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Operation Diversity® Limited. Registered office: 20 Woodland Road, Darlington, England, DL3 7PL.
Registered in England. Registered number: 09776571
“I know that being a parent or carer of a neurodivergent child with Special Educational Needs (SEN) of any kind, even today, can be so isolating and overwhelming, particularly when you are not receiving the help and support you so badly need and want for yourself or your children. Sometimes you feel like you don’t even know where to start and it causes so much frustration and heartache.
When children’s needs are not appropriately identified and supported it can also be detrimental to them long term, impacting on their academic achievement, life-chances, mental health and emotional wellbeing and believe me when I say, I know what this feels like as a child. The world of SEN can quite literally be a minefield and with so much conflicting information, at times it can be extremely difficult to navigate. As a member of the Operation Diversity Academy I want to help you to feel supported, empowered and armed with the right tools and knowledge so that both you and your children’ will feel inspired, motivated, confident and bursting with a positive mindset. The Academy is a safe place where I can bring in a diverse range of professionals and inspirational people to help and support you and your family, whilst helping your child to embrace their Neurodivergence!”
Educational Consultant and Specialist Dyslexia Assessor
An educational consultant with a background in teaching, Sarah is researching for a doctorate in education. She combines her passion for learning with a parents’ perspective; her own children’s assessments include ADHD, auditory processing, autism, dyslexia and visual stress.
Sarah has AMBDA status as a specialist dyslexia assessor and SpLD teacher and is a member of PATOSS. Her research article on the potential for executive function targeted support was published in the 2018 Dyspraxia Foundation professional journal.
Sarah works with learners from Early Years through to Higher Education, and she believes that understanding each student’s strengths and needs is essential to provide timely, effective support and advice.
Behaviour Intervention Specialist, Neurodivergent Parenting Coach, Motivational Speaker
The Skilled Parent
Gwendolyn comes to us with a very unique set of skills. Not only is she neuro-divergent herself, she is also the mother of 4 children, 2 of whom are neuro-divergent! Professionally, Gwendolyn taught for 9 years in the USA and the UK. Her teaching career focused on Special Educational Needs (SEN) in children with emotional and behavioural concerns. She retrained as a parenting coach and therapist so that she could follow her true passion of empowering parents and enriching the lives of families.
Specialist Consultant, Speech and Language Therapist
Small Talk, Speech & Language Therapy
Libby Hill spent many years in the NHS as a highly specialist Speech and Language Therapist working with children and young people with ASD. Now she is a consultant for ‘Small Talk Speech and Language Therapy’ in Staffordshire which was set up to bridge the ever-widening gap between the increasing number of children with communication problems and the shortfall within the NHS. They take speech & language therapy referrals from all over the UK.
Chartered Educational Psychologist
Sara Bierer Ltd
Sara is an experienced Chartered Educational Psychologist who combines private practice with working as a Senior Educational Psychologist in a Local Authority. Sara has worked with children with a wide range of complex difficulties in a variety of pre-school and school settings. She is also a qualified teacher. Sara contributes to SEN Panels and has been an expert witness at Tribunals.
Sara works closely with parents and educators to develop a shared understanding of a child’s strengths and needs. She works holistically, looking at a child’s development, experiences and learning skills both at home and in the educational environment.
Consultant, Occupational Therapist
Children’s Choice Therapy Service
Alison Hart is an Occupational Therapist and Founder of ‘Children’s Choice Therapy Service Ltd’, a group of specialist OTs working across health, education and social care, as well as independently, and from one of the few Ayres SI and independent OT clinics in the UK. Alison is also a Senior Lecturer at the University of Derby, training Occupational Therapist’s.
Alison qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 1993, and has completed post graduate training in Sensory Integration and a further Masters degree in OT, as well as being a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Alison works nationally delivering training, consultancy and education, as well as clinical assessment and interventions.
SEND Support Advocate
Sue qualified with a combined degree in psychology and sociology in 1999. Her interest in SEN grew from her parenting 5 children, all of whom have ASD as a primary diagnosis along with other difficulties. Sue embraced the personal knowledge and experience and undertook further courses to gain more in-depth insight before becoming an advocate for all aspects of SEN and the EHCP process. Sue has tribunal experience at the first-tier (Special Education Needs and Disability) representing and supporting families and young people. Sue’s approach to her work utilises her first-hand experience of parenting children with additional needs.
