Inclusion Matters 2019: Children in the Digital Age

The Digital Age has brought about rapid changes to our way of life often compared in scale to the Industrial Revolution. The so-called Digital Revolution has profoundly changed how we all learn, work and play. We don't yet fully understand how these developments will influence the future for our children, but we do know that the pace of change and development is a cause of anxiety and concern.

This conference offered a time for teachers and psychologists to come together to pause and reflect on what we need to know and do to help our children survive and prosper in this new age. We brought together thinkers and educators who are engaged in research in this area, alongside providers of technological solutions to educational challenges.

Keynote speakers

1. Revisiting the Nature of Nurture: Promoting Children’s Positive Mental Health in a Digital World

Professor Gordon Harold, Professor of Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex

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The Nurture Network: Promoting Children's Mental Health in a Digital World (website link)

This keynote focused on early family and school environment influences on children (mental health) with an emphasis on vulnerable populations, family/school interventions, relevance of digital world (risks and opportunities) and practice orientated implications/recommendations for young people’s mental health.

Gordon holds the Andrew and Virginia Rudd Chair in Psychology and is the inaugural Director of the Sussex Rudd Centre. He is a member of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), a member of the Evidence Panel of the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) and a member of the Together for Children and Young People in Wales (T4CYP) Resilience and Early Intervention Workstream. He is a consultant and advisor to several government departments in the UK and internationally.

2. What is cyberpsychology and what are the opportunities for understanding how it may support well-being?

Dr Linda K. Kaye, Department of Psychology, Edge Hill University

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What your emoji says about you

Links to other talks given by Linda Kaye

Cyberpsychology is a vastly developing sub-discipline of Psychology, which helps us understand how we experience and are affected by new and emerging technologies, especially regarding our Internet activities. This talk introduced some of the prominent areas of cyberpsychology, drawing on empirical examples to demonstrate how insights from this field can help us develop further insight into how different technologies and Internet affordances may help us understand aspects of well-being.  This can include types of digital gaming and online communication platforms such as WhatsApp. These insights were considered through a critical perspective, to argue that a degree of specificity is needed within these areas of enquiry, to more fully understand how and why our online and technological experiences may relate to everyday psychological functioning.

Linda is a Senior lecturer in Psychology at Edge Hill University with research interests in the following areas: Social and contextual effects in digital gaming; Psychosocial impacts of new and emerging technologies; Gender issues in stigmatised settings.

3. Helping our children to thrive in their Cyber-worlds; how and why character matters.

Dr Tom Harrison, The School of Education, University of Birmingham

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As a parent, as well as an academic, Tom is interested in how children and young people negotiate and respond to the moral concerns and ethical dilemmas they face on a daily basis in their cyber-worlds. These concerns are amplified through daily media stories about issues such as cyber-bullying, plagiarism, fake news, sexting, digital legacies and many others. The stories often highlight the issues, but don’t offer solutions.  In this presentation Tom argued that we need to rethink how we educate our children. We need to help them to develop practical wisdom that enables them to flourish in their cyber-worlds. What is required is an intentional and explicit focus on moving from rules and regulation towards character; cultivating  qualities in children that make them more likely to do the right thing online especially when no one is watching.  The presentation contained practical strategies and advice on how we can help our children to cultivate cyber-wisdom

Tom Harrison’s specialist interests are character education and virtue ethics, character, virtue and the internet, youth social action and citizenship. He has published extensively in these areas as well as developing resources and training programmes for schools and other organisations. He has recently authored the following books;  ‘Educating Character Through Stories’; ‘Teaching Character in Primary Schools’; ‘Teaching Character and Virtue in Schools’; and ‘The Theory and Practice of Virtue Education (eds)’. 

4. Technology to support communication for children and young people with SEND 

Anna Reeves, CEO at ACE Centre and member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology 

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This workshop offered an overview of Assistive Technology (AT) and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) services provided by Ace Centre, including specialised AAC services, which are commissioned by NHS England and includes the provision of assessments, communication equipment and initial training for children and young people with SEND who meet the required NHSE eligibility criteria .  In addition, there was discussion about the recently launched DfE EdTech Strategy: “Realising the potential of technology in education: a strategy for education providers and the technology industry” and its aims to address the many challenges schools face to enhance the use of AT to support learning.

