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SSAT Special Schools conference: Moving forward with confidence

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Thursday 24th May 2018 London

With so many myths about Ofsted and uncertainty around assessment, how do you move your school forwards with confidence? This year’s SSAT Special Schools Conference will give you insight into:

  • The OFSTED framework and the steps you can take to ensure your school is inspection-ready
  • How you can prepare your students for adulthood, from early years onwards
  • The key findings of the pilot resulting from the Rochford Review, looking at the seven areas of engagement and pre-key stage standards.

Join special school leaders from across the country to hear first-hand from experts in these areas, as well as school leaders sharing best practice and their practical experience. You’ll also have the chance to share ideas, learn from other leaders and recognise, celebrate and share exceptional learning opportunities from special schools across the country.

The conference will give you the inspiration and practical ideas to help you move your school forward to improve the lives of your students.

View agenda


Speakers and Sessions

Read about Clive Lawrence

Clive Lawrence

Headteacher, St Giles Primary Special School

About Clive

Clive qualified as teacher in 2008 having completed a BA. honours degree in Primary Education from the University of Northampton, and during his NQT year completed an MA in Special Education Needs & Inclusion. Clive subsequently held the posts of Assistant Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher and Headteacher Associate in both mainstream and special schools, covering the 3-19 age range. Soon after completing his NPQH in 2014, he became the youngest Headteacher in the UK at the age of 28.

Session title

Preparing for inspection, knowing the framework and the impact of professional conversations during the inspection (10:20-11:05)

What the session covers

Clive will provide an overview of St. Giles Primary Special School and its context, and how they went about preparing for Ofsted inspection. He will also explain the process of converting from a section 8 short inspection to a full section 5 inspection, and how the days mapped out with the inspection team.

You’ll also hear about the school’s journey from good to ‘cause for concern’ to outstanding, and find out how to hold a professional, open but challenging dialogue with the Lead Inspector. There will also be the chance to ask questions and put forward your view.

Read about Julie Pointer

Julie Pointer

Programme Lead for Children and Young People, NDTi and Delivery Manager, Preparing for Adulthood Programme

About Julie

Julie is a qualified social worker who has worked to improve opportunities for disabled and vulnerable people for many years. Her passion is ensuring that disabled young people have the same life opportunities as their non-disabled peers and are supported to achieve their dreams. Julie has worked in the field that we strangely call ‘Transition’ for around 20 years, previously working on the National Transition Support Programme and Aspirations for Life. Julie believes that that the best support services are those that are designed by those who are going to use them.

Session title

Preparation for adulthood (11:30-12:15)

What the session covers

The Preparing for Adulthood programme has been running since the beginning of the 2014 reforms. In this session, Julie will use learning from the programme so far to help you understand the evidence base for what works to ensure young people with SEND have their aspirations raised from the earliest years to help them move into a positive adult life. Julie will also focus on using holistic outcomes to support education and employment, friends and relationships, independence and independent living, and good health to ensure that young people grow up to be independent adults.

Read about Andrew Hodkinson

Andrew Hodkinson

Principal, West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College

About Andrew

Andrew is Principal of a 2-19 Special School for 272 pupils, which will grow to 300+ pupil in the next 12 months. He has been a Headteacher for 17 years in three different local authorities in three very different settings – KS4 PRU, 5-16 SEMH provision, and for the last ten years leading West Oaks 2-19 Special School in Leeds. He is passionate about excellence for everyone in the school community whether pupil, parent, staff or partnership group.

Session title

Preparation for adulthood in practice, the West Oaks way (12:15-13:00)

What the session covers

Andrew will cover the key messages used in preparing West Oaks pupils for adulthood, the school’s play-based learning approach and philosophy, and how their curriculum is designed to shape, develop, challenge and empower learners whilst maximising achievements at every stage of their development. You’ll also find out about the school’s 2016-2018 Leading Learning Plan, their induction, coaching and training strategy and their leadership and structure. The session will additionally give insight into how the whole-school approach is monitored, and examples of the impact of their approach and practice.

Read about Gill Robinson

Gill Robinson

Chief Executive Officer, Interaction and Communication Academy Trust

About Gill

Gill is the Vice Chair of the Teaching Schools Council, and CEO of the Interaction and Communication Academy Trust. She was a headteacher for 24 years (gaining four consecutive ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted judgements) and became an NLE and Teaching School Head in Cohort 3. Gill currently works with aspiring leaders in special schools and PRUs, and is a School Improvement Partner for nine schools as well as being a Pupil Premium Reviewer. She is currently working on two DfE projects related to Pupil Premium and the Rochford Review.  Gill was awarded an OBE for Services to Special Education in 2016.

Session title

The Rochford Pilot – the key findings to date (13:45-14:05)

What the session covers

In this session Gill will share details of the Rochford Review, its implications and its recommendations. She will also outline the course of actions including the appointment of eight pilot schools, two of which will be presenting their findings relating to the seven areas of engagement. 

Read about Debra Ward

Debra Ward
Teaching School Lead, The Ridgeway School

About Debra

After qualifying as a teacher, Debra worked in a mainstream primary school. Since 2007 she has worked in the special sector at Ridgeway School in Farnham, where she is teaching school lead, leads the autism unit and has been pivotal in developing a culture of research. Debra has also provided training to the University of Chichester, a Teaching School Alliance and mainstream schools.  She has led a series of research cohorts and taken researchers to publication, with the latest being published in June 2018.

Session title

The Rochford Pilot –key findings to date (14.05-14.25)

What the session covers

Debra will discuss the work of the South East and South London Hub for the pilot of the seven aspects of engagement for students currently working at P4 and below. You’ll hear about the processes followed, training and moderation (How to use the seven indicators and moderate the students involved in the pilot), the timelines for the work, benefits of collaboration with other schools, conversations with researchers including the importance of anonymity, and feedback on the findings to date. Will the seven practice indicators be appropriate as a tool for assessing progress for students currently functioning at P4 or below?

Read about Angela Holdsworth

Angela Holdsworth

Principal, Tor View School Specialist Learning Community

About Angela

Angela has over 20 years of leadership experience in mainstream primary and the specialist sector, and has been Principal at Tor View School for five years. She is also a Strategic Partner with the Pennine Lancashire SCITT, and is a member of the North West Teaching School Council Headteacher Board. Angela has undertaken School Improvement commissions across the North, and is a passionate advocate for the self-improving school-led system, inclusion and cross-phase collaboration and has been working with North West partners to build the system since 2013.

Session title

Rochford Pilot – the Key findings to date (14:25-14:45)

What the session covers

Tor View is currently the only specialist Teaching School in the Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen and Lancashire (BBL) area, and is the designated Lancashire and West Yorkshire teaching school hub for the Rochford Review pilot of the seven aspects of engagement. During this session Angela will chart the Tor View’s journey as a Hub school, sharing the process by which schools were selected to join the Hub, providing insight into the resources and training provided to their six pilot schools, and offering feedback from the Hub and partners reflecting on DfE methodology and the interim evaluation.

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Thursday 24th May 2018


9:00am - 3:30pm


£285 (members) £427.50 (non-members) All prices exclusive of VAT

Event venue and location

Holiday Inn – Regents Park
Carburton Street
London, W1W 5EE United Kingdom

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