Who are we?

Hirstwood Training Ltd

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

We provide training and consultancy specialising in the use & development of sensory rooms/spaces.  We also provide a varied portfolio of expert training courses with recognised experts in related fields and create & deliver ‘of the moment’ conference packages reflecting current issues in special education i.e. implications of the Rochford Review, published November 2016. We also specialise in the delivery of training via social media, especially YouTube and the development of distant e-learning packages.

Dynamic – we love our subject and understand how to deliver this in a way which motivates and drives your staff. Training is not just about the sharing of knowledge and expertise – it’s about memorable presentation and empowering delegates to be confident they can replicate these strategies.

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.

Inspiring  – 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.

We work with: EYFS services/providers, Special Schools, Mainstream Schools with specialist provision, Adult services/providers for adults with a learning disability, Adult special education colleges, Transition services.

We deliver services to the UK and worldwide.  We deliver training across the UK and have delivered training in Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Malta, Singapore, Malaysia, Egypt, Russia, Italy & the US.


Meet our team!

Richard Hirstwood is the founder and principal tutor for Hirstwood Training. His training courses have, and continue to be, experienced worldwide. This year 2017 Richard will be delivering courses and hands on training worldwide including the UK, Australia and New Yealand. 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 featured in magazines such as PMLD Link. 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, including a seven hour online training course for iPads. His enthusiasm for his subject and his sensory skills are endless!

Contact us to see how we can work with you to develop your sensory skill and provision!

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. Clive has vast experience with challenging behaviour and his courses are some of the most popular on the Hirstwood Training calendar. 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 pupils 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. Her background as a teacher of the deaf for children with complex needs, has led her to develop a range of dynamic activities to stimulate the senses, encourage communication skills and give opportunities for inclusion. She does the most amazing clonker board workshops and dance massage for nurseries, preschool groups and special schools. Naomi has given hundreds of workshops to share a range of techniques using resonance boards and sound as a wonderful medium for communication.

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.

Carol Allen is an Advisory Teacher for ICT & SEN and over the years she has taught all ages from babies and pre-school. She has taught, and had senior management responsibility in mainstream secondary; 2-19 special schools for children with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and a Peripatetic Visual Impairment Team. Her current post allows her to work at all levels and all stages of education both within schools and in business partnerships with companies who develop inclusive products and services. She is always always keen to work with others and share good practice so that all teachers and learners can benefit. All her work is grounded in good, easy to replicate, practical support.

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

Judy Denziloe has over 30 years of experience and was one of the first people in the country to develop toy libraries.She works with teams to help them to consider the importance of play and leisure in their lives and some of the challenges we may face when we are trying to offer the same opportunities within SEND, particularly those with profound multiple disabilities and complex needs. Judy is an expert in developing sensory play opportunities for children and adults – bringing a treasure trove of fabulous resources for you to explore!

Steve Phillips is the Deputy Principal of Fountaindale School, who has overseen the development of specific curricula for EYFS/pre-formal/semi-formal and formal learners at school. Steve Phillips is an inspirational deputy principle and ideas lead to the development of the curriculum and with key members of staff like Jan Collins they have taken their ideas and techniques into other schools and presented at regional courses countrywide. Jan Collins is the Assistant Head of Fountaindale School, with specific responsibility for developing and assessing the pre-formal curriculum.

OFSTED in March 2017 when describing the leaders within the school said, “Their vision and actions are inspirational …. Leaders are passionate in driving through improvements so that every pupil experiences only the highest quality of learning.” But, as the school will say, it is about being a team and recognising that all staff are part of that drive for improvement in outcomes. “Teachers and teaching assistants work seamlessly to ensure that each pupil …… enjoys learning…… The quality of teaching and learning is very strong throughout the school.”

Their skiils are in exploring the importance of play for learners with CLDD, who are becoming more neurodiverse & therefore present with a greater range of need. We will explore what a non subject specific curriculum can look like, how it can be assessed as well as why neuroscience supports and validates learning through play.