ASN Conference
ASN Conference

ASN Conference

In response to requests from members we are running this conference focussed on ASN. We have 2 keynote speakers and 6 workshops for you to choose from.

Taking place on 6th September, this conference will be a packed day with sessions running from 0900-1440.

AHDS member rate
- £65+VAT
Non member rate
- £155+VAT
New member offer
- Join AHDS and receive a free place at this conference. To be eligible for this offer, book your place at this conference here and complete your membership application within a week to get a free place. Invoices will be sent at the non-member rate if a completed membership application isn't received within the timeframe expressed. 

Keynote 1

‘What is out there to help?’ Sam Nicholson (Education Officer, ASN and Inclusion)

Education Scotland Inclusion, Wellbeing and Equalities team work collaboratively to support the quality and improvement of learning and teaching in Scottish education for all learners including those who require additional support and those with complex needs. There are a number of national networks and professional learning resources and opportunities to support you and your teams to develop the knowledge and understanding to support all the learners in your school. This session will focus on what we have and are working on, including the two National Complex Needs Networks, that provide opportunities for members to collaborate together and access updates, share practice and resources with an aim of reducing and hopefully stopping the cycle of re reinventing the wheel.

About Sam

Having worked my way through just about every role in a Primary school at one point or another, I can truly state I can understand what it’s like from most angles. After returning home from time working in a private school in England, I applied for a Support for Learning Teacher post. I had lots of experience with learners in my class of differing abilities and difficulties, how hard could it be!? Looking back, the 7 years I spent in this role were some of the toughest but most rewarding of my career to date. Moving through the management ranks, then after 5 years as a Primary HT, I moved onto a role as an Inclusion Officer within a Local Authority. In 2021, I officially left teaching and became a civil servant as an Education Officer within Education Scotland’s Inclusion, Wellbeing and Equities team. I have a number of specific remits within the organisation (including leading the National Complex Needs Network) but my passion to support educators of learners with additional support needs continues to be my main motivation to continue to do what I do.

Keynote 2

Exploring Neurodiversity in Education Settings

Expanding upon themes explored in his recent online session with AHDS members, Jim will explore how a more contemporary understanding of the learning styles and presentation of autistic people can have a positive impact within both mainstream and specialist settings. The session will acknowledge the pressures that may be encountered in meeting the needs of both autistic and non-autistic individuals in shared environments. The session will lead to a shared and more effective understanding of autism by exploring current thinking and will provide practical advice and guidelines that will lead to better outcomes for all.

About Jim

Jim has over 40 years’ experience in the education of autistic individuals from Nursery to colleges, in the workplace and in care or residential facilities for adults. He is currently working in many services across the UK and the US. Examples of outstanding practice in the UK and in the USA will be shared. 

We have two workshop sessions, delegates will be able to select one workshop with a code ‘A’ and one with a code ‘B’:

First Session Workshops

A1: A whole school approach for improving children’s speech, language, and communication skills - Glenn Carter – RCSLT

In this session we will explore how to facilitate a whole school and whole class approach that will ultimately improve learning, wellbeing, behaviour and participation for children with communication needs. We will consider aspects of a total communication approach and discuss how to work in partnership with speech and language therapy services to achieve sustainable change.

Glenn has worked in the public sector as a Speech and Language Therapist for over 23 years. He has held several leadership roles during that period and has worked at a national level to improve services for children and young people with communication needs. More recently Glenn led the Children’s service in NHS Forth Valley where he had a particular focus on working with education and facilitating transformational change to reach the most vulnerable families living in poverty. Glenn was appointed as the Head of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists in Scotland in January 2022.

A2: Dyslexia and inclusive practice: supporting primary aged pupils.

This workshop will enable primary school leaders to better support dyslexic pupils in primary schools. Workshop facilitators will share experiences of the GTCS-accredited Dyslexia and inclusive practice Professional Recognition programme.

The GTCS-accredited Professional Recognition Programme for Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice runs over an academic year. It is facilitated and managed by Dyslexia Scotland in partnership with Education Scotland. Due to the very high quality of applications, numbers were increased from 35 in 2022/23 to 72 in 2023/34 to ensure all applications that met the entry criteria gained a place. This programme is central to an evolving community of practice in dyslexia and inclusive practice across Scotland. Since 2020, 52 teachers have achieved Professional Recognition on this programme.

Facilitators will refer to the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit, key resources and learning opportunities such as the Reading and writing Circles and ‘Mission Superheroes’ Professional Learning guide, the Dyslexia and inclusive practice online modules and relevant resources on Dyslexia Scotland and Education Scotland’s websites. Workshop facilitators will include alumni from the Professional Recognition programme and representatives from Dyslexia Scotland and Education Scotland.

A3: ‘What is it like to have ASN?’ - Sam Nicholson

This is an interactive, hands on workshop where you will experience what is like to have ASN yourself, observe what it is like for others and time to think about ideas about how best to support developmental differences in your own setting with what you already have to hand.

Second Session Workshops

B1: One school's Curriculum development journey in a severe and complex needs setting - Jo Bastow, ASN Representative, AHDS National Executive

This workshop will look at how my school has been on a journey to create a curriculum that puts pupil needs at the centre. When I first started in my setting there was no curriculum in place for our Primary or Secondary pupils and HMI were due to do a return visit. Working collegiately with staff and forming links across the UK with similar settings we started on our journey of improvement. We have introduced SCERTs, Equals, ASDAN and started our Secondary pupils on a pathway to gaining National qualifications. Pupil engagement has improved, staff morale has gone up and parents are more positive about the provision and experiences their children are receiving. Our journey continues and we are now excited about what the future holds for our whole school community.

B2: The Power of Play: an approach to developing creativity and tolerating uncertainty.

Tolerating uncertainty is a difficult disposition to measure but is possibly best evidenced by increased absence of instances of dysregulation in circumstances where children, young people and adults with Complex Learning Disabilities (CLD) are faced with unplanned events, unusual environments and unfamiliar visitors. Deep-dive discussions with teachers suggest that this is the single biggest area of impact across the Equals' Informal (Play-Based) Pathway. By concentrating on Play-Based learning, both Individually (as well as in a group), this very complex pupil group have seen huge changes in their ability to remain self-regulated and communicate effectively in these circumstances. This has opened up wider curriculum opportunities available to them that further support cognitive development and academic progress. They are able to take part in wider community activities, extend their abilities to socially engage, maintain a calm, happy and fulfilled state of being, and develop their independence in the community more effectively.

B3: ‘I don’t know what I don’t know..’ - Sam Nicholson

This is a phrase that I hear all the time, especially when discussing ASN and all that supporting learners brings with it. Network provide an opportunity to support colleagues gain a deeper understanding of the inclusive ASN legislative and policy framework. Many themes such as planning, ASL Legislation vrs GiRFEC, CSP, Placing Requests and ASN Tribunals to name a few. Through my experiences over the years in various roles, I have put together a number of ‘need to know’ top tips to help navigate the ASN landscape and hopefully avoid situations where families, learners and staff relationships deteriorate, potentially escalating to complaints.


08.30 Registration and coffee
09.00 Keynote 1
10.00 Coffee
10.30 First Workshop session
11.30 First Workshop session ends
11.40 Second Workshop session
12.40 Lunch
13.40 Keynote 2
14.40 Conference ends

6 September 2024 - Cumbernauld

AHDS Members: £65 + VAT Non Members: £155 + VAT

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