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Consultancy, Training and INSET


Zena provides support and training directly to schools throughout the north of England. Below is a sample of the range of activities undertaken in schools. All support is bespoke and tailored to the needs of each setting.

Contact Zena to discuss the needs of your school or cluster, to arrange a single visit or a package of support.​

Conference and cluster meeting presentations, workshops and facilitation

School consultancy visits

SENCO support

Part-time interim SENCO roles

INSET training and Staff training (see below)

Support staff deployment and training

Provision and impact mapping

Intervention monitoring and management

Person-centred and solution-focused support

SEN assessment

Quality First Teaching support

Teaching and learning strategies

NQT and RQT support 

Inclusive Learning CPD - INSET and Staff Training 

Our aim is to provide all attending delegates of the Inclusion Forum with the slideshows, handouts and resources required, so that you can deliver the same course back in your own setting. Indeed, many delegates have reported successfully doing so. We achieve this by providing delegates with access to hidden web pages that contain all the necessary resources to download.

Some schools continue to prefer to invite Zena, or other associates, into school to deliver the course directly to school staff, or may not have had the opportunity to attend the Forum when the course was first delivered. 

For further information or to book, please contact us here
......or complete our In-house Enquiry Form below:

​​Pricing information below:

All courses can be delivered as school INSET, lasting 2 ½ to 3 hours. 
Bespoke adaptations can be made where requested.​
Below are the courses we have delivered to date:

Inclusive Practice

About a Child!

Aims of the course
To explore practical skills needed and strategies used to involve pupils and parents in person-centred and solution-focused thinking
To develop understanding of the provision required to meet the needs of the Code of Practice (2014) through involvement of pupils, parents and carers
To know the possibilities for next steps to further embed such practice across school

Target audience
Aimed at all practitioners and senior leaders looking for effective ways to engage pupils and parents in progress and outcomes.

The SEND Code of Practice (2014) demands greater responsibility and accountability from the class teacher for the SEND provision and outcomes within that class. This may mean subtle changes in the role of the SENCO in some schools, particularly where the SENCO has taken responsibility for most of the meetings with parents, writing and reviewing IEPS, or directly teaching pupil interventions. SENCOS are expected to empower class teachers to take responsibility for the progress and provision for SEND pupils. Where teaching assistants are supporting pupils and classes, the over-arching responsibility for pupil progress rests with the class teacher. This course aims to empower all staff to liaise, plan and review with pupils and parents in a way which makes school processes truly accessible, and reduces some of challenges faced by practitioners in pupil and parent voice. With the application of a few simple strategies, schools can meet and exceed the requirements of the SEND Code of Practice (2015).

Quality First Teaching for All

Aims of the course
To begin to understand the significance of working memory in children’s learning
To begin to understand the significance of multi-sensory teaching and learning experiences
To be able to use the two-pronged approach to enable all learners to achieve in mainstream lessons, with the application of appropriate strategies
To identify the components of an inclusive lesson

Target audience
Aimed at all classroom teachers, SENCOS and Inclusion Managers.

November 2015’s DfE publication, ‘Supporting the attainment of disadvantaged pupils: Briefing for school leaders’, detailing research conducted by NFER and Durham University, highlights the need for high quality teaching for all as one of the seven building blocks for increasing school effectiveness for disadvantaged pupils. The document states, ‘Leaders of more successful schools emphasise the importance of quality teaching first.’ The SEND Code of Practice (2015) also places a renewed emphasis on quality first teaching for all children, aimed at both reducing the number of children requiring Special Educational Provision, and ensuring that those with SEND are taught alongside their peers. This raises many questions for practitioners. How can this be achieved when the gaps in children’s learning can be so wide? What does quality first teaching look like now that we are so accustomed to teaching through interventions? This course explores what inclusive practice can look like for children with cognition and learning difficulties and, indeed, for all underachieving children.

Teaching Assistants on the Frontline of Learning

Aims of the course

To explore our understanding of children's learning.

To develop our knowledge and use of questioning skills.

