In-house training 2017

Inspiring – we are small but enthusiastic training team, who love to share our expertise in all things sensory!

Dynamic – we love our subject and understand how to deliver this in a way which motivates & drives your staff. Training is not just about the sharing of knowledge and expertise – it’s about successful and memorable presentation and performance.

Expertise – ours is based upon well over 25 years of practical knowledge, giving us the insight into what works, and more importantly what doesn’t, in multi sensory practice. Regular ‘hands on’ sessions with children and adults, in a variety of multi sensory settings, enable us to maintain this high level of excellent practice.

Motivational  – our training is empowering and confidence-boosting, encouraging staff to develop and expand their repertoire of effective sensory learning & communication strategies in a wide variety of situations.

Call 01524 42 63 95

email –

237 Heysham Rd, Heysham, Lancashire, LA3 1NN

Ongoing Support

We can provide a series of  in-house training and ‘hands on’ sessions over time for your school/setting.  Following ‘hands on’ input, we can deliver a twilight session to further consolidate staff learning.  We work closely with Clive Smith, Chris Barson, Russell Smith and Naomi Rosenberg; all of whom are able to deliver dynamic & bespoke training for you.

Training Days and Twilight Sessions

Our in-house training packages are ‘bespoke’ – focusing on what you really need to develop a great skill base in multi sensory practise.  Each of the sessions below can be delivered as a twilight session, or as part of a full day’s training.  These are a few examples of topics that we can offer.

An introduction to Sensory Learning including learning styles & understanding sensory loss and it’s implications.

Using a multi sensory room effectively looking at the key pieces of multi sensory equipment and how to maximise the impact of this room or space on an individual’s learning.

Sensory on a shoestring – Sensory equipment doesn’t have to be expensive!   There are many things from pound shops and, of course, suppliers like ‘Ikea’ which can be used in sensory sessions. We always have new and innovative ideas for ‘sensory on a shoestring’.

Sensory Approaches to Autism – for sensory ‘seekers’ or ‘avoiders’, we share how to  develop positive sensory environments to promote engagement & learning.

Sensory Techniques for PMLD & SLD (pre-formal and semi-formal) – Understanding why these learners need sensory stimulation is key knowledge when planning and conducting sensory sessions.

How to complete a sensory audit an experiential session exploring your school & corridors with a simulated visual impairment, followed by practical suggestions/ideas for creating more explicit sensory environments.

Communication – This is a very big subject, however, understanding why sensory approaches to communication are paramount in a learner’s life is the underpinning of all our targets and goals.

Understanding visual and hearing loss – This session will have a big impact on your team’s awareness of sensory loss and its impact on communication and learning.

Sensory Stories – There is much more to sensory stories than picking up a book and reading. It needs to be a multi sensory experience and this session shows you how.

iPads in SEN how to use this device to promote sensory learning, communication and interaction – without downloading a thousand apps!

iPads & switch access – using switches with your iPad will increase accessibility to communication, environmental control & more.  This session will guide you through how to develop switch access using your iOS device.

Sensory Issues and challenging Behaviour – we explore an alternative sensory  perspective to the traditional approach to challenging behaviour.  How can we use sensory strategies and techniques to reduce this barrier to learning?

Assessment & Target settinghow to assess sensory skills, devise appropriate sensory targets and introducing a systematic system of measuring progress towards these targets.

‘Resonance and Clonker’ boards  – From Lycra loops, curriculum links, beads, stories and much more, you’ll have a greater range of ideas at your fingertips to integrate your resonance board into everyday learning activities.

P1 – P4 and the P4 – P8 Curriculum – Hirstwood Training are proud to present the special education curriculum from Fountaindale School. This course is split into two, P1 – P4 for pre-formal learners and P4 – P8 for semi-formal learners. The team focus on making the curriculum fun again.

Hands on training

As well as the INSET/lecture training format, we are able to offer an even more bespoke, individualised type of ‘hands on’ training.

By working ‘hands on’ with your pupils/service users and staff on an individual/small group basis in the multi sensory room/space, we can offer specific advice on how to develop new skills & techniques to enhance individuals’ learning experiences.  

As well as developing new sensory learning techniques and strategies for staff to use, this type of session could be used to identify new targets & develop new schemes of sensory work or a bespoke action plan for specific individuals, demonstrating and explaining the rationale behind the strategy.  Working ‘hands on’ allows us to share effectively how to successfully use the equipment & technology that you already have.

