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Former lecturer channels Changemaker for SEN&I

Date 14.04.2021

A former lecturer is using the University’s social impact ethos to help her nurture, support and develop a sometimes-underappreciated branch of teaching professionals.

From 2009-2012, Anita Devi worked on the University of Northampton’s Special Educational Needs and Inclusion Masters’ course, specifically for international students.  She was also involved in the unique teacher training programme UON offers around special educational needs and contributed modules to UON’s cross-discipline BA in Special Education Needs.

Anita is a passionate advocate of these professionals, having worked for some years as a special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) amongst other special educational needs roles. SENCO’s are school teachers responsible for assessing, planning and monitoring the progress of children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Anita explains her background and why SENCO’s are so important: “Following my tenure at University of Northampton, I conducted research about the SENCO role and time and time again I was told by them that it can be a lonely position.

“Sometimes, they are the only person in a school who has this role. On top of their teaching responsibilities and the extra legislation they follow, their workload can be phenomenal. That’s why I decided to take the Changemaker* spirit of the University and combine it with my own personal mission statement to make sure SENCO’s are as well supported as possible.”

Anita had already worked for a number of Higher Education institutions but still cites Northampton’s commitment to social impact and entrepreneurism as an inspiration to this day.

She continues: “The current Vice Chancellor, Professor Nick Petford, joined the University just after me and I vividly remember a speech he gave outlining his vision about how the University would help transform lives and inspire change. I felt I was at a place that gets me and and what I am interested in pursuing.

“Nationally, SEND (special educational needs and disability) at that time was going through massive reform and, increasingly, I found myself working on lots of policy work. My Northampton post was only temporary, but the culture at the University really helped shape and direct my own vision.”

Anita subsequently founded Team ADL a not-for-profit organisation that provides support, training and networking opportunities that SENCO’s around the country can access.

The team will host their second annual SEND Leaders’ Appreciation Day on 1 July and have just opened nominations for people to recognise their special educational needs leader and why they appreciate the time, skills and abilities they give for children who have a disability.

Anita concludes: “I’m doing my PhD looking on the professional development of the SENCO, so I feel very much that everything I have been working toward is coming together. This is why I want us to really big up the unique and important work that SENCO’s do and I hope members of the public, other professionals or groups join us and send their citations.”

People are asked to write a 50-word summary about a SENCO/SEND lead for Team ADL to collate a narrative to be published as part of the day’s celebration activities.

You can follow conversations on social media about the appreciation day by using this hashtag: #SLAD2021

*See our website for more information about Changemaker at the University of Northampton.

Photo: Stock image.