SWALSS Consultants

We are pleased to introduce our new SWALSS School Improvement Service. We have in the SWALSS ranks a number of very experienced serving or recently retired special school headteachers and leading professionals in the SEND world who have wide ranging experience of SEND consultancy.
All of them offer support across all aspects of special school leadership, management and performance. Some of them have areas of particular expertise, such as special school finance or preparation for inspection. To book one of our consultants please get in touch through the Contact Us page of this website.
Below are our current SWALSS Consultants

Andrew Buckton

Andrew is currently the CEO of The Enable Trust (a special school MAT in South
Gloucestershire) and an Ofsted Inspector. He has taught in both mainstream primary schools and in special education in both primary and secondary schools for pupils with complex learning difficulties, including children on the autism spectrum. As headteacher, he has taken his SLD/PMLD school to Outstanding. He has a Masters in the Psychology of Special Educational Needs and the Professional Qualification for Inspecting Schools.  He is a research fellow of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and holds the SSAT Executive Headteachers Diploma.

Deirdre Fitzpatrick

Deirdre has worked in the education field for over three decades, most recently as the Head Teacher at the Uplands Special School in Swindon.  During her
tenure, Uplands won the prestigious TES School of the Year Award. She is an Ofsted Inspector, a National Lead for Education, and an Advisor at the Department for Education (DfE) for schools in challenging circumstances. She is currently a school improvement partner to over 16
schools. She sits on the SWALSS executive committee and the Special Schools Voice advisory group. She previously acted as a local authority advisor, overseeing special schools, PRUs and mainstream secondary schools.

Catherine Leahy

Catherine became an HMI in April 2014 and a Senior HMI in 2018. She has significant experience of inspecting all types of schools, including many special schools. She has also led SEND area reviews for Ofsted. Prior to joining Ofsted, Catherine held senior management positions in schools, including nine years as a mainstream headteacher. She also has particular expertise of working with pupils with special educational needs. She worked as a Local Leader of Education, supporting schools causing concern and training school leaders. She has served as a governor in a large secondary school and is currently working part time for a large multi academy trust.

Andy Lole

Andy was headteacher of The Mulberry Bush School for pupils with social, emotional and mental health difficulties for over twenty years. He now serves as their Executive Headteacher, with oversight of the organisation’s education provision. He is currently also a lead Ofsted Inspector and a National Leader of Education. He is an accredited School Improvement Partner, working with a number of schools in this capacity. He has extensive experience of working on behalf of local authorities providing challenge and support to their SEND provision both in mainstream and special schools.

Stephen McShane

Stephen has been an HMI and was Ofsted’s National Lead for SEND. He has led inspections of schools, including special schools and alternative provision, and local authorities’ special needs provision. Stephen has been a senior leader in mainstream and special schools, an educational psychologist, university lecturer, national and local adviser. He has also been the school improvement director for a multi-academy trust and the Director of Quality and Compliance for a national provider of specialist residential and day services to children and young people.
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