Read all about our Speakers for the next Virtual SEND Conference focused on Quality First Teaching

All 12 SEND expert speakers are now confirmed for the next Virtual SEND Conference on Friday 21 May. Read all about what will be covered in each session and find out more about the speakers themselves…

This conference is focused on Quality First Teaching, helping schools to enable all children to achieve to the best of their ability. The 3 morning keynotes are relevant for all teaching staff. The 9 afternoon sessions are split into 3 streams aimed at Special Schools, Mainstream Schools, and a focus on Specific Learning Difficulties. So there really is something for every setting!

One ticket costing just £60 gives access for your whole school. You can attend online on the day or watch the recordings afterwards when it suits you.

Register your interest TODAY and get 20% OFF.

Take a look at the Conference Programme


Who’s Speaking?

keynote speakers

Lorraine Petersen
Educational Consultant, LPEC

Quality First Teaching: the role of all teaching staff

The SEND Code of Practice is very clear that every teacher is responsible and accountable for the progress of all pupils. High quality teaching, differentiated for individual pupils, is the first step in responding to pupils who have or may have SEN. Lorraine explores what this means in terms of teaching and learning for pupils with SEND.

about Lorraine

Lorraine Petersen has 25 years’ experience in the mainstream school environment as a Teacher and Headteacher.

From 2004 – 2013 Lorraine was CEO of nasen, a charitable organisation supporting all those who work with children and young people with SEND. She worked on a number of projects with various agencies including the Department for Education, the National College of Teaching and Leadership and UKTI. She has also been a chair, keynote speaker and workshop facilitator at numerous national and international events and conferences. In 2009 Lorraine was awarded an OBE for her services to education.

Lorraine now runs LPEC an educational consultancy dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, including those with mental health needs.

Jane Friswell
SEND Consultant and Parent Advocate

School exclusion and SEND: identifying the risks for our children and young people and the steps required to mitigate and prevent

Students identified with a special educational need and/or disability are immediately 6 times more likely to be excluded from school. Jane outlines how to accurately identify the student risks to school exclusion; and what schools and settings must and should do to avoid it.

about jane

Jane Friswell is a former SEN Head Teacher, with significant leadership experience in LA SEN Support advisory roles and as Chief Executive at nasen. Jane is now Director of Jane Friswell SEND Consultancy. An innovative support agency for those working in SEND that specialises in leading effective strategic review of provision for children and young people with SEND. It commissions co-productively with young people with additional needs to effect improvement at local level.

Jane has a wealth of experience and successful SEND and School Improvement leadership of national and international projects. This includes government policy advisory support and developing training and education services for teachers, SENCOs, senior leaders and governors. As well as LA SEND Peer Challenge and Sufficiency Review, and school inspection, Jane also provides advisory support for children and young people’s mental health.

Margaret Mulholland

Margaret Mulholland
SEND and Inclusion Specialist, EEF Project Director for Whole School SEND, nasen

Building Capacity: supporting the work of teaching and learning assistants in the classroom

Teaching Assistants play a vital role in support of pupils and teachers, but schools don’t always use and develop support staff as effectively as they could. Margaret considers how to inform professional development for TAs and ‘grow’ their knowledge and skill – so they can make the maximum difference to the development of young people.

about Margaret

Margaret Mulholland is currently Project Director for Whole School SEND and nasen leading an Education Endowment Foundation trial to evaluate the impact of the SEND Review Framework. Margaret is also the Inclusion policy advisor for the Association of School and College Leaders. She writes a column on research and inclusivity for the Times Educational Supplement.

Margaret is a leading advocate for the role SEND settings play in improving understanding of inclusive teaching and learning. She spent seven years as Director of Development & Research at a leading Special School. During her thirteen years at the Institute of Education, Margaret was responsible for innovative employment based routes to teaching.

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Stream 1 – special schools
Nell Nicholson & Nimisha Deakin

Nell Nicholson & Nimisha Deakin
Head Teacher & Outreach Lead, Gloucester House School

Building resilience and protective factors within children and staff teams – reflection at the heart of the process

Nell and Nimisha highlight the benefits of reflective approaches. They explore the importance of reflective processes within staff and pupils – in groups and individually. A potential framework and practical ideas are also provided on how to build resilience with limited time and resources.

about Nell and Nimisha

Nell Nicholson is currently the headteacher of Gloucester House, the Tavistock Children’s Day Unit and Outreach Service. A teacher since 1992, Nell has passion and commitment for education and mental health collaborations to support the development of children with complex and severe social, emotional and mental health difficulties. In 2014 she developed the Gloucester House Outreach Service to widen the reach and scope of its multi disciplinary holistic approach to supporting the development of the ‘whole child’. This service works with schools, networks and families to increase access to education for children and young people with complex presentations.

