How to prepare for your first day in a specialist provision

In Teaching Children and Young People with Special Needs and Disabilities Sarah Martin-Denham provides comprehensive guidance on what you need to do on your first day in a specialist provision. Being prepared and knowing what to expect will support you in not feeling overwhelmed by your first day - here's tips on what to expect and what to wear!

How to prepare for your first day in a specialist context

This may be your first experience of being in a specialist context and like any new provision you may have a range of feelings and emotions. You can prepare for your visit by exploring the school website, which will give you a feel for the particular needs of the pupils, their age range and the type and size of provision. The most recent Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) report will also give you an understanding of the strengths of the school.

The personal identification you will need to enter the provision will also vary between LAs. You must always have your Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check with you and some form of photographic identification. Some schools will also require one other form of identification (ID), so it is worth confirming in advance what you need to take.

Key points to remember

  • Find out who is your point of contact for the school and as a matter of professional courtesy ring to introduce yourself.
  • Clarify the identification you need to take with you to the school.
  • Find out what time it is convenient for you to arrive and who you should ask for.
  • Ask the school if they would like you to send anything in advance to prepare the pupils for your arrival. For example, if you are going to be working with pupils with autism it might be necessary to email your photograph in advance.

What to wear and why

On your first day arrive dressed appropriately to the advice that you have been given by the school. On subsequent days wear clothing that reflects the context that you are in.

Key points to remember

  • Be aware that some clothing can put you in a vulnerable position, for example low-cut/high-rise tops, short skirts and tight trousers.
  • Keep jewellery to a minimum as some pupils may become distracted by bright, colourful, dangly jewellery and try to remove it from you.
  • Don’t wear overpowering perfume or aftershave as this may unsettle those with sensory sensitivities.
  • Tie long hair back to avoid tempting pupils to get hold and pull it.
  • Wear flat shoes so that you are comfortable and can move quickly and safely.
  • Be aware that wearing a school identification can be a source of risk as they can be grabbed by pupils, particularly identification on a lanyard.

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