World Autism Awareness Week is celebrated in April. It is a great chance for everyone – including leisure and tourism businesses and charities – to raise money and awareness of autism for The National Autistic Society.
You could use our hints and tips below to support the autistic visitors to your business or charity.
Creating an Autism Friendly Setting
- Marketing – ensure your promotional materials, social media and website let people know you offer an autistic friendly setting and how
- Website – ensure that information is clearly signposted and and downloadable and offer a FAQ
- Maps – offer maps showing areas of potential sensory overload (noisy areas/unexpected noises/extreme visuals), quiet areas and ensure that these are up-to-date
- Trails – create downloadable trails that are autism friendly
- Specialists – work with local and national autism societies and groups to develop your inclusivity
- Training – have all staff conduct autism friendly training – not just those working directly with people
- Information – through visual stories, maps and information about the setting, let visitors know what to expect
- Champions – make it clear through badges – or another visual – who they can approach that has an understanding of their needs
- Quiet Sessions – offer quiet sessions and days where people can avoid sensory overload – such as noise and crowds
- Quiet Space – offer spaces where people can escape from sensory overloads
- Warnings – through maps and warnings ensure people are pre-warned about visual or auditory displays
- Packs – offer packs with autistic friendly activities and objects – including ear defenders
- Trails – have trails that will enhance experience and understanding but not over stimulate
- Communicate – ensure that communication supports inclusivity – e.g. using PECS
- Evaluate – try to obtain feedback from autistic visitors and their families and friends – how can you improve?
- Continue – continue to improve and develop your offer using feedback and the good practice of others
- Partnerships – using partnerships with other settings and community groups can enhance your offer and give you ideas that will make a positive impact on your visitors
If you would like to know more about how to improve your setting and make it more inclusive to all the websites above have many posts, downloadable materials and useful guidelines.
Alternatively, we can support you with a thorough review of your provision and our inclusivity training
Writing Can Be Fun!
How to Support Reluctant Writers
If you work with, or offer trips to children, you will come across reluctant writers at some point in your career. Those pupils who do not respond well to the traditional worksheet and pencil. These children may have special educational needs or simply be a child who ‘freezes’ when asked to write. They can be P&P-phobes – (pencil and paper-phobes.)
We know that new and engaging interpretation methods are the way to capture young minds; however, there are many ways you can adapt your education offer to still allow pupils to develop their English skills through answering questions, jotting thoughts or simply offering an opportunity to ‘make’ letters. You could look at some of the ways that educational professionals are encouraging pupil knowledge of letter formation and writing skills without a trace of the pen/pencil and paper (P&P) combination.
We have listed 10 simple and in-expensive methods you can use.
Not all of the following ideas are practical in every situation – but can you use any to help just one child?
10 Ways to Encourage Writing Without Using P&P
- Gel boards – special gel filled plastic wallets that children love to write on. It is different and it can be any colour.
- Writing in playdough – for some special needs children this works really well. They love to write their answers for others to read and then scrunch up the playdough, ready to start again.
- Writing in slime or mud – it is messy, easy to rub out and slightly unusual.
Breaking the Rules
- Windows, glass and mirrors – we have witnessed very reluctant writers creating wonderful outdoor poetry using this method. There is a time and a place…and your setting might just be it!
- Tables – yes, we said tables! We know this goes against etiquette but there is nothing like ‘breaking the rules’ to get pupils on board.
- Using unusual objects to write with– such as carrots, feathers, and other items linked to your attraction.
Big, Messy or Hands-On
- Giant paint brushes or writing utensils and giant walls of paper, chalkboard or another large surface.
- Sandboxes – simple boxes or trays with sand in that pupils can write using fingers or another object.
- Making letters using objects – this can be string, paper straws – anything you can bend and make different sizes.
What About Not Writing At All?
- Why not provide those with additional needs the opportunity to record their answers or listen to the worksheets through digital devices such as, simple MP3 recorders. Pupils can record their answers and play back. This helps them to develop writing skills such as word organisation, sentence structure and grammar.
Pupils respond really well to anything different, fun and slightly naughty!
If you would like more information about supporting the needs of schools at your setting, please contact us on:
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07846281171
Why do you need an education consultant?
What benefits can we bring to your company / charity / tourist attraction? Read on to find out more.
We meet many people who ask what we do and how can we help them.
Our answer is very simple: we can support you to make improvements to your setting and ensure that you are more attractive to your target market – whether it be families or school children, or both.
