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Meet our new SENCo

Poppy Laila

We are delighted to welcome Poppy Laila as our Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo). We discover more about her in this short Q&A.

Poppy carries vast experience in post 16 years education, and has a passion for supporting learners with a variety of special educational needs.

Hi Poppy - How did you become interested in helping learners with additional learning needs?

It was following my early experiences really.

I came to live in the UK when I was seven years old, and therefore missed out on some of my early years education. As an EAL (English as an additional language) learner I struggled and had TA support for most of my primary/secondary education.

My parents were not familiar with the SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) and ALS (Additional Learning Support) process, so were unable to access the full support that was available to me.

Fortunately I was able to persevere and ultimately get to university, but having experienced difficulties with my additional learning needs made me want to help others that were in similar situations.

Learning should be accessible to all and being in a position to help aid those with additional needs gives me great purpose.

Why did you decide to come to Kaplan?

I’ve been supporting students with SEND for the past nine years.

I started as a TA (Teaching Assistant) in the FE (Further Education) sector and then completed my PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education) and have taught in the SEND department for the past five years. This enabled me to explore and progress my career to other roles, while still supporting students with additional learning needs.

I was responsible for coordinating qualifications such as Pearsons, Prince’s Trust and NOCN. I then landed my role as SENCo where I supported students with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

My role as SENCo was in conjunction with my role as a teacher so I was spread thin and felt supporting learners with additional needs became a secondary task. Being a SENCo should not be an additional role.

So I’m grateful that Kaplan has given me the opportunity to support learning as a full time priority, rather than a box ticking exercise.

Being the first ever SENCo at Kaplan is a great milestone in my career and an exciting opportunity. I can now draw on my prior experience, skills and knowledge to help support and aid learning for those with additional learning needs.

I want my contributions to facilitate learners’ autonomy and independence, in their learning and their work placements.

Fantastic! How will you support learners at Kaplan?

I will work alongside my Kaplan colleagues and the exam centres to make sure the correct provisions and interventions are in place.

In order to make learning as inclusive as possible and break any barriers that may be an obstacle to their learning and achievement, I also aim to work closely with the learners and regularly monitor and review their progress.

I will run training sessions for Talent Coaches and tutors so that they have the skills and knowledge on additional learning needs too.

Finally, I will be actively involved in the ALS policy process and guidelines for both staff and clients. In order to make sure all avenues are being accessed, so the learners have the support they need, I will also help collate evidence for ALS funding where appropriate.

And finally, how can learners with support needs contact you?

Once I have the knowledge of the learners’ additional needs, I will aim to make contact with them ASAP. Learners will be able to email me or call me when they require support.

For learners with a support plan, I will be contacting them every six weeks to monitor their progress. However, they are welcome to email me whenever the need arises at

For apprentices, the Talent Coach, HR manager and line manager will also be copied into the emails so that all relevant parties are notified and kept up to date.

Need support? Find out how we can help you with your learning needs.