We’re also happy to advise on how to link activities in the sensory room with sensory learning opportunities outside of it – giving staff lots of ideas for developing small scale sensory environments.  We can also share ideas on how to embed iPads/mobile technology within this.

We often film our ‘hands on’ sessions – meaning that you can review/discuss the video after the day, to further develop ideas & interventions.

The tutor team

Richard Hirstwood is the founder and principal tutor for Hirstwood Training. His training courses have, and continue to be, experienced worldwide. His extensive experience is based on practical knowledge, giving him insight into what works and what doesn’t in multi sensory practice. Regular sessions with children and adults with autism and all additional needs in a variety of multi sensory rooms, and more recently iPads, enable him to maintain this level of excellent practice. His YouTube channels are viewed by over one million people every year and he constantly updates his ideas movies and papers. He was the co-author of ‘The practical guide to multi sensory rooms’ in 1995 and has continued to create both offline and online content, his latest being a 7 hour online training course for iPads. His enthusiasm for his subject and his sensory skills are endless!

Clive Smith is a principal tutor with Hirstwood Training and has well over 30 years’ experience working with children and adults with Autism and additional needs. Clive has specialised in visual loss, pre-formal learner’s (PMLD/SLD), autism and behavioural support over his long career. His input into the book ‘Dual Sensory Impairment’ in 1995 with Richard was one of first books in the UK to feature a chapter on multi sensory rooms and learning. Clive’s work with education authorities throughout his career has given him plenty of hands on experience. Many of Clive’s papers are featured heavily on the Hirstwood Training website and his practical and formal experience is in demand all over the U.K.

Naomi Rosenberg has been a specialist Teacher of the Deaf for learners with complex needs, with twenty years’ experience. During this time, she has created & adapted a massive wealth of activities to bring music and communication to life. Naomi specialises in learners who are ‘hardest to reach’, with varying degrees of sensory impairments, autism and pre formal learners. Naomi has worked with Hirstwood Training for 5 years and hosts innovative courses on varied subjects such as dance massage, clonker or resonance boards and sensory gardens. All of which are a fantastic complement to the technological approach of many of our other courses. Naomi is a lively & imaginative presenter, she is a Sensory Consultant & initiator of ‘Dance Massage’.

Chris Barson founded ‘Positive about Autism’ in January 2009. Prior to that Chris was the External Training Manager with the National Autistic Society in the United Kingdom. Chris has contributed to the design and delivery of courses provided by

Canterbury Christ Church University, University of Cumbria, Open University and Napier University Edinburgh.  Chris went to work at the Royal College of General Practitioners, in 2000, where he managed professional development and quality programmes.  Chris is a contributing author to ‘The Autism Spectrum in the 21st Century: Exploring Psychology, Biology and Practice’ Jessica Kingsley Press 2010 (Highly Commended 2011 BMA Medical Book Awards) His wealth of experience in the field of autism has made him a major asset to Hirstwood Training. Chris is often featured on Hirstwood Training’s YouTube channel and his video work with Richard is of the highest quality. Chris is also a fantastic and dynamic presenter with a lively but informative style.

Russell Smith has over a decade of experience in lecturing, teaching, training and supporting people with a range of disabilities and impairments. He started out as a photography and multimedia lecturer at an SEN College in Coventry, where he was responsible for the planning and delivery of photography and multimedia courses. Russell moved on to work for Widgit Software, and spent time in their office as a technical support and sales agent, later moving out into onsite training and staff development. He created some of the Widgit resources still on sale today! Most recently, Russell, along with his father Steve, have set up ‘Dad in a Shed’, which provides innovative low cost options for people requiring AAC and specialist support. Dad In Also provides training and support and joined Hirstwood Training to provide high quality AAC sessions around the country.


Our in-house days usually run from 9.30-3.30pm.   We will arrive about 8.15am to set up for a 9.30am start.   All the multi sensory equipment required to facilitate the training is supplied. We’ll need a projection screen (or a white wall!) and somewhere to park.  You can also delve into our collection of ‘sensory on a shoestring’ resources – don’t forget your cameras! You will receive a postcard our website address – so that you can access the constantly changing information on our ever expanding website, long after we have gone!

We love you to get in touch with others by calling +44 1524 42 63 95

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