About Us

The Equals Charity has been offering its services to schools since 1994. In this time it has built up a strong record in supporting teachers to apply the principles of government guidelines to curriculum development for pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities. Members of the Equals Executive have been involved in a number of projects seeking to influence the development of new national initiatives.

To learn more about Equals Membership and services available such as Curriculum & Assessment,
Online CPD Sessions and Regional and National Conferences, please click here.

By being a member of Equals you can inform our Executive of issues that affect the pupils in your school and we in turn can raise the issues with the government etc.

The strength of Equals is that it is managed by teachers, for teachers. It is a professional organisation that seeks to deliver the highest standards of education to pupils with learning difficulties, by interpreting and contributing to the development of government policies. Equals endeavours to respond quickly to provide focused seminars, workshops and teaching materials that enhance teacher practices in the classroom.

Equals is a registered charity, committed to supporting the work of teachers of pupils with profound, multiple and severe learning difficulties. Equals is non-profit making and has to self-finance all of its activities.

Aims of EQUALS

EQUALS Aims To: 

  • Promote the highest standards of education for pupils with learning difficulties.
  • Influence the educational practice and policy at local, regional and national levels
    by consulting and liasing with the government and other SEN organisations.
  • Support teachers in applying governmental policy in the education of children with learning difficulties.
  • Foster high quality innovation practice, through the publication of relevant and rigorous support materials.
  • Advance the entitlement of pupils with learning difficulties to equality of opportunity.
  • Facilitate the rights of pupils to speak for themselves.
  • Voice the concerns of teachers and head teachers.
  • Arrange conferences and best practice workshops with nationally recognised speakers.
  • Provide members with regular and relevant updates on new initiatives.
  • Curriculum teaching materials including Schemes of Work.
  • Manage 14-19 Accreditation Schemes.
  • Maintain a website.

Your Support is our Future

By being a member of Equals you are supporting our ability to provide professional support that develops initiatives so that they can be applied to pupils with a range of learning difficulties.

Subscription entitles members to early information about new initiatives and priority booking for national & regional conferences. Members also secure access to a wide range of 100% FREE online CPD sessions. There are also Development Days where members can visit Exemplar schools.

Click here to learn more about Equals Virtual and In-person CPD

EQUALS Trustees

Chris Rollings

Chris Rollings is the current Chair of Equals and has been in post since 2018. Chris has been a long standing supporter of Equals from its inception and indeed suggested the title of Equals for our organisation back in 1993! Currently Chris is Head Teacher of Hadrian School in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Hadrian is a serial ‘outstanding’ primary specialist school for children with a wide range of additional needs and also kindly hosts the Equals Administration Office in its premises.

Chris has always had a long standing interest in specialist education and has served his apprenticeship as a Class Teacher, Advisory Teacher, Research Assistant, and Deputy Head in two schools before taking up his current post ten years ago. Alongside his current role chairing Equals, Chris also chairs the North East region FLSE (Federation of Leaders in Special education) and is a Trustee of HEADS (Hadrian Education And Development Services).

Chris also delivers Rebound Therapy training around the UK and at the Hadrian School Rebound Therapy Centre alongside training for Behaviour Support, Confident Parenting, PMLD and other related specialist areas. Chris is very ambitious for Equals to re-connect to our membership and once again take a leading role in advocating for our children and young people across all services, campaigning against injustices and providing a voice for all.

Peter Imray

Peter Imray has been working in education for nearly 30 years, mainly as a teacher and school leader with The Bridge School in London, a serially outstanding school for pupils and students with severe learning difficulties (SLD) and profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) and/or autistic spectrum condition (ASC).

He is now an independent trainer and advisor in the area of special educational needs and is the author of numerous articles on many subjects relating to SLD and PMLD. Peter’s first book, Turning the Tables on Challenging Behaviour, was published by Routledge in 2008, and his new book (written with Viv Hinchcliffe) entitled Curricula for Teaching Children and Young People with Severe or Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties, was published, again by Routledge, in 2014.

James Waller

Headteacher, Sunningdale School.

James has been a trustee of Equals since 2018. James has worked with young people with learning difficulties for the last 20 years. He has spent his teaching career in both Primary and Secondary phases of education specifically working with children with Moderate, Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties and Autism. He is currently the Headteacher at Sunningdale School, an Outstanding provision in Tyne and Wear for pupils with Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties.

James has developed and delivered workshops on a wide variety of topics related to Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties on behalf of the SENHub in Tyne and Wear, Together for Children, Northern Lights, Equals and other organisations such as the Virtual SEND Conference and TES. James is involved in the delivery of NPQSL, NPQH and the Early Careers Framework (ECF) to cohorts from Specialist Settings in the North East of England. James was previously a Specialist Leader of Education (SLE) and one of the Standards and Testing Agency’s Engagement Model Lead Trainers.

In partnership with the University of Northumbria, James oversees Sunningdale School’s bespoke Initial Teacher Training course for individuals wishing to teach in Specialist settings.