This is how:
A ‘Fresh Pair of Eyes’
When people are ‘in the thick’ of an organisation or project, it can be very difficult to obtain a clear view of what is really happening. They are so immersed in coping with the day-to-day work that they can lose that ability to see what is really occurring on all levels and if important changes need to be made. Time constraints can play a factor here too, with many personnel taking on multiple roles all with different objectives.
We can be the ‘new pair of eyes’ through which you see the real situation. Providing confirmation for solutions you deep-down already knew but may not have had the confidence to put in place; as well as creating solutions that you were unable to see. All put into a format that is clear to understand, thus, allowing you to move forward and make swift changes that create positive results.
As we highlighted above, sometimes it is hard to see what strategic and operational changes need to be made within an organisation. You have so many priorities to consider that it can be difficult to organise all the education or family engagement areas that need to be developed.
Working with us can help you by creating the ideas you need and putting them into clear formats, whether this be reports with direct action plans or simple analysis tables. We blow away the fog to develop a clear road ahead.
We know education! Imagine taking your car to be fixed by someone who has not trained to be a mechanic or has no knowledge of cars…that is the same as writing education programmes without using an education expert.
We are experts in fixing or designing education and family friendly programmes because we have trained, worked in and have a deep understanding of education and children. We know what teachers want and what children need and this knowledge can be passed on to you.
We work with other settings every day which means we have lots of ideas and contacts that can help you. From knowing which audio tour companies deliver quality at a great price, to innovative ideas that capture imaginations and inspires a generation of life-long learners – we see best practice every day.
Instead of spending hours researching new ideas, new products and new programmes, we can support you by giving you this information; we do the work for you!
Using a consultant is cost-effective in many ways.
Firstly, we are only a temporary and freelance ‘cog-in-the wheel’. You do not need to appoint longer-term employee and all the expenses that come with this personnel type. We are only a short-term expense.
Also, as highlighted in all the points raised above (‘Fresh-eyes; Clarity; Knowledge) we create solutions that work. We solve the problem or achieve the objectives set – both quickly and effectively – which saves you time and money.
If you would like to get in contact with our team do not hesitate to:
Call us on: 07846281171
E-mail on: email@example.com
or complete the contact form on our website:
Please note our website is under-going re-development; it is still functioning but will soon contain more information for you about our work.
In this blog ‘Supporting Schools to Plan School Trips’, we offer our top tips on how you can help schools make the most of their outings to you. This will increase the likelihood of securing the school booking, ensure more repeat visits and create positive ‘word-of-mouth marketing for your setting.
It’s All about the Money
Giving advice and simple support to schools about how they can finance their school trips can make the outing seem more affordable. Can you be the source of well-needed advice such as charities that offer support for families to pay for trips or government initiatives? What about local travel support?
Information is Key
Have the information teachers will need readily available. This will include information about:
- Accessibility for disabled pupils
- Lunch space
- Storage information for bags
- First aid
- Educational offer
- Layout of your setting
- Parking information
Tell Them: ‘Put Your Feet Up’…
Make it easy for them. The more time you invest in creating an educational offer that cuts the teacher’s workload, the more likely they are to book with you. Whether this is creating regularly updated risk assessments or providing clear education plans, you will save them time. Therefore, the overall cost of your trip will reduce in their eyes; making you look like great value for money!
Go That Extra Mile
Going that extra mile will make all the difference. What can you think of that will make you stand out? Could it be a last minute checklist of essentials they may not have thought of or special shop time for the pupils to buy their souvenirs? You need to show that you are thinking of them and can not wait for them to join you. This will create positive ‘word of mouth’ marketing as well as increase the likelihood of repeat bookings.
Teachers are very busy. If you receive an enquiry, try to respond as quickly as possible or they will book elsewhere. Likewise, if they have booked with you already, ensure that you respond to any correspondence ASAP. They will be waiting for quick answers to any questions they may have asked.
Ensure that as much information is available on line as possible. Teachers spend a lot of ‘unsociable hours’ searching for school trips. If they can not access information quickly and easily (even if it is just a ‘contact us’ and the details on your website), they will look elsewhere for their trip. The more information you are able to give or hint at the better. This does not mean that all your hard work has to be available online for all to download, but give enough information and accessibility for them to understand how you can enhance their pupils’ learning and how they can find out more.
Offer a Visit or Meeting
This can be a clincher. Not only does the teacher get to have a free day out, they also see first-hand how your attraction can benefit their curriculum. If it is not suitable to join you, a phone call or webinar discussion to ensure that they understand what you can offer, the itinerary of the day and clarify any questions they may have, will be more effective than e-mails being pinged back and forth.
For further information about how our consultancy can improve your offer to schools or families, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07846281171.
Alternatively, fill in our Contact Us page and we will get back to you ASAP.