SNJ In Conversation

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Join our exciting new SNJ In Conversation series, available in video and audio-only versions. Renata, Tania and the team have in-depth conversations with a variety of guests from the field of SEN and disability.

Whether they're sector leaders, legal eagles, extraordinary parents or young people with disabilities, we give them a good grilling, er pleasant chat, about the things you want to know.

We ask for your input too, so watch out on social media, especially our SNJ, Let's Talk about SEND discussion group (NB: this group isn't a support group and has professionals and parents alike)

If you would like to recommend someone - or even yourself, if you have an expertise or something you want to spend 30 minutes sharing with us, get in touch

Find them at the links below, and browse the existing episodes - and please, help us out by subscribing and rating (if you like it!)

Theme tune composition and instrumental credit: Luca Tirraoro

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Check out the episodes

SNJ in Conversation with Dame Christine Lenehan - Special Needs Jungle, In Conversation

SNJ's Tania and Renata chat to newly-retired Director of the Council for Disabled Children about her career, her biggest achievements and who her favourite SEND minister has been... Find the webpage for the episode, including pictures from Dame Christine's Valedictory address to the SEND sector, here
  1. SNJ in Conversation with Dame Christine Lenehan
  2. What are Labour ‘s plans for SEND? We speak to Helen Hayes MP
  3. SNJ in Conversation with Carrie Grant: Supporting children at the intersection of SEND, Race and Gender Identity
  4. SNJ in Conversation with public lawyer, Steve Broach: SEND Law in 2023
  5. SNJ in Conversation with Will Quince MP, Children & Families Minister
    • Dame Christine Lenehan: a career advocating for disabled children’s rights

      Earlier this week, I attended the valedictory lecture in London for Dame Christine Lenehan, the long-time Director of the Council for Disabled Children. Dame Christine took up the role twenty years ago, having started her career in 1980 as a social worker. It came a few days after we recorded our own podcast with Christine looking back at her career, which has included often thankless shuttle diplomacy between government departments and investigating the horrors of abuse of disabled young people at the Hesley Group of residential special schools/homes. During her lecture, she warned, “If we do not implement the changes…
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      • SNJ in Conversation with Labour’s SEND spokesperson Helen Hayes MP: What are their thoughts on fixing SEND?

        As thoughts begin to turn to the next election, we thought it was about time to find out what the Labour Party thinks about the Government’s SEND Improvement Plan and their own plans for fixing the continuing crisis in the system. Renata and Tania have previously spoken to Labour's SEND spokesperson, Helen Hayes MP and invited her to offer her thoughts about the current situation. While Labour is currently planning its manifesto, we asked Helen where their thinking was and what they are currently doing… Watch the podcast in video on YouTube, or in audio on your preferred podcast outlet…
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        • SNJ in Conversation: SEND law in 2023. Public law barrister, Steve Broach, answers your questions

          It’s back! the first episode of our podcast, SNJ in Conversation is here— and it’s one that you won’t want to miss. You should know by now that the Government’s SEND Improvement Plan isn’t going to change any legislation, in the near term at least. But what does that mean for your child? We know that families are sometimes being told that the law has changed, or that eligibility criteria has been “tightened” or maybe even that your LA isn’t “allowed” to create Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) because for financial or other reasons. Reader, don’t listen to them!…
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          • SNJ in Conversation podcast: Will Quince in our hot seat discussing the #SENDReview Green Paper

            Yesterday, Renata and I sat down virtually with Will Quince MP, Minister for Children and Families for an episode of our video/podcast, SNJ in Conversation. As you know there is a webinar we are facilitating scheduled for your questions next week, so register now if you haven't we took the opportunity to put a few questions face to virtual face in a more sedate manner. We've tried to ask questions that we won't necessarily cover in the webinar, but inevitably will be some cross-over. If you have a burning question, do put it forward. We spoke for 45 minutes, covering,…
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            • Growing up disabled: Puberty, privacy & positivity with Siena Castellon and George Fielding

              Around one in five people in Britain live with a disability. That's really quite a lot of people, all who have the same jumble of flaws, strengths, fears, desires and talents as the rest of the population. But most conversations people have about disability seem to focus on suffering, loss and 'otherness'. As a society, we like to hang our desire to be 'inspired' on one section of the disability community, while accepting the pernicious rhetoric of government and the media that the rest are most likely "benefit scroungers". As a young disabled person, how can develop pride in who…
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              • How is Ofsted supporting & evaluating SEND provision during the pandemic?

