Speakers

Beverley Walters, the Tes SEN Show's Head of Content, has secured a line-up of fantastic speakers for the programme at this year's show. Read below to find out more about them, and view their sessions in the programme

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Carol Allen, senior advisory consultant ICT and inclusion

Carol Allen is an education advisor for ICT and Inclusion, in particular supporting LGFL and Hartlepool LA. Carol was named as one of the top ten educators for 2018 in the field of educational technology for her inclusion work, see #EdTech2018. She has taught since 1980 in both mainstream schools – primary and high, and schools for students with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties. Recognising, as an English specialist, that communication lies at the heart of all effective teaching, the majority of her work has centred on creative and engaging use of technology to support communication in its widest sense.

David Anthony, head of post-19, BeyondAutism

David was trained as a secondary school teacher and has 15 years’ experience working within the field of special education needs. He worked as a SENCo in both mainstream and independent special schools and was head of a successful special school for children and adults with autism and complex learning difficulties. Currently the head of post-19 at BeyondAutism, a provision that prepares students for adulthood by providing them with a skill set that enables them to have choice and control over where and how they live, what they do and with whom.

Nigel Armitage, Special Needs Today: by parents, for parents

Nigel Armitage is a father of a 14-year-old son who has special needs and several physical disabilities. Starting out as a lawyer, he got an MBA and changed career to work in legal publishing and was involved in running Europe’s first online service for lawyers. He was then headhunted to join Doctors.net.uk. Joining the company from day one, the service is now the largest professional network of UK doctors with over 200,000 members. Nigel’s son was then born – changing life for the entire family. Career had to take a back seat. Diagnosis after diagnosis followed over the years and Nigel, like all good parents, took a great interest in his son’s many medical conditions – spending hours “Googling” to decipher medical terminology, find information on what the future might hold for his son. Nigel was unable to find a “one-stop shop” website which carried all the information he sought in one place – so, in 2018 Nigel launched his own site – with the aim that “Special Needs Today: by parents, for parents” will ultimately become that one-stop shop! Nigel has also embarked on a long-time ambition to finish his academic studies and is currently studying part-time for a PhD in Law – researching the treatment of people with learning disabilities in the criminal justice system.

Dean Beadle, speaker and trainer

Dean Beadle has toured the UK for 10 years sharing his experiences of being autistic. In recent years he has also spoken across Europe as well as undertaking four seminar tours of Australia and New Zealand. Through his humorous and insightful speeches Dean outlines his positive outlook on being autistic. He is also an experienced journalist, having been published in local, national and international publications. Between 2008 and 2011 he worked freelance for Greenwich Time Newspaper, as both a features writer and columnist. For 18 months, Dean edited the Network Autism 'Autism in Practice' newsletter which had subscribers in over 90 countries. He has also written for The Guardian, Londonpaper, News Shopper and NAS Communication magazine. Between 2012 and 2014 Dean sat on the judging panel for the NAS Professionals Awards. Dean has co-chaired the NAS Professionals Conference and also co-hosted the Autism Uncut Film Awards at BAFTA. An interview with Dean is featured as a key resource in the Autism Education Trust training programme which has just celebrated training 100,000 schools staff.

Stuart Black, managing director, BrainTrainUK

Stuart Black is founder and managing director of Applied Neuroscience Solutions Ltd, trading as BrainTrainUK. He obtained a BSc in Electronic Engineering from King’s College London and Master’s in Coaching and Development from Portsmouth Business School. Stuart is a chartered engineer and has worked in defence, management consultancy and healthcare. He was executive director at the Cromwell Hospital in Kensington from 2009 to 2012. His interest in the intersection of technology and well-being led him to Neurofeedback and how it could be used for therapy and peak performance, founding BrainTrainUK in 2013. In 2017 Stuart and his partner fostered three children of a friend who died suddenly, which introduced him to the community of looked-after children.

Sonia Blandford, founder and CEO, Achievement for All

Professor Sonia Blandford is one of the country’s foremost experts on social mobility and author of the influential publication: ‘Born to Fail? Social Mobility, A Working Class View’. Founder and CEO of the award-winning education charity, Achievement for All, Sonia is also visiting professor of education at UCL Institute of Education. She has held leadership positions in schools, higher education and charities including director of research and leadership at Teach First, professor of educational leadership and innovation at the University of Warwick, where she now holds an Honorary Professorship and pro-vice chancellor, and dean of education at Canterbury Christ Church University. She is currently a member of the Cornwall College Board, Department for Education Pupil Premium Panel, and chair of ‘Learn’ for The Prince’s Trust 2030 Task Force. Sonia is editor of the Teaching Times Every Child journal and author of 250 articles and books written for teachers, leaders, parents, carers, children and young people.

