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On Wednesday 23 November, Philippa Stobbs gave a valedictory address to delegates in parliament, marking her retirement after working at the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) and the National Children's Bureau for more than 32 years.
The parliamentary address provided an opportunity to hear Philippa's reflections on developments in Special Educational Needs (SEN) and disability, and inclusion over recent decades and her insights into what needs to happen next.
Philippa has dedicated her entire career to improving outcomes for children with special educational needs and disabilities, having started as a teacher and inspector and then spent over three decades here at CDC. Philippa is a prolific, powerful advocate for children with SEN and disabilities and it’s hard to imagine how anyone could have made more of a difference to the SEN and disability community; she continues to be an inspiration to the entire sector.
Philippa has accomplished so much in her career and this has been acknowledged within the sector, most notably, when she was awarded the prestigious 'Person of the Year' award from nasen. Her achievements and contributions are unequivocal. Below we list highlights of the work that Philippa has played a key role in.
The Special Educational Consortium (SEC): In 1992, Philippa set up the SEC to create a national campaign and lobbying voice for the disabled children’s sector. Under Philippa’s guidance and leadership, SEC brought about a number of important changes to the Children and Families Act in 2014, including the application of the legal framework to young people in custody, and stronger duties on health and social care services.
The Early Years SEND Partnership (EYSEND): Philippa directed the EYSEND partnership, a national programme supporting professionals and parents with training, resources, and an approach to sharing learning, with the aim to increase access and inclusion in early years for children with SEN and disabilities.
Philippa helped to establish and develop parent partnership services - now known as the Information, Advice and Support Services Network.
Philippa is the national coordinator for England in the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education.
The Council for Disabled Children would like to thank Philippa for her hard work and dedication during her career. Philippa has worked tirelessly to campaign and effect policy change at a local and national level to improve life chances and outcomes for children and young people with SEN and disability. Philippa has made such a difference and we are grateful that she chose to spend over 30 years working with us.
Philippa has made an unparalleled contribution to the lives of children with SEN and disabilities in her 32 years at NCB. Her detailed knowledge, her forensic use of evidence and her absolute passion that children with SEN and disabilities should get the very best out of education and learning has meant she has dedicated her time to making a difference. This difference can be felt nationally by leading policy on Special Educational Consortium and working with the Government as a professional advisor, and locally, working with numerous Local Authorities, schools and early years settings to make a practical and evidenced change.
Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children