Day 1 Seminars

09:00 - 10:00

Registration, Networking Breakfast & Exhibition Visit

09:45 - 10:40

Good POE Driving Design & Inclusion

What comparing 20 existing SEND schools with the guidance in BB104 tells us about the UK’s SEND School Buildings Estate

Speaker: Laura Jones, Architect & Client Adviser, L J A

In 2021, LJA were commissioned to assess the spatial capacity of 20 broad ranging SEND school buildings. To understand the school’s spatial capacity, we developed an assessment methodology which utilised the various formula available in Building Bulletin 104 using 4 types of area assessment. The methodology specifically attempted to reconcile the impact of the specific needs of each school’s current pupil population with the spatial areas that they require. This presentation will discuss the methodology and the trends that emerged in the data collected to give an indicative reflection of the SEND school building estate.

Learning Points:

1. Developed understanding of the historical timeline of SEND school buildings in the UK (from the mid-twentieth century onwards)
2. Consideration of Building Bulletin 104 as the current government guidance for SEND school buildings; its limitations and potential as a vehicle to understand area surpluses and deficits
3. Deliberation of the trends in the area types found lacking in SEND school building estates.

Designed by children, used by children: a post-occupancy review of the Caudwell International Children’s Centre


Trudi Beswick, CEO, Caudwell Children

Ben Sutcliffe, Director of Executive Projects, Caudwell Children

In the three years since was opened, the Caudwell International Children’s Centre has been the home to a pioneering new autism assessment, intervention and research service as well as the head office of national children’s charity, Caudwell Children.

Charity CEO & project Design Manager, Trudi Beswick, and Director of Executive Projects, Ben Sutcliffe, look back at the process of designing the Centre and the impact the environment has had on the children and families who use it.


10:00 - 10:30

Access and Communication in the SEN Classroom

Access and Communication in the SEN Classroom

Speaker: Alice Langley, Training Manager, Tobii Dynavox

Assistive Technology is an important tool to use for students with special needs. These tools help students overcome learning challenges, including mobility impairments, learning differences, communication difficulties and more. In this session Alice will explore access methods, communication technologies and demonstrate how Tobii Dynavox’s extensive range of accessible products help pupils to participate and achieve together.

10:40 - 10:50

Conference Session Break

10:50 - 11:45

SEN Policy in Mainstream Schools and Further and Higher Education

Meeting the needs of children and young people with SEN and disability in mainstream – Challenges and moving forward

This presentation will cover the key issues arising from the current SEND Green Paper, and will include:

  • Improving outcomes for children and young people with SEND
  • Mainstream schools - improving the experiences of parents of children and young people with SEND and delivering practice that will increase parental confidence in the SEND system

SEND: creating an inclusive culture and learning environment

Anita Devi, Education Consultant & Founding CEO of #TeamADL

This session will include Provision Review case studies from schools and Post 16 where educational leaders have intentionally acted on Section 19 of The Children & Families Act 2014, to clearly articulate whole setting provision through structured dialogue and research, thereby transparently demonstrating to learners and parents what the inclusive culture and environment is. The Provision Review model is an approach pioneered and developed by #TeamADL for early years providers to Post 16. Currently being used by MATs, schools, colleges, and alternative providers across England.

  • André Imich SEN and Disability Professional Adviser - Department for Education
  • Anita Devi CDE & Founder - #TeamADL CIC


11:00 - 11:30

Reimagining SEN Classrooms (Case Study)

Reimagining SEN Classrooms (Case Study)

Speaker: Lee Blemings, CEO, Sensory Guru

Lee Blemings will present an overview of Sensory Guru’s ground-breaking digital transformation classroom collaboration project with Charlton Park Academy. Delegates will learn how Sensory Guru helped educators to provide inclusive learning:

  • experiences for pupils with PMLD, SLD and Autism, using a new lesson
  • delivery system (Magic Room) that incorporates pupil interaction, assistive
  • technology, and stunning multimedia learning content.

Lee will also discuss universal design for learning and how this can be implemented for pupils with the most complex learning needs.

