SEND Curriculum Conference

Leading & managing the changing landscape for learners with complex needs working below the standard of national curriculum tests: addressing priorities in 21st century.


Mixing academics and practical practitioners will give delegates the understanding and the practical knowhow to further develop your SEN Curriculum at practitioner & management levels, whether you are in a special/mainstream school or an EYFS setting.

Hearing the people who influence critical legislation and their advice on how to translate this into meaningful strategies for your school, means that this conference will send you away with the knowledge, skills and tools to move forward with new freedom and purpose.

Speakers – Professor Barry Carpenter CBE, OBE, PhD; Richard Aird OBE, Peter Imray, Jan Collins and Kelly Fedun.

Chair – Richard Hirstwood.

When and where?

20 March 2017 – Birmingham

Who Should attend:

This conference is for senior leaders, middle leaders & classroom practitioners from special and mainstream schools or EYFS settings, who are interested in cutting edge curriculum development in the UK education system in 2017.


EARLY BIRD TICKETS cost £295 plus VAT per place before 17 February 2017.

STANDARD TICKETS cost £325 plus VAT per place after 17 March 2017.

Course notes:

All relevant documents will be online unless presented on the day.

Times & housekeeping: 

The day begins from 8.30am for coffee and registration, with the Conference starting at 9.30am. We will finish at 4.15pm. All refreshments & lunch will be provided.

Testimonial – December 2016.

‘quite inspirational!’ – L. B, Kingsdown School

‘I wanted to attend all of the workshops – the quality of what was delivered was so good!’ – JW, Foxwood School

‘a fantastic and thought provoking day’ – SH, Wilson Stuart School

‘keynotes were excellent’ – JK – Linwood School

‘absolutely fantastic – great pace!’ – CA, Newham

‘current and relevant information presented in a simple & accessible way’ – SJ, The Village School

The Keynotes - Speakers and Outlines

New Landscapes in Childhood Disability – A Call to Action.

In the last decade teachers have consistently reported changes in the population of children with disabilities and learning difficulties. The term ‘Complex Needs’ has arisen and is widely used to describe this new generation of children.

Research from various disciplines has also recorded significant shifts in the profile of children’s needs, often resulting from new causal bases e.g. prematurity, alcohol or drug abuse, medical interventions, rare syndromes.  This keynote will explore what this means for the world of Education.

The UK Government’s Education Department funded project, on children with Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities, has charted the education pathways of this group of learners across a range of schools in the U.K., and internationally. These approaches are immediately relevant to the issues considered by the Rochford Review into assessment for pupils working below the level of national curriculum tests, including those with severe and profound learning difficulties.  With a key focus on engagement in learning, new evidence has emerged on effective educational practice which will support and guide schools and teachers, and enhance educational opportunities for this group of learners. This initiative is driving a pedagogy built on engagement, leading to personalised pathways to learning for students with Complex Needs.

Improving SEND related provision on behalf of complex learners in response to the Rochford Review.

This keynote presentation will give a practical appreciation of the transformative practice necessary for developing effective provision for pupils with complex learning difficulties and disabilities. The content will consider strategies that can be used to undertake a challenge analysis of SEND issues within the areas of visionary planning, curriculum design, assessment without levels and whole school management.  The importance of clarity of purpose, disseminated leadership, empowerment and accountability will feature throughout the presentation which will also include a reflection on the ever present requirement to produce and act upon pupil performance data.  Of particular note will be the moral imperative for schools to ensure that pupils with SEND and learning difficulties acquire the skills, knowledge and resilience to have a fulfilled and participating lifestyle.

Anticipated Outcomes

  • Clarity of purpose in the design of specialist SEND provision in relation to complex learners
  • Awareness about essential areas of transformative practice which leaders need to plan for in response to legislative change;
  • Practical understanding and appreciation of the importance of child centred leadership;
  • Awareness of strategies that can be used to inform and embed a culture for change, empower key players and counter resistance.

Speaker biographies & Workshop outlines

Barry Carpenter, OBE – ‘Engagement: from Assessment to Personalisation.’

