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Resource SEN


INDEPENDENCE IN THE CLASSROOM How to create confidence and empower pupils



Helping pupils express themselves

THE GREAT OUTDOORS This summer is all about accessible outdoor learning

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Denise Connelly


Laura Hamilton


Lorne Gillies


Emma Storr


Melissa Holmes, Katie Goh


Lucy Baillie


Lisa McCabe


Carl Farnworth Karen Mackenzie @ResourceMagScot DC Publishing Ltd 198 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4HG Tel: 0844 249 9007

Editor’s Letter Hello! Welcome to the latest edition of Teachers’ Resource SEN This issue is full to the brim with informative and fascinating articles and features about what’s happening in the SEN community and schools – as per usual. Communication is such a buzzword in the SEN community – we look at how to support and empower pupils who struggle to express themselves on page 6. Talking of various forms of communication, we also look at Makaton on page 9 and how one school has become Makaton Friendly. We also chat to Doug the Pug’s owner about how therapy dogs are so popular and important for children’s development – not to mention cute! As summer is on the horizon, we have a look at outdoor learning on page 28 and how the great outdoors is such a joy for pupils. A change of scenery is sometimes exactly what we all need. If you are interested in continued professional learning, we’ve rounded up all the most interesting postgrad courses you can do, full-time or while you’re still working. Upskilling has never been so interesting. Enjoy reading!


Laura Hamilton, Editor



We speak to a school about becoming Makaton Friendly.

Communication is essential in life.





GO ONLINE For news and features, and regular updates from the team, head to the Teachers’ Resource website.

The TreeHouse School’s unique vision.

Music is one of life’s great joys, and it’s also a tool.



Challenging behaviour is par for the course as an SEN teacher, but how do you manage crowd control?


Therapy dogs are hugely popular for stressed out students.

Providing SEN students with essential life skils. Who says you need to be in the classroom to learn?






There are lots of postgraduate degrees out there to choose from.

©DC Publishing Ltd 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or used in any way without prior written permission from the publisher. The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of DC Publishing Ltd. The publisher takes no responsibility for claims made by advertisers within the publication. Every effort has been made to ensure that information is accurate; while dates and prices are correct at time of going to print, DC Publishing Ltd takes no responsibility for omissions and errors.

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Teachers’ Resource SEN


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Ofsted inspections can send ripples of fear throughout a school. However, recent Ofsted reports showcase that SEN schools are excelling the inspections you’re doing is allowing the potential of your pupils to flourish.


All schools and their teachers continually work to prepare pupils for life outside of the classroom. Teachers and support staff work together to ensure that the best of a pupil’s potential is encouraged and allowed to flourish. The Ofsted report is a public round of applause. The most recent Ofsted report (published on 13 December 2017) figures* revealed that independent SEN schools have increased from 74% rated at good


If you’re due an inspection or waiting on tenterhooks for the call, being ahead of the game is the first step to success. PLAN OF ACTION: gather past grades together, tidy up the classroom, tell parents, and get all the relevant documents in order. Preparation is essential for an Ofsted inspection so continually assessing your documents and getting a plan in place will make the experience a lot less stressful. DREAM TEAM: Avengers Assemble, or simply have a dedicated team meeting


Teachers’ Resource SEN

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to ensure everyone is on the same wavelength. This is a chance to motivate each other, show support, and ensure everyone acts as a team. SHOWCASE STRATEGIES: all teachers have their own methods and styles to get the best from their students. If it works, show it off. From individualised class plans to sessions learning outside, if you have a strategy make sure it is

or outstanding in 2014, to 78% in 2017. There has been a steady increase over the years to celebrate the good work that SEN schools across the country do for children with additional or complex needs. It’s a testament to the staff at SEN schools and their dedication to creating an environment where pupils can thrive and grow. There’s no denying that working as an SEN teacher and handling challenging behaviour can be troublesome, but it’s apparent that the work is successful. Now, it’s time to prepare for the next inspection and give it 100%. Check out where your school comes in on the Ofsted website, organisations/ofsted. All reports are public.

at the highest level possible – this includes plans, assessments and grades. WELCOME: nerves can get the best of us at any time. Welcome all the inspectors into the school, hand out refreshments, and showcase why you’re so proud to teach at your school. The positivity and dedication will be palpable.



utstanding, meaning exceptionally good: this is how a vast majority of SEN schools were ranked in the most recent Ofsted reports. Every school will go through an Ofsted inspection at one point or another and preparation is essential for success. The main objective of an inspection is to ensure that young people obtain the highest level of education possible. It can be a daunting experience having inspectors sitting in on your classes, but remember, it’s all to ensure the hard work

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Being able to communicate clearly and effectively is vital in enabling people to get on in life. But when the ability to communicate is compromised by learning disabilities or by speech, language and communication needs, how can teaching staff support their students to enable them to get on and transition into the world of work?


Teachers’ Resource SEN

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ommunication plays a huge role in many areas of our lives, from being able to speak to others and enjoy good relationships, to understanding changes in tone of voice over the telephone. According to communication charity I CAN, over one million children in the UK have speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). These students often need additional help with improving their communication skills before they move on to the next stage in their lives.


A common complaint of employers is that young people lack the communication skills they need when entering the world of work. According to a survey by I CAN in 2015, more than half of the employers surveyed agreed that young employees’ communication skills were a problem within their organisation. Being able to listen, work well in a team and ask for help or further instruction if they haven’t understood something are just some of the skills organisations are looking for in their young employees. If that’s the case for the majority of young people, what’s the situation like for those who have SLCN? A lot of emphasis is placed on communication development in early years settings, but it’s vital that provision and support are adapted in order to aid transition into adulthood.