James additionally works as a visiting lecturer on teaching children with Severe Learning Difficulties for the University of Northumbria and has also previously managed a number of outreach and intervention teams, including the Portage Service, on behalf of Sunderland Local Authority.

James’ interests are in curriculum development, the use of engagement, ipsative assessment, early teacher development and system leadership.

Elaine Ellis

Elaine’s career in Special Education and Early Years has spanned over 25 years and has involved class teaching and leadership in a variety of schools for children with severe and complex learning difficulties, as well as mainstream schools. Over the past 12 years, Elaine has worked as a SEN and Early Years Advisor for a Local Authority, with a particular interest in early intervention for young children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

Elaine delivers EYFS training and consultancy for colleagues working in schools and settings. She is presently completing a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and is a trained Early Years Inspector.

Ellen Croft

Ellen is a Vice Principal (CPLD) at Ash Field Academy in Leicester, which is a Specialist School for Children and Young People with Physical Disabilities and/or complex medical conditions.

She is Director of the Inclusion and SEND Hub based at Ash Field Academy which supports our local TSHub and SCITT to recruit, train, develop and retain the very best teachers, support staff and leaders working in all phases and types schools and at all stages of their careers. Through the Inclusion and SEND Hub’s School to School Support Network, Ellen has led on and developed several local initiatives to improve SEND provision for learners in mainstream and specialist schools.

Ellen has over 20 years of teaching and leadership experience both in mainstream and specialist schools. Ellen is a specialist Leader of Education SEND with a particular interest in learners with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties. She believes in a bright future and our ability to build it together to improve the academic and social outcomes for our learners with SEND.

Alistair Crawford

Alistair currently works as Director of St Martins and St Andrew’s Teaching Schools in Derby. Prior to this he worked in a range of specialist schools across the East Midlands as a teacher and senior leader.

As an experienced specialist leader of education Alistair has supported many schools and colleagues to develop their SEND provision and improve outcomes for young people with additional needs.

A big passion for Alistair is raising aspiration for the amazing young people we work with and he is currently working with a range of national partners to support employment and participation in elite sports.

Steve Cullingford-Agnew

Stephen Cullingford-Agnew worked as a Senior Lecturer in Education (SEN and Inclusion).  Steve previously worked as Headteacher at Wren Spinney Special School Secondary age, and Fairfield Special School Primary age in Northamptonshire before becoming a School Improvement Advisor (SEN) for the Northamptonshire Inspection and Advisory Service (NIAS). Steve also worked as a Senior Lecturer within the Centre for Special Needs Education and Research (CESNER) and lectured on the following MA Education courses: TDA SENCO Course, Severe and Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties, Multi-Sensory Impairment (Deaf/Blind), and Physical Difficulties.

Books and book chapters
Doveston,M and Cullingford-Agnew,S. (2006) Becoming a Higher Level Teaching Assistant – Primary Special Educational Needs. Exeter: Learning Matters.

The Routledge Companion to Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties – Edited by Penny Lacey – April 2015.

Phil Harrison

Phil Harrison currently works for Shaw Education Trust. He joined the trust from Ofsted where he was one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors. Phil had a regional lead responsibility for special educational needs and disability. Prior to working for Ofsted, Phil gained extensive senior management experience as a headteacher and executive headteacher of day schools, residential schools and colleges.

He has worked as a local authority school improvement partner and as a leadership trainer for the National College. During his time as a National Leader of Education he led and managed a National Support School and Teaching School, alongside being the chair of a governing board.

He has a postgraduate qualification in special and inclusive education and regularly provides consultancy regarding SEND to multi-academy trusts, local authorities and school groups across the UK and internationally.

Trish Turner

Trish is Head Teacher at Brackenfield SEND School in Derbyshire, home of the East Midlands SEND Training Hub. Trish has worked in mainstream and specialist education for over 20 years, with the last 12 years being in specialist settings. Trish has a passion for researched based practice with children with complex additional needs and has joined Equals following Brackenfield piloting the Equals materials. Brackenfield is a Best Practice Hub/Exemplar School for the Informal and Semi formal frameworks.

Trish is an experienced leader and through the East Midlands SEND Training Hub has worked to support many schools in the region with their SEND Provision.

Trish’s interests include Early Years Development and Trauma Informed Practice, Trish works with the Derbyshire Virtual School and Kate Cairns Associates to support Attachment Aware Practice in other Specialist and mainstream settings. Thorough Action research Trish and Brackenfield School has developed the Journey to Learn J2L, a tool which baseline pupil wellbeing against Maslow’s hierarchy of need and suggests therapeutic intervention at the appropriate level. Trish Is a Trust Board Member for the East Midland Education Trust SCITT and is a passionate advocate for opening up the world of SEND to Initial Teacher Trainees.

