The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Gareth D Morewood

Gareth is Director of Curriculum Support (SENCo) & Specialist Leader of Education at Priestnall School, Stockport and Honorary Research Fellow in Education at the University of Manchester.  He has authored a number of articles, books, academic papers and publications which can be found on his website www.gdmorewood.com.  His main areas of research are autism, and whole-school approach to SEND.

Gareth’s Optimus publications include:

Gareth is an Honorary Research Fellow in Education at the University of Manchester and continues to develop research-based support and intervention systems as part of the ‘school offer’ while maintaining a focus on the wider inclusion agenda.

Follow Gareth on Twitter at: @gdmorewood

Latest blog posts

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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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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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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Gareth D Morewood

Even for governors, the law still trumps all!

I recently explained to a group of governors how they can actively support a school's provision for SEND. It starts with knowing the law and listening to key stakeholders! This week I was fortunate enough to address the University of Manchester’s School Governors Initiative annual conference. As...
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Gareth D Morewood

Mental health: what can schools do to build resilience?

Establishing a school-wide culture of resilience should be at the forefront of what we do to address the alarming prevalence of mental health issues among young people. 'It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to...
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Gareth D Morewood

Transition for pupils with autism: what does research tell us?

We know how difficult the leap from primary to secondary school can be. Planning and coordinating transition in the best interests of the child will be time well spent. It is quite amazing how quickly time flies in the education world, let alone that of the SENCO. We are now preparing for Year 6...
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Gareth D Morewood

Supporting positive paths to adulthood

Offering a variety of subjects to Year 9 pupils, going beyond the core allocation, is integral to our support for the next generation of successful adults. I have written previously about the importance of an inclusive curriculum and how we define success ; never has this been a more vital element...
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Gareth D Morewood

Col-lab-orating to connect neuroscience with education

The role of neuroscience in educational practice - particularly for children and young people with SEND - has been controversial, but one laboratory's research shows great promise. There have been many unsubstantiated claims at events regarding ‘breakthroughs’ in neuroscience, including one example...
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Gareth D Morewood

Visual ethnography: bringing a child-centred approach into focus

If we are to help pupils with SEND meet their outcomes, how can we determine what's 'important' for them? Research into the use of photographs as data could have the answer. Last summer I was fortunate enough to lead a workshop on outcomes and EHCPs at the SENCO Update conference . A short paper...
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Gareth D Morewood

SEND at half term: 'and breathe...'

As colleagues reach the end (or beginning) of their half term break, it's a good time to reflect on the issues we've covered so far. This is the 100th post in my 'SENcology' series! For further insights into the world of SEND provision, browse the full list of posts so far. As some colleagues reach...
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Gareth D Morewood

Help, I'm a new SENCO and I don't know where to start!

If you're new to the profession, the role of the SENCO might initially seem complex and unsupported. It's important to know that you're never alone! Over a typical week, I will receive about twenty e-mails and tweets from fellow SENCOs across the country and about ten or so from parents and carers...
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Gareth D Morewood

Autism and mental health support, without the cost!

Priestnall School's recent event on autism and mental health was a busy hive of discussions, and proof of the fact that long-lasting support need not come at a great cost. I have written previously about mental health , a situation compounded for so many parents, carers and young people with SEND...
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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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Gareth D Morewood

Pupil mental health: crisis, what crisis?

In January, the government pledged to provide training and support for mental health services. Is there renewed hope that funding woes will at last be addressed? ' An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.' (Benjamin Franklin) In January the government announced that mental health reforms...
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Gareth D Morewood

Funding SEND for effective provision: things just don’t add up!

Meeting needs and provision is something that does not come cheap, as SENCOs across the country will no doubt be aware. As we approach the new year, it's time to be realistic about the funding crisis. This week has seen a lot of news about funding, again! Headlines included ‘ Schools must reduce...
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Gareth D Morewood

How can we support the emotional regulation of children with autism?