Dr Adam Boddison, chief executive, National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen)

Dr Adam Boddison is the chief executive for nasen (National Association for Special Educational Needs) with responsibility for strategic direction and operational delivery across the full breadth of nasen’s activity. He is also the chair of the Whole School SEND consortium, which is leading on the delivery of the government’s SEND Schools’ Workforce contract. Adam is a national leader of governance, chair and vice-chair of two local authority primary schools and a trustee at two multi-academy trusts, which span primary, secondary and specialist settings. Adam is a trustee of the Potential Trust, a member of the National SEND Forum and a fellow of the RSA. Prior to this, Adam held a number of senior education roles including director of the Centre for Professional Education at the University of Warwick and academic principal for IGGY (a global educational social network for gifted teenagers). He has published a range of mathematics books and is a qualified clinical hypnotherapist.

Gill Brackenbury, director for the centre for inclusive education, UCL IOE

Gill Brackenbury is the director for the Centre for Inclusive Education and has developed a wide range of courses and professional development activities for schools and teachers. Gill has over 30 years teaching experience and as Director of the UCL Centre for Inclusive Education has led on the strategic direction of different knowledge mobilisation programmes, such as Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants (MITA) and Supporting Spoken Language in the Classroom (SSLiC). She leads and teaches on the SpLD (dyslexia) MA, a new international leadership in Inclusive Education MA and a MA in Special and Inclusive Education in Cairo, Egypt.

Kate Bradley, education and therapy consultant, The SEN Den

Kate Bradley is an occupational therapist and specialist SEN leader and holds a master’s in Special and Inclusive Education. She has a number of years’ experience in both specialist and mainstream schools and has worked closely with local authorities in looking at their strategic planning for autism. She strongly believes in inclusive practice and sees this as children being in the best setting to meet their needs with staff trained appropriately. In her consulting work she has worked with a premier league football club, is an associate tutor at UCL and has created and delivered bespoke training packages for a wide variety of audiences. Kate regularly contributes to a number of publications and is the co-author of the ‘101 Inclusive and SEN Lesson’ series of books published by Jessica Kingsley Publishing.

Ben Bryant, director, ISOS Partnership

Ben has led significant national research projects in the fields of special educational needs, inclusion and alternative provision, children’s services and early help, and support for school improvement. He has extensive experience and a successful track-record of supporting local areas to review services and provision, of developing strategies and building capacity to implement new approaches. Most recently, Ben has led major national research projects on alternative provision and inclusion for the Department for Education, developing and sustaining effective local SEND support and services within local areas and on the pressures and the gap in funding for young people with high needs for the Local Government Association.

Maxine Burns, speech and language advisor, I CAN charity, The Communication Trust

Maxine Burns is a speech and language advisor for I CAN, the national children’s communication charity, and The Communication Trust, a consortium of over 50 organisations representing this sector. A speech and language therapist by background, she has significant experience of working at both practitioner and leadership levels with primary and secondary aged pupils in mainstream, alternative education and specialist settings. Particularly interested in older children and young people, she authored I CAN’s discussion paper, ‘Skills for Work, Skills for Life’. She led the pilot and launch of both I CAN’s secondary programmes, ‘Secondary Talk’ and later, ‘Talk about Talk Secondary’. Current strands of work include piloting a year seven-targeted intervention and, through the DfE funded EYSEND Partnership project, developing more robust and effective pathways for identifying and supporting young children with speech, language and communication needs.

Terri Cawser, assistant service lead, pupil and school support, Birmingham City Council

Terri Cawser has worked in the field of Special Educational Needs and English as an Additional Language for a number of years. Terri began her career in a large inner-city Birmingham school, gaining extensive experience of working with pupils learning English as an Additional Language and pupils with special educational needs, particularly in the area of emotional, social and mental health difficulties. Terri’s current role is assistant service lead for Pupil and School Support, a Birmingham Local Authority SEN team who focus on providing strategic support to SENCos as well as being specialists in the area of cognition and learning. In this role, Terri has worked in schools across Birmingham and has led the development of tools and resources to support schools to develop, plan and monitor their SEN provision.

Bob Reitemeier CBE, chief executive, I CAN

Bob has over 30 years’ experience in the voluntary sector in England and internationally. Prior to his appointment at I CAN, he was chief executive of Essex Community Foundation and chief executive of The Children’s Society. Internationally, Bob started his career as a secondary school teacher in Zaïre, followed by posts as country director for Volunteers in Technical Assistance (VITA) in Chad and country director for ActionAid in Bangladesh. He settled with his family in England in 1994. Bob has served on several national boards supporting children and young people, including The Youth Justice Board, the Social Work Task Force, the Children’s Workforce Development Council and as chairman of Children England. He received a CBE for services to children in 2012.

