Speakers

Find out about all the speakers at this year's show.

Carol Allen, Senior Advisory Consultant ICT and Inclusion

Carol Allen is an education advisor for ICT and inclusion. 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. Carol works in partnership with many companies in the educational technology field as she holds a strong belief in sharing and collaboration across all participants in order to maximise the potential opportunities for her students. All work centres on easy to replicate practice which is fun, achievable and creates communication enhancement opportunities. Recent workshops and keynotes include presentations at ATIA Florida, Denmark, BETT 2017, Birmingham, Manchester, London and Australia. Carol is list owner for sld-forum, an international mailing list for practitioners and educators interested in the effective teaching and learning for those with complex barriers to learning. Currently looking at the impact of mobile technologies on inclusive practice, she is working with a zoo to produce some very different learning opportunities for the staff, school and family visitors and some of the animals themselves!

Dr Adam Boddison, Chief Executive for nasen, National Association for Special Educational Needs

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.

Maria Chambers, Director of Education , National charity Ambitious about Autism

Maria Chambers is the Director of Education at the national charity Ambitious about Autism. She manages educational services for young people with autism and develops the growth of the charity. Maria has had a long career in Special Educational Needs and is passionate about providing the best possible educational experience for the young people she serves. She has developed academic courses and CPD pathways for those working in the Special Educational Needs sector. Prior to joining Ambitious about Autism, Maria worked at Scope managing their children and young people’s services, she developed an innovative approach to meet the needs of young people with profound and complex needs. Maria has worked as consultant with mainstream schools and colleges to advise on inclusion and develop staff teams. She is committed to quality of life outcomes and equality.

Laurie Cornwell, Executive Headteacher , Orchard Hill Academy

Laurie Cornwell has worked in a secondary comprehensive mainstream school for many years as a PE teacher. For 7 years Laurie has been headteacher of an alternative provision for students who cannot attend school for a variety of reasons: predominantly permanent exclusion. In the last three years Laurie has been executive headteacher of the same alternative provision and a secondary special school for students with social, emotional and mental health difficulties under the Orchard Hill College and Academy Trust. Lauire is passionate about the education of young people and firmly believes that all young people can achieve their life goals given the right education and support. Lauire is a champion of the restorative and reflective approach believing that punitive methods to deal with behaviour further traumatises children and stymies their progress and development.

Dr Vanna Cotzia, Educational & Child Psychologist, Positive Minds Psychology

Vanna believes that every person, whatever the age, has a fundamental right to experience the lifelong learning process as an uninhibited progression towards self-discovery. In addition to her work as an Educational and Child Psychologist within a London Local Authority, Vanna has a passion for research and teaching Psychology and is committed to integrating theory and practice. Vanna is an academic and personal tutor at UCL, as well as a lecturer in Educational Psychology at Birkbeck University of London, teaching on both the undergraduate and masters psychology degrees. She also specialises as a supervisor for school professionals and supervises trainee Educational Psychologists.

Rebecca Duffus, Advisory Teacher

Rebecca is an experienced Advisory Teacher with a Psychology Degree and a Masters in Autism and Education. She has many years of experience working in both mainstream and specialist education settings as well as within local council and education services. Rebecca believes that all young people should be understood for their unique strengths and differences. In her current role she supports settings across the age range and specialism, to consider their provision for autistic pupils. This work may be through individual pupil observations and advice, training and coaching of school staff, autism-friendly school audits and one-to-one work with pupils. She also facilitates a range of parent programmes to support parents to better understand their child’s autism and is a trained EarlyBird and EarlyBird Healthy Minds facilitator. Additionally, Rebecca has developed an ‘Understanding Diagnosis’ programme to support young people to develop a positive understanding of their diagnosis and the impact of this on their identity. In her career she has found autistic pupils to be some of the most interesting and feels their strengths should be celebrated.

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 until 2014 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.

