Over 150 delegates attended the South West SEND Conference last week at the Haynes International Motor Museum in Sparkford, Somerset. The first of its type, the purpose of the conference was to encourage supportive joint working between special and mainstream schools and to advance our understanding of teaching schools and the ‘school led system’.
The day got off to a superb start with a keynote address from Leora Cruddas, CEO of the Confederation of School Trusts (CST) and a very strong advocate of the teaching school agenda. Leora challenged all delegates to take full advantage of the opportunities that now exist for schools to take responsibility for their own development and to put aside the tired notion that we must wait to be told by others what is best for our schools. Leora’s address set the tone perfectly for the suite of workshops that formed the rest of the day’s programme, shaped as they were around the theme of schools sharing expertise and supporting each other. All eight of the SEND teaching school alliances in the South West and representatives of SWALSS were in attendance throughout the day and were kept very busy explaining to delegates the range of SEND support they can offer to mainstream schools throughout the region.
Evaluations from delegates at the end of the day were universally positive about all aspects of the conference, from the keynote address to the catering and from the workshops to the venue. The conference was co-ordinated by the Network of Special Teaching School Alliances (NeSTSA) and SWALSS, on behalf of the Teaching School Council SW.