Some difficulties… by @ASTSupportaali


When I first started working as the Director of Inclusion in my school I came with a backpack of experience dealing with difficult, non-compliant, defiant students. Who may have been angry about things in their lives or generally frustrated by their situations.

I strode into the post with the label of being an Advanced Skills Teacher in Learning and Teaching, valiantly/foolishly (delete as you see fit), thinking if I can perfect the delivery/pedagogy/thinking of teaching and learning then any student can/will do well. Always. Whatever the situation.

However, what I was seriously missing was knowledge of the extremely ‘damaged’, ‘broken’ and really and truly ‘vulnerable’ students. (I don’t think I will say experience, as students facing these extreme difficulties were indeed present in my last school, but I am not sure if my eyes were fully open to them.)

I don’t know if all teachers are acutely aware of the day to day…

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#sen tweeters


imageHere is a list I have compiled of #SEN tweeters – happy to keep adding, so please let me know of any – thank you

Featured image by @ChrisChivers2

@SimonKnight100 @AntonyPowerMM @AdeleDevine @TheAsplands
@ASDSupportAAli @DownsSideUp @ria1984
@SENICT @SpcialNdsJungle @AspieDeLaZouche @TraceyScriven1
@HeadTBAP @IPSEAcharity @kennygfrederik
@julesdaulby @OrangeJuiceSky @Carwardenhouse
@davewhitaker246 @NigelUtten @FuturesRosie@robjames09
@nancygedge @HumansNotRobots @springwellcss
@HYWEL_ROBERTS @90_maz @cazzypot
@feistyoatcake @jwinchester25 @dansthunderbolt
@Mishwood1 @Lose_the_label @DiaryAutism
@wclou @trinityfieldsit @hdssg1 @jarlathobrien
@cherrylkd @judeenright @Nichola80
@copyiswritten @DrKateSaunders @deevybee @daisyrah @julianelliot11
@techczech @SpLDSpecialist @nasen_org @snowdropbooks
@SENChatUK @ChrisChivers2 @mathmatical
@JosephBaldwin @educationbear
@Teachanana @nmgilbrid @AmyPortier2

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Wear a hat for Highfurlong Day May 23rd


Radio wave

As most of you will know we are to be the proud recipients of a brand new school in September 2015. While we are very grateful for our shiny new school building we are also aware that much of our equipment and resources are worn out and no longer fit for purpose.

Our Head teacher has launched a campaign to raise £100,000 to equip our new building with the resources our children both need and deserve. Our children work hard every single day while sometimes battling illness and feeling terribly unwell. We will be using this blog to give you regular updates on our progress.

On May 23rd Blackpool went ‘Wear a hat for Highfurlong’ crazy. The aim of the day was to raise as much money as possible by wearing a hat to school. We asked local businesses, parents, our children, governors and the whole school community including Radio…

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Jeans for Genes Day


As a school we are very knowledgable about genes and how they work. We are also aware that sometimes they do not work effectively and some of our children are very poorly as a result of this.

The charity ‘Jeans for Genes’ raises money for Genetic Disorders UK and aims to change the world for children with genetic disorders. 1 in 25 children born in the UK, more than 30,000 babies are affected by by genetic disorders. Their associated heath problems mean that genetic disorders are the biggest cause of death in children under 14 years.

This year Jeans for Genes Day took place on 19th September. Every child and every member of staff wore their jeans to school   for the day and made a donation. We held a special assembly and discussed the children who are more poorly than some of our own children and thought of ways…

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The Island of Lost Things

The Diary of a Not So Ordinary Boy

There is an island far away. It floats, alone, like a mirage, out on the ocean; a jewel, painted with bright colours. Lush grass and golden beaches, high, snow-tipped mountains and deep valleys gush with foaming rivers. Exotic birds with gorgeous plumage flock in the tall trees of its mighty forests. Majestic beasts roam, unfettered, across the plains.

People live there. They are not strange, but they seem…charmed. They have a glow about them, a sparkle that strikes the green flame of envy in the hearts of observers, even as they want to reach out to touch them, to transfer something of their blush of good fortune to themselves.

Around the island, the sea is ever changing. Sometimes it is bright blue, shallow and rippling, darted by luminous fish. Othertimes the water-chatter changes. Waves do not tumble; instead they roll and crash, grey and forbidding. They rumble.

Despite its distance…

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My #teachinghighlight


On Wednesday 15th October I read this post from @cazzypot. She wrote of taking her disaffected PRU children to visit Shakespeare’s territory. Without giving too much away, the trip could easily have been a disaster but was billed by @cazzypot as being the highlight of her teaching career to date. @ICTEvangelist, @cazzypot and I discussed this and thought it would be good to see if people wanted to share some positive stories. So, here’s my contribution.

I have several teaching highlights as it happens. Working in a special school provides you with many tear jerking moments. For example, there was a boy who had only learnt to read ORT stage 1 words by sight right up until the age of 15. We never ever gave up on teaching him phonics and word building although to an outsider it must have seemed as though we were on a hiding to nothing…

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Break Prohibition – Welcome to my Speekeezee



This is how Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) works:

  • Fast and Furious
  • No other method
  • Do not look at pictures for clues
  • Do not guess – must sound out
  • Consistent, persistent, insistent – not a plethora of games and random strategies – that’s called mixed methods which is illegal.
  1. If it doesn’t work you just carry on until it does.
  2. If it still doesn’t work you are not doing it properly.
  3. If you think another method may work better or complement SSP you can’t. Remember no mixed methods.

Under the current prohibition any method of teaching reading which is not SSP is banned. So, I’m going underground – come to my Speakeasy where I will list some practical tips on teaching those students who just don’t seem to be progressing.

1. Taming Tricky WordsTaming_Tricky_Wo_4cf04d1b6b40c_85x120

This is great and allows pupils to learn those high frequency words which are more irregular…

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