11:45 - 12:15

Conference Session Break & Exhibition Visit

12:00 - 12:30

Sensory Accessibility in SEN settings

Sensory Accessibility in SEN settings

Speaker: Ella Blunden, UX Designer, Sensory Guru

Creating environments that are conducive to learning requires a controlled space in which students can make sense of the information that is presented to them. There is a need to optimise space, content, and information flow to meet the diverse learning needs of pupils. In this presentation Ella Blunden will highlight some of the key considerations that go into assisting educators in delivering accessible experiences optimised to pupils’ sensory needs and provide examples of learning content designed for different sensory modalities.

12:15 - 13:15

Inclusive Low Carbon Environments

How low carbon design can enhance the environment within a SEND school and contribute to the overall wellbeing


Claire Jackson, Education Director, Galliford Try

Allan Smith, Low Carbon Manager, Morrison Construction

This presentation will explore how low carbon design can enhance the environment within a SEND school and contribute to the overall wellbeing. We will also consider where they might be competing drivers within a SEND setting for a sustainable design.
We will look at thermal comfort, acoustic requirements and energy usage and how these can all be enhanced with a sustainable design to the benefit of the school and students.

Marjorie McClure School is a new build SEND school in London Borough of Bromley for students aged 4 to 19 with a range of different complex needs which include physical, medical and/or moderate or profound learning difficulties and disabilities.
The School has been selected to be part of a Sustainability Pilot by the Department for Education with the key drivers of; Reducing Energy Demand, Greening the School Estate and Creating Resilient New Schools.

The Beatlie School Campus provides education for pupils aged between 3 and 18 years of age with severe and complex educational needs and profound medical needs in West Lothian. The new school will meet the exacting standards of sustainability and low carbon and thermal comfort targets set by the Scottish Futures Trust Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP).

Learning Points:

  1. The case studies will show how sustainability has been integrated within the designs and the overlapping and multiple benefits.

Journey to achieving Passivhaus on SEN Schools


Catherine Ward, Associate, SEN Lead at HLM Architects

Ian Snowden/Jason Fitzsimmons, Passivhaus Consultants, Gale and Snowden

As part of the DfE Sustainability Pathfinder programme, HLM and G&S were commissioned as part of a contractor-led team to design and deliver the World’s first* Passivhaus SEN School. To be managed and operated by the highly, respected Wellspring Trust, the school is a non-ambulant special school located in Scunthorpe.

This talk will explain our journey so far, in designing a SEN school that is to achieve Passivhaus Classic, whilst meeting the stringent requirements of the DfE Output Specification and the School Specific Brief. The school has a number of bespoke areas, that generated a number of challenges in regards to Passivhaus, including a hydrotherapy suite.

Learning Points: 

  1. We will outline some of the challenges in meeting Passivhaus for SEN settings as well as achieving compliance with the DfE Output Specification, including the practical considerations of incorporating a hydrotherapy pool into a Passivhaus building
    2. We will discuss some of the benefits meeting Passivhaus will bring to the SEN setting including well-being aspects for SEN pupils and staff
    3. We will discuss how we balanced achieving Passivhaus standards whilst delivering the School Specific Brief, without compromising the Trust’s curriculum delivery



  • Mark Brown Consultant - TG Escapes - modular eco-buildings
12:15 - 13:15

Pedagogically Disruptive Approaches in an SEN Setting

Pedagogically Disruptive Approaches in an SEN Setting


Philip Watson, Director, Head of Design at HLM Architects & Shona Crichton, Associate Principal, Springwell Leeds Academy.

Improving socialization and educational attainment in SEN settings is hugely challenging and ‘standard’ teaching and learning spaces may not provide the best settings for this. Wellspring Academy Trust uses highly successful ‘pedagogically disruptive’ approaches that improve outcomes for its students and these are facilitated by unique types of spaces that support these approaches.

This talk will explain how the Trust worked hand-in-glove with the architect to create spaces that support the pedagogies that are transforming outcomes for young people. It will show that conventional wisdom about best practice classroom design doesn’t necessarily apply in SEND settings. Examples will span both PMLD and SEMH settings with reference to school buildings in Barnsley that have been in successful operation for around ten years.

