Reconvening with the original 2019 conference theme, ‘Closing the Research to Practice Gap’, the UCL Centre for Inclusive Education (CIE) and the National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen) hosted the Inclusive and Support Education’s (ISEC) ninth annual conference, held from the 3rd – 5th August 2021. The conference aims to create a more equitable, inclusive education, with 2021’s conference also factoring in the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the conference, 400 attendees internationally participated in 200 agenda sessions from 30 countries, benefiting from various dynamic presenters, including an introduction by Princess Anne, The Princess Royal; Paralympian Baroness Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson; and keynote speakers such as Dr. Lyman Dukes, who discussed the transition of disabled students into adult life.
Though COVID-19 posed unique challenges to vulnerable members of society – particularly those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) - the conference’s postponement allowed for illuminating data to be gathered on topics such as innovations in online pedagogy, pupil wellness and engagement in remote learning environments, so that inclusivity in education overall might be improved. The conference hosted a valuable and timely range of reports, from the findings of Lucile Bottein’s (UCL) study on the effectiveness of recorded lectures, to a presentation on maximizing the accessibility of autism research for teachers by Joseph Mintz.
Accounting for the fresh challenges and perspectives offered by this ‘new normal’, the conference invited those with a relationship to inclusive education to participate and exchange knowledge through All In The Loop’s roster of interactive features. Ticket groupings meant attendees were easily directed to sessions relevant to them, while live polling, a Q+A feature, instant messaging and livestream (accessible on-the-go) meant attendees could easily connect, learn, share and communicate – a function central to ISEC’s success.
ISEC selected All In The Loop to best overcome the challenge of running their first fully virtual event, utilizing its secure, easy-to-navigate and highly-customizable web platforms, tailor-made to guarantee suitability and efficacy. The virtual format allowed for excellent ease of participation, transcending borders and travel limitations by being accessible from the comfort of attendees’ homes. The ability to consume content and interact with live speakers and sponsors was made simple through All In The Loop’s custom branded web platform and mobile app, where 170 informative abstracts were also readily accessible.
The conference was sponsored by ICEP Europe and Wiley, with ICEP specialising in educational support, and publishers Wiley working with nasen to publish their scholarly journals. Branding exposure was achieved on the platforms via dedicated sponsor booths for ICEP and Wiley, providing a convenient space for connection between sponsors and attendees.
The partnership between CIE and nasen comprises part of an effort to transpose academic theory into practice and positive change for parents, cares, practitioners and SEND pupils. Objectives for 2021’s conference were to discuss interrelationships between different parties within inclusive education - such as practitioners and researchers, parents and schools, and academics and families - and the various effects of COVID-19 on SEND pupils, social equality and education at large.
All In The Loop are proud to have assisted with an event of crucial importance for so many, and are pleased to host on-demand sessions as a central resource.