Square Pegs: Inclusivity, compassion and fitting in - a guide for schools (Paperback)
  • Square Pegs: Inclusivity, compassion and fitting in - a guide for schools (Paperback)

Square Pegs: Inclusivity, compassion and fitting in - a guide for schools (Paperback)

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Paperback 376 Pages
Published: 02/02/2023
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A book for educators who find themselves torn between a government/Ofsted narrative around behaviour, attendance and attainment, and their own passion for supporting square pegs and their families.

Publisher: Independent Thinking Press
ISBN: 9781781354100
Number of pages: 376
Weight: 810 g
Dimensions: 246 x 174 mm


This book is steeped in the experience and expertise of families, teachers and leaders. It tells the story of a system that is fraught with unintended consequences, brings the lived experiences of young people alive and challenges the notion of one-size-fits-all strategies. The voice of school leaders and teachers, ambitious to see the young people in their care thrive, roar at us across the page. It's a book of confidence for professionals and parents alike to rise above the distracting noise about attendance, exclusion and 'what works' narratives. A much-needed book ensuring the voice and experience of young people is heard and helping to inform what happens next. It's a must-read for everyone with a vision of an education system that can be 'fixed' through collaboration and brave actions.Margaret Mulholland

Making schools more inclusive is essential to ensuring the well-being and ability to thrive of every young person. Creating a sense of belonging and using trauma-informed strategies to help the system welcome the square pegs, rather than continuing to force them into round holes, is clearly the way forward. The current government one-size-fits-all approach, particularly to SEND and behaviour, needs a rethink. This book offers a wealth of practical examples of how collaboration between schools and families, alongside the will to make a culture shift, can lead to successful inclusion practices. It is very readable and contains practical advice and solutions, framed within the current educational context, that leaders, teachers and support staff can use to create the right systems and support to ensure that every child and young person really is more than just 'fine in school'.Judy Ellerby

There is an old African saying: 'Until the lions have their own historians, the tales of glory will always be written by the hunters.' Fran Morgan has assembled here some lions and while they don't write too many tales of glory - although there are some - they do make us all realise why so many square pegs unnecessarily gain so little from our schooling system. Twelve years ago, Michael Gove sent a King James bible to every school. The next secretary of state for education should send a copy of this book to every new head teacher and put it on the reading list for all initial teacher training courses.Tim Brighouse

'It's not that she wouldn't, she couldn't.' These words, written in the introduction of the book, struck a chord with me. The educational system we work in has, in my opinion, been created for the round pegs who fit perfectly into the round holes and yet the young people in our schools are all unique and are not carbon copies of each other. This book is utterly refreshing in that it addresses the biggest of misconceptions - that we should treat all children the same. Not all young people are the same and the sooner we learn how to teach and support them in the way they each need, the better it will be for all. This book explains what the issues are and how as a profession we can begin to address this. I cannot recommend this book enough. Thank you, Fran, Ellie and all the contributors for helping us to better understand and support our square pegs.Toria Bono

This is one of the most riveting books on education I have read in a long while. Its aim - to provide practical solutions for schools and families struggling with the increasing number of children who don't thrive in our current system - could not be more timely. The array of richly qualified writers places compassion, purpose and student autonomy at the heart of best practice. Their approach would surely work not just for those who avoid school, but for those stuck within it. Square Pegs is a must-read for parents, governors, staff and students who're up for a quiet classroom revolution.Madeleine Holt

In order for a society to become healthy, whole and progressive, it must be willing to listen to the square pegs that it has created within itself. It is when square pegs choose to be silent and when they choose to communicate that we must pay careful attention to, for the sake of all of us. Everyone who was gifted with a square peg in their life will tell you so. Square pegs are our compass and our orienteers: they are the first to notice when we lose our way, the first to see that we have crossed our own boundaries, and the first to feel when we single-mindedly keep digging one-shaped holes. This is why this book had to be written, and this is why it must be read by anyone who cares about the education system of this country.I have been following Fran, Ellie and their many supporters, diligently collecting piece by piece of evidence for several years, to assemble the overly complicated puzzle of square pegs, to improve our society. The result is brutally honest, yet optimistic. It is visionary yet chooses a pragmatic approach and offers many quick wins. It offers a sensitive choice of a diverse set of writers, through which one thread of pearls is coming out very clearly: it is about compassion, consent, community and relationships. It is about holding our societal compass close to our hearts and struggling to keep it safe. This is the struggle of all of us - or at least it should be.Carmel Kent

No child should miss out on a good education and the chance of opportunities in life just because their school doesn't give them the support they need to succeed. Most schools cherish and value the children who have special educational needs; there are also some who do not place inclusion high on their list of priorities, and exclude or marginalise children rather than provide the mental health and therapeutic support they need. Recently, a 13-year-old girl with autism gave me a list of what a good school for her would look like: well-organised, supportive, calm, focused on learning, there to help. These are all things we would want to see for every child in every school. After spending two years out of the classroom because a succession of schools was unable to meet her needs, she went on to find a school which understood her and provided the springboard she needed to do well. She went on to achieve great things in her GCSEs and is now in sixth form. Like Square Peg, I want all schools to see the potential in all children and provide the support they need. We should all be grateful to Square Peg for all they do to advocate for children who need most help, and for showing how schools and parents can work together with children to provide a positive environment to learn. Every child deserves the best start in life, and positive outcomes for all children must be at the heart of a successful education system.Anne Longfield

Our high-stakes, test- and exam-focused system is failing too many children. It literally fails those who struggle to attend school or are marked as failures in exams. It metaphorically fails those who attend and get their grades, but at a personal cost to themselves, their love of learning and their families. This will continue to be the case for as long as schools are judged in the main on test and exam results, placing the burden of whole-school success or failure on children's shoulders.For the good of every child and, indeed, of educators themselves (most of whom want to provide the best possible learning experiences and strive to do so in spite of our one-size-fits-all model for education), it's time to listen to the canaries in the cages - the children who simply cannot cope, let alone thrive, within our restrictive, reductive system. Change made for those who suffer most will benefit the whole school community.Alison Ali

This is a book that is firmly on the side of children as they try to come to terms with a school system that is designed to encourage conformity. It highlights the way some schools manage to set the child at the heart of what they do in every sense of the term. There are case studies that shine a light on the child's perspective and solutions offered for other schools to try. Reading it is both heart-wrenching and uplifting ... but uplifting wins.Mick Waters

In recent years, many schools in England have started to implement strict policies around behaviour, curriculum and attendance. As the screws tighten, more and more square pegs (read 'deeply distressed young people') have started voting with their feet. When you stop going to school, it creates all kinds of problems: home visits, financial penalties and, incredibly, the threat of custodial sentences for the parents and carers of persistent 'offenders'. The fact that so many young people should choose such strife over attending school should tell us something very important about their lived experience of our one-size-fits-all education system. It seems likely that increasing numbers of square pegs will continue voting with their feet until we reach crisis point. But this crisis can be averted if we listen to the voices of those affected now. This brilliantly curated book is an absolute must-read for anyone interested in creating a more diverse, empathic, responsive educational ecosystem that works for all young people.James Mannion

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“This book is like a box of truffles”

I've not finished reading this book (I've got as far as p.142) but even if I stopped now, I'd have got full value. Each morning, I get my cup of tea, sit quietly in my armchair and read one or two... More

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