Shout out for SEND Conference is a success

Students taking part in interactive workshops at the SEND Conference

On Wednesday 13 October, Buckinghamshire Council hosted its second Shout out for SEND conference which was an exciting opportunity for young people with SEND to learn more about the options available to them from experts in the field and their peers.


This free event at Adams Park in High Wycombe was attended by 51 students.


The theme of the conference was ‘Preparation for Adulthood’ which aims to support young people with learning disabilities be as ready as they can be for adulthood. Each of the young people attending the event took part in interactive workshops that interested them based on their own interests and ambitions for the future.


Attendees heard from ADVIZA who provided impartial careers advice and guidance to young people by offering them a bespoke package of comprehensive information about apprenticeships; Bucks New University and their Student Ambassadors shared how the university has supported them with their lived experience, giving real examples of a student’s journey.


TALKBACK provided workshops around supported employment and volunteering /work experience opportunities; Bucks College Group shared their options for college and sixth form; Stoney Dean delivered a session about the options on Supported Internships and the chance to meet other young people currently completing Supported Internships and BUDS, who raised awareness around the many benefits of volunteering in your local community.


Illustrators were also live drawing throughout the conference, capturing key information and young people’s voices in order to create animation clips to post on Buckinghamshire’s Local Offer to help inspire other young people around their future plans.


Also speaking at the event were Rachael Shimmin, Buckinghamshire Council’s Chief Executive, Richard Nash, Corporate Director for Children’s Services and Simon James, Buckinghamshire Council’s Director of Education.


They were introduced by Shaun, a 14-year old student from Aylesbury Grammar School who helped plan the event and said: “I am here to say what opportunities young people such as you and me, with special educational needs and/or disabilities have access to, which help us spread our valued opinions and help others see any problems that can be fixed or sorted to some very satisfactory way. I hope I have persuaded you to join or more of these amazing or impactful groups.”


Young people attending also heard from Louise who is 19 and has Autism, she said: “A few years ago, perhaps like some of you, I was ashamed of the labels I was given. Perhaps like some of you too, I hated school. I remember getting up each morning going into an environment that was a sensory nightmare and a place where I did not feel welcome to be myself. It was hard to put on a metaphorical mask to try to fit in each day for five years. 


It wasn’t until I turned 16 and had the chance to go to college when I was able to start building the life that I had imagined myself. I studied health and social care at BCA college, a subject that I loved and a college that eventually came to feel like a second home to me.


After college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so I decided to take a gap year. During this time, I eventually realised that there was a need for disabled children and young people to feel less alone, so I decided to set up an Instagram account where I documented my experiences as an autistic adult existing in a world that wasn’t built for people like me. It is powerful that people are willing to listen to my voice and shows how much of a need there is for disabled voices to be heard.


More recently, I have just started university, studying education studies, and am hoping that I can use my experiences to help others.


I want to leave you with one message and that is, you are capable of building the life that you imagine for yourselves, whatever that looks like and that things always get better no matter how hard they initially seem.”


Simon James, Director of Education added: “If there was a single word for the conference, I would say – inspiring. Our young people have shown us that with the right support and confidence they can go onto great things. We are immensely proud of them all.”