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Meet the specialist - Zoe Mather

Education Officer & editor of nasen Connect

Promotional image of Zoe Mather, a SENCO Support Service Expert

How long have you worked in the education/SEND sector?
I began my career on the Graduate Teaching Programme in 2000 as a secondary maths teacher. I worked in secondary schools initially though most of my practice has been in special schools.   
What can you tell us about your background? 
Before I retrained as a teacher, I worked as a marine design engineer working with many shipyards and marine companies across the UK. As a secondary maths teacher, I furthered my practice across several secondary schools holding roles including outreach and SENCO. I was always drawn to SEND and moved to an all-through, all needs special school to broaden my practice and knowledge. My most recent post before joining nasen, was as assessment and achievement lead as part of the SLT of an autism-specific all-through special school.  

What do you enjoy most about working for nasen?
I have only recently joined the team and am looking forward to developing projects to support SEND across the UK and internationally. I have joined at an exciting time as nasen membership becomes free and the support we are aiming to deliver is expanding. 

What are the benefits of subscribing to the SENCO Support Service?
Having been a SENCO you are generally a department of one, which can be quite a challenge, and many local networks have long since been disbanded. Having a forum that you can approach to discuss issues, find support, know someone with knowledge is there for you and no question is too small will be a vital support. The number of SEND issues are increasing across mainstream and being able to access the correct support is vital. I think this service fills that gap left by LA’s losing SEND officers.

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Are there any SEND topics that you feel particularly passionate about? 
My personal interests include Preparation for Adulthood (PfA) and neuro-diversity. PfA supports opportunities for young people with SEND to achieve paid employment, independent living, housing options, good health, friendships, relationships and community inclusion. Seeing the ‘ability’ of disability and supporting young people to live the life they deserve will have a profound effect on their mental health and wellbeing whilst also creating a more inclusive society. Furthering the person-centred approach in this framework supports the young person to establish a unique pathway for their development. Working with schools and colleges to create the right curriculum offer to support this from EYFS to 25 is key to supporting these young people to confidently enter the world. 
The rise of the neuro-diversity movement has fascinated me through my practice. With neuro-diversity encompassing all areas of neuro-divergence it removes the labels and allows a more person-centred approach to their needs. As neuro-diversity is for life, the aim is to work with the pupils to understand themselves and embrace strategies to help them live well and enable them to be a full member of society. Expanding awareness of neuro-divergence and SEND as a whole and highlighting the positives for society, especially in workplaces, will continue to move us towards a truly inclusive society. 

Are there any further qualifications/certifications that you would like to share with the community? 

I am an advocate for continuing study and learning and my post graduate studies include assessment of dyslexia, strategies to support behaviour for learning for neuro-diverse pupils and coaching and mentoring.