Dr Lila Kossyvaki

Dr Lila Kossyvaki has been a lecturer in Severe Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities in the Department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs (DISN) at the School of Education, University of Birmingham with research and teaching responsibilities since 2015. She is a chartered psychologist (via the academic route) and a SEND teacher (MEd in Special Education: Autism- children). Lila has written several peer-reviewed papers and a research monograph published by Routledge and presented her work in conferences and workshops around the world. She has led and co-led a number of research projects. Prior to her academic post, Lila worked in special schools and day care settings in the UK and in Greece. Since 2015, she has been a governor in charge of Teaching, Learning and Assessment at Hamilton Special School.

Joy Dawson

I have worked in Special Ed. For 12 years.  I started my teaching my teaching career in mainstream finding myself always talking to the SENCO and researching teaching methods to support pupils benefitting from additional support to access the curriculum. I moved to Wilson Stuart Special school 12 years ago stating in the interview I just knew it was where I was meant to be.

Wilson Stuart is a 2 – 25 year old school and college and Lead school for the Education Impact Education Trust with a record of Outstanding OFSTED. In my 12 years I have worked across primary and secondary departments specialising in working with pupils with SLD.I am currently Assistant Lead in SLD developing the curriculum and assessment framework.

During my time at Wilson Stuart I have also worked for the Birmingham Outreach service for pupils with physical needs and supported pupils and teachers in mainstream. I worked for the learning and assessment agency moderating assessment and developing team knowledge of the p levels. I was Lead of the school Direct programme linked to UCB specialising in training teachers to work with pupils with special needs which was complimented by OFSTED for our SEND provision and specialism.

I am a great believer in play and exploration within the curriculum and have a particular interest in outdoor learning.

I joined Equals after meeting Peter Imray writing the semi-formal problem solving curriculum unit I  was busy having a family for a few years but am back with a view to get stuck in.

Jo Williams

Jo Williams is the Deputy Headteacher at Dee Banks School in Chester where she has gained 15 years experience working with pupils with SLD, PMLD and complex needs across the age range. Jo has a particular interest and passion for curriculum and assessment and has experience of working with a wide network of schools and groups to support development of specialist approaches. Jo has led on the implementation of the tiered curriculum model and schemes of work developed by Equals, providing relevant professional development for staff and working with a range of stakeholders.

Dominic Wall

Dominic Wall retired as the Headteacher of Co-op Academy Southfield after 12 years in September 2022 and he now works part-time as the SEND Lead for the Co-op Academies Trust. He is currently leading the development of Co-op Academy Brierley, a new Specialist free school for Leeds City Council which opened in September 2023.

During his career Dominic has worked as a headteacher in SEMH and LDDSpecialist schools in Blackburn, Oldham and Bradford, and for the local authority in Bradford as Strategic Adviser for SEN, overseeing the building of eight new Specialist schools. Representing the specialist sector on the Schools Forum in Bradford, Dominic served as Chair from 2015-17, during which period he is proud to have maintained a balanced High Needs Block SEND budget, through consensus across all sectors of education.

Designated by the Department for Education as a National Leader of Education in 2016 until his retirement as a headteacher, Dominic continues to be a member of the Specialist SEND Reference Group, which is consulted by the DfE about developments in national policy for specialist settings. From 2019-22 Dominic was seconded part-time to NICE as an Education Topic Advisor on SEND for the committee drawing up Guideline 213.across England, Dominic coordinates the Medicine in Specialist Schools (MiSS) group that lobbies on behalf of the specialist sector of education for better and safer provision of health services in school settings.

In 2022/23, on behalf of MiSS, Dominic has been invited to join NHS England’s working party on delivering clinical interventions in schools and other community settings.

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What Our Members Say

We have thousands of satisfied members since we began in 1994

Online CPD Sessions

“Love these courses, it is like having a university lecture/tutorial”

“I love listening to the evidence based information”

“All the information was presented simply and efficiently. It was interesting and the time passed very quickly. An excellent training session”

Rodney House School – Manchester

We feel the online training delivered by EQUALS have been WONDERFUL.  The relevance and depth of the sessions has been fantastic, Peter is a very knowledgeable man. Having training delivered online has enabled all our teachers to attend and have discussions after the event rather than one teacher attending and disseminating which can water down the content.
Thank you so much and keep them coming!

Peter Imray

“Lets focus on things that matter”.

“For those with a profound learning difficulty (PMLD), learning is best done when the learner is placed in the centre of the curriculum”.

Priory Woods School – Middlesbrough

“The Semi-formal Curriculum meets the needs of our special children and we feel more able to promote what the children need rather than being constrained by subject areas”.

“Freedom to be creative and concentrate on individual needs with a focus on independence”.

Pedagogy, Curriculum and Assessment of Pupil Progress for Children and Young People with SLD and PMLD

“Great delivery – motivational speaker, thank you’
“A fantastic workshop with many learning and thinking points!’
“Excellent informative course”
“Information about different kinds of assessment models”
“Thought provoking ideas on SLD curriculum”
“Analysing what we teach and why?”