A Delegate’s Eye View

The conference as experienced by our President:


On a warm September morning I took an early train to Birmingham New Street station in order to be there to assist those who had worked so hard planning and preparing for our International Conference. Everyone was very busy when I arrived and it became obvious that my services were not vital! However, I did enjoy being there to welcome old friends and new faces. The enthusiasm and anticipation from all were exciting.

The facilities at the university conference centre were very good and the catering teams looked after participants very well throughout the 3 days, catering for a wide variety of dietary needs. The only thing which was beyond their control was the weather – it was so hot and the air conditioning did not always cope very well!

The planning team, led by Marguerite Watt and Kathy Evans, both active SEBDA members, with the assistance of Neil Hall from the University of Birmingham, had succeeded in persuading a wide range of both international and UK-based speakers to be Keynotes, all of whom are respected and influential in their fields of work and research.

The same applied to the wide range of presentations and workshops. It was sometimes difficult to decide which to choose. There were times when we delegates had to run from one room to the next to avoid missing the start of the session!

It is worth looking at the timetable to see the wide range of practitioner research which was on offer. I am quite sure that I was not the only one who went away with notes and handouts to share. This sort of sharing and interaction provides so much important networking and sharing of knowledge and practical experience, which must result in improved outcomes for children and young people.

Joan Pritchard and John VisserThose delegates who were able to attend all of the sessions and found accommodation in the area, were able to continue networking, especially at the Conference dinner on the Friday evening, when they were able to hear an after dinner talk by Professor John Visser. His name is well known to members of SEBDA – before he ‘retired’ he was often involved in the organisation of successful conferences such as this.

The feedback I received from those who stayed until the plenary session of this excellent conference told us that it was well worth getting early trains to get there, staying to the end and getting a late train home!

The organisers of this event have set a high standard for the teams who will be planning the next one, which will hopefully be in the not too distant future as there is obviously the enthusiasm and need for such events.

My final words must be a further ‘thank you to Marguerite and her team who sent me away on Saturday 9th September ‘buzzing’ with excitement for the future in this very important area of SEND about which I care so much.

Joan Pritchard

MEd (Educational Psychology, University of Manchester)

President SEBDA

Other delegates said:


  • A great conference.
  • What a wonderful couple of days
  • Lots of thought provoking talks and interesting people to meet.
  • I felt very welcomed there and learned lots.
  • The refreshments were amazing.
  • A very inspiring and interesting event.

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