Hirstwood Training are a growing, dynamic and enthusiastic team of expert consultants, whose mission it is to share the very best sensory approaches to breaking down barriers to learning for all pupils with SEND.

Since 1990 Hirstwood training has been enabling educators/practitioners to maximise the impact of delivering sensory learning opportunities

Our expertise is based upon experience. All of our associate consultants are expert practitioners in their specific field; they are passionate about what they do and have a vast knowledge and a plethora of practical ideas and strategies to share with you.

Our training is empowering, creative, inspiring, confidence-boosting, innovative – and FUN!

Richard Hirstwood

Lead Consultant and Founder of Hirstwood Training

Richard Hirstwood is the founder of & lead consultant for Hirstwood Training.

He is passionate about enabling educators/practitioners to maximise the impact of delivering sensory learning opportunities, in a sensory room or other learning environment, with the resources available to them. He has developed innovative ways of delivering key skills and competences via face to face training; coaching sessions; and hands on work with teachers & teaching assistants; as well as creating bespoke portfolios of training videos for more than a hundred individual schools & settings.

His extensive experience is based on practical knowledge, giving him insight into what works and what doesn’t in multi sensory practice. Regular sessions with children and adults with autism and all additional needs in a variety of multi sensory and classroom settings enable him to maintain this level of excellent practice.

Clive Smith

Clive has a long association with Hirstwood Training and has well over 30 years’ experience working with children and adults with Autism and complex additional needs. With Richard Hirstwood, he co-authored a chapter in the book ‘Dual Sensory Impairment’ in 1995 which was one of first books in the UK to feature a chapter on multi sensory rooms and learning.

Clive has extensive experience in working with children with challenging behaviour, those on the autistic spectrum and/or with profound multiple and learning disabilities. As a specialist advisory teacher within a Behaviour Support Team, he is skilled at advising/supporting staff to meet the diverse needs of this group.

Clive contributes to many Hirstwood Training events and conferences typically on the following topics:

Sensory issues and challenging behaviour
Autism
Identifying & reducing barriers to play
Developing appropriate sensory spaces for pupils with autism.
Modifying an individuals learning environment to maximise their learning potential.

Chris Barson

Chris Barson founded Positive About Autism in January 2009. Prior to that Chris was External Training Manager for the National Autistic Society. Chris has a long involvement with disability and autism. Chris first joined the National Autistic Society (NAS) in 1996 as a Project Officer in Wales on a Children in Need project reviewing short term care provision.

After working with the NAS Regional Development Team promoting service development throughout the UK.Chris went to work at the Royal College of General Practitioners, in 2000, where he managed Professional Development and Quality programmes. Chris rejoined NAS in 2004. Chris has contributed to the design and delivery of courses provided by Canterbury Christ Church University, and the University of Cumbria.

Chris is a contributing author to ‘The Autism Spectrum in the 21st Century:Exploring Psychology, Biology and Practice’ Jessica Kingsley Press 2010 (Highly Commended 2011 BMA Medical Book Awards).

Carol Allen

Carol Allen is an education advisor for ICT and Inclusion, currently offering specialised support to Local Authorities; schools; parents and carers and a wide range of educators across the world. She has taught since 1980 in both mainstream schools – primary and high, and schools for students with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties.

Recognising, as an English specialist, that communication lies at the heart of all effective teaching, the majority of her work has centred on creative and engaging use of technology to support communication in its widest sense.

Carol works in partnership with many companies in the educational technology field as she holds a strong belief in sharing and collaboration across all participants in order to maximise the potential opportunities for her students. All work centres on easy to replicate practice which is fun, achievable and creates communication enhancement opportunities.

Naomi Rosenberg

Naomi is an experienced teacher of the deaf who has chosen to work with children with complex needs. She has an in-depth understanding of deafness in combination with autism, profound learning difficulties, epilepsy, visual impairment and physical challenges. She has always championed a non subject based curriculum for semi-formal learners in favour of a multi sensory topic based curriculum.

She passionately believes in inclusion and develops activities and opportunities for all children to work and play together with choices and creative communication strategies using all the senses.Naomi has combined her teaching with consultancy and training work and volunteers for Sense, keeping her work up to date and relevant.

She has also been a short break foster carer for special children.With her focus on experiential learning for all, Naomi’s lively and hands on training is a frequent contribution to Hirstwood Training’s conferences and events; highlighting:understanding how hearing and visual impairments, ASC and other processing difficulties impact on learning and how we perceive our worldcreating working environments that support using residual sensory information.

Such as acoustics, visuals and layoutslanguage development, nonverbal communication strategies and learning stylessensory activities that encourage attention, looking, listening, feeling, moving, communication and good mental healthusing a Clonkerboard, or resonance board, as a learning resource across the curriculumusing Dance Massage, an intensive communication tool, suitable for children with severe autism and PMLD

Julie Cowpe-Stephens

Julie has worked in Special Education for thirty seven years. Her main area of specialism and passion is in Sensory Approaches to Learning, understanding sensory processing, sensory integration and regulation strategies. She is also skilled at mentoring staff on understanding sensory behaviours; producing CASP plans – (consistent approaches to support pupils learning) and sensory profiles. She has also developed planning strategies with teachers to embed a sensory rich curriculum through themes, topics and stories using high- and low-tech sensory resources, sensory rooms and interactive studios. She enjoys creating sensory learning environments both within the classroom and in other areas in a school environment.

Julie has also provided outreach support to many mainstream schools and early years settings on:

Planning for sensory approaches to learning
Inclusion strategies
Support packages and sensory plans
How to develop a sensory curriculum
How to create sensory spaces/rooms and environments
Sensory assessments and profiles with practical strategies to manage daily challenges

Helen Dillon

Helen has been a SEN practitioner for twenty one years working at Fountaindale Special School for children and young adults with complex learning, sensory and physical disabilities. Fountaindale is currently OFSTED rated as Outstanding.During her career she has provided outreach support to mainstream schools on visual and hearing impairments; adapting the environment; making resources and developing communication. She has supported pupils from Fountaindale on dual placements in many mainstream settings, run summer schools, after school clubs, college placement and provided private tutoring and support to many families.

She loves technology and provides support on accessible programmes and switches used to engage learners on computers; ipads and touch screens. She has planned with teachers strategies to embed a sensory rich curriculum through themes, topics and stories using high- and low-tech sensory resources; sensory rooms and interactive studios.

Since 2009 her specialism and expertise has been in supporting children and young people with visual and hearing impairments.Helen provides support and training on:

Planning and mentoring school staff on how to make the curriculum accessible for learners with VI and HIHow to improve the auditory and visual environment in the classroom Support on using and maintaining audiological specialist equipment Assessing pupils’ vision and hearing levels and writing sensory profiles to ensure a consistent approach to teaching and learning One to one visual rehabilitation and stimulation

Hirstwood Training are a growing, dynamic and enthusiastic team of expert consultants, whose mission it is to share the very best sensory approaches to breaking down barriers to learning for all pupils with SEND.

Our expertise is based upon experience. All of our associate consultants are expert practitioners in their specific field; they are passionate about what they do and have a vast knowledge and a plethora of practical ideas and strategies to share with you.

Our training is empowering, creative, inspiring, confidence-boosting, innovative – and FUN!

We work with special schools; EYFS services/providers; mainstream schools and those with specialist provision; adult services/providers for adults with a learning disability; adult special education colleges and transition services.

We deliver services within the UK and worldwide. This year we have delivered training in New Zealand; with a trip later this year to the UAE. We have previously delivered training in Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Malta, Singapore,