The episode explores the genesis of Engagement, its relevance and application to vulnerable children with a whole range of learning needs. In a lecture presentation entitled “What you really need to know about Engagement”, Prof. Barry Carpenter CBE OBE FCCT and Beverley Cockbill ask the question, of all children, of all ages and abilities, “how does this child learn?”

Discussion is given to how Engagement illuminates the learning pathway; how the lens of Engagement can refine the focus of the learning process, leading to the capture of attainment and achievement.

They look at the research evidence for Engagement, and its contribution as a fundamental building block in child development. A multi – dimensional perspective is adopted – to pedagogy. to the processes of teaching and learning, to its use for formative assessment, through to the existing initiative for the Engagement Model, (DfE 2019), as statutory summative assessment for children ’ not engaged in subject specific learning ” – a recommendation from the Rochford Review (2016).

The message of the podcast is timely, not only for the statutory implementation from September 2021, but for the consequences for children’s learning and well being arising from the Coronavirus Pandemic. Many children will return to school, post Lockdown, with a ‘spikey profile‘ of learning , and are disengaged from the curriculum. Monitoring the ways the child can be re engaged, identifying the ‘hooks’ that can draw the child back to authentic engagement in the curriculum, is key. On this journey of re-engagement, the Engagement Profile is an invaluable tool, for baseline assessment, observation and formative assessment.

Through case studies which define and clarify the 5 Areas of Engagement, the podcast illustrates how the Engagement approach can ‘wrap around’ each child, and illuminate their learning pathways. This will be a much wider group than originally conceived, but the capacity of Engagement to be a bedrock upon which teachers can rebuild the child as a learner is unequivocal, and its potential for change and transformation in learning, undeniable.

**This episode is Part 1 of a series looking at Engagement.**

Episode 17: Engagement (Part 1) – What you really need to know about Engagement

The episode explores the genesis of Engagement, its relevance and application to vulnerable children with a whole range of learning needs. In a lecture presentation entitled “What you really need to know about Engagement”, Prof. Barry Carpenter CBE OBE and Beverley Cockbill ask the question, of all children, of all ages and abilities, “how does this child learn?”

The video below contains the audio from LearningShared Episode 17 with visual slides from the presentation.

About Barry Carpenter CBE OBE PhD FCCT:

Barry Carpenter holds the UK’s first Professorship in Mental Health in Education, at Oxford Brookes University. He is Honorary Professor at universities in the Ireland, Germany and Australia. He has been a Fellow of the University of Oxford.

He has been awarded an OBE and CBE by the Queen for services to children with Special Needs. In 2017 he was entered into “Who’s Who” in acknowledgement of his national and international contribution to the field of Special Education.

In a career spanning more than 40 years, Barry has held the leadership positions of Headteacher, Principal, Academic Director, Chief Executive, Inspector of Schools and Director of the Centre for Special Education at Westminster College, Oxford. In 2009, he was appointed by the Secretary of State for Education as Director of the Children with Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Research Project. In that role Barry led an important and valuable piece of research on the use of Engagement as a pedagogy. This work become the foundation for Department for Education’s new guidance for assessment (DfE, 2019). Since completing that research, Barry has overseen the development of a national project developing online ‘Training materials for teachers of children with severe, profound and complex learning disabilities” (

He is the author of over 150 articles and many texts on a range of learning disability/special needs topics. In the last 12 months, his work has been translated into German, French, Dutch and Russian. His most recent book publications (with Carolyn Blackburn and Jo Egerton) focus upon Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Most recently he co-authored “Engaging Learners with Complex Needs” (Routledge).

Barry lectures nationally and internationally. In recent years this has included China, Japan, Abu Dhabi, USA, and Germany. In 2018 he will be giving lectures in Australia and New Zealand. He is the co-founder of the National Forum for Neuroscience in Special Education. For the Mental Health Foundation, he Chaired the National Inquiry into the Mental Health of Young People with Learning Disabilities. He is currently Chairing a working group looking at the needs of Girls on the Autism Spectrum, which is the focus of his latest book.

Barry has 3 children – one a School Principal, one a Senior Occupational Therapist and a daughter with Down’s Syndrome, who now has a home of her own, published her first book in 2017, and is on an Apprenticeship as a Teaching Assistant.

For more information:

Professor Barry Carpenter’s website:

About Beverley Cockbill

Bev is a Complex Learning Needs Co-ordinator/Specialist Teacher for Chadsgrove School Support Services CCN (Communication Complex Needs) Team. School Support Services contributes to a school driven self-improvement model, which can lead to significant improvements in pupil outcomes.

Bev is a Training Co-ordinator in complex learning needs. Previously, she worked for SSAT (The Schools Network) Ltd as Training Coordinator for complex learning needs and as a Research and Development Assistant on the Department for Education-funded (CLDD) Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Research Project. In addition, Bev has been an Assistant Teacher and Structured Teaching Advisor/Trainer within a residential school offering 38/42-week education and 52-week care to children aged 6–19 years with severe and complex learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorder.

Bev lectures and delivers training for children and for adults with complex learning difficulties and disabilities in schools and care provision across the UK and internationally. She has published a range of articles, and contributed to the ‘Training Materials for Teachers of Learners with Severe, Profound and Complex Learning Difficulties’ at

She is co-author of the acclaimed book (with Barry Carpenter and Jo Egerton et al) on Educating Leaners with Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities, (Routledge, 2015)

Bev was a co-founder of the Engagement4Learning website:

Bev has worked in the field of special educational needs for the last 20 years.

Further reading…

You may find the following articles about Engagement useful reading on the topic:

Advances in Autism – Engagement article (PDF)

Finding Ferdy A collaborative inquiry about a student with complex disabilities (PDF)

Children with CLDD 9 feb 11 (PDF)

Disengaged article September 16-17 (PDF)

Engagement in Learning 201 June-July 2011 pg40-42 (PDF)

Navigators of learning (PDF)

SEN magazine The rules of engagement Sept 2011 (PDF)

Revisiting Engagement May 2016 (PDF)

Case Study – Coaching Engagement & inter-rater reliability

In this short video, Professor Barry Carpenter, working with a teacher at Green Park School in Wolverhampton, demonstrates how Evidence for Learning can be used to provide meaningful video evidence to facilitate professional dialogues about learning. It also touches on how EfL can support moderation, coaching and CPD for teachers and teaching assistants.

Case study – Engagement: Supporting transition and personalising provision

This video shows and tells how Wolverhampton Special Needs Early Years Service and some of the SEND schools in the local authority use evidence-based Engagement data in Evidence for Learning to personalise the provision that each learner receives, as well as supporting the various transitions they undergo as they move between settings, classes and school and home.

More info about Engagement

More info about Evidence for Learning

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The purpose of the group is to provide a safe, closed space to seek out and share ideas, experience and resources that can help with any and all aspects of SEND provision. It’s also a community for practitioners and schools that use Evidence for Learning and Insights for Learning to share ideas, resources and support each other in using these apps. This is a peer-moderated and supported group.

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