Natspec Logo

National Conference 2022

Sherann Hillman presents a keynote at the 2019 Natspec Conference

Speakers List

Jim Aleander

Governance Advisor to the Post-16 Sector, Lead Governor at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Jim Aleander is a former Principal and Accounting Officer of FE colleges in Mansfield, London and Leicestershire. He has served as an adviser to colleges, long term, on leadership, management and governance, having been a National Leader of Governance for the Association of Colleges. He supported the Association of Colleges (AoC) on curriculum innovation, including implementing T levels, through to 2020.

As a trustee and governor, Jim served Portland College in Nottinghamshire for over 20 years. Portland is a specialist college with residential and day students and a growing focus on employability alongside supported independent living.

Jim is Lead Governor to the NHS Nottinghamshire Healthcare Foundation Trust, which makes local, regional and national provision in mental health and learning disabilities, as well as in community health services. The Trust serves a local population of approximately one million, employing 9,000 staff and with a revenue budget of around £500m a year.

Jim has authored guidance for colleges on behalf of national bodies on self-assessment and on leadership of equality, diversity and inclusion.  He is an ambassador for the National Centre for Diversity, which awards the Investors in Diversity standard. Jim is regional Chair in the East Midlands for the charity Cruse Bereavement Support.

Lynette Barrett

Chief Operations Officer, National Star & Chair of the Natspec Board of Directors

Lynette has worked in Education, Health and Social Care for 24 years, joining National Star in Jan 2001. Holding over 18 years management experience, 12 years has been as a Senior Leader, recently achieving an MBA in Senior Leadership. Lynette has been instrumental in leading the diversification of specialist education and care at National Star and was appointed as Chief Operations Officer in 2019. Maintaining quality through changing environments has been her objective throughout her leadership career, this has been evidenced by achieving and sustaining outstanding with Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission across all regulated areas.

Ben Bastin

Head of College, Treloar's

Ben joined Treloar’s as Head of College in June 2021. Prior to this he has worked for 15 years in a variety of SEND education settings working with a wide variety of students. He is passionate about supporting all young people to have a sustainable place in society. Ben was also once a professional jazz musician.

Louise Benson

Service Manager - Post 16 Statutory Assessment Team, Nottinghamshire County Council

Louise has over 20 years’ experience in the public sector working in the field of economic regeneration, skills and inclusion. Further education is her sector of choice, Special Educational Needs and Disabilities her passion and her ambition? - to promote the best possible life outcomes for young people with additional needs as they transition to adulthood in a way that secures best value for public investment.

Currently Louise leads the team within Nottinghamshire County Council responsible for some 1600 young people with Education, Health and Care Plans and has oversight of the Post-16 High Needs Budget of £6 million.

Kate Brennan

Natspec Associate

Kate has many years’ experience of working in teaching, learning and assessment in further education at all levels. She is especially interested in citizenship outcomes for people who may not use words to express themselves; these learners may also have medical and/or health-related sensory support needs.

She is a Technical Member of the Institute of Safety and Health with a passion for managing risk to enhance the quality of provision in further education, to ensure every learner has the opportunity to become active, involved members of their community.

Kate is a retired Ofsted Inspector and a level 7 qualified coach and mentor.

Tara Chattaway

Head of Education, Thomas Pocklington Trust

Tara manages the Student Support Service at TPT which supports blind and partially sighted children and young people aged 11+ to get into and get the most out of mainstream secondary, further and higher education. She has worked in charity sector for around 18 years and has a background in campaign and policy work.

Harriet Corp

Senior Trainer, NAPPI uk

Harriet has worked for over 12 years with children and adults with learning disabilities, autism, complex needs and individuals who show behaviours of concern. Her career started within the care sector; from there she moved into a specialist FE college for adults with profound and multiple learning disabilities. She progressed from a support role into a teaching role and had the curriculum lead for personal and social development, qualifying as a tutor whilst working. During this time Harriet also trained to become a NAPPI (Non-Abusive Psychological and Physical Intervention) trainer. She now works as a trainer for NAPPI uk, as well as supporting organisations with the use of PBS Cloud, an online data reporting and analysing system. With over 8 years’ experience of training participants in positive behaviour support, Harriet’s interests lie in combining her wealth of experience within the education sector and the principles of NAPPI to improve a whole organisational approach to behaviour.

Dr Mark Dale

Principal & CEO, Portland College
Dr Mark

Mark has been Principal and CEO of Portland College for 15 years and prior to that was Associate Professor and Deputy Head of the School of Education, University of Nottingham. Mark is a previous board member of Natspec, Skills and Education Group and ABC Awards.

Rosie Dempsey

Deputy Lead, RNIB Children, Young People, Families & Education Service

Rosie Dempsey is Deputy Lead for the RNIB Children, Young People & Families, Education team covering Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The service supports young people aged 0-25 and their families across the UK. Rosie oversees projects and services for children and young people with a vision impairment and their families as well as feeding back to devolved governments on policy in this area. Rosie has a background in early childhood education and youth work and her workshop will focus on the advice and support available to young people who are blind or partially sighted in at key transition points in their education.

