Why the MARIO Framework is so important

Frankie Garbutt

Frankie Garbutt has been a special education teacher for 10 years and is the SENCO at St. George’s The British International School Munich

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As an educator, knowing the students and families I work with is essential as a child-centred approach is at the heart of what I do. This is why I identify with the MARIO Framework—it is an evidence-informed practice which has the students’ well-being and progress at its core. Equally, it helps practitioners and students by providing a scaffold for support classes, small groups, and individual student sessions. It clearly complements the work which is happening in the mainstream classroom through focusing on skills and knowledge whilst allowing students to become efficient, resilient, and reflective. 

The framework is suitable for staff who are supporting students with SEND and want to extend their skill set or for staff who are new to supporting classrooms and require guidance on where to start. The framework is built on available research regarding teaching and learning, that draws upon practice and reflections from the educators who have used it in recent years. The tools of the framework are flexible, and each educator can build their programme suitable to their context. Moreover, the frequent reflection upon one’s practice as well as the student’s feedback allow for regular modifications to always be striving for the best possible outcomes for students.

My experience with the MARIO Framework.

The MARIO 101 course is a great starting point for understanding the foundation of the framework. Teachers learn how the framework is related to educational research and how to build one’s own programme within one’s context. The course also allows for opportunities to undertake reading around topics which are relevant to one’s context or students’ needs as well as interests. The structure of the course is flexible, and the workload is clearly manageable with a teacher’s regular workload. 

My context does not allow for support classes to take place within the scheduled timetable, and thus I took tools away from the course which allowed me to improve my practice through guided questioning in one-to-one conferences or sessions which take place outside the timetabled day. The course allowed me to reflect upon years of practice in supporting students. It provided me with new tools and documents to support my students and a clear vision on what steps to take next academic year to implement the framework. Engaging with the framework made my work more effective whilst allowing student autonomy within the programme. 

The support provided throughout the course by my mentor was excellent. They often provided further reading, constructive comments on my work, or allowed for personal conversations to inform my practice and progress on the course. I felt that the level of support offered was exactly what was needed. In addition, wonderful conversations among participants of the course allowed me to make connections, exchange resources and ideas, and find support.

What is MARIO’s potential in the classroom?


MARIO has the potential to change the way students with SEND receive support and are taught. The research upon which MARIO is based is in line with current research about teaching and learning, that is often not applied to the support given to students who experience barriers to learning. Moreover, it provides effective and flexible tools to apply to one’s context and students’ needs. I highly recommend this framework to anyone who works within special educational needs in mainstream schools as the tools inform and support practice as well as puts the ownership on the students—they learn to become independent, effective, reflective learners who can manage the demands of school and life as best as possible. 

Moreover, the framework provides tools for teachers to measure their students’ progress—similar to their other subjects—and thus accountability is an integral part of the programme in addition to student’s regular classes. The programme is not in addition to but alongside their usual lessons, and it focuses on providing students with opportunities to either deepen their understanding or skills to become the best version of themselves and thus excel in and outside the classroom.

Sincerely, Frankie Garbutt

Frankie Garbutt was part of an expert team of special educators that have worked together to make the MARIO Framework accessible to learners of all ages.

We know how frustrating it is to want more success for your students with special needs— knowing that, somehow, there’s got to be a better way to cultivate personalized success for each student. MARIO Founder Philip Bowman saw the same need in his classroom and was inspired to create a research-based and evidence-informed approach based on one-to-one sessions, which led to remarkable advances in his students. 

We invite you to become part of the MARIO Movement and empower your students to achieve new levels of success. You can be a key player in driving innovation and transforming the concept of what special education is capable of. The next course starts on September 21st. We hope to see you there!

Let’s reimagine special education together.

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