Garry Freeman, SENCo, Park Lane Academy in Halifax

Currently SENCo at Park Lane Academy in Halifax, West Yorkshire, Garry has taught for 41 years in a number of high and special schools throughout Leeds and Bradford, as a member of Senior Leadership Teams, Head of History, Head of Humanities, Curriculum Support Co-ordinator and SENCo. He began his work in the field of SEND as Behaviour Support Coordinator, researching and evidencing causes of low-level and more complex in-class behaviours. Garry is a skilled Whole-School SEND Reviewer, a National SEND System Leader and was recently project lead for local authority improvement support at the request of the DfE. He is a Nasen Associate Consultant and Chair of their 0-11 Advisory Group. Highly experienced in working on an individual school–to–school support basis, with multi-academy trusts and with local authorities, Garry also writes extensively for a range of educational publications. The focus of Garry’s work is the effectiveness of SEND provision across all stages and settings. He specialises particularly in high-quality classroom practice, differentiation, the systemic development of school SEND support, and initial teacher training. He has recently focused on myths in the world of SEND, especially concerning EHCPs, and has worked with the DfE on effective websites and SEN Information Reports. Ofsted described his practice as “beyond outstanding……..inspirational!”

Jane Friswell, SEND Consultant & Advocate, JFA SEND Consultancy

A former SEN headteacher, with significant leadership experience in local authority SEN support and advisory roles and more recently as chief executive at nasen. Jane is now director of SEND Consultancy, a new and innovative support agency for those working in SEND, specialising in leading effective review of provision for children and young people with SEND, which commissions co-productively with young people with additional needs to effect improvement at local level. Jane is married and has three children, her 15 year old son is a young man with Aspergers, learning difficulties and additional mental health needs. She is a school governor, trustee and supporter of a range of charitable trusts promoting equity and equality for children and young people with additional needs.

Abigail Gray

Abigail Gray has over 25 years’ experience in Special Educational Needs across the state and independent sectors. Her most recent work is focused on the practicalities of embedding and maintaining excellent SEND provision in schools and particularly the role of the classroom teacher in meeting SEN. She started her career in education as a Learning Support Assistant in a large inner-city secondary school, subsequently qualifying as a teacher of English from King’s College and soon after taking up the role of SENCO. In 2001 she moved to a specialist secondary school for children with specific learning difficulties as Deputy Head, qualifying as a specialist teacher two years later and becoming Head in 2007. In 2014 after 13 years in Leadership at The Moat School she set up her own company Senworks; offering SEND consultancy, training, mentoring and support to schools in London and the South-East. She works part-time for the education charity Achievement for All, is a SEND tutor on Best Practice Network’s NaSENCO Award and is the author of a number of articles; her first book ‘Effective Differentiation’ was published by Routledge in May 2018.

Melissa Grigsby, Executive Leader, Vice Chair on the Board of Trustees for NASS

Melissa has taught and worked within SEND settings for the last twenty years and is presently the Executive Leader of two education provisions in the south of England. They provide first class education and social development for young people whose mental and/or emotional health is at risk as well as pre or post birth trauma. Presenting as children on the edge of the autistic spectrum including PDA and young people effected by acute or chronic medical conditions. Melissa also hold the role of Vice Chair on the Board of Trustees for NASS who are representative of Head Teachers, Financial Directors and Heads of Care from Independent and Non maintained SEND settings nationally.

Dr Anna Hepworth, Educational Psychology Service

Dr Anna Hepworth obtained her undergraduate degree in experimental psychology from the University of Oxford and started her career as a secondary school teacher. These experiences highlighted the impact that education has on the future outcomes of children and young people. As such, Anna is committed to using education as a mechanism for change. In addition to her current role within an educational psychology service, Anna is part of a multi-agency team supporting the educational needs of children in care. She works collaboratively with a range of educational, health and social care professionals to support positive outcomes for this group of children and young people.

Jeff Hughes, Registered Practitioner Psychologist

Jeff is a Registered Practitioner Psychologist working in private practice who is also an Assistive Technologist (computers for disability). Jeff has taught and worked in a range of settings with adults and children including mainstream and special schools, child mental health, social care, further and higher education and in the workplace. Jeff has been closely involved in Special Educational Needs assessment, review and tribunal processes since 1981 with special interests in specific learning difficulties, dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit, autism and general learning difficulties. Jeff prepares assessment reports for court on individuals caught up in the Criminal Justice System.

