Philippa Stobbs

Assistant Director: Education

Philippa is our resident expert on disability and special educational needs leading our work on education and equality and oversees the Special Educational Consortium.

Over the last 30 years she has played an integral role in crafting, challenging and championing education policy through her various roles both in the public and voluntary sector. She has held a wide range of responsibilities and has seen education from every angle, working with children, families, teachers, local authorities, national government, a wide range of voluntary organisations and with Parliament.

A trained teacher and occupational therapist with a Masters in the education of children with special needs, she began her career working in mainstream and special schools, and became an advisory teacher, then an inspector for the Inner London Education Authority.

She joined CDC in 1990 with a brief to develop joint training for parents, teachers and local authority officers, jointly planned, delivered and evaluated. Two years later she set up the Special Educational Consortium to create a national campaign and lobbying voice for the disabled children’s sector and set about helping to establish and develop parent partnership services (now known as Information, Advice and Support services). Her role developed rapidly and she took on a wide range of responsibilities: working in Parliament during the passage of legislation; reviewing inclusion in one of our most inclusive local authorities; writing, as principal author of the Code of Practice setting out schools’ duties when the Disability Discrimination Act was extended to include education; working with the then Training and Development Agency for Schools to develop materials to support initial teacher training on SEN and disability; leading a national training programme in early years following the introduction of new duties in the Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Act and the SEN and Disability Act, her early years booklet on the DDA was a ‘best seller’; recently working with 4Children on the development of an early years toolkit on SEN and disability; advising on inclusive early years work in Europe; and currently working as part of the team providing support to the DfE as strategic reform partner. 

In 2008 she was seconded to the Department for Education for 2 years as professional advisor on SEN and disability where she managed the Lamb Inquiry, developed the Progression Guidance and negotiated a duty for Ofsted to report on the quality of SEN provision in inspection.

Philippa’s unique insight and extensive experience is reflected through her prolific writing. She has made extensive contributions to the drafting of guidance and Codes of Practice and has amassed a series of essential guides, training programmes and toolkits for frontline staff.  She particularly enjoys making sense of complex legislation for practitioners and translating it into practical action.

Never to be accused of having nothing to do, Philippa is also a trustee of an autism charity and is Chair of Governors of a non-maintained special school.

Despite the privilege of seeing some of the most brilliant inclusive practice, at every level of the service, I am driven by a burning sense of injustice about the discrimination still faced by disabled children. Throughout my career I have made it my personal mission to change the values of the education system to ensure that where children with learning difficulties make good progress and secure good outcomes, we prize these as highly as the outcomes that bring academic glory to our schools.