Tracy Gillett

Principal, Condover College

Tracy is Vice Chair of Natspec and the Director of Education / Principal of Condover College. She has a master’s degree in ‘Special Education Needs and Inclusion’ and has dedicated her career to special education, initially teaching in GFE and then in ISCs as a senior leader. As a qualified tutor Tracy and spent many years coordinating the areas of Skills for Life, Work Experience and Employability. She has undertaken a range of quality assurance activities in specialist and general further education settings for students with high needs. Tracy has extensive experience in working with high needs students including those with autism, profound and multiple learning difficulties, sensory impairments and complex needs.

Sarah Goff

Safeguarding Disabled Young People Manager, Ann Craft Trust & Co Chair, National Working Group on Safeguarding Disabled Children

Sarah has been a social worker in many settings and roles and now works at the Ann Craft Trust, a national charity which exists to minimise the risk of abuse of disabled children and adults at risk. She has over twenty years’ experience in the fields of child protection, sexual exploitation and multi-agency practice. Sarah co-chairs the National Working Group on Safeguarding Disabled Children and develops and delivers training for a wide range of organisations. She is involved in practice research projects in the UK and has explored the needs of those with learning disabilities facing risks of sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, communication and speaking out and the support parents need when facing concerns about their child/young person. She has a particular interest in ensuring that the voices of disabled children and young people are heard.

Neil Harrod-Beck

Assistive Technology Projects Manager, Natspec

Neil has experience at local, national and international levels through roles to support both in specialist and mainstream environments. His focus for TechAbility is on projects such as Champions, the webinar programme and much more. He has a record of delivering high quality training, assessments, webinars, seminars and projects and is passionate about using what he has learned to improve educational outcomes and standards of living. European experience has come about through Erasmus project work and International experience through work in India. Sitting on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology and the subsequent DfE expert group has enabled him to learn about and contribute to policy – notably the 2019 EdTech Policy. Neil has a background in delivering care/education.

Clare Howard

Chief Executive, Natspec

With 25 years’ experience in the public, private and voluntary sectors, Clare became chief executive of Natspec in January 2016. Clare worked at the Association of Colleges for six years and her career has included posts in local authorities, funding agencies, schools and colleges. As a consultant in the 2000s, Clare worked on more than 200 projects and took interim posts across the education, sport and health sectors, developing a passion for further education and a particular interest in services and education for people with learning difficulties and disabilities. She has worked with special schools, specialist colleges and national disability organisations and her expertise includes organisational development, funding bids, training, change management and governance projects.

David Hughes

Chief Executive, Association of Colleges

David Hughes became Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges in September 2016. Before that he was Chief Executive at Learning and Work Institute and spent over 10 years at the Learning and Skills Council and Skills Funding Agency where he had national responsibility for funding and improvement with colleges and providers.

Prior to that, David worked in the voluntary sector across a wide range of roles and organisations in the UK and Australia, in social housing, co-operatives, welfare, regeneration and community development.

David holds several Board positions including with the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics and the Bell Foundation. He was Vice-Chair of the East Midlands Regional Assembly in the 1990s, founding Chair of the Education and Training Foundation in 2013 and has helped set-up several third sector organisations.

Dame Christine Lenehan DBE

Director, Council for Disabled Children
Dame Christine

Christine began her career as a social worker in 1980.

In 2000 Christine joined the Council for Disabled Children, part of National Children’s Bureau. Christine has carried out Reviews for both the DoH and DfE, both Reviews received a very positive response from Government, and implementation of their recommendations is likely to make a significant impact on practice in this area and the experiences of the children and young people affected.

In 2009 Christine was awarded an OBE for services for disabled children and young people and in 2013 was made an Honorary Fellow of the RCPCH. In 2016 she was awarded a Damehood in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in recognition of her outstanding work for disabled children and young and those with special educational needs spanning over 35 years.

Emma Linney

Careers Consultant Trainer and Developer, Co-director of the Seeds of Change Enterprise Ltd

Emma is a registered and licensed level 6 Guidance Practitioner with the Careers Development Institute and has been practicing as a Careers and holistic Guidance worker for over 20 years. A former lecturer, Emma became a Personal Adviser for Connexions in 2001 supporting the most vulnerable young people and went on to manage a multi-disciplinary team of staff across the county in Shropshire including Targeted Youth support and the IAG team. 

Emma has operationally and strategically contributed to careers services for SEN and ‘looked after children’, including developing processes for transition to help shape and implement the SEND reforms in Shropshire IAG services during her role with Shropshire Youth. 

