IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Q&A with Poppy Wells

Poppy Wells is a Special and Inclusive Education MA alumna, class of 2022. She talks to us about her experience studying at IOE.

A photo of Poppy Wells. Permission: Poppy Wells.
What attracted you to IOE and your course?

My passion for SEND and inclusion developed through my experience as a TA in an ASD provision and my teaching practice in mainstream schools. I was inspired by the progress that I observed children making through differentiation and the clear approaches towards SEND.

I have always wanted to carry out further study at IOE due to its reputation for delivering a world-class education for practitioners.

What were the most interesting things you did while at IOE?

While studying at IOE, I was lucky enough to meet other likeminded practitioners, who shared my passion for inclusive practice in mainstream schools. The most eye-opening module explored the contexts and concepts of SEND and looked at how approaches and understandings of SEND have evolved over the past century.

I was inspired by every seminar and always felt that I was provided with theory that then supported the refinement of practical strategies I could use in the classroom and in my leadership role as SENDco.

Which organisation do you work for and what is your job title?

I have just returned from working as a SENDco and senior leader at Bloomsbury International School Hatyai in Thailand for the last year. I am now in the process of setting up a specialist teaching agency for schools that are solely based in South East London.

Tell us about your current role.

In my role as SENDco I was responsible for ensuring inclusive practice across the primary and secondary school. My role as a senior leader was head of learning support staff, which provided me with the opportunity to regularly hear the unique perspectives of staff who were working from Reception through to Year 11. As senior leader, I planned and strategized for SEND and Inclusion by writing and implementing this part of the school development plan. 

How did your experience at UCL prepare you for your job?

The invaluable theoretical knowledge I gained from studying my MA at UCL gave me the confidence and understanding to fulfil my role as SENDco and develop a new SEND register, medical register, SEND policy and medical policy at my previous school.

What are your future ambitions?

In my future career, I would love to develop further as a senior leader with the goal of becoming deputy head in the next few years. My long-term career goal would be to support schools in developing their inclusive practices in a consultancy role.

What advice would you give to a student looking to get into a career in your sector?

The main advice  I would give to a student looking to get into a career in SEND and inclusion would be to LISTEN. 

Listen to the children (both their verbal and non-verbal behaviours), listen to and observe your more experienced colleagues, spend time speaking with SEND specialists and volunteer or work in a specialist provision. 

This is where you will acquire skills that can be brought to inclusive mainstream provisions – inclusive practice is best practice for all students! 

What have you done in your current or previous role that has been most fulfilling to you?

In my role as SENDco at an international school, it was most rewarding to change perspectives and attitudes towards children with SEND. I was responsible for training and upskilling colleagues in inclusive practices, and the feedback from students, teachers and parents suggested that we had created a shift in the school’s SEND culture. 

Parents began to feel more comfortable and trusting about openly discussing their children’s needs with me and exploring diagnosis options for their children.

How do you approach professional development and networking?

I approach professional development on a personal and institutional basis. This is because I believe that although the training provided by my previous schools has been incredibly useful and informative, I am also responsible for keeping up to date with educational research, approaches and accessing any courses that I believe could further develop me in my role.

My ability to network is still developing. However, as a rule of thumb, I aim to meet at least one ‘exceptional’ person from each new experience that I have. This ultimately means that I have many friends and associates from diverse backgrounds who can offer me unique perspectives and constantly challenge and develop my thinking and practice. 

Last updated 22 February 2023.