Julie Anstey has more than 30 years’ experience as a speech and language therapist (SLT). She explains: “We work with students and their families to identify functional and meaningful communication goals – ones that will improve life chances and the quality of relationships. This could be something like having the communication skills to be able to travel independently, make friends, or follow instructions in the workplace.” It’s recommended that the process of discussing future options begins before age 11 for most students. For young people with SLCN or learning needs, concepts like “growing up” and “becoming an adult” can be hard to grasp, so it’s vital to work with the child to focus on their aspirations and needs in a way they’ll understand. Avoiding jargon and acronyms, and going over phrases and words they may encounter in the

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“Work with the child to focus on their aspirations and needs in a way they’ll understand” workplace or in education are great starting points.


Schools and colleges can benefit from working with SLTs to devise programmes providing tailored support for each young person, such as working with feeder schools to assess upcoming students’ needs, upskilling staff in dealing with Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC), and liaising with day centre, housing and social care staff when it comes to moving on after college. As Julie says: “This work cannot be carried out in isolation. Our best successes have been where we’re able to work in collaboration with everyone involved.” Ensuring teaching staff have specialist training in communication skills can have a huge impact on their ability to support students as they transition. There are lots of useful resources available on The Communication Trust’s website, such as videos, guidance, toolkits and research, which provide a good starting point. A vital part of the work carried out by Julie’s practice – The Talking House – is ensuring that people around the young person understand the implications of having a communication disorder, raising awareness of the difficulties that person faces daily and how best they can support them. “This may include providing strategies such as how to teach word learning skills or use visual support techniques to break down tasks so that the young person doesn’t have to rely on their memory,” explains Julie. She recommends that people involved in the young person’s life use clear, unambiguous instructions and set clear expectations, and ensure that the young person’s interests are included.

I CAN has devised an assessment and training programme which practitioners can undertake and deliver within their schools. Talk for Work Profile helps staff assess the communication level that young people are at, while Talk about Talk Secondary is an intervention programme for students aged 13 to 16 to help them develop the communication skills they’ll need in the workplace. Maxine Burns, I CAN’s speech and language adviser, explains: “In terms of the 12 communication skills we look at within Talk about Talk, including listening carefully, speaking clearly and changing the style of talking dependent upon audience, the students on our pilot trials made statistically significant progress. It was particularly encouraging that group skills and checking in when you don’t understand were key areas of progress, because those were issues that employers were concerned about.” As part of the course, students work together to devise and deliver workshops about communication to their peers and to local businesses, leading to better understanding of communication issues by employers and improved skills amongst the young people. And finally, never underestimate the power a positive role model can have on a young person at this pivotal stage in their development. A few choice words from someone who’s been in the same situation, and the chance to ask questions and find out what worked for them, can make a huge difference in the young person’s confidence and ability to see what they could be capable of. Successful employment is possible with the right support, as Julie highlights: “One of our clients in particular stands out – a young man with complex needs (hearing impaired, learning difficulties and autistic). He went from virtually no functional language at all in year eight, to working in a café at the age of 19.” Now that really is something to shout about!


The Communication Trust


The Talking House

Teachers’ Resource SEN


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Our home study courses are fully flexible allowing you to complete your qualification at your own pace and in your own time. · · · ·

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The courses offered with The Learning College have been designed to make learning at home easy. We offer full tutor support throughout your course to ensure you are on the right track at all times. We also provide you with all the required materials and podcast lessons to ensure you understand every part of each unit, by using various tutoring styles we can be sure you are following the course materials and completing your qualifications to the highest standard possible. The Learning College has learners all over the world currently studying our courses. As a global college we have a wealth of experienced tutors and team members to ensure your study time with us is to the highest of standard at all times. We have extensive knowledge as to what our learners require from us upon completing courses through our college. By offering a personal, high quality service we ensure a smooth learning process throughout. The courses we deliver are via ‘blended’ learning. This means you have a mixture of different learning styles to cater for all learning abilities. These learning styles are Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic. You can fit your studies around your current lifestyle by learning as and when you can.

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LEVEL 3 SUPPORTING TEACHING & LEARNING IN SCHOOLS (QCF) QUALIFICATIONS LEVEL 2 SEN COURSE A range of teaching assistant courses leading to recognised teaching assistant qualifications are available including our entry course which has four mandatory units and is expected to take approximately eighty – one hundred and eighty hours of study, this is for our Level 3 in Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools (QCF) course. All courses are studied in your own time, completely at your own pace with full support from a 1-2-1 Tutor. Course aims are to teach

the supportive role of the teaching assistant within the classroom. All qualifications are delivered via our learning platform where you will have Podcast Lessons along with all materials and resources to complete your teaching assistant course in full. You will have unlimited, unrestricted access to your Tutor for the duration of your qualification direct via our learning platform.

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magine not being able to communicate with your friends, peers or colleagues about something important to you. Consider how frustrating it would be not being able to use words to explain a situation. This can be the daily emotions of non-verbal students.


Makaton allows people of all ages to improve their communication levels in a simple, yet effective, way. Utilising signs, symbols and speech, students can build on their vocabulary and their confidence. It’s a valuable tool within the classroom and Makaton is giving pupils a voice. “Non-verbal kids can be much more involved. You do see a big difference in them when they feel they can say what they want to say and they can communicate with you, without just having to point at things,” explains Gwenno Williams, a science and principal teacher for additional support needs at Lanark Grammar School. The South Lanarkshire school became Makaton Friendly nearly three years earlier when former staff member Debbie Hughes began teaching several nonverbal students in her class, and brought Makaton to Lanark.



“It was only quite recently that all of us, all the teaching staff and support staff within our department, were officially trained. We all knew quite a lot anyway, but we got certified,” Gwenno says. “In the wider school, we have signs at the cafeteria explaining what various symbols mean so other kids can see it.” Alongside a whole-school approach

The signs of

to using Makaton, Gwenno has created a dictionary for herself and fellow teachers to use within their classrooms. “I made up a general dictionary for the entire department, so there is a copy in each class. I went through the regular dictionary and I picked out every word I thought might be useful for any subject at any time. What teachers tend to do is find out what they need to know and go on from there. I’m a science teacher so I know science Makaton and the kids know it, but the other teachers don’t know it because they don’t need to,” explains Gwenno.


