Steering Group

Who we are:

The Whole School SEND Steering Group (Whole School SEND) is lead by The London Leadership Strategy (LLS) – working with NASEN, the National Education Trust, Swiss Cottage and Oxfordshire Teaching School Alliances, Harris Federation, Academies Enterprise Trust, Institute of Education, Whole Education, Challenge Partners, the Council for Disabled Children, The Communication Trust, the Autism Education Trust and the Driver Youth Trust. It consists of school-led organisations and charities that have a combined direct reach to approximately 7% of all schools and a greater reach beyond this.

Whole School SEND is not exclusive and we are always keen to extend our work and engagement with other schools, groups and individuals. Click 'Join The Consortium' at the top of this page for more information.

Adam Arnell

Oxfordshire TSA

Adam is Director of the Oxfordshire Teaching Schools Alliance (OTSA), and leads the work of OTSA as an Appropriate Body for NQT Induction. He worked alongside Oxfordshire Local Authority NQT Induction Advisors providing guidance and quality assurance for NQT Induction.

Beth Barnsley

Devonshire Junior Academy

Beth Barnsley is Assistant Head Teacher and Inclusion Manager at Devonshire Junior Academy . Beth is Assistant Head Teacher and Inclusion Manager across Devonshire Infant Academy and Devonshire Junior Academy in Sandwell - both of which are outstanding schools. Her role includes managing a focus provision for pupils with autism. As part of this role she offers outreach support to local schools and delivers training to both school staff and trainee teachers. Before teaching in mainstream schools she worked in a specialist secondary provision for pupils with SEMH and additional needs. Beth is currently completing a masters in Special Educational Needs and Inclusion, specialising in autism and is a local Makaton tutor.

Dr Penny Barratt

Challenge Partners

Penny is Executive Headteacher of The Bridge School in London and The Bridge Integrated Learning Space. The Bridge School caters for students with autism and/or severe learning difficulties or profound and multiple learning difficulties, with a primary and secondary site catering for 186 pupils. The Integrated Learning Space caters for 25 pupils between the ages of 7 and 19 with complex needs and accompanying challenging behaviours. In addition, The Bridge is a Teaching School and has a very well respected outreach service.

Penny has worked in the field of special education for over 30 years, both in the USA and in England. She has held a wide variety of roles working with children and young people of all ages in both mainstream and specialist settings.

Penny is a founding member and sits on the executive of Special Schools Voice. She is also a funding trustee of the College of Teaching. Penny has been involved with the Department for Education's Bureaucracy Reference Group for over six years, sits on the leadership group of Challenge Partners and sits on SSAT’s National Special School Headteacher Steering Group. She sat on an advisory panel discussing the new assessment procedures and has recently sat on the Teaching Assistant Standards Panel.

David Bartram OBE

London Leadership Strategy

David is Director for SEND at the London Leadership Strategy. He has visited and worked with over two hundred SEND departments since March 2009, working collaboratively with London Challenge, NCTL and the DfE to support targeted schools. He is responsible for SEND Leaders, a practitioner-led programme that uses SEND peer reviews to support schools to identify areas for improvement within their SEND provision and help embed a focus on SEND into normal school improvement practices.

David was awarded an OBE for services to Special Educational Needs and Disability in the 2016 New Year’s Honours list

Adam Boddison


Adam is Chief Executive for nasen, the leading SEND membership organisation for education professionals supporting children and young adults. He has a broad portfolio of experience both in the UK and overseas.

Alongside his work at nasen, Adam is also Chairman of the Board of Governors at Meriden Primary School; a Governor at Stivichall Primary School; a fellow at the RSA and a GSCE and A-Level Examiner for Pearson. Adam is research-active in the fields of inclusive education (including gifted education) and educational technology, and he is co-supervising two PhD students at the University of Warwick. Prior to this, Adam was Academic Principal to the global educational social network IGGY and has had ten years of experience in the Residential Life team at the University of Warwick.

Whilst at Warwick, Adam was the director for the Centre for Professional Education, where he secured Ofsted Outstanding judgments for both primary and secondary teacher training provision. Adam has authored "Maths behind the Magic" and is a qualified clinical hypnotherapist.

Joyce Brako-Amoafo

National Network of Parent Carer Forum

Joyce Brako-Amoafo is the London Representative for the National Network of Parent Carer Forums. Her daughter Deborah was diagnosed with Autism when she was two and half years old. She attends mainstream school with Special Needs support. Joyce’s journey as a carer brought her into contact with Lewisham Contact a Family, where she became actively involved with the Steering group to bring parent carers together, so as to ensure the delivery of services and activities to families in Lewisham. She has been actively involved with members in seeking to achieve a more integrated partnership with Lewisham local Authority, to identify issues which affect disabled children and to deliver better service outcomes.  

