SEMH Conference

Assessing the challenge of mental well-being logo

This collaborative day will share good practise, practical insights and reflect upon the implications of mental health issues in schools and at home. With some of the UK’s most engaging speakers,  you will leave the day with a more in depth knowledge of issues in SEMH, an understanding of additional coping strategies for pupils with low self esteem/anxiety/depression as well as strategies to embed SEMH related learning within the curriculum.  We will explore how to improve the emotional resiliance of the individuals we work with and look to how closer liaison with other agencies can create a more holistic approach to SEMH.

Who will be presenting?

When & where?

1 December 2017 – The Wesley Hotel, London

Who should attend?

This will be appropriate for senior leaders, middle leaders and classroom practitioners from special schools and colleges, mainstream settings & those with specialist SEN provision and early years settings, who are working with pupils with PMLD/CLDD & Autism.

Times & housekeeping.

We will beging from 8.30am for registration and refreshments, with the conference beginning at 9.30am.  We will finish at 4pm.


Early Worm Tickets – Sold Out.

Early Bird Tickets – Sold out.

Standard Tickets – £325 plus VAT.

Richard Aird OBE has well proven, outstanding credentials that readily endorse his competencies as a first class consultant in the area of special educational needs and disability (SEND).  He draws on the invaluable experience he gained from leading four special schools in the maintained and non-maintained sectors during a headship career spanning three decades; including three successive outstanding inspection judgements gained on behalf of his last school and a personal standard of school leadership never falling below Grade 1.   Richard  remains absolutely committed to the SEND sector and enjoys working with individuals, schools and other organisations to achieve positive outcomes on behalf of the country’s most complex and vulnerable children and adults.  Richard is regularly invited to provide expert advice to the Department for Education (DfE) most recently as a member of the Rochford Review Rochford Review of statutory assessment for pupils working below the level of National Curriculum tests.

Joanna Grace is an international sensory engagement and inclusion specialist, trainer, author and founder of The Sensory Projects.
Consistently rated as Outstanding by Ofsted, Joanna has taught in mainstream and special school settings, connecting with pupils of all ages and abilities. Joanna has also worked as a consultant in adult care settings. To inform her work, Joanna draws on her own experience from her private and professional life as well as taking in all the information she can from the research archives. Joanna’s private life includes family members with profound disabilities and time spent as a registered foster carer for children with profound disabilities.
Joanna’s first book Sensory Stories for children and teens sells globally, her second  Sensory-being for Sensory Beings was published in June to a great reception and she has a further five books due for publication by the end of 2018, including four children’s books.
Joanna is a big fan of social media and is always happy to connect with people via FacebookTwitter and Linkedin

Robyn Steward is autistic. She is 30 years old and has worked in Autism for over 13 years. She is a Visiting Research Associate at CRAE (Centre for Research in Autism and Education) at the Institute of Education, University College London.  She is also a NAS (National Autistic Society) Ambassador and in 2013 had a book published by Jessica Kingsley called “The independent  woman’s handbook for super safe living on the autistic spectrum.”

Barry Carpenter CBE, OBE is Honorary Professor at universities in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Australia. He has been a Fellow of the University of Oxford.

Barry has been awarded Fellowships of the Royal Societies of Arts and Medicine. He has been awarded an OBE and  CBE by the Queen for services to children with Special Needs.

In 2017 he was entered into ‘Who’s Who’, in acknowledgement of his national and international contribution to the field of Special Education.

In a career spanning more than 30 years, Barry has held the leadership positions of Academic Director, Chief Executive, Principal,, Inspector of Schools and Director of the Centre for Special Education at Westminster College, Oxford. In 2009, he was appointed by the Secretary of State for Education as Director of the Children with Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Research Project. Since completing that research, Barry has overseen the development of a national project developing online ‘Training materials for teachers of children with severe, profound and complex learning disabilities’.

He is the author of over 150 articles and many texts on a range of  learning disability/special needs topics .In the last 12 months, his work has been translated into German, French, Dutch and Russian. His most recent book publications (with Carolyn Blackburn and Jo Egerton) focus upon Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). In  2015 he co authored a book on Children with Complex Needs.

Barry lectures nationally and internationally,. In recent years this has included China, Japan, Abu Dhabi, Norway, Australia and New Zealand.  He is the co founder of the National Forum for Neuroscience in Special Education. For the Mental Health Foundation he Chaired the National Inquiry into the Mental Health of Young People with Learning Disabilities. He is currently Chairing a working group looking at the needs of Girls on the Autism Spectrum , which will be the focus of his next book..

