Praise: The good, the bad and the ugly

Mainstream to a PRU and back...

“Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open and the rules are flexible”

Virginia Satir

Sanctions and praise have always gone hand in hand. The old adage of ‘carrot and stick’ rings true for many. It would be easy to think that in terms of managing children in a school, they would want to avoid the sanctions and punishment and work tirelessly for the praise. For the masses this may be gospel truth but there are some children who end up getting sanctioned when they do something wrong and then what feels like a sanction again when they are praised for doing something right.

There are many types of personalities in a modern day classroom and although many school systems seem to try to suppress them and uniform them, with a classroom ethos based on secure relationships they…

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NQT Support

Mainstream to a PRU and back...

This blog post is a very quick one but one that I thought was worthwhile.

On Wednesday, I delivered some training to a group of NQTs as part of our Academy Trust training programme, The session was great, very informal in terms of delivery style but well structured. At the beginning of the session, some of them put up post-its with particular questions that they would like answering. Rather than paying them 10 minutes lip service at the end, I said that I would respond to them as a whole by email so that they could be used as a starting point for further discussion if necessary.

This blog post is simply the questions that were on the post-its and the answers that I gave in the email. It seemed a shame to waste them!

Girls – chatty and attitude

Girls can be a nightmare to manage because they often have…

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A Telephone Conversation with Charlie Henry-National Lead HMI for SEND


Monday 21st September was for me dominated by Ofsted. No, we didn’t have visitors in school, we only welcomed our Ofsted team a little over a year ago so we aren’t expecting them quite yet. Monday was a day of simply talking to Ofsted and I feel better for it.

In previous posts I have made no secret of the fact that I have something of a soft spot for Ofsted. Just like the rest of us the Inspectors are simply doing their job. They are aiming to ensure that our children and young people achieve the best educational outcomes possible. Surely that’s what we all want and are working towards.

In the afternoon my Head Teacher and I attended a training event run by a HMI about the new Common Inspection Framework which came in to effect on Monday. We made our usual complaint about lack of parity with…

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Teaching Behaviour

Mainstream to a PRU and back...

As educators working in schools, our primary job is to impart knowledge to others. Maths, literacy, scientific skills et cetera. There are many other elements to the job but the only thing that we should be doing when directly working with children is to educate them, to teach them something. This may be something academic but it can also be a whole plethora of other things, such as how to ask politely for something, how to share, how to resolve their issues, communicate… In fact, every time we interact with children, we should always teach them something.

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Walking With Intent

Jarlath O'Brien

I’ve lived in Little Sandhurst for nine years. It’s a lovely, quiet little place nestled up against Wellington College, Broadmoor Hospital and the Royal Military Academy and surrounded by heathland and woodland that my children love. In that nine years I’ve crossed paths countless times with a young man who also lives in the village. He is very distinctive – ginger hair, glasses, iPod and earphones always in, jeans, hoody. He also has Down syndrome. I estimate that he’s about 25 years old.

Up until today every time I saw this young man, with one exception, he was doing the same thing – walking aimlessly, listening to his music, alone. The one exception was when he was walking with a young lady of a similar age. Every single time I’ve seen him I’ve wondered where he’s walking from, where he’s walking to and what he’s going to do when he…

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Blast From the Past

The Diary of a Not So Ordinary Boy

I’ve got one of those things on my Facebook app that shows me what I posted ‘on this day that is not today’ and this is what it chose to show me this morning; a post I wrote in a state of rage and distress, many years ago, a description of one of the experiences that led to the creation of this blog.

I had a long conversation the other day with a good friend of mine about catharsis. For a long time, incidents like this sat like a lead weight on my heart; they weighed me down. They sat on my shoulder and whispered angry words, they dug in their claws, increased my confusion.  They refused to let me go.

It’s been a long journey away from that place for me, but I’d like to bet that someone somewhere is hearing these words. I’d like to bet that someone…

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Will Special Schools ever achieve parity with mainstream schools?


Ofsted’s latest Common inspection Framework for September 2015 is now in force. You can read the document here

This framework brings together all educational settings to ensure there is consistency of inspection between Early Years settings, Maintained schools and Academies, Non-Association Independent schools and Further Education skills providers. This includes special schools, Pupil Referral units and Maintained Nurseries.

The emphasis for the new framework is to look at school leaders’ vision, culture and the ethos of the school to see how they provide for their most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people. All children, including those with physical difficulties, learning difficulties and those with profound and complex neurological conditions should make good progress from their starting points. Schools and education establishments are accountable for their progress.

I have blogged previously on the new framework so I don’t need to go in to too much detail here. New short inspections…

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