When used on a daily basis, Makaton can improve vocabulary by building phrases from one word and upwards. Removing the frustration of being unable to communicate, Makaton can empower young people (and adults) to feel confident in connecting with others. “There are a lot of kids who don’t have great language skills and Makaton is a concrete thing for them,” adds Gwenno. “We have some kids who, by the time they reach second year, their speech is fine but they’re still signing at you.” Makaton is an indispensable learning tool that can provide structure and a safety net for SEN pupils. From expressing their emotions to answering a question in class, Makaton is one sign away from greatness.

MORE INFORMATION Your school can be Makaton Friendly, too. Visit or call 01276 606 760 for more information


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Communication in and out of the classroom can be a challenge for some students. Opening the doors to education, friendship and confidence is Makaton: a language made using signs and symbols

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INDEPENDENCE IN THE CLASSROOM Support is important for SEN students, but how do teachers give them the independence they need?


o be independent, students need support,” says Seamus Searson, the general secretary of Scottish Secondary Teacher’s Association (SSTA). It sounds contradictory, but teachers, classrooms and schools need to support SEN students to get to the level of selfsufficiency that their adult life requires. It’s an important balance of teaching students the life skills they need and giving them enough room to grow, without doing everything for them. “We all want youngsters to achieve their full potential and sometimes that means stretching the student even if they’re doing well at school,” says Seamus. It’s important to note, however, that there are financial cutbacks and additional support cuts at national and local level, supporting SEN students might not be an easy task for teachers who already feel overstretched.

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The most important part of an SEN pupil’s educational journey is the assessment at the start. “We need to assess pupils to find out what their needs are, and get the assessment right,” says Liz Hunter, professional officer at SSTA. “For example, if a pupil is dyslexic, we can do a colour test and see what colours they may be sensitive to. Then we can use a colour filter and put it on their books and worksheets and then they may not need a personal assistant anymore. Or if we assess a pupil and find they’re dyspraxic, we can then work on strengthening their muscle core.” One issue is waiting for outside agencies to come into mainstream schools to assess new students – it wastes valuable time. “We need to upskill people in the SEN department as they’re not always trained. I was

lucky that I had an additional master’s in SEN,” says Liz. More training is clearly needed, and that takes time and money. Schools also need to listen to the pupils more and ask what their particular needs are where possible, says Souleyman Bah, a teenage paraathlete who is blind. “It needs to be a two-way conversation between school and individual,” says Souleyman, who goes to a mainstream school. One way that helps SEN students become more independent without causing additional stress on the teacher is technology.


Souleyman points out that it’s important to learn independence early in life. “At university, or in the workplace, you won’t have someone sitting next to you so you need to be able to do things by Teachers’ Resource SEN 11

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IN THE CLASSROOM yourself,” he says. “It’s important for an individual to muster up confidence to say; I don’t need a person sitting with me all the time.” As Souleyman knows, independence is important and for him, technology is the answer. “OrCam, dyslexia reader pens, raised bumps on paper so you can see the image… There’s so much you can do. Even laptops help massively.” Throughout school, Souleyman had a full-time assistant who sat next to him to read things out for him, but for the last six months he hasn’t needed one: that’s when he got his first OrCam device which sits on his glasses and assists with his vision. His OrCam enables him to read and cuts out a huge amount of time making things accessible. It makes everything quicker and easier. “Technology has been really important for the latter part of my education,” says Souleyman. “Teachers send documents to the cloud or to the school server and with my OrCam device I’d be able to do work on my laptop. It’s been less hassle and I’ve been a lot more productive,” he notes, and he says his teachers were really surprised at the difference in

schoolwork. “Schools do need to be more aware of technology that’s out there and have a bigger conversation with the SEN department.” The most useful technology that Liz has used is the talk to computer programme. “It gives the pupil real autonomy,” she says. If someone struggled to type for various reasons, they can talk to the computer which will type it for you, including spellcheck and grammar. “It’s so rewarding to see students become engaged and feel empowered by getting their thoughts down,” she says. Voice-activated software on computers, devices like the OrCam, interactive worksheets; there’s a lot of EdTech, as it’s known, available. Virtual reality (VR) is one way in which students learn in real time, and in a safe environment. It also has the added bonus of being fun, so pupils won’t feel like they’re learning. VR has been helping SEN students for decades: there’s special programmes to teach blind children to learn how to cross the road safely, for example, but technology doesn’t need to be specifically designed for SEN to be used. A Wii console is a great way to

engage SEN pupils, as it reacts to your movements and takes you through a whole range of experiences, from playing sport, to educational games. Liz points out that while tech is hugely important, it becomes easy to focus on it to the exclusion of all else. “It’s not everything. It’s also important to monitor the student so you can help them when they progress.” “There are so many things out there,” says Souleyman. “It just needs to seep into the educational system. But it’s not going to happen overnight.” Technology is also expensive, and laptop and voice assistive technology for exams isn’t available. Hopefully as more and more accessible technology enters the market, it will become increasingly reasonably priced. As Liz knows, watching a pupil develop takes patience, but it’s hugely rewarding. “To see someone become independent is a beautiful thing,” says Liz. “We had a 13-year-old come into our unit who couldn’t read or write. When he left, he said the best thing was that now he could text his friends. Independence, socialising and well-being are so important to young people.”

Souleyman Bah

“At university, or in the workplace, you won’t have someone sitting next to you”


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Calvert Trust Exmoor offers a unique opportunity for students of any age and any disability to experience exciting, challenging, and enjoyable adventure activities in a safe, accessible environment. Stay with us for a few days, a week, or come just for the day; however long you are here you will discover It's What You CAN Do That Counts!