Consultant Speech and Language Therapist
“Passionate about unlocking potential” is how Jude describes what drives her as a Speech and Language Therapist. After many years working in the NHS, Jude and her business partner Katy Bennet founded Scotland’s first Social Enterprise offering Speech, Language and Communication therapy support. Jude has built up a specialism in additional support needs, including Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Developmental Language Disorders, Learning Disabilities and rare genetic conditions. Implementing Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a further passion. She carries out diagnostic Autism assessments with her multidisciplinary team, writes and speaks about supporting additional support needs, and provides expert assessment and reporting for complex cases.
Behaviour and Learning Consultant, Trainer
Behaviour Management Training
Fintan is currently consulting for a number of schools and educational organisations both within the UK and internationally.
He was the Headteacher of the Centre Academy from 1996 -2002, which was the first specialist school in the UK for students between the ages of 7-19 specialising in issues related to ADHD, ASD and ODD.
He is an associate lecturer for Leicester University, the National Association of Special Needs, the Institute of Education, The Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre and the former Vice Chairman of the UK ADHD Network and of the European ADHD Alliance.
He has written a number of books and published articles on the subject of ADHD, Behaviour and Learning issues.
Educational and Chartered Psychologist, Speaker, Author and Expert Witness
Peer Gordon Associates
Educational & Chartered Psychologist, Speaker, Author & Expert Witness, Lindsay is widely recognised as an expert in the range of specific learning difficulties, SEN & mainstream education. In 2002 she was appointed CBE for services to Education & Dyslexia. In 2011 she was awarded the Outstanding Lifetime Academic Achievement Award by the British Dyslexia Association (BDA). She is a Patron of GroOops, a charity dedicated to creating an emotionally healthy dyslexia aware world. Lindsay has lectured extensively as keynote speaker internationally since the late 1980s & has advised governments, policymakers, lawyers, adults, schools, psychologists, therapists & parents.
Internationally trainer and lecturer in Dyslexia, Mathematics and Dyscalculia
Maths Explained Tutorials
Steve Chinn’s experience spans over forty years of work and research in special and mainstream education. In 1986 he founded and then developed and built a specialist secondary school for dyslexic boys, a school which won major national awards. He is now an independent consultant, researcher and writer and has presented papers, contributed to conferences worldwide (over 30 countries). He also delivers training courses for psychologists, teachers, parents and support assistants.
Education Consultant – Hearing Loss & APD Chair-British Society of Audiology APD Committee
Listen to Learn
Pauline Grant is the lead consultant for Listen to Learn. After teaching English and Drama in London comprehensive schools and a short career break, she studied for the postgraduate mandatory qualification which entitles her to be known as a Teacher of the Deaf, graduating in 1989. Pauline also has a particular expertise in the educational management of Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). She is a member of the British Association of Teachers of the Deaf and the British Society of Audiology; she is currently Chair of the BSA Special Interest Group for Auditory Processing Disorders (APD).
Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Help for Psychology
Dr Judy Eaton worked for the NHS for many years before working independently. She has also worked within adolescent inpatient hospitals. Her work has involved assessment, diagnosis and intervention with a large number of children and adults with Autism, in a variety of settings and she has developed a particular interest in the PDA profile. She has written a book entitled ‘Mental Health Issues for Girls and Women on the Autism Spectrum – Diagnosis, Intervention and Family Support’. Judy speaks regularly at training events and conferences about autism, mental health and PDA and has recently been appointed a visiting researcher at Kings College London.
International Educational Psychologist, author and conference speaker
Dr Gavin Reid Education Consultants
Gavin Reid Ph.D., M.A, M.App.Sci, M.Ed., B.Ed, AMBDA, Assoc. F. B.P.S is an independent international educational psychologist. He is a director of the Red Rose School in the UK and Global Educational Consultancies (GEC) and a consultant to the Institute of Child Education and Psychology, Europe (ICEPE), the Open University and the BBC in the UK and the Child Early Intervention Medical Center (CEIMC) in Dubai.
He is an ambassador for the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre (UK) and has written 27 books in dyslexia, literacy, learning styles and motivation. These are used as core course texts in courses worldwide and some have been translated into Arabic, Polish, French, Italian and Greek.
Principal Product Manager
Mike Tholfsen is a Principal Product Manager on the Microsoft Education team focusing on Learning Tools and OneNote Class/Staff Notebooks, and Microsoft Teams for Education. He is passionate about education and has been regularly working with students and teachers around the world over the past ten years to create products that improve student outcomes.