Octavia Holland

The Communication Trust

Octavia is the Director of The Communication Trust, which is hosted by I CAN. The Trust is a consortium of 52 not-for-profit organisations working to support children and young people’s speech, language and communication in England. The Trust provides a range of resources, information, models and solutions for use in transforming and improving children’s communication, influences policy and legislation and supports the development of an informed and confident children’s workforce.

Before joining The Communication Trust in 2015, Octavia worked across central government and the charitable sector in delivery, policy and campaigning roles. Octavia most recently led policy, advice and communications for Gingerbread, the national single parent charity. Prior to this, she spent four years as Chief Executive of Coram’s Fields, a children and young people's charity.

Octavia spent the first ten years of her career in central government, in a range of policy and leadership roles for the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Anita Kerwin-Nye (Chair)

London Leadership Strategy

Anita is Founder and Director of NotDeadFish – a social enterprise supporting work between schools and third sector organisations to improve outcomes for children and young people. With a particular interest and expertise in bringing together new collaborations, Anita has a track record of creating models of working that break down traditional barriers and increase impact for all involved.

Working with NotDeadFish, Anita helped establish Musical Futures as a national not-for-profit organisation driving forward music learning for all. Previously an initiative of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Musical Futures is now a thriving not-for-profit and Anita is delighted to have taken on the role of Chair.

Anita is Managing Director of London Leadership Strategy – a not-for-profit body run by serving headteachers supporting school-to-school support across England. Anita has helped the organisation move from being part of the DfE to being a stand-alone business with sustainable income streams. This stability has allowed LLS to deliver a consistent model of school improvement that builds both those schools providing support and those receiving it. Over the last year, working with David Bartram OBE and the talented Steering Group, Anita has built the SEND Leaders programme – a model to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND through school-to-school support and challenge.

Previously, Anita founded The Communication Trust – a collaboration of over 40 charities working in the field of speech, language and communication. These – often traditionally competing – charities worked together under Anita’s leadership to develop and deliver a UK-wide programme of support to schools, parents and young people including: the ‘Hello’ Campaign - National Year of Communication; resources for schools and parents on identifying speech and language difficulties; programmes for young people in youth offending and the development of a whole area approach to early language development, ‘Talk of the Town’.

Simon Knight

National Education Trust

Simon was formerly a Deputy Headteacher in a school for children aged between 2 and 19 with Severe or Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities, described by Ofsted as being “Outstanding and inspirational”. He has a particular interest in the development of Initial Teacher Education in Special Schools and has led a number of different school-based teacher education programmes focusing on SEND. He has sat on the DfE panels developing both the Teaching Assistant and Professional Development standards and writes a monthly feature for the the Times Educational Supplement.

Bob Lowndes

Autism Education Trust

Bob Lowndes is the Director of the Autism Education Trust. Bob has extensive experience and expertise in supporting people on the autism spectrum from his long-standing career in the autism sector, including twenty years as Chief Executive of Autism Wessex and as the former Chair of the AET.

Jarlath O'Brien

Carwarden House Community School

Jarlath is Headteacher of Carwarden House Community School, a special academy in Surrey. Jarlath has worked in comprehensive and selective independent schools and in three different special schools serving children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, moderate, severe and profound, and multiple learning difficulties.

Jarlath has extensive experience of Ofsted inspections, having experienced seven in the last nine years as a special school leader. He is a National Education Trust Leading Thinker, a board member of Wellington College’s Teaching School and is a member of Headteachers’ Roundtable. Jarlath writes regularly for the Times Educational Supplement and his first book is due to be published in 2016.

Vijita Patel

Swiss Cottage School

Vijita Patel is the Principal of Swiss Cottage School Development & Research Centre, a 2-19 Special Needs School in the London Borough of Camden. Vijita joined Swiss Cottage School in 2012, leading it as a member of the Executive Team into its fifth Outstanding Ofsted judgement. Vijita is a proponent for effective inclusion of learners with SEND and promotes this agenda through a system leadership model. She believes inclusive philosophies and specialist pedagogy drive sustainable change towards aspirational outcomes.

Vijita works with Mainstream and Special School Headteachers, Senior Leaders, SENCOs, and Local Authority teams on a range of priorities, particularly leading locality and provision developments as the complexity of need increases. She works with postgraduate students on personalised learning through research on cognitive processing. She has completed SEND Reviews for mainstream and specialist primary and secondary schools, advocating an ongoing relationship to drive meaningful change which leads to the development of enhanced provisions.

Vijita is a Director of the London Leadership Strategy and works on SEND initiatives such as SEND Leaders. She is also involved in DfE Consultations for SEND Policy and Reform.

