Successful learning conference 2024

Successful Learning Conference 2024

Building executive functions for student success
This popular annual conference focuses on issues and developments in the provision of quality education for students K–12, in particular, for students whom teachers are providing adjustments.

24 June 2024

This annual conference focuses on issues and developments in the provision of quality education for students K–12, in particular, for students whom teachers are providing adjustments. In 2024, we will be focusing on implementation of educational practices that are inclusive of students with a range of educational, social and emotional needs. The conference will engage with research outcomes that examine and demonstrate education practices that can be used with fidelity, and professional wisdom, across differing curriculum areas, and year levels.

Specific focus will be given to literacy and numeracy, communication and curriculum access, assessment and decision-making, behaviour and social skills, and technology.

Presentations and workshops will be given by teachers, consultants, community-based personnel and academics, from metropolitan and rural locations in NSW, interstate and overseas.


Participants may attend either the Conference or Masterclass as stand-alone events; both days (at a discounted price) or as part of the Educational Studies (Learning Support) Program, which comprises both days plus five additional workshops held on Thursday evenings (4.30–7.30pm) in August and September. Register to attend the days and modes of your choice by clicking on the applicable "Register" link in the table below:

Registration links and prices

  Fee ($)* In-person† Online by Zoom
Monday (Conference), June 24 only 330 Register Register
Tuesday (Masterclass), June 25 only 330 Not offered in person Register
Conference + Masterclass
(June 24 and 25)
550 Register Register
Educational Studies (Learning Support) Program
[Conference + Masterclass + 5 x workshops]
1500 Register Register

* Fees and registration are per person and are GST inclusive.

† The in-person option for the combination registrations in the table above refers only to the Conference Day, June 24. No in-person option is available for the Masterclass on June 25 or the Educational Studies (Learning Support) workshops. The capacity of the in-person attendance on June 24 is 45 registrants. In-person attendance will be held in the Education Building at The University of Sydney.


Learning is like climbing a mountain—it's challenging and takes effort, as learning should. But the way we "do school" creates barriers for students that makes the climb harder than it needs to be. Our requirements for students to sit still, to focus on one thing for a long time, to listen and remember verbal information and directions—are all rocks and boulders in students’ paths up the mountain.

These barriers affect students differently, as each student comes to the base of that mountain with different tools in their packs: some students naturally have pick axes and hiking poles to climb over those “sit still” boulders. Other students arrive with different tools: a shovel, a chisel… a snorkel. Those are great tools to have—they’re useful for digging, carving, and swimming—but they're not as helpful for traversing that “pay attention” barrier.

Teachers have the power and responsibility to reduce the impact of these barriers. Using tier-one supports creates a safety net to prevent barriers from crashing down in students’ paths.

In this keynote presentation, we will first identify the strengths and different needs of neurodivergent students and those who live with disability. Then we will examine barriers typical schooling creates, problematising the unexamined demands of school culture, and the ways these barriers impact different types of students. Finally, we will explore starting points for universal, tier-one strategies to support students’ executive functioning, language, and sensory needs.

Students are always going to come to school with different brains, different strengths, and skills. Thoughtful tier one supports can help teachers redesign classrooms to be places where “snorkel kids” can succeed alongside everyone else.

Dr Aaron Lanou

Aaron Lanou, Educational Consultant, Aaron Lanou Consulting, LLC, US

Aaron Lanou is an educational consultant supporting schools and organisations to reach all kids with inclusive, strengths-based practices. He coaches teachers and others to teach and support autistic students and all kids with a variety of academic, executive functioning, and social support needs. A member of Carol Gray’s Team Social Stories, Aaron also provides Social Stories workshops and collaborates with Carol and the team to continually update and refine the Social Stories philosophy and approach.

Through the lens of Universal Design for learning, Aaron works with educators to consider the kid in context, examining the environment, demands, and expectations as the starting point for helping students be successful in school. He specializes in helping teachers use clear and purposeful visual supports, focused graphic organisers, clarity and structure in instruction based on principles of learning and memory, and a range of executive functioning supports and other scaffolds. Committed to centering disabled perspectives, Aaron has learned from and alongside his students with disabilities and has collaborated frequently with autistic colleagues and presenters.

A former special education teacher, Aaron was previously Director of Professional Development and Executive Director of the Nest Support Project at New York University, leading the nation’s largest inclusion program for autistic students, the NYC Department of Education’s Nest Program. In his time at Nest, Aaron coordinated and provided professional development and consultation in Nest schools; oversaw the program’s expansion to more than 50 K–12 schools across New York City; developed the middle and high school model with a team of secondary educators; and led a three-year grant to adapt the Nest model in the city of Aarhus, Denmark. He went on to help develop the Path Program, an inclusion program for students with social-emotional support needs based on the Nest model, created by NYU and the NYC Department of Education.

