Curriculum Conundrum Conference: post-Rochford

The Rochford Review has given schools an opportunity to develop their own, more responsive curriculum supported by in-school assessment approaches.  As leadership teams rise to this challenge, we bring together school leaders and practitioners who will share their curriculum journey in the light of the Rochford review, sharing their insight, best practise and practical strategies.

This conference is crucial for those schools who need to design and implement such a curriculum within a pupil centred, whole school framework and those who have already begun this journey.

At the end of the day you will:

understand successful strategies for designing and implementing your own curriculum

have a greater awareness of the issues/pitfalls/successes other schools have experienced developing a curriculum

take away practical strategies, curriculum innovations and best practice formats

understand how teaching and learning can be personalised for pupil engagement

This collaborative day will begin by asking how schools,  faced with the increasing challenge of meeting the needs of 21st century learners with complex learning difficulties and disabilities, can lead and manage this curriculum change as part of meeting those needs.

We will then hear from six schools, each at a different point in their curriculum journey and with a different focus, how they have addressed, managed and succeeded in making these vital curriculum changes.



9.30am Welcome & Chair’s introduction – Richard Hirstwood

9.45am – 10.45pm Leading Change: making the curriculum work for learners with SEND – Steve Phillips, Independent SEND consultant.

10.45am – 11am Coffee

11am – 12pm The Power of Engagement – Karen Lewis & Sara Clarkson, Fairfields School.

12pm – 1pm Beaumont Hill – A whole school approach to the assessment of pupils with complex and additional needs – Adrian Lynch, Beaumont Hill Academy.

1pm Lunch

2pm – 3pm An alternative approach to using the Engagement Tool: Jan Collins, Fountaindale School.

3pm TEA

3.15pm – 4.15pm ‘One size fits one‘ – the journey towards a truly integrated approach; learning what is needed and measuring what matters: Rachel Kay & Paula Barlow, Chorley Mayfield School.

4.15pm PLENARY

4.30pm Close of day!


9.30am Welcome & Chair’s introduction – Richard Hirstwood

9.45am – 10.45am Leading Change: making the curriculum work for learners with SEND – Steve Phillips, Independent SEND consultant.

10.45am Coffee

11am – 12pm The Power of Engagement – Karen Lewis & Sara Clarkson, Fairfields School.

12pm – 1pm ‘A journey into the unknown’ – Jo Williams, Dysart School.

1pm Lunch

2.00pm – 3.00pm – An alternative approach to using the Engagement Tool: Jan Collins, Fountaindale School

3pm TEA

3.15pm – 4.15pm Inviting children with Autism to expand their world, with irresistible invitations to learn – Sally Markwell and Rachel Watts, Linden Bridge School.

4.15pm PLENARY

4.30pm Close of day

Expanded Presentation Outlines.

Please click on the title of the presentation below to read an expanded description of the session.

When and where?

9 November 2018 – Manchester

23 November 2018 – London


Who should come to this?

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.

Supporting notes/documentation.

All pertinent presentations and movies from the day will be available to you on our website, so that you can continue your learning journey after the end of the day – and to share with your colleagues!

Times & housekeeping: 

We begin the day from 8.45am with coffee and registration.  Presentations will begin at 9.30am and finish around 4.30pm.

All refreshments and a lovely lunch are provided! Please let us know on your application form if you have any specific dietary requirements.  Please note, we always cater for vegetarians.


£325  plus VAT per place, including refreshments & lunch.

Steve Phillips, Independent SEND Consultant.

‘Our learners are changing. This session give an overview of the changing needs of our school population: it will consider the opportunities that the Rochford Review has provided in delivering a non-subject specific curriculum; the implications for school leaders and staff in articulating their vision in meeting those needs; it will look at possible organisational implications in managing change; and provide an overview of a three strand learning model used in a number of schools.

Karen Lewis – Headteacher, Fairfields School

Sara Clarkson – Assistant Head, Fairfields School.

While evidence supports engagement as the best predictor of sustainable learning, and the 7 aspects of engagement  as pre-requisites to subject-specific learning, these were not originally designed as a statutory, summative assessment tool and as a result 56 schools have been testing it for this specific purpose. Fairfields School is 1 of the 56 schools involved in this National pilot. Karen and Sara will share their involvement including the strengths, opportunities and challenges for the whole school community. They will talk about the difference that focusing on engagement has had with the quality of teaching and learning and how it has influenced Fairfields Assessment for All framework.

Adrian Lynch – Deputy Principal, Beaumont Hill Academy.

In this session, Adrian will share Beaumont Hill’s approach to:

  •         The role of the support staff
  •         Use of the virtual learning environment
  •         Parental involvement through tapestry and the parent APP
  •         Goal attainment scoring
  •         Impact evaluation
  •         Lessons learnt and future plans.

Jan Collins – Assistant Principal, Fountaindale School.

One school from the North of England said, ‘If the curriculum meets learners needs then engagement will always be high.’

Fountaindale School uses the engagement tool when observation of natural performance for those with complex needs at the earliest levels of cognitive development raises questions around their learning and progress. This session will place the use of the engagement tool within the context of curriculum, assessment and learning.

Rachel Kay –  Headteacher, Chorley Mayfield School

Paula Barlow – Deputy Headteacher, Chorley Mayfield School

‘The journey towards a truly integrated approach; learning what is needed and measuring what matters.’