Prior to joining Ace Centre in 1996, Anna taught in mainstream and special education where she developed the role of ICT Coordinator and member of the senior management team. Since joining Ace Centre, Anna has overseen its transition from a service within Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council to national charity, joining the former two Ace Centres and campaigning for improved services and provision for children and adults who need AAC, which contributed to Ace Centre being commissioned by NHS England to deliver these services across two specialised commissioning regions. More recently, Anna has assisted in the establishment of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology and she is a member of the Assistive Technology Advisory Group on behalf of the Dept for Education.

5. Using Assistive Technology to support writing and recording and access to the curriculum

Ann Sullivan, former lead teacher on the LOIS team (Lancasterian Outreach and Inclusion Service) in Manchester, now an educational consultant, author and trainer.

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This workshop explored how IT can support pupils in class. We looked at conventional and adapted hardware and software to support:

  • alternative strategies for writing and recording and
  • access to curriculum activities and tasks

Ann has over 30 years experience in mainstream and specialist education, as a primary class teacher, secondary learning support teacher, SENCO, outreach advisory teacher and SLE. Until July 2018, Ann was lead teacher on the LOIS team (Lancasterian Outreach and Inclusion Service) in Manchester, which supports pupils with physical disabilities and complex medical needs. As part of her role, she worked alongside mainstream schools to assess pupils with physical disabilities and learning needs and support them to access the curriculum using assistive technology. She believes that all pupils can access the curriculum given the appropriate support and adjustments, which includes the use of assistive technology. In addition to her interest in IT, Ann has had a career long interest in how pupils learn to read and spell and In October 2019 her ‘Phonics for Pupils with Special Educational Needs’ programme was published by Routledge.

6. Using a technology based approach to interview children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to help us better understand their special provision 

Dr. Teresa Thornton, National Educational Psychological Service, Ireland

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This presentation explored the use of Minecraft™ as a tool for eliciting the views of young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). With international perspectives on the rights of children to have their voices heard, and the methodological challenges faced when interviewing children with ASD, due to social and communicative difficulties, there is an emphasis on developing appropriate techniques for facilitating conversations with these children. The presentation explores the approach Teresa has developed, the Minecraft Mediated Semi-Structured Interview (MMSSI) approach, to ascertain the views and experiences of young people with ASD about their educational provision, in a special ASD class placement in Ireland. It included a report on the research findings and demonstrated the potential MMSSI has as a process to enable participant voice and explore the views of young people. The presentation concluded by exploring the implications for educational psychologists in their daily work.

Teresa is a Chartered Educational Psychologist with the National Educational Psychological Service in Ireland for the last nine years. She recently completed her Doctorate in Educational Psychology in University College London where her research focused on the use of Minecraft™ as an interview technique with young people with ASD. She has also researched the use of iPad® interventions to teach communication and literacy skills to children and technology-based assessment approaches.

7. Digital Well-being Embedded in Mindfulness Practice (2 sessions available)

Gemma Barton, Director, Mind Train CIC

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This workshop explored how we engage with technology and how mindfulness can be used to help children and young people to overcome some of the challenges associated with living in the digital-age. We experienced elements of mindfulness practice: training the attention; present moment awareness; non-judgement and letting go, and discuss how they can enable children & young people to survive and thrive in the context of the digital world.

Gemma Barton is a part-time primary school teacher and director of Mind Train CIC with experience of working in the video-game industry. She is trained to teach mindfulness as part of the Mindfulness in Schools Project, and she supports children, families and businesses around ‘Digital Well-being’ or using screens in a healthy way. With the support of ‘Well Skelmersdale’ (part of the Well North Initiative) and Edge Hill University she is currently developing a ‘Digital Well-being embedded in Mindfulness Practice’ course that will be piloted in the next academic year. The 8-week course aims to support children and their parents in using technology positively and mindfully to enhance wellbeing and overcome the challenges associated with inappropriate use.

8. Social media use, 'Fear of Missing Out' (FOMO) & primary school children

Peter D’Lima, Educational Psychologist in Training, Cardiff University

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This seminar discussed a research study conducted with 100 primary-aged children in a Welsh urban local authority regarding social media use and ‘Fear of Missing Out’ (FOMO). FOMO is defined by a ‘pervasive apprehension that others might be having more rewarding experiences from which one is absent’ (Przybylski, Murayama, DeHaan, & Gladwell, 2013, p. 1). This study marks the first time that FOMO has been explored with this age-group and provides an interesting exploration of the psychological and social processes that underpin social media engagement in the digital age. The outcomes from this study result in a strong argument for more in-depth, psychologically informed e-safety curricula targeted at primary age pupils with content that addresses peer pressure, self-worth, and online interactions with strangers.