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THE PERSONAL TOUCH TreeHouse School has a unique vision dedicated to ensuring success of each pupil. Head teacher Kerry Sternstein explains why personalised learning allows her school, staff and pupils to continue to be outstanding in all they do


always gravitated towards special needs children,” says Kerry of her career in education, which spans over 35 years. Joining London based TreeHouse School in September of 2016, Kerry already had the stamp of approval.


Teaching students on the autistic spectrum aged four to 19, everyone at TreeHouse School is dedicated to supporting pupils reach their full potential. “The staff do work in challenging circumstances, but they’re dedicated to ensuring the children get an education as every child should. They think about what the children can do and not what they can’t do,” says Kerry. Founded in 1997 by parents of children with autism, and run by charity Ambitious About Autism, the school has a special focus on developing the talent and

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knowledge of all students. As the summer holidays quickly creep up, the success rate is already palpable across the school. “This year 82% of our school leavers have got placements in further education and this was all before May. I’m confident that this year we’ll see 100% of the students going onto further placements,” enthuses Kerry. Students with additional needs might not consider the options open to them, so TreeHouse School builds on each student’s capacity so they can flourish at their own speed


One of the reasons behind TreeHouse School’s successful pupil development is the personalised and independent approach to the curriculum – providing an education that meets the direct needs of all pupils. Kerry explains: “The students have individual programmes to follow. We do assessments when the children come into the classroom. When we have gathered all that information we then develop a plan for the children and work through this together. There is one-to-one sessions and group sessions; all depending on the plan put in place. Most lessons that children

will have will go through their programme to develop skills. Some students’s plan will include five minutes of learning and ten minutes of play – this will gradually develop to ten minutes of learning and five minutes of play. It doesn’t happen immediately as it is a long process, but we make sure it works for the pupil.” The hands-on approach has been beneficial for TreeHouse School: its pupils are preparing to enter the world with plans for their future in place, and once again Ofsted has classified the school as outstanding. It’s a testament to TreeHouse School that its continued dedication towards each student encourages a bright future. Everyone learns in their own way – and in their own time – Kerry and her team are utilising this information that works well for them and each and every pupil.

FIND OUT MORE TreeHouse School Ambitious About Autism

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How to deliver great RSE for pupils with SEND, an introduction A practical one-day course to help you deliver relationships and sex education (RSE) for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). • Explore relevant, up-to-date guidance about young people with SEND, relationships and sex. • Explore how to create a safe space and facilitate discussions about relationships and sex. • Identify how to use recommended visual RSE resources with young SEND people. • Practice responding to tricky questions and challenging situations. Thursday 17 January 2019, London – £135 per person We can also deliver this course at your school for £1,000 (plus trainer expenses) for up to 15 participants.

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AND THE SEN STUDENT Sex education is more than putting a condom on a banana, especially for SEN pupils. Confidence in teaching sex education is low amongst professionals, but this is a subject that is much needed in schools

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exual abuse is more prevalent for those living with physical or learning disabilities. In 2015, after an investigation from the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, figures revealed that there had been 4,748 reports of sexual abuse in England against adults with disabilities two years prior. This is just a drop in the ocean compared to the wider, unreported cases of sexual abuse in the disabled community. Why are figures so high? One answer could lie in the classroom. Sex education is a topic that many teachers may shy away from. When additional learning needs are added into the mix, it can make the subject even more taboo.


“There is an aspect of fear from professionals. We find that there are a lot of concerns, not from the parents, but schools are really concerned about what the parents are going to say,” explains Rebecca Buckle, education and wellbeing co-ordinator at sexual health charity Brook. Encouraging improved learning and confidence in teachers to deliver Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) is the first step to ensuring young people are safe – in and out of the bedroom. The first step to safeguarding young people is ensuring they’re aware of their bodies. RSE is crucial in any school, but the shocking fact is some SEN schools don’t touch on the subject and this can cause alarming results. “This is very important information that young people need to know. Brook delivered a session around contraception with a group of young people with SEN who were 16 and it became apparent, immediately, that they had absolutely no idea what a penis or what a vagina was. They didn’t know the terms or the terminology,” Rebecca remembers. “For me, for a young person to get to 16 and not understand what a penis or a vagina is, and not be able to name it, that’s really concerning because from a safeguarding point of view how is that young person supposed to express if something is happening to them?”


There is no denying that sex education has never been fun for either teacher or

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“For a young person to get to 16 and not understand what a penis or a vagina is, and not be able to name it, that’s really concerning” pupil. Did you enjoy those awkward interactions in school? We didn’t think so. Historically, teachers discussing sexual health portray it as negative with scare tactics about unwanted pregnancy and infections. Changing the face of RSE and making students feel comfortable is key. Encouraging positivity and a non-judgemental space will encourage improved learning. Rebecca, who works with SEN schools and colleges across Teesside, explains: “We talk about the key themes that should be there in any healthy, positive relationship, including sexual relationships, too. We talk about consent, trust and communication, and this allows us to lead onto how to stay safe and happy.” Attitudes to sex and relationships in the disabled community need to be brought into the modern age, too. Unfortunately, some parents or members of the community may not feel it right to see a young person with a disability as a sexual being. However, everyone deserves the right to a happy, healthy and enjoyable sex life and it’s imperative that the right education is readily available, either through in-house teaching or external support from sexual health charities like Brook or FPA.


