SEND Header
Julie Taylor

Spotlight on Julie, Principal Educational Psychologist at Medway Council...

Hi, I am Julie Taylor and I am the Principal Educational Psychologist at Medway Council. I started work in Medway in 2011 and have been leading the Educational Psychology Team here since November 2016.

Before I trained as an educational psychologist I was a teacher, originally from Yorkshire but have spent much of my working life in the northeast, where I trained Educational Psychologists at Newcastle University. I still enjoy the training aspect of the job and the sense of achievement it brings. In Medway, we have trainees working as part of our team and they make an important contribution keeping us up-to-date and challenging what do.

Even though I have a leadership role, I still have a caseload and very much enjoy the day job as well as the leadership and management. I love doing a job where every day is different and brings new challenges.  

It is often inspiring to meet children and young people with SEND, their families and those who work with them in education, health and social care.  

As educational psychologists we are just one of the many professionals that families meet when they have a child with SEND and we have an important role in assessment, recommending interventions, supporting staff and families and delivering training. In leadership, the challenge is not to lose sight of the individual as we develop our strategies and policies.

I am very proud of my team who are extremely committed to applying psychology and are such a great bunch of people. We continually share ideas and resources, support each other and are always learning. It is a privilege to work with them.

Creating a future with bemix

robert images

Often autistic people are stereotyped and therefore limited in the opportunities made available to them with regard to employment.

At bemix the diversity of the work placements reflect the individuality of the students, all with their own talents, experience and interests. 

So, when Robert, one of our students, expressed an interest in graphic design, our supported internship team got straight on the case. They approached Zest, a creative agency based in Medway, to try and secure a meaningful work placement for Robert. Keen to help, the creative team at Zest talked through the opportunity, individual expectations and responsibilities to see if they felt taking on an intern would work for them. 

"It may sound unusual, but I didn’t want to research autism too much before Robert arrived. I wanted us to be as natural and down-to-earth as possible, while establishing flexible working arrangements and clear lines of communication,” explained Bruce Smith, Director of Creative at Zest.

Growing in confidence

Training to become a graphic designer is a long process (it takes most people over three years of training and financial investment before even getting to the point of finding paid work in the field), and may take additional time for Robert to learn in the way most appropriate for him. However, as Robert has grown in confidence and settled into work in a busy office his work coach, Nipa, has been gradually reducing her support as he has increased his hours in the workplace.

"There are 22 of us at Zest and we all sit in one big room, which can be pretty hectic and overwhelming,” said Mr Smith. “Over the months, Robert has grown to being comfortable in these surroundings, so much so that he now works with us three days per week with his support worker reducing their hours considerably.”

Building a portfolio

Supported by the Zest team, Robert has been building his own portfolio and is already producing some incredible work on his placement.

Robert created the image above, capturing the friendly and vibrant team that have welcomed him into their workforce on his placement - wonderful work!

“I like how relaxed it is here at Zest,” said Robert. “The people here have helped me build up my confidence. The work is really enjoyable and the challenge is quite fun.”

As Robert and Zest near the end of the year-long placement, they have been considering possible next steps. The organisation is exploring a Government Funded Apprenticeship to enable Robert to continue his work and development with the company.

Bruce Smith can see the benefits of bemix supported internships: "I would urge every business who can to support organisations like bemix, not in the future, but now. It’s a worthwhile cause that is making a positive difference, not just to the individual’s life, but the wider family unit as well."

If you are an employer and are interested in finding out more about the bemix programme and taking up our free, in-depth job matching and in-work support service go to the Support for Employers section on the bemix website.

If you or someone you know might be interested in finding a job, have a look at the bemix Supported Internships.

If you are interested in learning more about how an Internship could support your business, please contact: Mark Rose, Employer Engagement Lead, email or telephone 07419 113773.

