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Real Group welcomes new head of marketing and sales

We are delighted that Stuart Curry has recently joined the company as Real Group’s head of marketing and sales.

Prior to this, Stuart worked across a variety of sectors, including not-for-profit, consumer and business publishing, membership bodies, and finance. He is based at our Greenwich office and will support the marketing and sales team, while working closely with all departments and directors to continue Real Group’s financial growth. He will also assist with the development of new business propositions and areas of activity.

Stuart emphasised how much he has relished working with the team and learning about the positive aspects of our work:

‘I am really enjoying working with an incredibly dedicated and committed small team and getting to learn about the fantastic, valuable work that the company does in the sector – helping to change lives.’

He looks forward to working with Real Group to expand and meet the many challenges facing education professionals and their pupils.

What SEND practitioners must know about the latest Joint Council for Qualifications’ (JCQ) regulations – a clarification

Alan Macgregor discusses the latest JCQ requirements for SEND practitioners


Since Alan Macgregor’s previous blog, we have received a number of calls about the 100-hour requirement.

We stated in the previous blog that:

‘…all access arrangements assessors need to have a postgraduate qualification at, or equivalent to level 7; and, as part of that qualification, they are also required to have carried out at least 100 hours relating to individual specialist assessment.’

We have realised that this wording seems to imply that the 100 hours all has to relate to individual specialist assessment. This was unintentional. In fact it is the course that has to exceed the 100 hours criterion, so a better phrasing might have been:

‘…all access arrangements assessors need to have a postgraduate qualification at, or equivalent to level 7; and, as part of that qualification, they are also required to have completed a course of at least 100 hours relating to individual specialist assessment.’

It was our intention to highlight and clarify the first option below listed in the JCQ regulations which states:

A head of centre will appoint:

  • an access arrangements assessor who has successfully completed a postgraduate course at or equivalent to Level 7, including at least 100 hours relating to individual specialist assessment. An access arrangements assessor may conduct assessments to be recorded within Section C of Form 8; and/or
  • an appropriately qualified psychologist registered with the Health & Care Professions Council who may conduct assessments to be recorded within Section C of Form 8 and where necessary undertake full diagnostic assessments; and/or
  • a specialist assessor with a current SpLD Assessment Practising Certificate, as awarded by Patoss, Dyslexia Action or BDA and listed on the SASC website, who may conduct assessments to be recorded within Section C of Form 8 and where necessary undertake full diagnostic assessments.

So we would like to be really clear that the first bullet point above means that the course, whichever course that is, must cover at least 100 hours of study relating to assessment this doesn’t mean 100 hours of psychometric testing. While at Real Training we generally do not give an exact number of hours that any course will take, as different people progress at different rates, the CPT3A course is accredited in such a fashion that it comfortably exceeds this requirement. In summary, by completing and passing CPT3A delivered by Real Training, you can be assured that this requirement is met.

The other thing we would like to clarify is that this change does not apply to HCPC-registered psychologists or to those that hold an Assessment Practising Certificate (APC), who are still covered by the second and third options on the list. We had not anticipated that either of these groups would think that they might be affected, but we are happy to reassure them that they do not have to take notice of this change.

Please accept our apologies for any confusion, which was not our intention. And please do contact us if you would like to discuss this further.

What SEND practitioners must know about the latest Joint Council for Qualifications’ (JCQ) regulations

Alan Macgregor discusses the latest JCQ requirements for SEND practitioners


With only ten months to go until the JCQ qualification requirements come into force, Alan Macgregor (one of Real Training’s directors) highlights the key changes that every practising access arrangements assessor must meet before 1 September 2017.

Every year, the JCQ brings out new regulations that affect teaching professionals who assess candidates with SEND for exam access arrangements. In recent years, the adjustments have been gradual and it’s been easy for practitioners to adapt to them. By 1 September 2017, however, all existing access arrangements assessors (formerly specialist assessors) must comply with two critical elements if they are to continue to practise.

