It’s back! The Sensory Festival 2 - Live events 10 & 11 October 2020!

View the video presentations intil 10pm on 16 October!

The Sensory Festival once again brings together a community of parents and practitioners to collaborate, experiment, create and share exciting new ideas and ways of working with learners with complex needs, autism and SEND.


As we transition out of Lockdown and back into the classroom, The Sensory Festival will create and share simple sensory ideas and strategies to support:


  • re-engagement in learning
  • the emotional resilience of learners 
  • transition
  • re-building and maintaining relationships


for all pupils with complex needs, autism and SEND.


Our Sensory Festival will be FUN and inspire you to create amazing sensory resources, hear new ideas and discover practical strategies you can use straight away.


It will be a weekend of online learning and collaboration with colleagues worldwide!


The format of the Festival will be based upon a series of video presentations; online workshops for you to choose; Zoom question & answer sessions and a Festival chat room.


Binge-watch the video presentations over the weekend or catch up with them all during the week following the Festival!


There will be networking opportunities for all Festival-goers to share; discuss; question; listen; debate; collaborate and problem solve during the Festival weekend.


Comprehensive selection of video presentations for you to view

We will continue to have a variety of video presentations but these will be a more standardised length of time: 20 – 25 minutes.  We’ll also be adding a pdf of key points and messages from each presentation, so you can decide which videos are a priority for you to view – and have a crib sheet to download for you to add your notes to whilst watching.


Our confirmed contributors to this Festival include:


Flo Longhorn – details coming soon!


Les Staves – ‘The physical acts of thinking’


Dr. Sarah Moseley – ‘Foundations of reading: how to develop pre requisite and emergent reading skills for our most complex learners.’


Pete Wells – ‘Gerry Germ goes to Town!’ A Sensory Story for the Covid era!’


Andy Pidcock – ‘Using the power and drama of music in SEND – Part Two!’


Nick Sheffield – ‘The Engagement Model’


Simply Sensory – ‘Funk up your classroom to engage teens with complex SEND’


Simply Sensory – ‘Bring the environment to your learner’ 


Chris Barson – ‘Why is change such a problem for learners with Autism? What kind of help works?’


Russell Smith – ‘Getting the basics right: how to get the best out of your iPad!’


Clive Smith –  ‘Demystifying the proprioceptive and vestibular senses – and why they are important!’


Clive Smith – ‘Safe Spaces – why you need one and how to make one!’


Katie Fielding – ‘We’re not just PLAYING!’


Max Pierrett – ‘Blooming with Autism’


Bev Cockbill – ‘Sensory resources to support the Recovery Curriculum.’


Tigger Pritchard – ‘Sources of sensory irritation at home: what these could be and how to reduce them.’


Sarah Hall, Willows Sensory Service – ‘Sensory Suggestions for Transition.’ 


Dawn Brown, Assistant Head Greenside School – ‘Using remote teaching to promote inclusive community learning.’


Penny Earp, Wairoa School Bondi NSW – ‘Going Green: making personalised social stories using green screen technology.’


Lynne Castle, St Giles School – ‘Activities, Communication, Creative, Environment, Sensory, Stimulation 4 ALL!’


Jen Steptoe, Farifields School – ‘The 2020 Classroom: Practitioner Tips and Tricks for Adapted Multisensory Learning’


Mark Gray, Mark Gray Associates – ‘Using a person centred sensory approach to reduce negative behaviors and anxiety’


Caroline Hill, Making SENse Creative Services – ‘Creating a sensory cube: for exploring stories and new experiences’


Carrie Lennard, The Improvise Approach – ‘Active participation in music making: opening a new space for students to express themselves through music’


We’ll be updating this as more presenters confirm their presentations! 


These include: Alex Lopiccolo, The King of Swing!


Online Workshops with Carol Allen and Richard Hirstwood


Our online workshops were really popular during the last Festival!  This time Carol and Richard are offering:


‘Ten Top Sensory Ideas’

‘Beyond the classroom – making the most of other spaces for learning and teaching’



Zoom Sessions

Richard will again start each day with a ‘Welcome and Introduction to the Day’ session. 


In this Festival we are offering four Panel Discussions via Zoom on the specific topics below:


Implementation of the Engagement Model – with Nick Sheffield, Carol Allen & Richard Hirstwood


Transition within the curriculum – with Carol Allen, Simply Sensory, Nick Sheffield & Richard Hirstwood


Teaching Reading to ALL – Dr. Sarah Moseley, Les Staves, Carol Allen and Richard Hirstwood


Learners with autism and transition: Chris Barson, Clive Smith & Richard Hirstwood


We’ll also be sharing further information with you on how to get the very best of these Zoom sessions.


Chat Room


The Festival Chat Room will once again be open for the duration of the Festival weekend!  Please come along, introduce yourself and make a friend.

This Community is where you can ask a question, share your thoughts and interact with other like-minded Sensory Festival goers! 



Chat Room Competition!

In July we asked you to join the ‘Sensory Invention Test’ – what will it be in October?!  Details to be announced!

Testimonials from The Sensory Festival in July!


“(The videos) are absolutely fabulous and enlightening”

Anna Crowe, Oak Grove College



“Desperately trying to get as many courses as possible looked at from the sensory festival before things go today… everything I have listened to has been absolutely brilliant – thank you so much”

Emily Webster, Vice principal, Thomas Wolsey Academy



“This was a fantastic course with some great ideas and enthused and excited me. Brilliant value for money.”

Kate Baldwin, Assistant Headteacher, Victoria Education Centre



“If you are after feedback on useful and positive trainings, this has been one of the best I have ever done. Firstly, it is on the whole relevant to the students I teach, which is rare. Secondly, as it is online, I am able to do it in small chunks, when I am able, over a few days. This suits me better as when on a course I always find that I am zoning out for the last session, am at my saturation point and am not absorbing anything. If I found myself fading doing this online, I could come back later. Also, it was so cheap in comparison to paying the course fee, accommodation, travel etc. This is the way forward!”

Sophie Vye, Teacher, Victoria Education Centre



“I really enjoyed the festival and was great to see everyone and hear from them and all the amazing ideas and support.”

Kelly Fedun, Dawn House Deputy Principal



“Some of our staff have done this or are doing it this week and they think it is amazing!”

Susanna Sutton, Mabel Pritchard School




“I cannot thank all you beautiful people at Hirstwood Training enough for this AMAZING Sensory Festival!  Seriously do not know how I will go back to face to face professional development after this”.

Anna Boikov, Specialist Teacher Outreach Service

Oaklynn Special School, New Zealand



“We all had a great time over the weekend and found the festival so inspirational!

It was such a wonderful idea to do this online as we would not have been able to attend otherwise. Being able to talk to people from all over the country (and further afield) about our pupils was amazing!”

Lesley Connacher, Principal Teacher, Croftcroighn School



“The training was great, such good feedback from staff.  When are you doing another?”

Karen Goodwill, Sensory Lead, Pathfield School



“The festival was fab.”

Nicola Lavery, Headteacher, Ashton Secondary


“Can I just say a massive thank you to yourself, Richard, Carol and all the other fantastic people contributing to this festival for such an amazing, informative and inspirational event. I learned so much, was reminded of even more and got so many fantastic ideas. I can’t wait to start back in September now!”

Catherine Fulcher

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