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National Conference 2020

A Question of Quality

Sherann Hillman presents a keynote at the 2019 Natspec Conference
Due to the current situation regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) we would like to announce that regrettably the Natspec National Conference that was scheduled for 19 and 20 May will not now take place as planned. All existing delegate bookings and invoices paid or sent out will be rolled forward to the conference when it is rescheduled, with a new date being planned for March 2021.

Speakers List

Jim Aleander

Managing Director of the The College Doctor Ltd and Governor at Portland College

Jim Aleander has served as a governor, trustee and director of Portland College, a specialist disability provider in Nottinghamshire, over an extended period of change. He is a former FE college principal and governor. He is also a  governor of a major NHS Foundation Trust.

Jim operates his own consultancy for further education, advising college leaders on a wide range of issues. He has produced guidance for the sector on self-assessment, quality assurance and the leadership of equality, diversity and inclusion.

John Atkins

Principal Associate, acl consulting

After spending most of his early career in local education authorities and as a Training Standards Inspector with the then Manpower Services Commission, John moved into research and consultancy – initially with PricewaterhouseCoopers [PwC], then at KPMG (where he was Director of their FE & HE practice), before forming his own business in 2000; he has been part of acl consulting since 2006.

acl is a relatively small provider of research and consultancy services, primarily to the post-16 education, learning and skills sectors. Clients include government departments, their NDPBs, executive agencies and non-ministerial departments, local authorities, individual providers and sector representative bodies, including Natspec and the LGA. The procurement, contracting, funding and costing of post-16 provision – both in general and specifically for SPIs – have become a focus for much of acl’s recent work.

Neil Beck

Assistive Technologist, TechAbility and National Star

Neil works in both specialist and mainstream education with both adults and children. He enjoys the challenges it brings, the difference the work makes and the fantastic work he observes every day. Alongside supporting students at National Star College, he also develops and delivers the colleges outreach program, he is the Karten Lead for the organisation, is coordinating testing for exciting new technologies and works on several European projects. The most recent of these projects is looking practice and perspectives across Europe in Assistive Technology.  He forms the Natspec TechAbility team with Fil McIntyre, who are providing an Assistive Technology service to specialist colleges and centres across the UK. This includes consultation, webinars, events and projects.

Harriet Corp

Senior Trainer, NAPPI UK

Harriet has over 12 years’ experience working with children and adults with learning disabilities, autism, complex needs and individuals who show behaviours of concern. Harriet’s career started within the care sector working within a variety of settings, this led to her working within the education sector, where she began supporting learners within an independent specialist college for adults with profound and multiple learning disabilities. This progressed to a teaching role, where she studied to become a qualified tutor whilst working and she was also the curriculum co-ordinator for personal and social development. During this time Harriet also trained to become a NAPPI trainer, which was a role she carried out alongside teaching. In January this year she became a full time NAPPI trainer with over 5 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.

Sally Edwards

Lead Speech & Language, SLT Manager Portland College & Landmarks Specialist Colleges

Sally is a lead speech and language therapist with 33 years’ experience.  She is passionate about the role of speech and language therapy; in particular, supporting people to communicate as effectively as possible in order to lead a full and positive life, and informing and motivating others to understand the importance of communication.

In her current role she manages the SLT service in two independent specialist colleges which contract their service in from the NHS.  She has previously worked in a variety of education settings.  Sally strongly values the role of the MDT in enabling young learners to fully access their education programmes, maximise progress and develop independence. Sally has experience in planning and delivering training courses and supervising others both clinically and managerially.

In terms of on-going professional development, Sally has a diploma in person centred counselling, the CIPD Certificate in Training Practice, has won a leadership award within her NHS Trust, been a contributing author for Mental Capacity Act content (RCSLT website)and serves as a trustee for a specialist college (safeguarding lead).

Sally is a Member of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and is HCPC registered.

Darren Evans

Behaviour Analyst / PBS Lead, Together Trust

Darren is a behaviour analyst with over 20yrs experience working with children and adults with intellectual disabilities, autism, mental health issues and challenging behaviour. His background is psychology, but he has recently completed an MSc in Applied Behaviour Analysis with a view to becoming a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst. His specialism is Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) and he is PBS lead for Bridge College, an independent specialist college catering for young people with learning disabilities, autism and other complex needs. He is also a Consultant for the Centre of Advancement of PBS for the British Institute of Learning Disabilities and a Principal Instructor for PROACT SCIPr UK. His research interests include the impact of training staff in how to prevent and manage challenging behaviour.

Ali Fiddy

Chief Executive, IPSEA

Ali is the Chief Executive of IPSEA, a charity that provides free, independent, legally-based advice and support to families of children with special educational needs and/or a disability. Ali is a qualified solicitor with extensive casework and policy experience in the fields of education, community care, mental health and public law. Prior to joining IPSEA in 2017, she spent many years working as a senior manager in the not-for-profit sector.

