March 2019

SEND Research Centre Newsletter

March 2019

Welcome to the Spring SEND Research Centre Newsletter.

Please note an Open Seminar event taking place in London in April. Further details are provided in the 'Upcoming Events' section below.

You can also keep up with the Centre's latest news and events on the  SEND Research Centre Website.

As always, if you have any feedback or would like to see more or less of something in the newsletter, please do contact me at:

Thanks for reading.

Upcoming Events:


You are invited to a public research seminar on 10 April 1.30 for 2-5pm. Research into the impact of academisation on SEN provision in ordinary schools and special school placement trends

St Albans Centre, Leigh Place, Baldwin’s Gardens, London EC1N 7AB. How to get there at

This is an opportunity to participate in a seminar in which findings from two just completed national studies will be reported by the research teams and you will be able to discuss their significance and policy and practice implications


1. Inclusion and the academisation of English secondary schools (ESRC funded)

Researchers: Alison Black, Alexey Bessudnov, Brahm Norwich and Yi Liu


This project analysed secondary data from the National Pupil Database (NPD) for the changing proportions of pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN) that enter and exit secondary schools in relation to the increasing autonomy of secondary schools from local authorities (LAs). This study is the first to examine the relationships between changes in the SEN system in its relation to changes in the wider school organisation and policy system using national data trends in England. * Project website - * Project Shiny app -


2. Local authority responses to diversity: school placement trends

Researchers: Alison Black, Brahm Norwich, Yi Liu and Artemi Sakellariadis

This project continues a unique national longitudinal study of school placement trends (i.e. the proportion of children sent to special schools or other separate settings) in English local authorities, which started 30 years ago. Findings indicate a rising national trend of special school placements over the last 10 years. It is unclear yet whether this is continuing to rise or plateau in the last two years. The research also shows that there continues to be significant variation in the proportion of children each local authority regularly places in special schools. Embracing new technologies available, research findings will be made freely available online on a “shinyapp” platform including interactive maps.

Places for this seminar are free but must be booked in advance. For more information and to book your place please visit

For queries please contact or



Recent Publications

Academics across the Centre have recently published the following papers:


Allen, K, & Boyle, C. (2018). Pathways to school belonging. Contemporary research in school belonging. Boston: Brill-Sense. (ISBN: 978-90-04-38696-9)

Black,A., Bessudnov,A., Liu, Y. and Norwich, B. (2019)  Academisation of Schools in England and Placements of Pupils With Special Educational Needs: An Analysis of Trends, 2011–2017. Front. Educ., 04 February 2019  

Boyle, C., Roffey. S., MacRuairc, G., Gaintza, Z., & Mountford-Zimdars, A.  Inclusive Belonging in Schools and Communities – Education to Increase Tolerance and Shared Understanding - IBSaC. European Union: Horizon 2020. Total Value: €1,216,241. (Submitted Oct 2018).

Finning K, Ukoumunne OC, Ford T, Danielson-Waters E, Shaw L, Romero De jager I, Stentiford L, Moore D (2019). Review: the association between anxiety and poor attendance at school – a systematic review. Child and Adolescent Mental Health

Koutsouris, G. and Norwich, B. (2018) What exactly do RCT findings tell us in
education research?
British Educational Research Journal British Educational Research Journal44(6), 939-959.
Stentiford LJ, Koutsouris G, Norwich B (2018). A systematic literature review of the
organisational arrangements of primary school-based reading interventions for
struggling readers. 
Journal of Research in Reading pp 1-19, DOI:10.1111/1467-9817.12264
Koutsouris G, Norwich B, Bessudnov A (2019). Interpreting RCT, process evaluation and case study evidence in evaluating the Integrated Group Reading (IGR) programme: a teacher-led, classroom-based intervention for Year 2 and 3 pupils struggling to read. Educational Review,

Moore DA, Richardson M, Gwernan-Jones R, Thompson-Coon J, Stein K, Rogers M, Garside R, Logan S, Ford TJ (2019). Non-Pharmacological Interventions for ADHD in School Settings: An Overarching Synthesis of Systematic Reviews. Journal of Attention Disorders, 23(3), 220-233.

Norwich, B. (2019) The case for a broader framework for special needs and inclusive education: where we go next? in Webster, R (ed.) Including children and young people with SEN and disabilities in learning and life: how far have we come since the Warnock Enquiry and where do we go next? London: Routledge.

Under Review

Norwich, B. and Koutsouris, G. (209) Putting RCTs in their place: implications from an RCT of the Integrated Group Reading approach. International Journal of Research & Method in Education.
Norwich, B. (2019) From the Warnock Report (1978) to an Education Framework Commission: a novel contemporary approach to educational policy making for pupils with special educational needs /disabilities.
Frontiers in SEN.

