In August 2017, CCEA hosted a one day conference highlighting how creativity and aspirational thinking can enhance classroom practice within special educational needs schools. Attendees had the opportunity to hear from key speakers in this area and were able to engage in a series of workshops facilitated by teachers, allied professionals and academics. The workshops provided teachers with practical activities that they could take away and use in their classrooms.
SEN Conference 2017 - A look back...
2017 Conference Speaker: Prof Frank Lyons
Professor Frank Lyons is Director of the Arts and Humanities Research Institute and Head of School of Creative Arts and Technologies at Ulster University.
Inclusive Creativity is a concept devised by Professor Frank Lyons at Ulster University in collaboration with key partners such as Share Music Sweden, Drake Music Project and Stravaganza, which aims to level the playing field in performance and composition for disabled musicians by developing new technologies and methodologies for their use.
2017 Conference Speaker: Wayne Denner
Author of 'The Student's Guide to an Epic Online Reputation... and parents too', Educator, Entrepreneur, Speaker and Trainer, Wayne Denner set up Ireland's first social networking platform at the age of 17 in the early noughties -before Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and Bebo! Wayne has now 20 years experience in the online space and is internationally regarded as a thought leader and influencer of online safeguarding, youth engagement online and emerging trends in today's rapidly changing online environment.
Wayne inspires and motivates young people and adults to protect their well-being online, take control and maximise their individual talent in today's digital world. Wayne tells his story and provides sound advice on protecting personal, professional and organisational reputation online and using social networks, the internet and smartphones to your advantage.
2017 Workshop: Session 1
Recording observations using the Quest for learning software
Andrew Douglas, CCEA
This session introduced the attendees to the recently updated Quest for learning software. Attendees were given a demonstration of its interface and features, and had the opportunity to sign their school up to use the software if they had not already done so.
Information on the content covered and the Quest in general, can be found here:
Learning for Life and Work in the SLD classroom
Treasa Hawksford, CCEA
Treasa gave an overview of the Learning for Life and Work resources for severe learning difficulties that CCEA have available. She also discussed their contribution to a sensory curriculum.
Drama in the SLD classroom
Brendan McAfee, Roddensvale School
Brendan has extensive experience in creating wonderful drama productions with his classes of learners with SLD. He shared some practical ideas for developing learners’ creative side.
Qualifications for learners with SEN
Teresa Robb, CCEA
Teresa presented an overview of CCEA's qualifications provision for learners with SEN including the new Entry level Life Skills which is available for first teaching from September 2017.
Information on the Entry Level Life Skills qualification can be found here:
An introduction to 'Shine'
'Shine' is based on a pre-existing highly effective, evidence-based programme All Stars 'Core'. This is designed to prevent or delay risky behaviour and is tailored for pupils who have mild to moderate learning difficulties.
Infant Mental Health
Deirdre McAliskey, National Children's Bureau
The National Children’s Bureau presented details of research into infant mental health and linked this to effective classroom strategies for teachers.
This session aimed to make teachers aware of approaches they can use in the classroom with children who are deaf.
2017 Workshop: Session 2
An introduction to the new Q Skills recording software
Andrew Douglas, CCEA
This workshop introduced attendees to the new Q Skills software. They were given a demonstration of its interface and features, and had the opportunity to sign their school up to use the software.
Information on the content covered and the Q Skills in general, can be found here:
"Never Say Can't" Art in the classroom
Wendy Davey, Killard School
This workshop looked at art methods and approaches in the classroom for post-primary pupils with moderate learning difficulties.
Creative Learning with Technology in SEN
Sarah Lawrence and Sharon Tosh from the Nerve, Creative Learning Centres
Over the last 12 years the Creative Learning Centres (AmmA Centre, Nerve Centre and Nerve Belfast) have supported a large number of schools and youth and community groups across Northern Ireland gaining knowledge and experience of working with children with a variety of additional needs.
This workshop explored how the combination of a creative learning approach and the use of technology can positively impact on the teaching and learning of SEN pupils. It also allowed participants time to find out more about opportunities for support from the Creative Learning Centres as well explore some new creative technologies available.
For more information on the work of Nerve and the support and resources available, visit their website:
SEBD & SLD
Treasa Hawksford, CCEA
This workshop assisted school staff on identifying and supporting learners with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD) with a particular focus on the issues of learners with severe learning difficulties.
This workshop aimed to provide the opportunity for teachers to
- experience how children with visual impairment see the world;
- the implications of this for the classroom; and
- how some of these implications can be addressed.
Food for Life
Glynis Henderson, CCEA
As part of the Food in Schools Policy, the Food in Schools resources group provide support to all schools for the teaching of food and nutrition. In the workshop we provided guidance on the policy, an introduction to available resources, the use of 'food@ my school' Fronter room in partnership with C2k and ideas for practical food activities.
Information on the Food in Schools resources group can be found here:
Dr. Noel Purdy, Director of Research and Scholarship, Stranmillis University College, Belfast. Former Chair, NI Anti-Bullying Forum
This seminar outlined the nature and incidence of bullying in schools, with particular reference to children with special educational needs and disabilities. It addressed the particular challenges involved for teachers, and outlined the likely implications of the Addressing Bullying in Schools (NI) Act 2016. Advice and guidance will be provided based on national and international research in this area.
2017 Workshop: Session 3
Music Therapy for children with special educational needs.
Emma Donnelly, Music Therapy Connections NI
Music therapy uses music as a tool for communication and expression. Making connections through music can have a positive impact on: - self-esteem - sense of identity - communication skills - social skills and physical development. If a child or adult is well equipped in these areas they are more likely to engage positively in their education.
Autism: Prepare, Capture and Engage
Lorna Fitzpatrick - Autism Trainer / Advisor, Middletown Centre for Autism
During this workshop, attendees learnt how to:
- prepare the environment for learners with autism;
- capture the attention of the learner; and
- engage pupils in meaningful activities which develop skills.
For more information on the work of Middletown and the support and resources available, visit their website:
Physical Activity for All
Mark George, Harberton School
This workshop provided teachers with practical suggestions for including all learners in physical activity. It looked at sports that appeal to a range of interests and abilities.
Using sensory resources: can the expense make sense?
Gillian Beck, NASEN NI (President)
This session was an introduction to the issues underlying sensory provision in an educational setting. The use of sensory resources and even sensory rooms is becoming ever more popular but are teachers confident not only of the how but the why of this kind of SEN provision?
For more information on the work of NASEN NI and the support and resources available, visit their website:
Levels of Progression in Communication & Using Maths
Jennifer Robinson, CCEA
This workshop looked at end of Key Stage Statutory Assessment and in particular the lower levels (LoP) for Communication and Using Mathematics.
Mindfulness for learners with SEN
Viv Bannon, EnvisageNow Ltd
This workshop by EnvisageNow demonstrated the benefits of using mindfulness strategies for learners with SEN. It also looked at some short practical activities for the classroom.
Preparation for Transition
National Children's Bureau
Transition from school to adult services is always a difficult time for both learners and families. This workshop looked at suitable methods to prepare learners for transition. It also shared current examples of good practice.