Mar 272017
 

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

Collaboration on Conflict

 Art, Community Links, Curriculum, English, Humanities, Whole School  Comments Off on Collaboration on Conflict
Feb 242017
 

In the Spring term, year 9 had to connect their English, Art and History skills during an activity day on conflict.

They had already explored the theme of conflict in their English lessons, and written some fantastic poems. This helped them as they explored WW1 artefacts in a workshop led by Wycombe Museum.

 

wycombe museum

 

They also explored the local monuments, helping us remember conflict, in a mini bus tour of the local area.

In the afternoon, they then participated in an art work shop to produce their own visual expressions of conflict, and why we should remember key historical events, to make sure we have a better future. Some really thoughtful work- well done year 9!

What Do Y8 Think About The Internet?

 English, esafety, Uncategorized  Comments Off on What Do Y8 Think About The Internet?
Feb 212017
 

How can you be safer on the Internet?

Year 8s talk about how to be safer on the Internet.

 

Many of you will use the Internet every day, because some of you can look up some good things. The internet is a fantastic tool to chat with your friend. Some people can find different pictures like boys and drawings. Some of you lot can chat to your friends and face time them on the Internet.

 

Whilst the Internet is a good tool, you need to be careful about other people who are using it. Weird people can say rude things about your body. They can try to find your number and your address. Mrs Shorrocks said that “We should report the person if they being rude and you can block them.”

 

Some of the teachers are worried about us using the internet, they want to make sure we are being careful. We can find pictures and we can play games. It has been found out that 70% of people are being rude. Emma said that “We can talk to our friends but we can’t talk to weird people.”

 

Here are a few top tips to be safe:

. You can block them

. You can report them

. Don’t put pictures up of your body

 

So  remember to be safe. Don’t forget to show what you are doing to parents or teachers.

 

Louise

Screentime and Wellbeing – Guidance for Parents

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

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

Jan 162017
 

The School Council members have been talking about our use of technological devices and how it impacts on our lives.  We are thinking of writing some guidelines for parents about the sort of rules they should impose at home.  The girls are collecting opinions via pastoral groups and some girls are completing more detailed questionnaires.

 

It seems to be a very hot topic at the moment and there were articles in the national press just this weekend.  There has been concern about how screen time affects mental health and general wellbeing.  Here at Alfriston, we have been particularly concerned about effects on sleep patterns.

 

However, this latest research, from Oxford University, suggests that screen time can have beneficial effects on young users.  They claim that digital connectivity may enhance creativity, communication skills and development.  They suggest 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.

 

It will be interesting to see what our pupils think on the matter.  If you have any strong opinions or just want to comment on your experiences with your own children, I would be pleased to hear from you.

 

We hope to publish our guidelines in time for Safer Internet Day on February 7th.

 

 

Please address any comments to Ros Shorrocks on

office@alfristonschool.com

The Hour of Code is here!

 Community Links, computing, Curriculum, Uncategorized, Whole School  Comments Off on The Hour of Code is here!
Dec 062016
 

 

There aren’t many computer science weeks so we decided to make a big thing of it by inviting students from Stony Dean to join us for shared activities.   At first the boys joined Year 10 to explore the Hour of Code website and try out some of the coding activities.  The choices ranged from Disney’s Moana, Star Wars and Frozen, Minecraft and Flappy Bird.  Both the girls and the boys were nervous about working together at first but they soon forgot that they didn’t know each other and got down to coding.

Digital Camera

By the time the lesson changeover was ringing everyone was enjoying what they were doing and making good progress with the task.  The girls moved on to the next lesson but the boys stayed on to work with
a Year 9 class coming in to Computing.  By now they really were the experts and rose admirably to the challenge of sharing their skills with the beginners in Year 9.  These new pairings made rapid progress, completing activities and earning certificates.

Digital Camera

It was great to see pupils from the two schools working together so well and impressive to hear them chatting about computer science; solving problems and making things happen.