In Press

Finning K, Ukoumunne O, Ford T, Danielsson-Waters E, Shaw L, Romero De Jager I, Stentiford L, Moore D (In Press). The association between child and adolescent depression and poor attendance at school: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders





Research Projects

Brahm Norwich, Alison Black, and Darren Moore await a decision relating to their ESRC proposal about academisation and SEN provision.

Brahm Norwich and George Koutsouris are also waiting for a decision from EEF about IGR project extension proposal.

Brahm Norwich and Darren Moore, along with Dave Hall and Lauren Stentiford are continuing with their mental health in schools project. Provision mapping and leadership survey have been completed and case studies are being done. There will be a June workshop in London to bring together findings with project partners.

SPISEY – George Koutsouris, Chris Boyle and Alison Black are involved in Supporting Practices for Inclusive Schooling & Education for Youth project involving partners. SPISEY is an ERASMUS+ project involving working with partners in Denmark, Spain, France, Finland and the UK. 

Helen Knowler has been successful in winning a University of Exeter, Education Incubator Research-Inspired Inquiry Led Learning award and will be exploring the development of inclusive teaching materials for research methods in the Social Sciences. She will be working with a team of student collaborators and is working on building a collaborative framework for module development.

Helen is currently collaborating with Professor Huw Williams (Exeter) and doctoral researcher Betony Clasby (Sheffield) on reviewing international statistics for permanent school exclusion and the links to traumatic brain injury. A paper reporting our work should be available towards the end of 2019.

Helen has also been working with colleagues from the University of Plymouth on permanent school exclusion and the experiences of head teachers and senior leaders when they decide to permanently exclude a pupil.  They are awaiting ethical approval for the project.

From 2016-2018 Helen led an ESRC funded Outdoor Learning project to explore the development of a woodland curriculum for Key Stage 3 pupils at risk of permanent exclusion. She worked with an outdoor learning provider and two large secondary schools to trial approaches to teaching STEM subjects in the outdoors. In March 2019 she met with project colleagues from the University of Bristol to work on two papers reporting our findings. Helen and colleagues have submitted a paper for the EDULEARN19 conference in Palma de Mallorca in 1-3 July 2019.


Other Research Activity

In March, George Koutsouris, Chris Boyle and Alison Black attended a 'kick-off' meeting in Ejberg, Denmark for the SPISEY project - an Erasmus project exploring social inclusion for children and young people across Europe.

George Koutsouris and  Hazel Lawson are nearing the submission of an ESRC bid, currently titled 'Special educational needs and disability - examining secondary education provision in England.'Chris Boyle and Darren Moore have completed a project funded by Educational Endowment Foundation. They conducted an Evidence Review of Behaviour in Schools, synthesising international literature on reasons why school pupils misbehave, effectiveness of classroom-based approaches to behaviour and effectiveness of school-wide approaches to behaviour. A final draft report was submitted to the funders at the end of January followed by a meeting with an advisory panel on 4th February to start work on converting the findings into a guidance report to be shared with schools in the Summer Term. At the end of March Chris and Darren will submit the final report and are currently working on additional analyses after a short extension was agreed.



In March 2019 Brahm Norwich presented at a London conference: ‘Lesson Study for Vulnerable Learners'.

Helen Knowler will be visiting the University of Malta in April 2019 to share her work on looking at the processes of permanent school exclusion from school and is looking to build on links looking at provision for learners with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs at risk of exclusion from school. She will feedback on this visit in the next newsletter! 




Interesting Articles and Media Outputs

Recommended Reads

Hazel Lawson recommends Robinson, D., Moore, N. and Harris, C. (2019) The impact of books on social inclusion and development and well‐being among children and young people with severe and profound learning disabilities: Recognising the unrecognised cohort. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, early view

This reports upon research commissioned by BookTrust to evaluate the importance of books to children and young people with severe and profound learning disabilities. With colleagues, Hazel was involved in a project on ‘inclusive literacy’ in the past and was fascinated to see how the work they published in 2007 and 2012 has been taken forward. The interpretative methodological stance and associated data collection and analysis methods are also very well explained.

In the Media

In March, an article in the Guardian newspaper (online) outlined how families of children designated with SEND claim that the shortfall in government funding may be illegal. Please see below for the full article.

School Exclusion has been high on the media agenda over the last few weeks with controversy related to the links between permanent school exclusion and knife crime.

Police report that there is a link between those that have been permanently excluded from school and increasing incidents of knife crime – and while it may seem like a ‘common sense’ connection there is a paucity of empirical research showing a correlation. On the other hand, school leaders have argued that it is not true to say that every child permanently excluded will automatically become involved in criminality and that the recent headlines ‘blame’ schools for wider societal ills that are related to poverty, inequality and a lack of resources for strong alternative provision. Ofsted’s take on this also argues that schools need to be taking a more active approach and looking ‘beyond the school gates.’