15th annual SENCO Update conference - Speakers

Thursday 25 May 2017
Hilton London Wembley, London

Ann-Marie Ellis, Headteacher, The Dales School

First time Headteacher Ann-Marie Ellis joined The Dales School in September 2016, having started her teaching career in a South Leeds inner-city secondary school.  By the end of her second year of teaching she had progressed to Head of Year, and another year on she was appointed to acting Head of Key Stage.  A move to Wakefield enabled her the opportunity to undertake the then SENCO role at an inner city secondary school, which was a pivotal redirection for her career path.  

Six years later Ann-Marie secured a move to a 3-19 special school in Barnsley as Assistant headteacher.  Her key areas of responsibility included liaison with mainstream schools to support transition for young people with additional needs in mainstream education, an area she remains resolute in her commitment to support.  She has much experience in the development of EHCPs, person centred planning and in curriculum development for the 13 - 16 age range.  Not surprisingly, during her time in Barnsley she was appointed a Specialist Leader in Education with a key focus in curriculum design and development, recognising her skills in this area.

In March 2016 she was offered the role of Headteacher at The Dales School near Northallerton, North Yorkshire. The school has a proven track record of expertise and outstanding practice in assessing the small but significant steps in learning for children and young people with severe and profound and multiple learning disabilities.  Passionate about school to school support to facilitate the very best outcomes for all learners, she brings a combination of her own career experiences and the wealth of expertise from The Dales School to share with us today.

Dr Rona Tutt OBE, Past President of NAHT, Writer and Speaker

Rona trained as a primary teacher and then as a teacher of the deaf. She has taught across the age range in state and independent, day and residential, mainstream and special schools.
She is a former head teacher and Past President of National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT). She continues to be involved in the Association’s work and represents them on a number of organisations, including the Autism Education Trust (AET), the National SEND Forum (NSENDF) and the Special Education Consortium (SEC).

Rona has been a winner of the Leadership in Teaching Award, received an Outstanding Reviewer Award for her work on the International Journal of Educational Management and  was awarded an OBE for her services to special needs education. She is vice chair of 2 governing bodies and in constant demand to speak at conferences and other events.

In 2011, Rona was one of the founder members of the National Forum for Neuroscience and Special Education (NFNSE), along with Professor Barry Carpenter and Professor Francesca Happé. This aims to bring together those who understand how children learn with those who are teaching children who have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

Rona has written and co-authored a number of books, including The SEND Code of Practice: 0-25 years – Policy, Provision & Practice (2015) and Rona Tutt’s Guide to SEND and Inclusion (2016). Also last year, she was the writer for a DfE-funded project awarded to the charity ‘KIDS’, Making it Personal: A Guide to Personalisation, Personal Budgets and EHC Plans.

Anita Devi, Special Educational Needs Consultant

Anita Devi is Special Educational Needs Consultant, Policy Developer, Strategist and Trainer with teaching experience & qualifications from early years to post graduate provision in the UK and overseas. She can be found on Twitter @Butterflycolour

Elizabeth Burns, Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator

Elizabeth has worked as in education for over 30 years and in SEN for over 20 years as a support teacher, an  Advisory Teacher for Speech, Language and Communication needs for Barnet LA 2003 – 2009,  and since 2009 as a SENCO. She completed the SENCO Award in 2012.

Elizabeth set up and runs a very successful cross borough SENCO Forum which provides half termly meetings for SENCOs and  training opportunities for staff based on identified needs. She continues to deliver training on the Barnet NQT programme on Language and Communication needs and also delivers bespoke training for schools. 

Elizabeth is a member of the NASEN SENCO Advisory Group.

Director of Curriculum Support (SENCO), Priestnall School

Gareth is Director of Curriculum Support (SENCO) and Specialist Leader of Education at Priestnall School, Stockport. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow in Education at the University of Manchester. 

Trainer, Charlie Waller Memorial Trust

Ian has held various roles in public health including Healthy Schools, You’re Welcome, substance misuse services and HeadStart. He teaches on young people’s health, including devising CPD programmes on mental health, substance use and RSE. as well as currently teaching for the Open University.
Ian delivers training mainly in the South East of England, and London on the following topics.

