Read TCES Group CEO & Schools’ Proprietor Thomas Keaney’s blog posts below. Thomas discusses wide-ranging issues relating to social care, special educational needs, education and TCES Group school achievements. His views are his own. You can follow Thomas (@TCESGroupCEO) on Twitter here.

A Worth Finish Despite the Start: The Trouble with Jane

August 2020

Today we received the news that one of our Care Experienced Children Jane (not her real name) is being moved out of one of our Independent Special Day schools following another foster placement breakdown.

This young lady has been with us for the past three years during which time she has moved Foster Carers twelve times. Each time that she moves Foster Carer it is because they cannot cope with her behaviour but particularly her need for their constant attention. Each time she pushes them away successfully she succeeds in reaffirming for herself that adults are not to be trusted and that any implicit or indeed occasional explicit promises of care and love that her Carers have given her are false promises.

Read the full blog here.

Hidden Heroes

February 2020

We know that every child needs at least one adult who is willing to emotionally invest in them and go the extra mile for them, even if this is against all the odds. Last week, that value came to the forefront of what we do.

Read the full blog here.

New Ofsted Education Inspection Framework: the most positive change for pupils with SEND in a generation

January 2020
Just before Christmas our North West London Independent School (NWLIS) became one of the first special schools to be inspected under the new Framework.

The experience has convinced me that far from letting down disadvantaged children, the new Framework represents the most positive change for pupils with SEND in a generation; one that could have a huge impact on how their needs are considered and what they can achieve at school.  

Read the full blog here.

Schools Week – Opinion Piece 

December 2019
Our own experience of education inevitably colours our judgment of “what works”. Having a diverse range of perspectives within the system seems to me a vital part of the drive for real inclusion, and not just for the benefit of neuro-diverse children. That’s why my ambition is for 50 per cent of our former students to be employed at one of our schools. After all, they continually prove they have the skills.

Read the full blog in Schools Week here (on page 21).

TCES Group’s ‘Group work’ philosophy

There is in my view in every child irrespective of previous experiences a wish to integrate into society and to be successful.

This wish may well be blocked by the multiple barriers of early life trauma and poor primary experience, often resulting in ongoing attachment difficulties and poor self-esteem.

Read the full blog here.

The realities of bullying

One of the biggest fallacies in our education system which is perpetuated time and again is the myth that bullying doesn’t happen or only rarely in a good or outstanding school. Any Head teacher who tells us as parents that bullying does not happen in their school is either removed from the context of their school or terrified of being identified as a bullying school. Either way they are misleading parents and clearly not in a good position to address the reality of their school.

Read the full article here.

Lives less ordinary

Imagine the scene. Staff and pupils are sitting in a small circle in an Independent Day school for pupils with special educational needs. We are beginning to form what for us will be the most important intervention in our school; our twice weekly group process. We have 10 pupils and 5 staff in the classroom. Our Group Process facilitator is one of the most positive, motivational human beings I’ve ever met, and this man may be diminutive in stature, but he packs a powerful emotional punch.

Read the full article here.

The one that got away

Last week I celebrated the birthday of TCES Group as it entered into its 20th year as a Social Enterprise. TCES Group delivers education, health and care through its schools and high needs services for pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs and co-morbid Autistic Spectrum Condition.

In this our 20th year I have been asked to write some articles about my experiences of the changing times and changing practices within the work we do but strangely (for anyone who knows me) I find myself being drawn to writing about both my and our collective experiences of the amazing, talented, maddening children and young people that have impacted us so much over the last two decades.

Read the full article here.

Isolation booths in schools; A poverty of values and imagination

Mother sues over daughter’s suicide attempt in school isolation booth  (Guardian, April 2019)

Isolation booths in schools are being reported on as part of a recent wider examination of the education system by the media.

This article is about the practice of removing pupils from their classrooms and placing them in booths for extended periods of time. These booths are called ‘isolation booths’ and they are usually small three-sided wooden structures in which the pupil sits facing the back wall of the booth.

These ‘isolation booths’ are the subject of much controversy these days, but their origins lie in much less controversial lineage. Originally they were established centuries ago as carrels in monasteries where the occupant needed some peace from the unfortunate habit of an abomination of monks reading aloud. More recently (this century) university libraries have extensively utilised study booths or carrels which tend to fill up with frantic students around exam time.

Download and read the full blog here. 

Healing the wounds of Exclusion

On 29th January the TES published an article of mine entitled ‘Exclusions build a school-to-prison pipeline’.

I received a variety of responses to the article mostly agreeing but some asked me to explain what they should do about inclusion in a classroom with 30 pupils. As I strongly believe that all teachers start from a premise of wanting to be inclusive in their attitudes and values I recognise that there are many barriers to inclusion and I would like to explore these in this short article and to attempt to offer some solutions.

Read the full article here.

A Rare Talent

I didn’t understand enough about your life
Your family circumstances or your strife
You hid your pain behind deceitful wiles
Playing the joker with the widest smiles

You never really talked about the home front
Discussions on family were seen as an affront
We tried to involve your mother when you did well
But apathy and anger was where she did dwell

Read the full poem here


Every child born with a scream,
Dragged from a beautiful dream,
Their comforting world forsaken,
The maternal bond now shaken,
Brought into cold and harsh light,
All equal with this human plight

Read the full poem here    

Social exclusion repeated through school exclusion

At TCES Group we are entering into our 20th year of educating children and young people with special educational needs; SEMH and ASC pupils with co-morbid conditions. These pupils come to us after a lifetime of multiple marginalisation and social exclusion… read the full article here

My top-ten tips for supporting our pupils’ return in September to TCES Group Schools’/Create Service:

  1. Re-read the pupil’s file and remind yourself of their strengths and needs…read the full article 31 August here

School exclusion discriminates against children with disabilities 

As the CEO of TCES Group which is a social enterprise and one of the largest independent Special School providers to children and young people with SEND in London, I am delighted with the ruling.

Click here to read the full article.