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Lisa Thomas - SEND Essentials

SEND Essentials is the voluntary parent carer learning and information project I established out of a partnership with Early Support, HCC and SENDIASS five years ago. The project is now independent and I am assisted by other Hertfordshire parent carers, all keen to support their peers by sharing experience and local know how. We all understand the world parent carers live in!

I'm a science graduate and CIPD and PTLLS(L4) qualified trainer with more than 25 years of commercial and voluntary sector HR and training management experience. I am also a mother to three adorable children, one of whom has Down's Syndrome, ASD and a long history of cardiac and other health issues. I addition to surviving a couple of SEND appeals, we have personal experience of pre-school, mainstream and special school as well as college and social care, including direct payments.

For the last 15 years I have worked and volunteered for a number of local charities in advice and training roles and I am committed to empowering parent carers to enable their children.

As a Director of Herts Parent Carer Involvement CIC, the recognised parent carer forum for Hertfordshire, I have been involved in the SEND Pathfinder Board, development of workforce and parent carer training, 0-25 Programme Board, the new Local Area SEND Inspection for Hertfordshire, The Herts Local Offer and Quality EHCP development, although there is still a way to go with these.

I also deliver a variety of freelance workshops - all of which involve practical activities, peer to peer support and focus on sharing good quality information and overcoming obstacles to inspire future possibilities and better outcomes for children, young people and their families.

I have designed and delivered training to parent carers and professionals for Local Authorities, SENDIASS, Council for Disabled Children (CDC), Children’s Centres, voluntary groups and several local charities including SEND Reforms, SEN Support, Early Support, Personalising Outcomes and over 50 Education, Health and Care Planning (EHCP) workshops since 2014. I’m an authorised freelance trainer for the new Expert Parent Programme, Working in Partnership and former Early Support workshops from Council for Disabled Children.

All workshops are parent carer led and evidence based. The following is a sample of our rewarding and tremendous feedback to date: 

  • Great, useful, more!
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  • Information given is essential and supportive
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  • Fantastic delivery, practical and jargon free
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  • Resources are very useful and detailed. Practical information and some excellent examples
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  • Learnt a lot – I look forward to my next course!
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  • So much more confident about the whole EHCP issue and beyond
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  • Thank you so much. HAPPY.
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  • Delivered by knowledgeable and passionate parent practitioner
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  • I feel more positive about where we are going
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  • A lot was learned and was very engaging and interesting, more please
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  • Perfect
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  • Very good for passing onto playgroup – would have been invaluable 20 years ago – own daughter now 24yrs old!
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  • Was initially worried that it would be more geared towards younger children but was pleasantly pleased it was so suitable for my family
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  • A very well designed and relevant workshop, which will benefit many parents of SEND children, Thank you.
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  • Great session well delivered, tried to deliver something new for everyone. Loved your enthusiasm and dedication
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  • Thank you for your caring attitude. I feel I have gained confidence and the tools to continue to travel my family’s journey.

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