Inclusive practice and special educational needs in ELT were at the focus of a new-style English UK event. The conference was smaller-scale than usual, and held in a London member centre for almost 40 participants, who were able to hear specialist speakers, ask questions, and discuss issues with colleagues and experts.
Organiser Tom Weatherley, English UK's conference producer and member relations manager, said the day had been organised in response to member centres' need for support around special needs and inclusivity: "It was a great day. The new event format worked really well, and this was the first time we had devoted an entire conference, rather than individual sessions, to this issue which is of growing importance to the ELT industry.
"Our speakers did a fantastic job, covering everything from inclusivity in classrooms and ELT centres to meeting very specific needs, such as those for sight-impaired students – and we even had a guide dog among our participants. "It was great to see that our participants seemed engaged and enthused throughout, with lots of useful takeaways.
I hope they got a lot out of the day, as the early feedback suggested. We will be running more events along these lines in future, complementing our training days and major conferences."The event was organised in partnership with IATEFL and its Inclusive Practices and Special Educational Needs Special Interest Group (IP & SEN SIG) Participant Mel Judge, Academic Director of Stafford House, said: "I left feeling really empowered that I could make a difference within my organisation.
"The central theme was explored from different angles by each of the four speakers providing a very varied and well-rounded day with both a classroom and operational focus. The final panel Q and A saw the beginning of some really interesting discussions surrounding the management and identification of specific learning difficulties in the EFL classroom, as well as ways in which we can encourage our partner agents to provide us with as much information as possible regarding their students.
"Now that the dialogue has been opened I am really keen to see the direction it takes and work towards greater inclusion, both in the school I work for and in the wider industry."
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