Experienced West Midlands based speech & language therapy

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The SEND & Disability Conference – a breath of fresh air in a challenging financial climate

‘Of the 1.3 million pupils in England with special educational needs, 1.1 are being taught in mainstream schools.  Despite this, 82% of head teachers believe they do not have the resources to support SEN pupils’  (ONECPD)

The conference organisers quoted research showing that almost 90% of newly qualified teachers (NQTs) don’t consider themselves properly equipped to support children with complex learning needs.  This is a key theme – having been high-lighted in the very recent Bercow- ten years on Review (ICAN).

In response to these significant facts – being shared and discussed at events such as this one – and at the recent NAPLIC annual conference earlier in May, the Government has pledged an overhaul of teacher training as the number as the number of SEND children in mainstream classrooms looks set to rise.

It is important to remember that children who do gain a place in a special school are going to be those with the increasingly complex and challenging raft of needs, often associated with serious medical conditions.  Specials schools too are subject to similar stringent budget cuts.

For the most part, delegates at this conference were keen, interested and enthusiastic.  They were on the hunt for sources of expertise, to make links and to gather practical strategies to take back to their schools and settings. 

Our seminar focussed on the challenge of maintaining or commissioning a speech and language therapy service in such challenging financial times.  As usual, we actively encourage schools to become as autonomous as possible: ‘why spend money on something you can do yourselves?!’  We also talked about delivering services differently, using a task-focussed approach and for SLT input to follow the needs of the work-streams rather than the days on a calendar.

The second half of the programme offered 5 top tips which staff could go back and implement the very next day – small changes make a huge difference to successful teaching and learning no matter what the setting.  See the presentation here.

We hope that those delegates who came to either listen to our seminar or talk to us directly on the stand went away knowing more.  We also learnt a lot too – which definitely makes this one of the best conferences we have attended: it was productive and positive and provided good opportunities for networking.