Bespoke Inset Days online/offline

The start of the new academic year in September 2020 will be a demanding time for many schools and educational settings as they prepare for the return of their learners and teaching colleagues.

It is also traditionally a time to focus on delivering high quality CPD through INSET, building staff skill and confidence in preparation for the teaching year ahead.  The ongoing pandemic has meant that currently access to face to face INSET is severely restricted.  But that does not mean that you can’t have brilliant CPD! 

It has always been our priority to make sure our learners get the highest quality education by providing educators with a combination of practical theory; effective pedagogy and resource ideas.  We have a long-standing reputation for inspiring and enthusing staff in all things sensory!

Let us help your staff teams to be super motivated, feel rejuvenated and more confident in these challenging times by having a virtual INSET event – with a difference!

We are very excited about offering a new way of virtual working which allows for more personalisation, flexibility and creativity in how we deliver effective CPD.

Our virtual online training, and our recent highly successful ‘Sensory Festival’, has proven we can deliver knowledge and inspiration to hundreds of delegates worldwide.

This way of working also allows for much greater collaboration; sharing good practice; problem-solving and networking between whole schools and school teams – something we couldn’t have facilitated before!

These INSET events will be hosted on our own dedicated and stable online training platform and delivered from our new studio, from which we have already broadcast live training events worldwide.  

The INSET will consist of a variety of learning experiences using live Zoom presentations; live demonstration sessions;  interactive discussion sessions; practical tasks; video and text lessons.  We will suggest reflective practice to continue your learning after the end of the INSET.

All our in-house online/offline training packages are ‘bespoke’ – focusing on what you really need to develop a great skill base in sensory practice.

Each of the sessions below can be delivered as part of a full day’s training, split days or in some cases as a twilight session complementing a coaching or consultancy day. If you don’t have time to go through the information below, tell us your situation and we’ll point you to the sessions we think will have the biggest impact on your training day.

Mix and match the sessions below to give you an idea of your personalised agenda
Just click on the words to see the content (in no particular order).

How to create a sensory classroom

Every classroom is a multisensory room. Let us help you to make your classroom a great environment for successful learning.

Each year, you need to adapt your classroom environment to match the sensory abilities of your new pupils.

How do we make sure that pupils can take part in the sensory learning opportunities on offer? How does the environment support this engagement and interaction?

We can show you a range of ideas and strategies for developing sensory spaces; from large classrooms to the smallest sensory corners!

Clonker or resonance boards

Communication is key to most educational objectives, but a huge challenge for many individuals with autism, PMLD and sensory and physical impairments. Naomi has a plethora of dynamic, but simple, ideas to share to using music, sound and vibration to develop engagement. From Lycra loops, curriculum links, beads, stories and much more, you’ll have a greater range of ideas at your fingertips to integrate your resonance board into everyday learning and classroom activities.

Introducing an Environmental Audit

In your setting, the influence of the environment can have a huge impact on successful learning.

For a learner with autism, or a learner with severe or complex learning needs; this impact can be very different.

In this session, we introduce you to an Environmental Audit. Completing this will tell you how ‘autism or sensory impairment friendly’ your learning space is. We then share simple adaptations to support learners to make more ‘sense’ of their learning environment.

Creating portable sensory spaces

Every room can be a sensory room, but how you modify an environment to ensure that individuals are able to fully participate in the sensory experiences we offer?

Sometimes you just need a small, portable or temporary sensory space. This could be a corner of a classroom, a bedroom or any other place. But what should you use to make your environment? What sensory resources does it need in it?

We will share a plethora of ideas and strategies for developing sensory spaces – from large scale environments to the smallest sensory spaces!

Sensory Stories

A sensory story is a vehicle used to deliver many outcomes. Relaxation; specific learning targets; interaction; sharing with others; communication…the list can be endless!

But there is much more to sensory stories than picking up a book and reading it from front to back!

To engage our learners it needs to be multisensory, but how multisensory does it need to be?

In this fun and engaging session, we look at the importance of:
how a sensory story supports learning
‘bite-size’ stories and how to choose them
why repetition is your friend
how to use digital/mobile technology to enhance the interactivity of a story
choosing multisensory stimuli for your story

At the end of this session, you will be confident to create your own multisensory story full of engaging sensory learning opportunities!

iPads in SEN

We have a huge armoury of ‘tried and tested’ sensory apps and online training resources to share with you on how to use iPad apps for sensory learning, visual stimulation, hearing loss, interaction, communication development, curriculum links, and sensory stories – without downloading a thousand apps!