Gemma Clarke, highly specialist speech and language therapist, The Michael Palin Centre for Stammering

Gemma Clarke has been a speech and language therapist for 16 years and has been at the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering (MPC) for the past 10 years. Gemma works with children and young people and adults who stammer. Before working at MPC she worked in a specialist language unit and held an Early Years clinic caseload where she developed her skills in working with children with ASD and children who stammer. Her current caseload at MPC includes clients with a range of additional and complex needs including learning disability, Downs syndrome and ASD. She is passionate about working holistically with clients; ensuring therapy is tailored to the specific needs of the child or young person and their family. Gemma is part of the MPC teaching team and teaches a range of MPC courses including Palin Parent Child Interaction (PCI) Therapy; Working with Primary School Aged Children; and Working with Secondary School aged Students. Gemma lectures in fluency disorders at University College London and is also responsible for delivering the Palin PCI Accreditation programme.

Julia Clouter, head of education, Scanning Pens

Drawing from 20 years of teaching and leadership experience in primary, secondary, mainstream and SEN settings, Julia has supported many colleagues to meet the challenge of inclusive practice as an assessment and intervention advisor. Working at the sharp end of the flying chair in both secondary and primary PRU provision, she has first-hand understanding of the challenge that supporting young people with special educational needs and social emotional and mental health difficulties can present. Julia’s experience and knowledge comes from being a SENCo, designated safeguarding lead, and advocate, to ensure that young people who are struggling in education, stay in education. Julia advises on how assistive technology can support students with SEN to develop resilience, independence and unlock their learning potential.

Sarah-Jane Critchley, founder, A Different Joy

Sarah-Jane Critchley is passionate about helping autistic people, their families, friends and supporters live happier lives of their own choosing. She is the internationally recognised author of ‘A Different Joy: The Parents’ Guide to Living Better with Autism, Dyslexia, ADHD and More...’ and contributor to two titles on autism and girls. She wrote an ‘Introduction to Autism’ for AC Education to support adoptive and foster parents. She is an international keynote speaker. For over 10 years Sarah-Jane managed the Autism Education Trust working to improve educational provision for young people with autism. She was instrumental in the development, monitoring and management of the training programme that reached over 195,000 education-based staff in the UK and adapting the AET’s highly successful training programme to meet the local context in Italy and Greece. Sarah-Jane holds a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) specialising in the management of change from London’s City University. She is a mother to two fantastically amazing autistic teenagers and is married to an autistic husband.

Natasha Devon, activist and author

Natasha Devon MBE is an activist and author who visits an average of three schools every week throughout the U.K. delivering talks and conducting research on mental health, body image and gender equality. She was briefly the government’s mental health champion, but her role was controversially axed in 2016 after she was publicly critical of government education and austerity policy. Her bestselling book ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Being Mental’ was published in May 2018 by Bluebird at Pan Macmillan.

Julie Dockrell, professor of psychology and special needs

Julie Dockrell is professor of psychology and special needs at the UCL, Institute of Education and qualified as both a clinical and educational psychologist. Her research interests are in patterns of language development and the ways in which oral language skills impact on children's learning, interaction and attainments. A central theme in this research has been the application of evidence based research to support children’s learning. She has published in a wide range of journals and written books and book chapters on language development and difficulties. She was the previous editor of the British Journal of Educational Psychology, associate editor for JSLHR and Learning and Instruction. She was a co-director of the Better Communication Research Programme.

Tina Emery, southwest regional representative, National Network of Parent Carer Forum (NNPCF)

Tina Emery is the southwest regional representative for the National Network of Parent Carer Forum. She is one of the directors of Somerset Parent Carer Forum and has been involved with the forum for over five years. Her background is in youth work, education and residential social care, and working with young offenders. She has two children, both with SEN. One is about to start her second year at university and the youngest is about to start college.

Amanda Farrell, product advisor, Safespaces

In her role as product adviser, Amanda works closely with teams in education, healthcare, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), occupational health and hospital medics to advise on the use of Safespace products. These collaborations develop products and train staff on the appropriate use of Safespaces. Amanda will share case studies and give examples of how Safespaces can be used as the least restrictive option in school environments, to benefit not just the potential user, but other pupils and staff too.

Serdar Ferit, Co-CEO, Lyfta

Serdar Ferit is a film-maker, digital experience designer, and teacher who co-founded Lyfta - an immersive story platform that has been making significant impact in primary, secondary and special schools.

Ruth Fidler, education consultant, Autism Associates

Ruth Fidler is an education consultant specialising in complex autism, Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), interactive approaches and emotional well-being. She worked at an all age non-maintained special school for 94 pupils across the autism spectrum for 22 years and has worked independently since then. Ruth worked within the school promoting interactive approaches and emotional well-being for pupils with complex autism. She also led an outreach pilot project working with other agencies to meet the needs of children and young people currently unable to attend school. She has experience of using music to promote interaction. As well as providing training, she regularly observes and monitors teaching and learning supporting staff to embed and refine good autism and SEND practice. She provides training and consultancy for a variety of schools and parents and works all over the UK and with organisations including the Autism Education Trust, the National Autistic Society the PDA Society. She is a member of the national Autism in Women and Girls Forum and the National PDA development group.