  • Depression.
  • Self-harm.
  • Substance use.
  • Building resilience.
  • Developing whole school approaches to mental health.

John Williams, Comedian and Creator of "My Son's Not Rainman"

John Williams is an award-winning stand up comedian and author. In 2013 he created ‘My Son’s Not Rainman’, a blog and comedy show based on his life bringing up his twelve year old son who has autism and cerebral palsy. 'It isn’t a story about autism', John is keen to point out. 'It’s a story about a young lad who happens to be autistic. There’s a difference.'

The show, widely recognised for its humour and poignancy, was a huge success at the Edinburgh Festival and has toured throughout the UK and Europe. John has featured extensively in The Guardian, Daily Mail and on BBC Radio 4. An excerpt from the show recorded for Radio 4 Four Thought was selected as one of the BBC's Magic Moments of Radio 2015. John has been the keynote speaker at The Autism Show, The National Autistic Society Professionals' conference and numerous Headteachers Conferences throughout the country. He has spoken at hospitals, corporate events, schools, comedy clubs, working mens clubs and prisons. The accompanying blog (www.mysonsnotrainman/blog) has had over a million hits and is the basis for the bestselling book of the same name published in September 2016. John is appalling at writing about himself in the third person.

Kate Browning, Independent Consultant

For 20 years, Kate has been passionately committed to supporting schools to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND. Over this time, she has worked as a SENCo, a Local Authority School Improvement Officer for SEND and interim Education Development Officer for NASEN. Kate now works as an independent consultant specialising in school improvement for SEND.

She has supported NASEN in writing guidance and delivering national training on the SEND Code of Practice for SENCOs and school leaders. She has a successful track record of working with individual schools, Teaching School Alliances and MATs to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND thorough consultancy, training and producing written guidance. She has also supported Local Authorities in the development of their SEN Support offer.

She teaches the National Award for SEN Coordination for the University of Northampton and lectures for the University of Warwick on their PGCE programme. She facilitates SENCo Networks for schools across Leicestershire and Warwickshire and provides training on SEND for Leicestershire Governor Development Service.
She is also an Associate Consultant for the National Association of Special Educational Needs (NASEN), an expert advisor for The Key and is Chair of Governors at her local school.

Her approach is wholly collaborative, positive and focused on empowering those she works with to make a sustainable difference to improving outcomes for children with SEND.


Linsey McGill, SEND Provision Specialist and Teacher

Since qualifying as a teacher Linsey has specialised in SEND provision.  She has held a wide range of posts, both in a special and mainstream schools, which has given her invaluable insights from a range of angles.  Linsey has undertaken a wide range of SEND courses, is a qualified Teacher of the Deaf, have completed the NASENCO qualification and is currently completing the PG Cert in Dyslexia. 

Linsey joined Patcham High School 10 years ago and has been fortunate to work as an SEND specialist during this time.  This has enabled her to work with a wide range of pupils, parents and specialists in order to develop strategies and infrastructures that share new ideas and develop good practice.

Zena Martin, Educational Consultant and Director of Inclusive Learning North

Zena provides high quality support, training and consultancy to schools in the north of England. She leads the Inclusion Forum for primary schools, seeking to bring to the Forum the best research, practice, resources and expertise in both SEND and wider aspects of inclusion, from around the UK and beyond.
Zena is also an associate SENCO and consultant to a number of north-west primary and secondary schools, utilising her experience in both inclusion leadership and specialist SpLD work. She is an associate lecturer with Edge Hill University and, previously, Manchester Metropolitan University. She currently tutors on the National SENCO Award as well as the Postgraduate Certificate in Inclusion and SEN.

Zena has previously been involved in an EU project in Malta, training junior and kindergarten teachers in literacy and differentiation, and worked with an International School in Sweden. She has delivered training courses throughout the UK on a range of subjects in inclusion and SEND for primary and secondary delegates. Previously, Zena worked as a SENCO, Inclusion Manager and Deputy Head Teacher. During this time, she gained specialist teaching skills, in addition to the NPQH. Her primary school teaching experience was in Manchester, Rochdale and Salford.