The two critical changes that must be met

Before 1 September 2017, all access arrangements assessors need to have a postgraduate qualification at, or equivalent to level 7; and, as part of that qualification, they are also required to have carried out at least 100 hours relating to individual specialist assessment. So, if the person responsible for exam access arrangements in a setting does not meet these essential requirements, then they will need to ensure that they meet them before 1 September 2017. If they do not do this within this timeframe, then all access arrangements in their setting will need to be carried out by someone else who meets the new requirements – either an internal member of staff or an external consultant.

Who is likely to be affected by these changes?

We’ve received quite a few calls from SENCOs who have a postgraduate SEND qualification and have carried out assessments in their setting for many years. However, come 1 September 2017, they will simply not be able to practise, because either their postgraduate qualification is not level-7-equivalent, or their level-7-equivalent qualification did not include at least 100 hours relating to individual specialist assessment.

What about Form 8?

The latest Form 8 has caused a few problems for those who do not have a postgraduate qualification at, or equivalent to level 7, with at least 100 hours relating to individual specialist assessment. Why? Because there used to be a section for them to complete in Form 8, which has since been removed in anticipation of the 1 September 2017 deadline. Access arrangements assessors who do not meet the key requirements will not be able to complete Form 8 and their setting will need to employ someone else who meets the new requirements – either an internal member of staff or an external consultant.

What course can access arrangements assessors take to fully meet the new requirements?

Access arrangements assessors who need to upskill between now and 1 September 2017, can take our Certificate in Psychometric Testing, Assessment and Access Arrangements (CPT3A). This course is made up of the Certificate of Competence in Educational Testing (CCET) and the Access Arrangements Course (AAC), both of which can be studied online or intensively. This joint course will enable delegates to learn how to use psychometric instruments effectively (CCET) and apply them in exam access arrangements (AAC) confidently and competently. Those who already have CCET, can take AAC on its own.

If you have any queries, or would like to know how we can help you navigate these changes, take a look at our website, or get in touch.

Read the JCQ’s latest assessor criteria.

The Rochford Review: final report is out

On 19 October 2016, the Rochford Review: final report published. It sets out the recommendations of the independent Rochford Review group and follows on from the Rochford Review’s interim recommendations, which were published in December of last year.

The government aims to consult on the recommendations of this review in early 2017. Final decisions will be made in the wake of that consultation.

In the interim, the government suggests that ‘schools should continue to use the pre-key stage standards and P scales for the statutory assessment of pupils working below the standard of the national curriculum tests’.

The ten recommendations of the Rochford Review: final report are set out verbatim below:


‘The review makes the following recommendations to government for the statutory assessment of pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests at the end of key stages 1 and 2:

  1. The removal of the statutory requirement to assess pupils using P scales.
  2. The interim pre-key stage standards for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests are made permanent and extended to include all pupils engaged in subject-specific learning.
  3. Schools assess pupils’ development in all 4 areas of need outlined in the SEND Code of Practice, but statutory assessment for pupils who are not engaged in subject-specific learning should be limited to the area of cognition and learning.
  4. A statutory duty to assess pupils not engaged in subject-specific learning against the following 7 aspects of cognition and learning and report this to parents and carers: responsiveness, curiosity, discovery, anticipation, persistence, initiation, investigation
  5. Following recommendation 4, schools should decide their own approach to making these assessments according to the curriculum they use and the needs of their pupils.
  6. Initial teacher training (ITT) and Continuing professional development (CPD) for staff in educational settings should reflect the need for teachers to have a greater understanding of assessing pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests, including those pupils with SEND who are not engaged in subject-specific learning.
  7. Where there is demonstrable good practice in schools, those schools should actively share their expertise and practice with others. Schools in need of support should actively seek out and create links with those that can help to support them.
  8. Schools should work collaboratively to develop an understanding of good practice in assessing pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests, particularly across different educational settings. Schools should support this by actively engaging in quality assurance, such as through school governance and peer review.
  9. There should be no requirement to submit assessment data on the 7 areas of cognition and learning to the DfE, but schools must be able to provide evidence to support a dialogue with parents and carers, inspectors, regional schools commissioners, local authorities, school governors and those engaged in peer review to ensure robust and effective accountability.
  10. Further work should be done to consider the best way to support schools with assessing pupils with EAL.’