Helping pupils with autism to regulate their emotions and handle changing states will greatly benefit their capacity to engage. Here's a summary of what you need to know and how you can help. Recently I have been fortunate enough to have took part in some powerful discussions with Studio III , who...
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Gareth D Morewood

Navigating the difficult transition to adulthood

Luke Jackson's Sex, Drugs and Asperger’s Syndrome (ASD): A User Guide to Adulthood is an invaluable first-hand account of navigating the difficult transition to adulthood. This review was first published in the Good Autism Practice Journal in the October 2016 edition (Vol 17, issue 2) One of the...
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Gareth D Morewood

Develop a collaborative approach to SEND: improving pupil outcomes

In a fractured climate, schools have to work in partnerships to achieve the best outcomes. We're bringing together all of the advice you'll need to develop a collaborative approach. As I get ready to start a new half term, I have had some time to reflect upon what is currently one of the hardest...
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Gareth D Morewood

How to develop a whole-school approach to literacy

There are several ways for SENCOs to develop a 'core offer' of inclusive literacy support. Many schools will have their own approaches, but here are some tried and tested suggestions. Many SENCOs have a range of responsibilities in their schools. Previously, I had been charged with developing a...
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Gareth D Morewood

A pupil's story: 'I am dyslexic. I am autistic. I am a reader'

When sixteen year-old Lois Brown took to the stage at the recent Reading Celebration Event, she proved that there's a power in books like no other. We work really hard with young people and their families on understanding themselves. For me, this is an essential element of our work in preparing...
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Gareth D Morewood

New school staff induction: don’t forget SEND!

As with any new job an appropriate induction is vital, especially so in schools, and it is important that SEND features prominently. Everyone is nervous starting a new job, at whatever level that is. Knowing where to get a brew, ensuring IT access is facilitated, getting appropriate ID badges,...
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Gareth D Morewood

GCSE results day: will Progress 8 make a difference?

Now results are in, Gareth D Morewood explores how the new measure of performance, Progress 8, may affect how we value success. As we get towards the end of the of the summer break there is a mixture of feelings for teachers across the UK and indeed further afield. Not only the trepidation of...
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Gareth D Morewood

Are inclusive sports days possible?

During what is perhaps the sportiest time of year, Gareth D Morewood investigates whether it’s possible for a school sports day to be an inclusive event. I think it’s safe to say that taking part in sport should be encouraged in schools. It’s an important part of having a healthy lifestyle,...
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Gareth D Morewood

Recruiting teaching assistants: right person, right time

One of your teaching assistants is leaving: what do you need to think about when interviewing and recruiting new support staff? Gareth D Morewood explains. First things first, do I actually need to recruit a new TA? Firstly, I think it is important to look at your structure, students’ needs and...
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Gareth D Morewood

How do we define success?

To achieve inclusive education, Gareth D Morewood explains how we need to look at the starting blocks of SEN provision. I was fortunate to work with the Association of British Schools in Chile during our Easter break, at their XXIX Conferencia Educacional 2016 . This was a fantastic experience for...
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Gareth D Morewood

How inclusive is assessment?

With the exam season in full swing, Gareth Morewood explores the changes to assessment that SENCOs need to be aware of. A few weeks ago in SENCology we considered how important an inclusive curriculum is, and prior to that, access arrangements and GCSE exams . Over the last few months one thing...
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Gareth D Morewood

Peer support for autistic pupils: Bobby’s story

There are a few simple strategies to encourage peer support for pupils with SEND. Gareth Morewood explains. I have previously stressed the importance of peer education as part of being an inclusive school, particularly with regard to autistic students . To further understand how peer support works...
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Gareth D Morewood

Maintaining an inclusive curriculum offer is more important than ever

A personalised approach and an inclusive curriculum with a broad range of subjects is essential to ensure all pupils have the chance to succeed, says Gareth D Morewood. This week I have met with the parents/carers of 22 Year 9 students. Every year I like to have a separate discussion confirming KS4...
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Gareth D Morewood

The updates and changes SENCOs need to know about

With constant additions to SEND reforms, Gareth D Morewood lists the top things SENCOs need to be aware of. After delivering keynote addresses and workshops at a few SENCO conferences this last week I feel it is useful to give a quick update on some of the key issues regarding SEND implementation...
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Gareth D Morewood

School-led SEND provision: educational psychology

Gareth D Morewood clarifies how a trainee educational psychologist can bring inclusion and positive change to SEND provision. In previous blogs we have discussed specific psychodynamic approaches to educational psychology (EP) and I have written about the role of our trainee educational...
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Gareth D Morewood

Are we becoming a truly un-inclusive society?

