A CHILDREN'S book written to illustrate how a typical school day can feel for students with special educational needs will soon be in every Essex primary school.

Sam and the Spider was inspired by student testimonies as part of the Multi-Schools Council, an initiative founded by Marketfield School pupils but which now also has south and mid Essex branches.

The story follows Sam, a young girl who feels overwhelmed at school but is reminded to stay strong by her creepy crawly best friend.

After being approached by the Multi-Schools Council, Genevieve Yusuf, of JaJaJa books, collaborated on an empowering story for readers up to eight-years-old.

Sam and the Spider follows Ranvir Cannot Hear about an Indian elephant who goes on a journey in search of his hearing.

The author said: “The students gave me feedback about how they feel in the classroom, how they’re treated and how a day can just start off wrong.

"And likewise with the pictures. Myself and illustrator Shermain Philip designed them especially for children with special educational needs so they're simple and feature sensory colours.

"Once I created the story and sent it back, they loved it. I actually sent two options, but it was Sam and the Spider they preferred.

"The idea is to nurture kindness and empathy in all children so they get more understanding about how it might feel for some children if they experience similar emotions to Sam."


Forty children from Years 3 to 10 congregated at the school in Elmstead Market for the special book launch, where they were also surprised with a visit from superhero Spiderman and a red-knee tarantula, courtesy of Jon Rowe and Viking Aquatics.

While Genevieve read the inclusive story aloud, Gazette reporter Vicky Gayle demonstrated key words in British Sign Language for the children to join in with.

Class teacher Kierran Pearce, who also coordinates the meetings, said: "A lot of books are written for children without talking to them but the difference here is we spoke to the children first, and then wrote the book, which I think is important.

"The Multi-Schools Council started in 2012 but over the last year-and-a-half, it’s really grown.

"Now Essex County Council has said it will fund a copy being sent to every primary school which is fantastic.

"The biggest thing is involving more children to help break down the perceptions around SEN which is the message from Sam and the Spider."