Coming Soon

Square Pegs

Inclusivity, compassion and fitting in – a guide for schools

By: Ian Gilbert , Fran Morgan , Ellie Costello


$34.95


Size: 248 x 185mm

Pages: 376

ISBN: 9781781354100

Format: Paperback

Published: June 2023

Availability: Coming Soon


Written by Fran Morgan with Ellie Costello and edited by Ian Gilbert, Square Pegs: Inclusivity, compassion and fitting in – a guide for schools is 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.

Over the last few years, changes in education have made it increasingly hard for those children who don’t ‘fit’ the system – the square pegs in a rigid system of round holes. 

Budget cuts, the loss of support staff, an overly academic curriculum, problems in the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) system and difficulties accessing mental health support have all compounded pre-existing problems with behaviour and attendance. The ‘attendance = attainment’ and zero-tolerance narrative is often at odds with the way schools want to work with their communities, and many school leaders don't know which approach to take.

This book will be invaluable in guiding leaders and teaching staff through the most effective ways to address this challenge. It covers a broad spectrum of opportunity, from proven psychological approaches to technological innovations. It tests the boundaries of the current system in terms of curriculum, pedagogy and statutory Department for Education guidance. And it also presents a clear, legalese-free view of education, SEND and human rights law, where leaders have been given responsibility for its implementation but may not always fully understand the legal ramifications of their decisions or may be pressured into unlawful behaviour.

Bringing different perspectives and expertise together in one place, Square Pegs aims to help school leaders and staff support children (and their families) more effectively. The authors cover a wide variety of topics – including school attendance, building relationships, trauma-informed practice, and behaviour management. Featuring contributions from more than 50 individual authors, this is an accessible, dip-in, dip-out book – perfect for busy school leaders. 

Suitable for all professionals working in education and the related issues surrounding children and young people’s mental health, as well as policymakers, academics and government ministers.


Picture for author Ian Gilbert

Ian Gilbert

Since establishing Independent Thinking 25 years ago, Ian Gilbert has made a name for himself across the world as a highly original writer, editor, speaker, practitioner and thinker, and is someone who the IB World magazine has referred to as one of the world's leading educational visionaries.

The author of several books, and the editor of many more, Ian is known by thousands of teachers and young people across the world for his award-winning Thunks books. Thunks grew out of Ian's work with Philosophy for Children (P4C), and are beguiling yet deceptively powerful little philosophical questions that he has created to make children's – as well as their teachers' – brains hurt.

Ian's growing collection of bestselling books has a more serious side too, without ever losing sight of his trademark wit and straight-talking style. The Little Book of Bereavement for Schools, born from personal family experience, is finding a home in schools across the world, and The Working Class – a massive collaborative effort he instigated and edited – is making a genuine difference to the lives of young people from some of the poorest backgrounds.

A unique writer and editor, there is no other voice like Ian Gilbert's in education today.

See for yourself.

Ian was winner of The Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society's inaugural Educational Writers Award (Nov 2008) for 'The Little Book of Thunks' - Click here for more information on the book.

Re-framing the Education Debate with Independent Thinker, Ian Gilbert.

Click here to read Ian Gilbert’s blog.

Click here to read Ian's article in International Teacher Magazine.


Picture for author Fran Morgan

Fran Morgan

Fran Morgan founded Square Peg in 2019, following her own daughter’s struggles in the education system, having seen clear evidence that there were (and still are) a growing number of square pegs. After 14 years working in this field to support other parents and effect change, she has now retired to pick up the reins of her copywriting business.  

 


Picture for author Ellie Costello

Ellie Costello

Ellie Costello joined Square Peg as Director in 2020, having experienced life as the parent of children with underlying needs which impacted their ability to access and ‘fit’ the education system. She now runs the organisation, as well as working as an Expert By Experience with local authority and health teams in her home county of Warwickshire.

 


Reviews

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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’. 

  6. 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. 

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. ‘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. 

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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’. 

  16. 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.

  17. 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. 

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. ‘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. 


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