The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Gareth D Morewood

SENCOs: make the end of term festive, not frantic!

'Tis the season to be jolly, but with very little 'down time' in the run-up to the end of term, SENCOs need to make sure they allow time for self-care. Don't let a long to-do list wear you down in these last few weeks of term You might think that the run-in to the festive break heralds unbounded...
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John Viner

Ofsted is coming: demonstrate a safeguarding culture

The strength of a school's safeguarding procedures is usually the first thing Ofsted will inspect. Here's what you need to prepare. As the year winds to a close, let’s review what schools need to do in order to demonstrate what Ofsted is now calling ‘culture of safeguarding’. Since the target...
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Gareth D Morewood

Making transition reviews count

When exploring post-16 pathways, transition reviews are indispensable. Help your Year 11s keep their options open. I have written previously about how important NEETs are as a measure of inclusion. As we near the end of the implementation phase of the 2014 SEND reforms, never has supporting...
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Elizabeth Holmes

More smiles, less stick: Chris Dyson on a positive approach to behaviour

At Parklands Primary School, believing that pupils can do their best is the first step to better behaviour. Headteacher Chris Dyson spoke to Elizabeth Holmes about their 'no exclusions' approach. Much has been said recently about behaviour management. From ‘no excuses’ to 'no exclusions', the way...
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Gareth D Morewood

Getting value from educational visits

Taking the time to arrange bespoke plans for individual students will mean everyone can make the most of school trips. Conway Centre, Anglesey. Picture credit: conwaycentres.co.uk have previously written about how inclusion means everyone goes , even on the road . After taking 231 Year 7 students...
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Damian Moore

'One happy family': sharing an emotional vocabulary

At the Holy Family School, designated provision for ASC gives parents and students alike the opportunity to talk emotions. The one group of parents that are likely to visit their children’s secondary school as much as they did their primary are the parents of pupils with SEND. This is the case at...
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Abi Clay

How to respond to peer-on-peer abuse

Children abusing other children has become a significant concern for schools. Abi Clay explains why staff should make use of what they know to respond effectively. Over the years I have spent supporting children, young people and teachers with all aspects of child protection, we have become more...
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Julie Kennelly

Improving in-class support across the board

Prioritising the time and attention of support staff is a daily challenge in many schools. Here's one simple but effective technique for coordinating cover. We are all too aware of the financial and systemic barriers to provision for SEND that is appropriately resourced and well allocated. As a new...
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Jack Procter-Blain

You can be a mental health champion

A school's mental health lead is someone who can facilitate grassroots change. This means building resilience, improving communication and gaining trust. It’s a sore but well-known fact that the demand for mental health support in schools is greater than the capacity of external services. When, at...
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Gareth D Morewood

SEND: the E is not for exclusion

Too many schools are turning away their most vulnerable learners when additional needs are not met. This must stop. A few weeks ago, I argued that excluding pupils should always be a last resort; that schools and parents can find more positive solutions if they work together; and that for pupils...
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