                The education fo children with SEND (or lack of it) during the pandemic has been on our minds all year. How can we make schools and LAs accountable for ensuring disabled children's provision is met? While most children have had precious little time in school this year, for those with SEND, it's been even worse and some still are not back in their regular settings. Ofsted's inspectors have been making non-judgemental visits to schools and local authorities and we wrote here about what they found in their first interim report. SPoiler alert: it wasn't good. SO, I hope you'll take…
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                • SNJ in Conversation: SEND law now and EOTAS, Part Two

                  Today we're releasing the second part of the really informative episode of SNJ in Conversation with SEND lawyers, Hayley Mason and Nicole Lee. They're discussing the state of SEND law now and why it's vital for anyone thinking of home-schooling, not to confuse "home education" with Education Other Than at School (EOTAS). Listen to part one here SEND Survey And in light of this conversation, please remember to help us to help you, by taking our Autumn SEND Education survey to find out if your child has the provision they should: With this information, we can build up a…
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                  • SEND Law right now. And why you mustn’t confuse EOTAS with home education

                    What's the difference between Education Otherwise Than At School (EOTAS) and Home Education? If you're thinking about educating your child yourself then this is a definition you need to know. What can you ask for in an EOTAS Education, Health and Care Plan? Do the council have to give your child anything at all? Plus, now the easements to SEND in the Coronavirus Act have finished, is everything back as it used to be? And what can you do if you're offered a "COVID" EHCP, that's based on what's available at the moment, rather than what my child needs? All…
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                    • SNJ In Conversation: SEND training for SENCOs and school leaders with Anne Heavey and Hannah Moloney

                      Today's SNJ in Conversation is offering tips for everyone interested in improving SEND teaching. While schools are still on their summer break, thoughts will be turning towards going back in September and how to effectively manage social distancing, bubbles and helping children catch up. But as our survey evidenced, children with SEND are more likely to have missed out on learning. It's more important than ever for school staff to educate themselves in how to support children with additional needs, or children who just learn differently. And that includes the school senior leadership team. As director of Whole School SEND,…
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                      • SNJ in Conversation: Oak Academy’s improving SEND offer

                        One of the few positives of the pandemic and lockdown, was the creation of the Oak Academy resource, an online suite of lessons created by a group of volunteer teachers. They wanted to help support children's education as a supplement to what their schools were providing during coronavirus. While many children benefited from their teachers' hard work teaching them remotely, as our survey revealed, this was far from a universal experience. Oak's lessons came as a godsend to many families, although its sparse SEND offer and lack of differentiation came in for criticism from some, which was perhaps unfair, given…
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                        • SNJ in Conversation: Why we need to talk about race and SEND

                          This episode of Special Needs Jungle 'in conversation with...' tackles the often overlooked issues around race, racism, intersectionality and disproportionality within the SEND world.
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                          • SNJ In Conversation with Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children

                            One of the (numerous) problems many parents find when their child is having an education, health and care needs assessment, is the "care" bit. A social care assessment is often not offered, and if parents request one, the response from the social care department is "not known to social services" case closed. Then there's always the intimated threat that you wouldn't "want" your child to be known to them, would you? But a social care assessment as part of an EHCP isn't the same as a family being involved with social services or the child having a social worker. It's…
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                            • SNJ In Conversation: What legal rights do disabled children
have left under the Coronavirus Act?

                              In Conversation with Steve Broach, public law barrister We wouldn't normally churn out another episode of In Conversation so quickly, as it's quite a big undertaking to produce. But with the month-long renewal of the Government's Notice, trashing children's legal rights under the Coronavirus Act, we thought you should know what's left in force. The "Modifications" Notice was renewed late on Friday afternoon, almost as if they'd forgotten and just caught sight on Twitter of SEND legal people wondering what was happening. Oops! Almost forgot to stick it to those disabled kids before the weekend! Then, on Saturday, the SEND…
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                              • SNJ In Conversation: Awesome and Autistic in a post-pandemic world

                                with Renata Blower and Siena Castellon Today we're bringing you another episode of SNJ In Conversation and again you can listen or watch to it below or find it on your favourite Podcast channel here (find your preferred podcast player icon below the image, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify among others). You can also click through to YouTube. Today we're talking tips for being awesome and autistic - and it's a fascinating listen when you consider that our guest, Siena Castellon, is still only 17 years old. She has some incredible tips that not only teenage autistic girls…
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                                • Launching “SNJ In Conversation” First episode: Coronavirus and Disabled children’s mental health

                                  Today we're launching a new feature: SNJ "In Conversation". It will feature both videos and podcasts where one or more of the SNJ team interviews someone about an interesting or current issue in the SEND sphere. In time, this will be offered to our SNJ patrons as full interviews, with shortened versions available for free. However, because of the current situation with Coronavirus, we're launching it now for free for everyone. Our first few interviews are staying close to home, with our own experts. Next week, we'll be speaking to our columnist, the teenage autistic author and neurodiversity advocate, Siena…
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