Keeping students 'Safe'

The Safe project is an initiative run by the charity Imago Community and currently works within secondary schools, colleges and the community in Medway to challenge stigma and discrimination around mental health, and encourage young people to talk about their feelings and seek support by raising mental health awareness.        

Safe was established in 2011 in memory of James Naylor, a young man who tragically took his own life at the age of 23. Sadly, suicide remains one of the largest causes of death among young people aged five to 19 in the UK (National Statistics).

Safe strives to open up conversations about mental health amongst young people by delivering mental health workshops in schools to raise awareness on a comprehensive range of topics; from depression, anxiety and exam stress, to positive relationships, eating disorders and self-harm.

student feedback

Safe also offers training to passionate young people to enable them to become Student Mental Health Ambassadors; creating a safe environment in which to support their peers and raise mental health awareness within their educational settings.

This academic year alone the project has already reached over 1000 young people in Medway, and those numbers continue to grow.

For more information about Safe phone 01892 530330 or email

Every school needs an ELSA


Emotional Literacy for Support Assistants (ELSA) is training provided by Medway’s Educational Psychology Service.

The six days of training, over a six-month period, cover a wide range of topics including attachment, building resilience, social skills, listening to children, grief and loss.

Participants work as a group and share resources for working with children. ELSAs work with individual children and small groups of children and help them to make sense of their feelings and support them to manage their emotions. Once the course has finished, ELSAs come together for supervision groups with an educational psychologist.

In March 2019, 24 newly qualified ELSAs from 17 schools across Medway received their certificates.

“The course has exceeded my expectations and I now feel equipped to help our pupils tackle their emotional issues,” said one of the course participants. “I have met some amazing people and learned so much by sharing our experiences. I highly recommend the course, every school needs an ELSA.”

To find out more about ELSA visit: The next course is due to take place September 2019. To register your interest email

Meet the SEN Team....

SEN team

The Special Educational Needs (SEN) Team consider requests for, and co-ordinate, Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessments for children and young people ages 0-25. If the local authority decides that an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) should be issued following assessment, the team also secure educational placements and ensure that provision, as detailed in the EHCP, is in place for the child or young person.

The SEN Team consists of SEN Officers, who act as the main point of contact for parents of children and young people who are being assessed. Our team of co-ordinators answer telephone enquiries about general SEN information and provide administrative support. We also have a SEN Business Manager and Finance and Information Officers who collate SEN data and manage finance relating to provision for children and young people with EHCPs.

Our senior SEN Officers manage the work around appeals to the First-tier Tribunal and transition to adulthood for young people with ECHPs, and finally, the SEN Team Manager oversees the whole team.

Co-production is an extremely important aspect of our work and we work closely with parents/carers, young people, the 0-25 Disability Team, Early Years Team, Sensory Service and health professionals to ensure provision is in place for children and young people with EHCPs. Our SEN Officers attend meetings with parents to co-produce draft EHCPs, discuss the EHC assessment and decide on next steps. The officers may also attend annual reviews particularly at phase transition. SEN Officers and team co-ordinators speak to parents on a daily basis to provide general advice and assistance.

The team is committed to ensuring appropriate outcomes for children and young people with EHCPs to make sure that they are able to transition to adulthood successfully.

If you need any further information, you can contact the SEN Team Co-ordinators on 01634 221123 or at

Save the date: SENCO Conference 4 June

It’s that time of year again for the annual SENCO Conference and this year it is being held at the St George’s Centre, Chatham on Tuesday, 4 June 2019. 

Always well-attended, the conference is a great opportunity for SENCOs to get updates, to celebrate and share best practice, and to network with colleagues from Medway Council, Education and Health and Social Care.

If you haven’t already booked your place, please email or

Art Awards for Medway's looked after children


Medway Virtual School and Chatham Historic Dockyard joined forces to run an Arts Award project for some of Medway’s looked after children.

The project was opened to children aged between seven and nine years old and ran for three days in April. (Many looked after children have SEND).

