opportunity area conference: whole-school inclusion and send 2021

Date and time
Monday, 28 June 2021
09.30 - 15.15

Online Conference (hosted on the Hopin platform)

Welcome to the second Opportunity Area (OA) funded Conference

What is the focus of the conference?
The key focus for the conference is the latest research findings from the OA SEND Peer Review Challenges. These findings will be reported directly by Professor Deborah Robinson in the first keynote lecture of the day, then subsequently built upon from a national perspective in André Imich’s (Department for Education) keynote, and then broken down in the afternoon into workshop sessions. After Professor Robinson’s keynote, there will also be a short update from Debbie Gerring, which directly addresses the latest developments in the OA work around the topic of inclusion; this innovative and exciting new work brings together a number of related OA strands under the one heading of inclusion.  
Where is the conference and what’s the cost?
This year due to the COVID pandemic, the conference will be held online via a virtual conference platform called Hopin.
The OA funding and the online format mean we are able to offer all elements of this conference without charge to all Derby City schools.  
Both keynotes, the OA update and the workshops will be recorded, so you will be able to access these resources a few days after the conference has finished on this webpage. 
This conference is aimed at Derby City SENCOs, Headteachers and SEND Governors; due to its online format, it is also open to Derby City Class teachers and Teaching Assistants who have an interest in including pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.
It is anticipated that SENCOs will attend all the conference proceedings: welcome from Professor Mitchell, two keynotes, an OA update and two workshops.
We would like to warmly welcome you to all the morning’s conference proceedings (9:30 – 12:00); you may, however, prefer to join us for just one or both of the keynotes:
Keynote 1
9:45 – 10:30 (Professor Deborah Robinson)
The Derby Opportunity Area SEND Peer Challenge Project: Research findings and implications.
Keynote 2
11:15 - 12:00 (André Imich, Department for Education)
SEND Leadership: Current challenges and ways forward 
SEND Governors, Class teachers, TAs
Please join us for all of the conference or pick out those elements that seem most relevant to your practice.
9:30 – 9:45  - Conference Welcome from Professor Kathryn Mitchell
Professor Mitchell is the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby and Chair of the Opportunity Area Board
9:45 – 10:30 -Keynote 1 - SEND Leadership: Current challenges and ways forward
Keynote presenter: Andre Imich (DfE)
10:30 -11:00 - Breaktime   
11:00 - 11:45 - Keynote 2 - The Derby Opportunity Area SEND Peer Challenge Project: Research findings and implications
Keynote presenter: Professor Deborah Robinson
11:45 – 12:00 - OA SEND/Inclusion in Derby City Update
Presenter: Debbie Gerring
12:00 - 1:00 - Lunch  
1:00 – 2:00 – Workshops
Workshop 1: Inclusion V Exclusion for SEND pupils
Ellen Wilkinson
Workshop 2: Strategic Distributed SEND Leadership
Kate Browning and Geraldene Codina
Workshop 3: Over the Rainbow: Exploring remote learning and its potential beyond the pandemic
Alistair Crawford
2:00 - 2:15 - Break time
2:15 - 3:15 – Workshops
Workshop 4: Leading on Behaviour Support
Lia Copestake and Amanda Fower
Workshop 5: Developing the SEND Team: Collaborative working
Kim Smith
Workshop 6: Reflections on EHCP COVID Risk Assessment: What features were strong and what can we develop moving forward? 
Shaheen Parekh

Keynote 1: The Derby Opportunity Area SEND Peer Challenge Project: Research findings and implications

Description of keynote
Professor Deborah Robinson will report on some key research findings from the SEND Peer Challenge Programme. The emphasis will be on the values, strategies and solutions that Derby City’s leaders are applying to the process of improving schools as more equitable sites for the inclusion of learners with SEND. The session will include a summary of implications for Derby’s school leaders as they continue to move forward in this area. Its purpose will be to establish a ‘moment in time’ summary that can be used as the basis for the City’s collective memory from which to build. 
Professor Deborah Robinson has worked as a teacher and Deputy Headteacher in primary schools in London, Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City. She has also been a SENCO in three schools and was among the first generation of SENCOs trained by Nottinghamshire Local Education Authority (LEA) in the 1990s. Debs has had a career-long interest in developing more inclusive classroom practice for SEND, as a teacher, school leader and more latterly, as a teacher educator and researcher. She is probably best known for her publications in this area and was the lead author for the book ‘Inclusive Practice in the Primary School’. Debs has worked at Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham. Her current work at the University of Derby is on leading SEND research. At Derby, she won the vice-chancellor’s award for Outstanding Individual Impact, and this award was given in recognition of her contribution to research, teaching and external outreach.

