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Actor and writer Sally Phillips to speak at FestABLE

Award-winning writer and actor Sally Phillips will speak at the UK’s first national festival dedicated to specialist learning

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Award-winning writer and actor Sally Phillips will speak at the UK’s first national festival dedicated to specialist learning

National Star college has announced one of the speakers for its inaugral FestABLE festival.

Phillips was one-third of all-female comedy troupe Smack the Pony and a leading actor in sitcom Miranda and the hugely popular Bridget Jones movie trilogy.

Her son Olly has Down’s Syndrome and she fronted the groundbreaking BBC documentary A World Without Down’s Syndrome? exploring the ethics of pregnancy screening. She is set to deliver one of the keynote sessions at FestABLE, a one-day event bringing together professionals, parents and young people together to tackle the big issues facing young people with disabilities and learning difficulties.

'Momentous' day

David Ellis, chief executive of National Star – the independent specialist further education college in Cheltenham that is hosting the festival – said the event will be a chance to talk about what is challenging in the sector.

“There is a growing desire to talk about what will work better for young people with disabilities and learning difficulties and how all of us – professionals, parents and the young people – can make difficult things possible," he said.

“Ms Phillips’ appearance will be profoundly important, not only to the hundreds in the audience at FestABLE, but also to hundreds of thousands of people around the country who care passionately about education for children and young people with disabilities and special needs.

“Her personal experiences speak for all of us in some way, and at the end of a momentous day at this inaugural event, her humour and compassion will be of immense value as we take forward the ideas and inspiration we have shared.”

The themes of the event include SEND reform, the Children and Families Act and attendees will consider whether services and systems count more than choice and aspirations. Dame Christine Lenehan, author of the These Are Our Children review, will lead speakers who are experts in a range of subjects from building a SEND workforce to the latest assistive technology.

National Star, which has a fully-accessible campus outside Cheltenham, is holding the event on Saturday 2 June. Tes is the official media partner. 

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