Colin Foley, training director, ADHD Foundation

Colin Foley is the training director of the ADHD Foundation, the largest patient-led service of its kind in the UK. The ADHD Foundation is one of only three organisations in the UK to offer a cradle to grave multi modal service for families and adults affected by ADHD, offering psychoeducative and psychosocial interventions, skills training for families and young people and CBT, counselling, stress reduction and behaviour support programmes. Colin leads the training department and delivers courses on ADHD, mental health and other neurodevelopmental conditions across the UK and directly to schools. After a 25-year teaching career in the secondary sector up to senior leadership level, Colin was the first specialist leader in education to be appointed in his area and led the Outstanding Teacher Programme and the Improving Teaching programme for the National College in St Helens and Knowsley.

Kate Freeman, communication advisor, I CAN

After initially qualifying with a health sector degree as a speech and language therapist, Kate has significant experience in programme delivery, development of materials and close work with practitioners and local authorities. Among other programmes, Kate designed and delivered the nationally successful Early Language Development Programme (impacting on 16,000 practitioners and over 150,000 families), as well as developing the ‘Sentence Trouble’ programme focusing on the impact of Speech, Language and Communication Needs in the Youth Justice arena. Kate has worked in speech and language support and service development for much of her career, recently having worked as a director for the Children’s Communication Charity, I CAN. Kate now provides consultancy work, as well as being professional lead for the EYSEND Partnership Project focusing on SLCN in settings.

Jane Friswell, SEND consultant & advocate, JFA SEND Consultancy

A former SEN head teacher, with significant leadership experience in LA SEN Support advisory roles and as chief executive at nasen, Jane is now director of SEND Consultancy, an innovative support agency for those working in SEND. Jane has a wealth of experience and successful SEND and School Improvement leadership of national and international projects which includes government policy advisory support; strategic review and planning for SEND Support at Local Area level. Jane founded the Autism in Girls Forum whilst at nasen, in 2013, recognising the need for national awareness raising of the overlooked and often invisible population of girls and women who have autism. She commissioned the nasen mini guide Autism in Girls: Flying Under the Radar, 2015. Jane is co-founder of SEND Radicals, a collective of free-thinking, experienced and motivated leaders who are committed to creating positive change for young people with SEND.

Dr Jamie Galpin, developmental psychologist & research lead, The Bridge School London

Dr Jamie Galpin is a chartered developmental psychologist who has been working with children and young people with SEN for the past 15 years. Whilst working both as a SEN teaching assistant and then as a SEN teacher he completed his master’s degree in Child Development. His interest in the practical applications of research then led him to complete a master’s in research in Education. Jamie went on to complete his PhD in Developmental Psychology where his research focus was on emotion in children’s drawings and the relationship between language and drawing. His current research focuses on practical, effective interventions for pupils with SEND particularly interventions and support for autistic pupils in school settings – the development of practice-based evidence. He has a specific interest in supporting minimally verbal pupils with complex needs. Within this the relationship between sensory differences, anxiety and managing uncertainty is an especial focus.

Samantha Garner, education consultant, Scanning Pens

Samantha Garner is an education consultant in SEN and mental health. She is a renowned presenter nationally and internationally. She is often called compared to Victoria Wood and Dawn French and is lauded for her ability to entertain as well as to provide excellent content.

Jon Gilmartin, speech and language advisor, I CAN

Jon has been a qualified speech and language therapist (SLT) for over 14 years. He is currently working as a member of I CAN’s advisory team made up of specialist teachers and speech and language therapists. Jon’s work within I CAN includes the delivery of specialist provision packages for services working with children with severe to profound speech, language and communication needs. He helped to develop the licensing scheme for the launch of I CAN’s award nominated intervention, Talk Boost and subsequently worked with the evaluation team on the development and roll out of I CAN’s early years intervention, Early Talk Boost. He delivers regular training for I CAN’s network of licensed tutors.

Adam Gordon, SEND and inclusion manager, LGFL

Joanna Grace, sensory engagement and inclusion specialist, founder, The Sensory Projects

Joanna Grace is a sensory engagement and inclusion specialist, author, trainer, TEDx speaker and founder of The Sensory Projects. The Sensory Projects work to share the knowledge and creativity needed to turn inexpensive items into effective sensory tools for inclusion. Joanna has taught in mainstream settings from the Early Years right through to University. She spent the majority of her teaching career in a school for students with severe and profound special educational needs and disabilities, described by Ofsted as outstanding. Joanna has family members with neurodiversity conditions and disabilities and has been a registered foster career for children with complex needs. Joanna has five books published, on aspects of sensory engagement work, which sell globally. The Sensory Projects itself publishes a range of sensory stories. Joanna’s sixth book is due out later this year, reporting on research she conducted through 2018 into the use of multi-sensory rooms in this country.