The New Code of Practice on SEND (DfE, 2015) brings many challenges in terms of skills teachers will need to educate the increasing new generation of children with Complex Needs. Mental Health, for example, is an area where the profession has no pedagogical history, and our professional learning in this area has to scaffolded from a basis of sound principles into meaningful practise.

The DFE – funded Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Research Project discovered that Engagement was the most effective approach for teaching children with Complex Needs. The Engagement Profile and Scale (EPS) evolved as an evidence based tool for developing personalised approaches to assessment, teaching and learning. The validity of the EPS came through its multiple trials, in multiple schools with multiple teachers, across the UK and internationally.

The Complex Needs on line training materials offers professional learning opportunities in key areas of 21st Century Special Needs Teaching (  Our repertoire of teaching approaches must continue to change and diversify as our children and young people with SEND change and diversify. The answers will rest with the ability of the teaching workforce to upskill itself from within, through systematic and deductive, evidence based initiatives, reported with rigour throughout the community of schools. Teaching Schools have a major role to play here if we are to preserve the intellectual integrity of our profession and our capacity to serve Society’s most vulnerable children.


Professor Barry Carpenter is Honorary Professor at the Universities of Worcester (UK), Limerick (Ireland), Hamburg (Germany), and Flinders (Australia) .

In a career spanning more than 30 years, Barry has held the leadership positions of Academic Director, Chief Executive, Principal, Headteacher, 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 on-line training materials for teachers of children with severe, profound and complex learning disabilities.

The author of over 100 articles on a variety of topics in special educational needs, he has won the prestigious Times award for his co-edited book ‘Enabling Access’. With Jo Egerton and Carolyn Blackburn, he has prepared the first British and European text on the education of children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. He is currently writing a book on “Children with Complex Needs.”

Barry lectures nationally and internationally. Most recently he has given lectures in Russia, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Turkey and Norway . He is currently acting as Lead Consultant  to the South Australian Department of Education and Children’s Services.

He has been awarded Fellowships of the Royal Societies of Arts and Medicine, and was created O.B.E. by the Queen for services to children with special needs.

Barry has 3 children – one a teacher, one an occupational therapist, and a daughter who has Down’s syndrome and now has a home of her own.

Richard Aird OBE – ‘Issues which prompted the commissioning of the Rochford Review (the review of assessment for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests) in respect to pupils with profound, multiple and complex learning difficulties’

This workshop will explore the issues which prompted the commissioning of the Rochford Review and the challenge posed to its members in seeking solutions to issues such as:

Equal rights and inclusivity within statutory assessment;
The compatibility of statutory assessment requirements with other statutory SEND legislation pertinent to complex learners;
Whether the P scale levels remain fit for purpose
An opportunity will be provided for delegates to consider what strategies they would choose to adopt in responding to these issues if current statutory requirements were no longer viable.

Anticipated Outcomes:

Better understanding about the issues pertaining to the use of P scale levels in the statutory assessment of complex learners;
Appreciation of how schools might undertake the assessment of complex learners to better implement the ambitions of the SEND Code of Practice and Children & Families Act;
Better awareness of how changes in school management can be undertake strategically to achieve successful outcomes and overcome resistance


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.

Peter Imray – ‘Hitting the Target but Missing the Point’

This workshop is an exploration of what matters in curriculum and assessment for children, young people and adults with PMLD and SLD. We will:

  • clinically assess the 28 year experiment of the National Curriculum and ask if it has succeeded or failed our learners;
  • analyse why those with PMLD and SLD learn so differently that differentiation is not enough;
  • explore what can replace the traditional subject based curricula;
  • put forward a clear intellectual vision and practical end goals which all schools can embrace through the adoption of a capability approach to intellectual disability.


Peter Imray is an independent trainer, advisor and writer in the area of special educational needs, who’s current interests revolve around pedagogy, curriculum and assessment  relating to SLD and PMLD. Peter’s first book, Turning the Tables on Challenging Behaviour, was published by Routledge in 2008, and his new book (written with Viv Hinchcliffe) entitled Curricula for Teaching Children and Young People with Severe or Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties, was published, again by Routledge, in 2014.

Kelly Fedun – ‘From a SLD curriculum to a semi-formal curriculum.’