“We should stop seeing students as having special educational needs and respect that they are teenagers, they are growing, they are exploring and they are developing in all aspects of their life and they are sexual beings – as we all are,” says Rebecca. Providing a safe and informative space to learn and explore RSE will prevent young people from finding wrong, or disturbing, information and advice online. Rebecca adds: “It is much better if it is done in a really positive, supportive, and beneficial way that teaches that sex is a really positive thing. Sex is often turned into a negative, something that is

dangerous or frightening or people are going to get exploited or get an STI.” Getting support from sexual health charities could be the answer to providing RSE with ease. For those who don’t feel confident discussing the birds and the bees it’s no failure: there are training schemes available for teachers or services on hand to provide educational assemblies, tutors and sessions for pupils. Even the government has acknowledged the importance of RSE – making it compulsory in all schools from 2019. The government is calling children from the age of four to be taught about safe and healthy relationships. From a friendship to a sexual relationship there is a lot to learn. Rebecca encourages the movement and advises schools to continually revisit RSE. “Young people will only take in certain information if they are actually ready to absorb that information. If you’ve got pupils sat in that classroom who are not sexually active and are so far from it, they’re not going to take in any information about the services or support; some might, but you need to do it repeatedly. You have to provide an opportunity for that young person to access the information when they’re ready.” Sex and relationships shouldn’t be brushed under the carpet or whispered in hushed voices. Disabled or nondisabled students have the right to understand healthy relationships and be sexually positive, regardless of ability. It’s the role of a teacher to guarantee this education is available.

USEFUL CONTACTS Brook FPA the sexual health charity The Sex Education Forum

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The Sound of Music There’s nothing like the joy of listening to music, and music therapy strikes the right chord when it comes to engaging with children with special needs


here are numerous benefits to using music therapy in the classroom. Music is not only relaxing, calming and fun, but it has a wide variety of positive psychological and physical effects on children. The magic of music really is balm for the soul. Music therapy is a unique method of communication, and can be used in a group session, with the pupil and their carer, or one to one. Listening to and making music improves all levels of child development, including literacy, motor skills and social and emotional development. It can also accelerate brain development in young children, especially when it comes to language acquisition and reading skills.

Music therapy can also improve physical coordination

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Music therapy is especially useful in engaging with autistic children, who may have difficulty communicating and expressing themselves. Music therapy draws them out and helps them engage with music and others.

good rapport with the music therapist is important, and MUSIC usually built up over a THERAPIST number of sessions. The music therapist will A music therapist is a highly always adjust the session trained health professional. to reflect the needs of To contact a music therapist their young charges. in your area, visit There are a few misconceptions about music therapy, like certain types of music are more useful HITTING THE RIGHT NOTE or effective than others, but that’s not All children can participate in music true: all music can be used in music therapy – it’s open to every level of therapy. Many people also believe ability as it’s not about learning to that listening to music can be just as play music. Instead, music therapy affective, and while it’s true listening to concentrates on children learning to calming music or playing the drums can enjoy music, sing songs and create a help you destress, and learning to play musical language of their own, while an instrument and read music helps with engaging with others. It teaches children mathematic abilities, music therapy has a to listen and participate, and often helps different concentration. It’s an accessible them to concentrate for longer periods way to improve social and cognitive of time. A variety of instruments are skills for everyone. Music therapy is supplied by a music therapist, including used in a range of institutions, including plenty of percussion instruments like a hospitals, schools and care homes. xylophone, triangle and the drums. A Teachers’ Resource SEN 19

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PART OF THE CHALLENGE Managing challenging behaviour comes with the territory in SEN schools. How can teaching staff ensure that students causing disruption in the classroom get the support and education they need?


gnoring instructions, winding up other students, refusing to obey rules, constantly disrupting the teaching process, lashing out, verbal abuse… Sounds like the classroom from hell. But it seems to be an increasingly common experience for staff and students in both mainstream and special schools across the UK. As a teacher, dealing with challenging behaviour can seem an insurmountable task. It can throw up all manner of ethical, safety, policy and legislative issues and cause real headaches for teachers and learners alike. The impact upon teaching staff is clear. In a 2010 survey of teachers in mainstream schools by the Education Support Partnership, 70% of respondents said they had considered quitting teaching because of poor behaviour. And it’s not hard to see how channeling energy and time into a handful of disruptive students can prevent you from effectively teaching the rest of the class. Dealing with challenging behaviour is part of the role when you work within an SEN setting. Self-injury, repetitive movements, lack of awareness of danger, screaming, spitting and damaging

property can be more likely in pupils who have a mix of impairments. These are truly challenging for any teacher.


There are ways of improving the position you take in handling challenging behaviour and classroom disruption. As with many SEN frameworks, a consistent, well-planned, whole-school approach in managing challenging behaviour will help towards the goal of creating a learning environment which nurtures its pupils and enables its staff to feel valued and supported. Positive behaviour support, or PBS, is a person-centred approach which is recommended as best practice within professional practice documents and national policy statements. This long-term

Create a learning environment which nurtures its pupils and enables its staff to feel valued and supported 20 Teachers’ Resource SEN

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management technique stresses that challenging behaviours serve an important function for the person who displays them. For students with communication challenges, for example, doing themselves physical harm may be the only way (in their understanding) to get the attention they need. Functional analysis – the when, where, why and how – of a person’s challenging behaviours helps identify the potential social or environmental triggers behind the behaviour. After this, teaching staff, carers, families and (where possible) the individual themselves can start to put interventions in place to change behaviour proactively – such as individualised Behaviour Support Plans, which must be reviewed on an ongoing basis – along with strategies to manage behaviour reactively. This combination aims to enhance quality of life for both the individual and their carers.


A wide variety of training is available to help teaching staff manage challenging

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Tips for managing challenging behaviour

behaviour. For in-depth study, the Tizard Centre at the University of Kent provides a range of training from short courses to postgraduate opportunities in many subjects, including PBS. Teachers attending training sessions run by The Challenging Behaviour Foundation (CBF) reported that they felt less anxious or fearful after gaining a better understanding of their own causal attributions and emotional reactions to students’ challenging behaviour. Set up by the parent of a child with challenging behaviour and severe learning difficulties, the CBF’s training and consultancy can help improve the confidence of teaching staff. The CBF explains that positive behaviour support ‘eliminates punishment and aims to reduce or eliminate physical intervention by using positive proactive and reactive strategies’. However, with staff and student safety paramount, there can still be a need for physical intervention once all other approaches have been exhausted. Team-Teach is a respected provider of behavioural management training, and its offers a

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focus on positive handling and deescalation techniques, but also includes training in physical intervention and restraint, along with covering the legal implications which follow the use of these last resort methods.