Read the Rochford Review: final report.

Snapshots from the world of SEND


  • 16 June: issue 16 of The SEND Practitioner published (a special issue for the Autism Show featuring Dr Temple Grandin, Steve Silberman and Dr Sue Sheppard)
  • 17 and 18 June: exhibited at the Autism Show, where Dr Sue Sheppard spoke about the innovative work in schools supporting learners with autism
  • 22 June: ‘What parents told the government’s review into the SEND reforms’
  • 23 June: the Brexit vote fell in favour of the UK leaving the European Union by a slim majority.
  • 23 June: ‘Poor pupils are still let down’, warns Ofsted boss
  • 24 June: Dr Mark Turner (our director) responded to the Brexit vote
  • 27 June: ‘How will Brexit affect children and young people with disabilities
  • 27 June: our learning design and psychology team popped over to Krakow for EU-funded project: Q-Tales
  • 28 June: ‘Two-thirds of parents fear child’s mental illness a life sentence’
  • 29 June: Ofsted considers scrapping outstanding grade, says new chief inspector
  • 30 June: Real Group reviewed the reforms with colleagues at London’s SEN Policy Forum.


  • 1 July: the DfE sent an update on the EU referendum result and its impact on the DfE
  • 4 July: concerns raised that special schools are being ‘left out’ by the academy system
  • 7 July: delegates encouraged to enrol on our new one-day face-to-face Assessment and Access Arrangements Update (AAU) course
  • 8 July: Nicky Morgan presses ahead with the process of appointing Amanda Spielman as the new Ofsted boss – despite concerns about her suitability.
  • 13 July: our delegates graduated from Middlesex University
  • 13 July: Dr Sue Sheppard penned a super piece on the importance of developing flexible programmes of support for learners
  • 14 July: SEN finally to be part of England’s core teacher training
  • 15 July: Kay Bedford OBE left Swiss Cottage School, after 21 years at its helm.
  • 16 July: Edward Timpson MP confirms that he will remain Minister of State for the DfE.
  • 25 July: DfE updated its SEN statistics


  • 3 August: DfE published the July edition of their SEND newsletter
  • 3 August: we interviewed the Children’s Commissioner for England (Anne Longfield OBE) for issue 17 of The SEND Practitioner.
  • 4 August: Sue wrote an important piece on whether initial teacher training should include specialist autism training
  • 15 August: a poll of education staff suggests that too many pupils with SEND in England lack crucial support
  • 19 August: an excellent overview of exam access arrangements and the key role that they play
  • 22 August: sad news about the recent passing of Brian Rix. He made a huge contribution to Mencap and SEND during his lifetime
  • 23 August: Ofsted boss in Isle of Wight row quits
  • 24 August: during July and August, the DfE published five outcome letters from inspections of local area services for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities
  • 25 August: we officially welcomed four new colleagues to our growing organisation (Hannah Fairall, Abby Grieve, Andrew Heap and Katie Hickmott)
  • 31 August: the European Commission signed off our Q-Tales collaboration in Luxembourg.

Issue 17: The SEND Practitioner

The SEND Practitioner

Issue 17
Children and young people’s
mental health

September/October 2016
With Anne Longfield OBE
and Sarah Norris

In this issue

  • Anne Longfield OBE (Children’s Commissioner for England) discusses the state of the nation’s child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) via: CAMHS cuts, SEN general annual grant (GAG) funding, demographics, exclusions, legal aid, and the post-Brexit landscape. Read more…
  • Sarah Norris (senior educational psychologist (EP)) explores the particular challenges facing professionals who support children and young people with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) difficulties. Read more…


In 1954, Pearl S. Buck, author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize in Literature, wrote that “the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members”. Her moving words echoed similar sentiments expressed by Samuel Johnson and Mahatma Gandhi many decades earlier. Sentiments that, at their very heart, frame the state of a nation’s health, not in terms of its financial or cultural wealth, but in respect of the welfare of its most vulnerable citizens.