Louise Grayson, early years and childcare equality and inclusion advisor , The Education People

Louise’s passion for working with the early years was first kindled by her own two children. She trained as a teacher in the 1990s, specialising in ages three to eight, and worked in a primary school for 10 years before joining Kent County Council as an early years adviser. She has been very privileged to be offered professional development opportunities during her time with Kent, including completing an accredited SENCo training in 2011, and training to become a Makaton Regional Tutor in 2016. The part of her day which she still enjoys most above all else is when she gets to play and interact with little children during her visits to early years settings.

Sherann Hillman, head of family services , Seashell Trust, Parents in Partnership Stockport (PIPS)

Sherann Hillman MBE is head of family services Seashell Trust and chair of the PIPStockport Parent Carer Forum. Sherann is the parent of three young people with SEN and has over 20 years of experience of supporting families with children and young people with SEND. Sherann was previously co-chair and NW representative of NNPCF and instrumental in the Children and Families Act and relevant legislation embedding participation of parent carers. She is also a representative of parent carers on several local, regional, and national work streams including the Rochford Review and is passionate about ensuring co-production happens with children, young people, and their parent carers in all the services and support they receive.

Nick Whittaker HMI, national lead for special educational needs and/or disabilities, Ofsted

Nick is Ofsted’s HMI specialist adviser, SEND. He is a qualified teacher and, prior to joining Ofsted, was executive headteacher of two all-age special schools for children and young people who have severe learning difficulties and complex needs. He has also worked as a senior local authority adviser and school improvement partner. Nick is the founding chair and a trustee of Climbing for All Sheffield, a charity which provides outdoor and adventurous activities for children and young people who have a wide range of special educational needs and/or disabilities.

Andre Imich, SEN and disability professional advisor, DfE

Since April 2010, André has worked as the DfE SEN and disability professional adviser, contributing to a range of policy developments, in particular the Children and Families Act. André has been a teacher and educational psychologist and held a number of practitioner and leadership roles in local authorities. He was a regional director in the National SEN Adviser team, and was an adviser to the Lamb Inquiry into parental confidence.

John Kerins, director , Neuron Learning

John is one of the leading innovators in Europe in digital learning. He works with teachers, neuroscientists and software developers to implement digital programmes in the classroom. He is a director of Neuron Learning. Their products include Fast ForWord, a unique cognitive skills development program and Reading Assistant, a reading fluency and pronunciation program with voice recognition. John has previously worked as vice president of operations with Wall Street English and Laureate Education as well as education specialist with the World Bank.

Amanda Kirby, professor, University of South Wales

Amanda is determined to raise awareness of neurodiversity and to showcase the strengths of individuals and maximise their talents. She wears several hats: she has personal reasons for her passion as a parent of neurodiverse children; a professional interest and has a chair in developmental disorders at University of South Wales. She has a clinical interest as a GP alongside founding The Dyscovery Centre, a specialist centre for children and adults with developmental disorders, in 1997. Amanda is also the CEO of DO-IT Solutions and has published eight books in the field of neurodiversity.

Dr Catherine Knowles, CEO researcher and fundraising , Achievement for All

Catherine is a researcher at Achievement for All, a leading charity delivering the Achievement for All programme across schools in England. Her research areas, focusing on closing the attainment gap in education, include impact assessment, inclusive education, SEN (D), teacher professional development and early years. Previously she worked as a researcher at the University of Greenwich and Canterbury Christ Church University and as a lecturer on the BA and PGCE primary science education programmes at the latter university. In 2018 she published Raising attainment in the primary classroom with Bloomsbury (Blandford and Knowles, 2018).

Wendy Lee, speech and language consultant, Lingo

Wendy has worked as a speech and language therapist for over 30 years in clinical practice, higher education and the third sector. She was professional director at The Communication Trust until 2015 where she led on a number of projects, as well as inputting on national policy and research. Wendy is currently the director of LINGO, which provides consultancy, professional development, resources and speech and language therapy. She works with academy trusts, schools and settings and in partnership with local and national organisations supporting speech, language and communication.

Cathal Lynch, strategic director for leadership and school improvement

Cathal has worked in education for over 25 years, holding numerous senior positions in mainstream schools before becoming the founding headteacher of an independent SEBD primary school. He subsequently became director of education for a wider group of SEND schools before taking the role of national director of day schools. He has co-founded a multi academy trust as COO and is currently the strategic director for leadership and school improvement at Washwood Heath MAT. He regularly gets invited to speak at regional and national conferences, deliver training as an educational consultant and contribute articles to a range of educational publications . He is an associate education expert for The Key website for school leaders and has collaborated with many organisations including English Heritage to produce a staff training video on working with SEND pupils. He has experience in a wide range of governance roles including as part of an IEB and Chair of multiple governing bodies.

