I attended the SEND Futures Conference organised by Richmond & Kingston’s provider of Children’s Services, Achieving for Children. Over 325 teachers, SENDCOs, voluntary sector organisations and charities, attended the spacious venue at Twickenham Stoop. There were presentations on a number of issues including Whole School Send and SCERTS (a framework for delivering intervention for children and young people with autism). The SCERTS programme was delivered by the borough’s Educational Psychology service.
I came away with a brain full of ideas and as many questions. One of the key things I learned was that the world of education and SEND is in constant motion. Professionals operating in the field need to limber up. High-level policy is changing, which affects many of families and those they care for.
Whilst it is not possible to follow every academic paper or policy consultation document, it is important to be aware that even as individuals, we have the power to influence change. It doesn’t need to be high level attention-grabbing change. Just the quiet pointing out of inequalities unfairness and discrimination.
It remains the responsibility of all of us to speak up for those who are unable to advocate for themselves and speak out against policies and practices that are at their core, unfair or contain hidden bias. This can be done in a quiet voice. In my experience, quiet voices can be most worth listening to.
It was great to hear from some highly respected professionals in the field, including Natalie Packer, Andre Imich and the CEO of Kingston Council, Ian Thomas. Ian talked about the holistic approach to SEND and education, right the way back to in-utero, as well as looking at early childhood experiences.
Natalie’s address was of particular interest to me in terms of delivery of Whole School Send. One of the areas we discuss in the #happyinschool workshops, is the culture of a school and the degree to which the Headteacher is committed to creating genuine, inclusive practice in their school. When Natalie mentioned the desirability of schools having a member from the SEND team on their Senior Management Team, I nodded inwardly (and possibly visibly 🙂 with every fibre of my being.
I also enjoyed browsing the learning walls, here are a couple of snaps:
One of the most powerful moments was hearing from the young people with SEND, speaking about their hopes and aspirations.
“Listen to us, however we communicate.” “Don’t threat me like a chid.”
It is always stimulating to meet other people, especially those local to you, to share information and discuss strategies for progress. I came away feeling enthused and even more determined to deliver empowering, integrated, current, change-making multi-media content to educators, parents and employers.
Thank you to everyone who put their time, effort and energy in delivering such a comprehensive and well-run event.
© Suzy Rowland