To know how to support and develop pupils' independent learning skills​​.

Target audience

Primarily teaching assistants, but is more effective if there is whole school involvement.


There are now around 250,000 teaching assistants in English schools. This represents around treble the number that existed in 2000 (EEF, 2016). In primary schools, there are more teaching assistants than teachers. Unlike teachers, however, the roles, responsibilities and preparatory training for this are extremely wide and varied. Unlike teachers, there is no common qualification or body of study that all teaching assistants must have before they can embark on their role. Yet despite training for teaching assistants being very patchy and varied, schools across England expect them to be firmly on the frontline of learning and teaching. Yet recent research from the Education Endowment Foundation (2016) has highlighted that without strong and effective training and deployment, teaching assistants can have very little positive impact on pupil progress – a bitter pill to swallow for any hard-working teaching assistant. However, the researchers do not point any blame at teaching assistants for this situation, but identify conditions of employment, preparedness and deployment as the ingredients that either help or hinder them from achieving good practice.

This course does not claim to provide all the training a teaching assistant will ever need – certainly not in one session! But it is a very helpful introduction to the fundamentals of learning for new teaching assistants, whilst also being a very thought-provoking reflection for those more experienced. It is not subject-specific, but addresses the more rooted questions around how children learn and how they fail. It addresses how we can use skilful questioning to lift the lid on children's learning, and how we can use practical strategies to encourage independent learners. This is about exploring the role of teaching assistants at the point of interaction with children. I hope it forms an interesting part in a much wider professional development journey.

Teaching Assistants on the Frontline of Maths

Aims of the course

To deepen teaching assistants' understanding of learning in maths

To develop teaching assistants' knowledge and use of questioning skills in maths

To know how to support and develop pupils' independent learning skills in maths

Target audience

Primarily teaching assistants, but is more effective if there is whole school involvement

Please note that this course follows directly from Teaching Assistants on the Frontline of Learning (see details above), and cannot be delivered separately. Ideally, it is more effective to have a gap of a few weeks between the two courses to give delegates opportunity to reflect and feedback on classroom experiences.​

Teaching Assistants on the Frontline of Literacy

Aims of the course

To understand the use and application of multi-sensory language strategies

To understand effective strategies for reading with children individually, and for guided reading

Target audience

Primary teaching assistants


This course highlights strong multi-sensory language strategies to support phonics and spelling, as well as looking at structured ways to engage in reading with children, both individually and through a guided reading experience. Please note that this course follows directly from Teaching Assistants on the Frontline of Learning (see details above), and cannot be delivered separately. Ideally, it is more effective to have a gap of a few weeks between the two courses to give delegates opportunity to reflect and feedback on classroom experience. ​

Leadership and Management of SEN
Ensuring a Successful System of Performance Management for Teaching Assistants

Aims of the course
To understand the place of PM for support staff within the context of school improvement and wider agendas.
To know how to use PM to lead to clear improvements in pupil outcomes.
To be able to use agreed standards effectively within a PM structure.
To be able to ensure that PM structures lead to improved professional skills, attitudes and practice.

Target audience
SENCOS, Inclusion Managers, Headteachers and other senior leaders responsible for the line management of teaching assistants.

This course allows an exploration of performance management for support staff in the current context of recent research, agendas and the 2015 SEND Code of Practice. It provides strategies to measure the impact of teaching assistant input on children’s learning. It leaves delegates with what many schools say they require: a strong system for performance management of classroom support staff, using agreed standards. This course will leave delegates with clear methods of evaluating the developing skills, attitudes and practice of support staff.

So what does that tell us?

