Scrapheap Challenge

The Diary of a Not So Ordinary Boy

Ah, the behaviour of children.  The eternal preoccupation of every parent, and certainly every teacher in the land.  The subject of newspaper headlines, innumerable books, studies, and inspection reports on a local and national level.  It might almost be a national obsession greater than the weather.  Almost.

When we were considering the best place of education for our precious boy, back in 2004, behaviour was one of our main concerns.  As a little one, our son was biddable, if random, happy (mostly) to go where he was put and do as he was told, so, knowing that children learn from each other, the thought of what he might pick up from his classmates was a concern.  ‘We need him to be with good role models, not be the role model,’ we told ourselves, and duly sent him to a mainstream school.

It shouldn’t be too difficult for them to fit…

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BESD and Mental Health


This blog has been written as a contribution to Martin’s brilliant #sharingiscaring collection.

Last Wednesday I ran a session for primary mainstream SENCOs on BESD and mental health. The current situation is grim….children as young as 5 are displaying symptoms of acute distress including disturbed sleep patterns, hyperactivity, feelings of withdrawal and isolation, disassociation. These can manifest themselves in poorly formed relationships with others and, at the extreme end of the spectrum, acts of violence and aggression and incidents of self-harm. As DHT of a PRU I despair that these marginalised children end up with us because often the right help is not sought, so I was on a mission to both inform and give pointers to early support.

I was fortunate to have a lovely lady from Barnardo’s come to speak to the group about their commissioned services and the role of CAMHS was also discussed with useful contact…

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What It’s Not

The Diary of a Not So Ordinary Boy

Inclusion is a funny thing that seems to mean all sorts of different things to different people, so I thought I’d put together a list for those of us who have special people in their lives, be that professionally or personally; you know those people who find it difficult to learn things or have specific disabilities.

  1. It’s not saying that everyone is welcome and then being flummoxed as to what to do with them when they turn up and sticking them in a corner or out in the corridor with a Special Helper and a box of cars or an iPad.
  2. It’s not having the exact same expectations for them as for the rest of the class/group, all in the name of aspiration.
  3. It’s not letting them get away with whatever they please because, aww, look at them, they haven’t got much, or they can’t understand, or they can’t process…

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We moved on from Planets this week, well some of us did. Some of the students are still getting to grips with the names of the planets. It’s not as easy as teaching new concepts in a Special School – you also have to teach the vocabulary, and without the vocabulary you aren’t going to get the concepts. If only everyone understood that…

So, we started by making a scale model of the solar system, right the way down the top corridor. Sun at one end, Neptune at the other and the rest of the students, sorry – planets, at about the right distance from the sun for scale. Shouting questions down the corridor – are you hot/cold? dark/light? has helped reinforce the concept of scale of the solar system. The planet symbols (why does Communicate in Print put a ring on each of the planets??) have been left stuck…

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Successful Behaviour Techniques : the Key to Teaching in PRUs


For the last 12 years, I have taught English at a large, city-wide PRU — or pupil referral unit. In our case, the PRU operates as a number of small centres spread around the city.

Our PRU is for pupils who are permanently excluded from mainstream school. Most of them are in this situation because of the impact their behaviour was having on themselves and others. Academic ability is not usually a particular issue, although some have fallen behind their peers because of the disrupted lives they lead.

Many of the young people we work with are the victims of poverty and chaos. Some are in the care of the local authority, or are well-known to social services. Most live in deprived areas where they may have been exposed to criminal activity, and some are known to be involved with gangs. Weekly, we see parents who will openly admit that…

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Five Currant Buns

Class Teaching Tips

I have been meaning to make a video of this little song for some time, and a twitter conversation earlier this evening has finally persuaded me to do it, despite the loss of my cardboard buns. You have to imagine them.

This is a great little song for all sorts of reasons. Music making is so powerful as an inclusive tool; in this one there are a number of roles that children can play. The baker, the shoppers, you could add instruments; the world is your oyster.

As well as the repetitive nature of the melody, so the children get to know it really well, there is, of course, the mathematics. Counting the buns each time reinforces the link between the concrete objects and the numbers, and, if you wished, you could increase the number of buns/coins and take more than one away each time. I do it this way…

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