Rachel Ingham, co-director of Understanding and Supporting Learning

BA, PGCE, AMBDA, MA SpLD Rachel is co-director of Understanding and Supporting Learning (US-L) delivering training and key note addresses, over the past 10 years, in Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) nationally and internationally. US-L works closely with schools and colleges and educational organisations across the UK delivering regional and national SEND training for the National Education Union, Patoss; Local Dyslexia Associations and the British Dyslexia Association. In conjunction with this Rachel also works with other specialists in the North of England, as co-director of SEND Solutions, to improve SEND provision for schools and colleges. SEND Solutions also work closely with local and national organisations to lead and organise conferences. Rachel has extensive experience of working in the education sector, as a teaching assistant, teacher, SENDCo and university lecturer. As the Inclusion Consultant in Learning Difficulties and Disabilities with strategic lead for dyslexia, she led Calderdale LA to achieving the British Dyslexia Association Quality Mark award. Her work with Calderdale was extensive including co-ordinating the Northern branch of the Government research project, ‘No to Failure.’ Rachel’s passion and drive to improve the teaching and learning experience for children and young people with SEND is evident in every aspect of her work.

Peter Jarrett, Managing Director, Tutorum Learning and Assessment

Peter Jarrett is Chair of the British Dyslexia Association Dyscalculia Committee and writes and speaks on maths learning difficulties and maths improvement at Key Stage 4 and in FE and the assessment of dyscalculia. He is Managing Director of Tutorum Learning and Assessment, a training provider that specialises in Functional Skills provision for apprentices, lectures at Bath Spa University on Inclusion and mathematics difficulties and is a member of the editorial board for Equals Online, the mathematics and SEND journal of the Mathematical Association.

Emilie-Kate Kidd, Co-Founder, Earwig Academic

Emilie-Kate Kidd is Co-Founder of award-winning software Earwig Academic. Found in hundreds of schools across the country, Earwig specialises in SEN assessment. Earwig enables schools to work from any framework, including several at once, link assessments to multimedia supporting evidence and then use the data to track, benchmark and produce reports. Earwig was described in a dedicated feature by The Sunday Times as a “game-changer” for Ofsted inspections. Emilie-Kate is also Co-Founder of Parents In Need, a charity for parents of disabled children, funding professional assessments to enable SEND children to access the education appropriate for their needs. Emilie-Kate lives in Surrey with her husband, three year old daughter and six year old son, who has a severe speech/language disorder, hypotonia and learning disabilities. She has spoken about SEND Assessment in 2018 at an SEND focused APPG, at the spotlight theatre at The TES SEN Show and at the BETT Arena.

Wendy Lee, Speech and Language Consultant, Lingo

Wendy has worked as a speech and language therapist for 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 and therapists into schools and settings. She works in partnership with local and national organisations such as Cambridge University, Voice Bradford, Driver Youth Trust, I CAN and The Communication Trust on all things speech, language and communication.

Nicola Marshall, Trainer, Author and Coach, BraveHeart Education

Nicola Marshall is a speaker and published author in the field of developmental trauma and education. As an adoptive parent to three children, Nicola has personal experience of living with the impact of early trauma. She started her training company six years ago, BraveHeart Education, in response to the growing need of educators to understand the challenges for vulnerable children in the educational system. All of Nicola’s speaking and writing takes the complex concepts of early trauma and makes them simple. There are many experts in this field, but few who have the personal day to day experience as well as the theoretical knowledge. Nicola is a speaker, author, trainer, coach, magazine editor and recently won an outstanding achievement award from the Black Country Chamber of Commerce. Available to speak on topics such as education and vulnerable children, the culture of education, emotional wellbeing in children and young people, developmental trauma and attachment, adoption and/or fostering, specifically hard to place children i.e. sibling groups, older children, the adoption process, adoption support, breaking cycles for children who have been in the care system, mental health in children and young people.