Nimisha Deakin is a CAMHS (Children Adolescent Mental Health Services) nurse supporting children and young people with social, emotional, and mental health difficulties. Nimisha’s expertise is working within complex multi-agency networks. Her work in Gloucester House Outreach Service involves supporting young people with complex needs and networks, so they can remain engaged in education. Nimisha has over 25 years of experience working in mental health services, She regularly delivers training on facilitating reflective practice, resilience building for staff teams working with children and young people, risk management, understanding mental health, and stress & anxiety.

Marize Lawson

Marize Lawson
Head of Margaret Brearley School, Whitefield Academy Trust

Developing communication and interaction strategies for children and young people with PMLD

Marize looks at the early development of communication and how this impacts children or young people with PMLD. She also explores strategies to support and develop communication in a functional and meaningful way.

about Marize

Marize Lawson is the Head of Margaret Brearley School, part of the Whitefield Academy Trust. She has spent the last 3 years working on the development of a comprehensive curriculum to support children and young people with PMLD in non-subject specific learning.

Marize has a Post Graduate Qualification in MSI and a Masters in Education focusing on Sensory Integration Issues. Her 19 years’ experience in education includes 16 years as a classroom practitioner working with children and young people with SLD, PMLD and MSI/Complex Needs. Marize also runs training sessions for a variety of professional needs. This ranges from in house training for Teaching Assistants to NPQML and Post Graduate Diploma students.

Find out more about Margaret Brearley School.

Cathal Lynch

Cathal Lynch
Education Consultant, Ethical School Solutions

The Building Belonging approach to school improvement and emotional wellbeing

Cathal outlines an evidence driven approach to improving schools and protecting emotional wellbeing, using examples from schools. His session covers psychological safety as a driver of organisational improvement and the characteristics of successful leaders. He also considers the research underpinning emotional wellbeing and high educational outcomes.

about cathal

Cathal Lynch is a School Improvement consultant with Ethical School Solutions, using the tools and approaches outlined in his book, Building Belonging. Also a consultant educational expert for The Key, Cathal has spoken at a range of national and regional conferences.

Cathal’s expertise is built upon his extensive experience in education as a former Outstanding SEMH Head teacher, Director of Education and National Director of Day Schools for a group of SEMH schools. He is also a former mainstream Multi Academy Trust co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, as well as a Strategic Director for Leadership and School Improvement.


Access 12 presentations from SEND experts

1 ticket for your whole school is just £60!


Stream 2 – mainstream schools

Kate Browning
School Improvement for SEND Specialist Consultant

Inclusive High Quality Teaching within a whole school graduated approach to SEN support

Kate explores some of the key approaches to adapting teaching to enable pupils with SEND to have the best possible chance of learning. This is considered within the framework of a whole school graduated approach and the role all leaders play in supporting this endeavour.

about kate

Kate Browning is a School Improvement for SEND Specialist Consultant. She is a well-regarded lead professional both locally and nationally in school improvement for children and young people with SEND.

Kate has over 20 years of experience as a teacher, SENCO and Local Authority School Improvement Officer for SEN. She was also interim Education Development Officer for nasen, where she supported the delivery of nationwide training on the SEND Code of Practice with the Department for Education. She now works with Teaching School Alliances, MATs, local authorities and individual schools to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND across the primary and secondary phase. Kate also teaches the National Award for SEN Coordination and is an associate lecturer on SEND for Warwick, Northampton and Derby Universities. Kate has delivered keynote speeches and seminars at many conferences and events such as The Education Show, nasen Live and TES SEN.

Natalie Packer

Natalie Packer
SEND Consultant, NPEC Ltd

The role of the SENCO in supporting High Quality Teaching

Natalie explains what High Quality Teaching (HQT) looks like and why it’s important for pupils with SEND. She discusses the role of the SENCO in supporting teachers to embed HQT. She also shares ideas on how SENCOs can provide CPD, support and monitoring of HQT in the classroom.

about natalie

Natalie Packer is an Independent Education Consultant specialising in SEND and school improvement. She develops and delivers a wide range of face-to-face and online training and support to schools and Multi Academy Trusts. She carries out school and MAT SEND reviews and works with two trusts in the East Midlands providing strategic SEND leadership. Natalie is also a trustee of Learn-AT in Leicestershire and a member of nasen’s 0-11 Advisory Group. She is the author of The Perfect SENCO and The Teacher’s Guide to SEN publications.

Natalie has previously worked for the National Strategies SEN Team and Department for Education implementing the Achievement for All project to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEN. She has worked for several local authorities as an Adviser for SEN and School Improvement. She has primary headship experience and has been a SENCO.

Liz Murray

Liz Murray
SEND Consultant, Spotlight Education Support

Developing a nurture provision to support SEND pupils in the mainstream

Liz’s session facilitates reflection and learning around the idea of nurture provisions for SEND and non-SEND pupils in mainstream settings. She explores the term ‘nurture’ and reflects on the outcomes a nurture provision might enable. She also looks at practical examples and explores frameworks for a whole school approach.

