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March • April 2012 Issue 57

Turn me on

Can multi-sensory rooms light up learning?

Mysterious ways Faith, culture and special needs

Managing ADHD Strategies that work in the classroom

P scales • Rett syndrome • autism • transition • dyslexia music therapy • Tourette’s • statutory assessments • behaviour learning outdoors • SEN news, courses and events, plus much more...

this issue in full

March • April 2012 • Issue 57

Editor’s diary

ADHD is always a hot topic in education circles and in December I attended a spirited event at the House of Lords aimed at raising awareness of the condition. Organised by the Better Futures group and hosted by Lord Bradley, it included a fascinating presentation from mother Hilary Luxford about her child’s ADHD. It was also refreshing to hear comedian Rory Bremner discuss how he recognised the signs of ADHD in himself when a family member was diagnosed with the condition. You can read Better Futures member Fintan O’Regan’s article on ADHD management in this issue of SEN Magazine (p.30). In early January, I spent a whirlwind four days manning the SEN stand at the mighty BETT show. With seemingly everyone from Microsoft and Google to the smallest one-man-andhis-laptop companies exhibiting, BETT is a veritable feast for those who love education and what technology can do to support it. As always, there were some excellent SEN resources on show too. With rapid developments in ICT offering exciting new opportunities for learning and communication for those with SEN, this is an area that the Magazine will be covering a great deal in forthcoming issues.

Lord Bradley (left) with SEN Editor Peter Sutcliffe at the House of Lords ADHD reception.

At the end of January, I went along to the Westminster Education Forum Keynote Seminar on SEN, chaired by Pat Glass MP and Shadow Children’s Minister Sharon Hodgson. The mix of practitioners and SEN heavy-weights, both on the podium and in the audience, made for lively debate on some of the key issues facing the SEN sector. It was particularly good to hear the crucial area of post-16 provision discussed with such vigour.


SEN news


What’s new?


Point of view


Free schools


Faith, culture and SEN


ADHD in the classroom


ADHD and behaviour


Multi-sensory rooms


Tourette’s syndrome


Music therapy


P scales


Learning outdoors


Accessible vehicles


Statutory assessments








Asthma management


SEN provision




Rett syndrome


About SEN Magazine


Book reviews


TES Resources North

100 CPD, training and recruitment 112 SEN resources directory 114 SEN subscriptions 115 Mencap


To get involved with SEN Magazine and for the latest news and opinions, join us on Twitter and Facebook or visit the website. Peter Sutcliffe Editor

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DESIGN Rob Parry - flunkyfly design

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Next issue deadlines: Advertising: 4 April 2012 News: 28 March 2012

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Jenny Parry

The opinions expressed in SEN Magazine are not necessarily those

Steven Philp

of the publisher. The publisher cannot be held liable for incorrect

Stella Turner

information, omissions or the opinions of third parties.

SEN Magazine Ltd. Chapel House, 5 Shawbridge Street, Clitheroe, BB7 1LY T: 01200 409800 F: 01200 409809 W: E:

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SEN Magazine ISSN: 1755-4845 SENISSUE57

In this issue

Music therapy



Learning outdoors

Free and easy?


What exactly are free schools and what does it take to set one up?



Mysterious ways

RETT syndrome


More than just a statement Removing barriers to literacy Understanding the real needs of dyslexic learners


Model behaviour How to teach positive behaviour to young people with ASD and learning difficulties

Managing the deficit How to minimise the influence of ADHD in the classroom



What is the true purpose of a statutory assessment?

The influence of faith and culture on attitudes towards special needs


March • April 2012 • Issue 57


A bit of a drama? Can the arts help equip young people with learning disabilities for adult life?

Poles apart? The extreme effects of ADHD on behaviour



Turn me on

Asthma and the special child A practical guide to managing asthma in the classroom

The role of multi-sensory rooms in promoting learning


38 Under control? What can we do to improve the everyday experiences of young people with Tourette’s syndrome?



Therapy of real note

A question of inclusion What do teachers really think about teaching children with ASD?

How music can make a major difference to troubled lives


46 Constraint or opportunity?

A class apart Why is Rett syndrome being classified out of the autistic spectrum?

The pros and cons of using P scales to assess those with SEN


50 Branching out How gardening can open up exciting opportunities for children with SEN


A chocolate fireguard A parent tells how his sons’ SEN provision fell well short of what their statements promised

TES Resources North preview We look ahead to the exhibition which includes Special Needs North

On the road A useful guide to choosing an accessible vehicle

Follow us on

Visit us at:

Join us on

26 Faith, culture and SEN 30 ADHD

34 Multi-sensory rooms

Regulars 6 12 20

SEN news

82 Autism

What's new? The latest products and ideas from the world of SEN

Point of view Your opinions aired

94 Book reviews 100 CPD and training Your essential guide to SEN courses, seminars and events

112 SEN resources directory

In the next issue of SEN:

fostering • autism • dyslexia • sport speech, language and communication peer mentoring • epilepsy • respite care numeracy • play • home education • ICT and much more...



Autism may be detected at six months Scans reveal differences in babies’ brain responses Hope for diagnosis before behavioural symptoms evident Scientists believe that they may be able to predict the future development of autism by measuring brain activity at just six months. A collaborative project involving some of the UK’s leading autism researchers has revealed that possible signs of autism can be detected in the brains of infants at a much earlier age than previously thought. The project showed that, in their first year of life, babies who will go on to develop autism already show different brain responses when someone looks at them or away. It is hoped that this development may help pave the way for earlier diagnosis of autism. The research was conducted at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck, University of London and was co-led by Birkbeck’s Professor Mark Johnson and Professor Tony Charman of the Centre for Research in Autism and Education at the Institute of Education, London. Professor Johnson said that the study’s findings “demonstrate for the first time that direct measures of brain functioning during the first year of life associate with a later diagnosis of autism – well before the emergence of behavioural symptoms." At present, autism diagnoses are generally only made after the age of two, once typical behaviours associated with autism are starting to emerge.

Brain scans reveal differences in babies who go on to develop autism.

Building on earlier research showing that the human brain shows

is these increasingly well-documented ‘first signs’ that will

characteristic patterns of activity in response to eye contact

alert parents and professionals to possible differences," said

with another person, Professor Johnson’s team looked at six-

Professor Charman.

to ten-month-old babies at greater risk of developing autism because they had an older sibling with the condition. Passive

The research team is keen to point out that not all babies who

sensors were placed on the babies’ scalps to register brain

showed these differences in brain function were later diagnosed

activity while they viewed faces which switched from looking

with autism and that further work is needed to refine the tests

at them to looking away. The subjects’ responses tended to be

before they could be used accurately as part of a clinical test

measurably different to those of babies not at high risk of autism.

to predict autism in the general population.

The response to eye contact is a key element in face-to-face social interactions and it is well documented that children

"Future studies will be required to determine whether

diagnosed with autism show unusual patterns of eye contact

measurements of brain function such as those used in our

and of brain responses to social interactions that involve

study might one day play a role in helping to identify children

eye contact.

at an even earlier age," said Professor Charman.

"Differences in the use of eye gaze to regulate social interaction are already a well-recognised early feature in many children

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with autism from the second year of life and at present it SENISSUE57


Gross warns of cuts to speech and language services

Poor teachers face earlier dismissal

The outgoing Communication

much more quickly than at present under new arrangements

Champion has cautioned that

announced by the Department for Education (DfE). Currently, it

cuts to speech and language

takes roughly a year for a school to remove a teacher, but from

services and new commissioning

September 2012 this will be possible in about a term.

procedures could cause greater hardship for children with communication needs. In a report issued to coincide with the end of the National Year of Communication, Jean Gross argues that the Health and Social Care Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament, should be amended to make joint commissioning of children’s community health services compulsory to improve services for those with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). Ms Gross is critical of plans to allow GP consortia to control commissioning, saying that she has “met no-one outside government who believe that commissioning by clinical commissioning groups led by GPs will change the fundamental problems. All say it will make it worse.” The report, Two Years On: final report of the Communication Champion for children, highlights the problems of cuts to NHS and local authority budgets at a time when the numbers of children with SLCN is growing rapidly – there has been a 58 per cent increase over the last five years in the number of school-age children reported as having SLCN as their primary special need. Ms Gross puts forward 30 major recommendations which address a number of key issues, including ensuring effective early intervention for SLCN, tackling uneven application of joint commissioning across the country, raising awareness of SLCN, addressing gaps in services for children with SLCN and providing additional support for teachers. The report praises local authorities that have successfully implemented “community-wide strategies to promote improved communication skills for all children”. To download a copy of the report, visit:

Schools will be able to dismiss under-performing teachers

The DfE has announced a range of measures which it claims will help schools manage teachers more effectively and ensure that they are performing at the highest possible standards. Schools will also be given greater powers over teacher and headteacher appraisals and the three-hour limit on observing a teacher in a classroom will be removed. Schools will be allowed to decide for themselves on appropriate appraisal times on a case by case basis. Schools will also have a responsibility to assess teachers annually against the DfE’s new Teacher Standards. In addition, ministers are looking at introducing new procedures for how schools recruit teachers which would force schools to pass on competency information about staff to prospective employers. Education Secretary Michael Gove claimed that the reforms will “make it easier for schools to identify and address the training and professional development teachers need to fulfil their potential, and to help their pupils to do the same.” The DfE’s new arrangements have received broad support from headteachers’ organisations, with Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, claiming that the plans will be in the best interests of the profession. “The simplest way to protect teachers is to be seen to be taking responsibility for our own performance. There is so much good practice out there that I think the profession has nothing to fear”, he said. However, the DfE has come under fire from some teaching unions. Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, argues that the Government is approaching the issue of teacher performance from the wrong angle. "What we do need if we are to raise performance, rather than grab headlines,” she said, “is to improve CPD and methods of supporting teachers.”

time as the Communication Champion, she outlines the main

News deadline for May/June issue: 28/03/12

findings of her report and discusses her hopes for the future of

Email: Tel: 01200 409810

In the next issue of SEN Magazine, Jean Gross writes about her

speech, language and communication provision.





National Advice Service for SEN The Government has announced the launch of the Special Educational Needs National Advice Service which offers advice and information to parents in England who have a child with SEN or disabilities. The Service provides advice on all aspects of education, including Early Years, individual education plans, annual reviews, tribunals and appeals, and School Action and School Action Plus. It is also designed to help families with transition planning and post-16 education support and advise them on issues such as bullying, exclusion, medical needs in school and transport to school. The contract to run the Service has been awarded by the Department for Education to Contact a Family, and it will form part of the charity’s integrated helpline. There is also an online service for more general advice and guidance utilising email, social media and the organisation’s website. News of the Service has been welcomed by Brian Lamb, whose Inquiry Into Parental Confidence recommended setting up a national network for SEN advice. “We found that parents needed help and support to navigate the complex SEN system and this will make a real difference to parents ensuring their children have the right support”, he said. For more information, and to visit the SEN National Advice Service online, go to:

Ofsted tackles “satisfactory” schools Ofsted is to clamp down on schools that consistently fail to provide a “good” standard of education. Under new draft proposals, the school assessment category of “satisfactory” will be replaced with a new category: “requires improvement”. The aim is to highlight and tackle schools which are seen to be coasting at the “satisfactory” level. Schools will not be allowed to remain on the “requires improvement” grade for more than three years. They will be expected to achieve the higher Ofsted standard of “good”. Schools registering as “requires improvement” will be subject to re-inspection within 12 to 18 months, rather than up to three years as at present. Any such school failing to improve its ranking within three years would be placed in special measures. Ofsted says that its proposals, which have been backed by the Prime Minister David Cameron, are aimed at ensuring that under-performing schools are identified and given appropriate help to improve quickly. SENISSUE57

Teaching assistants’ role in SEN must change Schools and teachers are allowing teaching assistants (TAs) to become the primary educators of children with SEN to the detriment of these pupils, according to a new book by academics at the Institute of Education, London. Building on their major research project into the role of the TA, the book’s authors claim that teachers are happy for TAs to assume this role because they can then get on with teaching the rest of the class whilst ensuring that those with special needs get one-to-one attention. However, results from the study found that pupils who received the most support from TAs consistently made less progress than similar pupils who received less TA support. “The fault is not with TAs, but with decisions made – often with the best of intentions – about how they are used and prepared for their work,” the authors argue. The numbers of TAs have more than trebled since 1979 and they now make up a quarter of the school workforce. “But the more support pupils get from TAs, the less they get from teachers”, the authors claim. “Supported pupils therefore become separated from the teacher and the curriculum.” The book calls for schools and policy makers to make radical changes to the ways in which TAs are deployed in schools. It argues that TAs should not be routinely used to support those with SEN, that teachers should use TAs to “add value” to their own teaching and that teacher training should include instruction on how to work with TAs. Schools should also establish a formal induction process for TAs and facilitate more joint planning and feedback time for teachers and TAs. The findings of the five-year study of 8,200 pupils, the Deployment and Impact of Support Staff (DISS) project, are published in the book Reassessing the Impact of Teaching Assistants: How Research Changes Practice and Policy by Peter Blatchford, Anthony Russell and Rob Webster.


DfE attacked over assistive technology The Department for Education has been criticised for its assertion that “the great majority of disabled children who need auxiliary aids and services” are already receiving them through statements of SEN. Ian Litterick, of the British Assistive Technology Association (BATA), has questioned the Department’s statement, which was issued as part of its recent consultation on Auxiliary Aids for Children with Disabilities, claiming that it is “hugely optimistic”. He argued that many schools do not have sufficient knowledge of appropriate assistive technology (AT) to be able to cater effectively for individual needs. While mainstream schools often do not have the know-how to manage even visible difficulties, some special schools are also falling short and do not have sufficient AT expertise.

School is failing deaf children Nearly two thirds of deaf children do not have a basic understanding of maths and English when they leave primary school. Key Stage 2 results, published in December 2011, show that 64 per cent of deaf children are leaving primary school without grasping simple sums and sentences, compared with 19 per cent of children without SEN.

Mr Litterick claims that for less visible difficulties, such as dyslexia, schools often rely on teaching assistants to support pupils, rather than encouraging independent learning with AT. BATA has called for a “much more proactive approach to the use of assistive technology in schools”, including better assessments and AT specific teacher training. BATA’s five point plan for AT use in schools can be found at:

No notice inspections for child protection services Ofsted is to introduce unannounced inspections for child protection services from May 2012, alongside a raft of measures aimed at making the inspection process more effective and child-centred. Inspections will be carried out over a two-week period, with greater emphasis being placed on inspectors talking directly to children and their families about their experiences. There will also be more discussion with front-line social workers and managers, and inspectors are to shadow social workers and observe multi-agency working. The number of cases being examined in each inspection will be doubled, while the number of key areas inspectors will judge services on has been cut dramatically, from nine to three. Inspections will now focus on “the effectiveness of the help and protection provided to children, young people, families and carers”, the quality of practice, and leadership and governance. Ofsted Deputy Chief Inspector, John Goldup says that “This new framework puts the child’s experience at the heart of inspection. We want to ensure that inspectors are able to judge the impact that professionals working in child protection are making to help children and protect them from harm.”