Georgie Ford

Lead Specialist Practitioner in Mental Health, Weston College

After qualifying in Psychology, Georgie has worked in the mental health field for the past 14 years, beginning as a senior lead in an acute residential unit for those with Schizophrenia. Since leaving the acute mental health field she have lectured and examined in the field of Psychology and completed a Masters’ Degree in the leadership and management of education. Georgies' interests lie in the blending of mental health and education and she is currently undertaking doctoral level research in conjunction with UWE Bristol on the role of FE colleges in Mental Health.  Georgie is a member of the British Psychological Society and has trained in the delivery of dialectical behaviour therapy, she is also a mental health first aid instructor and trains people in emotional literacy.

Tracy Gillett

Head of Education at Condover College

Tracy is currently the head of an Independent Specialist College and has a master’s degree in ‘Special Education Needs and Inclusion’. She 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.

Dr Liz Hodges

Senior Lecturer, University of Birmingham, Lead Practitioner, Hertfordshire SENDAS
Dr Liz

Liz Hodges has been working in the field of deafblindness for 30 years, since the government recognised deafblindness/multisensory impairment as a special educational need in 1989.  She has worked as a classroom teacher, a manager of education services, and now combines work as a specialist advisory teacher with being senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham where she trains teachers, lecturers and other professionals in deafblindness/MSI and education.  She has worked throughout the (education) age range; from birth to further education  and develops her interests in communication, orientation and mobility and sensory impairment through her research, writing and doing the job as a specialist teacher. 

Carol Honeini

Advanced Practitioner - Internship Manager, Seashell Trust

Carol has worked with children and young people with SEN for over 30 years. Carol started her role at the Seashell Trust 19 years ago, initially as a Learning Support Assistant and working her way through the ranks to Teaching in the ASC Department for 14 years. Throughout this time she was the Vocational Co-Ordinator for onsite and offsite work experience placements. Carol was also the College Governor for 11 years and for the last 6 years she has been an Advanced Practitioner and the Adapted Supported Internship Manager.

Clare Howard

Natspec Chief Executive

Clare Howard became Chief Executive of Natspec in January 2016, following 6 years at the Association of Colleges and 25 years’ experience in the public, private and voluntary sectors.  Clare has worked with special schools, specialist colleges, local authorities and national disability organisations and her specialisms include organisational development, developing strategies, funding bids, training, change management and governance projects.

Clare has a passion for further education and for services for people with learning difficulties and disabilities and is working to sustain and develop the role and contribution of Natspec and promote the achievements of its member organisations.

Carla Jackson

National Lead - Safeguarding, National Star

Carla has worked within Children’s Safeguarding for 14 years and been employed at National Star for over 3 years. As National Lead for Safeguarding, Carla is responsible for Safeguarding at both operational and strategic level. She has worked in partnership with a range of external agencies including the Department for Education, Serious and Organised Crime and the NHS to support policy change, and has delivered presentations on the outcomes and impact at a number of care forums. As part of her role she is also Head of the Emotional Wellbeing Service staffed by a Clinical Psychologist, Behaviour Practitioners and Music and Drama Therapists.

Sue Jeffries

National Lead – Recruitment and Assessment, National Star

During her career Sue has worked in mainstream education, adult social care, Local Authority commissioning and is now the National Lead for Recruitment and Assessment at National Star. She has extensive experience working with adults and young people with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs, with over 20 years working in the sector. Sue contributed towards a publication which enables professionals to work more effectively with adults with autism in an aging population and has spoken at several conferences during her time working in the field of Autism. She has recently set up an admissions network for Natspec members which meets ½ termly at colleges across the country, this group aims to share good practice. In this ever changing world of EHCPs, tribunals and commissioning challenges a peer support network within our specialist area of work will hopefully prove to be mutually beneficial. Sue would welcome contact from anyone interested in joining this network forum.

Angela Johnson

Parent to Ellen

Angela Johnson is a parent who will be running the intensive interaction workshop with Peter Vickers. Angela’s daughter, despite complex needs, has benefitted firstly from Intensive Interaction techniques but secondly and most importantly by holding on closely to an Aspiration that just had to be achieved, whatever the difficulties. 

When Angela's daughter Ellen was diagnosed at 4 years old, the family threw ourselves into finding out as much as they could. Angela undertook training in Child Development up to Foundation Degree level to best help Ellen develop. Other training involved, Earlybirds with the National Autistic Society, PECS and Makaton and more recently Intensive Interaction.

Angela and her family use intuition and Intensive Interaction every day to assist communication with Ellen, and a never say never attitude to life.

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

Independent Careers Consultant / Trainer and Developer, Careers Alliance and Seeds of Change

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 19 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 led the 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. 