About liz

Liz Murray is the Founder of Spotlight Education Support, an organisation which provides SEND training and consultancy for schools nationally. She is also an experienced Assistant Headteacher and SENCO at a large secondary school in the North West.

Liz has worked in schools for 20 years. She originally trained as a secondary English teacher and has since held pastoral, curriculum and SEND leadership roles in all-through schools in both the state and independent sectors. She regularly presents at national conferences and publishes articles designed to support school leaders, SENCOs and teachers. Passionate about all things education, Liz has particular expertise in education change management and SEND CPD which enables inclusive teaching and learning.

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Stream 3 – Specific learning difficulties
Lana Grant

Lana Grant
Autism Specialist and Author

Masking: what are we missing, and how can this behaviour impact communication between school and home?

How can we help if we don’t know what we’re looking for? Lana identifies the meaning of the term ‘masking’ and how common it is. She identifies when and why an adult or child may be masking, highlights the power of working with parents/caregivers, and provides support strategies.

About LANA

Lana Grant is a specialist advisor and advocate for people with autism and their families who has worked within the field of autism for nearly twenty years. She has a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome, received in her late 30’s.

Lana is also a parent of children on the autism spectrum and is experienced in supporting and educating young people with autism from 3 years into adulthood. She specialises in autism and females and her debut book ‘From Here To Maternity, pregnancy and motherhood on the Autism Spectrum’ was published in March 2015. Lana is experienced in giving talks, and providing training, particularly around autism, females, pregnancy and motherhood. She is also a trained birth partner (doula) specialising in supporting pregnant women on the autism spectrum and their partners.

Neil MacKay

Neil MacKay
CEO, Action Dyslexia Training and Consultancy

Study skills for learners with Additional Learning Needs

Neil highlights research validated strategies that have been specifically ‘tweaked’ to make them achievable for students with Additional Learning Needs (ALN) at Key Stages 2-4. Strategies include developing skills around active listening, multi-sensory note taking and recording strategies using ALN friendly templates/scaffolds, reading to remember, and revising for tests.

About neil

As CEO of Action Dyslexia Training and Consultancy, Neil MacKay is a freelance consultant and trainer specialising in dyslexia and inclusion issues. He works internationally, running workshops in inclusive classroom practice and meeting the needs of vulnerable learners. He has written several books including ‘Removing dyslexia as a barrier to achievement’ and ‘Total Teaching – raising the achievements of vulnerable groups’.

Neil is known for his ability to bring the classroom into his training and for providing lively, entertaining and thought provoking opportunities for teachers and teaching assistants to reflect on and develop their practice. He has over 26 years experience as a teacher, SENCO and school leader, working with children with a wide range of ages, needs and ability.

Fintan O'Regan

Fintan O’Regan
Behaviour and Learning Trainer and Consultant, Sf30 Ltd

Neurodiversity ‘traits’ for children and adolescents with learning, behaviour and socialisation – challenges and opportunities

Fintan focuses on understanding and celebrating differences and not deficits within neurodiversity. He demystifies the terms ASD, ADHD, BD, CD, Dyslexia, DCD and ODD. Concentrating on traits and not labels, he explains how to support and nurture the differences that non traditional learners present within learning behaviour and socialisation.

About fintan

Fintan O’Regan is one of the leading behaviour and learning specialists in the UK. He is currently an ADHD, Neurodiversity and Behaviour Consultant for a number of schools and organisations. He is also an associate lecturer for Leicester University, the National Association of Special Needs, The Helen Arkell Charity and the Institute of Education.

Fintan is the former Vice Chairman of UKAP and the European ADHD Alliance. He has been the chairperson of the European ADHD Taskforce and is a current member of the Special Education Consortium, the SpLD Assessment Standards Committee, a full council member of the Council of Registered Schools for the Teaching of Dyslexia (CReSTeD) and the Child and Development Centre London. Fintan has published over 10 books on behaviour, learning and motivation, including the T.E.S. award winning book ‘Educating Children with ADHD’.

What did previous attendees say?

The speakers were excellent and very knowledgeable. The conference was really good and much cheaper than lots of training around, essential at this time when funds are low and access to high-quality CPD can be limited.

Louise Aldridge, Deputy Head Teacher and Inclusion Manager / Bushy Hill Junior School

The information presented was really useful and the staff and I can implement a lot of key ideas quickly and easily. Sharing the videos across the school has also saved me a lot of CPD preparation. Thank you.

Jo Vizor, Head of Learning Support / The Elms School

Excellent content delivered in a very convenient way and at a very reasonable price. More information than I could handle in one dose – but thankfully I will be able to re-visit in my own time.

Janet Bristow, SENCO / Perrymount Primary School

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