Pearl Barnes

Pearl Barnes - MA(SEN), BSc(Hons), PGCE, PGCertEd, CPT3A

Founder and Executive Director

Past President of NASEN

Pearl is a highly experienced and regarded specialist teacher, SEND consultant and writer whose uniquely wide and varied educational career spans over 24 years. She has worked across both the maintained and independent sectors, in addition to special school environments. Her experience is extensive, both at a local and national level, shaping and advising upon SEND provision in addition to offering professional development relating to a range of specific areas within Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

Her teaching career began as a mainstream teacher but soon specialised in Special Educational Needs, studying for a Masters in SEN through Rolle College, Plymouth University, whilst teaching at a Special School for children with complex needs.

Her career developed with her specialism in specific learning needs and she went on to work initially as a SENCO and specialist teacher, progressing to become a Local Authority Consultant and Regional Trainer, a Head of Learning Support, and, more recently, as Head of Education within a multi-disciplinary specialist centre for children with complex learning needs and physical disabilities.

Pearl has extensive experience of working with pupils with specific learning needs including: dyslexia, dyspraxia/DCD, dyscalculia and other co-occurring difficulties, such as autism. She became interested in multi-disciplinary working and has researched multi-disciplinary assessment and intervention. Her expertise is particularly unique having developed a specialism in the overlapping and co-occurrence of specific learning difficulties enabling her assessments to be holistic and informative.

An important feature of Pearl’s experience is her commitment to improving outcomes for children and young people with SEND, which led to her involvement within the voluntary sector as Vice-President and President of NASEN, the only national charity overseeing all special educational needs and disabilities. She was tasked with working closely with central government and other national charities and organisations, to develop SEND policy; as a result, she delivered a number of influential keynote addresses in Northern Ireland, Bristol, Westminster and Central London. As the Chair of the charity, she was also responsible for managing the Advisory Board, a dedicated and highly experienced group of professionals from across the country, the Board of Trustees, and the training board overseeing the development of new training material for SENCOs.

As a member of the Expert Inclusion Panel at the Department for Education, Pearl is called upon to provide advice regarding accessibility issues relating to Communication and Interaction Needs, Autism Spectrum Conditions and general SEND. She is additionally the SEND and Safeguarding Governor at a local Secondary Academy. She is qualified, through the British Psychological Society (BPS) and Psychological Testing Centre (PTC), to conduct diagnostic assessments in line with current JCQ Regulations, PATOSS and BDA guidance.

Honours and awards:

Pearl was honoured to have her services to children recognised by the Prime Minister in 2009, when she was invited to a special Reception at No. 10, Downing Street.

Pearl has an enhanced DBS certificate.

Find out more about Pearl:

Education and Training:

  • - Certificate of Competence in Psychometric Testing, Assessment and Access Arrangements (CPT3A)
    - 2009: Real Training endorsed by Dyslexia Action. Entered on the Register of Competence in Psychological Testing, British Psychological Society/Psychological Testing Centre as an accredited specialist assessor for specific learning difficulties and access arrangements.

  • - PGCert Ed Post-graduate Certificate in Early Mathematical Development (dyscalculia)
    - 2008: Edge Hill University

  • - MA(Ed) Special interest in Special Educational Needs
    - 2005: University of Plymouth

  • - P.G.C.E. Mathematics
    - 1993: St. Luke's, University of Exeter

  • - BSc(Hons) Biomolecular Science (Biophysical Chemistry)
    - 1986: University of Portsmouth

Expert Profile Summary:

  • - Pearl is the SEND and Safeguarding Governor at a local large Secondary Academy:

  • - Member of the Expert Inclusion Panel at the Department for Education Standard Testing Agency (STA):

  • - President, Director and Chair of the board of trustees, NASEN (National Association of Special Educational Needs):

  • - Pearl has been an Expert Witness for the Public Accounts Select Committee in 2011, giving advice and information relating to young people with SEN/D

  • - "Meet the expert" interview with Pearson; an international publishing company: More

  • - Member of the DCD Consensus Group, a multidisciplinary group consisting of international professionals to decide upon the diagnostic criteria for developmental co-ordination disorder for the DSMV:

  • - Vice-President of NASEN:

  • - NASEN Specialist Advisory Group:

  • - Royal Society of Medicine (RSM): Pearl worked with Senior Clinicians to deliver multidisciplinary training for clinicians and educationalists nationally:

  • - Educational Representative for the Children's Emotional Wellbeing Group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists:

  • - Pearl worked on the 'Changing Minds' campaign, the National Service Framework and developed national training information for teachers:

Published Works: