An Interview with Chrissa Wadlow – Sunshine Support

An Interview with Chrissa Wadlow – Sunshine Support

What is Sunshine Support and what is your role?

I am the founding Director of Sunshine Support, established in 2017 following a personal journey. There was a significant gap for parents and carers, either resources were laden with local authority agendas or exorbitantly expensive. Despite facing trauma through Tribunal hearings for my own daughter and financial setbacks as a result, I was fortunate to overcome obstacles for my daughter and establish a platform to bridge this gap. Initially reluctant to engage with the system, I now believe in the power of coproduction. Sunshine Support now assists both parents and carers, as well as professionals.

Tell us about the importance of Parent Carer Support and Advocacy?

Parents and carers, as evidenced by research, require information, community, and support for their well-being. Sunshine Support provides these essential elements by offering truth, legal guidance, and impartial information. Parents and carers need the strength to advocate for their children, knowing they have a supportive community that understands their challenges and offers a platform for sharing experiences and receiving support. This allows them to channel their energy effectively and make informed decisions.

Well-being is paramount; my personal journey, I had a successful court case followed by a stroke in my late thirties, this highlighted the importance of managing energy levels and focusing on pertinent issues or health issues with arise. Some parents, particularly those who are neurodivergent, feel a strong sense of injustice. Having a supportive community that understands and validates their experiences is crucial. While it’s admirable that some parents are fervently advocating for their children, it’s essential to discern when and how to utilise that energy effectively. Sunshine Support sometimes acts as a voice for parents in such situations, especially when faced with negligent reports or accusations like FII.

Lack of understanding of the neurodivergent community exacerbates issues like FII, which disproportionately affects women, especially those with PDA. It’s often perceived as personal and vindictive, adding to the challenges faced by families.

What are your views on the proposed changes to better support SEND students and their families? 

There have been so many proposed changes, unfortunately, we’ve seen minimal progress both locally and nationally. There is a pressing need to create more inclusive opportunities within mainstream education. However, these proposals often overlook consultations and parent feedback. For instance, in Derby, a city known for its engineering prowess, there’s a significant population of engineers who are also parents of autistic children. This demographic faces a substantial gap in available support services. My own daughter had to travel four hours for suitable support. There’s a general frustration with the bureaucratic processes, including endless questionnaires and consultations, without tangible outcomes.

At Spaghetti Bridge, we endeavor to make pedagogy practical, real-life, and experiential by collaborating with industry experts and engaging children in project-based learning. How do you think we could influence mainstream adoption of this approach to benefit a larger audience? 

The education sector lags behind other industries in adapting to evolving needs. While sectors like retail have adapted to changing consumer habits over the past two decades, education remains largely stagnant. Traditional classroom settings often stifle creativity and engagement. We need to embrace more dynamic approaches like outdoor and forest schools, where learning happens naturally. The current curriculum often fails to engage children, leading to disinterest and underperformance. By focusing on personalised and immersive learning experiences, we can unlock the potential of every child and foster a more inclusive educational environment.

Sunshine Support are on a mission to gain equity within education, health and care for children and young people with special educational needs – and their families – through accessible education, support and advocacy for parents, carers and professionals. To learn more, please visit their website:

2560 1707 Spaghetti Bridge

Accredited Learning

In addition to GCSEs and Functional Skills exams, Spaghetti Bridge students are offered a number of accredited occupational qualifications. These include NCFE Enterprise Skills, Business and Enterprise, and Occupational Studies for the Workplace qualifications and AQA Project Qualifications

Preparation for and Pathways to Adulthood

The unique nature of Enterprise Learning, with its focus on real-world learning, community activities, Industry Experts, Driving Questions, the experience of work-environments, and a project-oriented curriculum, means that students are prepared for life beyond school throughout their time at a Spaghetti Bridge school. All students are also provided with Independent Advice and Guidance throughout their Spaghetti Bridge journey.

However, as they approach the time of their transition to a post school destination, it is important that our students’ curriculum begins to focus more on deciding and preparation for a specific post-school destination through our “Pathways to Adulthood” programme. While each student’s wider curriculum continues, the Pathways to Adulthood programme focuses on students’ development of specific skills and knowledge in the areas of Continuing Education and Employment and Independent Living. At this stage, each student also has a transition plan that details the steps needed to successfully transition to their life after leaving school.


The Spaghetti Bridge Three Phase curriculum and our Relational Approach ensures that PSHE, SMSC, RSE, and FBV are integrated throughout each student’s curriculum in an individualised and student-centred manner. In addition, we have developed a yearly PSHE and RSE curriculum, consisting of termly and weekly themes, a bespoke target cache, and group and individual sessions.

In order to ensure that our students develop their cultural capital, each school has a cultural calendar which links PSHE and SMSC themes to events and activities in their community.


Mathematics is about so much more than simply getting the answer right. Instead, we believe that mathematics can facilitate a new perspective on the world and foster creative and analytical thinking, a growth mindset, and confidence in one’s ability to learn. Therefore, our mathematics curriculum contains three areas: mathematical content, mathematical thinking, and mathematical mindset.

Mathematical content consists of the twelve areas of learning that form the conceptual structure of a mathematics curriculum.

