The episode builds on Episode #17 “Engagement (Part 1)” and continues the exploration of Engagement.

Prof. Barry Carpenter CBE OBE FCCT discusses the topic of Engagement with a panel of guests:

  • Vijita Patel (Swiss Cottage School Development & Research Centre)
  • Cheryl Gaughan (Talbot Specialist School/Fusion TSA)
  • Vicci Wells (Youth Sport Trust)
  • Ali Erskine (Whitfield Aspen School)
  • Gemma Alldritt (Baxter College)
  • Martin McKenna (Foxfield School)

The guests discuss the presentation provided in the first part of this podcast series (Episode #17) on the topic of Engagement and share their reflections on Engagement and its application within their respective settings.

PLEASE NOTE: It is highly recommended that you watch the first part (Episode #17) before listening to this episode.

**This episode is Part 2 of a series looking at Engagement.**

Episode 18: Engagement (Part 2) – Reflections on Engagement

In this episode Prof. Barry Carpenter CBE OBE FCCT discusses the topic of Engagement with a panel of guests: Vijita Patel (Swiss Cottage School Development & Research Centre) Cheryl Gaughan (Talbot Specialist School/Fusion TSA) Vicci Wells (Youth Sport Trust) Ali Erskine (Whitfield Aspen School) Gemma Alldritt (Baxter College) Martin McKenna (Foxfield School) Beverley Cockbill (Chadsgrove School) The guests discuss the presentation provided in the first part of this podcast series (Episode #17) on the topic of Engagement and share their reflections on Engagement and its application within their respective settings.

Here’s where you can find LearningShared Episode 18 on YouTube.

LearningShared Episode 18: Engagement (Part 2) – Panel Discussion: Reflections on Engagement

In this episode, Professor Barry Carpenter CBE OBE discusses the topic of Engagement with a panel of guests including: Vijita Patel (Swiss Cottage School Development & Research Centre) Cheryl Gaughan (Talbot Specialist School/Fusion TSA) Vicci Wells (Youth Sport Trust) Ali Erskine (Whitfield Aspen School) Gemma Alldritt (Baxter College) Martin McKenna (Foxfield School) Beverley Cockbill (Chadsgrove School) The guests discuss the presentation provided in the first part of this podcast series on the topic of Engagement – Episode #17 of the podcast.

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.

About Vijita Patel and Swiss Cottage School DRC

Vijita Patel is the Principal of Swiss Cottage School, Development & Research Centre, a special needs school for children aged 2 to 19 in London. The school is a designated National Teaching School, leading a large alliance of schools, organisations, and higher education partners to drive systemic improvements in the school system for pupils with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities.

As a National Leader of Education, Vijita supports Headteachers, Senior and Middle Leaders, SENCOs, and Local Authority teams on leading locality and provision developments as the complexity of need increases with this new generation of children with SEN.

She has contributed to the development of programmes for teacher training and leadership development, and also worked with Post-Graduate students on personalised learning through research on cognitive processing.
Vijita is co-author of the London Leadership Strategy ‘SEND Review Guide’, developed to place ownership of strategic solutions directly with teachers and school leaders. She is also a Trustee of the Varkey Foundation.
Swiss Cottage School Development and Research Centre is one of eight schools in the country to have six consecutive ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted Inspections.

About Cheryl Gaughan and Talbot Specialist School

I began my teaching career in a mainstream infant school 18 years ago and because I was teaching so many children with additional needs I decide to do a Master in SEN, specialising in Autism. After 8 years and gaining my Masters I decided to apply for a job at Talbot Specialist School and I am now very proud of my role as Assistant Headteacher and also the Head of Fusion Teaching School Alliance. My passion is ensuring all children get the best from their education and that inclusion actually means inclusion; successful, personalised and inspiring. I have worked with various organisations to develop SEND enhancement throughout their programmes including Initial Teacher Training, NQT/RQT, National Professional Qualifications for middle and senior leaders to ensure that SEND is represented and understood by all. This is also my driver throughout my role as a citywide SENDCo for SEND for Sheffield Local Authority. I have the pleasure of working with mainstream, special, integrated resources units and alternative provisions in EYFS, primary, secondary and Post 16 throughout the city and their staff to offer support, offer advice and develop their knowledge and understanding of how to support children with SEND.

Talbot Specialist School provides education for young people who have severe and complex learning difficulties. There are currently over 190 students on roll and the numbers do increase year upon year. We offer an aspirational, personalised and multi-sensory curriculum designed to ensure that students are successful and enjoy their learning. Our vision is that our young people are educated to become valued, resilient and fulfilled members of their community and equipped to reach their potential. Fusion TSA is part of Talbot Learning community and since becoming Sheffield’s first specialist school for Cognition and Learning in 2008, Talbot Specialist School has continued to thrive as a Centre of Excellence, becoming a Leadership and Innovation Hub in 2011 and a Teaching School in 2013. We are driven by a strong moral purpose where ALL pupil’s achievements are the concern of us all, regardless of where they learn or the nature of their learning needs. We believe that all pupils have a right to reach their full potential through access to Quality First teaching, high quality and timely professional development and an ethos which celebrates individual achievement through partnership. In September 2021 Fusion TSA will be re-launched as Fusion SEND Hub and continue to provide support for the South Yorkshire region.

