Kelly Jarvis to help launch a school SEN support service

@SunSupport_SEN, a support organisation for parents of children with special educational needs has appointed a former head teacher and leading specialist in complex needs to deliver SEN training and consultancy services for schools.

Sunshine Support, which offers independent help and advice for parents across England and Wales, has appointed Kelly Jarvis to help launch a school SEN support service, to help teachers ensure that every child reaches their potential.

The not-for-profit organisation expanded its team from two people to 10 during 2020, to help deal with the increasing number of requests for help.

Now Sunshine Support wants to extend the service it provides to special needs teachers, providing advice on the formation of Education Health Care Plans (EHCP) and their reviews, Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunals (SENDIST) and auditing SEN provision in specialised and mainstream settings.

In 2011 Kelly joined the Cambian Group and four years later she was appointed head teacher of Southlands School, in Hampshire, a specialist Asperger’s and complex needs independent school, where she devised a curriculum of tailored education for every child.

In the last 10 years she has represented the school at more than 30 tribunals, supporting families fighting for a specialist provision for their child, and drafted countless EHCPs to ensure appropriate provision and funding is provided.

Kelly said: “I have spent my career helping to ensure that children are supported to reach their individual potentials and I’m really looking forward to working with Sunshine Support to pass the vital skills I have learned on to other professionals.

“Education is all I've ever wanted to do; I was one of those children who lined up toys and took a register. I qualified as a secondary school English teacher in 2006 and at first my focus was my subject, but I soon realised I had a real passion for working with the more challenging children whose behaviours on the surface may have appeared challenging or avoidant, but who were actually masking much greater needs underneath.

“I thrived on learning what made these children tick and have been lucky enough to help them achieve remarkable results. Now, more than ever, children with special needs must have the support they are entitled to and that means educating the parents and providers in how to secure this.”

Sunshine Support, based in Derby, was launched in 2017 and has supported thousands of families across the country. It does not receive money from public funding streams, to ensure it remains impartial, and puts any profits back into the communities that it supports, offering direct help to children, assessing their needs and helping parents successfully apply for an Education Health Care Plan or Statement of SEN where required.

As part of the expansion, training will be offered to schools in understanding how an EHCP/Statement works and providing paperwork templates to help staff already overloaded with work.
Courses will also be established for teachers in how to speak for their school at tribunal, regardless of whether they are assisting a family or local authority, and what information they will be expected to provide in terms of data and evidence.

And eventually Sunshine Support will offer provision and curriculum audits which can be carried out ahead of Ofsted inspections to suggest areas of improvement and how to best record anecdotal progress in lieu of measurable data.

Kelly will start work with the organisation over the summer, ready to hit the ground running in September. She added: “I have been aware of Sunshine Support for many years, and I was attracted to them because they are not for profit, but also because the community interest element of ‘giving back’ is something I’m very passionate about.

“At first some of the work we offer is likely to be in the form of webinars, just to be mindful of covid restrictions. But eventually I hope to be able to visit schools and provide one-to-one support where it is needed.”

Sunshine Support founder Chrissa Wadlow said: “During 2020 we helped 2,000 families and carried out over 11,000 hours of voluntary support work. Our webinars were watched by between 100 and 300 people at a time and we were doing two a week, so we know there is an need for support.

“Since its inception Sunshine Support has been about aiding parents fighting for their child to be seen by the right professional, or to get an EHCP in place.

“With Kelly’s appointment we are now going to be able to help those children from both sides – by providing both parents and schools with the support they need.”

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