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Universal SEND Services: providing CPD that fits in with busy teaching workloads

Sector News

As we settle into a term-time stride, we will all be trying to juggle busy teaching calendars with an important element of continuing professional development (CPD). Here, Amanda Wright, Head of Whole School SEND, explains how online SEND CPD from the Universal SEND Services programme can help.

This term, we’ve launched 5 new free-to-access online CPD units – part of a series of 20 that will be released over the course of the Universal SEND Services programme to help practitioners explore some of the most commonly observed barriers to learning in classrooms and other learning environments regardless of age, label or area of need.  

8 units exploring Safety and Belonging and Language and Communication launched last year; the new units cover Social, Emotional and Mental Health, Sensory Processing and Physical Needs.

We’ve worked with a range of leading specialists from the sector, condensing many years of experience and understanding into these bite-sized modules. High-quality, inclusive practice should be at the heart of every learning environment, but we know that life for everyone in schools and colleges is busier than ever, so we have made these units as easy to access as possible. 

Each one takes just 20 minutes to complete, and provides practitioners – whatever their role or level of experience – with clear guidance on adaptations to help meet the needs of all learners. To date over 6,500 practitioners have accessed the units and many of them tell us that the fact there’s no need to complete units in order, and partially completed units can be saved and picked up again as required without the fear of ‘losing’ work.

We know that understanding is not the same as doing, so we encourage people to use the units as a first step, and to go out and test the approaches they learn about in their practice and to use them as a prompt to reflect on what is working well, and what could be better. For anyone wanting to contextualise their learning further, we offer live online discussions in the shape of our Specialist Spotlights. These often feature the specialists involved in the development of the units and are a great space in which to build on learning, to share experiences and seek advice.

Why not set aside 20 minutes to sign in and get started today?


Universal SEND Services is an ambitious programme, funded until 2025 by the Department for Education. It brings together support for SEND in schools with support for SEND across further education, with the ambition of improving preparation for adulthood from the earliest years in a seamless, joined up way.

The programme is delivered by nasen through Whole School SEND with the Education and Training Foundation, who support teachers and leaders across the Further Education and Training sector, and the Autism Education Trust, who have a successful history of supporting and informing education professionals about autism.

The majority of our offer is free to access, and because we understand how busy school life is, we keep things as flexible as possible, with the support available ranging from 20-minute e-learning units to year-long research projects, depending on how much (or little) time you have.

13 Units are now available:

  • Creating an emotionally safe environment
  • Creating a socially safe environment
  • Creating a physically safe environment
  • An introduction to speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)
  • Identifying and supporting SLCN
  • Supporting development of SLC skills
  • Creating a communication supportive environment
  • Understanding behaviour as communication
  • Promoting mental wellbeing in your setting
  • Understanding and promoting resilience
  • Understanding anxiety and creating a supportive learning environment
  • Supporting sensory differences in the learning environment
  • An introduction to teaching learners with physical needs