Learning Points:

  1. The type of pedagogies that can be accommodated in a variety of settings.
  2. The types of spaces required to support these pedagogies.
  3.  Comparative study of impact of disruptive pedagogies.
  4.  Understanding of how future schools, built to last at least 60yrs, can also facilitate these approaches.


13:15 - 14:15

Lunch & Exhibition Visit

14:15 - 15:15

Achieving Net-Zero ​in a Public Sector building

Achieving Net-Zero in a Public Sector building


Nadim El Bakri, Programme Coordinator, Salix Finance

Vaishni Patel, Programme Coordinator, Salix Finance ​

An overview of how Schools can plan towards decarbonising their sites. This includes an summary of what a decarbonisation plan can contain, how to think holistically and examples of best practice for delivery and post-completion monitoring. We will also discuss how Salix can provide funding moving forward to support these plans.

14:15 - 15:30

Wellbeing & Learning Driving Design

The challenges of designing for children and young adults with autism

Claire Mantle Schools Director, ADP & Claire Hunt, Head of Landscape, ADP

Inside: Only by stepping into the shoes of pupils, parents and staff, can we understand just how design can positively impact every day activities and experiences; teaching and learning, and wellbeing.

We review how spaces can be carefully designed to support restorative behaviour, with consideration given to: Wellbeing, Predictability, Sensory stimulation, Passive observation, Reassurance, Sensory Transition, Flexibility, Privacy and Dignity, Staff safety, User Control, Predictability.

Outside: Outdoor learning can make for happier, healthier, well-rounded students – particularly those with special educational needs. Outdoor spaces relieves stress and anxiety, develop social skills and motivate learning.

The healing ability of a landscape is well documented in healthcare: natural environments offer peace and tranquillity, and can help improve recovery. Applying these principles in education settings, is just as crucial. Drawing on our experiences in both education and residential design for autism and SEN, we explore the key watch-points.

Using video interviews from our schools, heads, to convey how design can make a difference to them.

Improving Well-being and Learning with Biophilic Design

Mark Brown, Consultant, TG Escapes Eco Buildings

With UK society facing a mental health crisis it is now more important than ever to support the well-being of students and their teachers. Incorporating nature-inspired (biophilic) design elements into school buildings is one way to help. Many research studies have shown how the use of natural materials, the provision of natural light, ease of access to the outdoors and the incorporation of nature inspired shapes, patterns and images can improve the built environment.
We will explain the principles of biophilic design and show that they can easily be incorporated into new buildings and added to existing spaces. We will look at the impact of biophilia on educational outcomes and general well-being using independent research and case studies.

Learning Points:

  1. The principles of biophilic design
  2. The evidence that nature inspired design supports well-being
  3. Case studies illustrating the impact of biophilic building design in mainstream and special schools

Adapting HCD for SEN

Lucy Greenland, Project Architect, Atkins

Ruth Hynes, Senior Design Researcher, Atkins

How do we broaden the engagement process to ensure it is inclusive of all users of a building, particularly those with Special Educational Needs? How can we utilise digital tools to capture meaningful data from SEN staff/pupils to ensure their specific requirements are acknowledged and integrated as part of the Project Brief and ultimately completed building?

In this presentation we share how together, with the National Autistic Society we have been researching and exploring how we can develop our Atkins HCD toolkit to become fully inclusive of all users. This includes exploring the integration of established SEN communication methods and new design optioneering analysis methods (e.g., sensory mapping) to collect meaningful data.

Learning Points:

1. Human Centred Design Toolkit
2. Methods of communication for SEN in Stakeholder Engagement Workshops
3. SEN Design Options Analysis Methodologies – e.g. Sensory Mapping etc.



15:30 - 16:00

Conference Break & Exhibition Visit

16:00 - 17:00

Building Better Futures

Building Better Futures | Improving the pathway for design and delivery of SEND schools


Peter Whitmore, Managing Director – East, Morgan Sindall

Steve Holt, Head of Operations, Morgan Sindall Construction

Claire Barton, Partner, Haverstock

Having completed a number of SEND schools, the Morgan Sindall Construction team frequently came up against the question; what makes a great SEND school? Deciding to delve deeper into the sector and explore all angles of delivery, from concept to colour scheme, the team decided to commission an in-depth qualitative study.