OA SEND/Inclusion in Derby City

As the OA SEND Peer Review project draws to a close, Debbie Gerring will lead a short update on the next steps for the OA in Derby, including the work of the OA Inclusion group.
Debbie Gerring is the Headteacher of St Martins School. She has worked with children and adults with SEND, in various settings, over the last 30 years. Debbie is a National Leader of Education, Chairs the board of the Derby Teaching School Alliance and currently sits as a SEND advocate on Derby's Opportunity Area Board. Debbie Chairs both the OA SEND Strategic Committee and the OA Inclusion Committee.

Keynote 2: SEND Leadership: Current challenges and ways forward 

Description of keynote
The pandemic has thrown into the spotlight the needs of children and young people with SEN and disability and their families, highlighting the importance of leadership in securing good outcomes for this population. This presentation will explore the challenges leaders in education face and how the support these children and young people need can be enhanced.  
André Imich, SEN and Disability Professional Adviser, DfE. Since April 2010, André has worked as the DfE SEN and Disability Professional Adviser, contributing to a range of policy developments, in particular, the Children and Families Act. André has been a teacher and educational psychologist and held a number of practitioner and leadership roles in local authorities. He was a Regional Director in the National Strategies SEN team and was an adviser to the Lamb Inquiry into parental confidence.
Workshop 1 Title: Inclusion V Exclusion for SEND pupils
Presenter: Ellen Wilkinson
Workshop description
This workshop will include a brief overview of Ellen’s role in the LA, followed by an analysis of the recent work she has been doing around exclusions (fixed term and permanent). The workshop will then address Derby city Behaviour Strategy and analysis of behaviour in terms of categories. The focus will be directed specifically toward the exclusion of pupils with SEND and will include a consideration of reduced timetables, followed by a discussion of relevant support and intervention. 
Ellen Wilkinson started with the Local Authority in September 2020 after spending over 17 years at The Bemrose School. Having senior leadership experience in an All-Through school in Derby has given Ellen the opportunity to appreciate the challenges schools face when making decisions regarding excluding vulnerable children and young people. Being a teacher, a Governor and a mum of two children in Derby schools, she is passionate about the journey our Derby children and young people are on and is grateful to be a part of helping them achieve their best outcomes.
Workshop 2 Title: Strategic Distributed SEND Leadership
Presenters: Kate Browning and Geraldene Codina
Workshop description
This workshop will focus on the key features of strategic distributed leadership for SENCOs. Focussing on the SENCO’s strategic direction and vision for SEND in their setting, attention is first directed towards the SENCO’s engagement with the school’s senior leadership team and its governing body. This will then lead into a consideration of the SENCO’s role in relation to the Subject Leaders role; attention will be given to the concepts of children’s access to and participation/achievement in the school’s curriculum offer. The topic of the curriculum will then be discussed in relation to inclusive high-quality first teaching and the intent, implementation and impact of the curriculum.
Kate Browning is a well-regarded lead professional both locally and nationally in school improvement for children and young people with SEND. She has over 20 years of experience as a teacher, SENCo, Local Authority School Improvement Officer for SEN and interim Education Development Officer for NASEN, where she supported the delivery of nationwide training on the 0 – 25 SEND Code of Practice with the DfE. She is currently involved in project work on ‘Mastery in maths for children with SEND’. She is an Associate Consultant for NASEN, an expert advisor for The Key and has been a Chair of Governors of a large junior school.
Dr Geraldene Codina is the Programme Leader at the University of Derby for the National Award for SENCOs, and a number of other inclusion focussed Masters degrees. She also supervises six doctoral students. Geraldene Chair’s the Derby City Opportunity Area (OA) SEND Project Management Group and sits on the OA SEND Inclusion committee. Geraldene recently co-edited the book Leading on Inclusion: The role of the SENCO and co-authored the SENCO Induction Pack: Supporting your school as the start of your journey. Prior to working in Higher Education, Geraldene worked as a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO), senior leader and school teacher in both special and mainstream settings. 
Workshop 3 Title: Over the Rainbow: Exploring remote learning and its potential beyond the pandemic
Presenter: Alistair Crawford
Workshop description
The workshop will focus on the challenges, barriers and opportunities working remotely has brought school communities over the last 12 months. We will share learning, silver linings and look to move the conversation forward as to how technology and our newfound skills can turbocharge recovery and reconnection, helping to shape inclusive, accessible and aspirational provision for students with SEND.