Following the release of the figures, the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) has warned that deaf children are at risk of being left behind in the Government’s literacy and numeracy drive, blaming a lack of specialist support in schools for these children’s poor levels of achievement. The charity is calling on local authorities to protect the support they provide to deaf pupils through specialist teachers of the deaf. “It is appalling that thousands of children, who have the potential to achieve anything, are being denied vital support at school”, said Jo Campion, NDCS Deputy Director of Policy and Campaigns.

Study seeks adolescents with Tourette’s Young people with Tourette's syndrome in the East Midlands are being asked to take part in a study to examine the support provided for adolescents with the condition. The study’s authors are seeking to interview 35 young people with Tourette’s syndrome attending mainstream secondary school, their parents and school staff members. An online survey of 200 secondary schools will also be conducted. Called Improving the Psychosocial Experiences of Adolescents with Tourette’s Syndrome, the study is funded by a grant awarded to Tourettes Action from the BIG Lottery Fund. Its findings will be used to inform the development of training and educational materials. For more information, visit: SENISSUE57




Government urged to reform care system Political leaders have been challenged to deliver “urgent, fundamental and lasting reform” of the social care system. An open letter with more than 70 signatories, including representatives of leading charities, academics and peers, argues that the current system is failing to meet the needs of disabled people and the elderly, resulting in “terrible examples of abuse and neglect in parts of the care system”. Those with disabilities are not receiving essential support to live independent lives and take part in society. Published in the Telegraph in January and delivered to Prime Minister David Cameron, the letter also highlights the plight of those who are forced to leave work to care for elderly or disabled relatives. Many carers are pushed to “breaking point” by the need to provide 24 hour care and businesses are suffering from the resulting loss of experienced staff. In addition, the NHS is forced to cater for increasing numbers of avoidable hospital admissions caused by lack of support for disabled people, the elderly and their carers. Signatories to the open letter include representatives of leading SEN charities such as the National Autistic Society, RNIB, Mencap and Sense. Following last summer’s independent Dilnot Commission into Funding of Care and Support, the Government promised that it would publish a White Paper on Social Care in April this year. The open letter urges politicians of all parties to work together to reach a consensus and “seize the opportunity” to bring about crucial reforms through the White Paper.

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Call for more ADHD assessments Children who are given a second fixed-term exclusion from school should be routinely assessed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), says a group made up of medical and educational specialists. The link between behavioural issues, school exclusion and ADHD is well documented but the Better Futures group claims that the condition is still “under-diagnosed and under-treated”. Unidentified and poorly managed ADHD can lead to problems with anti-social and even criminal behaviour, and the group argues that improvements in diagnosis and treatment would provide long-term cost savings and have a positive effect on education, criminal justice, healthcare and family welfare. A Better Futures ADHD awareness event at the House of Lords in December was hosted by former Labour MP Lord Bradley, with speakers including Hilary Luxford, the mother of a child with ADHD, and comedian Rory Bremner. There were also presentations by group members Dr Susan Young, a consultant clinical and forensic psychologist, and SEN consultant Fintan O'Regan.

National Curriculum to focus on SLCN A report by the Expert Panel for the National Curriculum review has called for speech, language and communication to be a part of the curriculum throughout compulsory schooling for all subjects, rather than just for English, as at present The report’s authors argue that a “compelling body of evidence” points to a connection between oral development, cognitive development and educational attainment, claiming that the development of oral language should be a strong feature of any new National Curriculum. They go on to conclude that “The implication of our understanding of the significance of oracy is that, while it should find a particular place within the National Curriculum for English, it should also be promoted more widely as an integral feature of all subjects.” The findings of the Department for Education’s review body have been welcomed by The Communication Trust, a consortium of nearly 50 voluntary sector organisations. Anita Kerwin-Nye, the Trust’s Director, said that she is “delighted to see children’s speech, language and communication forming a major part of the Expert Panel’s recommendations for the future of the National Curriculum. This is a big step forward for the issue and follows recent news that communication is now being included in the Ofsted framework.” The Expert Panel for the National Curriculum review can be downloaded at:


SpLD “parent champions” Parents and carers of children with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties (SpLD) are being asked to become parent champions to help families affected by SpLD in their local area. The scheme, being run by the Dyslexia-SpLD Trust, is looking for volunteers to give an hour a month to keep the charity in touch with local needs and issues, and to provide information to others in the community. “Our parent champions will play a vital role because they understand the challenges mums and dads are facing”, says Trust member Tim Mungeam. “We’re not looking for experts. We’re looking for people who care – who know what families are going through and can offer support at a time when many parents feel isolated.” For more information, visit:

Deaf friendly football competition The UK’s biggest annual tournament for deaf and deaf friendly football clubs will take place on 4 March in Liverpool and on 18 March in Reading. The National Deaf Youth Football Tournament, organised by the National Deaf Children’s Society, will involve hundreds of deaf children and young people. Teams can include both hearing and deaf children but there must be at least three deaf players in each team. Communication barriers can make the football pitch an intimidating environment for those with hearing impairments, and deaf young people are often excluded from taking part in mainstream sports activities. Commenting on the launch of the tournament, GB Deaf Ladies Footballer Victoria Wenman said that taking part in deaf friendly football had helped her to indulge her love for the game and develop as a person: “It was only through playing with my deaf team that I really thrived as a confident player”, she said. “My coach knew how to communicate with me whereas in other teams I’d played in, communication had been an issue.” For further information, visit:

News deadline Deadline for news items for next issue: 28/03/12 Email: Tel: 01200 409810

Stigma surrounds mental health of the looked after Education, social and mental health services are not aware enough of the mental health needs of looked after children and young people, says a new report by YoungMinds. With a great deal of stigma still surrounding the issue, many young people have a negative image of mental health services, which are often seen as being for those who have a particularly serious illness or problem. The charity ran creative workshops with 50 young people from residential homes, secure settings and foster placements. Most of the young people felt that their emotional needs were not understood and that school staff, in particular, were ill-equipped to talk about such issues as they did not have experience of the care system. The report, Improving the Mental Health of Looked After Young People, makes a number of targeted recommendations for education, social and mental health services. It can be found at:

Epilepsy survey needs SENCOs and teachers SENCOs and teaching staff are being asked to take part in a new survey to investigate the support provided to school pupils with epilepsy across the country. The survey, organised by Epilepsy Action, aims to establish what issues staff may need more support with to help pupils with epilepsy. The charity will also be conducting a survey of parents’ views. More than 60,000 people under the age of 18 in the UK are thought to be affected by epilepsy, and previous studies have shown that up to half of these children and young people underachieve academically at school. “It is vital that pupils with epilepsy receive support at school to enable them to reach their full potential”, says Leanne Creighton, the charity’s Education Policy and Campaigns Officer. “The survey will help us to understand what support is already in place in schools to support pupils with epilepsy, and see what else needs to be done.” The survey’s findings will form part of the charity’s work towards National Epilepsy Week in May. More information is available from: SENISSUE57




What’s new?

Major investment in Acorn Park

Acorn Care and Education is investing £1 million pounds in Acorn Park School. Acorn Park School is an independent specialist day and residential school for children and young people aged four to 19 years who have autism and moderate to severe learning difficulties.   The education facilities are being completely refurbished to provide an enhanced “autism friendly” teaching environment. Plans include introducing individual work stations to create a distraction free zone, using subtle blue and green hues to create a sense of calm and reduce stimuli, and many more features.   For more information, visit:  or

New CEO at Percy Hedley Foundation The Percy Hedley Foundation has appointed Carole Harder (pictured) to the post of Chief Executive. Carole, a qualified teacher, has spent most of her working life in the NHS, most recently as Director of Community Services for Durham and Darlington Primary Care Trust. “I am delighted to be joining the Foundation at such a crucial time and relish the challenge of leading the organisation to greater success”, said Carole. “It will be a privilege to be the CEO of an organisation which is recognised nationally and internationally as leading the way in the provision of specialist high-quality services for disabled people.”

Whole school autism awareness training A project funded by the Department for Education and delivered by the Autism Education Trust (AET) will see training hubs across England embark on a national three-tier training scheme to raise the level of autism awareness across primary and secondary schools. AET Level 1 training will be available from 1 April 2012. It is free of charge and aimed at school staff who need an understanding of autism in their role. Levels 2 and 3, applicable to all teaching staff, will be available from September. For more information and to find your nearest training hub, visit:

Baker Ross craft products fit for a Queen To celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend starting on 5 June, Baker Ross, the arts and crafts supplier for schools, is releasing a special range of Jubilee themed products. Available from 5 March, the collection incorporates everything from fun party items to creative arts and crafts supplies. There are products suitable for all age ranges and abilities, including Jubilee themed stickers and scratch art, and craft kits with all the necessary materials and simple step-by-step instructions.

To order, call: 0844 576 8922, or view the range online or order a free catalogue at:

SEN consultancy with a difference

New services from Cambian Group

ASEND provides a fully integrated multi-agency consultancy service to schools, enabling them to narrow the gap between pupils with and without SEN.

New services for children and young adults with autism, challenging behaviour and complex needs:

ASEND brings together all the services and support available from different agencies, making it easier for schools and families to coordinate children’s health, education and social care needs. Schools choose the experts they need, when they need them, from a diverse team of experienced specialists. ASEND’s consultancy, training, strategic planning and support aims to equip schools to meet the challenges of Ofsted and forthcoming legislative changes following the SEN Green Paper. SENISSUE57

• Cambian Beeches in South Leverton, Nottinghamshire is mixed gender, 52 weeks for age 18+ • Cambian Southwick Park School (opening in spring 2012) in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire is mixed gender, 52 weeks for age 11-19. Both facilities are now taking referrals. To discuss, in confidence, an individual’s needs, call: 0800 288 9779 or email:



Foxes learners flying high

Doncaster College for the Deaf

Learners from Foxes Academy recently presented Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance with a cheque for £1333. The money was raised through the sale of calendars.

Doncaster College for the Deaf currently has places available for learners who are deaf, hearing impaired or who have additional communication difficulties.

Tutor Trudy Small said that “Learners coordinated every stage of the project from designing the layout, to photos and sales. The experience developed their team working skills and awareness of local community charities.” During the visit to the airbase in Henstridge, Somerset, the crew showed learners the helicopter and explained how their contribution will be used. Learner Samantha Travers said: “I am happy that the money we raised will save someone’s life.”

The College specialises in high-quality, innovative foundation and personal learning programmes, designed to provide learners with exactly what they need at the time they need it. Using total communication, the College offers an extended curriculum which is highly supportive and person-centred. Learners can develop their identity and feel they belong to a supportive community with a shared language and culture. To arrange a visit, call: 01302 386 700, email: or visit:

Making a difference in special educational needs Mayer-Johnson products are making a difference to SEN learners, teachers and schools throughout the country: • learners have greater access to educational opportunities, with Mayer-Johnson’s BETT Award for ICT Solution for SEN finalist, Boardmaker Studio, allowing teachers to adapt activities to all their learners' needs • teachers can quickly create, adapt, differentiate and use their activities with learners, saving precious time • schools are seeing huge reductions in time, developing differentiated lessons and resources equivalent to savings of £17,000 in staff time. For further information, visit:

Helping young people and their parents learn more about ASD PEGASUS is for young people aged nine to 14 with ASD who attend mainstream school and their parents. It runs for six weeks at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and sessions last 1.5 hours. There are separate groups for children and parents and it is free of charge. As PEGASUS is new, children who come to PEGASUS need to be compared with those who don’t. This means that families who get involved in the study have a 50:50 chance of being invited to PEGASUS groups. Contact Dr Kate Gordon: 020 7405 9200 ext. 1436 or:

Ofsted rate Henshaws’ care, guidance and support “outstanding”

Printshop for schools

Henshaws College was inspected by Ofsted in November and judged to be good with outstanding aspects in the areas of care, guidance and support to students, and in the use of access technology for learners.

The School Printshop offers an unrivalled print related product range for all schools in the UK. Areas covered include all administration, visitor and pupil management, praise products, clothing and an enormous choice of fundraisers and gifts. Using digital print technology, the company can offer short runs of products that would historically have been unrealistic due to the costs involved. The site has been welcomed as a tremendous resource for all teachers and managers, offering not just very competitive pricing to help you to promote your school, but also an innovative platform for new ideas for fundraising.

Ofsted stated that “Learners make good progress in developing independent living skills, such as meal preparation and household tasks, and in the extent to which they can carry out personal care tasks for themselves… They make excellent gains in their personal health and fitness.” Inspectors also reported that learners enjoy attending college, develop good vocational skills and that a high proportion gain accredited qualifications.




Step in the Right Direction Autism Dance Day Anna Kennedy has announced the inaugural Step in the Right Direction Autism Dance Day for Friday 27 April 2012. This project aims to get large numbers of special needs and mainstream schools involved in organising dance events to raise funds for autism. The events will be open to all, those with and without autism, and event organisers will be encouraged to involve parents, siblings and the local community. In 2011, Anna produced the Step in the Right Direction DVD which highlighted the benefits of dance for those with autism. For more information, visit:

Hope Lodge pupils in charity fundraiser Pupils at Hope Lodge School have been awarded medals and certificates after taking part in the ProKick Challenge. They were raising money to provide sports equipment for disadvantaged children in other countries and, thanks to a great effort, they raised over £100. Pre- and post-16 students also attended a performance of The Borrowers at the local theatre. For many, it was the first time they had been to the theatre and they coped really well with the new environment. Post-16 students even went up on stage polishing a giant boot.

Planning for the future events Parents and families of people with a learning disability can make a difference to the future financial security of their loved ones by careful planning in their will. As well as providing free booklets about writing wills and setting up trusts, Mencap's wills and trusts team organise free events around England, Wales and Northern Ireland for families and carers. The two-hour events offer vital, specialist legal advice about writing a will and setting up a trust for the benefit of someone with a learning disability.   To find your nearest event in 2012, visit: or call: 020 7696 6925.

