FestABLE - National Festival of Specialist Learning

Our 2018 Presentations


The current list of presentations to be held at FestABLE include:

Stream 1

10.00-10.45: The SEND Journey; are we nearly there yet?


As the much-publicised reform of SEND reaches completion, experts from across the education sectors present personal reflections on the successes & frustrations so far. Has the vision of Sir Brian Lamb been realised or has it been clouded by a different political agenda? Will funding, training or technology hold the answer?

11.15-12.00: Assisting our future: How Jisc technology services support us


Jisc will provide a brief introduction to their services to support digital learning in the education sector before discussing assistive technologies & inclusive education successes & projects to the present day. This will be a forward-looking view with thoughts & ideas about future developments for the sector.

12.30-13.15: Good intentions, good enough?


The Lenehan Review ‘Good Intentions, Good Enough?’ report of November 2017 highlighted concerns around the rights & aspirations of young people with disabilities at a time when systems & services seem to count for more than the voices of those who use them. High-profile inquests have revealed deep concerns about choice & safety.

14.15-15.00: Is that it? The impact of the Children and Families Act


This discussion brings together the perspectives of policy-making, parenting,
& living with disability through a period of significant change in SEND, from ‘Removing the Barriers to Achievement’ to the Children & Families Act 2014 & the headlines about Education Health Care Plans. Presenting context & challenge, Gareth will invite questions from the floor.

15.30-16.15: Sally Phillips in conversation with Barney Angliss

  • Sally Phillips interviewed by Barney Angliss
  • Sally will be interviewed about her own personal journey in the SEND world & how her vision for a more inclusive society & better opportunities for people with disabilities would enrich everyone’s lives.


Stream 2

11.50-12.00: Putting it all together: creating successful interventions in schools


Research undertaken by Driver Youth Trust over recent years highlights that some schools & areas offer high-quality support for SEND driven by strong leadership. However, provision is fragmented & confusion remains over which children & young people are the true focus of literacy improvement. This session will focus on the need for more integrated thinking.

12.30-13.15: How children learn language


Professor Caroline Rowland’s research focuses on how children acquire language. Her data suggests the quality of early language input is of great importance in children’s later language development. Her work explores how the child’s environment promotes & shapes language growth. Caroline’s language 0-5 project is the largest of its kind in the UK.

14.15-15.00: What is the future for speech therapy?


Across educational settings, the knowledge of speech, language & communication difficulties varies enormously. A range of evidence shows that speech & language therapy impacts positively on learning outcomes, behaviour & self-esteem. But will this evidence drive the changes we need to see in speech therapy practice & teacher training?


Stream 3

11.15-12.00 These are our children – Session one


Through her campaign, ‘These Are Our Children’, Elly has been working with the parents of exceptional children to ensure that these amazing young people are not restrained or denied their dignity. Here, Elly discusses young people’s experiences of education with Jonathan Bryan & George Fielding.

12.30-13.15: These are our children – Session two


Alice’s popular blog ‘Living With A Jude’, reflects life as a parent of a child with learning disabilities & autism & insights into the differences between mainstream & specialist education. Her perspective is complemented by Josh Reeves’ experiences. Josh is a former student of National Star & has very positive views about his value, his potential & his future.

14.15-15.00: These are our children – Session three


Jon Reid is an award-winning education lecturer specialising in social, emotional & mental health needs. Max J Green is an actor & was once a pupil in Jon’s classroom. Together they discuss experiences of social exclusion, emotional conflict & the search for autonomy. Their often humourous encounters drew an instant response from their audience at Oxford Brookes University earlier this year.


Stream 4

11.15-12.00: SEND 2018: The parents’ perspective


Tania & her co-director, Renata, have made Special Needs Jungle the most widely-read independent source of support & information for parents of children & young people SEND. They will be discussing the latest experiences & issues from a national perspective.

14.15-15.00 What does the world know of us?

  • Charlie Beswick
  • Jen Persson
  • Jen will talk about defenddigitalme, a non-profit, non-partisan group led by parents & teachers with expertise in data policy & data protection, freedom of information, biometrics, & child rights, calling for change in policy & practice at the Department for Education to make all children’s data safe, fair & transparent. Charlie will present Our Altered Life: Showcasing difference to create acceptance.


Stream 5

11.15-12.00: LEAP early autism intervention


The Local Early Autism Programme (LEAP) has been run as a successful pilot in Surrey by Laura Wilby, Education Psychologist. The LEAP team visit each child twice a week – at home & at pre-school – demonstrating techniques & strategies for learning & socialising. Parents report their children are more confident & better able to interact.


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What's on at FestABLE

FestABLE brings together an impressive group of speakers who work across Specialist Education. All are renowned for their commitment to young people with disabilities and learning difficulties and for their expertise.


FestABLE is proudly sponsored by

National Star

Our FestABLE partners include

Special Needs Jungle

Read more about available sponsorship opportunities

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