively small and the number who admit to being mean to others is even smaller.

 

chart 10 chart 11

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nonetheless, any amount of bullying is too much and we should all work hard to ensure that the Internet is a positive and pleasant place to visit.

The theme of Safer Internet Day 2017 was “Unite for a better Internet” and we encouraged our pupils to do just that.  They can assess their own contributions by asking themselves 3 simple questions:

  • Is it true?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Is it kind?

If the answer is no at any point then they should not post, share or send.

With the results of this survey in mind, and other research findings, we have put together some guidance notes for parents and carers and hope that you will find these useful.

Screen Time and Wellbeing

Guidance for parents

  • Don’t prevent your daughter from going online and don’t block everything that might interest her
  • Be a good parent. Know where your daughter goes online, what she is doing and who with
  • Engage with your daughter in the online world – keep a dialogue going about what you each do on the Internet. Create an environment where she is happy to talk about what she does online.  Don’t wait until there is a problem before you start talking about it.
  • Respect one another’s privacy as far as possible – the extent to which you do so will depend on your relationship with her and her maturity
  • Share your knowledge about how to keep safe and your expectations for kind and positive behaviour
    • Be a good role model in everything from privacy settings to the content of your posts
  • Have rules which you both agree to:
    • No devices during dinner
    • No devices in the bedroom
    • Limit the use of devices when you have visitors
    • No devices after 9pm – or earlier if your daughter goes early to bed – allow 1 hour of screen-free time before bed
    • No pictures of others unless they have agreed
  • Aim for a daily limit of 4 hours of computer time, 2 hours on a smartphone and less on online games
  • Know how to react to instances of cyberbullying
    • Don’t over react, never retaliate: report, block and keep a record

 

 

In addition, please read the topical and very helpful blog from Parent Info which is streamed to our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/alfristonspecialschool, where you can also see our Twitter feed and read the school blog.

 

References

http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2017-01-13-%E2%80%98goldilocks-amount-screen-time%E2%80%99-might-be-good-teenagers%E2%80%99-wellbeing

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/127500/20160126/this-is-how-your-tablets-smartphones-can-affect-your-sleep.htm

Be Safe When you Trick or Treat!  

 Extra Curricular, Whole School, Student Council, Community Links  Comments Off on Be Safe When you Trick or Treat!  
Oct 182016
 
halloween

 

Hallowe’en is fast approaching and you’re probably thinking about going out trick or treating.  BUT before you do, think about keeping yourself and others safe.  Read through these guidelines and organise a safe outing

 

  1. Consider only approaching neighbours you know

This will keep you safer and make the experience more sociable

 

  1. Only head to houses that are decorated

People who decorate their houses are more likely to be interested and to have planned some treats.

 

  1. Be respectful of people and property

Not everybody celebrates Hallowe’en and not everybody will open the door or give you a treat.  That’s their choice and you must respect it. Do not cause any damage to their property and be respectful to them.

 

  1. Be wary of time

Don’t go knocking too late – even people who were feeling generous early in the evening may not be so keen in the late evening.

 

  1. Be grateful

Just as some households might have hoards of sweets ready for trick or treaters, others might be less prepared. If they go raiding through their cupboard to find something, and you’re not impressed by what they find, take it and be grateful anyway.

 

  1. Remember manners

Trick or treat aren’t the only words you know!  Make sure you remember to say please and thank you.  People value politeness.

 

  1. Take an adult with you or nearby

Hallowe’en falls after the clocks go back which means it will get dark very early.  Don’t put yourself at risk; invite an adult to supervise your outing.

 

Have fun trick or treating this year!

From Hope

On behalf of Student Council

Oct 032016
 
lovein box2

Your daughter has brought home a leaflet about the Love in a Box campaign.  If you haven’t seen it you can see the leaflet here.  Schools, churches, other organisations and individuals collect and pack items into shoeboxes for the Mustard Seed Relief Mission to send to under privileged children throughout Eastern Europe. They have sent on average 40,000 boxes each year and each one is individually received by a child.

This campaign is endorsed by our Student Council and we really urge you to take part.  You can create your own gift box or you can donate something for a class shoebox.  Your daughter will tell you what age group her pastoral group has decided to support.  You can see some ideas for what to send in as your contribution in the list below:

Boys 3 ‐ 5 years old. Toy cars / Ball / Jigsaw / Picture Book / Soft Sweets / Crayons / Pencils / Soft Toy / Soap / Flannel / Toothbrush / Toothpaste / Hairbrush / Comb/ HAT / GLOVES.

