Navigating Inclusion: An Interview With a SEND Consultant

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • How this SEND Consultant celebrates differences and inclusivity.
  • Ways to improve the SEND strategy and ensure the most effective programmes of work for children and young people with SEND.
  • Where the latest SEND Improvement Consultant jobs are and how to apply for them.

In this exclusive interview with a SEND Consultant, Vicky Lucking shares her knowledge and understanding of equality and diversity to empower people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

After a career in television advertising, Vicky was personally inspired to join the education and SEND sector, working as a SEND Case Officer, then as a SEND Consultant. She knew she had the ability to actively contribute and make an impact in the neurodiversity, inclusion and disability scene.

Now, Vicky is involved in creating and managing transformational plans, working with a variety of stakeholders across education, health and social care.

Throughout the interview, we delve into how Vicky acts as an agent for change and reform, as she shares her knowledge and understanding of equality and diversity to empower young people with SEND.

Tell us about your career journey so far

My career started in the television advertising industry, and I worked at Channel 4 for many years. I took a career break in my twenties to have a family and my second child was born with a genetic condition called 16p11.2 deletion. 

Consequently, my life changed to hospital stays, copious amounts of medical appointments and a dramatic introduction into the world of SEND.

As my children grew and I navigated my way around the education system, I knew I wanted to change my career path and really make a difference to enable children and families to empower themselves and to make positive change within the SEND system.

After working in early years settings, specifically helping children with SEND and completing my level 3 in Children’s and Young People’s Development, I completed a degree at the University of London in Special Educational Needs and Inclusion.

It was very challenging, trying to raise a family and committing myself to arduous studies, but after three years I achieved a first and embarked on a career as a Senior SEN Case Officer for Lewisham Local Authority. 

After 2 years, I took the role as Service Development Lead for the Children with Complex Needs Service which consisted of developing, consulting, and monitoring the SEND strategy.

More recently, I have developed my own SEND consultancy service which aims to work with families, local authorities and the private sector with the aim to enhance and enable services inclusively. I want to empower people as well as implement and manage development and transformation programmes.

What does a typical day look like for you?

As part of my working week, I am involved in creating and managing transformational plans and working with a variety of stakeholders across education, health and social care.

When leading on the SEND strategy, a daily part of the ongoing development and monitoring means regular check-ins, thinking dynamically about how to overcome challenges, deciding on the most effective programmes of work and always considering how we can engage children and young people with SEND and their families.

The engagement aspect of my working week is undoubtedly the most rewarding part of my work. Meeting, listening, and learning from young people through their lived experiences, ensures strategies are focused on the real challenges people face.

The continuing development across partnerships is an integral part of my role. I design and facilitate service training days which enhance continued professional development for partners across services.

I use my contacts to have guest speakers, e.g. autistic public speakers, disability writers and Teachers as well as arranging communication and engagement events for service users. I ensure these are as inclusive as possible and reach parts of the communities which are usually more difficult to reach.

How do you keep up to date with changes in the education industry?

The internet can be an invaluable source of knowledge for keeping up with changes in the education industry. My socials are built upon school and government subscriptions and by joining parental advocacy groups like Special Needs Jungle. These are essential for getting the latest information and parental feedback.

I find the Council for Disabled Children, National Autistic Society and IPSEA informative and building upon a knowledge base. I am really interested in the wider theoretical and academic reviews on global disabilities, the models of disabilities and how cultures and communities impact people’s lived experience.

What’s the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned in your career?

Regardless of all the systemic and bureaucratic challenges, what is inherently important is the voices of children and their families. We must not impose change on people without learning. consulting, and taking their steer on the priorities for change.

What challenges or obstacles have you faced in your career?

It can be very challenging to try to protect the budget of the public purse whilst using limited resources efficiently enough to cater for specific needs. Being equitable, challenging unconscious bias and thinking critically helps overcome obstacles. 

What is the best part about your role as a SEND Consultant?

I would say being an active game changer in the neurodiversity, inclusion and disability scene. Also, actively promoting knowledge and understanding about equality and diversity.

How have things changed or progressed in the SEND sector since the start of your career?

I have seen a significant change in the needs of children and young people especially since the pandemic. The rise in young people struggling with mental health and communication issues has seen a mammoth increase.

Due to economic pressures and the escalation in needs, responding and implementing change can be challenging but I have found that stakeholders and partners are continually responding to pressure positively and creating creative ways to be efficient and progressive to the inclusion movement.

I have also seen a rise in information and education for families around disability rights. It is wonderful to see people empowering themselves and changing inclusion from an ideal into reality.

Schools have also really embraced this change, with SENCOs, Teachers and governors training and learning as a matter of urgency and no longer as a ‘tick a box’ exercise. Stakeholders across partnerships are also responsive to change and challenge and it is great to be part of a positive step forward. 

What changes would you like to see to better support the needs of children and young people with SEND?

I think there needs to be more emphasis on therapeutic education, the one size fits all does not work in modern society. We need to accept and celebrate differences, not cajoling students into fruitless compliance.

We need to listen to young people and support their emotional wellbeing. They have been through a historical moment with the pandemic, one that has not previously been experienced in our lifetime. 

Who knows what impact this has on this generation in the long term? I would like to focus on inclusion, as a fundamental fluid movement that empowers and engages people to reach their potential.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career as a SEND Team Manager within a local authority?

Do it! It is a worthy job and as long as you keep the interests of the children and young people as your goal, then it can be a rewarding and meaningful career. 

Any career in SEND can be challenging, there are a lot of strong and opposing views, there are negotiations, compromise and learning to be done but if you have that mindset, you can be part of an amazing reform in society. 

What’s next for you? Any future aspirations or upcoming projects?

I am currently enrolled to start an MA in global disability form, so I look forward to finding out more and reflecting on my own practice as well as thinking critically.

I want to further my learning of global disability and influence positive change at a local level and I want to be involved in transforming local authorities’ strategies, plans and development and act as an agent for change and reform. 

SEND jobs

If you’re searching for your next local authority SEND job, why not take a look at the latest vacancies, or simply upload your CV to be notified when a relevant position becomes available. 

SEND recruitment services 

As specialist local authority SEND recruiters, we support local authorities and schools nationwide with their temporary, interim and permanent staffing needs. 

If you’re struggling to recruit, we have exclusive access to some of the most experienced SEND professionals in the UK.

If you’re struggling to fill a vacancy, why not get in touch with one of our team on 01772 954200 to see how we can help?

Share your experience

Every individual brings a unique set of experiences, thoughts, and insights to the table. We believe in giving a voice to a community of professionals to inspire positive change and champion reform in the SEND sector.

If you work in the SEND sector and would like to share your own personal and professional experiences, we’d love to hear from you. Perhaps you have a different perspective, could offer a fresh angle, or want to challenge assumptions. 

Simply reach out to our Head of Content, Nicole Sherwood, to discuss a collaboration which makes your voice count.

Who is Spencer Clarke Group?

Established in 2017, we’re a vibrant and progressive recruitment agency based in the heart of the North West. 

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