The design of the classroom can also have an impact upon student behaviour. Arranging desks in a horseshoe shape, addressing pupils at eye-level, checking your body language and offering a quiet area can all contribute to making the classroom a nicer place to learn and teach. Implementing sensory integration (which can be something as simple as a weighted blanket or offering use of a fidget spinner) can make a difference to some learners. And tweaking the curriculum itself can lead to changes in pupil behaviour. Practical subjects appeal to some learners more than others and help reduce the incidence of challenging behaviour, while strategies such as Forest School, relaxation groups or sensory rooms may provide the


Remember you’re not alone, and the student’s behaviour is not your fault.


All behaviour has a purpose or function. Challenging behaviour is no different – it’s a form of communication.


Use positive behaviour strategies and reinforce desired behaviour by praising it.


Be consistent. Most students work better with set boundaries in a predictable environment.


Keep your expectations realistic and work with the child to give them a goal or a behaviour to stick to.


Seek regular support and input from colleagues and leadership.


Work with parents – they’re part of the solution.

stimulation or escape some students need to help improve their quality of life and feel more confident and able in the classroom. When managing challenging behaviour, consider your own response to the student’s actions and remember that they deserve an education too. Try to build relationships, give your students time, and provide a nurturing classroom environment for all.

MORE INFORMATION The Challenging Behaviour Foundation Education Support Partnership www.educationsupport Free helpline – 08000 562 561 Team-Teach Tizard Centre

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vital practical tools, techniques and interventions

CONFERENCES (10.00-16.30). Cost: £183 Sat 9/6/18. Child Counselling: Key Tools and Techniques with award-winning author and expert Dr Margot Sunderland. 3 July 2018 The Amba Hotel London W1H 7EH

Right for the Future conference Help support deaf young people into higher education, careers, and to live independent lives. Find out more and book at Discount code TEARES2018 @NDCS_UK NDCS.UK




The National Deaf Children’s Society is a registered charity in England and Wales no. 1016532 and in Scotland no. SC040779.

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Sat 16/6/18. Life Story Work with Troubled Children and Teenagers with leading expert Richard Rose. Sat 29/9/18. The Promise and the Pain of Social Media, Self-Harm and Other Health-Harming Behaviours. Building resilience and health-healing alternatives.

TRAINING FOR TEACHERS Diploma in Trauma and Mental Health-Informed Schools (Practitioner training) 12 weekend days (validated by University of East London)

A practical skills-based course supported by the latest evidence-based research to equip school staff to respond effectively to children who have suffered a trauma or have mental health issues. For all our trainings please visit website

Tel: 020 7354 2913 Email: 2-18 Britannia Row, Islington, London N1 8PA

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O N E D A Y N AT I O N A L CO N F E R E N C E 2 2 M A Y 2 0 1 8 , LO N D O N

16th Annual SEND Update

Using Research to Inform Practice for Pupils with SEND


In partnership with:

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ANOTHER STRING TO YOUR BOW If you feel like you need to up your game with continued professional development to support your special education needs pupils, there’s a lot of courses to choose from. We take a look at what’s out there


Birmingham University’s master’s in special needs education is a great way to learn more about the subject in depth. It’s a two-year degree that you study part-time alongside a career, and you don’t need a first degree to study it – only the relevant experience. It covers early years, primary and secondary education. Some of the modules include policy and practice, the transformative special needs teacher (and how to become one), social learning theories and the dynamic model of supervision, as well as your own research. If you’re interested in getting real life experience, then there’s the opportunity to do voluntary work and placements as part of your study. You’ll learn from experienced teachers in a range of educational institutions and benefit from the depth of their understanding and knowledge. For more information, check out


If you’re interested in making the classroom a more inclusive space, then University College London’s masters in special and inclusive education is for you. The intense course can be studied on a full-time basis or part-time and is based in the picturesque Bloomsbury in London. The modules include autism, language development, psychology for special needs, social, emotional and behavioural development and

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More than one in 100 people are autistic and as our understanding of neurodiversity expands, it’s increasingly relevant to make teaching autism-friendly. The University of Strathclyde’s MSc in autism is a full-time degree that strives to bring greater understanding to supporting students on the autistic spectrum. Modules include responding to the impact of autism, the spectrum and also a placement at the university’s partner autism organisation, with talks and lectures from leading autism experts. Many students are professionals, parents with autistic children and some students are autistic. For more information on the course, visit

dyslexia, as well as concepts and contexts of special and inclusive education. It’s not a teacher training programme, however, and doesn’t train students via school-based training and teaching placements. Recent career destinations for this degree aren’t just in teaching and it could open your talents and skills up to a whole new world. Visit for further details

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South Wales University offers a master’s in special educational needs/additional learning needs appeals to specialist teachers, one-to-one tutors and learning support staff across a range of settings. You can expect to learn about the autistic spectrum, dyslexia, and managing SEN pupils in the classroom. It’s a course that many teachers go on if they are

thinking of making the move from mainstream teaching to working with SEN pupils. A full-time degree is one year, and a part-time degree is three, so think about what kind of commitment you can give to the role. To learn more about the course, check out

Don’t assume that you need to have the money upfront: many universities let you pay on a monthly basis

STUDY TIPS Remember the old adage about doctors making terrible patients? While educating young people is your job, remember to treat yourself like one of your pupils. It’s easy to pile up the coursework for your degree after you’ve been working, but it’s not going to make retaining the information easier. Take study breaks and don’t overload yourself. It doesn’t mean you have to be on it all the time just because you work in education. Reward yourself for a job well done and take days off.