Working with sensory loss

This is a powerful and thought-provoking session. We enable you to experience your school and learning environments as your multisensory impaired learners do.

We simulate different tactile, visual and hearing impairments. Then working in pairs, with one enabler and one experiencer; you explore and move around the school environment.

Is it easy to find your way around? Do you feel disorientated or lost? What sensory clues are available in the environment for you?

This session will enable you to understand:
why some learners react unexpectedly in different environments
why learners are more successful in some environments than others
how to change your environment to support your learner’s sensory abilities
how clutter in the learning environment can be confusing

This session would combine well with ‘Introducing an Environmental Audit.’

Sensory Communication

Communication is one of the most important skills we want our learners to develop. How do we support our learners to develop these crucial skills?

In this session, we experience the same successes; frustrations and communication breakdowns as our learners do. We experience the need to use many different ways to communicate, and why a more sensory approach to communication is often required.

Understanding a learners communication frustrations will make you a more effective and receptive communication partner.

Sensory for pre-formal and semi-formal learners

We begin by outlining the principles of multisensory learning. We’ll look at the importance of a sensory curriculum – and what this means in everyday practice. We will look at why our learners need sensory stimulation and this interactive session will show you how learners can engage through fun, appropriate and regulated sensory stimulation. We will finish by looking at our understanding of how the brain works – and how this knowledge is changing and reinforcing our sensory approaches to learning.

Learn how to create sensory spaces for learners with autism

How should sensory spaces be different for learners with autism? We offer a range of ideas and strategies to create sensory spaces that are safe and effective for learners with autism. These positive spaces build upon learning strengths to develop attention, interaction and communication. We look at how to use these spaces for sensory ‘seekers’ and sensory ‘avoiders.’

Using a sensory profile for a learner enables us to identify the best sensory strategies for their successful learning.

This session links well with ‘Identifying learners sensory strengths.’

How to use your sensory room effectively

We’ve been working in multisensory rooms since they first appeared! ‘The practical guide to multisensory rooms’ (Hirstwood & Gray 1995) is still one of the few texts to focus on the use and development of multisensory rooms.

This session will make clear what a multisensory room is, and the potential this space has.

We look at each piece of multisensory equipment as a tool and describe how to use it and what you can achieve with it.

We share many ideas on how to use your multisensory room with different learners to maximise the impact of this space.

After this session, you will understand how to use your multisensory room to create clear, engaging and appropriate multisensory learning opportunities for all your learners.

Sensory on a shoestring

Sensory on a shoestring tools complement your sensory approach to learning. These shoestring tools can be powerful motivators, attention-getters and story-makers and more!

And sensory tools don’t have to be expensive!

There are many things from pound shops and, of course, suppliers like Ikea/Tiger/Maplin, which can create engaging sensory sessions.

Remember! Matching sensory needs with cheap and cheerful tools means you will discover an easy way of engaging sensory learners further in their learning.

How you can understand over and under stimulation

We know that some learners are over-stimulated, and some need extra stimulation; to keep them engaged in learning.

We help you to understand that under and over stimulation applies to all the sensory modalities. These are vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell, vestibular & proprioception.

This session will increase your team’s awareness of sensory loss; its impact on communication and learning; and why we need to give more modulated sensory clues for our learners.

Finding the learners sensory strengths

Let us show you what a learner’s sensory strengths are and how to create sensory activities they will want to engage with. Engaged learners are successful learners!

Understand a learner’s sensory challenges and you identify their barriers to learning.

By identifying a learner’s sensory strengths and challenges you can offer more appropriate, relevant and engaging sensory learning opportunities.

Why sensory stimulation?

What is sensory stimulation? Which learners need sensory stimulation? This session considers the basics of sensory stimulation and it’s importance for all learners with SEND.

We look at the sensory modalities and why they are important in learning for all learners. These are vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell, vestibular & proprioception.

Each of our senses reinforce each other, giving us more detailed information together than we would receive from one sense. This enables us to understand and interact in and with our environment. For learners with SEND, this is the beginning of developing sensory regulation.

What is multi sensory learning?