Alistair Crawford currently leads St Martin’s and St Andrew’s Teaching Schools in Derby. Prior to this, he worked in a range of specialist schools across the East Midlands as a teacher and senior leader. As an experienced Specialist Leader of Education and School / Multi-Academy Trust reviewer Alistair has supported many schools and colleagues to develop their SEND provision and improve outcomes for young people with additional needs. A big passion for Alistair is raising aspiration for the amazing young people we work with, and he is currently working with a range of national partners to support pathways to employment and participation in elite sports. More recently, Alistair has joined the regional team for Whole School SEND (North & EMSYH) and has taken on the role of Specialist lead for Oak National Academy.
Workshop 4 Title: Leading on Behaviour Support
Presenters: Lia Copestake and Amanda Fower
Workshop description
The aim of the workshop is to reiterate the role that the SENCO has in supporting and challenging all staff to better understand behaviour and its function. The SENCO must be the advocate for the pupil whilst also supporting staff to understand what challenging behaviour might indicate:
o             Questions for SENCOs to use with staff to reflect upon concerns with challenging behaviour
o             Building positive and meaningful relationships with all pupils
o             Consistency of language used around challenging behaviour
o             Trauma and shame – how this affects all people (especially pupils)
Lia Copestake is the Headteacher of Primary at Newton’s Walk Primary PRU and leads at Castle Hospital Medical Provision (Kingsmead). She has been teaching for 25 years across primary and secondary with 11 years of leadership experience. As a qualified SENCO, Lia has a genuine interest in Autism, Behaviour and Special Educational Needs.
Amanda Fower is the Deputy Headteacher of Primary (SEND) at Newton’s Walk PRU and Deputy (SEND) at Castle Hospital Medical Provision (Kingsmead). Amanda is a primary school teacher with 15 years of experience as a SENCO; she has a genuine interest in SEND, behaviour, Trauma and Attachment. 
Workshop 5 Title: Developing the SEND team: Collaborative working
Presenter: Kim Smith
Workshop description
This workshop will emphasise the SENCO’s role as the advocate for inclusion making SEND everybody’s business. It will identify a link between behaviour and SEND, sharing ideas to develop collaboration. It will demonstrate how working together as a school team can improve the provision for pupils and develop a culture of inclusion. Information on the use of research circles and how these can deepen collaboration between parents and practitioners will also be shared. 
Kim Smith is a Vice Principal and SENCO of a large inner-city mainstream school. She has a BA (Hons), PGCE and MA Education (SEN&D). Kim has experience of teaching and leading in both mainstream and special school. In her role as a Specialist Leader of Education (SLE) for SEND, she has delivered training and provided school-to-school support to practitioners in both mainstream and specialist settings. As a doctorate student, Kim is researching the use of research circles to develop an intervention to support sign accuracy of pupils who use Makaton signs.
Workshop 6 Title: Reflections on EHCP Covid Risk Assessment: What features were strong, and what can we develop moving forward? 
Presenter: Shaheen Parekh              
Workshop description
During the lockdown, there was an expectation (although not a statutory requirement) that schools completed COVID RA for EHCP learners. In Derby, excellent documentation was produced by school SENCOs focusing on the needs of SEND learners during a turbulent time. This workshop will look at the strengths of this type of work and also developmental areas moving forward.
Shaheen Parekh worked in several roles in an all-through school before taking on a city-wide Opportunity Area coordination role focusing on reducing mobility in secondary schools. Her educational roles have involved Inclusion and English. During her time working in schools, Shaheen completed a Master’s in Education (MA Ed), a two-year leadership course with Ambition School Leadership and a level 7 Attachment qualification with Brighton University.
Now, as a member of the Education and Skills team, Shaheen works as the Responsible Officer for ECTs (Early Career Teachers), is supporting SEND Peer Challenges and is coordinating the Derby Holiday and Activity Food programme for the DFE.

If you have any questions or queries about the conference or OA SEND work more generally, please feel free to email:

  • Dr Geraldene Codina codina@derby.ac.uk
    • Chair of the OA SEND Project Management Group
  • Philippa Betts betts@derby.ac.uk
    • Senior Administrator of the OA SEND Project Management Group
2 students and teacher

Recordings from the Conference

Watch in full the whole conference, including all Keynotes and Workshops

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