Tracy Matthews, Specialist Practitioner, Adapt to Learn

Tracy started working in the field of Special Educational Needs (SEN) in 2002 and has consistently increased her knowledge in social communication needs, autism, ADHD, as well as emotional and behavioural needs. She is a licensed EarlyBird and EarlyBird Healthy Minds trainer and is passionate about working with parents and sharing ideas and strategies. She believes that there is nothing more satisfying than knowing that one small piece of shared information can make a big difference to a family! During her years as a Senior Autism Practitioner for the London Borough of Sutton, her enthusiasm for taking on new challenges continued to grow. She gained a University Certificate in Autism from Birmingham University and has attended many courses including TEACCH, Attention Autism, PECS, Sensory Integration and attended numerous NAS Conferences. She also attended Judith Gould’s ‘Autism and Girls’ and Kari Dunn-Buron’s ‘Incredible 5-Point Scale’.

Emily McArdle, Helen Sanderson Associates

Emily works under license to Helen Sanderson Associates to support individuals, teams and organisations to put people, and what matters to them, at the heart of the work they do every day. Helen Sanderson Associates work with customers large and small, from lots of different backgrounds; including charities and companies specialising in health and social care, education and criminal justice as well as in the commercial sector. Emily works one day a week in the National Health Service as a Speech & Language Therapist working with children and families. Outside of work Emily believes strongly in community and likes nothing better than to share with tourists beautiful Port Sunlight where she and her family are lucky enough to live. There are many things that make Emily’s heart sing: Watching her whippets run at top speed for the joy of running, enjoying unusual and delicious food and laughing with friends over a ridiculous pun are just a few You can find out more about Emily on her one-page profile http://www.helensandersonassociates.co.uk/team-members/emily-mcardle/

Nicola Murray, Senior Programme Lead, Anti-Bullying Alliance, National Children’s Bureau

Nicola leads on the Anti-Bullying Alliance's direct programme work to help stop bullying and bring lasting change to children's lives. This includes the flagship All Together programme which supports schools and professionals all over England to use a social model approach to reducing bullying of the most vulnerable children. Nicola is passionate about working towards a society where everyone can participate and achieve their potential and, before joining the ABA, she worked in development and programme lead roles at Scope, Marie Curie and Diabetes UK. She is also a trustee of Volunteer Centre Hackney, an organisation that aims to improve employment outcomes, boost mental wellbeing and build social cohesion.

Aqualma Murray, Independent trainer, consultant and coach, Aqualma Empowerment Services

Aqualma Murray has been in the social work field for over 25 years. She has worked with a wide range of client groups from varied ethnicity and ages. Aqualma started her career in the residential sector, working with disabilities and then specialising with young people in care. She has worked in area offices as a child protection social worker and has specialised with children and adults who have experienced sexual abuse. Aqualma went on to develop extensive experience in the field of adolescent and adult offenders. She has managed a Youth Offender team, Secure Children’s home and been a service manager in a secure training centre. More recently Aqualma has worked as a Local authority Designated Child Protection Officer (LADO) and a training and community partnership officer for a large London Local Authority, where she addresses allegations against professionals and ensures that faith and community groups are equipped to safeguard children in their care. Aqualma has progressed to become a trainer and consultant addressing issues of abuse, challenging behaviour, mental health, children’s rights, anti-discriminatory and diversity issues, implementing policies and procedures, in relation to matters of legislation and law, as well as empowerment for staff and service users.

Dr Susie Nyman, Curriculum Manager for Health and Social Care, The Sixth Form College Farnborough