RSDCM adapts to meet students' changing needs The Royal School for Deaf Children Margate and Westgate College “educate and care for d/Deaf children and young people or young people with communication difficulties, who may have additional needs, for a positive future within work and their communities”. The School and College have adapted to meet the changing needs of pupils and students. This has included a new 14 to 19 curriculum offering excellent vocational courses either in the School, College or at the organisation’s own farm. This enables pupils and students to develop their life skills and employment opportunities alongside the National Curriculum.

At last! A British edition of News-2-You News-2-You has swept America with its fortnightly newspaper for struggling readers. News and activities that will interest young readers are written in a concise and motivating way. The newspaper can be read in four levels. Two levels have symbol support and the third and fourth levels are illustrated. There are speaking versions of each level and a text only version which can be used for Braille conversion. With topical news, worksheets, vocabulary, assessments, recipes, sports, puzzles, games, communication boards and Matrix Maker templates, the new British News-2-You is an essential resource for those learning to read. SENISSUE57

Snappy phonics catch up for struggling readers Help all your struggling readers catch up in phonics with Rapid Phonics’ Readers, Snappy Lessons and interactive eBooks for independent reading. Packed with age-appropriate content and bold artwork, Rapid Phonics builds real confidence and enjoyment in even the most reluctant readers. Written by renowned educational psychologist Dr Marlynne Grant, Rapid Phonics is also the only phonics catch up programme based on the proven Sound Discovery pedagogy that’s been tried and tested for over eight years.   For a free taster pack, visit:

WHAT’S NEW? A breakthrough for special needs and struggling readers Project X CODE is the only reading intervention to embed systematic synthetic phonics within a highly motivational adventure series. It introduces a different type of reading book with two texts in every book: the first text is 100 per cent decodable, to build reading confidence, and the second is at least 80 per cent decodable, to draw children through the series and keep them motivated. Project X CODE is fully resourced with comprehensive lesson plans, easy-to-use assessment and progress tracking, plus free online PD support for teachers and teaching assistants.   For more information and a free preview pack, visit:


Outstanding Ofsted for LVS Hassocks LVS Hassocks is celebrating after receiving an “outstanding” from Ofsted following their welfare inspection report. The inspection, carried out in December, looked at the residential aspect of the school that caters for young people with Asperger’s and autism. Inspectors commented: “This residential special school provides outstanding residential provision, where pupils thrive within a nurturing environment which clearly focuses on their individuality.” The commitment and quality of the staff was also recognised in the report, which commented on how staff “work together to help pupils achieve, and in many cases exceed, their potential”. For the full report, visit: :

New Head of Education for Prior’s Court School Prior’s Court, a specialist school for children with autism, has appointed Sue Piper (right) as Head of Education. Sue has extensive experience of both mainstream and special needs teaching and working with children with autism. Sue is a Trainer in the TEACCH Training Model (a level of expertise gained through extensive training and experience with the TEACCH approach, following more than seven years working with Division TEACCH). Sue was also instrumental in devising Prior's Court’s curriculum which Ofsted rated as “Outstanding”. For more information about Prior’s Court, call: 01635 247202, email: or visit:

Autism school sweeps the board Staff and pupils at Whinfell School in Kendal are celebrating a double success after being rated “Outstanding” across the board by Ofsted during two inspections for social care and education. The inspector wrote that “the school is outstanding in every respect and greatly valued by students, parents and carers and by placing local authorities… the outstanding curriculum and quality of teaching along with the therapeutic input of staff helps students to reach their potential and make outstanding progress.” Whinfell School provides personalised education and care for boys aged 11 to 19 with autism, complex needs and learning difficulties.

New children’s home in Devon Regents Park Ltd provides high quality care and support to children and young adults with learning disabilities, specialising in supporting people with severe and complex needs including challenging behaviour. Based in the Exeter and East Devon areas, Regents Park Ltd provide community based children's services including a children’s home, for those aged eight to 18, with bespoke provision to meet individual needs. There are currently vacancies in the home for residential, short breaks and enabling services. Overnight stays and day provision are also available. For more information, call: 01392 209 109, email: or visit:

Special attention to special needs eduSensus includes more than 3,500 premium resources that can be delivered online or offline through two specially developed platforms. Equipped with functionalities to support the pupil’s learning process, they provide an invaluable opportunity to continue therapy and education outside school or the therapist’s room. eduSensus includes: multimedia exercises, playlists, lesson plans, flashcards, worksheets, coloring pages, movies, rhymes, games, physical exercises and songs. They help prepare the child for school and prevent developmental delay. Resources cover: articulation, graphomotor, lexical, linguistic, manual, motoric, musical, mathematical, social and thinking skills, and auditory, spatial and visual perception, plus emotions. Visit: or email: SENISSUE57



College celebrates arts centre opening RNIB College Loughborough celebrated the official opening of its new arts centre which becomes the fourth edition to the College’s enterprises, providing a practical learning environment for learners to enhance their creative skills including performing arts, singing, dancing and music. The centre will also be used to host local artists’ exhibitions, which will be organised and advertised by learners, increasing their involvement within the local community. The official opening featured a film in which learners directed, acted, edited, filmed and composed the music for the production called Dr Vox. For more information, contact: 01509 631220.

New provision at Ruskin Mill Trust Education charity Ruskin Mill Trust has been pioneering its Practical Skill Therapeutic Education method since 1986 through its three FE colleges for those with SEN aged 16 to 25. In September 2011, the Trust opened two new centres: Brantwood Specialist School in Sheffield is a registered children’s home providing for day and residential young people aged seven to 19. Plas Dwbl Farm College, set in 100 acres in Pembrokeshire, is for young people aged 16 to 25. For further information: Brantwood: 0114 258 9062. Email: Plas Dwbl: 01994 419420. Email: Ruskin Mill Trust:

Your life, your way Self Unlimited offers choice and opportunities for people with learning disabilities. This national charity's aims are to give each person it supports as much help as they need to live successfully in their local community and to achieve goals that they set for themselves. Through a personWorking at the charity's centred approach, everyone Bistro, Ironbridge. receives the support that is right for them, and people are helped to feel safe, secure and confident at all times.

HushBoard soaks up sound HushBoard, the effective acoustic surface to enhance SEN learning areas from SFM Acoustics, can transform noisy interiors into colourful and durable learning environments for sensory impaired children. Available in over 30 colours, it doubles up as a notice or display board; you can pin, staple and Velcro on to it and it is environmentally friendly. SFM Acoustics offer a professional fitting and installation service and can incorporate special shapes, colours and logos into the overall design. To request a free acoustic assessment, email: and discover how to transform your environment. Tel: 01722 420670, fax: 01722 329855, web:

Swimming made easy Safety swimwear specialist Splash About has a range of products to help special needs swimmers feel safe and secure. The Float Jacket provides arms free buoyancy and warmth. A valuable safety precaution in and around water, it is available in sizes from one year upwards and adult S, M and L from £22.50. The Splash Shorts swim nappy can be used discretely under trunks or costumes. The super soft, snug fitting, deep bands of fabric stop leakage. Shorts are available in toddler to teen sizes and adult S, M, L and XL from £8.99. For more information, visit:

West of England School and College Independence Programme The West of England School SKIP (Skills for Independence Programme) enables learners to realise their potential in all areas of life and provides an environment that encourages independence through a personalised programme that develops as new skills are acquired.

Self Unlimited has been supporting people with learning disabilities for over 40 years. The support it offers gives people a life, not just a service.

Delivered by a professional team of occupational therapists, physiotherapists, mobility staff, tutors and support workers, the programme includes: independent travel, self-management in the home, independence in learning, managing time and money, relationships and myself, and my needs and my health. These core independent living skills offer the best start for learners as they prepare for life in a challenging world.


sen resources


Promotional feature

ADHD support in Lancashire ADHD Central Lancashire is a voluntary parent/carer and adult ADHD support group founded by parents of children with diagnoses of ADHD and additional needs. It is aiming to raise awareness of ADHD and its effects on family members, friends and others. You can join the support group online, attend monthly meetings or take your family to indoor play evenings which are exclusive to ADHD/ADD members and children.         ADHD can be very isolating but by joining the group you can talk and interact with other members who understand your situation. For further information, email:  or visit: SENISSUE57

children's home

sen resources





Point of view: parent

Family values

Parents must support each other in the community if we are to ensure inclusion for children with SEN, says Sarah Moore


y daughter Evie was born after

you are. The best thing for any child

professionals, so that it’s an escape from

a problem-free pregnancy

is a normal life.” So that’s what I did. I

everything else.

and straightforward labour,

started taking Evie along to playgroups.

I introduced the use of signs and

so my husband and I had no reason to

She has sensory processing problems

symbols at our playgroups to aid

think she would have any developmental

and easily becomes anxious, so her

communication for all children. We

issues. But by the time Evie was one, we

behaviour could be distressing to watch,

arrange weekly access to a sensory

had been told that she wasn’t meeting

but a familiar environment helped her

room and hold monthly swimming

milestones and was showing signs

desensitise and the other families got

sessions at the local pool, as many

of autism.

to know us and came to understand

children with additional needs find

why Evie acted differently to their

the water reassuring because it helps

own children.

support their bodies.

This wasn’t what we were expecting or how we had dreamed things would be. Having a family is meant to be a

The escape from constant discussion

Evie is now four and I’m starting up a

joyous time, sharing each milestone

of Evie’s problems was a welcome relief.

weekly support group, so local families

and saying things like: “Don’t they grow

can come together and share their

up quick?” and “They’re into everything

experiences. We also try to spread the

at this age”. Instead, we were thinking: “Why isn’t Evie doing that yet?” and “What are we doing wrong?” We felt lost, confused and alone, not knowing any other families with a child

We never seemed to have the chance just to enjoy being a young family

who had additional needs. We grieved

word in our community about additional needs and common misconceptions. With government funding in this area being cut, it’s up to us in our communities to fill the gap. A support network can make a vast difference to families with

for what we thought should be, and

She happily sat next to other children at

additional needs. The rewards are also

slowly got used to weekly appointments

snack time, gained a lot from watching

immense for me; I’m really enjoying it

with physios and other therapists, all

them play and soon settled into the

and I know how much Evie gets out of

of which added to the feeling that our

nursery. I believe she benefitted from

it too.

family was different. Suddenly, our lives

that inclusive environment, and the other

seemed to revolve around appointments

children did too. Our confidence and

and discussions with professionals two

feeling of acceptance as a family grew.

or three times a week. We never seemed

Gradually, I became more involved

to have the chance just to enjoy being

and started helping to run the groups

a young family.

myself. I hoped to reach out to parents

I heard about a local support group,

who needed support, just like I had.

and went along to meet other families

Additional needs aren’t always visible.

in similar situations. But the group was

They need patience and understanding,

run by the same therapists we saw every

and parents need a support network

week, so it was never really an escape.

of people who know what they are

The words of one paediatrician stuck

going through. It helps if some groups

in my head: “Carry on doing things as

are run for parents by parents, not by


Further information

Sarah Moore volunteers for the Bassetlaw branch of NCT, a UK charity for parents:


Point of view: student with autism

Give me a chance

Steven Philp explains how the right specialist support helped turn his life around


’m 24 and a higher education student

understanding needs to be addressed

people in education and the community.

in music production at the College

and that all professionals working in

I’d like to see specialist support in junior

where I have been studying since I

education should be trained in inclusive

and secondary schools as well as in

learning opportunities.

colleges and universities.

was 16. And, by the way, I am autistic: I have Asperger’s syndrome.

When people without autism go into

But it is not only within education

I faced a lot of barriers in education.

further education, they have to choose

that we need support. Throughout our

Before I started at college, I was

between so many different options and

lives, we will require help with legal,

extremely shy and reserved and I did

courses. For somebody with autism,

financial and social issues. It would also

not have many friends. Being here has

all these facts and figures can feel

be a great help to spread knowledge

given me confidence and social skills.

overwhelming and it can be difficult to

about autism to as many people as

I am able to speak to many people

understand how it relates to you at all.

possible, so others can understand

now, including unfamiliar adults, and I

I’ve been lucky to have a trusted person

how complex our lives can be. Autism

was honoured recently to speak at the

to help me decipher information and

impacts differently on each person and we all have differing needs.

House of Commons at the launch of an autism campaign. I no longer require help with academic work but do need support with the social side, so college has become like my second home. I need more time to study compared to my peer group. I don’t believe this

Some teachers either misunderstood me or held low expectations of my abilities

reflects on my ability but it shows that the

It is vital that professionals who want to work with people on the autistic spectrum are trained and experienced. I have a support worker at College who completely understands my needs, but while my university music professor is a great practical teacher, he does not have an understanding of autism or

present education system leaves little

make it simple to choose. This is vital

how to create tasks, assignments or

room for those who, though they may

for autistic people.

an environment that makes learning

have great strength in other areas, need

At College, there is a specialist

more time to develop some learning

team that works with students on the

If more people understood autism,

skills. I feel that, in order to overcome

autistic spectrum. They are trained to

it would make a lot of our lives easier;

this, it is vital that educators understand

understand autism and how it impacts

we have a lot to offer society if society

the complexities of autism so that they

on people. Their support has changed

gives us the opportunity.

can accommodate autistic students’

my life and helped me get to where I am

needs within the education system from

today. They treated me as an individual

the time of their diagnosis. In the past,

and tailored my studies to suit my

I have sometimes faced difficulties as

exact needs.

some teachers either misunderstood

There is a lot that could be done to

me or held low expectations of my

help improve the lives of people with

abilities. Other students can also make

autism. For example, more specialist

these assumptions. I believe this lack of

support should be available for autistic

accessible for people like me.

Further information

Steven Philp is a student at Weston College:



free schools


Free and easy? Lee Faith makes the case for free schools and looks at what it takes to set one up


ducation is never really out

they must provide a broad and balanced

of the political spotlight but

curriculum including the core subjects

since the election of the

like maths, English and science, and

Coalition Government in 2010, and

take account of SEN and the SEND

the introduction of the free schools

Code of Practice, but they don’t have

policy, it has proved to be especially

to follow the National Curriculum. 24 free


schools opened in 2011 and a further 55

Free schools are all-ability, non-profit making schools that are funded by the

Research from other countries shows that giving greater freedom to schools works

have so far been approved for opening in 2012.

their child there, although there are

UK taxpayer; they are free to attend and

The idea is to give parents greater

no formal restrictions on where the

are outside of local authority control.

choice and diversity over the schools

Government can approve a new school

They can be set up by parents, faith

in their local area. Groups have to

to be set up.

groups, charities, businesses or, indeed,

demonstrate that there is parental

We’ve all heard the stories of parents

anyone with an interest in education.

demand for a new school, via signed

who can’t get their children into a good

They have the flexibility to innovate;

petitions expressing a desire to send

local school, or who have been subject

Free schools can adopt a more flexible approach to learning.


free schools

to the postcode lottery; many of us will,

effectively, then they won’t survive – they

no doubt, have friends and family who

can be closed down if they underperform

have agonised over where and when to

or if they have insufficient pupils to be

move, often before their children have

financially viable.

even been born. Some also look at paying private school fees. However,

So why all the controversy?

a significant minority don’t have

Supporters of free schools believe that

these options.

they give parents more choice in the


Critics argue that these schemes will only benefit middleclass parents

Free schools give people the chance

type of education their children receive,

to build a good local school which has

and help them to make sure that children

is, providing schools in urban and

the freedom to cater for children’s

get the best possible opportunities to

rural areas where there’s a real need

needs, providing the right curriculum,

become fully rounded individuals who

to improve the life chances of young

the right approach to teaching and the

can flourish in later life.

people in communities, where socio-

right ethos, in areas where more and better schools are needed.