Charlotte Rains

London Leadership Strategy

Charlotte has oversight of all of LLS’ programmes and directly project manages Whole School SEND and SEND Leaders, amongst other school improvement programmes.

Charlotte has been managing projects in the third sector for over five years. Prior to LLS she worked with a homeless charity in East London managing education and life skills programmes for people with entrenched substance misuse, mental health and offending histories. For the last 14 years she has regularly volunteered and fundraised for social clubs for adults, young people and children with SEND.

She is a PRINCE2 Practitioner and read Law with Politics at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Malcolm Reeve

Academies Enterprise Trust

Malcolm is Executive Director for SEND & Inclusion at Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) - the UK’s largest academy chain. He has worked in the field of SEND for 30 years and in that time has worked in adult provision, mainstream schools and special schools. He has worked with children throughout the age range and with learning difficulties ranging from moderate to profound.

Malcolm has been a Headteacher of three schools and one federation. He is a National Leader of Education, a Member of the National SEND Forum and Patron of the Centre Algarve holiday centre for people with special needs.

Chris Rossiter MSc., MBPsS, FRSA

Driver Youth Trust

Chris is an applied psychologist and Director of Driver Youth Trust (DYT). He trained as an occupational and organisational psychologist and is an experienced researcher and consultant. He is responsible for developing DYT’s flagship programme Drive for Literacy (DfL). DfL is a comprehensive model that drives systemic change in the practice and structure of schools.

Alongside this, Chris is a school governor and an active member of British Psychology Society's Division of Occupational Psychology, where he volunteers on the Neurodiversity Working Group and also participated in the Leadership Development Programme (2014-2015). Chris is also a fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).

Philippa Stobbs

Council for Disabled Children

Philippa is the Assistant Director (Education) at the Council for Disabled Children. A trained teacher and occupational therapist with a Masters in the education of children with special needs, she began her career working in mainstream and special schools, before joining the Inner London Education Authority as an inspector.

She has led a number of national developments in the education of disabled children and children with SEND, including partnership projects bringing together providers, parents and children and young people themselves. She has led policy work for the Special Educational Consortium since 1992 and the development of national support to parent partnership services. She was the principal author of the original Disability Rights Commission Code of Practice for schools and the DfE's guidance on implementing the Disability Discrimination Act in educational settings. She trains, writes and provides consultancy on SEND and disability issues for schools and local authorities.

Philippa was seconded to the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) for two years where she managed the Lamb Inquiry into parental confidence and DCSF's work with the National Strategies on SEND progression and the development of RAISE online to incorporate SEND data. During her time at the DfE, she was the principal author of the Code of Practice setting out schools’ duties when the Disability Discrimination Act was extended to include education. Philippa is also trustee of an autism charity and is Chair of Governors of a non-maintained special school.

Michael Surr


Michael Surr is an Education Development Officer with nasen.  His background is in primary education both in the UK and abroad.  He has worked as a class teacher, SENCo and Deputy Head. Since beginning his career in education he has had a keen interest in SEN, ICT and equalities issues. From 2008 Michael worked on the leadership team of a Local Authority SEND advisory service which gave him the opportunity to broaden his experience into Early Years and Secondary.

Rob Webster

UCL Institute of Education

Rob is a researcher and joint professional development co-ordinator at the UCL Institute of Education. He leads the Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants initiative for SENJIT, and delivers the MITA school improvement course for school leaders.

Rob has worked on a number of research projects focusing on the use and impact of teaching assistants (TAs), including the ground-breaking Deployment and Impact of Support Staff project and its follow-up study, the Effective Deployment of TAs project. He has co-directed the Making a Statement study and now leads the SEND in Secondary Education study, both of which focus on the educational experiences of students with SEND.

He has written extensively on these topics and his publications include: the Education Endowment Foundation's Making the Best Use of Teaching Assistants guidance report (June 2015); two acclaimed books: Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants and The Teaching Assistant's Guide to Effective Interaction; and numerous papers, many of which can be downloaded via the research pages on the MITA website.

Rob has also had five years’ experience of working as a TA and as a local authority SEND Officer, managing the statutory assessment process and school placements.

Hannah Wilson

Oxfordshire Hub for GLF Schools

Hannah Wilson is the Headteacher Designate for Aureus School, Didcot and Regional Director of the Oxfordshire Hub for GLF Schools. Aureus is a Year 7 start-up school which will be opened in September 2017.

Hannah is also the Co-Founder of #WomenEd, a grassroots gender equality movement that connects aspiring, emerging and serving women leaders in education. She wants the school leadership teams around the country to reflect the diverse workforce. She is also a coach in the DfE’s women leading in education coaching pilot.