International Women’s Day – Georgia Sargeant
Starting out as a Special Educational Needs (SEN) Nanny, Georgia quickly realised that there was a lack of support in her sector when it came to finding quality, vetted childcare. Working towards a long-term solution, she opened SENNIES – a specialist recruiter helping families find the perfect Sennie (Special Educational Needs Nanny/Teacher/Carer) suited to their specific needs and requirements. Discover how Georgia, who wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until her adulthood, believes neurodiversity can be a superpower and how she continues to strive towards a better future for SEN childcare.
“I’m a female, mixed-raced Neurodivergent Super Sennie, who opened a thriving Special needs business and I employ a neurodivergent team within our head office! If that isn’t breaking the bias, I don’t know what is!”
What inspired you to start up SENNIES? Tell us a bit about the work you do.
I have worked in Special Educational Needs (SEN) childcare for over 10 years. I have always been drawn to working in SEN as I myself have ADHD, and whilst I wasn’t officially diagnosed until I was an adult, I have always known. I’ve focused on supporting other children, who, like me, needed additional support or guidance to thrive in a new, overwhelming or mundane setting.
During my time as a Sennie (SEN Nanny/ Teacher/ Specialist/ Carer), I found there was an underwhelming amount of support for the SEN community in terms of finding quality childcare.
In January 2020, I opened SENNIES and haven’t looked back! In short, SENNIES is an affordable Special Educational Needs Introduction agency supporting families and businesses in the UK to source, vet and train quality SEN childcare.
“I have always been drawn to working in SEN as I myself have ADHD…I have focused on supporting other children who like me, required additional support or guidance to thrive”
We work with Nannytax as we do not employ our Sennies. Instead, we introduce them to families who employ them directly and have the assurance that Nannytax can take care of their employment needs! This model ensures our Sennies retain their full net pay and are paid fairly for their incredible and rewarding work.
We love that you call neurodiversity a superpower. Tell us how neurodiversity can be positive with the right support?
I have never met someone neurodivergent who is not truly great at something!
“I have never met someone neurodivergent who is not truly great at something!”
It is different for everyone, but my superpowers are my ability to hyper-focus when I’m really excited about a project or an activity, my ability to learn new things really quickly if I can deconstruct the process myself. I’m great at problem-solving and can easily talk to anyone on the phone or in-person after mastering years of masking. This has allowed me to transfer all my skills and knowledge over the years and build a successful SEN recruitment and training service from scratch!
However, every superpower has weaknesses that cannot be ignored or glamorised. I personally try to focus on the positives as I believe heavily in the law of attraction, so anytime I feel my ADHD supporting me to achieve a new goal, I run with it and praise my differences!
What does the 2022 International Women’s Day slogan #BreaktheBias mean to you?
I’m a female, mixed-raced Neurodivergent Super Sennie, who opened a thriving Special needs business (that survived a pandemic), and I employ a neurodivergent team within our head office! If that isn’t breaking the bias, I don’t know what is!!
Seeing so many incredible women in leadership roles supporting sectors that contribute to real change and growth is so inspiring, and it helps me keep pushing for the change we all deserve.
What impact did the Covid-19 pandemic have on SEN childcare provision?
I opened SENNIES in Jan 2020, so the pandemic began shortly after. I was initially terrified, but it turned out to be the perfect time for us to open as we became a crucial service for so many. We were very happy to learn that all SEN workers were deemed essential early on.
We found a lot of families had previously had a bad experience of hiring a SEN Nanny as there were Nannies who would claim to have SEN experience when this wasn’t the case.
Due to our specialist expertise in SEN care, other agencies kindly directed some of their clients towards our services as they wanted to ensure they supported the child first and foremost. We built up some great 5* Trustpilot reviews which encouraged more families to work with us. I am pleased to say we were able to successfully find a Sennie for each of these families who also left glowing reviews!
However, it is important to note that SENNIES Search will typically take longer than working with a standard agency for Neurotypical childcare. We always recommend getting in touch with us 8 weeks in advance where possible.
Over the course of the pandemic, there was a steep decline in applications for childcare roles all over the UK, affecting neurotypical and SEN roles, which has since started resolving itself as we begin to find our way back to our new ‘Normal’.
“Due to our specialist expertise in SEN care, other agencies kindly directed some of their clients towards our services as they wanted to ensure they supported the child first and foremost.”
We believe this was down to initial fear at the beginning of the pandemic regarding working outside of your own home and the rise of remote roles that swept the nation. However, we have already seen an increase in applications and hope that all Sennies who took a little break will feel more comfortable returning to childcare soon enough!
What barriers have you faced as a neurodiverse woman with ADHD? How did you overcome them?
My biggest struggle was during education as I was always in trouble, yet I had no clue what I had done wrong most of the time. I was doing well academically because I genuinely tried really really hard…so why was I still always getting into trouble all the time?
I quickly realised it was always in a few particular lessons I would excel and in others where I would crash and burn. Why? Because the teachers who understood me, ensured each lesson was interactive and engaging.
” I make it my mission to strive towards a world where everyone can explore and thrive in whatever way they choose regardless of race, sexuality, age, ability or gender.”
I was not shouted at if I was tapping my foot or accidentally blurted something out. They would give me tasks to complete whilst others needed to sit still, put me in charge of something to empower me or build in movement or talking breaks using visual timers. Without needing to be told, these teachers knew how to cater for EVERYONE and created an environment where the whole class THRIVED.
When I would get in trouble with other teachers, they would stick up for me as they knew I was often just misunderstood and usually, if listened to, I had a valid point and a strong sense of justice that would not allow my emotional regulators to calm down if I was being completely dismissed.
Many girls are missed from Autism and/or ADHD/ADD diagnoses because most research until recently was conducted only on boys. Recent studies show that both Autism and ADHD/ADD show up differently for girls. Instead of portraying as hyperactive, we find many girls are more likely to be labelled chatty, bossy, mouthy, daydreamer, space cadet, argumentative, or have a hyperactive mind instead of a hyperactive body.
As an adult, I have made it my mission to learn more about myself and what my ADHD means for me. This includes my superpowers, my symptoms and my workarounds. This has allowed me to achieve most of my goals to date, and I am showing no signs of slowing down yet!
In your opinion, how do our individual actions, conversations, behaviours, and mindsets have an impact on our larger society?
I feel it is vital to stand up for all forms of equality. Every individual has the power to influence other children and adults more than they know. Instead of avoiding awkward conversations, we need to ask important questions to educate ourselves and society.
I have ADHD and a strong sense of justice, so you can count on me to intervene anytime there is a situation where someone is being discriminative. I make it my mission to strive towards a world where everyone can explore and thrive in whatever way they choose regardless of race, sexuality, age, ability or gender.
What are your future goals and aspirations for SENNIES and beyond?
We are very close to launching our new training/coaching app, which I hope will help the wider community educate themselves regarding SEN and inclusivity.
We will be announcing a HUGE new partnership later this year which will see our Sennies supporting families on their holidays abroad, thus making the kid’s clubs more accessible!
And in terms of future development …
We hope to one day open a training centre in the next year or so where we can recruit and train Junior Sennies, thus increasing the pool of quality SEN candidates. To work with the local authorities and schools to ensure low-income families and state schools have access to recruiting support through SENNIES. To open a SENNIES Summer camp and respite house!