Following a wonderful Neurodiversity Celebration Week, we caught up with our SENDCo, Mrs Hewson, to find out more about her work around school, as well as the opening of the new Warnock Room.
How have you found your first year and a half working at KEHS?
I’ve really enjoyed it! I have worked in schools for nearly twenty years and I have to say KEHS has been the most welcoming. Working part time meant that it took a little while for students and members of staff to get to know me, but now I feel established in the school and have put a number of things in place for students. I also work at the King Edward VI Foundation as the Foundation Leader for SEND so I visit other schools within the Foundation on the days that I am not working at KEHS, which is really interesting.
Do you have any particular highlights from your time here so far?
There are many. The opening of the Warnock Room is, of course, a significant moment for me as SENDCo to be able to provide a much-needed space for some of the students at KEHS. However, I have many highlights that happen daily – when I see that I’ve helped a student, even in a small way, and the impact that has on their day-to-day experience at school and possibly beyond. One aspect of my job that I love is getting to know students as individuals – the students at KEHS are so bright, thoughtful and interesting. I have really appreciated the opportunity to get to know some of them and look forward to getting to know more in the future.
What does the Warnock Room offer students at KEHS?
The Warnock Room offers an inviting, quiet space for students. Students use the room for a variety of different reasons. A number of students use it for studying as there are individual booths for privacy. Some students access the room at break and lunch as a space to eat or relax. Miss Rowley, who is the school’s new Learning Support Assistant, is based in the room. Miss Rowley cares so much for the students and helps individuals in several ways. Recently, her English expertise has aided some U5 students with completing their English coursework. I am really proud of the Warnock Room as a provision for students to be able to access, and I am so pleased that KEHS has supported me to create it.
What is the meaning behind the name of the Warnock Room?
It took a while to decide on a name! The room is named after the late Baroness Mary Warnock, an inspirational woman who advocated for students with special educational needs and disabilities to be educated in mainstream schools rather than in separate special schools. It was important that the name had meaning and choosing a positive female role model was a key factor.
How did KEHS’ first Neurodiversity Celebration Week go and are there any plans for the future?
KEHS’ first Neurodiversity Celebration Week was so successful due to a great joint effort. Mrs Hargraves organised for historian, Simon Jarrett to speak about his book ‘Those They Called Idiots’, Dr Kennedy invited in Tiffany Grego, who spoke so well about being an autistic female, Dr Ollis shared his positive experiences of neurodiversity and Miss Rowley organised a portrait competition for all students to be able to enter (please see the posters around school as it’s still open to enter). More importantly, students got involved by delivering assemblies, sessions and writing pieces to promote the week. It was great to see a range of students attending from thirds to sixth form, as well as teachers and members of support staff coming to sessions. Feedback has been really positive with many of the sessions being called ‘enlightening’, ‘thought-provoking’ and ‘reassuring’. We will definitely be celebrating again next year, hopefully bigger and better! I tried to secure a dyslexic artist to run a session but we couldn’t make it work so they are the first person I am going to book for 2024!
What do you enjoy doing outside of school? Any hobbies or interests?
I have two young children so they keep me quite busy! I volunteer at my son’s school as the Chair of the PTA, organising fundraising events to pay for experiences for the children – I was really happy that we raised enough money last year so the whole school experienced a visit to a pantomime at Christmas. Before being a SENDCo, I was a geography teacher so I love to travel. Recently, I enjoyed a trip to Lisbon. I found the city relaxed, full of culture and the hills made it really scenic. One continent that I have not yet visited is South America – my daughter’s favourite animal is a sloth so I have a promised her a trip there one day!