Including disabled children in everyday activities is essential for an inclusive school. Gareth D Morewood examines the Play Inclusion Project to highlight what schools need to do. Over the last few months I have become acutely aware of the pressures on families, schools and young people as...
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Gareth D Morewood

Autism and education: key points and resources

When providing the best provision for pupils with autism there are many aspects and people to consider. Gareth D Morewood collates why we know what we know. I have written quite a lot about autism and education, indeed it is possibly the area I have most involvement with as a SENCo, researcher and...
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Gareth D Morewood

Assistive technology in access arrangements

During exams, organising access arrangements can be a nightmare. Gareth D Morewood explains what he learnt using assistive technology with pupils with SEND. Previously on SENCology, Amanda Hipkiss has written about access arrangements and the constantly changing rules and during this last week the...
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Gareth D Morewood

Girls and autism: what we need to know

The growing awareness of girls with autism needs to continue. Gareth D Morewood examines what this understanding means for schools. Increasing research into autism will evidently lead to more awareness and a better understanding of pupils’ needs (see References below for a list of current research...
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Gareth D Morewood

Dance and movement psychotherapy

Additional services for pupils with SEND can be an integral part of a school’s provision. Gareth D Morewood and trainee DMP therapist Ailsa Parsons explain the benefits of DMP. We have a number of additional therapeutic services as part of our support systems and I am always keen to have...
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Gareth D Morewood

School-led SEND provision: speech and language therapy

Speech and language therapy can have a significant impact on the children and young people in our schools. It’s a lot more than just being able to speak and communicate. With diminishing external services the pressure on schools is increasing; it is often up to schools to secure appropriate...
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Gareth D Morewood

SENCo resolutions for 2016

Gareth D Morewood takes a look at what resolutions SENCos can set in order to achieve effective whole-school provision for SEND. Happy New Year! As we start 2016 I am reminded of one of the first articles I had published about the role of the SENCo . After achieving some decent down-time over the...
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Gareth D Morewood

Making the festivities fun for pupils with ASC

While Christmas can be a time of great excitement, it is important to remember that this time of year adds additional challenges to young people and families with SEND. The last week of term Young people on the autistic spectrum can find the last few days of the Christmas term very challenging –...
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Gareth D Morewood

Developing ADHD care pathways

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue into young adulthood or even longer. Gareth D Morewood examines what SENCOs can learn from recent research. ADHD may be common, but with symptoms such as ‘difficulty paying attention and...
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Gareth D Morewood

Personal budgets are like hen's teeth

Understanding the legislation around personal budgets can be the first step to making them more common place. Gareth D Morewood examines what the law says and answers some of the most common questions. Earlier this year in SENCology I wrote a blog post about the personal budgets project I am...
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Gareth D Morewood

Keeping parent and carer confidence high on our agendas

Engaging with parents and carers is a vital component of the SEND Code of Practice 2015. Gareth D Morewood examines what strategies work well to ensure that it is still a key priority. The Lamb Inquiry Ever since the Lamb Inquiry into special educational needs and parental confidence there has been...
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Gareth D Morewood

Using research to support transitions

Gareth Morewood draws on his experience to identify 2 research studies that have helped him develop how transitions are managed in his school. I have always thought that supporting transitions is vital. Having the opportunity to recently work with almost 200 SENCos in Somerset on this topic enabled...
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Gareth D Morewood

Strategies for responding to stress

Gareth Morewood examines self-control and stress models that can influence how you manage challenging behaviour. Two weeks ago I attended a three day International Health and Wellbeing Conference , hosted by Studio III , with one of our speech and language therapists. The event focused on taking a...
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Gareth D Morewood

SEN and EHCPs: the law STILL trumps all

Understanding the legalities involved can make the transition to education, health and care plans much easier for schools, parents/carers and the young person. Gareth Morewood explains why. Just under a year ago I wrote ‘ The Law Trumps All’ in SENCology. A year on, and the messages are still as...
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Gareth D Morewood