Rosie Mason, assistant service lead for pupil and school support, Birmingham City Council

Rosie has worked in education for many years both in the UK and abroad. Originally a primary school teacher, Rosie developed her passion for supporting children and young people with SEND through subsequent roles as SENCo and deputy headteacher in two schools. She currently works for Birmingham Local Authority as assistant service lead for pupil and school support, a SEND advisory service that supports 400 schools with children with cognition and learning needs. Within the service, Rosie is project lead in the areas of dyslexia, SLCN and school improvement in relation to SEND. Rosie is a recognised lecturer at the University of Birmingham and teaches on the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination.

Laura McLean, speech and language therapist, Whittington Health

Laura completed her training to become a speech and language therapist at University College London in 2003. She has worked in a range of settings for both children and adults and has been working in Camden Speech and Language Therapy team, Whittington Health, since 2009, initially as Listen-EAR lead working in a range of schools, and now as a speech and language therapy team Lead role. Listen-EAR is a strategic whole school approach to supporting and developing language and communication skills for all students. Laura has also appreciated having the opportunity to use her clinical skills and whole school approaches when working with a wide range of young people with social, emotional and mental health, speech, language and communication needs, and their teachers, support staff and parents, at Gloucester House school, since 2015.

Rachael McMullen, education manager, British Dyslexia Association

Rachael McMullen has over ten years’ experience as the SENCO at a specialist school for children and young people with dyslexia. Her current role involves managing the BDA Quality Mark for schools and organisations, and the BDA Helpline which receives thousands of calls and emails each year. She is on the BDA Accreditation Board which accredits universities and other course providers to provide training for specialist teachers to achieve Associate Membership of the BDA (AMBDA) and Approved Teacher Status (ATS).

Professor Andy Minnion, professor of media advocacy, University of East London

Professor Andy Minnion has led community media and education programmes in Central London and the East End, while pursuing a teaching career in Further & Higher Education. Both his academic and media production work has explored the opportunities for self-advocacy that emerging digital media could provide, especially for socially excluded people.

Nicola Morgan, education consultant, teacher and author

Nicola is an international educational consultant, teacher and author with over twenty years’ experience working in a variety of early years, primary and secondary settings, including mainstream and special needs schools. During this time, she has developed a reputation for successfully managing the most challenging classes and pupils as well as motivating and inspiring staff to help implement change and ensure sustainability. Consequently, she now runs training courses for schools/parents and is often invited to speak at key conferences on mindsets, behaviour change, mental health and well-being, resilience and effective ways of engaging families. She is a regular speaker at the TES and The National Education show, NASUWT conferences and BBC Radio. Nicola is also an International Values Education (IVET) approved trainer and NLP master practitioner.

Liz Murray, co-director of curriculum cupport at Priestnall School, founder of Spotlight Education

Liz has worked in education for 20 years. She is currently co-director of curriculum support at Priestnall School in Stockport and is also the founder of Spotlight Education Support, an organisation which provides SEND training and consultancy for schools nationally. Liz sees herself, first and foremost, as a frontline practitioner having worked in SEND leadership roles in a range of school settings including primary, secondary and across the state and independent sectors. As well as being an experienced SENCO, Liz is also an accredited Advanced Skills Teacher of English and SEND and has held pastoral and curriculum leadership positions. Liz is passionate about all things education but has particular expertise in SEND change management, SEND CPD, and curriculum design.

Natalie Packer, education consultant, NPEC Ltd

Natalie is an independent education consultant, specialising in SEND and school improvement. She develops and delivers a wide range of training and support to schools. Natalie is an associate consultant for the national association of SEN (nasen) and a consultant governor for a large 4-18 school in Dubai. She is also a trustee of Learn-AT multi-academy trust in the East Midlands and supports the Whole School SEND review process across schools and MATs. She regularly contributes to online SEN articles and webinars and is the author of ‘The Perfect SENCO’ and ‘The Teacher’s Guide to SEN’.

Neelam Parmar, director of E-Learning, Ashford School

Dr Neelam Parmar is an award-winning professional, international researcher, author, thought leader and speaker on effective technology, pedagogy and curriculum integration within education. Neelam regularly presents as a keynote speaker around the UK and internationally on the role of EdTech in education, providing strategy, roadmaps and CPD programmes for blended and flipped learning approaches. She currently works as director of e-learning at Ashford School and is the author of the ‘Digital Literacy in the Primary’ series and ‘Digital Parenting’ book. Neelam has supported schools, local councils, and NGOs and advises organisations how best to develop their digital strategies. She has also won awards for Excellence in E-Learning, shortlisted for Best use of Technology with TES and Best in Digital Learning with GESS Education Awards.

Stephen Parsons, chair, NAPLIC

Stephen Parsons is a speech and language therapist, trainer and author of practical language development resources for teachers and speech and language therapists. Stephen graduated in Speech Pathology from Flinders University in Australia, before attaining an MSc in Speech and Language Therapy from City University, London in 2000. From 1996-2017 Stephen worked as a speech and language therapy service manager in Hackney and the City of London. He currently serves as chair of NAPLIC, the association for professionals working with children and young people with developmental language disorder.

