Place strategy

Groundbreaking SEND conference to take place in Devon

The Outdoors Group is hosting its first-ever conference on July 7 with a program designed for those who work outdoors with students with special educational needs and disabilities. Titled “The Benefits of Outdoor Learning,” the one-day event will focus on how neurodiverse learners can be supported and empowered to succeed through outdoor learning.

Three impressive speakers lined up. The keynote speaker is famed gardener Alan Gardner, who was diagnosed with autism in his 50s. Alan presented Channel 4’s The Autistic Gardener and is a cultural ambassador for the National Autistic Society, helping the charity to have a positive impact on people living with autism and campaigning to defend the rights and interests of people autism and their families.

He is joined by Michael James, the author of Forest School and Autism, a book which aims to bridge an existing gap between forest school practitioners, people with autism and those who support them; and Andy Smith, Inclusion Ambassador and SEND Advocate for the Bury Council, and Founder of Spectrum Gaming, an online community for young people with autism that works to build community and friendships.

Other active and participatory workshops led by experienced practitioners from The Outdoors Group will cover a variety of topics to encourage different ways of thinking. In his “Running with Wolves” workshop, Seamo Teare will focus on autism, anxiety and demand avoidance. Play therapist Leone Ellis demonstrates the use of play therapy tools to help build strong relationships with children. Neil Martin explores the power of storytelling while Amanda Leach examines ways to use forest school principles to manage challenging behaviors and how to translate them into strategies for the classroom.

With networking opportunities for delegates to share experiences and make useful contacts, the conference promises to provide a uniquely informative insight into how outdoor learning can be a breakthrough for many young people struggling in ordinary education.

Co-founder of The Outdoors Group, Shevek Pring said: “We are really excited to be hosting our first conference, facilitating a day of learning, inspiration and the opportunity to share experiences – attendees will gain more knowledge and will learn the best practices. There is growing recognition in the education world of how outdoor learning opportunities can make a huge difference for young people who simply do not fit comfortably into the school environment. traditional. This event both highlights the need to take education out and celebrates what has already been achieved.

The conference venue is Embercombe, a 50-acre sustainable regeneration estate in Higher Ashton, bordering Dartmoor. For more information see

Get all the latest DevonLive news straight to your inbox by signing up to our newsletters here.