The children produced some beautiful artwork, incorporating different styles of art. They also learnt different macramé knots as well as bookbinding during the project. In addition to the art activities, the children had time to discover the delights of the Dockyard, including the Science of Sound exhibition, as well as exploring the ships and submarine.

The culmination of the project was an exhibition. Children displayed their artwork and took great delight in exhibiting their work to all those attending.

The children who participated in the project achieved a Discover Level Arts Award. Richard Holdsworth, the Director of Heritage Public Engagement and Learning for Chatham Dockyard presented the certificates.

Extremely proud
They were all extremely proud of their achievement, and visitors commented that the children were clearly enthusiastic about the project, as they explained how they had made their Macramé designs, and spoke with confidence about all of the activities that were pictured in the gallery.

Sophie Wynne, Art Officer at Chatham Dockyard said: “It’s been great to work alongside Medway Virtual School with such a wonderful group of young people. The whole group worked hard to achieve so much in such a short space of time.”

She added: “A particular highlight of mine was the pride the children took to curate their own exhibition and celebrate their new skills and achievements with carers, siblings and Dockyard staff.”

Medway Virtual School are looking to develop more arts award projects and welcome any ideas you may have, so please do not hesitate to contact the Virtual School on

Draft SEND Strategy Consultation

The draft joint Special Educational Needs and Disabilities strategy is out for consultation until 31 May 2019.

If you would like to read the document and have your say on what is proposed, please go to Medway's draft joint SEND strategy page on the Local Offer website where you can download the entire document and consultation form.

Medway Making Music

music man

On Monday, 15 April, 47 performers and carers from The Music Man Project in Medway took to the stage at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall to take part in a spectacular, ground breaking concert.

The concert, featuring music specially written for the performers, was billed as ‘the world's greatest celebration of accessible music-making ever’ and showcased the talents of around 200 learning-disabled musicians from across the country, supported by massed choirs, a symphony orchestra and celebrity guests; all performing to an audience of over 3,000 people.

It was a truly remarkable occasion having a huge impact, not only on those that took part, but also on the audience. 

One audience member, a teacher from Maidstone, commented: “This was probably the most moving and emotional musical experience that I have ever witnessed. I was swept along by the infectious enthusiasm of everyone and just raw emotion when I watched the students some of whom had the most profound disabilities. Their concentration, trust and exuberance was overwhelming.”

The Music Man Project UK is an award-winning, record breaking music education service specifically for people with learning disabilities aged 12+, creating inspirational opportunities for singing, playing a variety of instruments (including drum, percussion and ukulele) and performing together.  

The project aims to educate and inspire, and to develop the innate musicality in everyone, regardless of their learning difficulty or special educational need. It aims to show what people with disabilities CAN do rather than focus on what they need as well as building community for those who might otherwise have limited opportunities and often face social isolation and exclusion. 

‘An amazing project’ A mum of one of the Medway performers said: “When I first introduced my disabled son to the Music Man Project I had no idea what a huge impact it would have on him. He has grown in confidence and made new friends, which for an isolated young man is enormously important. He would never go out and was too anxious to try anything new.

“Prior to joining the club, he had never encountered musical instruments and we found we had to show him how to hit a drum, shake a tambourine or use a triangle. Basic learnt skills for an average person, but for someone with learning difficulties, a huge amount to learn and understand.

She continued: “Within all the fun and excitement, he has learnt many new skills I hadn’t envisaged. His confidence and speech have improved. His physical co-ordination has improved, as have his observational skills. His stress and anxiety have reduced as he is encountering more learning experiences. Rather than sitting at home, isolated and bored, his health and well-being are far better as he looks forward to seeing everyone every week. An amazing project and I am so pleased we are part of it.”

For more information on Music Man Project sessions in Medway or to find out about school workshops and performance bookings, please call Kent Regional Director, Sarah Mann on: 07909 515439, email, visit The Music Man Project or visit the The Music Man Project Kent Facebook page.

