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A Day in the Life of a SENDIASS Officer in Lockdown

Read SENDIASS Officer Samantha Booth’s account of a typical day for her while in lockdown.

7:00 AM

Get up and dressed into yoga clothes and do 30 mins on line yoga with “Yoga with Adriene” on YouTube. I’m finding that I’m moving about much less during the day and am stiffening up so the yoga is really helpful. Plus “Adriene” is just amazing and her practices are brilliant. I highly recommend them.

7:40 AM

Shower and dress and out with my dog, Snoop for our allocated outdoor exercise time. We are out for around 40 minutes but only manage a walk of approx. quarter of a mile as she’s a pensioner with selective hearing and a fake limp.

8:20 AM

Back home, feed Snoop, make coffee and turn laptop on. Read through emails and texts.

9:00 AM

Try to download StarLeaf video conferencing software.

9:30 AM

Give up on StarLeaf.

9:35 AM

Call from parent – it’s difficult to talk as she has 3 children in the background who are arguing. She is clarifying information we have already discussed but she wants to discuss it again as she is struggling to retain info at the moment.  We cover it again and I tell her I’ll summarise everything in an email for her but to call back if she needs to.

10:00 AM

Make cup of tea and have a stretch and walk about. My husband is on furlough so is doing jobs around the house and banging about in attention seeing fashion. Snoop loves cups of tea so sits head-butting me until I give her the remainder of my tea.

10:10 AM

Receive email from parent requesting support to appeal the named placement in her child’s EHCP.

I call the parent and discuss. Parent is very tearful as has been in hospital and feels out of the loop with the EHCP process, feels vulnerable to Covid and is shielding and not seeing the child as lives with other parent.

I advise RE: the appeal process and listen to parent. It feels like just listening is the best thing for this parent just now.

11:00 AM

I quickly make a cup of tea and dial into the team meeting through WhyPay.

It’s good to connect with my colleagues as a whole team, although we need to develop some WhyPay etiquette as there are times when we tend to have long pauses, then everyone will just talk at once, however, this is improving as we go.

We discuss some IAS Autism training we have just completed. It was initially planned to be held in London at quite a cost but current circumstances obviously dictate all face to face training is cancelled. As an alternative it was offered on line and completely free – therefore making it accessible for us! The platform used was Zoom and we were asked to register first and were then emailed a link to follow to join. It was really, really simple and the “chat” function ensured that you could type in any question to ask the speaker, just as you would ask questions in face to face training.

This was the first time IAS has offered training live and on line and the consensus from delegates was that it was a huge hit. The time and cost in travelling to London and being away from our caseloads would have made this impossible for our team to attend and for others too in IAS services across the UK.

There was, however, an identified gap in the ability to network with others and make connections with an on line offering opposed to physically being in a room full of others but still, it will be interesting to develop thinking around how we how we better embed technology into our work and it has given us something to think about with the training we are currently developing.

We share some thinking around how technology is currently facilitating most of the processes we are involved in but how for some, this can be a barrier if parents do not have the skills to navigate the new platforms or even have the equipment to access them.

One of my colleagues is working with such a family and has booked a WhyPay room to facilitate a meeting she is involved with. The platforms the other professionals were suggesting were unable to be accessed by the parent and so the meeting was nearly cancelled. WhyPay only requires a phone to gain access to it and so luckily the meeting for this child can still go ahead. I suppose this underlines the need to be more flexible and creative than ever before in these times of instability.

Meanwhile, Snoop sits growling, head-butting and staring at my cup of tea throughout the meeting and eventually I am asked to mute my mic! Like I say – still some room for improvement here.

12:30 PM

Team meeting ends and I realise my 17 year old son has not yet made an appearance. I head into his room and find him still in bed. I open the curtains and request him to shower and dress and start college work immediately.

He emerges from his room, blinking like early man from a cave and tells me he’s already done all his college work and is simply waiting for feedback from his teachers. Before I have time to explore this, I see my husband is cleaning window at the top of the stairs as he announces “this window is filthy – can’t believe we’ve been here 9 years and never cleaned it”. I inform him that I actually regularly clean the window and the only thing that’s unbelievable is his lack of contribution to the window cleanliness.

12:40 PM

I make some lunch and husband and son ask what they are having for theirs. I ignore them both and personal phone rings – it’s my daughter. She wants to know what we’re all doing but allows me no time to reply before jumping into describing her day so far. I listen for so long and then tell her I’ll phone later as need to eat.

1:00 PM

I take a call from parent RE: Mediation.

A virtual mediation meeting will take place in a couple of weeks and I need to complete documentation to say I will not record the meeting or be in a place where I can be overheard.

We are not sure yet whether this will be on Zoom or Skype or another platform – parent is worried that she won’t understand the technology to even get into the meeting – never mind the actual content of the meeting. I gulp and think back to my StarLeaf issues and advise it’s tricky for everyone – so not to worry. We’ll make it work.

We talk about what she wants to say in the meeting and she becomes upset up as she talks passionately about her child.

We talk about what she wants to say in the meeting and she becomes upset up as she talks passionately about her child. She apologises and I tell her it’s absolutely fine. This is her boy and she wants the best for him – I get that. It’s what we all want.

She worries she’ll lose her composure in the meeting and worries she won’t be able to articulate what she wants to say. I advise her to write it all down, stick to the facts and to what the law says and remind her that even through her tears with me just now, she made herself beautifully clear.

1:40 PM

Cup of tea and stretch time.

I hear my husband and son in a conversation over who is collecting eggs. We have chickens in the garden and apparently no one has collected the eggs yet today. I tell them I can’t believe that neither of them has done it and that I will collect them myself. I’m milking it really as I want some fresh air but hear my son say “you go girl”.

1:50 PM

Come back in to a cup of tea made by sheepish husband and note Snoop is sitting in my chair growling at the tea. I remove the dog and record the conversations I’ve had with parents today onto the system. I am head-butted repeatedly until I give her the cup.

2:15 PM

Webinar training on coronavirus and the neurodiverse family – really good training. This is really good with some great ideas to pass on to parents who are struggling at home just now.

3:30 PM

I continue my research into School Exclusions and SEN. We are pulling together some training to deliver into schools when are all free ranging again.

The whole subject of school exclusion is huge but SEN is a large subsection within in and so what initially felt like a quick piece of work to pull together is actually a really in-depth task.

It’s fascinating and there’s so much to read and I’m really keen to get it right as it’s so important. However, I need to rein it in a little bit as at this rate it will be a week long training course – and really it needs to no more than 2 hours.

I email a colleague who going to work on it with me and we agree to chat tomorrow and pick out the most essential aspects.

5:00 PM

My son announces he is cooking us a meal from the Gousto food delivery. I’m torn as I really want him to be able to cook well as at least this is one skill that he could come out of lockdown with – but at the same time food is currency round here at the moment and I don’t want him ruining a meal and wasting it!

To my relief he’s chosen a dish with meat in. Praise be – I’m vegetarian so have dodged this bullet.

I feel a bit stiff and so switch off laptop and contemplate doing another yoga practice. I head into living room but husband is sat in there watching coronavirus update. He turns his attention to me and I am told in minute detail, every job that he has completed today and how if the truth be told, he honestly does not know how he previously found time to work!