Children and young people with mental health difficulties are one of those vulnerable groups who face a range of challenges in a country grappling with funding constraints, legislative reforms and post-Brexit uncertainties. With so many big questions dominating the headlines it is, perhaps, easy to get preoccupied with their impact on us and forget that the most vulnerable members of our society tend to be most affected when times are tough.

With this in mind, I was really pleased to speak to the Children’s Commissioner for England, to get a better sense of the real and pressing problems facing children and young people with mental health difficulties. The fact that Anne works so closely with young people, in pursuit of her statutory duty to champion, safeguard and promote their rights, means that she is uniquely placed to comment. To get the practitioner’s viewpoint, I was also grateful for the opportunity to speak to our very own Sarah Norris. Sarah is a talented and respected senior educational psychologist and an expert in this important area.

I do hope that you find this issue useful and that, in some small way, it helps you in your practice. At this moment, children and young people face such a myriad of mental health challenges that SEND practitioners are in a powerful position to enable some of this country’s most vulnerable individuals to thrive.

Thank you for continuing to read and engage with this publication over the past two years. I very much appreciate your invaluable input and look forward to speaking to some more high-profile experts in subsequent issues. As ever, please do let me know your thoughts, comments or suggestions.

Kind regards,

Edward Farrow
Read more

We welcome new colleagues to our growing organisation

This summer, we’ve employed new members of staff to meet the growing demand for our training and services. We’re therefore delighted to bolster our psychology and operations departments with four capable individuals.

Hannah Fairall, Assistant Psychologist (Greenwich)

Before joining us as an assistant psychologist, Hannah completed an MPhil in Psychology and Education at the University of Cambridge. She feels that her new role has been very interesting and varied so far, which involves tutoring for the Certificate of Competence in Educational Testing (CCET), CCET course development, publishing MEd SEND and National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO) delegate assignments, and planning projects for future work in schools.

Abby Grieve, Assistant Psychologist (Greenwich)

Prior to joining our team, Abby worked in a school as a learning support assistant. As an assistant psychologist, she is a CCET tutor, while working to develop the course itself. Abby also works in schools, and assists in publishing the assignments of MEd SEND and NASENCO delegates.

Andrew Heap, Head of Operations (Canterbury)

Previously, Andrew was head of student operations at a language school based in France and Italy. His role is to work with the directors to continue the improvement of operation efficiency, understand the student journey, and enhance our customer services. Andrew will work closely with our marketing team to ensure a consistent approach across the business that drives operations and marketing performance.

Katie Hickmott, Administration Assistant and Receptionist, NASENCO Tutor and Course Developer (Canterbury)

Katie started out as a classroom teacher and for the last six years has been working as a SENCO for schools in special measures. She has an MEd in Educational Research Practice from the University of Cambridge, and jointly led the Good to Outstanding Teaching Programme in her school. She’ll split her role between the administration of NASENCO and the MEd SEND, tutoring NASENCO students, and helping to develop the course content.

A word from one of our directors

Siobhan Mellor emphasised that the need for the recent recruitment drive is in direct response to the growing requirement for more training among teachers:

‘We are keen to support the current growth of the company. We are proud of our reputation for providing great practice-led courses, with flexible learning solutions and high-quality tutoring, leading to positive outcomes for our delegates in their work with children, and young people with SEND. The Real Group team has always focused on providing great support at each stage of the process for delegates, and now that we have 1,617 delegates studying modules with us, we are committed to maintaining our services, to deliver excellent quality in the support and advice we provide.

‘We have expanded all departments within the company, and this will also enable the directors to focus on developing the strategy and approach for Real Group in the next few years, so that we can respond to the new challenges and exciting opportunities that lie ahead in our sector.’

Discussing safeguarding children’s rights with the Children’s Commissioner

We were pleased to have the opportunity to interview Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield OBE on 3 August, for next month’s issue of The SEND Practitioner.