Rachel and Paula share their experience of  the ‘trials and tribulations’ of managing change, bringing people on board, being brave enough to move from subject specific learning to  a EHCP/skills based curriculum.

Sally Markwell – Senior Teacher, Linden Bridge School.

Rachel Watt – Headteacher, Linden Bridge School.

Sally and Rachel share their journey at Linden Bridge to ensure outstanding practice for all pupils across a range of learning needs. They show how they developed and tailored the semi-formal curriculum for pupils with Autism.

Rachel and Sally will also discuss how they experimented with the delivery of the curriculum, via a carousel structure, to ensure high engagement activities; learning breaks and addressing sensory needs for self-regulation to maintain a calm alert state, where learning can flourish.

Presenters biographies.

Please click on the name of the school or presenter for their biographical information.

Karen Lewis – Headteacher, Fairfields School.

Karen has been a teacher in special education for 28 years both in primary mainstream and special schools; for the past 14 years as a headteacher in two outstanding special schools. Throughout her career Karen has demonstrated a passion to secure great teaching and learning and strong and effective leadership and management. She has strived to ensure that all children are provided a high quality education through the provision of a carefully tailored curriculum and assessment framework that identifies and celebrates success. Having worked with Fairfields School leaders and teachers to develop a bespoke Curriculum for All Karen has embraced the opportunity to develop and implement a bespoke assessment framework to recognise and celebrate each child’s achievement.

Sara Clarkson – Assistant Head, Fairfields School.

Sara studied for a B Ed Honours degree, with a focus on Early Childhood Development, at the University of Northampton. She has been a teacher for 31 years, 24 of those working in special education. Over the years, Sara has taught in a number of Northamptonshire schools and also in the Channel Islands, teaching children of all ages and a wide range of special needs along the way. It was during her time in Jersey that she developed her expertise with children with profound and multiple learning difficulties, pioneering a number of teaching approaches within the school, involving multi-sensory work and the use of music. Ofsted described this work as being “at the ‘cutting edge’ of curriculum design for children with severe and profound learning difficulties”. In 2013 Sara returned to the UK and was appointed as the Assistant Head at Fairfields, where she currently leads on pupil and staff personal development and welfare. She continues to share her passion for achieving the best possible outcomes for our ‘Very Special Learners’.

Adrian Lynch is the Deputy Principal of Beaumont Hill Academy.

Jan Collins is the Assistant Principal at Fountaindale School. Jan has overseen the development of a non-subject specific curriculum and a innovative assessment tool for pre-formal learners at school.

Rachel Kay –  Headteacher, Chorley Mayfield School

Paula Barlow – Deputy Headteacher, Chorley Mayfield School.

Jo Williams is the Assistant Headteacher at Dysart School, which caters for pupils with severe learning difficulties, autistic spectrum disorder and complex needs.  Jo has been responsible for coordinating the development of Dysart’s new curriculum (The Rainbow Curriculum) which has enabled us to ensure our pupils are accessing learning appropriate to their individual need and learning style in a meaningful and engaging way.  She collaborated with various schools during this journey in particular working alongside Lesley Elder, Deputy Head from Fairfields School. As well as continuing to coordinate and develop our new curriculum, Jo is now leading on making our school mentally wealthy by supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our pupils and staff.

She is supported by:

Steph Cruse – Head of Lower School, Dysart School

Dani Ayres – Head of Upper School, Dysart School

Kara Walters – Assessment Coordinator, Dysart School

Sally Markwell – Senior Teacher, Linden Bridge School.

Sally was a mainstream primary teacher for 16 years in central London specializing in Early years and supporting children with EAL. For the last 6 years Sally has taught at Linden Bridge. Sally is now a senior teacher leading on the semi-formal curriculum. Sally recently completed her NPQML and her project was on leading change, introducing the semi-formal curriculum across the primary and secondary classes at Linden Bridge for learners on that pathway. Sally’s passion is engaging the pupils through creative and interactive story-telling and using autism specialist approaches to engage our learners. She is keen to share what she has developed and to support colleagues to develop their practice.

Rachel Watt – Headteacher, Linden Bridge School.

Rachel has taught in SLD, Learning difficulty and Autism specific schools. Rachel is a National Leader of Education and Headteacher at Linden Bridge School, which is an outstanding school for pupils age 4 to 19 with Autism and social communication needs. The school is a Teaching school in partnership with West Hill School, who together form SEND Teaching school alliance. The Teaching school offers outreach to primary schools, school to school support, SEND training and development, leadership programmes and SEND input and placements for our regional SCITTs. It is the south-east regional hub for the DFE Autism Education Trust. Rachel is passionate about creating  provision to enable all learners to thrive and fulfill their potential in society and supporting other settings to do the same.

Steve Phillips, Independent SEND Training Consultant and the former Deputy Principal of Fountaindale School where he had lead responsibility for designing, leading and implementing a new curriculum approach to meet the needs of the school’s learners.

Steve’s area of expertise is leading and managing change within a school setting  to develop bespoke curricula and assessment tools for learners with profound or severe complex learning difficulties and disabilities that forms part of a schools vision. Specifically, in curriculum terms, how to deliver non-subject specific curriculum; curriculum models of working towards subject specific learning; and the educational rationale behind these approaches.