TUITION Fees are expensive and when you’re studying and working at the same time, you don’t want to add to your stress with money worries. If you live in Scotland, the government may pay some of your university costs – go to uk to see if your course is covered. Don’t assume that

you need to have the money upfront: many universities will let you pay on a monthly zero-interest basis. There are also grants and scholarships available – ask the department you’re interested in applying to what is available well in advance. It pays (literally) to think ahead.

According to the Graduate Labour Statistics, you’ll earn £6000 more a year with a master’s degree

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Do you teach a child who is deaf or visually impaired? The Scottish Sensory Centre (SSC) is a national organisation, based in the University of Edinburgh, which promotes innovation and good practice in the education of deaf, visually impaired, and deafblind pupils. We deliver high quality CPD for professionals involved in the lives of children who are deaf or visually impaired. Dates for International Symposium on Physical Activity and Individuals with Visual Impairments or Deafblindness have now been confirmed: 9th-12th May 2019 Keynote speaker: Erik Weihenmayer (pictured) will talk about his expeditions & adventures.

Check our website for details of our training opportunities. There is a wealth of information on the website from past courses and research and development activities undertaken by the SSC. Try our handy app for the SSC’s BSL Glossary of curriculum terms. The app is called BSL Education and can be downloaded for free on iOS or Android mobile devices.

To apply for an SSC course and for more information, email or visit our website:

Not all NPQ courses are the same It’s time for a fresh approach Real Training’s NPQ courses are innovative, flexible, delivered purely online with 1-2-1 tutoring with a focus on personal development, inclusion and improving outcomes for all Strengths-based approaches to leadership and change management informed by positive psychology

Call now 01273 35 80 80

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FOR LEARNING Incorporating assistive technology and textbooks in to education can sometimes be a challenge, but using interactive devices designed to stimulate through sound and appearance can enhance the learning process


£3,500, ( The OrCam MyEye 2.0 is a wearable artificial vision device that magnetically attaches to your glasses. The wireless device instantly reads text from any surface and then communicates it back to the user via an HD speaker. The device can also be used to recognise faces and products.


£164.99, ( The Echo smartpen records everything you write, say or hear and can be played back to you simply by tapping on your notes. It can replay audio from notes on paper, a computer or on a mobile device. Smartpens can help those who are dyslexic or have trouble memorising information.


£199.95, ( Skoog is a musical instrument specially designed to help those with a disability or learning difficulty. Once synced with the Skoog app, the device allows you to create music or play along to your favourite songs using the four coloured buttons. Skoog can be used in the classroom to stimulate emotional engagement, bringing lessons to life through colour and sound.


£79.95 - £99.95, ( Five Minute Box has created the Five Minute Literacy Box and Number Box to help teach basic literacy and maths skills. The boxes teach in simple steps while highlighting potential specific learning difficulties. The teaching methods also help you provide personalised learning.

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£24 - £54, ( This card game is great for pupils who are learning to read. Talisman Card Games are a beautifully illustrated card games which reinforce phonic skills for catch-up readers. It’s also a fun, sociable way for pupils to play together, and learn teamwork.

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Finance options for LEA schools, academies and the education sector We help many schools and academies with the finance needed to secure necessary new equipment by way of an operating lease. We know the needs of your own organisation can be unique, and we offer support and guidance which is specific to this We also promise to talk in plain English, so that along every step of the way, you’re clear on what’s happening and why.

What do we finance?

Here’s a sample of the type of equipment we can help finance. To find out more please contact us. • Wi-fi systems • Modular buildings • IT equipment • CCTV systems • Playground equipment • PE equipment • LED lighting systems • Entry systems • Catering equipment • Wood/metal lathes milling machines • Interactive whiteboards and screens • Stage equipment So, if your organisation needs equipment and you want to preserve your capital expenditure then why not contact a company who will guide you through the process. Finance for Education I Arkle Finance Ltd 01933 304789 I

We have supplied play equipment to schools and nurseries for over 15 years making us one of the leading outdoor play specialists in Scotland. 01577 840570

Sensory Play Agility Trails Play Towers Natural Play Outdoor Spaces Inclusive Play Planters & Seating Musical instruments

Challenging Disability through Outdoor Adventure The Calvert Trust has been delivering outdoor adventure breaks for adults and children with disabilities in the beautiful surroundings of the Lake District National Park since 1976. Whether you are looking for new experiences and to meet new people, or just active holiday fun with friends and family, we have something amazing to offer you. To find out more, including dates and availability, call us on 017687 72255 introduction Reg Charity No. 270923

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10/05/2018 12:46

THE GREAT OUTDOORS The benefits of outdoor learning are well documented, from improving confidence and fostering independence to encouraging students to explore boundaries. But how accessible is outdoor learning for children with SEN?

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gentle breeze on your skin, the sound of birdsong, gazing over sun-dappled forest floors and hearing the crunch of twigs underfoot… Simply spending time outdoors is known to provide a boost to your physical and emotional wellbeing. The rewards of learning outside extend to young people with special needs, too, whether it’s enjoying outward bounds activities or being challenged in a Forest School environment. But in today’s risk averse society, it can often seem too complex or expensive for SEN students to access outdoor learning opportunities. Government research in 2010 found that SEN children: “still have particularly poor access to learning outside the classroom”. Many schools have implemented outdoor learning areas within their grounds, with fantastic accessible play equipment and sensory areas offering a range of learning experiences, like school allotments and mud kitchens. But there’s nothing quite like heading to the great outdoors to challenge both students and teachers; allowing children to discover more about

themselves and the world, and liberating them from the classroom environment.


Experts in supporting children, young people and adults with physical and learning disabilities for more than thirty years, Calvert Trust operates three outdoor education centres across the UK. Its bases in Kielder, Exmoor and the Lake District offer a range of accessible options, including high ropes challenges, laser clay shooting, archery, climbing, bushcraft, sailing and kayaking. Calvert Trust works with schools to tailor activities and breaks to suit all students’ needs, whether it’s a short break or a week-long residential stay. As well as respected and longestablished centres like those operated by Calvert Trust, there are many other activities available to SEN teachers and schools which provide less structured approaches and don’t involve residential stays or more ‘traditional’ outward bound activities. Outdoor learning approaches, like Forest School, can enhance students’ experience of education. Research has

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“Outdoor learning allows students to discover more about themselves and the world, and liberates them from the classroom environment” shown that it can be tailored to tie in with curriculum outcomes; offering improvements in areas including skill development, vocational learning, whole-school benefits and community links.