Peter D'Lima is an educational psychologist in training currently completing his doctorate at Cardiff University and working with children and young people (CYP) in the Wirral. He is passionate about working systemically to promote positive change for CYP at home and in schools.

9. 'Social media can affect wellbeing both negatively and positively' 

Leanne Pasdari, Educational Psychologist in Training, Sheffield University

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This seminar explored, using Q methodology, the experiences of adolescents on social media. As a result a social media screening tool has been developed which was shared at the conference for delegates to try out.

Leanne Pasdari is an educational psychologist in training currently completing her doctorate at The University of Sheffield and on placement in Trafford. Before training, Leanne was a SENCO and specialist teacher for children with ASC/Specific Language Impairments. Leanne became interested in Social Media and adolescent mental health due to the many discussions in schools and mainstream media regarding the negative impact using social media has on adolescent wellbeing.


Scanning Pens 

Scanning Pens is the global distributor for the C-Pen. As a leading Assistive Technology supplier for over 15 years, we combine our expert knowledge with years of experience in the dyslexia field to develop solutions for individuals, educational institutions and commercial organisations helping people with reading difficulties such as dyslexia. Give students the confidence to read independently in and out of their exams! Find out about the success of the ExamReader & ReaderPen saving money and resources alongside increasing grades. We offer all schools and colleges free 30 day trials of our pens so they can see the benefits themselves!

Crick Software Ltd

Crick Software creates award-winning literacy software for children of all abilities.

The company's best-known product, Clicker, is used in thousands of UK primary schools. The latest version, Clicker 7, provides pupils with personalised support throughout the writing process - from planning, to writing, to proofing!

The company has also created DocsPlus, an innovative word processor for struggling writers in secondary school.

Using iPads or Chromebooks? Take a look at Crick’s popular range of literacy apps!


Special iApps C.I.C.

Award-Winning Educational Apps for Early Years & SEN

At Special iApps, we develop educational apps to support children in early years as well as those who have Special Educational Needs from preschool to adulthood. Our apps are used by schools, parents, health care professionals and therapists to help aid children's learning and development.

  • Supporting speech & language, literacy and numeracy
  • Improving working memory and fine motor skills.

Find out more by visiting our website:


One Goal

One Goal work in partnership with primary schools to improve their Health and Wellbeing outcomes with the aim of helping children be happy, healthy and inspired.

Having worked in over 350 primary schools since 2010 we have come to understand the challenges that most schools are facing as they do their utmost best to deal with the rise of mental health and wellbeing issues that affect their children.

One Day launches and Teacher Resources are available for all schools around Resilience and Self Esteem which have been hugely popular with schools this year.


Pearson Clinical Assessment

Pearson Clinical Assessment has a long history of supporting psychology and allied health professionals working collaboratively to support your clients of all ages. We recognise the challenges you face as you work together to identify areas where individuals are experiencing difficulties. You can depend on our evidence-based, psychometrically robust assessments to help you support them in achieving meaningful, rewarding lives. Our portfolio includes assessments and interventions that focus on ability and achievement, cognition and memory, executive function, mental health and more. Our new digital options via Q-interactive and Q-global offer time-saving solutions that will cut down on administration, scoring and reporting so you can and spend more time with your clients. For more information please visit


Talking Mats

Talking Mats is a visual approach/tool which can help children and young people to actively participate and make their voices heard in a variety of situations, including SEND/EHC Planning. 

We offer training courses across the UK and resource packs to support implementation of the Talking Mats approach.  Please take a look at our website at to find out more, or email Laura Holmes (Talking Mats North-West Associate) at [email protected] with any queries/requests for further information.


  Into Film

Into Film’s aim is to put film at the heart of the educational, cultural and personal development of all children and young people aged 5 - 19 in the UK. Over half of UK state schools engage with our free offer of Into Film Clubs, classroom resources, special cinema screenings, in-school visits (by industry professionals), competitions, workshops and CPD and other training to support schools and educators. This provides 5–19 year olds with unparalleled opportunities to learn about and with film, and develop a passion for cinema.