Special Education Needs (SIGSEND)

Special Educational Needs (SEND) – Chair: Helen Simon – contact via sigsend@co-educators.com

Our Worshipful Company is interested in all aspects of education, including Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) teaching and learning. The importance we have attached to this particular field is underlined by the fact that the Trust decided in 2017 to make its Awards for inspirational teachers to specialists in Special Educational Needs. At the dinner which celebrated their work we heard of some exceptional examples of dedication and innovation. We all know the challenges faced by both students and teachers in classrooms around the country where SEND pupils are present. The Educators, with their breadth of experience of curricula, teaching and learning, have a great deal to offer this community at a time when more and more students, with the right support, are able to stay in mainstream schools. Those in special schools, for which a clear need still exists, can also benefit greatly from extra support.I have been asked by the Engagement Committee to set up a Special Interest Group for Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). Across all educational provision, we will aim to support teachers and lecturers by providing ideas, resources, knowledge and understanding of the field. I plan to create mentoring opportunities and training, as well as support for trials of new ideas emerging from recent research projects. I believe the work of the SEND Group, if implemented, could have a considerable impact in mainstream, special school and higher education settings.As a first step towards this I will set up a mailing list that can be joined by all members interested in SEND. Please do join this Group, even if you have not taught

or worked with SEND students, as all contributions are welcome and we will be supporting the most vulnerable pupils we have in our schools, colleges and universities. If you are interested, please send an email to me at sigsend@co-educators.com and you will be added to the list of members.We have 37 interested members from across the education community.
The Inaugural meeting in January 2018 was held in London, thanks to Roy Blackwell who arranged for the meeting to be held at his offices of the United Westminster Schools and The Grey Coat Hospital Foundation.
There were 7 members present either on Skype or in person. We discussed the direction in which we would like the group to go in and the role that the group would have with in the Educators Livery Company (the minutes of the meeting are on the website).The Second meeting was held on the 23rd March 18, we had a very good turn out as Graham Duncan CEO for Action for Kids  came and gave a presentation on the work of his charity. To help us think of ways that the SIG for SEN can link to organisations and schools. Graham shared with us the work that his organisation is carrying out within the disabled community; creating synergy within Education and our group enabling us to think of ways that we can support fellow Educators in this field. Following on from Graham’s presentation, it gave the group a lot to think about. The one thought that I came away with was, creating aspirations for students with challenges in education. Graham asked us,
“Do you ask a child with challenges in education what they want to be?” This left an impression on us all, with much to think about.Third meeting 18th May 2018.Following on from the presentation by Graham Duncan, Action for Kids; how do we put words into actions?Should the group be looking at different ways to support and engage with the schools and education community to enable them to bridge the gap between school, college and the place of work for the students with SEND?Could the SIG group to work with different organisations that already work in this area and create relationships to support the work that is already taking place in schools and supporting those who find work experience challenging due to their personal needs.The group invited Chris Jay (Freeman to the Educators and part of SIG for SEN) to come and give us a presentation on the work that he is doing for Enable me. The work that Chris does to break down barriers between the disabled and able-bodied communities in schools and the work place is fantastic. He shared with us the type of questions that he has been asked by children, as part of his training sessions when they are invited to ask anything about being disabled and have never had the chance to ask, “Do you have a bottom?” As these children have never seen a wheelchair user use a toilet. Chris had us in fits of giggles with his experiences of these talks and made us realise our own pre-conceptions of disability and how important his work is.Following on from the meeting the group is looking at different ways that we can support schools and colleges to get these disadvantaged students into work experience, apprenticeships and colleges where they can learn practical skills to enable then to have a career in their chosen profession.
The next meeting will be in September/ October 18

The first members of this group