Forest School has Scandinavian roots but is gaining popularity among mainstream and SEN schools in the UK thanks to its person-centred approach. Forest School offers regular opportunities over a long period of time for all learners to enjoy hands-on activities in wooded environments, and it’s more a philosophy than a structured outdoor learning programme. Lily Horseman is Chair of the Forest School Association (FSA) and explains: “Because of its inclusive approach and adaptive ethos, Forest School lends itself to supporting students with special needs. I know people who are working with children with quite complex issues and they’re able to adapt to those issues.” Forest School activities can include working with tools and fire, making instruments from natural materials to create music, foraging for and preparing food in the forest, mindfulness practice, creating art using mud and water, carrying out activities which employ maths or literacy skills, or simply ‘being’

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in the outdoors. Understandably, Forest School’s environment provides a sensory experience you won’t find anywhere else, and the benefits it can bring to students with physical and learning disabilities can be unparalleled. “With a lot of SEN children, Forest School is about scaffolding and supporting their social and emotional development,” explains Amanda Porter, a Forest School leader who runs sessions at The Beacon Folkestone, a special school for students with profound, severe and complex needs in Kent. She works with children with autism, ADHD and speech and language disorders, and says: “The behaviours they exhibit in school which can be quite challenging tend not to happen outside. Our evaluations have shown that the children’s progress in terms of engagement, wellbeing and social interaction was very clear.”


Forest School encourages SEN students to discover a sense of freedom, find the space to be themselves and learn what they’re capable of, all in the therapeutic woodland environment. Amanda reveals: “One of the children I worked with was very angry in school and needed to go in the safe space a lot. In Forest School, he told me he would like to climb a tree. He would sit in the

tree and talk to me about what he was worried about, rather than acting out his emotions through behaviours. He’d say ‘I love it here, I just look at the trees and feel so much calmer’.” It’s clear that the child-centred, nurturing approach of Forest School offers great benefits to many SEN students, but Forest School also does wonders for teaching staff too, as they’re encouraged to work with students in different ways and face measured risks which might otherwise be avoided in a more sanitised environment. Qualified Forest School practitioners will work at a level that’s developmentally appropriate for learners, and each participant’s needs and abilities will be assessed on an ongoing basis. For some schools, working with a Forest School Leader at a chosen site will be the best option, while for other schools there may be the opportunity for teaching and leadership staff to undertake FSAapproved training in order to really embed the principles of Forest School into the school curriculum and get a full understanding of how it can work best for your students. So what are you waiting for? Get out there, fill your lungs with fresh air, get closer to nature and reap the benefits for your school, staff and students.

MORE INFORMATION Calvert Trust Forest School Association

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Did you know that four legged friends can have major health benefits for schoolchildren? We speak to Georgette Williams, head of inclusion at Kings Hill Primary School in Kent, about how a pup in the classroom can improve pupils’ wellbeing and education


herapy dogs are already being widely used in hospitals and care homes to bring comfort to vulnerable people, but they’re also popping up in more and more schools. “We have two different dogs for two different reasons: therapy and reading,” explains Georgette. The school’s reading dog, Duke, has been there for four years while Charlie, the therapy dog, has been there for two. “The reading dog is for children who are reluctant to read to an adult,” says Georgette. “It’s to encourage them to read more and to get more of a joy from reading. The therapy dog is more for wellbeing and to help with anxiety, or if the child has gone through a difficult time in their life, like bereavement or parental separation.”


Kings Hill Primary School found that the dogs have had an overwhelmingly positive effect on children’s wellbeing. “We’ve had 100% success rate,” says Georgette. “That’s measured in a pupil, parent, and teacher survey.” She emphasises that 30 Teachers’ Resource SEN

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Duke and Charlie aren’t in the school so that children get better marks: “It’s not really academic driven, but to develop a love of reading. It’s about the children’s wellbeing, involvement, and confidence increasing.” However, by encouraging children to read, talk, and relax, Duke and Charlie help the children academically as well as emotionally and mentally. “We’ve certainly seen a real change with having dogs in school,” says Georgette. “It’s even encouraged us to look at therapies involving other animals, such as equine therapy, as a result of the success of the programmes with the dogs we have.” Georgette is the first to admit that having dogs in the classroom can pose problems. “I know that a lot of schools have tried therapy dogs, but it’s finding the right dog and the right owner and that’s not always easy,” notes Georgette. Allergies and a fear of dogs can mean having a dog in the classroom is problematic, but Kings Hill have strict health and safety measures in place. Their dogs are registered with Pets As Therapy who ensure that all therapy dogs go through rigorous tests.

Heroic puppy Doug the Pug has been working as a therapy dog since 2011, registered with Pets As Therapy, a UK charity. Each week he visits a junior school and an infant school and a few times each term he also attends Pupil Referral Units, where children go to school when they have special needs. “Whether suffering from physical or emotional pain, being with Doug has shown to release this tension to a level that we have seen people fall asleep with Doug and escape from their daily challenges,” says Doug’s owner, Cate Archer. “Even though Doug can’t actually make these problems go away, he can help re-charge internal resources, to give strength upon wakening, to manage with a new and fresh approach. He helps build resilience.”

“The reading dog is for children who are reluctant to read to an adult” Georgette

MORE INFORMATION To find out more about therapy dogs, visit Pets As Therapy

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Profile for DC Publishing

Teacher's Resource SEN Spring / Summer 2018  

Teacher's Resource SEN Spring / Summer 2018