Kelly Fedun, Assistant Headteacher at Fountaindale Specialist SEN School, will explore how Barry Carpenter’s ‘premise and challenge our 21st century learners present to schools’ can lead to curriculum change and new ways of assessing learning for pupils with severe and complex learning difficulties. Kelly will take you on the school’s journey from subject based learning and P-scale  assessment to thematic learning that assesses pupils’ thinking skills, early learning or pre-requisite skills and play as a vehicle for understanding social and emotional development using the school’s STEP assessment tool. She will also explore the questions – Maths or mathematical thinking?; English or communication and literacy?; Science or thinking scientifically?


Kelly Fedun studied at Keele University as a Conductor, then spending a year at the Peto Institute in Hungary.  During the next 10 years in a special school in Lichfield, she practised both as a Conductor and class teacher.  Working across school, from EYFS to 6th Form, her main focus was KS2/P4 – P8.  In that time, she developed schemes of work for English, Sensory Motor and Conductive Education.  Four years ago she moved to Fountaindale as Assistant Headteacher for the Semi Formal Curriculum strand and head of New Technologies.  Once again,  Kelly  has worked across EYFS and both pre-formal and semi-formal curriculums, whilst developing Fountaindale’s  Semi Formal Curriculum.

Jan Collins – ‘Play and its central role in learning for pre-formal learners with CLDD’

Jan Collins, Assistant Headteacher at Fountaindale Specialist SEN School, will outline how their pre-formal curriculum was developed, which begins with the learner and embeds pre-requisite skills and play within the curriculum.  She will explore how this play-based curriculum enables pupils’ personalised learning needs to be met within a creative curriculum and their progress to be assessed and recorded through Routes for Learning and Fountaindale’s own Play Route Map. Jan will also share the rationale and practicalities behind this  assessment process and you will have the opportunity to use these assessment tools with video evidence.


Since arriving at Fountaindale in 2003, Jan Collins has developed her skills set working with children with complex learning, physical & sensory disabilities. Understanding their uniqueness, their resilience, their capacity to learn & their amazing personalities inspired the resolve to bring change for her most complex learners.  Working alongside colleagues, she has created a curriculum that begins with them as individual learners. By concentrating on enabling play in an environment which strives to remove barriers to play, the development of thinking, communication, movement & social skills is facilitated.

Taking a huge leap of faith; we went (& are still on) a steep learning journey, both for our children & for ourselves. From learning about the earliest stages of play, communication & physical development and translating that into a meaningful pre-formal curriculum…not forgetting how to assess it all accurately!

Conference Programme.

9.30am – 9.40am Welcome & Introductions by the Chair – Richard Hirstwood

9.45am – 11am Morning Keynote

Barry Carpenter, OBE – ‘New Landscapes in Childhood Disability – A Call to Action.’

11am  – 11.30am COFFEE

11.30am – 12.30pm Morning Workshops

Peter Imray – ‘Hitting the Target but Missing the Mark.’

Jan Collins – ‘Play and it’s central role in learning for pre-formal learners with CLDD.’

Kelly Fedun – ‘From a SLD curriculum to a semi-formal curriculum.’

Richard Aird, OBE – ‘Issues which dominated the Rochford Review (the review of assessment for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests) and the rationale underpinning its recommendations for complex learners.’

12.30pm – 1.30pm LUNCH & networking

1.30pm – 2.30pm Choice of afternoon Workshops

Peter Imray – ‘Hitting the Target but Missing the Mark.’

Jan Collins – ‘Play and it’s central role in learning for pre-formal learners with CLDD.’

Barry Carpenter, OBE – ‘Engagement – from Assessment to Personalisation.’

Kelly Fedun – ‘From a SLD curriculum to a semi-formal curriculum.’

2.30pm – 2.45pm TEA

2.45pm – 4.00pm Afternoon Keynote

Richard Aird, OBE – ‘Improving SEND related provision on behalf of complex learners in response to the Rochford Review.’

4.00pm – 4.15pm Professor Barry Carpenter – ‘Future Directions’

4.15pm – Close & Farewell!

This was the London conference.