Old Square Chambers
Mark joined Old Square Chambers in 2017 following his successful completion of pupillage. He has experience before the First-Tier Tribunal (Special Education Needs and Disability) representing parents in appeals relating to the contents of EHC Plans (Sections B, F and I) and at multiple exclusion hearings at Governing Body and Independent Review Panel level. Mark also has a particular interest in judicial review challenges arising out of funding and SEN-related disputes.
Old Square Chambers
Laith Dilaimi has a wide-ranging practice in education law: his practice covers SEN appeals, discrimination, judicial reviews, admissions, exclusions, safeguarding, examination malpractice, school funding, claims against universities, and teacher misconduct. Laith advises on and acts in cases in the First-tier Tribunal, the Upper Tribunal, the County Court and the High Court, among other forums. Laith chairs Independent Appeal Panels and Independent Review Panels for two London borough councils in relation to school admission appeals and school exclusion reviews. He has a particular interest in disability discrimination and has written a handbook on discrimination law for the National Deaf Children’s Society.
Specialist Speech and Language Therapist
Chris Hargreaves Speech Therapy
Chris Hargreaves is a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist. He is a member of the Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists (RCSLT) and Healthcare Professions Council (HCPC). Chris is also recognised by the Association of Speech and Language Therapists in Independent Practice (ASLTIP) and a qualified ELKLAN and Talking Partners tutor. His style of working is family and child-focused. He provides fun, interactive and tailor-made support and interventions across South Wales, which help children to achieve their communication potential.
Specialist Dyslexia Assessor and SpLD Teacher
Karen Pollard Rylance Dyslexia Assessments and Teaching
Karen has more than 20 years teaching experience. When she first graduated, Karen taught in various FE/HE SEN settings throughout the North West, managing and co-ordinating several additional learning support departments. In 2014 she attained her Masters in SpLD/Dyslexia and for the last 10 years she has specialised in SpLD/Dyslexia teaching and assessing, to all age groups. She has given webinars and presentations relating to Dyslexia identification, screening and assessment. Karen regularly updates her professional practice, to include knowledge of all neuro-divergent conditions and has the AMBDA recognition and APC, affiliated through PATOSS. Karen is also a senior Irlen Assessor.
Anita Sharma Coaching
20 years ago, Anita Sharma was an Ofsted outstanding teacher, she coached newly qualified teachers for many years supporting them through the early years of the profession and her last position was Head of PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) where she found that too often children felt isolated and alone in the problems they were facing. They battled with low self-esteem, anxiety, body image and academic pressure. This led to Anita qualifying as an Accredited Practitioner Coach with the International Authority for Professional Coaching & Mentoring (IAPCM) and she now children to experience positive results in developing new habits, increased self-esteem and confidence.
Coach, Teacher, Public Speaker, Writer
Thrive with Autism
Dee McAlinden was formally identified as an Autistic (Autism Spectrum Difference) Person in July 2015. She also has two children who were identified at the ages of 20 and 10 years. Since then she’s enjoyed working as a speaker, trainer, teacher and coach for people connected with ASD. She works with Teachers, Psychologists, Charities, Individuals and Families to help them understand the condition. As a person who has succeeded in many areas of her life because of and despite her unidentified ASD, Dee’s keen to share her stories and techniques to help others.
Psychotherapist – Counsellor, CBT Therapist, Art Therapist and Coach.
Your Mind Set
Leanne combines her private practice work with her online businesses – Your Mind Set and The Hug Button (for adults and children). She uses her creative skills to design and deliver workbooks, online courses and products for adults and children to support emotional wellbeing and strengthen their resilience to deal with life’s struggles. She is passionate about helping parents to raise children who have a strong emotional base that they can rely on throughout their lives through their ability to understand their own feelings and emotions.
Psychotherapist – Counsellor, CBT Therapist, Life Coach and Wellbeing Mentor
Your Mins Set
Dee combines her private practice work with her online businesses – Your Mind Set and Mini Mind Set. She believes that looking after yourself emotionally and mentally needn’t just happen when you’re in crisis, it can become part of your daily routine. She helps parents to look after their own mental health and in turn to equip their own children how to become happy, confident and emotionally content. She delivers online training events, downloadable workbooks and online courses to manage mental health issues and improve emotional wellbeing.
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