World beaters

Another voice on the special school inspection debate. Another one I agree with.

Jarlath O'Brien

I read Laura McInerney’s recent Guardian article ( with interest and am pleased that special schools are provoking discussion amongst our mainstream cousins. Laura achieved at least two things with the article: a) bringing the issue to the attention of the wider education community and b) provoking a difference of opinion amongst special school colleagues whose community can sometimes feel like a mutual appreciation society.

One of the questions raised was “could it be that inspectors are overly moved by a syrupy view of disability?” I have been through four Section 5 inspections, one residential inspection and one Section 8 monitoring visit as a leader in special schools. All five education inspections were carried out by former special school Headteachers, both lead and additional inspectors. Far from being syrupy, the experiences were sharp. They knew what they were looking at. The lesson I mentioned in an…

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1000 years of experience

There is a thing going round on twitter at the moment about thinking what you might say to your NQT self or others just starting out now you have experience behind you.
I qualified back in 2002 so look back now with nearly 13 years experience. Still early days as as it stands with pensions I have as many years to work as I have lived so far (34!)
So here are my thoughts.

Remember what mum told you? Yup. Stick to it. It does help your sanity. No work on a Saturday night and choose a time at night where you will always say enough is enough. There is always more you could be doing.

Every career change, no matter how difficult they seem, are for the better. If you feel you have to change, go for it. It will work out. Don’t be scared.

It’s ok to be emotionally involved in your job. It is a big part of what makes you the teacher you are. Yes there will be tough times and you will cry a lot but it is nothing to be ashamed of.

Continue doing what you believe in, even if everyone doesn’t always agree with you. Stand strong. It is good to have strong beliefs.

Network! Be nosey, get involved. Talk to others. You can always learn from people.

Never lose your enthusiasm for being with the children. They are why you are there.

Special Schools and Outstanding Status

Cherryl says here what I would like to say but better!


Earlier this week @miss_mcinerney published an article in The Guardian stating that 35% of Special Schools are rated as Outstanding yet no one celebrates or even mentions this fact. Laura, the author claimed not to be disputing this, rather she was just aiming to stimulate a debate. Here is the tweet announcing the article

Laura McInerney
Did 35% of special schools get an Outstanding last term because they’re fantastic, or because inspectors go easy?

At the time I declined to comment. I had no intention of joining a discussion about the provision we provide. I would rather concentrate on teaching the children to the best of my ability than engage in discussions about it. There then followed a prolonged debate concerning the status of special schools. During the course of this debate one or two comments were passed on as facts that are actually fairly well removed from the…

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A photo or word a day.

So back in 2007 after an ankle injury I started taking a photo a day. I managed 3 years of photos. They are a great record to look back on In 2014 I tried again and managed 6 months.

Taking photos every day made me look at the world differently. It meant people around me got used to the camera being around. So many moments to treasure.

I lead a busier life these days and I know I wont manage it. However I’m going to try and blog the ones I do manage. They may be something and nothing to most but will mean something about my day.

So here is day 1. January 1st 2015

Christmas dinner with the inlaws today. Here's the table ready for us! The meal was delicious.

Christmas dinner with the inlaws today. Here’s the table ready for us! The meal was delicious.