New members are always welcome – carers/parents included. 

Are you involved in advising or planning for an EHCP?

If you are a professional who is involved in the EHCP process Medway Council and CCG have set up the following multi-agency training sessions:

Monday, 1 July.  10am-12.30pm

Medway CCG Offices, 50 Pembroke Court, Chatham, Copperfield Room

Tuesday, 24 September. 10am-12.30pm

Medway Council, Gun Wharf, Chatham, Room 2

Tuesday, 17 December. 10am-12.30pm

Medway CCG Offices, 50 Pembroke Court Chatham, Copperfield Room

Tuesday, 10 March 2020. 10am-12.30pm

Medway Council, Gun Wharf, Chatham, Civic Suite

Tuesday, 7 July 2020. 10am-12.30pm

Medway CCG Offices, 50 Pembroke Court Chatham, Copperfield Room

To book your place phone 01634 337175 or email: or

Medway Parents & Carers Forum news

Medway Parent Carers Forum

Our 10th Birthday! This year Medway Parents & Carers Forum celebrated 10 years of being the parents’ voice. To mark this special birthday we held a celebratory event at Priestfield Stadium.

In the morning parents undertook a session of Participation Training, before our AGM, where we thanked Keith Clear for ten years’ service as he retired from the committee, before enjoying a nice lunch and of course birthday cake! In the afternoon parents enjoyed some relaxation time with pampering from Trinity College students and independent providers.

Opportunities Fair - 10 May MPCF holds its second Opportunities Fair aimed at young people aged 14-25 (and their parents/carers) and professionals. This year's event will be held at Medway Park, a venue which is larger and more accessible, (complete with a changing places bathroom facility) allowing us to have even more stands, with separate areas for talks and demonstrations, helping you to make informed choices about your future.

Coffee Morning notice -Tuesday, 21 May NELFT will be attending an MPCF Coffee Morning at Star Meadow Social Club to talk about the mental health service they offer to young people. All parents are welcome to attend, membership isn’t required.

Please reserve your place by emailing:

Improved Local Offer Website

SEND local offer

The new and improved website went live in April and if you have not had the opportunity to visit it yet, please try it out.

There's a vast amount of useful information and practical resources available. Why not have a go at searching for a particular service, resources, support or information and get to know your way around the site.

We have had some really positive comments so far and users have found the pages ‘much clearer and more informative’. However, we are continually updating the content and features using your feedback, so please tell us what you think by completing our survey.

Challenging Behaviour Foundation (CBF)

Challenging Behaviour

CBF is a registered national charity based in Chatham that supports people with severe learning disabilities and behaviour that challenges.

Our vision is for all people with severe learning disabilities, whose behaviour challenges, to have the right support and opportunities to live full and active lives. We’re making a difference to families’ lives by championing their rights, ensuring timely information and support, raising awareness and understanding, and promoting and sharing best practice.

The CBF was founded in 1997 by Viv Cooper, whose son has severe learning disabilities and behaviour described as challenging. Our identity as a family-led charity is still central to our vision and values 21 years on.  Our resources will always be free to families and carers who want them. We strive towards a world in which everyone gets the right support at an early age, without the need for the CBF.

To support you we can provide the following:

Recently we were voted winners of the People’s Project and have received a grant to provide free Challenging Behaviour Workshops to 500 families living in Kent and the surrounding areas. The workshops will help families to understand their child’s behaviour and will introduce them to Positive Behaviour Support, an evidence-based approach to reducing challenging behaviour.

To find out more about this and the work of the CBF visit the website. The Family Support Team can be contacted at, or 0300 666 0126, during office hours.

Useful Links

Medway Council logo

SEND have your say

Have your say...

on what you would like to see in your newsletter.

Got some news or an event you'd like to share with the Medway SEND community? Send your story to