Why we shouldn’t forget SRE for pupils with SEND

To discuss why sex and relationship education is just as important for pupils with SEND, SENCo Gareth D Morewood interviews Martin Jones, Head of Beliefs and Values at Priestnall School. In March 2015 the Guardian published an article on Pupils with learning difficulties are being denied their...
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Gareth D Morewood

5 steps to a successful SENCo year

At this time of year there is the usual proliferation of back to school advice through blogs, articles and tweets. I thought it may be useful to consider what the SENCo year is all about and what our priorities should be in this ever changing and challenging world of education. There are some...
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Gareth D Morewood

Mental health as a whole-school concern

In a school environment it is not just the pupils who may suffer mental health issues. Gareth D. Morewood reminds us that supporting staff through stressful situations is equally important. It has been reported recently that pupils' mental health tops headteachers' concerns . However, I think it is...
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Gareth D Morewood

Top tips for effectively deploying teaching assistants

There has been a lot of recent debate about the role of teaching assistants on forums, Twitter and in the media. Here's what we know so far. The research and the lessons A report by Professor John Hattie highlights the fact that some of the worst examples of TA deployment are when TAs lead...
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Gareth D Morewood

How to develop student passports – the movie

This post addresses one of the topics I get asked about most – student passports – and shares a frequently requested video clip. While we often talk about students passports as ‘ our effective alternative to IEPs ’, that’s not really an accurate description. The student passport is not an IEP with...
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Gareth D Morewood

Personal budgets: what are the possibilities?

Personal budgets have been a feature of the SEND reforms from inception, yet national statistics show they are relatively unused. Perhaps the KIDS project has the answer. There were 1,360 new educational health care (EHC) plans issued in 2014 and 2,765 EHC plans transferred from statements or LDAs...
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Gareth D Morewood

Access arrangements: an additional exam stress

One of the biggest stresses for SENCos is the assessment and application of access arrangements. What examples of best practice do you have of handling the process? Gareth D Morewood outlines the system at his school. In practice We are fortunate to have a full-time PhD student working in...
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Gareth D Morewood

EHCP transition: a parent's perspective

Jamie, dad of Thomas, Year 11, talks about his experience of the transition from statement to EHC plan with a neighbouring LA. Thomas' background My son, Thomas, was born at 2.45pm on 18 th November 1998. In the first hours of his life Tom suffered a bleed to the brain, stopped breathing, his heart...
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Gareth D Morewood

Projective techniques: using psychology to support new SEND arrangements

How can schools benefit from taking a psychodynamic approach to provision under the SEND reforms and Children’s and Families Act? What is a psychodynamic approach? ‘Psychodynamics is the interplay of motivational forces that gives rise to the expression of mental processes, as in attitudes,...
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Gareth D Morewood

Using literacy to inspire pupils with autism

There is a growing awareness of girls and autism, particularly due to the research of Dr Judith Gould and Dr Jacqui Ashton Smith. After having Michael Barton in school last year to work with parents/carers and students and talk about his amazing books, I was delighted to find this book written...
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Gareth D Morewood

Two perspectives on modern education: creating positive relationships and greater equality

Attending the 25th anniversary celebration of the publication of Disability equality in the classroom: a human rights issue was an inspirational experience. Continuing from my post They said we couldn’t do it , I wanted to highlight here the powerful messages of two other keynote addresses from...
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Gareth D Morewood

Exam stress: supporting pupils and understanding pressures

As the exam period beckons Gareth D. Morewood identifies strategies to manage exam stress. At certain times of a young person’s school career, life can be stressful. Perhaps none more so than the culmination of five years of secondary school and Year 11 GCSE exams! This year, in the rapidly...
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Gareth D Morewood

The shocking truth about disablist bullying

How do we protect children with SEN from disablist bullying? Gareth D Morewood shares some shocking facts. I recently spoke at an event where I was fortunate to hear a talk from the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA). The ABA defines bullying as ‘the repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group...
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Gareth D Morewood

‘They said we couldn’t do it’ – a celebration of 25 years of Disability Equality in the Classroom

I have always been influenced by powerful messages and none more so than those in the book Incurably Human by Micheline Mason . Last weekend I was not only able to meet Micheline personally, but was also fortunate to deliver a keynote address at the event marking 25 years of a struggle for equality...
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Gareth D Morewood