About Vicci Wells and Youth Sport Trust

Vicci is the national lead at the Youth Sport Trust for targeted interventions, driving positive social action and addressing inequalities for young people. She recently authored the Think Piece ‘ Could ‘sport sanctuaries’ in schools help young people recover from the impact of a pandemic? and is working tirelessly to support schools on the importance of an ‘Active Recovery’ for pupils. On behalf of the organization she leads Inclusion 2020, which is the umbrella term for the Department for Education’s SEND Inclusion in PE, school sport and physical activity grant, and a national network of lead inclusion schools across England. Recent work has also included internationally driving the global Special Olympics Play Unified programme; promoting acceptance and friendships for young people with and without SEND through the power of sport in schools across the Home Countries. Vicci is also Chair of governors for a primary school in Worcestershire, a Trustee of a Multi Academy Trust for pupils aged 4-18, inclusive of a Teaching School, and authors the ‘ Youngish school governor’ blog.

The Youth Sport Trust is the UK’s leading charity improving every young person’s education and development through sport and play. In partnership with Physical Education, we build communities of educators equipped with the training and tools to lead engaging physical activity- giving young people a platform to strengthen their voice and self-belief. . We improve educational outcomes by ensuring that every young person has the opportunity to belong and achieve. work in partnership, empowering young people and equipping educators to become changemakers who lead the change they want to see in the world and know that together, we can reduce the impact of childhood inequalities and transform young lives.

About Ali Erskine and Whitfield Aspen School

Throughout my teaching career, I have taught in both mainstream schools and special schools. Thirty years ago, I started teaching in a school for children with learning and behaviour challenges, I was part of a team who valued the importance of personalised learning. I saw what a difference making learning relevant and meaningful for each child made to the children’s motivation and ability to learn. These experiences were invaluable, both in my next role in a mainstream school, and then when I started teaching in a school for children with profound, severe and complex learning needs. During this time I taught in every key stage from Nursery to Post-16. Eight years ago, I joined Whitfield Aspen, a unique fully inclusive primary school, and I am now Head of School KS1, and part of our creative leadership team.

Whitfield Aspen is a fully inclusive Primary School with links to KSENT (Kent special schools) and the Samphire Learning Hub (a hub of 8 local mainstream Primary Schools). There are 356 pupils on our Mainstream roll and 128 pupils, with profound and multiple learning difficulties ,on the roll of our Specialist Resource Provision. All the pupils access their learning in the environment that best suits their individual needs. This could be full time in a Mainstream class , full time in a Specialist Provision class , or time spent between Mainstream and Specialist Provision classes. At our school we encourage ‘the same’ but allow for ‘different’. In other words, every child should have the same opportunity but every child will access this in different ways. Our pupils come in through the same door, eat in the same hall , play in the same play areas and come to school with their brothers and sisters. In this way, we live out our school’s vision of ‘Learning Together with Aspiration, Imagination and Determination’.

About Gemma Alldritt and Baxter College

As Ks3 Curriculum Innovation Lead Remote Learning Champion, I have held a breadth of roles within schools from Head of department, Curriculum lead, SLE, Assistant Principal. Within each of these roles I have sought out opportunities to enhance and develop my practice using research-based evidence. My experience has provided the opportunity to support, coach and improve other practitioners. I am passionate about the value of research and .I love to see how the process of research can stimulate whole school change and transform learning environments.
I enjoy seeking solutions to problems and have been lucky to have been enabled to share what I have learnt in all school settings that I have worked within. I have worked with external agencies such as EOS and DATA. I have spoken at National conferences including Design and Technology association and EOS. I have published classroom online resources working with the BBC and Nelson Thornes and have co-written a published educational book and online learning platform resources. In 2016 I won a Pearson’s teaching award. I am passionate about teaching and learning and value the ethos that research improves practice and shapes school culture.

Baxter College is a thriving, inclusive secondary school, providing an equitable education experience to the young people of Wyre Forest. The education we provide at Baxter College is built around six values: Learning for Life, Mutual Respect and responsibility, Unlocking potential , Active voice, Opportunities for success, Safe and happy Community
Baxter College is a community built on a desire to improve, reflect and move forward. Teachers are encouraged to learn, lead and are encouraged to do this. As any effective classroom would encourage it’s learners.

About Martin McKenna and Foxfield School

Martin began his career into teaching in 2007 and quickly found a passion for SEN. As a Specialist Leader in Education he has worked closely with staff across the SEN and mainstream sector to ensure the curriculum is personalised and meets the needs of a range of pupils across ASC, PMLD, SLD and the MLD spectrum. His passion lies in observation based enquiry and supporting community and work based learning for all.

In September 2020 Martin began his first headship in Foxfield school in the Wirral. Foxfield school has a population of 150 pupils aged between 11-19 with a diverse range of needs, under the umbrella of Severe and Complex learning difficulties. Pupils access the curriculum through a number of learning pathways bespoke to meet their needs. At the heart of the school ethos is relationships and engaging pupils, parents and their local community. As an out looking school Foxfield continues to improve and develop ensuring the best possible outcomes for all.

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)

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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