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Cliff Warwick started his career teaching young people with learning difficulties, many of whom were disaffected, in inner city comprehensive schools and became a Head of Special Needs and SENCo in a Cardiff comprehensive. He then worked as a Teacher-Adviser supporting the inclusion of pupils with SEN in the city’s primary and secondary schools. During which time he worked with primary schools to establish home paired-reading schemes.

Cliff later became a deputy headteacher of a large 2-19 years London Special School with discrete provisions for children and young people with severe learning difficulties, autistic spectrum disorders, speech and language disorders as well as a (then) unique provision for children who were ‘deaf-blind’ or multi-sensory impaired. He worked with a voluntary sector organisation to establish regional residential provision for multi-sensory impaired pupils.

As County Adviser for SEN in Swansea, which then was the authority with the lowest proportion of pupils in special schools, he was responsible for a range of training and support services and the county’s Education Otherwise provision. They extended the range of alternative education beyond the PRUs to ensure continued engagement of young disengaged people.

As a service they developed an infrastructure of accredited training for mainstream teachers and support staff, which provided a range of training routes from introductory courses through to masters degree level. They also pioneered the first authority wide ‘Dyslexia Friendly School’ initiative in partnership with parents and voluntary sector associations. This was recognised by the then Secretary of State for Education (England) as a model for all authorities to follow. During this time Cliff worked as part of several European networks to create a European vision and understanding of best practice in inclusive education. He also became an Estyn Registered Inspector for SEN/ALN.

Later as headteacher of a large all-age Special School in Caerphilly for pupils with severe and complex needs Cliff worked to establish the authority’s vision of a special school providing support and outreach to families and supporting inclusion in the community and mainstream schools. They established all-year-round youth and play services, a specialist service for pupils with autistic spectrum disorders in mainstream. In partnership with a range of third sector organisations they developed vocational training and job-coaching support to facilitate transition from school to employment for those with severe learning disabilities.

He was appointed to the Wales Education Minister’s Advisory Group and was later seconded to the Welsh Government to lead the developmental phase of the reform of SEN/ALN legislation and in particular the development of the concept of Individual Development Plans.  Following the secondment, he worked as a mentor and academic tutor with Cardiff University on the Welsh Government’s Masters in Education in Practice (MEP) for newly qualified teachers.