An example of one of the approaches

economic deprivation is at its most

adopted by some free schools is a

challenging and where opportunities

Research from other countries shows

longer school day, where children

to access a high quality education have

that giving greater freedom to schools

receive an in-depth education in core

been marginalised because of poor

works. The United States of America

subjects like English, maths and science

social mobility and a lack of strong

has the charter schools programme:

whilst also having compulsory extra-

educational leadership.

state-funded schools, usually smaller

curricular activities which develop their

There are, undoubtedly, many

than other US public schools, which

full skill-sets. These arrangements are

outstanding state schools but too

enjoy greater autonomy than other US

not always undertaken in the typical

often there is inconsistency in terms of

public schools. Free schools have also

classroom style; for example, some

quality of leadership and delivering high

existed in Sweden since the early 1990s

schools may have days when exercises

achievement for all pupils; so there is a

and now make up around a fifth of all

along the lines of the TV programme

need for schools that focus on recruiting

state schools in the country.

The Apprentice are carried out. Not all

outstanding leaders and teachers.

Giving people the ability to set

children learn in the same way and many

Some of this is about making sure that

up schools which cater for specific

supporters of free schools believe that

teachers have the time and capacity to

local needs, coupled with employing

this simple point needs to be better

be the best they can. A school could,

inspirational teachers and leaders,

reflected in how schools organise their

for example, ensure that teachers only

can have a huge impact on academic

learners’ school experience.

have a 60 per cent teaching timetable,

performance and the numbers of

Critics, on the other hand, argue that

rather than the normal 90 per cent,

students staying on in education.

these schemes will only benefit middle-

which means they would have more

These schools are normally set up in

class parents, who have the time to

time to prepare for lessons, learn from

areas where there are high levels of

dedicate to setting up a school, and

colleagues and others, and support

deprivation. One of the most successful

that this scheme diverts money away

those children who need more attention,

chains of charter schools in the United

from existing schools. The National

including those with SEN.

States is the Knowledge is Power

Union of Teachers has warned that the

There is also a fear that if free schools

Programme schools (KIPP). Nationally,

free schools policy would “fuel social

start to be seen as symbols of success,

more than 85 per cent of KIPP students

segregation and undermine local

those schools remaining under the local

have gone on to college despite over

democracy” and that free schools are

authority will be seen as second best.

80 per cent of students coming from

neither wanted nor needed. The Union’s

However, many supporters of a robust

low-income families.

conclusions are based on a survey it

education system for all might argue that

Although outside of local authority

commissioned YouGov to produce of

introducing competition can only help

control, free schools in this country

the opinions of one thousand parents.

the overall development of all students

are still subject to the normal Ofsted

Indeed, a number of the first wave

and, consequently, the UK in terms of

inspections and performance measures.

of schools which opened in 2011 have

Most importantly, as with all schools,

received criticism because the need

if they aren’t serving their community

for the school hasn’t been acute; that

its future workforce. >> SENISSUE57


free schools

Free schools and SEN

support from staff who really know and

The DfE are this year allowing groups

understand their needs; students with

for the first time to set up special free

SEN would then have support to focus

schools; so far, three special schools

on personal development needs, and

and five alternative provision schools

literacy and numeracy needs, so they

have been approved. Special schools

can engage in the rest of the curriculum.

have been set up by groups wanting to

Getting approval is not an easy process and you need to be dedicated to the cause

choice for families and children with SEN

Thinking of opening a free school?

to undertake a wide range of research

and disabilities. Alternative provision

If none of this puts you off and you’re

into needs and best practice, and into

free schools are aimed at giving more

thinking of setting up a free school, a real

the mechanics of how to make their

children who wouldn’t receive the right

passion for making sure children get an

ideas work in the real world; these

education in a mainstream school the

excellent education is a must. Getting

obviously need to be underpinned by

chance to get a good education.

improve state education provision and

approval is not an easy process and

solid evidence placed in local, national

All free schools have to follow the

you need to be dedicated to the cause;

and global contexts.

SEND Code of Practice and those that

it's not true to say that the Government

Then there are interviews to test your

are set up to fulfil their true purpose will

gives you the money and just lets you

plans and assess whether you have the

address the inclusion agenda by the very

get on with it. It's a lengthy and very

capacity and capability to make a free

nature of the fact that they will offer a

time-consuming process involving, at

school work. Making sure that you have

truly comprehensive provision. These

the start, a very detailed application

the right mix of people to make it happen

schools will have to consider how best

form which covers a whole range of

is crucial. Obviously, it needs a huge

to do this, which may be, as mentioned

areas including your vision, curriculum

amount of educational expertise but

earlier, by giving teachers more time to

plan, budget, staffing and marketing,

you also need to think about a much

plan engaging and high-quality lessons

to name just a few areas. Application

broader range of skills, including human

that engage students with SEN. It could

forms from existing free schools groups

resources, legal, property, ICT, finance

also be about ensuring that certain

have ranged from 150 pages to over

and communications.

staff members have a specific role that

500 pages, as you need to go into a

It is not something to take on

allows students to have more one to one

huge amount of detail. Applicants have

lightly but I certainly believe that, as educationalists, we should all have the same core purpose: to provide the very best quality of education for every child in every setting. Free schools are one way of achieving this crucial aim for young people in areas of need and so they should, I believe, be embraced as useful additions to our education system.

Further information

Lee Faith is the new Head of the Greenwich Free School which is due to open in September 2012:

Schools have to consider how best to meet the needs of all pupils.



whirred play


Promotional feature

A brand new word resource for all abilities Whirred PLAY™ is a brand new word game based upon homophones and is perfect for teaching this KS2 literacy curriculum topic, particularly to groups of students containing a diverse range of abilities. No matter what the size and make-up of the learning group, everyone can participate in a Whirred PLAY™ session at the same time, and all students have the same chance of being successful, whatever their spelling ability. Whirred PLAY™ particularly appeals to students with SEN as they can play at their own ability level. Whirred PLAY™ trials in primary schools highlighted its double benefits of inclusivity and equal chance of success, positively appealing to all students, even those who might ordinarily shy away from taking part in a word game for fear of having their spelling ability exposed. Teachers were also delighted to find an engaging and motivating resource that could be used simultaneously by the whole learning group. The competitive nature of Whirred PLAY™ had particularly high appeal to boys who traditionally are more difficult to enthuse about reading and spelling. Whirred PLAY™ is available in two formats: a board game version designed to be played by small groups of four to 10

students, and a classroom version allowing any number of mixed ability students to participate at the same time...and all with an equal chance of winning. The board game version contains cards incorporating 290 sets of homophones and is utilised either as a reward based activity for those that grasp the topic quickly or as an entertaining, engaging revision aid for those students who may need more support. The classroom version of Whirred PLAY™ can be customised with the educational establishment’s logo and utilises the electronic white board, allowing all students to clearly see their performance at all times. Instructions, guidelines and alternative play styles are provided along with an innovative Random Homophone Generator which determines which of the 290 homophones is to be spelt. Depending upon the number of participants, a typical Whirred PLAY™ session lasts between 20 to 30 minutes.

Please email: or call: 07807 858694 for more information. Alternatively, visit: for testimonials, videos and more. © & ® Annets Entertainment Ltd 2010 & 2011. All rights reserved.

Whirred PLAY™: Witch Whirred Wood Yew Chews?


faith, culture and sen


Mysterious ways Karen Walkden explores the influence of faith and culture on attitudes towards special needs


’m sure everyone would agree that a truly holistic assessment of the needs of a child with disabilities

or SEN should take into account the family circumstances, but how well is the impact of faith and cultural background understood?

Clashes between cultural norms and UK norms enshrined in legislation may arise

This article sets out some of the

from rejection of the faith to fervently embracing it. There can be a reversion to the core culture, so that practices perceived as tried and tested, or handed down through the generations, are given greater credence, particularly where the special need causes the parent to question their own skills. Clashes

issues and also the responses available

specific sub-groups or denominations,

between cultural norms and UK norms

to health, social care and education

there will be degrees of adherence

enshrined in legislation may arise. This

professionals working with children,

to the principles that define a set of

may be evident in areas such as physical

young people and their families from

beliefs. Within families, there could well

chastisement and forced feeding,

different faiths and cultures. There is

be generational variations, often with

for example, putting the child at risk

also a checklist to use in identifying

younger members of the family taking

of harm.

gaps and developing local action plans.

a more liberal or westernised stance.

Behind all this is a simple concept:

Mixed marriages can add yet another

that beliefs drive behaviour. To

A complex issue

level of complexity. It is also important

understand why a person behaves as

The first thing to say is that this is a

to understand the beliefs of the disabled

they do is to understand the complexity

complex area. There are variations within

child him/herself.

of their belief structure. As professionals,

faiths, as well as between them, and

Variations can also arise in times

we need to take the time to explore this

it is too simplistic to speak in terms

of crisis, such as at the time of the

area with families and to understand

of, for example the Muslim community

child’s diagnosis, when parents may

the influence of faith leaders and the

or Christian community. In addition to

tend to the extremes of their beliefs,

community as a whole.

Cultural competence Why do we shy away from discussing these issues? Is it fear of offending or stereotyping families or of being branded as racist or insensitive? Is it that we feel we should know more about other cultures than we really do? As part of this quest for understanding, professionals are advised to explore their own cultural competence: to identify experiences that have shaped their personal knowledge and understanding of different faiths and cultures. Your cultural competence is the lens through which you look at and Professionals need to understand how faith affects the whole community.


interpret the world. A greater awareness

faith, culture and sen

with the family to overcome and change the views of the wider community. Faith communities may have particular difficulties in accepting and including children and young people with conditions that may have behavioural manifestations, like autism, Tourette's syndrome and bipolar disorder. Even where there is a broad understanding of the condition, it may be difficult for faith communities or leaders to understand that these manifestations will continue to be evident in places of worship, manifesting themselves, for example, Families may feel that a child with SEN is testing their faith.

in shouting out during times of quiet reflection, distress if the running order

of your own influences will enable you

The family of a disabled child in a

changes or difficulties in following the

to work more objectively with those who

church with a strong belief in the healing

metaphors used in Bible stories. You

have a different background to your

power of prayer could feel isolated and

cannot leave the disability or special

own. Cultural competence increasingly

embarrassed when they are not “cured”,

need at the door.

features in the training of front-line health

potentially leading to a risk of physical or

and social care professionals and is a

emotional abuse as the child’s difference

development can also vary greatly.

good INSET topic to explore.

separates him/her from the community.

One parent spoke to me of their Hindu

Perceptions of disability Compassion, love and support for the vulnerable are common themes across all faiths. Having a faith and belonging to a community can provide social capital for a disabled person. Professionals working with local community groups

Religions offer differing, and sometimes confusing, views of disability

have the opportunity to contribute to the building of a strong and enduring support framework for the family.

Perceptions of “normal” child

temple as a lively place where groups of energetic children are welcomed and not expected to sit quietly. Children with ADHD or autism fit right in and do not draw particular attention to themselves. It is only as they grow older and there is a greater expectation to conform that the child’s differences become more apparent. This may also be the

Where there is a belief in malign

case in more charismatic churches

influences, actions may be taken

where worship encompasses physical

However, religions offer differing, and

to expel the spirits possessing the

expressions such as dance, speaking

sometimes confusing, views of disability;

child which are believed to cause

in tongues or falling down in the power

for example, disability can be seen as a

the disability. The emotional and

of the Holy Spirit. In one case, I was

manifestation of “the sins of the father”

psychological consequences of being

told that the uninhibited behaviour of

and a form or punishment, or it can be

labelled in this way can compound the

an autistic boy enabled the person

approached from the point of view that

family’s difficulties within the community.

supporting him to engage in freer

each person is created equal and in

Cultural stigmas may result in denial

God’s image. Families may believe that

or concealment of the child’s condition

There are many examples of families

the child with SEN is a special gift that

and so limit access to services,

of children with disabilities and special

has been entrusted to them, that there is

treatment, therapies and medication.

needs who find themselves ostracised

an innocence about the child that gives

Where provision is limited, professionals

from or unable to participate in their

him/her a more direct relationship with

might inadvertently collude with families

faith community. However, there are

God, or that the parents’ faith is being

who express a wish to keep their

also stories of hope, where inclusion is

tested. Both of these stances can pose

child away from public services. The

a risk to the child, if taken to extremes.

challenge for professionals is to work

understood as a key tenet of the faith. >>

worship herself.




faith, culture and sen

Special needs ministries that include, rather than segregate, are emerging. In really exceptional cases, such ministries can include respite for parents and responding to the needs of siblings too. In SEN terms, there is much to be gained through cooperative relationships

Cultural stigmas may result in denial or concealment of the child’s condition

Checklist: understanding cultural diversity The following questions will help you to evaluate the extent to which you are responding to the needs of families whose faith and culture differ from the

between schools, professionals, families

host nation.

and faith communities so that effective

provided and perhaps to implement

strategies can be transferred across

complex instructions or therapies.

different settings. For example, the use

This is another area where working with

faith and culture of the disabled

of social stories, consistent application

community groups, through interpreters

children and young people you

of behaviour management strategies

and building up the skills of advocates,

work with?

and even the sharing of equipment and

can be beneficial.

resources can all be helpful here. I have

I have worked with one London

seen this work effectively across faith

borough which has invested in disability

based youth groups and schools.

awareness training for supplementary

✓✓ Do you gather information on the

✓✓ Does the faith and cultural profile of the families you work with reflect that of the local area? ✓✓ Would you expect particular

Representatives from the faith

schools with the twin aims of enabling

community could also be part of the

the schools to include disabled children

extended family, taking on trustee roles

effectively in their own group lessons,

when personal budgets are in place for

and to increase parental awareness

young disabled adults. I ran a workshop

and confidence in engaging with

work with the voluntary and

on understanding personalisation for

mainstream schools.

