The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Parents and carers

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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Chris Fenton

Manama or Manchester: parents are parents

When working with parents, is there any difference between being a headteacher in the UK and headteacher abroad? Chris Fenton describes his experience. I fought in a playground once. Not uncommon I suppose, but more so when I reveal that I was a headteacher at the time. I may be exaggerating a...
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Gareth D Morewood

SEND provision: a three-stage plan for school improvement

The 'assess, plan, do, review' model is worth keeping at the centre of any efforts to improve a school's SEND provision. Here's an example of how it can be put into practice. Occasionally I’m asked to visit schools and support them with SEND provision as part of a whole-school review. I don’t do...
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Lisa Griffin

A whole-school approach to building parental partnerships

Engaging parents can drive pupil progress, but what can schools do to overcome communication barriers? It is well known that parental engagement impacts a child’s education, not just academically but emotionally and in terms of confidence too – their all-round development. The challenge for schools...
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Gareth D Morewood

How can teachers meet the needs of pupils with attachment difficulties?

When looking to improve engagement, teachers mustn't overlook the needs of their emotionally complex and vulnerable young learners. In every school, there are many students who are unable to access learning, to engage and achieve, and to move on into adulthood with confidence. Children whose low...
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Gareth D Morewood

Understanding and supporting pupils with attachment in school

What are attachment needs, and how can SENCOs meet them? Here are some tips for supporting this group of vulnerable young learners. It's a complex area for SENCOs: young people who have experiences of trauma or stress in early life or whilst in the womb – those with attachment needs. There is an...
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