Hirstwood Training Founder

Richard Hirstwood

Richard Hirstwood is the founder of and lead consultant for Hirstwood Training. He is passionate about enabling educators/practitioners to maximise the impact of delivering sensory learning opportunities, in a sensory room or other learning environments, with the resources available to them. He has developed innovative ways of delivering key skills and competencies via face to face training; coaching sessions; and hands-on work with teachers and teaching assistants; as well as creating bespoke portfolios of training videos for more than a hundred individual schools and settings. His extensive experience is based on practical knowledge, giving him insight into what works and what doesn’t in multisensory practice. Regular sessions with children and adults with autism and all additional needs in a variety of multisensory and classroom settings enable him to maintain this level of excellent practice.

Hirstwood Training Associate – Autism Specialist

Chris Barson

Chris Barson founded Positive About Autism in January 2009. Prior to that, Chris was External Training Manager for the National Autistic Society. Chris has a long involvement with disability and autism. Chris first joined the National Autistic Society (NAS) in 1996 as a Project Officer in Wales on a Children in Need project reviewing short term care provision. After working with the NAS Regional Development Team promoting service development throughout the UK, Chris went to work at the Royal College of General Practitioners, in 2000, where he managed Professional Development and Quality programmes. Chris rejoined NAS in 2004. Chris has contributed to the design and delivery of courses provided by Canterbury Christ Church University, and the University of Cumbria. Chris is a contributing author to ‘The Autism Spectrum in the 21st Century: Exploring Psychology, Biology and Practice’ Jessica Kingsley Press 2010 (Highly Commended 2011 BMA Medical Book Awards).

Hirstwood Training Associate – SEN Education Specialist

Nick Sheffield

Nick Sheffield is Head of Curriculum and Assessments at Linden Lodge School, a Sensory Impairment Specialist SEN School in South London. Nick was part of the Expert Rochford Review Group which produced the Jan 2020 Engagement Model Guidance and is a guest lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire and Middlesex University. Nick's main specialism is Profound and Severe Learning Disabilities (PMLD) (SLD). Nick has worked with the Hirstwood group for over a year, presenting at the Curriculum Conclusion Conference and The Sensory Festival in July, where he appeared in a panel alongside Diane Rochford OBE and Barry Carpenter CBE and is looking forward to the next Hirstwood adventures in store! Richard Airde O.B.E. "I was hugely impressed by Mr Sheffield’s passion, commitment and work ethic, I became similarly impressed by his deep insight into the education of children with PMLD/CLDD. The quality of his insight was always of the highest order."​

Hirstwood Training Associate – Technology Specialist

Carol Allen

Carol Allen is an education advisor for ICT and Inclusion, currently offering specialised support to Local Authorities, schools, parents and carers and a wide range of educators across the world. She has taught since 1980 in both mainstream schools – primary and high, and schools for students with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties. Recognising, as an English specialist, that communication lies at the heart of all effective teaching, the majority of her work has centred on creative and engaging use of technology to support communication in its widest sense.