Last week I chaired the 4th SSAT Academies conference in London. The highlight for me and many of the delegates was Professor Barry Carpenter’s keynote on the new generation of children with complex learning difficulties and disabilities – a major challenge for the mainstream sector.
Barry has led a DfE funded SEN project across a range of schools in the UK, which has researched engagement in learning for the new generation of children with SEND. This is evidence based practice of the very best kind. It’s not often headteachers say after a talk that they’ve heard things they didn’t know – and which will have direct impact on their practice schoolwide, immediately.
I was very pleased to see the highlight given by Barry to attachment disorder. This has particular resonance for secondary schools, where students often have to interact with large numbers of teachers and other adults. I believe attachment disorder is a really insightful window to look through when thinking about how to engage with and teach vulnerable students – not least because so many of the new generation of students present with a range of co-existing conditions.
The book I mentioned in my summary that is continually being permanently ‘borrowed’ from my office is Louise Bomber’s Inside I’m Hurting. Absolutely essential reading for anyone who wants to understand children with what are largely hidden disabilities.