A new national festival, called FestABLE, of specialist learning is bringing together professionals, parents and young people to tackle the big issues facing young people with disabilities and learning difficulties.
FestABLE will be held on June 2 at National Star College in Cheltenham. It will be the UK’s first national festival dedicated to specialist learning.
SEND reform, the Children and Families Act and whether services and systems count more than choice and aspirations are some of the headline themes.
Award-winning writer and actress Sally Phillips - who fronted the BBC documentary A World Without Down’s Syndrome? - will deliver one of the keynote sessions at FestABLE. Having starred in Smack The Pony and the Bridget Jones trilogy, Sally waded in to the emotionally-charged debate about a new screening test that is said to detect Down’s Syndrome in 99 per cent of pregnancies and explored the effect the test could have on society.
David Ellis, Chief Executive of National Star, said:
“Ms Phillips’ appearance will be profoundly important, not only to the hundreds in the audience at FestABLE, but also to hundreds of thousands of people around the country who care passionately about education for children and young people with disabilities and special needs."
“Her personal experiences speak for all of us in some way, and at the end of a momentous day at this inaugural event, her humour and compassion will be of immense value as we take forward the ideas and inspiration we have shared.”
“There is a growing desire to talk about what will work better for young people with disabilities and learning difficulties and how all of us - professionals, parents and the young people - can make difficult things possible,” said David Ellis, Chief Executive of National Star.
“FestABLE will be an opportunity to talk about what’s challenging all of us involved in Special Educational Needs and find paths ahead for all the learners and their families.”
The one-day festival will be a celebration of the best in the field, drawing together professionals, learners and parents to look for solutions to the issues faced by children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
It will be hosted by charity National Star at its fully-accessible campus outside Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.
National Star College is the first college in the country under the new Ofsted regime to receive a double outstanding in every category of Ofsted and Care Quality Commission ratings.
Dame Christine Lenehan, author of the review These Are Our Children, headlines a collection of speakers who are experts in a range of subjects from physiotherapy, PMLD and autism, to building an SEND workforce and the latest assistive technology.
Young people will have the opportunity to try the assistive technology including eye gaze and switch systems and the UK’s only wheelchair accessible hot air balloon will be tethered in the grounds.
Carers, support workers, parents and learners will also be able to see how students are taught at National Star. There will be experimental activities, video evidence supporting the work, and the opportunity to discuss it with experienced practitioners.