Dr Asha Patel, CEO and clinical psychologist, Innovating Minds CIC

Dr Asha Patel, founder of Innovating Minds, is a registered clinical psychologist with a postgraduate diploma and over 10 years of clinical experience in various settings which include community, inpatient psychiatric rehabilitation, secure forensic mental health hospitals and within the education sector. She is passionate about providing specialist psychological support for young people in education, training and employment. Over the past two years she has been working within schools to support the implementation of a whole school approach to mental health. She has supported senior leadership teams shift from a punitive to a therapeutic approach to ensure children and young people are supported to achieve their aspirations

Laxmi Patel, solicitor and head of education, Boyes Turner LLP

Laxmi Patel, an experienced special educational needs solicitor, heads Boyes Turner’s dedicated education team. The expert team work closely with parents, schools, local authorities and case managers to ensure that children and young people with SEN receive the support they need. Laxmi is recognised as a SEN expert and is invited regularly to share advice and guidance at events and seminars. She is a member of the Law Society and an active committee member of the Education Law Association (ELAS), for whom she leads talks on the SEN special interest group.

Derry Patterson, speech and language therapist, Speech Link Multimedia Ltd

Derry is the initial developer of Speech Link Multimedia Ltd.’s products. When working as a SLT she was posed a challenge – is there a cost and time effective way of helping schools to support children and young people with SLCN? As a founding member of the company that brings her vision of an online screening tool to life, Derry continues to develop new products and carries out research.

Sarah Rawsthorn, director, Edge Inclusion Partners

Sarah is the director of Edge Inclusion Partners and founder of Mind Mechanics – A Toolbox for your Brainbox. Sarah has worked within the field of neurodiversity and social, emotional and mental health needs for 30 years as an independent consultant, speaker, and advisor for SEND and Looked After Children local authority. In her spare time Sarah is a proud parent and SEND and Safeguarding Governor at a Multi Academy Trust.

Chris Rees, principal officer, Council for Disabled Children

Chris Rees is the principal officer for education and equalities at the Council for Disabled Children (CDC). He has been based at CDC for over five years, working on a range of programmes including the IASS Network, the Special Educational Consortium and the Early Years SEND Partnership. In over 20 years’ experience working in the voluntary sector, Chris has also delivered a national school exclusion project for Save the Children, worked on youth justice projects in Tajikistan and provided pedagogy support among secondary school teachers in Ethiopia. Chris has a son with Down’s syndrome and is passionate about supporting children with SEND achieve their aspirations.

Julie Revels, independent consultant, speaker, trainer

Julie is a well-established independent consultant, speaker and trainer specialising in inclusion in the early years and understanding the importance of early child development on later outcomes, including supporting young children with neurodevelopmental differences. Julie delivers training to early years SENCO’s on a range of topics. She is a well-known and highly regarded keynote speaker and facilitates workshops across the country. Julie also works for a range of national organisations such as nasen, British Association of Early Education, Council for Disabled Children, Action for Children. Julie is also a lead associate for KCA Training, delivering training and consultancy in relation to social and emotional well-being, which focuses on understanding the importance of attachment, trauma and resilience.

Christopher Rossiter, chief executive, Driver Youth Trust

Chris is Driver Youth Trust’s chief executive having started his career training as an occupational psychologist. His experience since encompasses research, policy, working as a practitioner and advising other education or policy bodies e.g. Hastings OA Literacy Working Group. As lead author of the SEND Governance Review Guide he is delivering SEND governance training across the country. Aside from his DYT role, Chris is chair of governors at an infant school in Berkshire, a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of the British Psychological Society and sits on the Executive Board of the Division of Occupational Psychology.

Sairah Shah, deputy headteacher and education consultant, BrainTrainUK

Sairah Shah is deputy headteacher at a specialist purpose school for young people aged 7 to 19 with mild to moderate autism. Previously she was assistant headteacher at Surrey Virtual School for Looked after Children. She attended the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies where she gained a master’s in history. After graduating, Sairah wrote for a daily broadsheet in Pakistan before returning to train to teach in History at The University of Bath. Sairah has taught History and led education in a variety of mainstream contexts including five secondary schools, an FE College and local authority for 20 years. Neuroscience became a focus of her pastoral support in schools 15 years ago, seeking strategies and meaningful interventions to support the learners she has taught. Sairah believes that BrainTrainUK’s Brain Mapping and Neurofeedback could be a breakthrough in educational intervention to assist young people to achieve optimal brain function.

Judy Shaw, national president, NAHT

Judy Shaw graduated in English and Linguistics at Lancaster University then completed her PGCE in Primary Education at St. Martin’s College, Lancaster. She began teaching in 1988. She has taught throughout the primary age range specialising in Literacy and Early Years. Judy has been headteacher of an infant and nursery school in West Yorkshire since 2005. She joined NAHT at the same time and was elected to NAHT’s national executive in 2013, representing school leaders across Yorkshire. In 2016 Judy became the first chair of the newly formed NAHT Early Years Sector Council. The council’s work raises the profile of early years education and informs NAHT’s policy and representation across the sector. In May, Judy became NAHT national president 2019-2020.