Aims of the course
Understanding and using standardised assessments within a whole school and ‘vulnerable group’ context
When, how and where to use them, and what they mean
Implementing report recommendations as part of Quality First provision
Analysing the triangulation of assessment between assessment of learner, tracking against curriculum and qualitative data

Target audience
All teachers, co-ordinators and leaders of SEND, disadvantaged learners and other vulnerable learning groups.
The national agenda has now put responsibility for year-on-year pupil assessment firmly in the hands of individual schools. We have seen the first wave of national tests using scaled scoring. This takes us slightly further forward towards a standardised assessment system, but sadly falls short of being truly age-standardised. Nonetheless, it does mean that we will more easily be able to sit such assessment alongside a standardised learning profile of a child. In this course, we explore what such learning profiles might look like and examine the diverse uses for standardised assessment; from administering to interpretation, single tests to comparison across tests. We look at how we might be able to develop robust systems that meet the needs of all pupils, including the fragile learners and vulnerable groups.

Using Standardised and Cognitive Assessments – the Why, When and How!
Using standardised and cognitive assessments effectively to impact on pupil progress and outcomes.

Aims of the course
To appreciate the definition, range and purposes of standardised and cognitive assessments: when it’s good to use them and when it’s not
To understand the vocabulary of standardised assessments: what the terminology means 
To know how to administer standardised assessments with fidelity: basic guidelines for test administration to secure reliable results (BPVS III, PhAB and YARC are used as example assessments in this course, but the principles covered are applicable to most assessments)
To know the qualifications required for the administration of different types of assessments: when you can do it yourself, and when you need someone more qualified

Target audience
SENCOs, Inclusion Managers, Assessment Co-ordinators and others administering assessments
This is an ideal course for delivering to SEN Clusters

Standardised and cognitive assessments can lift the lid on a child’s mind, adding significantly to our knowledge and understanding of their strengths and difficulties. They can help us to understand why a child may be struggling, and work out how we might modify our teaching and learning strategies. They can help us to identify in greater detail what is holding a child back. Some of these types of assessments are carried out by educational psychologists and specialists, but there are many assessments specifically aimed at school SENCOS to assist them, and their colleagues, with in-house exploration of a child’s learning toolkit. However, if pupils are to get the benefit of such assessments, they need to be administered confidently, thoroughly and rigorously. This course is for you if:
You currently use standardised assessments for pupils with SEN, but you’re not certain that you’re getting the most out of them
You would like to make use of standardised assessment, but you’re not yet confident to know how to administer them well
You have standardised assessments in school, but you don’t know what to do with them
You find EP and specialist reports difficult to understand or interpret.

Cognition and Learning

Putting the Memory to Work!

Aims of the course
To identify children’s difficulties with working memory and understand how this affects them as learners 
To know some effective strategies for strengthening children’s short-term working memory
To be able to make learning more accessible for children with poor working memories

Target audience
All staff

This course is extremely practical, yet routed in much theory and research conducted over decades. Memory strategies and training have been key components of multi-sensory language programmes for dyslexic pupils for many years (Hickey, 1977; Combley, 2001; Kelly et al., 2011). They have formed a significant part of post-graduate training programmes for specific learning difficulty, as memory has been understood to be a key factor of the difficulties for children’s cognitive development and subsequent attainment (Combley, 2001; Kelly et al., 2011; Henry, 2012). Those who have worked individually with children in this way will be acutely aware of the difference such training can make to children’s ability to retain digits or objects in short-term memory, and their ability to hold letters, words or sentences in their heads for spelling and writing. This is born out by the repeated success of such teaching strategies in enabling children to read and write to the level of their peers, where they have previously been unresponsive to mainstream classroom strategies. Specialist practitioners will have assessed and re-assessed pupils and seen the increase in working memory following strategy application. Many of the strategies advocated are aimed at helping children to reduce working memory overload, whilst others are aimed at helping them to use their working memory capacity more effectively. A key feature of good specialist teaching and, as it emerges, all teaching, is the application of meta-cognition in the development of these strategies (EEF, 2015). It is important that children are aware of why they are learning these strategies, and how the application of such strategies can help them to learn more effectively. 

