Communication for inclusion. Language strategies that help insecurely attached pupils succeed in school

Developments in neuroscience mean that the impact of loss and trauma on early brain development is widely understood. However, Louise Bomber’s Inside I’m Hurting (2007) contends that education has not kept up with other fields in relation to the development of specific practical strategies to support the inclusion of children with attachment needs. Her book isContinue reading “Communication for inclusion. Language strategies that help insecurely attached pupils succeed in school”

The facts suggest that institionalised discrimination is entrenching disadvantage.

We are firmly committed in our English schools to equality and inclusion, on paper. Current DfE Guidance on Behaviour & Discipline (January, 2016) makes several clear references to a legal requirement under the 2010 Equality Act for behaviour policies to make reasonable adjustments in relation to disabled children and those with SEN. For example, we are remindedContinue reading “The facts suggest that institionalised discrimination is entrenching disadvantage.”

What an extraordinary privilege, to be a teacher who can do this for another human being. #attachmentaware

Attachment theory in a nutshell John Bowlby describes attachment as a ‘lasting psychological connectedness between human beings’ (1988). He explains how a child’s initial dependence on a caregiver for protection creates, when needs are sensitively and reliably met, the ability to regulate emotions, reduce fear, attune to others, develop empathy, self awareness and moral understanding.Continue reading “What an extraordinary privilege, to be a teacher who can do this for another human being. #attachmentaware”

Hearing the voices of young people at risk of exclusion. 

I happened upon a fascinating, densely referenced research study by Bethany Hawkins (University of York, 2011) recently. Its aim was to hear the voices of pupils at risk of exclusion and to identify what they perceived to be the barriers to engagement at school as well as the potential enablers. Through a series of semi-structured interviews, theContinue reading “Hearing the voices of young people at risk of exclusion. “

Teachers aren’t therapists, but our impact is huge.

‘Teachers aren’t therapists’ is a statement of the obvious that concerns me. Its subtext is that we are teachers of subjects and nothing more. It’s an expression of the new era ushered in by Michael Gove, in which pupils are expected to “attend to an expert” (The Importance of Teaching, 2013) all ears and eagerness toContinue reading “Teachers aren’t therapists, but our impact is huge.”

If homework’s a battle, let’s call a truce. #inclusion

The single most important thing you can do as a SENCO is invite parents in for progress reviews and really listen to what they tell you. The first time I did this, the message I heard about homework was so resounding, so emphatic and heartfelt, that I took a proposal for a change of policyContinue reading “If homework’s a battle, let’s call a truce. #inclusion”

Enough crisis talk – it’s time to act.

A couple of weeks ago, the DfE published the outcomes of a longitudinal study of health and wellbeing. It reports that one in every three adolescent girls in the UK is suffering psychological distress. Just a week later, The Good Childhood Report from the Children Society and The University of York warned of a sharp increase inContinue reading “Enough crisis talk – it’s time to act.”

‘He Picks and Chooses’

Of all teacher-speak, this is the phrase that perplexes me most. I heard it often as a SENCo, spoken as a kind of judgement against children whose SEMH or neurodevelopmental needs made for irratic and sometimes challenging behaviour. The phrase may comprise just four words, but it manages to pack an awful lot of discountingContinue reading “‘He Picks and Chooses’”

They really care about us here

I’ve been working on a film about the impact of permanent exclusion over the past few months. Among other things, I wanted to explore how some pupils were able to succeed in their new mainstream schools despite a history of ‘persistent misconduct’. Was it that the shock of the exclusion triggered some kind of wakeContinue reading “They really care about us here”