community groups that support

faiths and cultures to be better represented in your figures? ✓✓ How do you engage and

families of different faiths?

voluntary and community groups

Creative local commissioning can

recently and was pleased that it was

provide culturally appropriate and cost-

predominantly attended by faith leaders

effective disability services. Another

of services through partnership

who saw this as a key part of their

approach is to ensure that services are

arrangements between faith

pastoral role and were keen to explore

sensitive and accessible across a range

groups and the public sector?

practical ways to pursue it.

of belief systems. This requires some

✓✓ How far are local forums

knowledge of the barriers that could

Responses to cultural difference

for disabled children and

exist. For example, I know of a Hindu

their families reaching and

Belief systems may carry with them

daughter to attend a siblings group set

some very practical issues. For example,

up to provide a break for brothers and

medication containing preservatives

sisters of disabled children. The concern

based on porcine, bovine or opioid

he had was around the presence of boys

products will not be acceptable in

and group leaders of different faiths.

father who was reluctant to allow his

some faiths. Blood products and

of health professionals is needed to find alternative responses and, in some instances, the medical view may prevail. Where English is not the first language, the issues may be less around beliefs and more about support to describe the child’s needs, to interpret information SENISSUE57

different communities? ✓✓ Do you undertake equality impact assessments in the development of new services or the decommissioning of existing ✓✓ How accessible are your

Suffering may be seen as part of life’s use of pain relief. Creativity on the part

representing families from


transplants may also be excluded. process, with a resultant view on the

✓✓ Is there scope for co-production

Further information

Karen Walkden is a chartered psychologist, working parttime as Business Manager for ASEND, providers of SEN advice, assessment and support services to schools:

services to people from different backgrounds? ✓✓ Is there a need for more inclusive services and for some culturally specific provision? ✓✓ Have you examined your own cultural competence and that of your team?

sen resources





Managing the deficit Fintan O’Regan looks at how we can minimise the effects of ADHD in the classroom


ttention deficit hyperactivity disorder




Education and social interaction

The “class clown” effect soon wears thin, to be replaced by impatience and intolerance


Many factors need to be taken into

medical condition of brain dysfunction

account when helping children with

in which individuals have difficulties

ADHD cope with the educational,

in controlling impulses, inhibiting

behavioural and social aspects of

appropriate behaviour and sustaining

school. It is important to note, though,

attention. As a result of these difficulties,

that the full range of issues must be

a child or young person can experience

considered; for example, there is no

quite amusing within a group of learners,

a range of educational, behavioural,

point in planning one-to-one support

but the “class clown” effect soon wears

social and related issues.


for before the school day starts if it is

thin, to be replaced by impatience and


unlikely that the child will be able to

intolerance of the constant interruptions

such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and

get to school on time because his/her

that can take place. This can lead to the

dyscalculia, occur in approximately

mother cannot get him/her out of bed

isolation of the individual from his/her

40 per cent of children with ADHD,

and onto the bus.

peer group.



while disruptive behavioural disorders,

Though academic and behavioural

In addition, many problems for

such as oppositional defiant disorder

issues within the school programme

children with ADHD stem from their

and conduct disorder, occur in about

usually appear to be high on the agenda,

inability to handle the wide variety

50 per cent of cases. Finally, anxiety

a main area of concern for children with

of environmental stimuli they can be

disorders occur in about 30 per cent of

ADHD is interaction with other children.

exposed to. They tend to operate most

all individuals with ADHD.

Initially, pupils with ADHD can appear

effectively when they have a consistent



structure to rely on which provides them

Though the term ADHD is not included

with the safety and security to stay on

within the SEN Code of Practice, the

task and out of trouble.

Disability and Discrimination act (2003),

Consideration must therefore be

which complements the Revised Code

given at school to all non-classroom

of 2001, provides clear guidance that

time, such as break/lunch-time and

ADHD is a disability and thus must be

sports/activities, where socialisation

managed within schools, the workplace

problems between learners can and

and the community.

will occur. It is recommended that break

Make sure you test knowledge, not attention span their ADHD. However, as stated in the latest NICE guidelines, “Drug treatment

times are as structured as possible with

Working with parents

for children with ADHD should always

appropriate staff scheduled in to provide

Medication is one option that may be

form part of a comprehensive treatment

effective supervision.

considered to help children manage

plan that includes psychological, behavioural and educational advice and interventions”.

Managing ADHD in schools For day-to-day management of learners with ADHD in the classroom, specific tried and tested strategies and suggestions are listed below. In some cases, these will simply confirm good practice, but the key is to develop consistent routines for learning while retaining the flexibility to deal with some of the minor distractions and incidents that will occur. Key Strategies that should be employed include: • seat the child near the teacher but include him/her as part of the regular class • place the child up front with his/ her back to the rest of the class, keeping others out of view • allow him/her to use objects to manipulative when sitting, as aids to concentration • surround the child with good role models, preferably those seen as significant others • encourage peer tutoring and cooperative learning • avoid distracting stimuli. Try not to place the child near heaters, doors or windows or other potential distractions, such as gas taps in science lab. High levels of traffic or background noise can also be a problem • try to avoid changes in schedules, physical relocation or unnecessary transitions. These children do not respond well to change or unplanned activities,

For any child on medication,

• •

• •

• • •

so monitor them closely on extra-curricular activities such as field trips be creative. Produce a reducedstimuli area or workstation for learners to access maintain eye contact with him/ her during verbal instruction make directions clear and concise and be consistent with daily instructions make sure s/he understands instructions and what is expected before beginning a task help him/her to feel comfortable with seeking assistance gradually try to reduce the amount of assistance the child receives ensure that a daily assignment notebook is kept up to date and that parents and teachers sign daily for homework tasks give one task at a time, monitor frequently and modify assignments as necessary develop an individualised learning programme for specific subjects consider the use of headsets to provide a proactive distraction when appropriate break assignments down into manageable chunks encourage controlled movement during class time make appropriate use of computerised programmes and resources for specific learning objectives make sure you test knowledge, not attention span.

communication between the family, physician and school is crucial. Although the decision as to whether or not to prescribe medication lies with the physician, the roles of the family and the school are essential in monitoring progress and ensuring successful outcomes for the child. Schools must maintain positive communication with parents; frequent telephone/text contact, parent teacher conferences and, in some cases, daily report cards are all vehicles to be considered. Educating these children can be difficult and demanding but also extremely fulfilling. The key is to develop a compromise between adapting the school environment to the needs of the child and helping the child to adapt to the demands of the school.

Further information

Fintan O’Regan is a regular speaker on issues relating to ADHD and the author of a number of books on the subject, including ADHD and How to Teach and Manage Children with ADHD:





Poles apart?

Paul Holland and Madan Mall outline research which questions some common conceptions of ADHD


his article discusses the findings

light of the presence of these opposites,

of a small qualitative research

the term “polarisational existence” was

study aimed at providing insight

coined as a theoretical model to explain

into what it is like to grow up with

the experiences of the participants.

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

The majority of people experience

(ADHD). The study was conducted as

being happy or sad, feel energetic or

part of a doctoral research project over

lethargic, have full focus of attention

the course of three years.

or are unable to concentrate; there

Their emotions and mood states dramatically fluctuated from one extreme to the other

Seventeen young adults between

are times when they have an urge

polarisation experienced by participants,

the ages of 18 and 24, diagnosed with

to do something (an impulse) or feel

but three issues stood out as key areas

ADHD as children, were recruited from

unmotivated. However, the individuals

of the ADHD experience.

various locations in England and asked

interviewed reported their experience as

questions about their experiences as

extremely intense at all times and across

Fluxuating emotions

children and young people.

all domains. Thoughts, emotions and

Subject’s reported that their emotions

Eight participants took part in semi-

behaviours were said to be polarised,

and mood states dramatically fluctuated

structured interviews while the rest

occurring in every environment, situation

from one extreme to the other. These

attended focus groups. All interview

and circumstance. This experience is

emotions could be either constructive

material was digitally recorded and then

not static but has its own levels of

(feeling happy, relaxed or excited) or

transcribed verbatim. Each transcript

intensity. Children with ADHD can be

destructive (feeling sad, anxious or

was then coded and analysed using

cooperative or uncooperative, relaxed

becoming angry with self and others).

grounded theory (Strauss & Corbin,

or very excited, full of attention or

The unpredictable and dramatic

1998), a methodology which involves

inattention, charming or unpleasant.

fluctuation between extreme and intense

collecting data without preconceived

Participants highlighted that there is

emotions led to participants lacking

ideas about what you are looking for.

no time scale for remaining at either

awareness as to why they felt the way

pole or any real defining situation where

they did; they were confused about what

these poles are witnessed.

had happened to them. For example,

After detailed and rigorous analysis, including member checking (a process which involves validating participant’s

The study revealed a number

one participant said: “I’d be crying and

responses with them to ensure

of recurrent themes in the types of

I don’t know why… and then the next

accuracy), there emerged an overarching core category of “polarisation” in our subject group. Indeed, this polarisation seems to be the essence of, and fundamental factor in, all of the reported accounts provided by the participants. Polarisation is not to be mistaken for or associated with bipolar disorder which refers to manic depression, involving the presentation of hypomania with episodes of depression. The concept of polarisation was experienced by all of the participants (100 per cent) in the study and there was a strong preponderance of “either/or” or “black/white” thinking styles. In the SENISSUE57

Children with ADHD can shift quickly between extremes of emotion.


minute, I’ll be fine”. This dramatic and polarised mood state seemed to occur when there was functional intensity and stability in their emotions. One respondent referred to this as a “feeling

The individuals with ADHD were very sensitive to other people’s reactions

viewed by observers as manipulative, defensive, dangerous and lacking self awareness – seemingly the opposite of a sensitive approach.

of entrapment”, likening it to being an


“animal in a corner”.

This study was small in scale and it

Relating to others

could be argued that it is therefore

Sustaining attention

Relationships are central to human

difficult to generalise from it. However,

A commonly held belief about ADHD

existence. Participants described

it has highlighted many interesting and

is that individuals with the condition

experiences and interactions within their

insightful experiences of individuals

are unable to sustain attention.

relationships with family, professionals

with ADHD. The reported accounts

However, participants reported this to

and peers as being either dysfunctional,

of participants are consistent in their

be inaccurate. There were moments

where there was a level of hostility (verbal

experiences of polarisation; they seem

where the subjects’ concentration was

and non-verbal), miscommunication

to show how those with ADHD can veer

very poor, where inattentive behaviour

and misunderstanding, or functional,

between extremes of being lethargic

could be likened to a “channel surfer”.

where care, understanding and helpful

(hypo-active) and hyperactive, very

This was described as drifting through

communication was experienced

focused (hyper-focussed) and lacking

different thought patterns, trying to settle

which, for the participants, was both

concentration (hypo-focused), very

on something that might motivate them.

calming and reassuring. The study

impulsive and in control.

As a consequence, participants reported

suggests that the individuals with ADHD

We believe that the concept of

being unable to follow instructions and

were very sensitive to other people’s

polarisational existence can be a very

remain focused on tasks. However,

reactions. This impacted upon their

useful addition to our understanding of

when there was something interesting or

interpretation of social situations and

the emotional experience and behaviour

something which had motivational value

consequently influenced their behaviour,

of those with ADHD. However, while

to individuals, they were hyper-focused

at times resulting in them feeling the

we hope it can significantly add to the

and were able to sustain attention for

need to argue their case in order to

debate on the condition, we recognise

enduring periods of time.

justify their behaviour. This could be

that further research is required to fully understand the factors at work.

Further information

Dr Paul Holland is a chartered psychologist providing a range of training, consultancy and coaching services within the field of SEN: Dr Madan Mall is a counselling psychologist in the North of England.



multi-sensory rooms


Turn me on

Whether stimulating the senses or aiding relaxation, multi-sensory rooms offer real opportunities for learning, says Lynne Westwood


he use of multi-sensory rooms

started in the late 1990s when we first

in the field of learning disability

purchased some equipment to use with

has been prevalent since the

the student nurses on our courses. In the

early 1990s when Hutchinson (1991)

early days, our equipment was wheeled

wrote about the experiences of using the

around campus on a mobile unit which

multi-sensory philosophy in a hospital

would then fill rooms with light and

for people with learning disabilities in

activity; not surprisingly, everyone called

England. The concept had begun in

it the TARDIS.

Students are exposed to the room with all the equipment switched on. This really provides the wow factor

the Netherlands in the late 1970s with

When our school of health building

the work of Hulsegge & Verheul (1987)

was redesigned seven years ago, we

when they introduced the concept of the

had the opportunity to build upon the

the usual additions, such as covered

snoozelen room (the word “snoozelen”

small amount of equipment we had

electric sockets, because the essence

was later adopted and copyrighted

and place it in a designated room. The

is to teach learning disability student

by ROMPA).

rationale for our multi-sensory room

nurses to be aware of potential dangers

The involvement of our team, the

was to ensure that the space was user

within the environment.

Learning Disability Nursing Teaching

friendly and accessible but also that

Team at the University of Wolverhampton,

it was a learning environment. To this

Using the sensory room

with the world of multi-sensory rooms

end, the room does not have all of

The words most frequently used by people entering our multi-sensory room for the first time are “wow”, “beautiful” and “wonderful”, all of which tend to be accompanied by excited laughter. With student learning disability nurses we work on the Gestalt (whole) approach which involves them initially being exposed to the room with all the equipment switched on. This really provides the wow factor and is usually followed by a rush to find the most comfortable place to sit and view the room. During the first session, students absorb the effects of the room and are informed of the historical origins of such environments. Subsequent multi-sensory sessions enable the students to explore the various pieces of equipment individually. It is important for them to understand each piece of equipment’s use, the

Finding inspiration in a sensory room. Photo courtesy of Experia:


effects it produces and issues relating

multi-sensory rooms

Sensory rooms can also be great places for staff training their visual sense, some are tactile learners and others are kinaesthetic learners. As Gardner concludes, every person is unique and learns utilising a mixture of these approaches. Pagliano (2001) stated that, from an educational perspective, students learn to use their senses and then go onto generalise these experiences to Time in the sensory room can aid interaction and communication between staff members.

other learning opportunities. Pagliano’s idea seems to be borne out by the

to upkeep and maintenance. By using

plastic balls, his body relaxed and his

experiences of our service users, carers

a bubble tube, for example, the student

involuntary movements were greatly

and students, who exhibit behaviours

is able to see its potential to contribute

reduced until, eventually, they ceased

which can be observed to show

to relaxation, enjoyment and a range

altogether. This was amazing to witness

development and learning. Importantly,

of specific activities. The use of the

and his care staff later reported that the

our student learning disability nurses

equipment to check a service user’s

effect had lasted for a further five hours

also go on to demonstrate a greater

ability to hear, see and track objects,

after leaving the room.

comprehension of the potential

and to gauge the pleasure they get

Sensory rooms can also be great

effectiveness of using the sensory skills

from it, can also form a vital part of the

places for staff training. On one

they have learnt through their practice in

assessment process. Multi-sensory

occasion, a school’s whole staff team

the sensory room across a wide range

rooms are also very useful for exploring

visited our sensory room to find out

of activities.

individuals’ communication skills.

about the equipment and to understand

The multi-sensory room plays a

the multi-sensory experience. Following

pivotal role in the Gestalt approach we

A relaxing environment

the session, the team’s manager said

take to the education of our learning

A young person who uses a wheelchair

that she was amazed at the level of

disability nurses. Our next step is to

and has profound and multiple learning

communication between the team

further develop a research methodology

disabilities visits our sensory room on a

members whilst working in the room.

which will enable us to capture and

regular basis. When he began visiting the

She jokingly suggested booking the

record as much as possible of the

room, he had a student learning disability

room for their monthly team meetings

valuable data that working in such a

nurse on placement who accompanied

as she felt it would be more productive

vibrant and stimulating environment

him each time. The young person has

in the sensory room that in their

can provide.

severe cerebral palsy and associated

usual venue.

uncontrolled body movements. During his first visit, he was hoisted

Room for learning

out of his wheelchair and given the

Richard Hirstwood (Hirstwood & Gray,

freedom of the room to explore. He

1995) built upon the work of Howard

settled on lying next to the bubble tubes.