Attachment revisited - strategies for supporting young people

It is difficult to shift fixed mind-sets from simply seeing and dealing with behaviour, to gaining a deeper understanding of human relationships and, even more importantly, the knowledge and skills to make a difference in the lives of children and their families. Previously I have written about...
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Gareth D Morewood

Manifesto for change

Just before the half-term break I was fortunate enough to attend the Educational Rights Alliance ‘un-conference’ on inclusion, supported by Irwin Mitchell , and was lucky to meet Polly Sweeney the co-author of the excellent set of resources compiled of factsheets and template letters . The event...
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Gareth D Morewood

Inclusion: what do parents and carers think?

To cap off this series on inclusion, three parents and carers explain, in their own words, how much the inclusive culture of our school has meant to them. If you haven’t already, be sure to read the first , second and third parts of this blog series. Dianne Dianne is the mother of George (now aged...
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Gareth D Morewood

Inclusion: the data and debate

Keeping inclusion at the heart of what you do, while maintaining excellent levels of progress for all pupils: is such a thing possible, and what do the numbers tell us? In the first part of this series we considered what the term ‘inclusion’ constitutes in the modern day, and in the second we...
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Gareth D Morewood

Inclusion: what it means to young people

While it is easy to frame young people’s words to match our own agenda, we need to consider what inclusion means to young people. On aspiration 'I know I need support in school and it isn’t always easy – lots of other people do as well. Being in High School is very important to me so I can do the...
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Gareth D Morewood

Inclusion: what's in a name?

There has often been a lot of confusion as to what the term ‘inclusion’ encompasses - here are my thoughts. ‘The term 'inclusive education' has become so used and abused that it has little meaning.’ ~ Corbett, 2001 In the modern world of the SENCO, as seen most recently in a number of blog posts...
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Gareth D Morewood

EHCP transition reviews: reflecting on the process

One of the biggest challenges that SENCos face is ensuring the facilitation of multi-agency involvement . Although there clearly isn’t any ‘magic bullet’ here, and local issues are most definitely a significant factor, the following action plan ensured the best outcomes for our reviews. Ensure...
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Gareth D Morewood

EHCP transition reviews: our experiences and practical advice

During the last week of November, our Year 11 transition reviews took place for 11 of our students with statements of SEN. Although the reviews were planned in advance, and assessments were coordinated to avoid too much pressure on the young people and parents/carers, this was nothing short of some...
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Gareth D Morewood

Inclusion on the road

Well, we all survived the three-day residential trip to Anglesey at the Conway Centre – despite some minor knocks resulting in two trips to Ysbyty Gwynedd! After careful planning to ensure a truly inclusive educational visit (see SENCology part one ), the three days afforded some amazing moments...
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Gareth D Morewood

Inclusion means everyone goes on visits

School visits can be unforgettable experiences for young learners. Why should students miss out because of their needs? Ellin's Tower, Holy Island, Anglesey. Copyright Peter Barr It has been an extremely hectic year at our school so far, but there have already been some amazing outcomes for our...
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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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Gareth D Morewood

Raising awareness of the reality of autism

I was delighted to welcome Michael Barton to our school as part of his book tour at the end of October. I first heard Michael speak at an event in Belfast where I was taking about our research and work on including young people with complex autism (read more in my article 'Mainstreaming autism:...
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Gareth D Morewood

An increased focus on mental health…

One of the positive changes to the new Code of Practice from 1st September was the increased focus on mental health. I think few could disagree with the importance of mental health support for children and young people in our schools and colleges. Indeed, this is an area that I and many other...
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Gareth D Morewood

However tough the SENCO role can be – remember the law trumps all!

