The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Parents and carers

Gareth D Morewood

Talking diagnosis: a parent's advice

An honest conversation about your child’s needs isn’t something to fear – it can help you work and learn together. Gareth D Morewood asks one parent for their views. Recently there has been a flurry of questions on Twitter and from colleagues in different schools about how parents and carers should...
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Gareth D Morewood

The power of FestABLE: three stories

A personal highlight of the recent FestABLE were the inspirational stories of young people and their families. Gareth D Morewood shares a few shining examples. Last Saturday I was fortunate to have been asked to attend the inaugural FestABLE event at National Star College in Cheltenham. The event...
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Debby Elley

Understanding autism: what they forgot to tell you

Much of what we're told about autism gives little sense of what it's like to live comfortably, but one parent's new book is jam-packed with positive experiences. Debby Elley, co-editor of AuKids magazine at the launch of her new book, describing her experience of raising two sons with autism Note...
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Gareth D Morewood

From high achiever to school refuser

An all too familiar story for girls on the autistic spectrum reminds us that we can gain a lot from listening to others. I have previously articulated some of the key issues schools need to keep in mind when supporting autistic girls, and I’m always keen to try to gain further insight into the...
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Elizabeth Holmes

Spotlight on FestABLE

Few events successfully engage all those who can work together to improve outcomes for young people with SEND. I spoke to the organiser of one new festival with something for everyone. FestABLE, the UK’s first National Festival of Specialist Learning, is taking place on Saturday 2 June 2018. It...
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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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Gareth D Morewood

'On the back foot': a parent's view on choosing the right school for SEND

I spoke to one parent about their struggle to find the right primary school for their child on the autism spectrum. As a secondary SENCO, I am always very humbled by when talking to primary colleagues - especially parents and carers. I try to gather as much information as I can during conversations...
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John Viner

When fast-track adoption comes off the rails

When it works, the fast-track adoption route can save prospective parents a lot of hassle. But when it doesn't, schools are the first to see the emotional consequences. Angela and Darren are a childless couple. Having exhausted all other possibilities, they started fostering for the local authority...
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Janet Goodall

Are parents ever hard to reach?

Dismissing parents as unavailable or uncooperative will never help schools to foster better engagement. If we want them to get involved, there has to be trust! Whenever I’m working with schools to improve parental engagement, I’m invariably asked the question: ‘What do we do about the parents who...
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Janet Goodall

What works for engaging parents?

From posters in the playground to bacon butties, schools are likely to find new ways to bring parents on board if they're given time to think creatively. We’ve recently completed a yearlong project with 34 local schools in the Wiltshire local authority. The aim was to improve these schools'...
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