SEN Conference and launch coming up in Newbury in October

A two-day conference is being held for parents and professionals concerned with special educational needs is being held in Newbury, Berkshire on 14th and 15th October 2011. The conference, entitled “Towards a Positive Future”  is aimed at parents and professionals, to inspire, share experiences and discover how they can achieve more for children with special needs. The conference is being held on October 14-15 at Arlington Arts Centre, Newbury and has been organised by practitioners Wordswell and social entrepreneur Robert Ashton.

It will herald the launch of a new foundation that will enable practitioners to join together to provide multi-disciplinary specialist services for children with special educational needs. It’s hoped the Clarity Foundation could transform the present fragmented and bureaucratic system. The Foundation hopes to attract health and social care providers, as well as education specialists, to join as members who can be referred to families and local authorities as approved providers meeting statutory guidelines.

The foundation is the brainchild of speech and language therapist Janet O’Keefe and Robert Ashton, best selling business author, social entrepreneur and campaigner, who are passionate about providing a new joined-up efficient system which supports children and their families with educational support, while at the same time eliminating unnecessary duplication and bureaucracy.
There are currently 1.7 million children with special educational needs in England who require support for wide ranging conditions, from dyslexia, dyspraxia and Down’s syndrome, to autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Janet says: “We believe that having a one-stop shop is the best way to enable parents and local authorities find all the support services desperately needed by children with special needs, and that our foundation is the most practical and efficient way of ensuring that those services are integrated and coordinated. We need to bring practitioners from health, education and social care together and plan for the future while the present guidelines for new contract arrangements is under review. Our foundation will be a valuable database of all heath and social care providers, as well as education specialists.
“Additionally, we can streamline time consuming and expensive administrative processes. For example, we can help with criminal bureau checks and professional indemnity insurance. At the moment, if a practitioner is not directly employed by a school or local authority, every school they visit should conduct its own CRB check. Many practitioners regularly visit 20 schools a week sometimes in several different counties and are therefore checked 20 times.”
Robert says it makes good sense to become more efficient during the present shake up of these services:
He says: “However you feel about the Government’s “Big Society” agenda, the fact is that the worlds of education, health and social care are undergoing massive change. The Clarity Foundation is being formed to help parents make sense of those changes, and in parallel to help practitioners create their own enterprises. That way both groups can connect, create opportunities and meet the needs of young people striving to overcome disadvantage.”
Specialist speakers include educational psychologist and former head teacher Charlie Mead, who has worked with children with severe emotional and behavioural problems and special needs for 20 years and Kevin Geeson, CEO of Dyslexia Action, who will highlight the impact of the SEN Green Paper.
Janet is also launching a book she has edited at the conference also called Towards a Positive Future which includes stories, ideas and inspiration from children with special educational needs, their families and professionals.
Full details about the conference can be found at their website, Towards a Positive Future: http://towardsapositivefuture.wordpress.com/

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