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exclusions, Happy in School, Timposon Review

Suzy Rowland, Channel 5 News: Timpson Review on Exclusions

A good indicator of an inclusive school or successful whole school approach to SEND is surely the degree to children with SEN are excluded or repeatedly excluded from school. Like incarceration, there appears to be a high likelihood of a repeat exclusion if a school has decided to make the decision to exclude once. The seal is broken, the die is cast.

Parents and school staff can, of course, turn the situation around post exclusion, and the more time that elapses after the child or young person moves away from the exclusion, the more likely they are to get into a new groove. But there are lots of factors that need to be in place to ensure that the child has a successful re-introduction to school, especially after a fixed term exclusion (these are detailed in my forthcoming book). But in a nutshell, there must be:

  1. a concerted effort on behalf of the teaching staff to understand the deeper reasons for the child’s behaviour to deteriorate significantly for an exclusion to be the only course of action left.
  2. a concerted effort of the child and their parent/carers to work collaboratively with the school, to support the child to enable them to behave within an acceptable framework of the school’s behaviour policy.

Working with children with specific difficulties creates additional issues for schools to address – ranging from investigating a diagnosis, creating specific education plans, ensuring the right support if required – all of which can be time-consuming. But if there is genuine commitment from all parties, the time and effort can turn a potentially hopeless situation around. Isn’t that something working for? It is here, at the apex of effort, angst, investment and hard work, where inclusion bursts forth not as a buzz word to strive for, but a march for equality and opportunity to improve the young person’s life-chances and well-being. Sometimes the young person or even their family, can’t see that far ahead, sometimes the exclusion is the start of a complex diagnosis process. Neither scenarios are a breeze, but still worth being a teacher and parent for, eh?

What’s your experience of exclusion?

Parents:

When was your child first excluded?

Did you have further exclusions?

Does your child have autism or ADHD? (a hidden disability)

Was your child diagnosed after an exclusion?

Did the situation at school improve after your child’s exclusion?

Do you feel the exclusion was fare?

Is your child Black Caribbean?

Headteachers:

Is pupil’s behaviour generally improved after exclusion?

How important is parent involvement and co-operation, when the fixed period is over?

Is exclusion is sign of school failure to enforce boundaries or the child’s failure to adhere to the school’s policy?

Do you feel that putting exclusions in a league table is helpful for current or prospective parents? or just another piece of admin?

Would access to greater funding help you support children with specific issues within school, therefore avoiding the need for exclusion?

Polarising opinions are rarely useful, especially in education, what are your thoughts on a solution to reduce a generation of children from specific backgrounds or with special educational needs being wiped out of the education system?

 

© Suzy Rowland

 

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Education, SEND, Autism, ADHD, hidden disability, Suzy Rowland, Happy in School

Reviews, Exclude, Recycle

Tuesday, saw the publication of the Timpson Review on exclusions. As I was replying to emails in my PJs on Tuesday morning, I got an email from Channel 5 News, no less, asking me to comment on the review. After a brief telephone chat with news editor, they decided to do a face-to-face interview at my house. Eeek, I got dressed, made up and tidied the house in record time! The interview went out on Channel 5 news to co-incide with the report’s publication.

Aside from me sharing my story, it’s a story that’s all too relatable. Even though the soundbite is that ‘exclusion from school shouldn’t mean exclusion from education,’ for many thousands of children and young people and their families, especially from the Black Caribbean community, that’s exactly what it does mean!

Here’s the video, my segment’s right at the beginning. Do tell me what you think of the piece.

Suzy Rowland on Channel 5 News: https://youtu.be/4iDiP3jYnRU…

Please share if someone you know has been affected by exclusion, particularly if they have autism or ADHD.

I was also contacted about doing a piece on mid-life career change for BBC Radio 5 Live, but some football match took up the air time…!

That’s enough media courting for one week, I’m back to finishing my workshop session for next week at the White House, Hampton. Hope to see you soon.

© Suzy Rowland

Education, SEND, Autism, ADHD, hidden disability, Suzy Rowland, Events, Happy in School

Expert Overload & Imposter Syndrome

Arrived back from doing a huge talk in Birmingham at Khembe’s Return to Your Roots about autism and ADHD and their impact on Black children who are often diagnosed later or misdiagnosed (Institute of Education) and are pretty near the top of the exclusions table (Department for Education). I set up the #happyinschool project less than a year ago and have smashed many goals, without realising. Not specifically financial goals, but goals that have a value beyond monetary. I’m talking about building a sense of value and credibility in my brand. How?

1. I take risks, putting myself well out of my comfort zone.

2. I’m know who I want to engage and I like the engagement.

3. I’ve researched my specialism for the past 8 years.

4. I’m passionate about what I’m doing.

#happyinschool Founder, Suzy Rowland

5. I use every scrap of experience (good and bad) from my corporate communications, copywriting and marketing career, to boost engagement and present a professional and consistent brand. I won’t lie, there have been long nights and flashes of the dreaded imposter syndrome, especially with so many autism and ADHD experts to pick from. Then I remember what I’m doing is about people, families, fairness, equality, shifting mindsets and my heart breathes a sigh of relief. I’m working with values I believe in and they’re tangible to me. The educators and families I work with experience this first hand. Take THAT imposter syndrome!

