About Us

We are a unique network of specialists who bring evidence-based knowledge and professional skills to people and places. We came together to form Special Networks because of our shared frustrations at the increasingly fractured nature of support being offered to children and young people loosely classified as requiring special educational support.

Special Networks came to life in early 2019 after several years of connecting and providing professional support to each other. Our research psychologist, Jamie and Clare W first worked together as part of a local authority autism outreach team, where Clare A was a dyslexia specialist and SENCO.

Clare A went on to build her own support team in an independent secondary school, bringing with her Clare W (Speech and Language), Judy (Occupational Therapy) and Elizabeth (Educational Psychologist)

Flossie and Clare W share a background in Speech and Language Therapy. They connected over joint supervision over the years after moving from the state to independent sector. They agreed on the importance of teamwork and the need for an established network.

Our strength as a team is that we are multi-disciplinary. We bring together years of experience and a passion for improving the lives of children and adults who are ‘different’. Our network continues to grow beyond our founder members but our goals remain the same, to offer simple, sustainable support to those who need it.

Our Team

Clare Ward

Clare Ward specialises in support for young people who find the social world difficult to manage. Having qualified as a Speech and Language Therapist in 1995 she went on to train in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Third Wave approaches and now holds BPS accredited certificates in CBT for Children and Adolescents as well as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

As well as many years working in local authority special schools, she has also developed and run nationwide SEND teacher training, worked as a Specialist Social Worker NHS Team Manager, carried out research into the needs of learning disabled children for Islington Council, provided autism outreach in primary and secondary schools and managed social support groups for adults with autism.  She currently works in secondary schools and with individual young people online.

Along with James Galpin she is a co-author of ‘The Anxiety Workbook for Supporting Teens Who Learn Differently’ for secondary school teachers and parents due for publication in April 2021. She is a member of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, the Association for Contextual Behavioural Science and is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.

Judy Courtney

Judy is a Specialist Occupational Therapist. After qualifying in 1984, she worked in mental health for a number of years before moving into paediatrics. She has worked within the NHS as part of multidisciplinary therapy teams providing a service for SEND children in both mainstream and special schools, further education colleges and within the home. For the last five years, she has worked independently in schools advising staff and parents to understand how they can help children with complex needs overcome some of their challenges. Judy is experienced in supporting children with developmental coordination difficulties (dyspraxia), poor core stability, sensory processing difficulties, autism, chronic fatigue and other complex physical needs. Her focus is on increasing their level of confidence, concentration and independence in carrying out functional tasks such as handwriting, participation in sport and self-help skills. Judy is a member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and the Health Care Professionals Council.

Flossie Fairbairn

Flossie qualified from University College London in 2006 and has extensive experience with the paediatric population. At the end of 2019 she completed an MSc in Speech Language and Communication Needs in Schools, Advanced Practice. Flossie has worked in a range of NHS settings over 10 years including community under 5’s paediatric clinics and paediatric, complex needs.  Flossie continues to work privately with paediatric clients with a range of needs including, autistic spectrum condition (ASC), developmental language disorder (DLD), language delay, phonological and stammering difficulties.   She has extensive experience in designing  speech and language provision for mainstream primary schools, working collaboratively with key staff. Flossie frequently provides support to individuals requiring Education, Health and Care needs assessments and can also participate as a witness at SEND Tribunal proceedings.

Flossie’s mission is to develop the skills of   parents and education staff, to help children in achieving meaningful communication outcomes.   She is a registered member of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and the Health and Care Professions Council

Jamie Galpin

Jamie is a Developmental Psychologist who, since 2000 has been working with children and young people with SEN, their families and school staff who support them. Whilst he completed his Master’s degree in Child Development he worked as an SEN teacher. His interest in the practical applications of research then led him to complete a Master’s in Research in Education. Jamie went on to complete his PhD in Developmental Psychology where his research focus was on emotion in children’s drawings and the relationship between language, emotion and drawing. His current research focuses on practical, effective interventions for children and young people with SEND – the development of practice-based evidence. Within this the relationship between sensory differences, anxiety and managing uncertainty is an especial focus for his work. Alongside his practice-based research he delivers training to education professionals in school settings as well as neurodiversity awareness sessions for organisations within the entertainment and leisure sector. Jamie also works as a Senior Teaching Fellow in Psychology at University College London and as an Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths University. In this capacity he delivers initial teacher training, supervises postgraduate students and lectures on autism, SEN more broadly and behaviour. He is a Chartered Psychologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

Elizabeth Gillies

Elizabeth is an Educational Psychologist (EP) who has worked in schools and organisations at the individual, group and systems level for 30 years. She is a registered Psychologist with the HCPC, is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and is on the BPS Register of Applied Practice Supervisors (RAPPS). She has completed a Master Practitioner Diploma in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and has extensive experience of Third Wave approaches, especially Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).  She is Co-chair for the UK Affiliate of a worldwide organization, Families in Global Transition. (FIGT)

In addition to working as an EP in England, she has been fortunate to live, work and raise her family in America, Japan and Australia. Unsurprisingly, she is interested in the challenges and supports during any transition. She enjoys the balance of working individually with young people and their families addressing issues, such as anxiety, and developing programmes to support whole school communities.

Her published work centres on solution focused and strength-based relationships.

Clare Alexander

SENCO and dyslexia specialist teacher for primary and secondary aged children with specific learning difficulties. Special interest: vocabulary development.