Dr Susie Nyman is passionate about discovering how children learn and supporting them in ways which enable them to succeed. She was appointed as a biology teacher at The Sixth Form College Farnborough in 1995, and subsequently as curriculum manager for Health and Social Care where she has worked ever since. Susie strives to raise students’ achievements and support them in ways which enables them to succeed. She works with students on an individual basis or with small groups delivering workshops deploying a range of innovative and multi-sensory teaching techniques to assist their learning including her ‘Equality and Diversity Tree’ and famous puppets! Susie has provided seminars and INSET training to PGCE students at Kingston University, as well as in a number of local schools and colleges on teaching strategies. Since February 2017, Susie has been invited to present seminars on ‘Multi-sensory Techniques’ at The Learning Differences Conventions in Australia, The Sixth Form College, Farnborough, Richmond College, The Helen Arkell Centre, and The Oratory School. Recently, she was filmed ‘in action’ for The British Dyslexia Association, and the footage is now available on YouTube. Subsequently, she has written a chapter about ‘Multi-sensory Teaching’ in the latest BDA Dyslexia Friendly Schools Good Practice Guide. In recognition of over 21 years continued service at The Sixth Form College Farnborough, Susie has been nominated twice by the College for the ‘TES FE Teacher of the Year Award’. This is an honour of which she is immensely proud.

Natalie Packer, Independent Education Consultant

Natalie is an Independent Education Consultant, specialising in SEN and school improvement. She develops and delivers a wide range of training and support to schools and other organisations nationally. Natalie is an Associate Consultant for nasen and a member of the Academies Enterprise Trust SEN Team. She is a consultant for a large 4-18 school in Dubai and a trustee of a recently formed multi-academy trust. Natalie regularly contributes to online SEN articles and webinars and is also the author of The Perfect SENCO and The Teacher’s Guide to SEN. E mail: n.packer174@btinternet.com website www.nataliepacker.co.uk Twitter: @NataliePacker

Cathy Parvin, Director, Dyspraxia Education

Cathy Parvin trained as a Registered General Nurse, an Orthopaedic Nurse and completed the Further and Adult Teachers Certificate (Course 730/7307). Following training and mentoring by the Dyspraxia Foundation, Cathy became their Education Officer (West Midlands) in 2010. A funded two year post delivering training in schools for teaching staff on dyspraxia. On completion of this project, Cathy was asked to continue as an "approved" trainer and advisor on their Educational Panel. Currently she is Director of Dyspraxia Education an organisation which supports children with dyspraxia/DCD in education. She is a visiting university lecturer for SENDCo Award, P.E, PGCE, BA honours and Early Years courses and has delivered conference seminars and keynote speeches both nationally and in Europe. She attends numerous conferences, study days and training events, however, it is her daughter Lydie, who has given her a very deep and meaningful insight into the challenges and benefits of living with dyspraxia and other neurodiverse conditions. Cathy has a particular interest in helping children with handwriting difficulties and has developed handwriting interventions and resources to help them. She has also completed training with the National Handwriting Association after which she was invited to be a trainer for them and a committee member. She has several years’ experience of supporting children with handwriting difficulties. Her “Jimbo Fun motor skills for handwriting” resource is a winner in the SEN category of Teach Primary Resource Awards 2018.

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

Dr Asha Patel, founder of Innovating Minds CIC, is a registered clinical psychologist with a post graduate 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 2 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.

Lorraine Petersen, OBE, Education Consultant, LPEC

Lorraine has 25 years’ experience in the mainstream school environment as a teacher and headteacher. From 2004 to 2013 Lorraine was CEO of nasen. As a result, Lorraine has many years’ experience of working with pupils with an array of special and additional needs and the teachers, SENCOs and support staff that work with them. During her time as CEO of nasen, Lorraine worked on a number of projects with various agencies including the Department for Education, the National College of Teaching and Leadership (formally the Teaching Agency) and UKTI. She has been a chair, keynote speaker and workshop facilitator at many national and international events and conferences and a consultant for a number of national organisations. In 2009 Lorraine was awarded an OBE for her services to education. In 2010 Lorraine was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Education Research Awards and in 2013 the Outstanding Achievement Award at BETT In 2013 Lorraine established Lorraine Petersen Educational Consultancy and currently works independently, delivering training and supporting schools and local authorities with their SEND policy and practice. In 2015 Lorraine successfully completed the IPSEA SEN Foundation Legal Training and has been appointed as an associate lecturer at the University of Worcester. In 2016 Lorraine became an advocate of the Chartered College of Teaching. Lorraine in currently director of Chadsgrove Teaching School Alliance and is a governor at Chadsgrove School.