Philippa Stobbs, assistant director, Council for Disabled Children

Philippa has played a key role in crafting, challenging and championing education policy through her various roles in the public and voluntary sector. A trained teacher and occupational therapist with a Masters in the education of children with special needs, she began her career in mainstream and special schools, became an advisory teacher, then an inspector for the Inner London Education Authority. When she joined the Council for Disabled Children, she set up the Special Educational Consortium to create a national campaign and lobbying voice for the disabled children’s sector and set about helping to establish and develop parent partnership services (now known as Information, Advice and Support services). She has worked in Parliament during the passage of legislation, contributed to the development of several Codes of Practice; was seconded in to the Department for Education as SEN and disability professional adviser and currently advises on inclusive early years work in Europe. She works as part of the team providing support to the DfE as strategic reform partner.

Sarah Stones, Plain Sailing Motivation

Sarah Stones is a motivation specialist who is passionate about helping people to shine. She combines her knowledge of intrinsic motivation and positive psychology with a practical, solutions-focused approach. Sarah understands the many challenges faced by people with disabilities, as she has always lived with a disability. This has never stopped her doing anything she has wanted and been motivated to do and achieve. She set up Plain Sailing Motivation when she realised life is too short not to be doing what you want to do, and she set out to help others to shine. Sarah works closely with schools, organisations and parents/guardians to support young people. She has a special interest in supporting disadvantaged young people and those with special educational needs.

Simon Tanner, director of SEND, Bohunt Education Trust , MAT SEND Framework: Leadership, Systems & Pedagogy

Establishing a consistent and inclusive SEND framework across a MAT is a challenge Simon has dedicated his SEND career to. He has established three Support for Learning departments and participated in a MAT SEND Leadership Programme which lead to being part of the MAT SEND Review team, both through Whole School SEND. As a firm believer that 'All teachers are teachers of SEND', Simon will describe the systems that make up the successful SEND strategy within the Bohunt Education trust and apply that to the everyday pedagogy of the classroom teacher.

Beverley Walters, head of content, Tes SEN Show

Beverley has over 17 years’ senior management experience of the education sector, focusing on special educational needs and disability (SEND). She is responsible for the Tes SEN Show’s content strategy and structure across all 42 seminars, parent and carer forum presentations and exhibitor workshops. Beverley is passionate about raising awareness of SEN and has a wealth of knowledge and experience of the SEN sector. As a member of the senior leadership team at nasen for over 10 years, Beverley has worked alongside colleagues at the DfE leading the development of the SEND Gateway, which was launched in 2014, managed the delivery of professional development nationally to meet the needs of a variety of education settings and supported the work of Council for Disabled Children on government funded projects. She has worked with the Department for International Trade (DIT) to promote UK SEN expertise abroad and has been a member of the organising committee of the quinquennial Inclusive and Supportive Education Congress (ISEC) Glasgow 2005, Belfast 2010 and Portugal 2015. Beverley is SEN Governor of a local primary school in inner city Birmingham and mum to a wonderful young man who inspires her to keep learning.

Jacqui Webber-Gant, director, OnLineTraining

Jacqui Webber-Gant has been a director of OnLineTraining since 2008. Drawing from 15 years of teaching and leadership experience, Jacqui is responsible for training and supporting course tutors and developing partnerships. Graduating from Reading University, she has an extensive teaching background with previous roles including head of services, advisory teacher and classroom practitioner. Jacqui is keen to emphasise and celebrate the importance of continuing professional development, working closely with universities and voluntary agencies to support placements, course development and training. For the past 20 years, Jacqui has also had an active role in school governance.

Karen Wespieser, director of operations, Driver Youth Trust

As director of operations at Driver Youth Trust, Karen is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Trust. Karen’s background is in social research which has been in the education sector for over ten years. Most recently, she was head of impact at the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and director of the Centre for Education Economics (CfEE). She is passionate about increasing and communicating the use of evidence in education to positively impact the lives of young people, and so founded the Twitter chat #UKEdResChat. Karen is also a school governor, trustee of Parentkind, and mum of two.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary, NAHT

Paul Whiteman took over as general secretary of NAHT in 2017. NAHT represents the majority of school leaders in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Paul leads all of NAHT’s campaigns to improve schools for everyone, including the campaigns to increase funding for schools and to lift the per cent public sector pay cap. Prior to taking over as general secretary, Paul was NAHT’s director of representation and advice, a post he held for five years. The representation and advice team includes regional officers, organisers, the advice team and the legal team, helping to promote NAHT’s voice across the country while providing highly-regarded assistance and protection to members when needed. Before joining NAHT, Paul spent a decade as a national official at the FDA, the union for civil servants. He has a first-class grasp of education issues as well as many years’ experience in the wider trade union movement.