Mathematical mindset is about how students relate to mathematics, are resilient in the face of mathematical challenges, view themselves as capable of mathematics, and see mathematics in a positive light.

Mathematical thinking is the way in which students use logic, reason, and divergent thinking to solve mathematical problems and how they apply their mathematical learning across the wider curriculum.

Spaghetti Bridge schools deliver mathematics both as part of Enterprise Projects and through discrete mathematics sessions. We believe in teaching mathematics across the curriculum as a key part of all subjects.

Spaghetti Bridge schools do not follow the National Curriculum in literacy, but instead have adapted this curriculum into our Mathematics Pillar, which allows us to assess, plan, scaffold and sequence each student’s individualised curriculum.

All students have the opportunity to pursue accredited mathematics outcomes, including GCSE and Functional Skills exams.

Spaghetti Bridge has developed our approach to mathematics through collaboration with the Jurassic Maths Hub.


At Spaghetti Bridge, we want our students to have a love of reading, the ability to understand and manage information, and communicate effectively. Our literacy curriculum contains content in five distinct areas: comprehension, word recognition, speaking and listening, spelling, punctuation and grammar, and writing. These content areas are supported by a vibrant reading culture and the fostering of a learning mindset.  Literacy is delivered throughout the curriculum, is embedded in Enterprise Projects and is integrated into all subject areas.

Each student has an individualised Reading Plan linked to their relationship to reading.

Our literacy programme is supported by a comprehensive phonics programme based on the Ruth Miskin Trust Fresh Start programme. For students on a phonics programme, their phonics is delivered through a bespoke curriculum, which may consist of 1:1 sessions or be integrated into their wider learning.

Each school has a termly reading curriculum that is linked to the wider curriculum map with links to the PSHE curriculum and the Driving Question for the term.

The Spaghetti Bridge literacy curriculum provides opportunities for accredited learning, including GCSE and Functional Skills exams.

Spaghetti Bridge schools do not follow the National Curriculum in literacy, but instead have adapted this curriculum into our Literacy Pillar, which allows us to assess, plan, scaffold and sequence each student’s individualised curriculum.

Spaghetti Bridge has developed our literacy curriculum in collaboration with the Cornerstones English Hub and the Right to Read Programme.

EHCP Outcomes

Every student at Spaghetti Bridge Schools has an Education, Health, and Care Plan (EHCP) and this forms an integral part of their curriculum. Our schools take a student’s EHCP outcomes and break these down into achievable termly targets as part of each student’s Individual Learning Plan. These targets are then integrated into the student’s projects and wider curriculum and assessed on a termly basis.

A Knowledge Rich Curriculum

Children and young people today have inherited a world in which they have access to more knowledge than ever before; however, the knowledge curriculum is often delivered without context or sense of purpose. We have instead designed our knowledge-rich curriculum using Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy to support students to not just gain but apply and create knowledge. Our curriculum map covers the subjects of science, human and social, creative and aesthetic, physical, and technology and design education, with termly topics in each area. The curriculum spirals every three years, ensuring that students revisit and build on prior learning through a sequence of three progressive tiers of knowledge for each topic.

This curriculum structure allows us to build individualised pathways for each student that support ambitious progress across the curriculum in line with their individual strengths and needs.

Skills and Understandings

In addition to our knowledge curriculum, our pillars also focus on skills and understandings. Skills are specific abilities that are linked to a particular subject and understandings concern the role that a specific subject plays in our world. Our skills and understandings are sequenced vertically and horizontally as part of our curriculum map and built into Enterprise Projects.

Enterprise Projects

As much as possible, our curriculum is delivered in the form of Enterprise Projects. In these projects, each student creates a piece of Beautiful Work of which they are proud. The projects are oriented around a shared Driving Question, which makes them meaningful, and are completed through Project Steps, such as brainstorming, creating models, doing field work, and presenting to the community. Projects are supported through collaboration with Industry Experts, who are professionals within a particular field and support our students to complete their Beautiful Work according to industry standards.

It is helpful to look at Enterprise Projects as the vehicle through which learning is delivered. For example, in designing and building a garden, students can learn any number of topics, such as botany, engineering, mathematics, etc. Reading is woven into projects through such steps as researching. Projects also enable students to work toward their EHCP outcomes by enabling any number of areas of learning, such as teamwork and cooperation, emotional resilience, executive functioning, and creative thinking.

Enterprise Projects give students a sense of purpose in their learning and build strong connections with their community, both within and outside the school.

The Three Phase Process

Our curriculum is structured by the Three Phase Process, which allows us to adapt each student’s programme to their current level of need and sequence all future learning.

Overcoming Barriers – students develop their sense of trust, belonging, self-image as a student, and sense of their own potential.  

21st Century Skills – each student’s curriculum broadens to focus more on the skills, knowledge and understandings that will enable them to thrive in the 21st century. 

Becoming Community Ready – the student’s curriculum prioritises more the steps that need to be taken in order to successfully transition to their life beyond school.

The Three Phases Process ensures that each student’s curriculum is individualised and ambitious and that they are supported and challenged at the appropriate level on the way to becoming themselves and changing the world.