Bringing together experts from the public and private sectors to look at the factors that make up a truly great SEND school and examine how the delivery pathway could be enhanced to secure improved outcomes for every young person with SEND. The Better Futures white paper was born.

Claire Barton feedback

Learning Points:

• How to improve the pathway for design and delivery of SEND schools
• The importance of POEs and how they influence the onward journey
• How deeper and wider stakeholder collaboration has achieved the best results

16:00 - 17:00

Wellbeing & Learning Driving Design continued

School design for social sustainability and community cohesion

Time: 16.00 - 16.40


Dr Nada Milivojevic, KTP Associate, Queens University Belfast and TODD Architects

Clare Mulholland, Lecturer in Architecture, Queen’s University Belfast

Jim Mulholland, Director, Todd Architects

This presentation discusses design for more cohesive, inclusive and safe schools and communities. School buildings influence the development of social and emotional well-being and the development of personal beliefs, attitudes and values. With the appropriate school design, we can support the social and emotional well-being, development of safe and inclusive school grounds and development of soft skills. This presentation shows the concepts emerging from the theory and project practice. It presents results from the Knowledge Transfer Partnership between Queens University Belfast and Todd Architects.

Learning Points:

  1.  Firstly, this presentation shows how to translate interaction, critical thinking and other key skills into spatial concepts to support school design
  2. It discusses the typology of learning spaces in schools and how this can support the concept of sharing
  3.  It presents how space can be used for community involvement which further expands the topic of school design for social sustainability

Designing Hydrotherapy Pools for SEN Schools

Time: 16.40 -17.00


Bob Oliver,  Commercial Director, Innova Care Concepts

Alice Parker, Associate, Pozzoni Architecture

Hydrotherapy offers tangible benefits to the health and wellbeing of children and young people with a range of disabilities and health conditions (including life-threatening or life-limiting conditions). Hydrotherapy pools tend to be purpose-built with a constant or very gradual water depth of around 1 metre. The warmth of the water also influences the individual neuro-muscular junctions which results in decreased muscle tone and decreased spasticity.
Pools usually incorporate multi-sensory equipment such as lighting and sound to stimulate the senses, you can add colour-changing lights which can colour the entire tank of water to fitting bubble mats in the base of the pool, and rain clouds above it for further sensory stimulation, all aiding with an immediate positive impact on psychological wellbeing. They also include air jets as standard. Young people who tend to be in crisis for a lot of the time, as they are overloaded by their sensory environment find that after 20 minutes of splashing and moving round in a pool, are a lot calmer and more able to cope in class.
Infection control is another facet to consider in SEN schools as the pool will be used by many children, stainless steel is a particularly robust and hygienic material that does not scratch or promote bacterial growth on its surface, supported by bespoke Innova scientific research, as well as costs a lot less in maintenance and servicing over time.
Evacuation procedures are also key – just like any other school. Half-in half-out pools are perfect height for staff to get disabled pupils out of the pool and straight on to an evacuation trolley or couch. Considerations for designing a hydrotherapy pool, must look to include the overhead hoist access needed to ensure good coverage of the pool itself as well as a straight route to the changing rooms.

Learning Points:

  1. Hydrotherapy pools provide an opportunity for students to build physical strength and enjoy sensory stimulation in a safe, secure SEN school environment.
  2. Bespoke scientific research shows the difference in pathogen transmission of the different types of materials hydrotherapy pools can be constructed from.
  3.  Ideal design layouts and set ups of hydrotherapy pools to ensure optimum moving and handling, evacuation and safety considerations



17:00 - 18:00

Networking Drinks Reception

Free for all to attend the Networking Drinks Reception brings together all attendees, sponsors, exhibitors and speakers in a social environment. The Networking Drinks Reception will take pace on the exhibition floor from 17:00 to 18:00.


Day 1 Close