PhD, MA, BA (Hons), Adv. Dip. SEN, Dip.NCTD, Dip. RD (Open)


Rona trained as a primary teacher and then as a teacher of the deaf. She has taught across the age range in state and independent, day and residential, mainstream and special schools.

She is a former head teacher and the first from a special school to become President of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT). She continues to be involved in their work, particularly in the field of SEND, representing the Association on a number of committees, including the National SEND Forum (NSENDF), the Joint Unions Meetings on SEN Issues, and the Special Education Consortium (SEC).

Rona has been a winner of the Leadership in Teaching Award, received an Outstanding Reviewer Award for her work on the International Journal of Educational Management and  has been awarded an OBE for her services to special needs education. She has an MA in Linguistics and a PhD in the education of children with autism.

In 2008, Rona was on the Expert Panel for the British Educational Suppliers Association’s (BESA) Policy Commission, chaired by the Rt Hon Charles Clarke MP, which was an investigation into the changing nature of education. In 2009, she was a member of the Westminster Education Commission chaired by Professor David Eastwood, Vice Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, which made recommendations on raising standards in the City of Westminster’s schools.

Rona has been on the Expert Reference Group for the Autism Education Trust (AET) since its inception. She served on the Expert Group for the Salt Review (2009-10) and was on the Steering Board for the DfE’s Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities (CLDD) Research Project (2009-11). With Professor Amanda Kirby, she was a module manager for the Complex Needs online training materials (www.complexneeds.org.uk). In the same year, she joined with Professor Barry Carpenter and Professor Francesca Happe to establish the National Forum for Neuroscience and Special Education (NFNSE), which aims to bring together those who understand how children learn with those who are involved in teaching. The Forum is hosted on NAHT’s website (www.naht.org.uk/welcome/news-and-media/key-topics/special-education-needs/national-forum-for-neuroscience).

Since moving on from headship, Rona has written and co-authored a number of books and written a succession of articles. Further details of these are given in the Books section of this website and in the section on Other Publications. She has been in constant demand to speak at conferences and other events. During 2015/16, in addition to her ongoing work, Rona was invited to:

Join a newly formed group instigated by nasen and concerned with autism in girls  
Become the Interim Chair of Hertfordshire’s All Age Autism Partnership Board, establishing the Board during its first year
Be a member of the Strategic Advisory Group established by the charity, KIDS, subsequently becoming their guidance writer for a DfE-funded project: Making it Personal: A Guide to Personalisation, Personal Budgets and Education, Health and Care Plans, which is available from www.kids.org.uk/mip3.

Rona is vice chair of governors at The Valley School for secondary aged pupils who have learning difficulties, autism and/ or speech, language & communication needs (SLCN); and at

Heathlands School, which is an all-age school for profoundly deaf pupils. Rona has been learning British Sign Language (BSL) and has reached level 3.

So far, Rona finds continuing to work in the field of special needs a greater draw than retirement!

With my 'Outstanding reviewer' award..


Very lively and engaging. Great PowerPoint! We laughed!

A brilliant overview of the subject,clarified terms and put things in perspective.