Fil McIntyre

TechAbility Manager and Assistive Technology Lead, Natspec

Fil is passionate about the advantages the right technology can give to enhance life, learning and communication. He has provided training in assistive technology hardware and software to a wide range of professionals from schools, colleges, universities, charities and healthcare. Fil moved to managing TechAbility full time in February 2021 after three years in a split role between TechAbility and Beaumont College in Lancaster. At Beaumont College, Fil was the Lead Assistive Technologist where he managed a team which assessed and supported students to gain maximum advantage from technology. Prior to Beaumont College, as part of The BRITE Initiative, Fil delivered Assistive Technology training and support to every college in Scotland. He has also been part of the training team at Inclusive Technology and developed the first assistive technology post at Seashell Trust specialist school and college.

Gareth Morewood

Studio 3 Educational Adviser, Studio 3 Training Systems Limited

Gareth D Morewood is the Educational Advisor for Studio III and Visiting Lecturer at the University of Chester. Previously he has worked for 25 years in U.K. schools; the last 17 of which were as SENCo (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) in a large, inclusive secondary school in the North West of England. Gareth is Co-Director of the LASER Prog.

Paul Morrison

SEND Post-16 Officer, West Sussex County Council

Paul has worked for the West Sussex Education Service since 1989. Before 2002, he administered disabled students’ allowances for Higher Education Student Support. In 2002 he took up a post in the Special Educational Needs Team and has always had a Post-16 role which became a sole responsibility since the funding reforms of 2012. With the inception of the Children and Families Act in 2014, Paul took responsibility for embedding Preparation for Adulthood themes from Year 9 to age 25, within Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), and in schools and colleges. Paul has represented West Sussex at a regional level since 2005. Since 2014 this has been within South-East 19 Local Authorities reporting to the region’s Directors of Children’s Services. Paul has joint-chaired the regional forum since 2018 first with Richard Gargon, Principal of St Pier’s School & College, and since 2020 with Eileen Darby, Assistant Principal of the Chichester College Group (GFE). An area of his responsibilities is high needs funding for both general Further Education and the specialist college sector.

Dale Parsons

Curriculum Coordinator, Ambitious College

Dale has worked for Ambitious about Autism since 2015. Prior to this Dale worked in the care sector where his passion for supporting and inspiring young people with a variety of learning disabilities was born. During his teacher training Dale continued to work with SEND students and taught a wide range of abilities from pre-entry to entry level 3. It was at that point Dale knew he wanted to specialise in autism and working with autistic students. Dale says;

"With the support of AAA I have grown in my practise as a teacher, delivering lessons to the highest standard and I have gained invaluable experience and knowledge around working with young people and their families, supporting them on their journey not just with us but beyond! I have been able to achieve a Post Grad in Autism  from Sheffield Hallam University. I have grown from an enthusiastic NQT into the curriculum coordinator whereby I design and deliver an individualised curriculum, support development and training of teachers and work with families and the Local Authority so our students can become as independent as possible and reach their full potential."

Suzy Powell

Deputy Director for SEND Policy and Strategy

Suzy Powell has been Deputy Director for SEND Policy and Strategy at the Department for Education since July 2021.  Prior to this she worked in DHSC, Cabinet Office and DExEU working on issues including EU Exit, patient safety, Hillsborough and local government policy.

Will Quince MP

Minister for Children and Families

Will Quince was appointed as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education on 16 September 2021.

He was previously Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions from 4 April 2019 to 16 September 2021.

Will was elected as Conservative MP for Colchester on 7 May 2015.

Wendy Rainbow

Legal Team Manager

Wendy was a partner in private practice and joined IPSEA in 2017 after completing her MBA.  Wendy manages IPSEA’s legal team that trains IPSEA's volunteers as well as supervising and assisting them with legal queries, case work support and tribunal advice. The team delivers training to parent and carer groups and other organisations helping their members understand their legal rights under the SEND statutory framework, as well as bespoke training courses for other professionals in the SEND field advising them on their legal obligations to children and young people. The legal team also seeks to influence policy and legal developments in SEND law by responding to calls for evidence, representing IPSEA on various industry policy groups as well as speaking at conferences across England.

Joanne Rees-Proud

Principal, Hedleys College

Joanne has worked in education for the last 16 years and is Principal at Hedleys College which is part of the wider Percy Hedley Foundation in Newcastle. She is passionate about supporting young people with physical and learning disabilities, complex needs and challenging behaviour through their education journey by providing high quality education opportunities. As a practitioner, her background is teaching PMLD learners with complex needs and this is an area she feels strongly about especially when promoting learner voice and preparing young people for adulthood. She has worked at Hedleys College from its beginnings and would like to support other providers on this journey.

Simon Whitehouse

Head of Leadership & Management Development, Asesoria Group Limited

Simon has over 20 years’ experience in designing and facilitating leadership programmes for leaders at all levels within private and public sector organisations in the UK and abroad. He has worked with leaders in the UK further education sector since 2009 including on national programmes such as the Principals Qualifying Programme and Aspiring Principals Programme. He is the course leader of Natspec’s SEND Leadership Programme and has a personal interest in special educational needs and disability.

Conference Sponsors