Girls 3 ‐ 5 years old. Toy dolly / everything else as above.

Girls 6 ‐ 11 years old. Toy Dolly / Skipping Rope / Jewellery / Ball / Playing Cards / Sweets / Book / Felt Tip Pens / Pencils / Paper / Soft Toy / Flannel / Toothbrush / Toothpaste / Soap / HAT / SCARF / GLOVES.

Boys 6 ‐ 11 years old. Toy car / Yoyo / Everything else as above.

Boys 12 ‐ 15 years old. Marbles / Travel games / Juggling Balls / Baseball Cap / Playing Cards / Geometry Set / Note Book / Pens / Pencils / Soft Toy / Sweets / Soap / Flannel/ /Toothpaste / toothbrush / GLOVES / SCARVES.

Girls 12 ‐ 15 years old Hair accessories / Jewellery / Mew make up / Perfume Stick / Talc / Deodorant / Dolly / Skipping Rope / Everything else as above.

 

If you haven’t got time to go shopping then you could simply send a donation towards the postage as each gift box costs £3.00 to send on its journey.

If you make up your own shoebox there are a few points to note:

  • Please wrap the box base and lid separately as they will need to be checked en route
  • Hats, gloves and scarves are the only items of clothing allowed
  • Please attach the sticker part of the leaflet to the box
  • If you can, please enclose a minimum £3 donation
  • Place an elastic band around the box to hold the lid on
  • Christmas cards and messages are encouraged but do NOT include private addresses
  • Completed boxes must be returned to school by 4th November ready for collection by Mustard Seed Missions

Laura’s Day at the House of Commons

 Extra Curricular, Post-16, Student Council, Participation  Comments Off on Laura’s Day at the House of Commons
Nov 242015
 
bigben-icon

My youth workers Carol and Sam met me at Amersham train station and we travelled up to London together with my fellow MYP Kate Jameson. We took the Underground to Westminster and made our way into the House of Commons.

It was amazing – I found the architecture so beautiful and the atmosphere was buzzing. Everyone was very excited and there were MYPs from all over the country.

We had to wait until 11.00 to go into the chamber when a doorkeeper walked us in in a very grand and formal manner. John Bercow introduced the day and other MPs spoke as well.

Then the debates began on a range of issues selected from the Make Your Mark consultation, including the need for improved mental health services and tackling racism and religious discrimination.

It was really interesting and cool to hear young people like myself speaking in this magnificent arena.IMG_1005
Each debate featured a proposal and an opposition speech to open it. Then the Speaker asked MYPs from different regions to give their views and opinions. Each debate was eventually concluded with a closing speech.  When my friend Kate was chosen to speak I felt very proud and she did a really good job.

Love in a Box

 Uncategorized, Whole School, Student Council  Comments Off on Love in a Box
Oct 222015
 
lovein box2

The Mustard Seed Relief Mission organises Love in a Box and it is one of the best known parts of its operations and has been running for over a decade . They begin collecting the boxes at the end of October every year. Schools, churches, other organisations and individuals collect and pack items into shoeboxes for them to send to under-privileged children throughout Eastern Europe. They have sent on average 50,000 boxes each year and each one is individually received by a child.

Please consider making up a shoe box of gifts to give to disadvantaged children this Christmas. You can choose to make up a box for a boy or a girl of differing ages. Please follow the instructions on the leaflet (see the link below) closely and please include a donation if you are able to. It is important that the box and lid are wrapped separately so that they can be opened easily at customs. love in box

Please send your completed gift box to school by 6th November.  Please click here to download the leaflet.

If you are unable to make your own, you may be able to contribute single items to a class box. Please check with your daughter’s pastoral tutor.

 

 

 

Nov 132014
 
rsw logo

Everyone can make the Brake Pledge. It’s a Pledge to do simple things to protect you and people around you, build happier communities, and help save the planet.  Perhaps you will be inspired by one of these ideas and when you are ready perhaps you will visit http://brake.org.uk/pledge to make your pledge…

 

pledge2013

 

 

Slow

Drivers – I’ll stay under limits, and slow down to 20mph around schools, homes and shops to protect others. I’ll slow right down for bends, brows and bad weather, and avoid overtaking.
Everyone – I’ll speak out for slowing down and help drivers understand that the slower they drive, the more chance they have of avoiding a crash and saving a life.

Sober

Drivers – I’ll never drive after drinking any alcohol or drugs – not a drop, not a drag.
Everyone – I’ll plan ahead to make sure I, and anyone I’m with, can get home safely and I’ll never get a lift with drink/drug drivers. I’ll speak out if someone’s about to drive on drink or drugs.