Gardner (1973) to develop his philosophy

When he entered the room, his muscles

that multi-sensory approaches have

twitched and moved involuntarily all the

much to offer all learners. Gardner wrote

time. However, after an hour of chatting

about multiple intelligences and began

(he used non-verbal communication to

to assert the concept that everyone

chat) and lying under a duvet full of light

learns differently; some learners favour

Further information

This article was produced by Lynne Westwood with her colleagues Peter Eggison, Veronica Jackson, Steve NevilleWu and Michael Welsh in the Learning Disability Nursing Team at the University of Wolverhampton:





Promotional feature

New Play ‘n’ Go cases Total Sensory have launched two new sensory suitcases – the Play ‘n’ Go Sensory Case and the Play ‘n’ Go UV Case. The UV Draw ‘n’ Glow Kit is included in the UV case, along with UV Sparkle ‘n’ Glow fibre optics, UV fabric, paper, flouresent roly poly, roller shaker and much more, at £895.00. The Sensory Case includes a liquid wheel projector, two calming CDs, Sparkle fibre optics, Twinkle fibre carpet, aroma play dough, ten tactile discs, an interesting ball cushion and much more at £985.00. For more information and to request a catalogue, call: 01702 542231. Promotional feature

The Oak Grove Tree A new landmark has appeared on the traffic island at the junction of the A259, Littlehampton Road and The Boulevard in Worthing, West Sussex. Standing on a three metre high wooden plinth, the Oak Grove Tree has been designed and made by students from Oak Grove College, working outdoors with wood and metal.

Promotional feature

Experia announce sensory first Experia has announced the launch of the Sensory Express, the world’s first train themed portable sensory solution. Designed to be fun, exciting and educational, the Sensory Express includes state-of-the-

Oak Grove is a generic special school for students from eleven to nineteen years which first opened its doors in 2005. The Arts form an integral part to learning at the school and there is a tradition of making and exhibiting sculptures in the community. There is also a very strong performance tradition in music, drama and dance.

art sensory equipment

The Oak Grove Tree sculpture project was made possible by funding from Worthing Arts Council and was erected with financial support from local businesses and the community.

Its appearance delights and attracts children of all

For further information, visit:

For more information, visit:


that can be used to develop a variety of life skills, such as cause and effect, colour recognition, vocalisation, tracking, and fine and gross motor skills. ages and abilities encouraging anticipation and helping to create a willingness to learn.

tourette's syndrome


Under control?

Andrew Clempson looks at how to improve the everyday experiences of adolescents with Tourette’s syndrome


ourette’s syndrome (TS) is an

suppression. They are exacerbated by

inherited neurodevelopmental

periods of stress or worry and can also

Tics can be severely disabling, causing long term physical damage

disorder affecting approximately

be severely disabling, causing long term

one per cent of school children and more

physical damage due to the repetitive

than 300,000 children and adults in the

stresses to joints and tissues. Tics are

UK. Many people with TS have mild

relatively common in school children

symptoms that often go undiagnosed,

and are not usually a cause for concern

to secondary school. Tics often wane

but for some the condition is very severe,

as they often disappear of their own

towards the end of adolescence and for

significantly affecting a child’s quality of

accord, but in TS, both movement and

half of people with TS, tics are almost

life and educational experience.

vocal tics persist for longer than a year.

completely gone by the age of eighteen. For the other half, the tics continue

The characteristics of TS are

The onset of TS is usually around the

tics – defined as sudden, rapid and

age of seven. The first tics often start

uncontrollable sounds and movements

at the head and face, whereas vocal

Approximately 85 per cent of people

appearing in bouts that cyclically “wax

tics tend to appear later, at around the

with TS also have other conditions, such

and wane” over time. Tics are highly

age of eleven. Tics are often reported

as obsessive compulsive disorder and

variable both in frequency and intensity

to be most severe at around the age of

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

and can change without specific cause

ten to twelve, which may be associated

These conditions, together with TS often

or reason. Some tics involve simple

with the stress and anxiety of moving

require special educational assistance

into adulthood.

actions such as blinking, coughing or head jerking. Other tics are more complex and involve purposeful actions such as jumping, twirling and echolalia (repeating sounds or words just heard). Some tics are also auto-suggestible and are influenced by environmental triggers such as people, objects or phrases. These tics can be difficult to manage, especially when they involve words or phrases that seemingly relate to others. Despite this, it is important to understand that tics are involuntary and are not a reflection of the true feelings of the sufferer. One tic that is often associated with TS is coprolalia (involuntary swearing), which affects only ten per cent of people with TS. Tics can be suppressed for short periods of time but eventually have to be “let out” and often with greater vigour than would be the case without SENISSUE57

tourette's syndrome

and, therefore, the prevalence of

adolescents with TS from their own point

TS in SEN groups is higher than in

of view. As one respondent commented,

What can teachers do to help?

mainstream schools.

“I don’t think there’s been a day where

Little research has been conducted

I haven’t been thinking about it – if that

to determine the modifiable factors

day does come, that would be great,

that can influence the educational

but it’s always there, everywhere I go”.

experience of a child with TS. However,

A number of research studies have

Previous studies have found that

the initial findings from this study

investigated the social and psychological

stress or anxiety, working under pressure,

suggest that increased understanding

issues affecting individuals with TS.

fatigue and boredom are commonly

of the condition and simple changes in

Evidence suggests that school children

associated with tic exacerbation. Other

classroom management can make a

with TS are judged less positively than

events or activities such as relaxation,

big difference. Other factors that may

their classmates both in terms of

interactions with familiar people, habitual

be considered include:

popularity and likeability. In addition,

actions, physical exercise or activities

Tourette’s syndrome at school

parents report that their children with TS can have social difficulties such as making friends and being bullied. Quality of life ratings obtained from individuals also suggest that TS can have an adverse effect on wellbeing and self-esteem. Despite these findings, very little research has looked at these social and personal issues from the point of view of the young people themselves.

“I don’t think there’s been a day where I haven’t been thinking about’s always there, everywhere I go”

• avoiding responding to tics to encourage normalisation • understanding that tics cannot be controlled by restraining, instructions to stop or promising rewards • avoiding seating arrangements that are likely to cause problems (seating towards the front of the classroom can aid concentration and reduce the frequency of tics)

Tourettes Action, in association with

demanding concentration (such as

the University of Nottingham, is now

playing an instrument) can help reduce

as dictaphones, computers for

engaged in a new study which aims to

the frequency of tics. The initial findings

reading and writing problems, grid

address this problem by interviewing

from this study are in agreement with the

adolescents with TS directly. It aims to

above; however, of particular interest

develop new and improved knowledge

is that a relaxed school environment is

the classroom when tics become

of the key psychosocial issues impacting

reported to lessen tic severity, which

overwhelming and implementing

on young people with TS and identify

may consequently improve the school

a private area where the child is

the factors significantly associated

performance of adolescents with TS.

comfortable to tic freely

• using classroom aides, such

paper, calculators and organisers • providing permission to leave

with quality of school education. It also

Despite these findings, TS remains a

seeks to improve our understanding of

difficult condition to understand as tics

the situational factors or events that

are not always apparent. For example,

The list above is by no means exhaustive

influence tics.

children with TS can be relatively tic-free

and the next part of this study will identify

• using worksheets that require the minimum of handwriting.

The initial results from this study seem

in the classroom because they suppress

the factors significantly associated with

to suggest that adolescents with TS are

their tics. However, once alone or at

the quality of school education. This will

primarily concerned about how other

home, they tic excessively to “release”

provide a much more detailed picture of

people respond to their tic behaviour,

them. Suppressing tics requires a

the experiences of young people with TS

particularly but not exclusively in school.

substantial amount of concentration

and how classroom management can

Of great importance are the support and

and effort which can significantly impair

be changed to improve the education

acceptance that young people with TS

the child’s ability to follow lessons. This

experience of adolescents with TS.

receive from their friends. Despite this,

may lead to poor overall educational

frustration is frequently reported when

attainment. Therefore, an improved

around people who do not understand

understanding of activities that affect

the condition. This sometimes leads to

tic regulation and better classroom

them avoiding certain social situations.

management and educational aids can

These findings, although not new, are

significantly enhance the performance

the first to describe the feelings of

of adolescents with TS in school.

Further information

Andrew Clempson is the Research Manager at Tourettes Action:



Tourette's Syndrome


Promotional feature

The voice for TS in Scotland Tourette Scotland provides advice, information and support for people with Tourette syndrome in Scotland. We offer research, outreach, and in-school awareness training, peer classroom support sessions and local network groups, to improve lives and promote awareness about TS. We offer a range of bespoke materials including a head teachers pack, and in house training that contributes towards continuing personal development. TS is neurological and not a mental health condition, it is lifelong and can contain a variety of traits and associated conditions. It is often wrongly projected as a "swearing disease" even though only very few people have coprolalia.

Want to donate? You can do so via our website (follow the Workwithus link) or by text by sending message to: 70070 and then entering TOSC46, space, £??? You will get a text receipt by return. Remember to add Gift Aid, either via the phone or via the internet. Thank you! • 1 in 100 in Scotland has Tourette syndrome. • Involuntary Tics include Phonic: grimacing, sniffing, blinking, repetition of words and inappropriate phrases; Motor: body head and neck jerks, smelling and licking of objects; Invisible: obsessive thoughts, anxiety. Behavioural: ritualistic behaviour, sudden anger attacks. • People can suppress tics for a period but this causes them to be inattentive and they will need to release the tics at some point – usually when they feel "safe". • Sleeplessness is common, as tics continue throughout the night, so deep sleep isn’t attained. • Co-morbidities include: ADHD, OCD – requiring repeat of instructions, frequent reminders, and classroom aids; sensory processing disorder (SPD) - sensitivity to light, noise, smells and taste. These can act as "triggers" for tics, and can be managed using time out and avoidance.

Whilst they are able to suppress the tics for a short while, this impacts on their ability to concentrate or take in information. Tics usually then express themselves in short bursts. Time out and other management methods help those with TS to manage their learning. (see publication: Special Educational Needs: A Guide for Inclusive Practice. Editors Lindsay Peer, Gavin Reid ISBN-13: 978-0857021632)


Contact us: Telephone: 01738 646742 or on our Helpline on: 0300 11 11 462. Email: Find us:,, or Tourette Scotland on Facebook under our Tourette Scotland Group name.

music therapy


Therapy of real note

Amelia Oldfield looks at how music can make a major difference to troubled lives


have worked as a music therapist

chord. The girl may develop an interest

for the past 30 years, using music

in the sounds I am making and then be

as a means towards a non-musical

motivated to tap the drum on her own,

end. In the early 1980s, I was one of

perhaps anticipating my response on

only around 70 music therapists in

the piano.

The aim here is to engage the young girl and draw her out of her isolation

the country; now, music therapy is a

The aim here is to engage the young

registered profession within the Health

girl and draw her out of her isolation. The

Professions Council with an established

means is a basic improvised exchange

career structure. There are around 700

between the piano and the drum. In my

sits down on a special small chair next

music therapists working in all areas of

work with children I work in an active

to his mum. She looks at me and smiles;

learning disabilities and psychiatry, as

way, allowing myself to be inspired by

this is the first time since he started

well as in neurological hospitals, with the

what the children do. I use mainly live,

coming to see me for weekly sessions

elderly, in hospices and in prisons. The

improvised music, inviting the children

six weeks ago that he has anticipated

main employers of music therapists are

to take part on a wide range of simple

the music-making through sitting down.

NHS trusts, local education authorities

percussion, string and wind instruments.

Lenny has a diagnosis of autistic

and charities.

I respond to their music-making, joining

spectrum disorder (ASD). He often

in with the children, singing or playing

appears to be in his own world and

There are seven different two-year postgraduate music therapy courses

the piano, the guitar or the clarinet.

sometimes wanders around going

in the country. The majority of students

A specific case is that of three-year-

over a set path in a repetitive way. He

are music graduates, but people from a

old Lenny (not his real name) who walks

understands language quite well and

wide variety of backgrounds and with

into the music therapy room tentatively,

uses a few words. He doesn’t like being

a range of experience can become

having checked that his mother is

directed and can get very upset by small

music therapists, if they have sufficient

following him in. He then spontaneously

changes in routine.

music expertise and have some clinical experience. In this article, I will try to demonstrate, by looking at specific cases, what music therapy involves, why it works and which conditions it is most useful for.

What is music therapy? Let me begin with an example. I could be working with a primary school aged girl with severe learning difficulties who is passive and withdrawn. We would sit together at the piano with a large drum next to her. I might gently lift one of her hands and let it fall on the drum. I would then pick up that beat with a chord on the piano, and then repeat the procedure, responding with a different SENISSUE57

Simple music making can encourage children to respond to others.

music therapy

We are both excited about how much more communicative and confident Lenny has become variety of complex difficulties, including Asperger’s syndrome, attention deficit disorder, mild learning disabilities, anorexia, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Involving parents can help children to engage.