Barry has 3 children – one a Vice Principal , one a Senior Occupational Therapist , and a daughter with Down’s syndrome , who now has a home of her own and is a qualified Waitress.

Outlines of Presentations.

Richard Aird OBE: Responding to the mental health needs of pupils with SEND and the promotion of social and emotional literacy.

Recent years have seen an increase in mental health concerns being highlighted on behalf of pupils with SEND.  Pupils with learning disabilities are  6 times more likely to present with a mental health difficulty than other children (Emerson and Hatton, 2007) and 70% of children with ASD will have a mental health concern at some time (National Autistic Society, 2010).  Despite these statistics schools are reporting increasing difficulties obtaining support from CAMHS and very often it is down to teachers to provide the specialised support which pupils with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) difficulties require. The Code of Practice (2015) has made SEMH a discreet area of need for which schools ought now to be providing specialist interventions, but such interventions should no longer be restricted to behaviour management approaches in isolation. The teaching of emotional literacy, resilience and relationships all need to feature in the curriculum on offer to pupils with SEND and this workshop has been designed to help participants understand the ways in which SEMH can be promoted within teaching and learning.

Intended Outcomes for Participants

  •      An overview of SEMH characteristics in pupils with SEND;
  •      Appreciation of how SEMH needs to be embedded in whole school management;
  •      An understanding of the skills and concepts included SEMH curricula;
  •      The consolidation of PSHE within specialist provision for SEMH;
  •      Suggestions about how SEMH related learning can be organised within the whole curriculum;
  •      Advice about how engagement for learning links with SEMH;
  •      Suggestions about holistic working and partnership with other agencies.

Joanna Grace: Sensory engagement for mental well being – Tiny choices: Big Impact

In this session Jo Grace from The Sensory Projects will share three sensory strategies that you can use immediately to support the mental well being of people with profound disabilities. Jo will show us how the tiny choices we make when it comes to facilitating sensory stimuli can have a big impact on the mental well being of those individuals experiencing the resources being shared.

Jo will also be looking at how sensory engagement supports our own well being, as well as the well being of those in our care, and how an engagement with the sensory world could even keep us young!

Robyn Steward: Breaking Down Emotions.

Autistic people can see the world in a very different way to non autistic people.   An autistic person’s experience may take their emotions to their extremes, and sometimes this can make behaviour difficult to understand. With her insights as a lady on the autism spectrum, Robyn shares her thoughts on behaviour which may be difficult to manage.

Barry Carpenter CBE, OBE: Decoding Mental Health; Promoting Positive Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being in Schools.

Mental health is the most pervasive and co-occurring of all complex needs. The British Medical Association estimate that  2 in 10 of all young people experience some form of mental ill health during adolescence. In the realms of Autism, this is much higher at around 60% of all ASD young people during adolescence.

There is a major impetus through Royal patronage, political initiatives, and a raft of influential reports, to address the mental health of all children.

In children and young people with special educational needs, there are at least two or three times as many with some form of mental health need. The new DfE Code of Practice has at long last given an official focus for schools on Mental Health with the creation of the designated area of Social, Emotional and Mental Health. How do schools keep their children emotionally strong? How do we develop a curriculum framework around emotional well-being? How does the Engagement Profile support our pupils with SEMH? What pedagogy will facilitate the development of emotional resilience in our children with SEN?

An overarching aim of this presentation will be to provide schools with signposts to begin this journey, for and with our children.

Conference Programme

9.30am – 9.45am Welcome & Introductions by the Chair – Richard Hirstwood

9.45am – 11am Morning Keynote

Barry Carpenter CBE, OBE – Decoding Mental Health; Promoting Positive Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being in Schools.

11am  – 11.30am COFFEE

11.30am – 12.30pm 

Joanna Grace  Sensory Engagement for Mental Wellbeing – Tiny choices: Big Impact

12.30pm – 1.30pm LUNCH & networking

1.30pm – 2.30pm

Robyn Steward Breaking Down Emotions.

2.30pm TEA

2.45pm – 4pm Afternoon Keynote

Richard Aird, OBE  Responding to the mental health needs of pupils with SEND and the promotion of social and emotional literacy.

4.00pm – Plenary

4.15pm – Close & Farewell!