Who is Willow?

Lorraine Payne is the owner of Willow and the main consultant 

She has worked in education for 35 years.

For the last 17 years she has been a SENDCo in state and independent schools with her last role as Head of Academic and Learning Support for ages 3-18.

Initially supporting students with SpLD, social skills, study skills, and exam strategy, her specialism has developed into supporting students with ADHD, ASC and SEMH. She has recently completed a Master’s degree in SEND with a research project on Equipping parents to support children's mental wellbeing.

Lorraine has also worked as an Educational Consultant on the autism team of SEND Supported and is part of the EOTAS (Education Other Than At School) package for 3 young people through the local authority.

Lorraine is qualified to work with The Decider Skills which teach distilled Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Dialetical Behaviour Therapy.

She is trained in the use of Social Stories and PACE and has completed a Diploma in Hypnotherapy and Introduction to Counselling Skills.

Qualifications: Higher Diploma in Education, BA (Hons), Post Graduate Diploma in SEND including CPT3A for assessment and access arrangements.  MA ED SEND.   Diploma in Hypnotherapy and Introduction to Counselling Skills.  
Registered with the British Psychological Society - Membership Number : RQTU 334294

Tim Lee – Teacher and Mentor

Born in South Africa, Tim trained in Primary Education. He has worked with children and adults as a teacher, headteacher, coach and mentor; and in Adult Education and Training as a Training Manager in the business sector.

Teaching is Tim’s passion. He taught in South Africa and Botswana before moving to the U.K. in 1998 to take up a role as Headteacher of a primary school.

Leading three schools in England and an independent school the Middle East, he has embraced the individuality of students and their families, valued the co-operation of agencies and support services, and respected the differing needs and circumstances of everyone with whom he has been privileged to engage.

Qualifications: Higher Diploma in Education, National Professional Qualification in Headship.

Carolyn Seymour  - Consultant and Advocate

I can support parents with:

-understanding what to expect throughout the EHCP application process
- making a request to assess for an EHCP
- proof reading draft EHCPs for compliance
- navigating the world of appeals
- helping put a timeline together to show a child's journey through the SEND system
- reading professionals' reports
- understanding what the school is saying by cutting through the jargon
- attending meetings with schools to help them support the young person in their setting.

I have worked in Primary education for a total of 26 years; 16 as a class teacher from EYFS to Y6; 18 in a senior leadership role; 7 as the Headteacher of a large primary school in inner city Birmingham. Whilst I was able to fight for the funding and appropriate provision for the children at my school, I had to leave my role to support my own neurodivergent children and fight for what they needed to be able to access suitable education. I have recently completed IPSEA (Independent Provider of Special Education Advice) - Levels 1, 2 and 3.

As a Head Teacher and SEND parent, my journey in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) has given me a well-rounded view of the education landscape. From steering schools as a leader to championing the needs of my own children, I've gained insights into making education inclusive, supportive and nurturing. Navigating both sides of the education spectrum, I've seen first hand the challenges faced by schools, parents and neurodivergent young people. I understand how relationships can break down between families and school leaders, and I know the stresses faced by both sides. I bring a mix of professional expertise and personal commitment to improving the educational experience for all.

As a parent, I have lived through the EHCP process twice, including appealing to a tribunal. I understand about children that can't flourish at school, and those that mask their true selves and try to fit in with their peers' and teachers' expectations. I have experienced, from both sides, what happens when a child's mask slips and they simply can't go anymore. For some schools, a child's struggles are a genuine surprise. A child who is masking is actively working on not standing out, on not drawing attention to themselves, and so when it finally becomes too much, the school may struggle to understand what has caused this sudden meltdown, or shutdown. Parents who have been living with the impact of their child's masking for years, will often be frustrated by the school's lack of pace and urgency in putting in support.

This is when relationships can suffer. Conversations that should be supportive, become arguments about attendance and parenting, rather than what can (and should) be done to help the young person. Both school leaders and parents often lack an understanding of what the law around SEND is. Many don't know what duties are on a Local Authority in these situations, and Alternative Provision is frequently misunderstood and not even discussed. School leaders don't know what has gone wrong or how to "fix it"; scared parents can't physically force their traumatised children into school. Pressure builds, and nobody wins.

At a time when the professionals should be helping, they are often taking actions which are counter-productive, not because they are unkind, but because they don't know any better. If I hadn't lived through the last 15 years, I might have not understood the difficulties faced by the neurodiverse, or the impact of masking. I would have assumed that children should just go to school, and that parents should just be able to get them there. The reality, of course, is very different!

Jo Harper:  Tutor and Mentor

Jo has worked in education for 14 years, teaching and supporting students from 3 to 18 years-old in a range of subjects, including mathematics, English, French, Chinese, as well as conservation education.  Mainly supporting students with dyslexia, dyscalculia, autism and deafness, she has also supported students whose anxiety and poor mental health may be interfering with their education and learning.  She was a youth mental health mentor for the charity, LifeSpace for over five years.

So many factors can adversely affect our learning, whether it be specific learning difficulties, anxiety, lack of confidence, tiredness or external events. Too often, these factors can obscure other talents and limit progress.  Like other Willow consultants, Jo believes in looking at every child holistically, to work alongside them, to listen and to discover the best ways for them to learn and build confidence in themselves. Unique perspectives and non-conformist thinking can enhance the learning process, but only if they are discovered and nurtured.  Individual support can help students realise their full potential by framing teaching and learning in a way that makes more sense to them.

While not involved in education, Jo loves to tramp through jungles and forests working and volunteering in wildlife conservation, including bees, bats, butterflies, dormice, hedgehogs, newts and toads, gibbons and pandas. Her most memorable moments were coming face-to-face with a large male orangutan in the Sabangau Forest in Borneo while tracking a family of gibbons, and holding her first sleepy dormouse. 

BA (Hons), MSocSc, MSc, Adv. Dip Overcoming Barriers to Mathematics, Certificate Fundamentals of Psychotherapy and Counselling, Youth Mental Health First Aider 

A growing team of Willow associates is made up of educators with years of experience working in schools with young people with additional needs.  We all have post graduate qualifications and we are committed to attending ongoing training.  

We are all DBS checked.

Are there any vacancies?

We welcome interest to join our team.  If you are passionate about making a difference in the lives of young people and their families, please email us with your CV.