With over 19 years’ experience in the field of careers guidance working with a range of schools, specialist schools and senior leads Emma has specialist knowledge of working with young people with complex multiple barriers and SEND students. 

Emma currently works as a freelance Careers guidance consultant working in a range of specialist schools delivering IAG to young people and consultancy services.  Emma has developed creative resources to help engage young people through her company ‘The Seeds of Change’ who have been commissioned to develop bespoke pieces of work for institutions around engagement, self-awareness, future planning, preparations for adulthood as well as delivering training to staff and young people around change, empowerment and careers development.

David Lucas

Principal Associate, acl consulting

After initially training as an accountant, David switched to research and consultancy in the early 1990s, initially with PwC (where he and John first worked together); subsequently, after his co-founding of acl in 1999, on projects commissioned under the acl logo.

acl is a relatively small provider of research and consultancy services, primarily to the post-16 education, learning and skills sectors. Clients include government departments, their NDPBs, executive agencies and non-ministerial departments, local authorities, individual providers and sector representative bodies, including Natspec and the LGA. The procurement, contracting, funding and costing of post-16 provision – both in general and specifically for SPIs – have become a focus for much of acl’s recent work.

Fil McIntyre

Lead Assistive Technologist, TechAbility / Beaumont College

Fil is passionate about the advantages the right technology can give to enhance life, communication and learning.  He has provided training in assistive technology hardware and software to a wide range of professionals from schools, colleges, universities, charities and healthcare. 

Fil works as one of TechAbility’s Assistive Technologists, consulting with colleges about their Assistive Technology provision and future requirements.  In addition to his TechAbility role, Fil is the Lead Assistive Technologist at Beaumont College in Lancaster where he manages a team which assesses and supports students, so they 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.   Other positions Fil has held in this field are part of Inclusive Technology delivering Training and Consultancy in schools, colleges and care services across the UK and Assistive Technologist at Seashell Trust School and College in Manchester.

Gareth D Morewood

Educational Advisor: Studio III
Gareth D

Gareth D Morewood is the Educational Advisor for Studio III.  Previously he has worked for 25 years in UK 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 has extensive ‘front-line’ experience supporting schools, families and working directly with young people in the UK and abroad; most recently Chile, Dubai, Portugal, Scandinavia and Ireland.

Gareth has a significant body of published works, films and resources, which can be found on his website. He also runs the SENCology blog.

As part of his role as an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Manchester Gareth has worked on a range of projects; predominantly to do with the inclusion of young people with complex needs and in supporting autistic learners in their local schools as part of the wider inclusion agenda.

Gareth is Co-Director of the Studio III LASER Programme, which fuses his critically acclaimed Saturation Model (Morewood, Humphrey & Symes, 2011) with Low Arousal approaches (McDonnell & Deveau, 2018) as part of a system-led model of inclusive practice.  The first LASER courses will run during 2020.

Follow him on Twitter: @gdmorewood

Ruth Perry

Senior Policy Manager, Natspec

Ruth Perry joined Natspec as Policy Officer in January 2017, following 10 years working as an independent consultant specialising in post-16 SEND provision.  Prior to that she was the strategic lead for Foundation Learning at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.  Ruth’s role at Natspec includes lobbying and advocacy on behalf of Natspec members and more broadly for young people with SEND, as well as supporting quality improvement amongst colleges and managing the Natspec Transform CPD offer. 

Ruth believes passionately that young people with learning difficulties and disabilities have the right to high-quality education and training, to exciting options for their future including employment, and to have their voices heard.

Richard Tither

HMI, Estyn

Richard Tither joined Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales, as an HMI in 2015.  He works across a wide range of sectors, including maintained and independent special schools, further education colleges, independent specialist colleges and secondary schools.  Richard is also the lead officer within Estyn for independent special schools, independent specialist colleges, and additional learning needs.  Prior to joining Estyn, Richard taught for many years and held a variety of senior management roles in maintained secondary schools and special education.

Pete Vickers

Retired Supported Employment Manager

Pete has worked in the Yorkshire region as a Special Needs careers advisor, lecturer, teacher trainer and programme manager. Most of the last twenty years have been in defending and developing non accredited programmes and Supported employment for young adults with high support needs. He has a strong partnership with parents and at our Conference in May will be running a workshop alongside Angela Johnston.  

Katherine Watson

Advanced Practitioner – ASC Course Manager, Seashell Trust

Katherine has worked with children and young people for over 14 years, specialising in special education and health. Katherine started her career as a paediatric nurse, before developing her role as a teacher. Katherine has worked at Seashell Trust for over 7 years in various roles. Katherine has worked with a range of students enhancing the colleges work experience and employment opportunities. Katherine has worked with several business around work placements and training for the learners at Seashell. Katherine now manages the Autism course within the college and has a keen and passionate drive in developing the world of work for SEND learners.

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