The Sensory Festival will create a wealth of sensory ideas and strategies to spark joy in learning and to bring happiness and playfulness to the classroom/learning environment  for learners with complex needs, autism and SEND.


It is a celebration for the summer term for what has been an exceptional year in education.  It will rejuvenate your sensory approaches to having fun, building and maintaining relationships and re-engaging pupils in their learning.


The Sensory Festival will create networking opportunities for all practitioners to share; discuss; question; listen; debate; collaborate and problem solve.


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!


Binge-watch the video presentations over the weekend or catch up with them all during the week following the Festival!  Grab the opportunity to create your own personal Sensory Festival!


We have some exciting additions to The Sensory Festival 3!  The format of the Festival will again be based upon a series of video presentations; online workshops for you to choose; question & answer sessions and a chat room.  In addition to this, we’ll also be having an Instagram Challenge, ‘Ask a question’ sessions and a virtual coffee shop!

Who should attend the Sensory Festival?


The Sensory Festival is appropriate for teachers; teaching assistants and other classroom practitioners from special schools, nurseries and colleges; mainstream and early years settings with specialist provision who are working with pupils with severe and complex learning needs; PMLD; SEMH and autism.



If you wish to make a group booking for this Festival – we can do this quickly and easily for you!  Please email a spreadsheet with the first name/surname/email addresses of the delegates you wish to book for.  This should go to  We will then create access to this course for your colleagues.  A Purchase Order Number will secure your booking and we can send you an invoice.

Who will be presenting?


We look forward to welcoming old favourites and new faces to the Sensory Festival!   Our confirmed speakers include:

Richard Hirstwood – Hirstwood Training

Carol Allen – Independent Consultant

Clive Smith – Independent Consultant

Flo Longhorn – Independent Consultant (retired)

Dawn Brown – Greenside School

Carrie Lennard – Improvise Approach

Caroline Hill – Making SENse Creative Services

Dr Julie Calveley – NAC

Victoria Navin – Rhyming Multisensory Stories

Sheila Theren – Vestibular Training Services

Dr Claire Caughey – SENsations, NI

Nick Sheffield – Linden Logde School

Sarah Moseley – Independent Consultant

Lynne Castle – St Giles School

Pete Wells – Catcote Academy

Katie Lyons – Kingsbury School

Jen Steptoe – Farifields School

Penelope Earp – Wairoa School, Bondi

Erica Harwood – Ysgol Maes Hyfryd Specialist High School

Sarah Townsend – The Children’s Trust, Tadworth

Les Staves – Very Special Maths

Chris Barson – Positive about Autism

Jo Crean – Tauranga School, NZ

Gary Quarless – Independent Consultant

Julie King – Julie King Consulting, NZ

Katie Prestage – Sensory Soup

Julie Cowpe-Stephens & Helen Dillon – Simply Sensory

With further speakers to be announced!


Saturday 22 May 2021

11am Welcome to Day One of the Sensory Festival!

Richard Hirstwood and Carol Allen kick day one off by talking you through what’s happening!  To get you ‘ready to learn’ for the day they’ll be inviting you to join in a warm up activity! Our welcome session ends with a quick fire round of sharing what your favourite classroom sensory resource is.  Ideas to be shared in chat and then posted in the Enchantment Pavilion for all to see.

2pm Live session: ‘How do you bring joy to learning?’

Les Staves introduces this session with a short presentation.  Then it’s over to you and the panel to share as many ideas, activities and questions as possible!


Sunday 23 May 2021

11am Welcome to Day Two of the Sensory Festival!

Richard Hirstwood and Carol Allen welcome you back to day two of the Festival!  To get you relaxed and fired up (at the same time) for the day they’ll be inviting you to join in a warm up activity! Our welcome session ends with a quick fire round of sharing what your happiest and successful classroom moment has been.  Ideas to be shared in chat and then posted in the Paradise Pavilion for all to see.

2pm Live session:Bringing happiness to the classroom!’

Richard Hirstwood introduces this session with a short presentation.  Then it’s over to you and the panel to share as many ideas, activities and questions as possible!


Times for the ‘Ask a question’ sessions in the Virtual Pavilion to be announced!


Instagram Challenge

Woohoo, we’re hosting a multisensory Instagram challenge!


Join us over the Festival weekend for daily prompts to celebrate everything multisensory. We’d love you to share your ideas around the theme of the day. The idea is to create a place to share as many of your lovely playful and multisensory ideas as possible.

Saturday – Joyful Learning

Sunday – Happiness

We hope you enjoy getting involved! This is a challenge for anyone so you can have fun with this no matter what your ideas/creations are!


When you share your posts make sure to tag us (@HirstwoodT) & use the hashtag #sensoryfestival3 so we can all see with each other’s amazing ideas.

Best idea from each day wins a prize!

To find out more about how it works – watch this space!

Chat Room!

Yes, as with all Festivals, the opportunity to meet new people; chat with those you don’t connect with very often and make new friends who share the same enthusiasm and drive as you in a particular field is here…even though we are virtual!


Our chat room is open for the weekend of the festival and is a place to comment, connect and chat.  It may be that you want to talk about one of  the videos or presentations you have just watched, or share ideas that you have found useful.  It is a place where you can ask questions…we try to follow every message and the whole presenting team are more than happy to help, comment or suggest solutions.


To make sure we don’t miss your questions, why not use the hashtag #SFQ ?  If you put this at the front of your message it should be seen easily and we will endeavour to answer!


This time we have five Pavilions!

The Paradise Pavilion

In this Pavilion you’ll find ideas about physical sensory spaces, classrooms and learning environments!  Inside and outside.  Stimulating and relaxing! Big budget and no budget!

The Enchantment Pavilion

In this Pavilion you’ll find magical ideas and activities to use within your sensory spaces and classroom! Bringing joy to learning – enchanting your pupils – making interacting and communication irresistible!  Introducing mystery and surprise!

The Playfulness Pavilion

This pavilion is full of fun!  Playful ways of encouraging exploration, interaction and self-expression.  Communication. At home or at school. Digital play.  Working as a team – playfully!

The Mindfulness Pavilion

In this pavilion, you’ll find ideas for supporting learners to chill and relax.  To escape from the busyness of the classroom.   To become absorbed in a slower paced activity.  All very tricky skills to develop!

The Virtual Pavilion

This pavilion is a place to meet and chat in real time – almost like in real life! It’s a virtual coffee shop/tea room/wine bar/restaurant – whatever you want it to be!  Here you’ll be able to chat to other Festival-goers – and move around the space to join other discussions and groups. Here’s where we’ll have our ‘Ask a question’ sessions!




Don’t just take our word for it – this is what previous Festival goers have said!


‘This is the only course/ festival I have attended that is so relevant to my practice.’

J Miller, Acorns, Lancashire


‘The live sessions were fantastic and being able to see others chat online about their ideas and experiences was wonderful.’

Clare King, Shorefields School


‘Vibrant, fun with lots of ideas and expertise.’

G Daniels, Greenfield School


‘It was a gold mine of information and, for a bit of a Luddite like me, easy to navigate. I feel like a techno whizz now!’

A McNaughton, Croftcroighn School


‘Absolutely. I love that you can create your own festival by choosing the areas that are most relevant to your setting.’

N Beesley, Oaklands School

Buy an Early Bird Ticket before 12 May and get access to the Festival materials for TWO weeks until 5 June 2021!

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