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Meet the specialist - Sam McFarlane

Education Officer

Professional headshot of Samantha McFarlane

How long have you worked in the education/SEND sector?

I began working in education in 2005, qualifying as a teacher in 2007. I developed my passion and interest for supporting learners very early in my career, which has led me through a variety of education, support, and leadership roles.


What can you tell us about your background?

I have been incredibly fortunate in my career to have worked with amazing learners and colleagues, whom I have learnt so much from. I have held several SENDCO positions, across secondary schools and a pupil referral unit. During my time at that the PRU I became really interested in how literacy difficulties, link to behaviour and limit curriculum access, particularly how this impacts learners’ motivation, self-esteem, and opportunities. I went on to undertake a Masters in Education and qualified as a Dyslexia specialist teacher and assessor, as well as gained my NASENCO, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology.

After my time in schools’ I moved on to a Local Authority, working as a SEND advisory teacher, and later leading The Learning Support Team in supporting colleagues and learners, with curriculum access and learning support. I have also lectured at Bishops Grosseteste University on SEND and inclusion, and trained teachers in specialist assessment. More recently I have worked with adults supporting workplaces to become more inclusive and accessible.


A block colour of pink

What do you enjoy most about working for nasen?

I am very new to the team, but already I have a sense of the varying work and positive impact that this has within the educational community. I’m looking forward to building relationships with colleagues across schools and settings who share the vision of inclusion and belonging for all children and young people.

The nasen team are great, with such energy and passion for making a difference to the lives of children and young people, which is a brilliant atmosphere to work in.


What are the benefits of subscribing to the SENCO Support Service?

The role of the SENCO is both demanding and rewarding, but it can also be lonely. The SENCO Support Service offers our colleagues somewhere to turn to for advice and guidance, providing supportive reassurance which is really important when you’re in the role.


Are there any SEND topics that you feel particularly passionate about?

I am really interested in and passionate about supporting Specific Learning Difficulties, in particular how technology can support access. More recently, I have become interested in the journey from education to the workplace, and thinking about what needs to happen in transition, to help workplaces to become more inclusive and accessible for everyone.