The Children and Families Act emphasises the central importance of pupils' wishes and feelings. Above all, we must adhere to the statutory guidance. One of the most effective things I did early on as a SENCO was to volunteer for IPSEA, as part of which I received legal training. Ultimately,...
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Gareth D Morewood

Planning for EHC plan transfers

From September 2014 the Children and Families Act 2014 became law. A key element of this is the replacement of Statements of Special Educational Needs with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans. Main differences The main differences are that the EHC plan: is more person centred with more...
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Gareth D Morewood

SEND information for your school website – confirmation and clarification

Since the launch of the Code, there has been a lot of misinformation regarding the Local Offer and what schools are required to publish. In this post, I want to confirm the information that schools need to ensure is included in the SEN information report on their websites. Information to include...
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Gareth D Morewood

Starting the new SENCO year in 2014 – don’t panic…

The end of the summer break always gives those who work in schools that ‘funny feeling’: sometimes excitement for new jobs or roles – and often anxiety and a sense of disbelief! With the SEND reform becoming reality from 1 st September, this year will be even more challenging for the SENCO. Don’t...
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Gareth D Morewood

Case study: sensory audit using assess, plan, do review

Sarah Calvert, SENCO and inclusion coordinator at Oakwood Integrated Primary School, developed a sensory audit using the assess, plan, do, review model with three autistic pupils. The children Child A has been diagnosed with autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia and has difficulties with speech and language...
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Gareth D Morewood

Emotional regulation, resilience and sensory overload

During May and June I was fortunate to deliver a four-day training course I was asked to write for Middletown Autism in Ireland, entitled Using an Inclusive School Environment to Support Emotional Regulation and Resilience . Training for SENCOs and colleagues The course was a combination of face-to...
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Gareth D Morewood

Curriculum support transition event

Many schools have well established transition events for Year 6 pupils in preparation for their start in the coming September. After individual meetings at the primary schools (often Year 5 annual reviews), bespoke tours and initial transition events, whole-school induction activities – sports,...
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Gareth D Morewood

New Code update – all go from September?

After much debate, concern and questions as to timeframes, the final Code has been laid before Parliament – all 271 pages of it! After a considerable wait the following documents have been published (source: Special Needs Jungle). A final 271-page draft of the SEN and Disability Code of Practice...
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Gareth D Morewood

Great ideas for summer: dog training

Pairing child with canine might seem an obscure way to improve inclusion, but the therapeutic benefits are something to bark about! I have always tried to find creative ways to support and stimulate inclusion at school - some are more off-the-wall than others! The aim is always to give young people...
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Gareth D Morewood

Exam season, stress and anxiety

This time of year is dominated by assessments and examinations, from KS2 SATs through to GCSE and ‘A’ Level exams and beyond. As someone who always struggled with a formal exam as a mechanism of assessment I sympathise with young people who find the model of assessing them challenging. It is only...
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Gareth D Morewood

Developing self-advocacy in young people as part of a family-centred approach

I often get asked what I think the most important SENCO skills are. This has always interested me; starting with one of my first pieces of published writing The 21 st Century SENCO right through to considering the SENCO role within the framework of significant chance. I was certain at the start of...
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Gareth D Morewood

The new draft Code: important points for schools

Following on from my initial thoughts, from my work supporting SENCO colleagues and other schools I know these are areas that currently require a change in thinking. What the Code wants for young people 6.1 All children and young people are entitled to an education that enables them to make...
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Gareth D Morewood

My initial thoughts about the new draft Code

So, we nearly have a new Code. Many would argue however, that with only the summer term to go, a lot of planning for September 2014 will already be in place. The key message from the DfE is that all guidance for schools (section 6) is not up for further consultation and schools can be confident...
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Gareth D Morewood

Finally the new Code – well almost!

16 th April, two days before Good Friday and many SENCo colleagues are trying desperately to ‘switch off’. I know I have been, after some very lengthy half-terms and as ever, plenty on! However, whatever ‘down time’ you may have thought was yours became punctuated by an Open Consultation on a...
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Gareth D Morewood

Creative resourcing

The Children’s and Families Bill has now become an Act and while the regulations and accompanying Code are debated and approved, SENCO colleagues are in a difficult position as to how they can prepare for September onwards. I don’t assume to be able to foresee the SEND landscape clearly enough to...
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Gareth D Morewood

Never has there been so much change. Does anyone know what is happening?

We've brought back Gareth D Morewood's popular SENCology blog. In his first post, Gareth considers current tension in the profession and sets out three elements for an inclusive school in times of change. Education hasn’t experienced such change in decades, with changes to Initial Teacher Training...
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