We explore our world by seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, moving in it and, sometimes, tasting it.

This is multisensory learning – learning that involves two or more senses in the same activity. This kind of learning is how we all learn as babies, before we become more cognitive learners.

For learners with SEND, multi sensory information is critical to their learning success. This multi sensory information helps a learner to understand and engage in the environment around them.

This is especially important if a learner has a sensory impairment, e.g. a visual impairment and receives less information via this sense.

Multi sensory learning enables the learner with SEND to be more successful in engaging with, understanding and remembering the learning experiences we offer.

Assessment & Target setting

Do you want to simplify the way you set targets? We want to introduce you to a simple, but powerful tool, which will do just that. Our target setting system is based on a well-researched formula, which is flexible too – saving you time, reducing paperwork and giving you an easier, visual way to track progress.

We’ll explore how to break down a goal into achievable targets, ‘scaffolding’ the learner’s emerging skills in a way which will support their learning. We will also share how to build assessment and recording into everyday classroom or learning environment.


Coaching Days

Our Coaching Service is designed to be a truly flexible package to really support;develop and embed sensory approaches to learning within your teaching and learning environments in your school or setting.

By offering bespoke, individualised input working with your staff and pupils in your sensory room or classrooms, we can explore ideas for intervention, demonstrating these and explaining the rationale behind this strategy. Working hands on allows us to share effectively how to use the equipment & technology that you have available to you to achieve success with your pupils’ targets.

This can easily be combined with an INSET to ensure that staff have the theory and background information about why we need to offer and develop an individualised sensory curriculum and sensory learning opportunities.

Outcomes of a coaching session can include:

developing new sensory learning techniques and strategies with staff
sensory assessment of an individual’s skills
to identify new targets & develop appropriate schemes of sensory work to achieve these targets
strategies to record progress towards sensory targets
bespoke action plan for specific individuals demonstrating and explaining the rationale behind the strategy chosen
how to successfully use the equipment & technology available to you
how to link activities in the sensory room with sensory learning opportunities outside of it

how to embed iPads/mobile technology within sensory learning strategies in the classroom/sensory room

Coaching Sessions can be a one-off input, or an on-going package of support to build staff skill and confidence.

We have a team of very experienced practitioners to draw upon to make sure that the coaching you receive is exactly what you need.
We often film our hands on sessions – meaning that you can review/discuss the video after the day, to further develop ideas & interventions and to facilitate reflective practise. We’ll create a Vimeo training channel, just for your setting, which is password protected. Here you’ll find your hands on session videos, relevant ‘how to’ & tutorial videos and other relevant materials/documents to provide on-going support and training for your staff/colleagues.


Leadership Days

Leadership coaches who can help your management team to achieve success in the ever changing world of special education in the UK and overseas. We can match your needs to an experienced HTA (Hirstwood Training Associate) with winning management skills.

Steve Phillips skills were recognised by OFSTED in March 2017 when describing senior leaders at Fountaindale School saying ‘their vision and actions are inspirational… leaders are passionate in driving through improvements so that every pupil experiences only the highest quality of learning.’

Steve Phillips – Steve is an independent SEND Consultant and the Deputy Principal of Fountaindale School until December 2017; where he had lead responsibility for designing, leading and implementing a new curriculum approach to meet the changing needs of the schools learners. Besides holding qualifications to degree level, Steve has additional qualifications in educational management and special needs.

Steve’s area of expertise is leading and managing change within a school setting to develop bespoke curricula and assessment tools for learners with profound or severe/complex learning difficulties and disabilities that forms part of a school’s vision.

Specifically, in curriculum terms, how to design, implement and deliver non-subject specific and pre-subject curriculum models of learning, within the contact of the National Curriculum, a Curriculum for Excellence and the Rochford Review outcomes; and the educational rationale behind these approaches.

He is able to work with school teams in drafting school curriculum and assessment policies, deliver whole school INSET on curriculum and assessment, as well as the nature and role of learning environments.In terms of leadership, Steve is experienced in working with school leaders to audit provision in order to formulate a school vision; to explore how this is shared and understood and implemented through change management strategies.

He is also able to explore concepts of non-judgemental teaching; provision mapping and the importance of ‘data’ capture using a variety of strategies including observation, learning walks and engagement tools.

Hirstwood Training are always here to answer questions for you, let’s have a chat!