A Vision for Creative, Strategic Leadership of Inclusion

On December 11th, the Inclusion Team hosted the second annual SEND Conference: ‘A Vision for Creative, Strategic Leadership of Inclusion’ at London East. 

The event was very well attended with over 100 delegates signed up from LBBD schools and provisions.  The event opened with the highly-motivating Elly Chapple sharing her vision to answer ‘Why do we need to #flipthenarrative?’  Inspired by her daughter Ella’s experiences, Elly is a committed advocate of inclusion, working to #flipthenarrative around our children and adults living with difference because of her passionate belief that we are the same, yet different, but one.  Her mission is to change social perceptions from a deficit view of difference to a positive one, ensuring everyone has a place in our world and is able to be themselves, accepted equally.

Gareth D. Morewood joined us straight from Portugal for our second keynote, ‘A Commitment to Whole School Inclusion’.  Having spent 25 years in UK schools and 17 of those as strategic lead for SEND and Inclusion before embarking on a career as an international Inclusion consultant, Gareth’s engaging and entertaining style built effectively on Elly’s message to demonstrate how schools can adapt to meet the needs of our vulnerable learners by first changing our perception of need and then responding in creative ways that demonstrate empathy and a willingness to work collaboratively with children and their families.

After the keynote speeches, delegates then experienced a range of workshops to support their learning around difficulties like SLCN, ASD, SEMH and complex needs, while also being able to explore strategies to help them develop more effective leadership for Inclusion.

The day ended with Elaine Allegretti, Director of People and Resilience, sharing her vision for Inclusion in Barking and Dagenham.  The talk chimed beautifully with Elly’s message from the beginning of the day, introducing the concept of ThisAbility, illustrated through a video produced by Isaac Harvey, a 22 year old award winning vlogger from nearly Redbridge.  If you haven’t seen it, check it out.

Delegate evaluations of the day were overwhelming positive with an average of 4.77 across all objectives.  Comments included:

  • ‘Workshops were particularly effective. Keynotes were inspiring. Good range of workshops on offer.’
  • ‘The main speakers were inspirational and shared valuable information. Valuable information for my SENCO. The selection of food was excellent.’
  • ‘All the sessions were excellent, informative and fit for purpose. Great speakers; really enjoyed the day.’
  • ‘The whole day was highly informative and well run. I really appreciate the amount of effort that had clearly gone into planning the day – the speakers delivered well.’
  • ‘Keynotes were great. Good choice of workshops. Loved the table settings, goody bags and carol singers.’

When asked how the day will change their practice, comments included:

  • ‘Improved co-production for SEN support with parents. Change in whole school CPD for teachers to support staff; ongoing not one off. Improved form of SEN needs information.’
  • ‘I am going to set up a programme with Words First. Explore Gareth’s work – he was so inspiring. Revisit the AET website.  Do a staff audit and use to plan future CPD.’
  • ‘Reflect on inclusive practice. Observe pupils – what does inclusion look like for them? Develop/extend knowledge for SLCN and MLD.’
  • ‘Work from child level up. See it from child’s perspective. Build relationship with family and other professionals working with them. Host more meetings.’
  • ‘Considering what the curriculum should look like to #flipthenarrative – especially looking at support staff for helping in future.’
  • ‘Introduce a more formal process of reflection.  Introduce more supervision.  Change behaviour policies to relationship policies.  Look to #flipthenarrative.’

The delegates have provided lots for us to consider with respect to ongoing training and we will be reviewing our offer for 2020-21.  At the same time, the Inclusion Team will be also be learning from the evaluations to prepare for our next conference in March, where we plan to replicate this model with a focus on ‘Complex Needs and Challenging Behaviour’ to respond to the current rising levels of need in the borough.

Videos of the conference will be available to view; more details on this and our next conference will follow later January.

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