The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

SEND

Joanna Grace

Sensory circuits: the right track, but not a shortcut

A good start to the day is as important for pupils with sensory needs as anyone else, but a lap of the circuit will only scratch the surface. When at an impasse with work, has time away from your desk ever allowed you to return reinvigorated with new ideas? Has running or swimming ever helped you...
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Gareth D Morewood

Is a picture truly worth a thousand words?

A good strategy for supporting pupils with SEND is a good strategy for all. The use of visual supports should be no exception. I’ve found visual supports to be a useful way to learn and retain new information. Similarly, there is evidence to suggest that PECS support pupils with autism very...
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Gareth D Morewood

For pupils with SEND, exclusion is a road to nowhere

Turning our pupils away should always be a last resort. Schools and parents can find more positive solutions if they work together. In the last year, I received a steady stream of queries about exclusions and SEND. This may indicate additional pressure on schools to meet external accountability...
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Gareth D Morewood

SEND is everyone's business

The best provision for SEND is only possible if the SENCO empowers all staff to take responsibility. Who knows when they'll have to steady the ship? Over the last five weeks I've suffered through an unprecedented period of ill health, the longest I’ve had in my 20-year career to date. Not only has...
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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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Jack Procter-Blain

Enhancing social skills one brick at a time

The very mention of LEGO ® in school might conjure images of chaos, but group brick-building has proved to be a highly effective intervention for pupils with SEND. LEGO® is everywhere these days. The iconic brick has established itself in just about every form you can imagine, from the classic sets...
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Gareth D Morewood

How can we improve outcomes in a broken system?

The initial promise of the SEND reforms has been replaced with confusion, frustration and delays. The system works well for no one, least of all our children and young people. Back in September 2014, there was a lot of hope that the introduction of the SEND reforms would bring better outcomes for...
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Gareth D Morewood

Planning, preparation and evaluation: a summer to-do list for SENCOs

As we enter what's likely to be the busiest term of the year, now is a good time to identify our priorities for giving all pupils the best possible start in September. In these long summer days, there is often a feeling that the time we need seems to miraculously appear! Most (if not all) SENCOs...
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Gareth D Morewood

Preparing young people for the road ahead

We all expect our young people to have smooth transitions to adulthood, with support from school and the wider community. Why should those with SEND be any different? Last week our school was fortunate enough to be visited by Chris Rossiter and Nance Gedge from the Driver Youth Trust , a national...
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Gareth D Morewood

Let's all go to the zoo!

School visits can be great ways to integrate aspects of the curriculum and give all students something to talk about. This week, we took our Year 8s deep into the animal kingdom. This week we took our Year 8 on their annual educational visit to Chester Zoo. In line with our usual philosophy , all...
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