The interview will feature in issue 17 of the free-zine and will give an insight into the progress being made when safeguarding children’s rights and the impact that Anne and her team have had so far.

Anne’s statutory duty is to champion and safeguard the rights of every child in England in line with the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child. The role has been strengthened by the Children and Families Act of 2014 and this has seen the organisation’s duty of care shift to protecting and promoting the rights of children.

A number of pressing questions were asked regarding mental health issues, CAMHS cuts, and SEN school exclusions. Among these vital issues, we also discussed SEN GAG funding, how legal aid has changed, and what the post-Brexit landscape could mean for children and young people’s outcomes.

Issue 17 of The SEND Practitioner will publish in September.

Read previous issues of The SEND Practitioner.

Sign up to The SEND Practitioner.

Should initial teacher training include specialist autism training?


Editor’s note: towards the end of last month, there was quite a bit of chat about whether or not initial teacher training should include specialist autism training. With that in mind, I approached Dr Sue Sheppard, our resident specialist educational psychologist, renowned autism expert and friend and colleague of the late Lorna Wing. With customary clarity, Sue sets out her thoughts on this important question.

A word from Dr Sue Sheppard

The complexity and broadening out of the autism spectrum has significantly increased the number of individuals diagnosed and this brings many challenges within increasingly inclusive education systems. This, coupled with a recognition that there are many females who have previously not been identified, means that the numbers of students that a teacher may encounter has risen in recent years. Many newly qualified teachers find themselves in a situation where they are having to cope with the demands of a student who requires more personalised approaches and adaptations than they expect.

It is for this reason that those completing initial teacher training require a basic level of awareness, which enhances their understanding of the autism spectrum and provides knowledge of some principles relating to appropriate intervention and management techniques. There has to be a balanced approach within initial teacher training as many domains need attention. Within a school there clearly need to be staff with specific responsibility and enhanced skills who can support and advise their colleagues and signpost them to the most suitable ways to manage students on the autism spectrum. However, within the current Code of Practice for SEN there is a strong emphasis on ‘all teachers being responsible for ensuring individual needs are embraced within their daily planning and practice’. This means that teacher training has to ensure that there is adequate preparation to begin this process; one that will evolve once a teaching career begins.

When teaching undergraduates who were following initial teacher training, I have always found high levels of motivation when I have presented lectures and workshops relating to autism. The main feedback has tended to focus on the fact they would like more training and opportunities to learn. They especially enjoy hearing the insider view and are interested in the sensory difficulties experienced and the high levels of anxiety which may present in school settings. Many teachers in training have been educated in inclusive schools and learnt alongside students with autism. Others have personal experience of family members with a diagnosis. This tends to mean that they bring their own insights, which can be shared as part of the learning process.

Maybe there is the scope to ensure that all teachers in training have a basic level of autism training, while recognising that others may be more strongly motivated to become autism ‘champions’ and ‘specialists’ and wish for something additional within their training. Perhaps, in recognition of this natural variation, a range of optional modules could be created that meets the teachers in training at the particular level that they need to enhance their career.

About Dr Sue Sheppard

Sue is a senior specialist educational psychologist who is a consultant to the Lorna Wing Centre for Autism (part of the National Autistic Society). She has been a specialist ASD advisor/EP for a number of London boroughs for over 20 years and has also worked as a specialist teacher. Sue has been instrumental in setting up provision for children and young people with ASD across early years, primary and secondary, and has an eclectic career portfolio covering lecturing, training, consultancy and diagnosis and assessment. She is a specialist speaker in autism for EPs in training at University College London and has worked in collaboration with other universities – her doctoral research focused on autism outreach services.

Sue has significant experience of supporting learners online and has been a module leader on a number of ‘special needs’ programmes for various universities. Sue works with Real Psychology to provide extensive specialist EP services across London. She is also the module leader for Real Training’s Autism Spectrum Conditions: Skills & Knowledge (S&K) and Application & Reflection (A&R) modules, which are part of Real Training’s MEd SEND Programme.

Find out more about our modules on Autism Spectrum Conditions.

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