top of page

PATOSS is the professional association of teachers of students with specific learning difficulties, for all those concerned with the teaching and support of pupils with SpLD, for example: dyslexic, dyspraxic, dyscalculic, ADHD. Membership is open to qualified teachers in SpLD and those studying for either the certificate or the diploma in SpLD.

 Emma Hartnell-Baker and Dr Grace Elliott  have connected to share their experiences and expertise in this field: courses are designed around what educators say they want and need. 

Here are details of unique webinars being delivered by neurodivergent educators Miss Emma and Dr Grace and of interest to PATOSS members and non-members alike!  

PATOSS is not affiliated with The Reading Hut Ltd.
All NeuroSpectives are our own!

First 10 minutes below as a trailer 
It includes a lovely memory from Sir Ken Robinson

There is a wide range of cognitive features that are termed neurodivergent and differ from neurotypical behaviour. They appear as unique thought processes, variations in how the senses are processed, and subtle emotional differences. Our neurodivergent characteristics are sources of enormous potential, and yet as ND teachers we rarely have the opportunity to participate in conversations relating to policy.

Westminster AchieveAbility Commission (WAC) found that 73% of 600 respondents across a range of occupations chose not to declare their neurodivergent status in the workplace for fear of discrimination. The WAC report did not specifically focus on the education sector, but it is likely the disclosure rate amongst teaching professionals is considerably lower than one would expect in a sector that vigorously claims to champion inclusive policy and practice for students.

Emma Hartnell-Baker and Grace Elliott collaborated last year to present webinars for PATOSS: both are neurodivergent. ND teachers can draw upon their own experiences and insight in ways that neurotypical teachers can’t. They touched on a perspective that the way they teach is informed by how they see and process the world. But this can be difficult in a system predominantly designed by and for neurotypical students and teachers.

It is a statutory requirement for all maintained Key Stage 1 settings to teach reading via a systematic synthetic phonics approach. It may not be widely understood that there are other ways to teach phonics systematically as a way to ‘kick-start’ the learning to read process that are neither analytic or synthetic. The goal of any systematic phonics instruction is to move children into the ‘implicit learning’ phase as quickly and easily as possible, in order for orthographic learning to occur and result in ‘orthographic mapping’ ie reading without conscious effort. Within a diverse classroom many are now wondering whether ‘teacher-led’ whole class programmes are likely to be fully inclusive and engaging to all learners.  

In England’s government policy on literacy in schools, namely The reading framework: Teaching the foundations of literacy, which claims to ‘concentrate on good practice for those with moderate to severe SEND and complex needs’. there is a claim that “consensus is growing among academics and teachers that the best reading instruction for children with SEND is systematic synthetic phonics”.

'Miss Emma' was awarded a Masters degree in Special Educational Needs from The University of Nottingham before emigrating to Australia and is in a unique position, having been able to share different techniques and strategies and gather data over a ten-year period in a different country: supporting thousands of teachers to improve literacy outcomes within a wide range of settings and without constraints. She is unable to do this now living in the UK because of the position taken by the education dept that this specific 'SSP' instructional approach is used to teach reading. Without alternatives this would be difficult for UK teachers to challenge this directive. Miss Emma shares examples of what 'different' might look like and questions the ‘end goal’ – is it to improve exam results or get more children reading for pleasure: engaged in ‘deep reading’. If so, should the instructional focus shift? Not to diminish the value of phonics, but to teach phonics more effectively so that more children can become skilled readers, earlier, regardless of issues such as poor attendance?

Could her experiences be useful, especially to those supporting children with SEND?

1 in 4 KS2 children did not meet the expected standard in reading this year.
“Not only has overall attainment declined but some of the country’s most vulnerable children are falling further behind their peers. We know that the disadvantage gap for 11-year-olds is now around the same level as it was in 2012, taking us back a decade.” Jon Andrews, the head of analysis at the Education Policy Institute (EPI)

Following on from this webinar Emma Hartnell-Baker and Dr Grace Elliott share research and practical strategies within three separate, but also connected, webinars that can be used to prevent literacy difficulties and to counter difficulties children with dyslexia may face as a result of being taught by classroom teachers using a validated Systematic, Synthetic Phonics programme in KS1, and it is hoped that they will also be conversation starters around the need for the sector to embrace the “thinking” of its neurodivergent teaching professionals.

Whole school values of inclusion, diversity and belonging should not be limited to just the pupils, these values are equally important throughout the whole school community. Teachers as well as children need a variety of role models and could respond positively to teachers who are open about their own differences.

Sadly, our school system is not designed to be inclusive to everyone regardless of their neurotype: the school system continues to cater to neurotypical children (and teachers) Students are expected to acquire a standardised skillset and an obedient, organised, and reliable nature that would serve society well in the past—but not so much today. The way in which children are taught, and not just what they are taught, is just one of the issues Miss Emma touches on in this webinar: not as a suggestion to embrace her ideas, but to embrace innovation and neurodivergent thinking.

Emma Hartnell-Baker and Dr Grace Elliott are Directors of Village in the Cloud Ltd and their ‘NeuroSpectives’ are their own.  

Webinars presented by Emma Hartnell-Baker MA SEN and Dr Grace Elliott
(who are both neurodivergent)

OnDemand: Using the Latest Advances in the Understanding of Reading Development to Plan and Guide Reading Intervention

This is the first lecture in a series of lectures by Dr Grace Elliott and Emma Hartnell-Baker, and will discuss the latest advances in the science of reading, and how aligning instruction with these advances can improve students’ reading. Suitable for educators and parents.

bottom of page