I’ve been knocked sideways by the support and positive feedback from parents and look forward to seeing you at the next session at the White House in Hampton. Click on the link below of fill in the contact form. There is still much to share:

https://www.facebook.com/events/2066715853626240/

 

Education, SEND, Autism, ADHD, hidden disability, Suzy Rowland, Happy in School

Your autism/ADHD tribe

A recent group of #happyinschool-ers enjoyed the project so much, in particular the friendship they provided for each other, they decided to set up a WhatsApp group. Think about that for a minute. They opted to stay in contact, rather than drift off to continue their struggle alone, like lily pads on a lake. They have created their own community of empowered parents, enriched with the knowledge, confidence and the belief in their power to influence and support their child’s education.

What excites me most about the natural group dynamic is the ‘opting in’ nature of it. Lots of groups fail because the joining in feels forced; this happens all the time in the corporate sector.  But when a group willingly gets together with common goal and shared experiences, huge power and potential lives at the core of it.

All parents will testify that everything changes when you’re raising kids, you have to constantly shift your decision-making and boundary-setting, to accommodate your developing child. But for parents of children with SEN, the rate of change is accelerated. Calm waters at school can break into an angry storm within days, minutes. Many small things can create BIG changes in children with SEN:

  1. Transition to new school, year group, classroom.
  2. Change in route to school.
  3. Something different for breakfast.
  4. Waking up somewhere different.
  5. A new jumper, pair of shoes etc.,
  6. New environmental factors: a new teacher, new room or setting, a different position in the classroom, a slight change in routine.

Sometimes, that change is so minuscule, and the impact on the child so huge, it’s difficult to identify what the trigger was. Such is the nature of managing children with special educational needs. It’s a dynamic, ever-changing situation.

The #happyinschool project encourages parents to bond, work together, sharing ideas and suggestions, particularly if their children are of a similar age. The peer support of other autism parents is reminder that we all need to constantly re-adjust, revise and review what’s happening with our children’s learning and happiness in school, as it can change in the blink of an eye. Knowing that someone else has experienced a similar thing will help you to react calmly and rationally, swinging into ‘constructive response pattern’, (the subject of my next blog possibly), rather than press the ‘blame’ button which results in wasted energy, frustration and no actual solution.

One of my watch words is emPOWered parents, the P.O.W. stands for Parents on Wheels! I use this analogy because wheels are all about motion, movement (hopefully in a forwards direction(!) and travelling somewhere, a journey. The autism/ADHD parent journey can be uncomfortable, so travelling with a few trusted friends or confidantes is highly recommended. It can help you see where you’re going and maybe, just maybe, you will enjoy the ride a little.

Warm thanks to everyone who’s already experienced the #happyinschool project. If you haven’t and you’re interested, do get in touch. Click here for Details of the next session

© Suzy Rowland

 

Education, SEND, Autism, ADHD, hidden disability, Suzy Rowland, Events, Happy in School

The Brick Wall

Ahh, the brick wall. You know you’ve hit one when everything you do points you right back to where you started. Well, I’m not a magician (although some would argue to the contrary), but I believe the brick wall is an illusion, one designed to keep you in your place, on the back foot, in a mental or psychological prison.

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Here are some ideas to help you get around, over the top, or just smash through these brick walls:

  1.  Remind yourself of why you started to do the thing you are doing, write it down, write down what you want to achieve (your goal).
  2. Look at the brick wall, really look at it. Face it down. Is it a person, a group of people, an organisation? A number of organisations? You may feel intimidated but pack this feeling in a box and put on a suit a suit armour. Most dragons can be slayed; you just need to know where to strike.
  3. Your first strike is doing some research, use your information to weaken the mortar between the bricks. There is truckloads of practical and legal information out there. Select stuff to read and research that answers your exact questions, don’t get side-tracked. And if this is too challenging for you due to time pressures, work or family commitments, make sure you know which charities or advice groups to and what their specialism is.
  4. Keep pushing ahead. Do not lose sight of what you are fighting for. Try to fight for one thing at a time or at least be clear about what you want to achieve.
  5. Have a questioning attitude – ask why or why not?
  6. Don’t give up.
  7.  Keep smiling, even when you feel like crying.

Remind yourself of all the other brick walls you shinned over… see! They vanished too 🙂

The next #happyinschool project workshops are on 30th April, Greenwood Centre, School Road, Hampton Hill, Greater London TW12 1QL. You can book tickets here. 

The following one is on Tuesday May 14, at the YMCA White House, 45 The Avenue, Hampton TW12 3RN. And tickets are here

© Suzy Rowland