I lead a group improvisation from I sit down opposite Lenny and his

his mum and I review the session. We

the piano. After we have played

mum with my guitar and sing the “Hello”

are both excited about how much more

together a little, I try to pick up on

song. Lenny looks at me and smiles,

communicative and confident Lenny

individual children’s style of playing by

recognising the song he has heard every

has become. We discuss how the

encouraging them to have solos which

week. Then he joins in by strumming

predictable structure of the session, as

I support from the piano while the other

himself. I accompany his strumming by

well as particular musical phrases, seem

children listen. The non-verbal aspects

moving into an improvised pentatonic

to have reassured him and enabled him

of the musical exchanges, as well as

vocalisation to match the open strings

to trust me. His mum is also particularly

the fact that adults and children have

of the guitar. To maintain his interest

pleased that he will now approach her

equal roles, seem particularly important

I insert a vocal descending glissando

at home and indicate that she should

here. I often observe strengths in the

(gliding from one note to a lower note)

sing him various action songs.

music therapy groups which the children

accompanied by a downwards hand

The following week I show a group

movement. This turns into a game where

of university music therapy students

we try to catch each other’s hand as

DVD excerpts of this session with

As we have seen, the role of the music

it taps the body of the guitar. Lenny

Lenny. We reflect on how, with many

therapist is necessarily very varied, but

giggles and holds out his hand to his

children with ASD, the music-making

whatever techniques are employed, the

mum. His mum tickles his hand and

initially motivates children to become

aim is usually the same: to draw children

sings “Incy Wincy Spider” with him,

engaged. The music therapist then has

and young people out of their locked-in

which I accompany on the guitar.

to strike just the right balance between

worlds and to help them communicate

following the child and initiating his/her

in ways which can ultimately enhance

own musical material.

their development and improve

Later in the session, I offer Lenny and his mum reed horns. He marches around the room playing short staccato notes.

The act of teaching students means

When he stops to take a breath, I match

that I have to be clear about how and

both his style of playing and movements

why I work in the ways that I do, and

by playing the clarinet and marching

my clinical work continuously inspires

with him. The next time Lenny stops

my teaching.

playing, he looks up at me expecting a response. I answer on my clarinet and

Group working

we have a short reed horn and clarinet

On another occasion, I work with a

turn-taking exchange which Lenny’s

group of five children between the ages

mum joins in with.

of seven and 12. A psychiatric nurse

After the music therapy session is

and a music therapy student also take

over, Lenny plays with some toys while

part in the session. The children have a

have not shown on other parts of the programme.

their wellbeing.

Further information

Dr Amelia Oldfield works as a clinical music therapist at the Croft Unit for Child and Family Psychiatry in Cambridge and is Senior Lecturer in Music Therapy at Anglia Ruskin University:



music therapy


Promotional feature

Creative access to music Drake Music Scotland was established in 1997 to create music-making opportunities for children and adults with disabilities throughout Scotland, using specialised technology to provide access for those otherwise unable to play. In 2009, we introduced Figurenotes notation to the UK from Finland, a system that supports people with learning difficulties and those on the autistic spectrum to read and play music. Our main aim is for participants to play music independently with as much control over their instrument as possible, to perform, compose and progress to whatever level they aspire. In 2012, we are celebrating 15 years of creative music making with over 6000 disabled people. Drake Music Scotland has a strong reputation for high quality delivery, which takes place in special and mainstream schools in partnership with education authorities, in a variety of cultural venues and settings around Scotland and at our Edinburgh base. Many projects take the form of collaborations with other organisations including the RSNO, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Music for Youth, Sistema Scotland and Feis Rois. We are recognised as the national centre for expertise in our field and the main provider of training and CPD for musicians and teachers. We are delighted to have been chosen for a New Music 20x12 award, one of 20 awards to UK music organisations to commission composers to write 12 new


works for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Composer Oliver Searle is working with us to create Technophonia, a new piece for an ensemble of young musicians using our technologies, including Soundbeam, Skoog and Brainfingers with Notion software, and pupils from the City of Edinburgh Music School.

Technophonia performances in 2012 15 June: Edinburgh, The Queen’s Hall (recorded by BBC Radio 3) 22 June: Glasgow, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Opera Studio 15 July: London, Southbank Centre PRS for Music Foundation’s New Music 20x12 is a UK-wide commissioning delivered in partnership with the BBC, LOCOG and NMC Recordings. See: for more information. Special thanks to Creative Scotland for making our New Music 20x12 commission possible. For further information: Drake Music Scotland Registered Company no: SC177502. Registered Charity no. SC026908

p scales


Constraint or opportunity? Petrina Lodge looks at the advantages and potential pitfalls of using P scales to assess those with SEN work at a school catering for young


The eight different P levels, with the

people with profound and multiple

first three levels subdivided, provide a

learning disabilities (PMLD) and

common language to describe children in

complex health needs. We use P scales

different settings. The first three P levels

in the context of a student-centred,

are not subject-specific as they relate

personalised curriculum in order to show

to general development. These three

achievement and progress.

levels broadly indicate an increasing

The eight different P levels provide a common language to describe children in different settings

P scales are performance level

involvement that students have with their

indicators: they are a set of descriptions

surroundings or people. They assess by

for recording the achievement of

observing a student’s responses and

students with SEN who are working

the levels are given by meeting various

progress. Moreover, the nature of the

towards the National Curriculum (NC)

criteria which range from “encountering”

disabilities of some of our students,

Level 1. They were introduced in 1998

to “showing preferences” via such

those with life-limiting conditions, in

and provided the first comparative

levels as “emerging awareness”. Later

reality means that to plateau in their

assessment tool for SEN children not

P scales, from P Levels 4 to 8, reflect a

achievements is to progress, since their

yet working at NC Level 1, or whose SEN

gain in skills in specific subject areas.

health is decreasing and their disabilities

prevented them from fulfilling certain Level 1 criteria.

P levels and sub-levels can be used to measure a student’s communication abilities.


are increasing. Our dilemma is how to

P scales in action

record progress that is based on P scales

Pre 1998, when students were working

but can allow us to show the very small

below NC Level 1, it was frustrating to

steps of progress that our students, with

only be able to write “working towards

support, can make. There are various

NC Level 1” as a descriptor. With the

systems commercially available that

advent of P scales, to have subdivided

sub-divide the P scales so that each

levels to indicate performance was a

level, or sub-level, is broken down into

huge step forward. These basic levels

various steps, ranging from five steps per

are sufficiently specific to evidence

P level/sublevel to a checklist of around

progress in students who have

20 or so performance indicators which

developmental delay rather than a more

will give a percentage achievement for

limited developmental potential.

that P level/sublevel.

However, working with PMLD

The danger is that these statements

students, often with complex health

can become a sub-curriculum in

needs, it is clear that using P scales

themselves in order to show student

alone is not giving us the evidence to

progress. We have found that a balance

demonstrate to ourselves, or Ofsted, that

of various methods works best for our

our students are achieving and showing

students: all our methods are based on P

p scales

most of our students have multisensory and physical impairment and there are insufficient categories on the recording system of the software to document each of every student’s disabilities. Consequently, we find ourselves having

How can we decide whether visual impairment is more disabling than hearing impairment?

to label only what we consider to be their most

perhaps when recovering from seizure

impacting disabilities.

activity or following ill health episodes.”

How can we decide, for

However, there is real opportunity,

levels but have a different focus. For our

example, whether visual impairment is

in using the P levels, in considering

students, comfort is a priority (a student

more disabling than hearing impairment,

how we can show progress through

whose posture is not well-managed will

or whether autism is more disabling than

a broadening of the curriculum and

not be able to focus and access the

physical disability?

using an effective recording method.

Using a communication device to say “goodbye”.

curriculum), very closely followed by

For example, a student can be recorded

communication and cognition. We find

How successful are P scales?

as providing an appropriate “hello”

the cognition and communication route

Using a variety of assessment criteria,

response during a “hello” session in

map to be invaluable for target-setting

which are based on P levels, helps us to

class. We can then look at context and

and for giving a clear overview of where

retain a broad curriculum and focus on

broaden that response to an appropriate

our students working within P Levels

each student’s individual needs rather

use of “hello” in other contexts. So

1 to 3 are focusing. Linked with this,

than looking at the checklist as to where

we do have the opportunity to show

we use an augmentative alternative

to go next.

real progress within a P level, using a

communication assessment which has

As for P levels providing constraint or

personalised curriculum and blue sky

been developed by a group of speech

opportunity, the reality of assessing the

thinking, and through constructing

and language therapists and links

performance of our students is that they

our curriculum so that it enables our

communication with P levels up to and

can dip in and out of more than one level

students to interact and communicate

including P Level 5. It takes account

in different areas, or even, depending

with a wide range of people. The only

of the augmentative communication

on health issues, in the same area at

difficulty here is how to evidence this

devices which many of our students

different times. A particular problem that

sort of progress, within a P level, so that

use – either high tech or low tech.

we need to overcome is that our students

the onlooker can see each student’s progress at a glance.

For each student, we have a multi-

have physical and sensory impairment

disciplinary assessment framework

and for such students an assessment

The next stage for us is to extend

which covers all aspects of each

of their cognitive ability can be affected

our checklist to allow for assessing

student’s individual development,

by their physical ability: it’s hard to

within differing contexts; this is another

from cognitive, through communication

assess, for example, an understanding

opportunity created through working

and physical and social. We link this

of number when a student is working

within the P Scales and striving for

into P levels for students working

on a reliable “yes” or “no” response.

the most effective, student-centred,

between P Levels 1 to 3, so that we

The further constraint of the P levels in

curriculum for each of our students.

can record progress in this format

needing to place a student into the level

as well as through our assessment

of “emerging awareness” or “attention

software – a recent investment. This

and response”, for example, can be

software can record these subdivided

misleading if we are not able to qualify

P levels and the numerical results can

judgements by saying that “on a good

be fed into more software to give us

day, this student can focus and respond

a national comparison; this national

to their environment. On other days they

comparison sounds ideal except that

function at an emerging awareness level,

Further information

Petrina Lodge is Head of Education at Meldreth Manor School, part of the disability charity Scope:



p scales




sen resources


Pics for PECS and Card Creator Reviewed by Mary Mountstephen

Since 1998, Pyramid Educational Consultants UK have helped over 100,000 people with autism and communication difficulties. The parent organisation was established in the United States over 20 years ago by Andrew Bondy and Lori Frost. The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is an approach that uses pictures to develop communication skills. It can be used for children and adults with learning and communication difficulties including autism. The Pics for Pecs CD has over 2,900 images, and simple instructions have been included to help you get going. The CD enables you to make different size grids easily and the illustrations are simple and attractive. When used alongside the Card Creator, it enables you to change the size of the pictures, change borders and add different captions to the pictures. This is a really useful resource for parents, schools and other settings. Pics for PECS: £42.00. Card Creator: £ 42.00 (£67.20 when bought together).



learning outdoors

Branching out Alyson Chorley explains how spending time in the garden can open up exciting opportunities for children with special needs


vidence shows that experiencing

Gardens are such restorative and

nature can bring significant

calming environments. Research shows



that children with conditions such

contributing to their mental health,

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

stimulating creativity and imagination,

(ADHD) are better able to concentrate

improving behaviour and promoting

following contact with nature.



Gardening can have a very positive impact on mental health

social wellbeing (Taylor et al., 2001).

Gardening can also have a very

Simply being outdoors in a natural

positive impact on mental health more

environment can also aid recovery from

generally. It is a great way to build

stress or trauma and help restore the

optimism and a sense of purpose and

Skills for life

ability to focus and maintain attention.

achievement, and it can really help

Gardening tasks are infinitely flexible

skills can also provide a great boost to self-esteem.

For children with SEN, the benefits

young people embrace hard work and

and adaptable and the skills learnt in the

of spending time in a peaceful, yet

regular routines. Gardening offers a

garden can easily be transferred to other

stimulating, natural environment can

sustainable interest which encourages

situations. In simple terms, learning how

be especially marked, and gardening

young people with SEN to connect

to use secateurs for pruning helps with

can be a great way of getting these

and cooperate with others, improve

using scissors at home, and the action

children motivated and engaged with

their communication skills and make

of watering is similar to that of pouring

the natural world.

friends. Developing such essential life

from a jug or kettle. Gardening programmes can be particularly effective at stimulating the senses of young people on the autistic spectrum and some of those with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD). Activities can be geared specifically towards the individual to make best use of their abilities and interests. Horticultural Therapist Becky Pinniger explains how Pots and Petals, a project she works on for the charity Thrive, works: “We never do anything too quickly. We give the youngsters pictures of gardening jobs, such as putting compost around plants, making lavender bags or using foliage to make a decoration, and let them choose what to do. “Activities are designed to fit in with the seasons. In autumn, there is enormous scope for just using leaves

Gardening offers many opportunities to get creative.


– scuffling through them, wheeling

learning outdoors

Skills learnt in the garden can easily be transferred to other situations

Making gardening work for all Here are a few idea to engage and stimulate children and young people with SEN through gardening: • find out what the young people themselves want to get out of their time in the garden. It can be useful to provide them with a few initial ideas about what is on offer and then give them a simple input sheet or questionnaire to help them collect their thoughts and ideas • start with a very small garden area which can be easily maintained. You can then create new areas as the weeks progress. Involve the young people in planning the work, with your guidance, and get them to identify rules and boundaries for the group. Incorporate their ideas as far as possible when planning the garden • help them keep a record of progress, such as a scrap book with photos, which they can keep updated and take ownership of • do a health and safety walk around the garden and identify any risks and hazards with the young people, so they are aware of health and safety at all times. You may also want to consider splitting the garden into three different areas, such as: • a kitchen garden, in which the young people have the opportunity to grow vegetables from seed and harvest the crops for cooking • a wildlife area, to give participants the opportunity to learn about planting to attract wildlife and taking responsibility for living things. They can also grow a variety of plants and identify the range of creatures which live in a garden. This all helps develop greater awareness of their own environment and of more general environmental concerns • a sensory area, where the planting can reflect mood and feeling and stimulate the senses. Use plants with a variety of colour and texture. Lavender, for example, has a beautiful colour and scent and can be used to make lavender bags and floral displays.

different ways and get used to being in different environments. The case of one teenager clearly demonstrates how skills and confidence gained in the garden can pave the way for the next step in life. Rebecca has Down syndrome and had been struggling with school and unsettled at home. However, a practical approach to learning in a garden has seen her Everyone can get involved in the garden.

become a happy and enthusiastic member of her gardening group.

over piles of them, feeling their shape,

Rebecca usually spends time on

matching colours, picking them up or

the allotment; she enjoys digging and

just watching them fall. Simply sitting or

likes growing vegetables, particularly

lying under a tree’s canopy and seeing

potatoes, even though she says it can

the sky through its leaves can be a

be hard work. “I am now more involved

hugely rewarding experience, as can

and polite”, she says, “and I have learnt

smelling leaves and feeling the warmth

lots of things.” Rebecca’s new-found

in a pile of rotting leaves.

confidence has now enabled her to

“Wherever possible, an element of play is included in any session, whether

move on from the gardening group to enlist at agricultural college.

it be hurling leaves in the air, spraying

Working in a garden can also be

each other with water, walking in long

a very therapeutic exercise, as the

grass with bare feet or doing roly-poly

mother of one 16-year-old boy can

down a hill. Play, after all, is the basis

testify: “Working with his hands, he

for all learning.”

found a place to express his creativity

These kinds of experiences can

and showed an eagerness to learn.

clearly provide fun and sensory

In gardening, he was able to come

stimulation for young people with SEN.

to terms with and manage his feeling

They can also encourage them to make

of anger”.

choices, learn to use their bodies in

Further information

Alyson Chorley is from the charity Thrive, which runs a range of schemes to engage children and young people in gardening: Being outdoors is great for promoting wellbeing.



accessible vehicles


On the road

Linda Ling provides a practical guide to choosing an accessible vehicle


ransport, whether in the form of

access and less risk of injury to carers,

the family car, school minibus,

multi-position recline mechanisms,

taxi or care home vehicle, is

adjustable height backrest, enhanced

critical to accessing the lifestyle and

postural stability with wider seats and

services we all need.

foam pads and rolls, mouldable seats,

In this article, I will offer an overview

lambswool covers for comfort and

of things to consider when choosing a

seat extensions to accommodate a

vehicle for someone with a disability

growing child.

