The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

SEND

Gareth D Morewood

What can schools do to help young people thrive?

Proactive discussions are the key to developing a culture of positive mental health. Here are some tips for SENCOs looking to facilitate the best possible support. One of the most valuable meetings a SENCO can have is with their local NHS commissioner. Incorporating health in discussions about...
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Joanna Grace

Pupils with SEND are just the tip of the iceberg

The mark of true inclusion is that all pupils benefit, not just those with SEND. Joanna Grace explains why it's important to see the bigger picture. In my work at The Sensory Projects , I provide training to settings and organisations looking to better understand the sensory world. One day I could...
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Gareth D Morewood

Raising the status of teaching assistants

From interview to induction and far beyond, school leaders should prioritise the professional development of TAs in order to improve learning outcomes for all pupils. In this short post, I intend to try and draw together previous thoughts on teaching assistants and the impact they can have. Along...
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Damian Moore

'One happy family': transforming provision for SEND

The deputy headteacher of one secondary school explains why staff are determined to improve learning outcomes for all pupils. From the comfort of the Sussex coast, this summer holiday was a time to think about what went right and what could have gone better at Holy Family Catholic School. On one...
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Gareth D Morewood

SEND: the D is not for disadvantage

The UK is failing to uphold the rights of its disabled citizens, according to the United Nations. It's more important than ever that we work towards better outcomes in education. According to the government, the UK is a ‘world leader in disability issues’. But its efforts to uphold the rights of...
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Gareth D Morewood

SENCOs, make these first weeks count!

At this time of year, strategic planning for SEND provision can fall victim to in-the-moment demands. Here is my advice for a smooth start. In these hectic few weeks, many schools will be thrown in to the usual mix of analysis and induction; the typical balance of review and preparation to start...
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Gareth D Morewood

Why is co-production so powerful? Learning from research

There is a strong research basis to support co-production. Read on for a summary of key findings and how we can apply them in schools. After 20 years working in schools with young people and families, the last fifteen as SENCo, there is one thing I am very sure about: working together with parents/...
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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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