Issued on behalf of Berkshire West CCG, Special United & Brighter Futures for Children

Ten young Reading people with autism and/or additional needs feature in a new training video to help school teachers and other professionals better understand pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

The stars of the short film explain in their own words what schools and other professionals could do to improve life for young people with additional needs.

The video is a collaboration between Special United, Reading’s SEND youth forum, which is part of Reading Families’ Forum; Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC).

A full-length version of the film featuring Angel, Ash, Casie, Grace, Harry, Jacob, Zimal, Zion, Zoe and Zoya, will be available to schools alongside an offer of specialist training from the Autism Education Trust, and with bitesize clips which focus on the areas of:

  • How to make your school more accessible
  • How to help us thrive at school
  • How to help other students understand our needs
  • How people outside of school can support us
  • How to support our further education and careers

The videos may also be used as learning resources in other public and voluntary bodies. They are available on YouTube for professionals to watch and to learn a little more about young people with SEND.

Ramona Bridgman, Chair of Reading Families’ Forum, said: “Reading Families’ Forum is immensely proud of all the young people who attend Special United. This video is a credit to their dedication to improving services for other young people.”

Berkshire West CCG financed the making of the video.

Niki Cartwright, Interim Director of Joint Commissioning at Berkshire West CCG, said: “Berkshire West CCG is delighted to have been able to support this project. Understanding how to make school more accessible for young people with additional needs is vital to allow them the opportunity to thrive as they grow, and tools such as this video are invaluable in the effort to provide an even footing for all school children.”

The project is part of a growth approach to autism adopted in Reading in response to an increasing number of autistic children and young people in the borough. It aims to improve their experiences in education and with other public services. You can find out more on the BFfC website. (

BFfC, which helped with the co-ordination and publicity of the project, operates a local Autism Education Trust (AET) hub which offers specialist training to early years, schools and post-16 settings. It’s education experts who have become AET lead trainers will also be running courses for other public and voluntary bodies in Reading in 2022.

Di Smith, Board Chair at Brighter Futures for Children, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with Special United and Berkshire West CCG to spread the message that autism is a difference, not a deficit.

“The brilliant Special United video perfectly complements our growth approach to autism in Reading and will be an invaluable training tool for schools and other public and voluntary organisations.

“Our partnership with the Autism Education Trust will give staff working in public services and organisations in Reading access to high quality training which in turn will lead to more positive experiences for children and young people with autism.”

The full-length video and short version can be viewed on the BFfC You Tube channel.


  • Special United is a youth forum for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) and their siblings aged eight to 25 within Reading borough.
  • Berkshire West CCG is responsible for commissioning NHS services for its population of 550,000 people, which includes those provided by Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and services provided by GP practices.
  • Brighter Futures for Children is a not-for-profit company, owned by, but independent of, Reading Borough Council which is responsible for delivering children’s social care, early help and education services in Reading.
  • Shuut, which produced the film, is a small video production company with a strong track record of working with public sector and voluntary organisations.