Earlier theorists suggested that working memory had a limited capacity or ceiling to it in every person. Yet this would seem to contradict the views of educationalists, such as Kelly et al. (2011), who assert that, ‘Working memory skills can be developed in learners with dyslexia through teaching strategies to facilitate the holding of information in working memory.’ She goes on to cite a number of strategies, including meta-cognition, multi-sensory techniques, verbal rehearsal, chunking, and use of pattern, as effective ways of training the memory. The practical work carried out for decades by educationalists, and centuries by parents and grand-parents (in games such as ‘I went to market …’) now appears to be substantiated by psychology and neuroscience, where electronic memory training programs are demonstrating almost indisputable evidence that the memory can, indeed, be trained and developed.  
‘For a long time, psychologists thought that we were stuck with our working memory size and couldn’t change it. However, exciting cutting-edge research suggests that we can train our brain and improve working memory. In response to this, there has been a surge of brain training products in the last five to ten years and some of these have found their way into schools.’ (Packiam Alloway, 2015).

Further to this, it seems possible that in the case of adaptive WM training programs, they may be increasing both the neural plasticity of the WM and spontaneously developing the learner’s use of strategy in some areas, without explicit strategy teaching. 
‘Adaptive working memory training programs do not explicitly teach meta-cognitive techniques, but they may promote the development or enhancement of strategies spontaneously employed to complete working memory tasks. Introspective reports from children in our own training studies support the notion that, even in the absence of direct strategy instruction, repeated practice on working memory tasks promotes the development of idiosyncratic strategies.’ (Dunning et al., 2014).

Current research is now focusing on establishing how much of WM development is transferrable to academic progress and attainment (Pearson publish an abundance of research on this), and how strategies from working memory theory can be applied to literacy and numeracy teaching. For example, Tocci (2014) examines the application of rehearsal, pace and chunking in a reading intervention called ‘Rip It Up Reading’, echoing the techniques of many years of multi-sensory teaching for specific learning difficulty.

All Reading by Six!
Aims of the course
To understand the use and application of multi-sensory language strategies
To strengthen Quality First Teaching in phonics
To understand how to integrate quality intervention into daily phonics teaching
To know how to identify early those children at risk of literacy difficulties

Target audience
Primarily aimed at Foundation Stage and KS1 teachers and teaching assistants, though KS2 colleagues have also found it a useful insight into potential strategies for pupils still struggling with phonics, reading and spelling.

In 2010, OFSTED produced a report titled, ‘Reading by Six: How the best schools do it’. This document highlighted that ‘The best primary schools in England teach virtually every child to read, regardless of the social and economic circumstances of their neighbourhoods, the ethnicity of their pupils, the language spoken at home and most special educational needs or disabilities.’ Of particular interest is the recommendation that any phonics programme in school should ‘use a multi-sensory approach so that children learn variously from simultaneous visual, auditory and kinaesthetic activities which are designed to secure essential phonic knowledge and skills’. It is also clear to point out that, ‘Multi-sensory activities should be interesting and engaging but firmly focused on intensifying the learning associated with its phonic goal. They should avoid taking children down a circuitous route only tenuously linked to the goal. This means avoiding over-elaborate activities that are difficult to manage and take too long to complete, thus distracting the children from concentrating on the learning goal.’ With this in mind, and more than a cursory nod to the multi-sensory language programmes employed by specialist teachers through the decades, we look at successful multi-sensory language strategies adapted for young children, and establish precisely what is, and is not, a multi-sensory learning experience. 

Maths - Removing the barriers
The importance of visualisation in numeracy teaching.

Aims of the course
To appreciate how children learn mathematical concepts and why they might fail.
To explore the use of concrete materials and pictorial representations to generate secure mathematical

Target audience
All staff - SENCOS, Teachers, maths subject-leads, Inclusion Managers, teaching assistants.

The significance of maintaining good concrete and visual representations for children throughout their mathematical education.
Zena will identify why some children find it difficult to grasp mathematical concepts, and what can be done within a quality first teaching context to address these difficulties and remove some of the barriers.
Presented with a range of practical strategies for all primary ages.      

'​​Maths - Removing the barriers' is also available as a DVD for in-house CPD Training. For details please visit our webpage here