Stage 1 Seminars

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.


10:50 - 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


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
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.



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

10:30 - 11:30

Opening Keynote – Improving educational outcomes through getting it right for each and every child

The presentation will consider the improvements in educational outcomes for Glasgow’s children and young people and the factors influencing these improvements including the learning environment.


11:45 - 12:45

Life beyond school: creating inclusive urban and rural communities

How higher Education facilities are supporting inclusive enterprise through a presence on the high street

Speaker: Jon Roylance, Director of Higher Education, ADP Architecture

We will present three current higher education project case studies reflecting a theme of 'inclusive enterprise' and community engagement, through the conscious re-purposing of buildings on the high street.
Each centre presents new thinking on how equality, diversity, and inclusion is reflected in new facilities for students and local communities.
• A new city centre campus for the University of Gloucestershire in the heart of the city creating opportunities for training and community support as a centre of health and social care, education, and learning.
• A new 'inclusive enterprise' centre for the University of Westminster creating new facilities to support students from all backgrounds and the local community into employment - supporting both graduate and community enterprise.
• A new Business and Law Clinic for Liverpool John Moores University supporting graduate and local business enterprise and legal training providing services to the local community.

Learning Points:

  1. Three Higher Education institution approaches to 'inclusive enterprise'.
  2. How EDI policies are reflected in new learning and training facilities for graduates of all backgrounds, for university entrepreneurs, and local enterprise.
  3. How high street premises and being re-purposed for community benefit - preventative health, social care, and long-life learning.

Supported Living – can one size fits all?

Speaker: Kate McGechan, Associate, Haverstock

Kate McGechan will consider the challenges and design opportunities around supported living. Specialist houses, for adults with special needs, who are ready to make the move to increased independence. There is an accepted route for children identified with special needs to spend much of their early life, up to 19 years old, within a very protective education setting (accepting some children at the extreme end may be hospitilised). These settings and the support around this are advanced and prescriptive in design, aspirations, and delivery. As a design team, the regulations, building standards and guidance are well known for these environments. Schools are relatively large and cater for, in some instances grouped together, many special needs. But what happens when a child, now young adult, leaves this setting? Supported living is an emerging sector for consideration. How do we transition these young adults to a home for life, and can we design a home that suits many needs? Are bespoke homes financially viable for developers or local authorities?

Learning Points
1.  Supported living overview – aims, challenges, guidance, mechanisms
2.  Design - Flexibility, adaptability, intelligent design
3.  Housing guidance – sizes, guidance, regulations


13:45 - 14:45


Design for the mind: designing for student mental health


Jean Hewitt, Access & Inclusion Specialist, Inclusive Design Buro Happold; UCL Lecturer "Inclusive Places"

Mike Entwisle, Partner and Education Sector Director at Buro Happold

This talk explores the impact of design on student mental health. Between 2015 and 2017, Buro Happold undertook the first UK and US student focused survey of how the university estate influences student decisions. Insights from this work led to a series of design sprints Designing for student mental health (2018/19), where Buro Happold hosted estates professionals and other members of the university team from over twenty-five institutions. Continuing this focus on design for mental health and wellbeing, Buro Happold’s Inclusive Design team are authoring a first of its kind BSI PAS guide - Design for the mind - Neurodiversity and the built environment. The guide includes both design and management of the built environment for neuro-divergence. A first step towards a formal standard to provide information for designers, planners, specifiers, facilities managers and decision-makers - placing people at the heart of the design process, acknowledging that human diversity and difference exists everywhere, offering dignity, autonomy and choices, spontaneity, and providing for flexibility in use. All this combined with a personal story outlining the experience which an immediate family member had at university, when her environment and daily routine along with a disability diagnosis contributed to her mental health issues, but also how a change in where she lived made a huge difference for the better. Other themes explored will include the lack of acknowledgement of the physical environment in university league tables, the position of this theme in UUK's step change framework, and how standardisation of the reporting of mental health issues at UK universities will enable better diagnosis and targeting of resources.

Learning Points: 

1. Insight on the recently published first of it’s kind BSI PAS guide - Design for the mind - Neurodiversity and the built environment.
2. A fresh perspective on the influence of design on student mental health and what universities and designers can be doing more of.
3. Guidance on both design and management of the built environment for neuro-divergence.


Thinking Differently: Architectural Design for Hidden Disabilities

Speaker: Stephanie Kyle, Architect and Inclusive Design Consultant, Maber Associates

Stephanie will set out some simple design principles that can improve any project for neurodivergent building users and those with hidden disabilities. These ideas are easy and cost-effective to implement and will improve many people’s experience of the built environment. This presentation includes a brief introduction to different types of hidden disabilities and the most prevalent neurological and sensory processing conditions that can be supported through good design including Autism, dementia, ADHD, Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia. These design principles will be justified by a summary of Stephanie’s primary research into neurodiverse inclusive design.


  • Jean Hewitt Senior Inclusive Design Consultant & Trainer - BuroHappold | Inclusive Design
  • Stephanie Kyle Architect and Inclusive Design Consultant - Maber Associates
  • Mike Entwisle Partner and Education Sector Director - Buro Happold


15:00 - 16:00

Acoustics as a route to inclusion

Sound solutions for assisted learning needs

Speaker: Shane Cryer, AMIOA - Concept Developer, Education, Saint-Gobain Ecophon

If you have ASD, a hearing impairment, ADHD or SEMH challenges, what impact could a noisy classroom have on your well-being and your ability to focus, learn and memorise? Ultimately, the acoustic environment will impact on educational confidence, attainment and career aspirations.

Using examples such as the inclusive refurbishment at Winchester Science Centre, the Stephen Heppell case study and VR technology, this presentation will provide practical acoustic solutions to level the learning playingfield utilising before and after sound files.

Learning Points:

1. Sound isn't the same for all of us
2. Why is Low Frequency sound a problem and how to deal with it.
3. Practical solutions to correct a poor sound environemnt in: a refurbishment, a new build (inc. exposed soffit scenarios) and modular buildings


Acoustics for inclusive learning - are we living up to our promises?

Speaker: Adrian James, Director, Adrian James Acoustics Ltd

A great deal has been written about acoustic criteria for children with special hearing and communication needs, but little about the practicalities of delivering these or of monitoring the results. In this paper, Adrian James will briefly review the acoustic requirements in DfE Building Bulletin 93; compare these with those in other countries; and review the different extents to which those requirements are being met in new and refurbished schools in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, looking at examples of everyday delivery rather than some of the widely publicised "flagship projects". Adrian will also consider the reasons why current methods of school procurement result in so many schools not delivering acoustic inclusivity, and suggests some simple ways in which this could be improved.

Learning Points: 

1 - Why acoustics is important for inclusive learning
2 - How the UK's theoretical criteria and practical delivery compares with other countries
3 - How current school procurement methods affect delivery of inclusive learning environments, and what we can do to improve this