Debra Hetherington

I have been a teacher for 40 years, half of which was spent as a classroom teacher and the latter half combining classroom teaching with senior leadership. During my time as a Senior Leader, I have spent time as Acting Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher and Assistant Headteacher and in 2012 I achieved my NPQH. All these posts have always encompassed the role of both SENCo, Inclusion Lead and Designated Safeguarding Lead. So, I look at issues from a variety of perspectives and really appreciate the importance of a whole-school, consistent approach to benefit the child most effectively.

My passion for inclusion began many years ago, when I saw, first-hand, the huge long-term impacts caused by the exclusion of children from mainstream education, who had additional needs around mental health. In the past, this so often went unacknowledged.  

I have worked closely with CAMHs and, more recently, took a lead on the Healthy Minds project, which has contributed enormously to my understanding of a child’s mental health and wellbeing and how it will impact on their ability to engage in their learning.

I have delivered training on a wide variety of SEND areas, including Supporting the Dyslexic Learner in the Classroom, The teaching of Vocabulary throughout the School, Emotional Wellbeing, Differentiation and Attachment, for a wide variety of audiences including whole school, support staff, NPQSL, localities and parents. My enthusiasm for SEMH, especially attachment, focuses on the impact emotional wellbeing can have on a child’s ability to access their learning. My training as an Attachment Lead has been very useful in this particular role. I completed a year’s course attached to the University of Brighton to achieve this qualification.

I have completed an EAL Champion’s course which reignited my enthusiasm for language and the importance of vocabulary in a child’s life. It’s certainly made me look carefully at why, in many cases, we spend the most time talking but the least time, in school, teaching and encouraging this skill. I love to take this enthusiasm into schools and try and find way’s that staff can raise awareness of and improve the teaching of vocabulary across the whole school.

This is just one of the tools I use to create the opportunity to put into practice my belief in the data that tells us that when parents, carers and significant adults are involved in a child’s learning, the outcomes are greatly improved. I love to be given the chance to support a child alongside both the school and the parents/carers.