Secure

Drivers – I’ll make sure everyone in my vehicle is belted up on every journey, and kids smaller than 150cm are in a proper child restraint. I’ll choose the safest vehicle I can and ensure it’s maintained.
Everyone – I’ll belt up on every journey, and make sure friends and family do too.

Silent

Drivers – I’ll never take or make calls or texts when driving. I’ll turn off my phone or put it out of sight and on silent, and stay focused on the road.
Everyone – I’ll never chat on the phone to someone else who’s driving.

Sharp

Drivers – I’ll get my eyes tested every two years and wear glasses or lenses at the wheel if I need them. I’ll take regular breaks and never drive if I’m tired, stressed or on medication that affects driving.
Everyone – I’ll look out for friends and loved ones by ensuring they only drive if they’re fit for it, and rest if they’re tired.

Sustainable

Everyone – I’ll minimise the amount I drive, or not drive at all. I’ll get about by walking, cycling or public transport as much as I can, for road safety, the environment and my health.

 

Don’t forget to visit http://brake.org.uk/pledge

Oct 232014
 
road safety poster

road safety posterThis weekend the clocks go back and we all realise that summer is over.  We can enjoy an extra hour and start looking forward to Hallowe’en,  fireworks, and dare I say it, Christmas.  However, the sudden change to dark evenings makes for a very dangerous time on the roads.

During the week, casualty rates peak between 5pm-6pm for adults, and 3.30pm-4.30pm for children. There is another peak in the morning, 8-9am, but the afternoon peak is higher for all ages. These times coincide with the morning and evening rush hours and school runs, which are already dangerous due to the volume of traffic, and even more so in the winter months when the evening journeys are made in the dark.  Road casualty rates increase with the arrival of darker evenings and poor weather. For example, in 2013 there were more than twice as many pedestrian deaths in December as in June. It has been observed that each year from when the clocks go back in October, the peak in evening road casualties shifts so it falls in the hour after sunset. Research has also found that serious and fatal pedestrian collisions increase 10% in the four weeks after the clocks go back.

The Student Council have talked to the whole school about this and the importance of taking extra care on the roads at this time of year.  They have urged pupils to wear something white, bright or reflective as our black uniform makes us very difficult to spot in the dark. School coats do have reflective strips in the design but adding a sticker or badge to bags will help improve visibility.

The student Council are also running a competition to design a sign or poster to promote road safety around school.  Look out for the leaflet in their school bags this half term.  Please encourage the girls to enter as this will help them to remember that roads and motor vehicles can be very dangerous.  The closing date is 14th November and winners will be announced during Road Safety Week which begins on 17th November.

 

 

May 142014
 
SMF logos-and-graphics

Alfriston’s Student Council is supporting the Send ALL My Friends to School campaign to remind world leaders that it is children with disabilities that are missing out most on their right to an education.

 In 2000 world leaders promised universal primary education by 2015, but with only a year to go 57 million children are still out of school and over a third of them have a disability.

 To support Send ALL My Friends to School, we will be asking pupils to make chains of colourful ‘buddy’ figures to represent the estimated 24 million children with disabilities that are missing out on school.

 Ade Adepitan, broadcaster and Paralympian is supporting the 2014 campaign, which aims to have thousands of schools taking part.

 Ade presents the campaign film which links to his own story.

Ade says: “If world leaders are serious about getting EVERY child into education, they must prioritise the neSMF logos-and-graphicseds of children with disabilities now.”

 Ade was born in Nigeria where he contracted polio at 15 months old. Ade moved to London before he started primary school but knows that if he had stayed in Nigeria his life would have been very different. Nigeria is the country with the largest number of out of school children, currently at over 10 million and is of course in the News right now after 100s of girls were taken from their school.

 

May 142014
 
laura

 Alfriston School has been awarded a Gold Democracy Award by UK Youth Parliament.  This has come about because we achieved 88% participation in the 2013/14 Buckinghamshire Youth Parliament Elections.  The presentation event will be held on June 10th.

 

Our pupils voted in the South Bucks and Chiltern constituency where the following young people were appointed:

MYP             Faiyaz Amin

Deputy MYP Kate Jameson

Deputy MYP Becky Mohr

 

We also took great interest in what happened in the Wycombe constituency where our very own Laura Gonsalves was a candidate.  She received a fantastic 1824 votes and was duly confirmed as a Deputy MYP.

 

The new MYPs will continue working at a local level and will also attend district and regional meetings.  We are looking forward to a visit from Faiyaz in the coming weeks.