The SEND & Inclusion conference

Achieving better outcomes for all pupils
Friday 24th November 2023

Session content

Descriptions of the main themes and topics that our speakers intend to cover in their sessions are outlined below to assist you in gaining a strong overview of the conference and to help you choose the workshop sessions that best suit your needs and areas of interest:

OPENING KEYNOTE: The 3Es of Inclusion: How to make the classroom work for every child
Speaker:  Matt Bromley
Our opening keynote will be led by Matt Bromley – SecEd’s most prolific contributor who has written more than 150 best practice articles for SecEd, who is co-host of our award-winning podcast, and a familiar face at many of our events. In this session, Matt will identity the 3Es groups of pupils for whom the classroom isn't yet inclusive and will suggest a three-part process for tackling the issue. He will argue that inclusion takes place when we have the 3Es in place - equality, equity and extension. It is about giving equal access to an ambitious curriculum; doing more for those who start with less or face barriers to learning and ensuring fair access to extra-curricular activities to prepare pupils for future success.


1A: Exploring the intersectionality between race and SEND. A call to action
 Frances Akinde
Why are students from ethnic minority backgrounds less like to be diagnosed with SEND and more likely to be excluded from school? This session with explore the intersectionality between race and SEND, and will centre on identifying the challenges underlying this issue, and propose potential solutions.

1B: Cognitive Load and the 'Challenge Equation'
Speaker: Gareth March

In this session we will consider the challenge equation, a simple means of modelling cognitive load theory. The session will focus on practical lesson-to-lesson strategies, how they help manage cognitive load, and how they can be used to support pupils with SEND.

1C: Supporting successful transitions between settings
Speaker: Sara Alston 

Successful transitions between settings, particularly between primary and secondary school require planning and effective communications between schools and families. The length of the transition process, particularly for those with SEND can mean that Y6 becomes focused on process of leaving and the move to secondary school becomes a major success of anxiety for children and families. In this session, we will at practical ways to support transitions between schools.


2A: Safeguarding our SEND children and promoting better outcomes for them and their families
Speaker: Ann Marie Christian 

We will explore how we support our SEND children alongside other key school themes, inclusion, attendance and safeguarding. Partnership working with our stakeholders is essential in gaining better outcomes for our children. Safeguarding is a whole school approach and every child matters including our SEND children, and this session will deep dive into how to overcome the challenges we face when seeking support and assessments from children social care, children with disabilities and the SEND case workers in the local authority.

2B: Building belonging as part of a school culture
Speaker: Sanum Khan

From learning names and using appropriate pronouns to the timely use of assemblies and the re-sources available in the school library, building belonging is a holistic approach to inclusion in a school. DEI Leads play an important role in shaping what this may look like but it is interwoven into every aspect of school life. Sanum will explore how to use student voice to help shape a progressive and sustainable approach to inclusion that keeps the adults as the decision makers, and why building a sense of belonging is important when seeking to motivate learners and prioritise staff wellbeing. She will offer strategies and actions that can be implemented in schools - including tweaks to classroom practice.

2C: Creating an inclusive culture in schools, and the significance of staff professional learning in impacting on outcomes
Speaker: Dr Kulvarn Atwal 

The focus of the session will be on how to plan effective whole school CPD, and Highlands Primary School will be presented as a case study school for inclusive practice. As a school, it has achieved the Mayor of London’s Schools for Success Award for five consecutive years. This award is given to the top 6% of schools in London with the highest progress for low prior attaining children – essentially, it reflects really strong inclusive practice over time. Kulvarn will argue that the greatest single factor impacting upon the quality of learning is the quality of teaching.

Afternoon KEYNOTE: Enabling autistic girls to thrive in school
Speaker: Pooky Knightsmith

In this keynote sessions, which Pooky with present with her 13 year old daughter, Lyra Hesmondhalgh, participants will step into the shoes of autistic girls and explore the opportunities and challenges that the school day presents to them. We’ll consider the steps we can take to help mitigate and navigate the challenges as well as considering how to lean into the strengths and opportunities of our autistic girls to enable them to shine.


3A: Racism, Sexism & LGBTQ+phobia: How to Address Unconscious Bias & Systemic Discrimination
Speaker: Pete Radford

This session will explore the different types of bias, the process of discrimination and its systemic nature. We will explore stereotypes, concepts of gender and the power dynamics and insecurities which perpetuate bullying and exclusion. To move forward we will look at how embracing the 10 principles of anti-discriminatory practice can pave the way to a more inclusive school culture.

3B: A regional approach to inclusion
Speaker: Sara Walton & Gianni Bianchi

In response to the growing number of pupils with additional needs and a reduction in externally provided resources, we are on a journey to develop a Trust-wide approach to be able to cater for specific needs. Our strategic intent and moral compass is to ensure that no child is left behind. As a result we aim to ensure less exclusions, less suspensions and more pupils at-tending school and accessing their curriculums.

3C: They're not my children - how SENCOs can share responsibility for SEND with colleagues
Speaker: Jean Gross CBE

How often do SENCOs hear colleagues talk to them about children with SEND as ‘your children’ (to which one SENCO smartly replied, ‘My children don’t go to this school’). This session is about how to avoid situations like this, by making sure responsibility for SEND is shared – with senior leaders, mid-dle leaders and classroom teachers. Jean will look at practice where SENCOs work in partnership with subject leaders and pastoral team to embed SEND into their everyday work.


4A:  Distinguishing between EAL and SEN
Speaker: Katherine Solomon 

Speaking EAL is not a special educational need, but learners using EAL may themselves have additional educational needs, just like learners who use English as their first language.  Specific learning needs can be difficult for school staff to identify if the learner and their parents are new to English and, schools do not always have access to guidance to help ascertain whether these pupils have a SEND in addition to their EAL status.

4B: How to build a successful SEN department from scratch
Speaker: Nicola Kenny

Is your school’s SEN provision clear, smart, and effective? Or, due to today’s ever-growing and unprecedented levels of SEN, has it become increasingly unmanageable, outdated and confusing for those with less experience to understand and navigate? Perhaps you are happy with your current offer but feel you could benefit from a few fresh ideas to aid further efficiency. If any of these statements resonate with you, please allow me to take you on the 12- month journey I took to successfully regenerate an innovative and successful SEN department, strong enough to cope with the demands of today’s SEN.

4C: Rethinking behaviour systems in schools
Speaker: Ryan Kilby and Katie Simpson 

Find out how Meadown View Farm School, which specialises in special needs, has embedded and developed a system for success that removes the need for rules and consequences and uses high expectations, knowledge and understanding of mental health and wellbeing, and anticipation and preparation, as a means of improve the life chances of children who struggle to fit in. The sessions will discuss the challenge of OFSTED, the education system and government policy and how they can have a detrimental impact on wellbeing. It will also look at the 3Rs - readiness, resilience and relationships, in a trauma-informed and systematic way.