Julie Pointer, Children and Young People lead - National Development Team for Inclusion, Preparing for Adulthood lead

Julie is a qualified social worker who has worked to improve opportunities for disabled and vulnerable people for many years. Julie is currently the children and young people’s lead for NDTi and the delivery manager for the Preparing for Adulthood Programme. Her particular passion is ensuring that disabled young people have the same life opportunities as their non-disabled peers and are supported to achieve their dreams. Julie has worked in the field that we strangely call "Transition" for around 20 years and worked on the National Transition Support Programme, and Aspirations for Life previously. Her most recent job before joining the National Development Team for Inclusion in 2015 was working as a Transition Development Manager in a large local authority in the South East of England to try and ensure a greater working together across education, health and care.

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 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 through out the life time.

Dr Amelia Roberts, Lecturer in Education and Deputy Director , UCL Centre for Inclusive Education

Dr. Amelia Roberts is a Lecturer in Education and Deputy Director of UCL Centre for Inclusive Education. Dr Amelia Roberts’ research focuses on knowledge exchange and reflective practice to support teachers of vulnerable pupils and covers inclusive education, Lesson Study, Autism and whole school approaches to Social, Emotional and Mental Health. She is the Labour Party's Resident Expert on Special Educational Needs and works with the Department for Education on a number of projects, including the Whole School SEND project and as an Inclusion Expert for the Standards and testing Agency. She has spoken recently on Sky News, BBC South East today and BBC Radio. As part of her UCL role, she regularly visits the Falkland Islands and has worked with UNICEF in the Sultanate of Oman on an ‘Inclusive Classrooms’ project. Amelia is just starting an inclusive education project evaluation in Moldova.

Karen Shaw, Head of Service, Cognus

Karen Shaw has 15 years experience working in secondary schools in the field of SEND and Inclusion. She has worked in school leadership and currently is a Head of Service for Cognus, an educational company in Sutton where she line manages a range of services which specialise in supporting the inclusion of vulnerable students in schools and settings. Karen is also a member of the NASEN Advisory Senco Committee. Karen is passionate about supporting settings to embrace the SEN Reforms and follow the Code of Practice as well as promoting confidence and excitement about Inclusive models of practice.

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; reviewed inclusion in one of our most inclusive local authorities; 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 and works as part of the team providing support to the DfE as strategic reform partner.

Fernando Teixido-Infante, Intensive Interaction practitioner and coordinator.

Fernando is an experienced Intensive Interaction practitioner and coordinator. His background is in Psychology, and he has a Psychology degree and Masters in Autism (gained in Spain). He has many years of experience in education settings as both practitioner and in an advisory capacity. Fernando supports settings to better provide for autistic pupils and those with social communication differences. In his current role, he carries out individual pupil observations, runs programmes of one-to-one work and supports teachers through staff training and mentoring. He also facilitates a variety of parent programmes and is a trained EarlyBird and EarlyBird Healthy Minds facilitator. One of Fernando’s strengths is connecting with people who find the process of communication challenging. He is very creative in his approach and works to help facilitate young people’s understanding of their surroundings.

Melanie Vijayaratnam, Licensed EarlyBird Trainer

Since qualifying as an NNEB in 1982 I have always been fascinated by child development and in particular how young children learn to communicate. Throughout my career in the Early Years Sector I have continuously sought to increase my knowledge and expertise to enable me to support children and their families in this key area. I have attended a wide range of courses including TEACCH, PECs, Attention Autism, The Incredible 5 Point Scale, Intensive Interaction, EarlyBird and EarlyBird Healthy Minds. However, the best teacher has been experience and I have had the privilege to work with and learn from many families caring for children with a huge variety of needs across all areas of disability. I am a licensed EarlyBird Trainer and have worked with numerous groups of parents to help them to fully understand the needs of their children. Together we have learnt how to understand autism, adapt our own communication and look at the underlying functions of behaviours. Small changes can make big differences! I regularly work with pre-schools, nurseries and schools advising them on strategies to help support their pupils with social communication difficulties, autism and behavioural needs. I am an experienced trainer and have written and delivered training to a wide variety of audiences including many well-received parent groups.

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.