Blog Number #3 – Six Little Words

Consider this question; a man is in the queue at a greasy spoon cafe. Why is he there?

Towards the end of last year I finished the final development and first deliveries of the Burley Inclusive Introduction to Communication and Behaviour courses. This has been a fantastic process and the reviews from participants and managers have been excellent and extremely encouraging. The courses are designed to aid understanding of communication and behaviour for support staff working with people with learning disabilities by providing key information and theory. In this training all the information is packaged into six words.

Auditory, Visual + Kinaesthetic

Biological, Psychological + Social

These ideas and concepts are explored through discussion, team activities, games, individual activities and most importantly self-application.

There are most definitely occasions where more than a few words are needed. Surgery springs to mind in the first instance! However, in terms of practical, useful and clear strategies, for many, less can often mean a lot more. I feel it is much better that course participants can all take away three things that can be practically implemented in their practice, than a vast amount of information and knowledge that may never turn into practical solution or consideration.

It is Burley Inclusive’s aim to help to promote best practice from education and social care for support workers supporting individuals with learning disabilities in a clear and practical manner. There are numerous qualifications ranging from PHDs and degrees to level one diplomas in learning disabilities. However, not everyone is in the appropriate circumstance to complete a degree course. Burley Inclusive aims to promote the themes and knowledge from longer and higher level courses that are desperately needed on the “front line” of learning disability support if the goals of independence, empowerment and autonomy are to be successfully achieved. Consistency between professionals is often cited as a key factor in learning disability support. No one can, or indeed should, replace the behavioural specialists, SENCO’s, Psychologists and all other professionals who need the highest level of training and knowledge, however some of their professional tool kit can go a long way in the hands of support workers in terms of promoting high quality support and service user independence.

Greasy Spoon Continued…

How many reasons did you think of for the greasy spoon question? The majority of you most likely instantly thought of hunger, but did you go any further? What if I changed the question to: Can you think of Biological possibilities, Psychological possibilities and Social possibilities? How many can you think of now?

Hunger?  Fatigue?  On a date? Childhood memories?  To see friends? The man may hate McDonalds, but there are still lots of factors that can cause his behaviour. With the consideration of three words, a much deeper look at behaviour can be considered.

“He’s doing it for attention…” – Possibly, but what else could it be?


Blog Number #2 – My Dyslexia…

 Blog Number #2 – My Dyslexia…

I have dyslexia. I find writing by hand and spelling very challenging. I have been extremely lucky to have a mum who is a primary school teacher. She was always there to keep an eye on me and noticed my literacy difficulties at an early age. I plodded through school, not really having any support. I was seen as a “bad speller”. It was that simple. However, when I attended college I was offered a basic test. Low and behold they found that I had a slower than average writing speed and literacy difficulties. I was then allowed to use a computer and have some extra time in exams. What a difference this made. Such simple differentiated strategies yet the confidence boost I had, and the grades I earned, demonstrated how effective simple changes can be.

I was then fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go to university at 18. I was told that to get the same exam concessions I would need an official Educational Psychology report.  I met with a hugely influential man, Mr P. Parkhouse! His assessment showed that indeed I was dyslexic. Finally… the answer to my struggles, handwriting, spelling, poor memory! It all makes sense now.  On his recommendation I got all the support I needed, and achieved my Psychology degree from Plymouth University. From then on I knew I wanted to help others to learn. I just didn’t really know how.

After university I entered the world of work. My first job was working as a support worker in a home for young adults with learning disabilities. I absolutely loved my job. It gave me great job satisfaction, and I think I was quite good at it. There were however a couple of problems, primarily the unpredictable shift patterns, which made it impossible to plan a routine. I knew I wanted to study more, but with the mix of shifts it would have been impossible. A tough decision, but I thought it was time to move on.

I volunteered at a local further education college, supporting people with learning disabilities with their education. I loved this too and there were no shifts to worry about. I signed up to a PGCE, and within a year I was a lecturer in foundation learning. I worked at the college for four years and had a truly brilliant time. The staff I worked with were fantastic and so dedicated to their roles in helping others. However, I now believe both social care and education have things that the other needs. Social care needs more of a development and educational focus, yet education sometimes lacks the real life context and environments to foster learning and independence. Hence, Burley Inclusive, a support provider that brings a teacher into social care… let’s see how it goes!


Blog Number #1 – Well in Theory…


Blog Number #1 – Well in Theory…

I have studied and worked in the fields of psychology, learning disability care and foundation education for over 10 years now. I have worked both in a care home and a further education college, supporting and teaching foundation level learners. My experience has led me to believe that both of these fields can benefit from a closer understanding of the other.

In education the primary objective of foundation level learning is to build confidence and skills in learners to help them in their daily lives once they have left the provision. Yet for many foundation learners the context and environment that the skills are being learnt in are crucial. I will give the analogy that I have given numerous times when colleagues, friends and family have asked what my new venture is going to be. For some learners, learning to make a cup of tea independently is a perfect, realistic target for them to work towards to increase their independence and feel a great level of achievement. However, for some learners transferring their skill between context and environment is extremely difficult. The cups will be different, the taps may work in a different way, the textures on the cutlery may provide a different sensation, the kettle may be weighted differently or require switching on a different way. For some, not all, the context is critical to their success.

My Venn diagram explains it all…


 Education typically has all the qualified teaching staff who have a good knowledge of learning and differentiating activities for those who have additional needs. However, the opportunity to deliver teaching in a real life context is limited. There are opportunities such as work experience placements, but with the highly competitive job market, it is often difficult to find a work placement that is in the learner’s local area or fully meets their desired career aims. Care teams meet and work with services users in appropriate, real world contexts and help them to learn new skills and grow their independence. An understanding of teaching and learning can further support the development of new skills in these crucial environments. Although care teams and educators meet regularly to discuss learning plans and outcomes, as above, the relevant context can be limited.

Burley Inclusive delivers a new approach to support services and training that provides a model driven by teaching and learning in a relative context to the individual. We have developed a unique system that focuses on context relevant skills, supporting a learner across the presence to contribution model. We will discuss more about that in a later blog!

Please leave us a comment if you have any thoughts you would like to share and visit for more info. Thanks for reading!