Aaron has been adjunct faculty at Hunter College and NYU, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses on instructional methods for students with learning disabilities and teaching students with complex support needs.


Feature presentations

This presentation will examine the term ‘quality inclusive practice’ by drawing on policy, legislation, teacher professional standards, and literature in the areas of inclusive education, disability, and effective teaching. Educational practices that are responsive to student diversity (such as differentiation), and maximise opportunities for participation, engagement, and achievement for all students (such as the universal design for learning) will be presented with references to effective instruction. Additionally, practical tips will be provided on how to effectively implement and manage inclusive practices. Participants will be actively involved in the presentation through personal and collective reflection, identifying key points for implementing and enhancing quality inclusive practice in their specific context.

Dr Gemma Scarparolo

Gemma Scarparolo, , Deputy Head of School (Education/Teaching and Learning), and Senior Lecturer, Graduate School of Education, The University of Western Australia

Gemma coordinates two initial teacher education courses; the Bachelor of Education (Primary) (Honours), and the Master of Teaching (Primary) and coordinates and teaches core units on inclusion and diversity. She has been awarded two faculty awards for Excellence in Teaching in 2018 and 2020, two institutional awards for Excellence in Teaching in 2020 and 2022, and an Australian Award for University Teaching for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning in 2022.

Her research interests include inclusive education, inclusive teacher practices, the experiences of students with diverse needs, and the experiences and perspectives of their parents.

Gemma is a registered teacher with the Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia. She is an executive member of the Australian Teacher Education Association (2022–2025), on the editorial board for the Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs (2023 ongoing), and a reviewer for several peer-reviewed journals, including the Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education.

Providing access to and participation in education for all is an international challenge. The United Nations has provided insights into delivering quality inclusive education for all and in doing so notes the persistent challenges in achieving this goal. In 2024 these challenges continue to test educators at all levels.

Conceptualising quality inclusive education has been problematic, often due to limitations in how inclusive education is defined, if at all (Slee, 2020). As a result, educators may be given general principles or frameworks in which to inform the design of education programs. One framework that has been the centre of discussions of how to achieve the goals of inclusive education is the universal design for learning framework (Meyer et al., 2014).

The universal design for learning framework provides a way of thinking about education environments with specific reference to all learners within that environment. It challenges educators to consider how they design the learning rich environments for all through removing potential barriers. How this is achieved, or if it is achieved, can be mysterious.

This feature presentation seeks to provide an insight into how we may strengthen the use of the universal design for learning principles through utilising the evidence collected using the UDL Observation Measurement Tool (UDL-OMT; Basham et al., 2020). The presentation will use examples from research conducted by the University of Sydney in various settings, including secondary classrooms, to highlight the value of the UDL-OMT to inform decisions in designing learning environments for all. The presentation aims to provide delegates ‘food for thought’ in furthering their thinking about providing quality inclusive education for all through the lens of the universal design for learning framework. The presentation will touch on topics such as professional learning groups, tiered approaches to achieving the aims of inclusive education, curriculum adjustments, cognitive load and student voice.

Professor David Evans

David Evans, , Professor of Special and Inclusive Education, Sydney School of Education and Social Work, The University of Sydney

Over the past 30 years, David has worked with preservice and in-service teachers to support understanding of providing quality inclusive education in primary and secondary settings. His teaching is in inclusive curriculum and pedagogies, while his current research is focused on understanding teacher attitudes and self-efficacy in inclusive education through the lens of the universal design for learning framework.


Confirmed topics will be available shortly.  Please check back for updates.

Hybrid event

The Successful Learning Conference 2024 will be delivered in hybrid mode. Participants may choose at registration to attend in person at The University of Sydney, or virtually by Zoom. In-person attendance has been limited to 45 people only, and places will be allocated on a first-in-first-served basis.

Monday 24 June 2024
9.00AM - 4.00PM
The University of Sydney
$330 for the conference only. The Masterclass – offered by Zoom only – can be added for an additional $200 by using a separate registration link.
Register to attend in person (Masterclass excluded)

Keynote speaker

Aaron Lanou
Principal Consultant, Aaron Lanou Consulting, US


Professor David Evans

Academic coordinator/presenter

Rachel Payne

Project coordinator