Digital Camera

Sound like fun? Visit https://hourofcode.com/uk/learn

Report from the Hockey Festival

 Community Links, Sport  Comments Off on Report from the Hockey Festival
Nov 302016
 

Hockey Alf 7

On Wednesday 23rd November, Chiltern Way Academy hosted a Hockey Festival for schools in the local area. The Festival was run by Alfriston School Sports Leaders alongside Miss Johnson.  All of the participants had a great day while getting engaged with the games as well as introducing themselves to pupils of neighbouring schools. The participants were divided into teams and the sports leaders led each team in an activity. These teams included players from each of the four schools. After a short break the pupils were put back into school teams and they all participated in a Hockey Tournament.

Alfriston drew two matches and won one.

The morning was a success as pupils were encouraged to communicate with each other during and between the games. This was a good method for them to “break the ice” with new people and be able to work as a team. Everyone involved enjoyed the afternoon and hopes to do it again soon.

The next event will be the year 7 and 8’s dance festival.

Do you want your Christmas to start early?

 Community Links, parental involvement, Whole School  Comments Off on Do you want your Christmas to start early?
Nov 242016
 

On Friday 2nd December our school will be holding a Christmas Bazaar in the hall. There will be fun games and food to eat. We will be raising money for our school and local charities. You will be able to buy crafts, cards and calendars. We will also have a tombola, hamper raffle and a cafe. The students get to go in first and need to bring a plastic bag. Parents can come along at 10.15 to 12.45. Come along and join the fun!

 

by Ionie

This Week is Road Safety Week

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on This Week is Road Safety Week
Nov 212016
 

Five people are killed every single day by something we already know how to cure. Our roads are dangerous places, where hundreds of deaths and serious injuries take place every week.

But by changing our driving behaviour, we can help to make our villages, towns and cities safer places to be. Every action that we take, as a driver or as a passenger, can change the outcome of a journey and the future of a family.

That’s why there’s a focus on the six elements of the Brake Pledge for Road Safety Week 2016 (21-27 November): Slow, Sober, Secure, Silent, Sharp and Sustainable.

We are asking everyone to make and share Brake’s Pledge online, and show their commitment to saving lives and keeping our roads safe. Anyone can join in – individuals, businesses and community organisations. Non-drivers can take the Pledge too, promising to help drivers stick to the six Pledge points.

So take action, make a difference, and Pledge to do six simple things to save lives this Road Safety Week.

www.brake.org.uk/pledge

A few facts on why the theme is important:

Slow: Breaking the speed limit or travelling too fast for the conditions is recorded by police at crash scenes as a contributory factor in more than one in four (27%) fatal crashes in Great Britain.

Sober: Having even one drink before getting behind the wheel can affect your ability to drive. In 2013 one in 10 (11%) drivers/motorcycle riders killed in a crash had alcohol present in their body, even though they weren’t over the legal blood-alcohol limit. One in seven road deaths are at the hands of someone who has driven while over the limit.

Secure: Seat belts are still seen as an inconvenience by some drivers, yet using one reduces the chance of dying in a crash by 50%. 21% of car occupants killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt [5].

Silent: Drivers who perform a complex secondary task, like using a mobile, while at the wheel are three times more likely to crash than non-distracted drivers.

Sharp: Booking in for a regular eye test should be at the top of any driver’s to-do list. Road crashes caused by poor driver vision are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties and cost £33 million in the UK per year.

Sustainable: By minimising the amount we drive, and walking, cycling or using public transport instead, we are making our communities safer places, and doing the best we can for the environment and our individual health. Air pollution is a major killer: there are an estimated 29,000 deaths per year from particulate matter pollution in the UK, 5,000 of which are attributable to road transport.

 

To help our girls be seen after dark, we are selling refelective items in the kiosk now.

Star clips                        £1.40

Zip clips                          £0.60

Smile badges                   £1.00

Reflective laces              £1.00

Reflective stickers         £0.15

 

zip-clip-at-night star-clipon-all badge-smile

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT BULLYING?

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT BULLYING?
Nov 212016
 

Last week was Anti-Bullying Week. The pupose of the focus week is to shine a spotlight on bullying and encourage all children, teachers and parents to take action against bullying throughout the year.

So this week, pupils are talking about bullying in PSHE lessons, thinking about the real meaning of the word and how it can be avoided. They will be coming up with strategies to deal with bullying in different situations.

Pupils in Year 7 & 8 will be taking part in a poster competition with prizes for each year group. The focus for the competition this year is WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT BULLYING?

We look forward to lots of great entries.

 

Mrs Dean