Children with special educational needs are invisible to society and let down by the current education system. Mainstream school learning and life in a ‘one size fits all’, factory style school is often inaccessible and often damaging.
Despite the total number of children with special educational needs and disabilities standing at 1.32 million, 14.9% of the school population, there is a scarcity of special school places and desperate lack of SEN provision in the UK. Children are misunderstood, bullied, isolated, excluded from education and marginalised to the fringes of society.
Access to therapeutic intervention is at best infrequent but more commonly unavailable, and the focus on life skills, mental health and emotional wellbeing is poor.
When most young people are excited about the transition to adulthood, and all the opportunities that come with it, those with SEN face a very different set of prospects. They’ve often not been equipped with adequate skills for their futures, making them vulnerable and facing difficulties finding or maintaining employment.
Alongside these individual struggles, there is no national strategy or joined up thinking on the best way to educate children with SEN and measure progress. Specialist practice and expertise varies across the UK, meaning the provision can vary wildly in different local authorities. Teacher training degrees have limited content on SEN and staff in mainstream schools lack the knowledge, strategies and resources to support these children in their classrooms.
“When most young people are excited about the transition to adulthood, and all the opportunities that come with it, those with SEN face a very different set of prospects.”
Ali Durban and Sarah Sultman, co-founders
There is a scarcity of special school places and desperate lack of SEN provision in the UK. Children are misunderstood, bullied, isolated, excluded from education and marginalised to the fringes of society.
Transforming the way children and young people with SEN are educated in the UK through an evidence-based model of teaching and learning.
Led by Gesher Trust, an established leader in working with children with special educational needs and disabilities, NoLimits will create a new evidence-based model of teaching and learning for secondary school students that is academically rigorous and showcase it in other SEN learning communities.
They’ll work to create a community of practice – which will be made up not only of other SEN-specialist educators, but also future employers, building a potential new kind of pathway for SEN young people through education and into work, ensuring that no young person is left behind.
An engaged community of multiple SEN schools across the UK, working together to improve the lives of children with special educational needs.
The goal is that at least 10 schools will participate as well as universities, colleges and employers. NoLimits will deliver training, host roundtables and develop practices to transform the lives of thousands of young people in the UK with additional needs.
Work in action
The mission of NoLimits is to influence and transform the way that young people with SEN are educated.
They have a clear belief that education should focus on the whole young person, be personalised to their aptitudes and passions and should enable them to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives; lives not defined by traditional assessment metrics but, rather, metrics which enable them to explore their interests and focus on their wellbeing and ambitions.
They want to see a complete redesign of the current system to transform the lives of thousands of young people across the UK so that they have access to the life chances and opportunities they deserve.
Gesher School is an Ofsted Outstanding school, and acts as an eco-system, a community hub and Centre of Excellence. It has a fully codified ‘blueprint’ to its design which will enable the team to share their learnings and best practices across the UK to transform thousands of young lives.
The Big Changers
Ali Durban and Sarah Sultman, Co-Founders of Gesher School
Ali Durban has an extensive career in Marketing and PR spanning 20 years, She is a co-founder of Gesher and a passionate inclusion champion for Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs. Ali has a special interest in alternative educational strategies that support the whole person. Her ambition is to transform SEN education in the UK, with clear pathways from primary school to employment. Tailoring education to provide nurturing, meaningful and functional learning environments.
Sarah Sultman formerly worked in the city for 12 years in fund/portfolio management for Life Assurance Companies. She left to start up her own art company and consultancy which she ran for five years until the birth of her third child. As a result of his diagnosis of Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder and Dyspraxia. Sarah began to research the educational provision on offer to her and her son and this led to the journey with Ali and the creation of Gesher. Sarah has always been very active and involved in both in her local community and believes passionately that all children and young people have the right to access an inclusive education and to be valued members of a community that cares.