Even something as simple as an extra grab handle can make all the difference

or SEN. It should be borne in mind

Special needs car seats can

well out of the way or impossible for

that requirements may change many

accommodate infants up to young

little fingers to undo. Some seat belts

times over the years and what might be

adult size. Advice should always be

and harnesses have hidden fastenings

suitable now will need to be reviewed

sought from a good paediatric supplier

and some fasten behind the seat back.

as circumstances and lifestyles change.

in association with your occupational

This may be particularly important for

therapist (OT).

someone with learning difficulties or

Car seats

challenging behaviour and ensures that

From infancy, baby and child seats offer a

Seat belts

the driver can concentrate on driving

safe environment for car travel. However,

As well as the usual mandatory car

without worrying their passenger may

many standard car seats just don’t offer

safety belt, you may find that the child

not be secure. Some belt systems

the level of postural support that many

or teenager needs additional postural

also offer a pelvic T-belt which holds

children with special needs require.

support or help with sitting in an upright

the pelvis to the back of the seat to

There are a number of special car

position. Or you may find you have a

ensure a good position and prevent very

seats to choose from with features such

budding escapologist on your hands

active passengers from wriggling and

as a 90 degree turn-out system for easy

and need to keep buckles and fastenings

sliding forward.

Wheelchair accessible vehicles are ideal for many children and young people.


accessible vehicles

All additional belts and harness systems should always be used in conjunction with the vehicle’s standard seat belt.

Transferring If the young person can walk a little

The conversion process involves radical reconstruction of a standard vehicle

or weight bear for a short time, then a

the new European Whole Vehicle Type Approval and a new UK standard for WAVs (PAS 2012) which will be introduced this year. All reputable WAV manufacturers and suppliers offer a free demonstration service which allows the client time to see and try the vehicle in their own

seating product which aids the process

vehicle (WAV) is ideal. With his/her

surroundings and with all their relevant

of transferring may be of help. Look out

chair safely secured to the vehicle, the

equipment. The demonstration gives

for rotating cushions, replacement front

wheelchair user travels either in the front

all users the chance to assess if the

seats which swivel out of the vehicle and

or rear passenger position.

vehicle meets their full requirements.

over the door sill, and even electronic

Depending on the size of the

And the driver/assistant can put the

turning seats which raise and lower and

wheelchair and other equipment

vehicle through its paces, make sure it

are suitable for getting in and out of

carried, there will usually be space for

is suitable for the type of journeys mostly

higher MPVs and small minibuses.

other people to travel in the car too.

undertaken and ensure it will fit on the driveway or in the garage.

Even something as simple as an

Single wheelchair WAVs are ideal to

extra grab handle or a little bar which

replace a standard family car whereas

Whether buying a new or used WAV,

fits into the door mechanism to give

the mid-sized people-carriers and small

don’t assume all conversions with

something else to lean on can make all

minibuses are also suitable for a number

the same model name are the same

the difference.

of different wheelchair users and other

specification; they will all be different

ambulant passengers.

and specific to each conversion


When choosing a WAV, important

manufacturer. Make sure you’ve got

Where transferring manually is not an

points to consider include space and

a good warranty and that the supplier

option, a personal hoist may be useful

access for the wheelchair on entry

will be able to supply specialist spare

for getting into the front seat. The

and within the vehicle, ease of access

parts should you require them in future.

wheelchair user sits on a canvas seat

(including angle of ramp or use of a lift),

As far as funding options go,

which is then attached to the electric

use of necessary operating systems

private customers can either go

hoist system fitted onto the door panel.

by the driver who is assisting, and ride

for ownership or use the Motability

Lift up, swing in and gently lower onto

comfort, which should take account of

leasing scheme (currently 5 years for

the seat for travel.

good visibility for the wheelchair user.

WAVs); organisations and charities

A hoist or lift may also be used to help

As with all vehicle choices, overall load

often use contract hire, leasing or

with getting a cumbersome wheelchair

carrying requirement or passenger

outright purchase. WAVs are also

or scooter into the boot of the car.

capacity, engine size and gearbox

available for short- to long-term hire

Consideration should also be given to

requirements and drivability are also

from a small number of specialist WAV

securing heavy loads even when stowed

important considerations.

hire companies.

in the boot. Some cars are more suitable

Care should be taken when choosing

Whatever your needs, there’s

for stowing equipment or luggage than

a WAV, as the conversion process

plenty of choice in the UK to keep

others. Always check the dimensions of

involves radical reconstruction of a

your motoring.

the boot, how high the loading height is

standard vehicle – very often lowering

and whether or not you will need to lift

the floor area and changing the exhaust

up and over a ledge in order to access

system, fuel tank, suspension and brake

the space easily. All of these adaptations

lines – and this should always be done

should be assessed with, and fitted by,

by a specialist conversion manufacturer.

a specialist adaptations supplier.

This area of the automotive industry is currently undergoing improved

Travelling as a passenger

regulation, so look out for a manufacturer

For children and young people, or older

who can explain about type approval,

people who cannot or do not wish to

testing of the wheelchair tie-down and

drive, a passenger wheelchair accessible

occupant restraint systems (WTORS),

Further information

Linda Ling is a former Chairman and now Administrator of WAVCA, the Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Converters’ Association, and has worked in the industry since 1984: Photo courtesy of Lewis Reed Group:



accessible vehicles



statutory assessment


More than just a statement Statutory assessments are about fully understanding a child’s needs, not simply getting a statement, says Stella Turner t is all too easy to get caught up with


SA is a complex process and many

just one of the possible end results

different people are involved, so it can

of a statutory assessment (SA), a

easily become a time of great stress

statement of special educational needs,

and anxiety for everyone concerned.

and ignore the very important process

The very title of the process means

that has to be undertaken to ensure

that there are statutory deadlines to

that a school is providing appropriately

be met, with every service having to

to meet any child’s specific needs. It

manage and coordinate their own

is very misleading when entering into

priorities, thereby creating potential

SA to be thinking about getting a

conflict across services. Schools have

statement, as this can raise false hopes

their own individual structures in place

being that a statement must be regularly

and expectations. It is more important to

to support individual pupils, informed

reviewed and the provision outlined

look at the process of the assessment

by the experiences of their pupils, the

in it has to be met. With SA, it is the

and consider what information can be

expertise of staff and the ethos of the

process rather than the end result that

obtained from it, to gain a holistic view

school’s approach to SEN. There can

is important.

of a child’s SEN and then to look at how

therefore be great variance across

these needs can best be managed and

schools, with children receiving different

Managing potential conflict

supported in school.

levels of support depending on which

Communication is key to the whole

school they attend. This understandable,

process of supporting a child with

though not necessarily acceptable,

SEN, not just during the SA process

inconsistency plays a huge part in

or between schools and parents, but

creating expected outcomes for SA.

across all agencies at all times so that


With statutory assessment, it is the process rather than the end result that is important

If at the end of a SA a statement

schools, parents, local authorities (LAs)

is not issued, parents and schools

and health services are all aware of each

often feel that the process has

other’s priorities and needs. So often,

been a waste of time. However,

once a situation has been explained

whatever the end result,

to a school or parent, the position can

all the information collated

move from being one of grievance to

throughout the process is

understanding, and even acceptance.

used to clearly set out in a

It is often assumed that LAs do not

document the child’s needs

really care about the individual; after

and the provision recommended

all, they are the only service in the SA

to meet these needs. This

process that never gets to meet the

document may be a statement

child concerned in person. However, the

of SEN or a “note in lieu of a

people who work within the SEN teams

statement”, the only differences

of LAs are as keen to get things right

statutory assessment

for the child as every other participant

school. The LA has no legal duty to

in the process. Their slightly detached

spend public money on a place for a

viewpoint could, some would argue,

child at an independent non-maintained

actually provide them with an excellent

school. Case Law states that the LA is

perspective from which to view all the

under a duty to secure provision which

material gathered during the process

meets the child’s SEN but is not under

more objectively than others who are

an obligation to provide a child with the

more directly involved with the child.

best possible education.

They also have the advantage of being

The LA has a duty not just to specific individuals but to all the children in its care

This is, inevitably, very hard for

be developed with all participants,

able to see the needs of the individual

parents to accept, for what parent

and many LAs are creating innovative

in the context of the different schools

would not want the best for their child?

ways to try to achieve these ends.

in the local area and what each one is

However, it is important to consider

The Government’s proposed changes

able to offer.

this situation from another angle and

to the SA process, involving a single

Schools will often tell parents that

think about what really constitutes

assessment resulting in a combined

the only way they can ensure that a

“the best” in this instance. While an

education, health and care plan, should

child’s needs are met is if they have more

independent non-maintained school

go a long way towards achieving this.

funding, which can only be achieved

may well have very small class sizes

In the meantime, it is important that

through a statement. This is not the

and on site therapies, there are also

all parties involved communicate with

case and often, through the process

many LA schools that are outstanding

each other. As a parent or teacher, ask

of SA, it becomes clear that while a

and placed within a child’s community,

questions, have your say, consider

statement may be required to ensure

thereby offering better opportunities for

the continually stretched resources

certain aspects of a child’s needs are

local friendships, after-school amenities

available, but most importantly of all,

met, the money available within the

and shorter daily journeys.

remember the individual child at the

school’s delegated funding is sufficient

Of course, the LA has a duty not

centre of the process and take time

to meet these needs. Alternatively, the

just to specific individuals but to all

to step back and decide whether

SA process may highlight that a child

the children in its care. LAs constantly

they are getting support appropriate

requires direct speech and language

have to perform a balancing act, as

to their needs. Schools, parents and

therapy, but due to other priorities and

so often their own local provision is

LAs should challenge themselves to

limited resources within the speech

oversubscribed, creating dilemmas as

provide the best possible support for

and language therapy service, they

to which children’s needs should be

the individual, and it is important to

are unable to provide the high level of

prioritised. While every parent would

remember that not everything requires

support they have recommended.

argue that their own child is the most

a pot of money. The SA process does

in need, the result of such situations

not have to be yet another battle for

Local authority duties

is often, unfortunately, a tribunal. It is,

parents; it can and should be one of

Where there is an on-going inability on

however, worth bearing in mind that

progress, enlightenment and support

the part of health services to provide

while as a school or parent you may

for the child’s future.

the appropriate support for children in

be disappointed by a LA’s decision,

mainstream and, sometimes, special

continuing to disagree is not always

schools, this can create a dilemma

in the child’s best interest. All parties

for parents in deciding which school

involved with the SA process want to

would be best able to support their

avoid tribunals, and a way forward at this

child’s needs. At this stage, another

point may be to consider mediation as a

chasm can open up between the LA,

means of gaining greater understanding,

parents and schools. It is important to

having your say and often resolving

remember that the parents’ choice of

situations without the need for a tribunal.

school is a parental preference, which

Early communication of expectations

carries weight when it relates to a

from the SA process and better

maintained school, but is not a right

understanding of the complexities of

to an independent non-maintained

working with multi-agencies need to

Further information

Stella Turner has worked as a teacher, SENCO and local authority SEN team manager. She also has a 25-year-old son with autism who had a statement of SEN whilst at school.





Removing barriers to literacy

Support for dyslexic learners must start with a thorough understanding of how the condition really affects them, says Sally Collard


he definition of dyslexia posted

literacy and expectation. Their

this success into mainstream writing

on the Department for Education

peers appear gifted in their ability to

is often impeded by their dyslexia.

website states that pupils with

understand and remember not only

Presenting solutions to learning failure

dyslexia may have “a marked and

the variable letter-to-sound code of

which do not work only adds to the

persistent difficulty in learning to read,

alphabetic text, but also the additional

dyslexic's misery and confusion.

write and spell, despite progress in

convoluted patterns of English spellings

other areas. Pupils may have poor

which most dyslexics find confusing,

reading comprehension, handwriting

irrational and downright infuriating.

and punctuation. They may also

An early diet of synthetic phonics

have difficulties in concentration and

is known to develop the brain's ability

organisation, and in remembering

to assimilate the concept and coding

sequences of words. They may

principles of written text. However, many

mispronounce common words or reverse letters and sounds in words.” Other definitions also describe dyslexia as a difficulty with words, a continuum of difficulties that are persistent over time, a singular, genetically disposed condition cited within phonological processing centres, a magnocellular dysfunction

Many high frequency words act as everyday riddles to the dyslexic learner

Dyslexia friendly spelling memory lessons In order to engage those with dyslexia, spelling memory lessons should include: • multi-sensory processing, including amusement, emotions, novelty, colour and varied application. For example, “Sally Anne is dead, said the vet”, is much more effective than “Sally Anne

within neural networks, or a composite

high frequency words, such as “said”,

of neurological causal possibilities

“was”, “their”, “there”, “two”, “four”,

precipitating a range of different

“come”, “does”, “what” and “know”,

dyslexic profiles.

act as everyday riddles to dyslexic

memory storage and recall

Whilst these definitions may give us

learners, who are often unable to identify

• spelling prompts which link

a platform on which to stand supportive

the source or cause of this discord,

spellings with word meaning.

teaching practice and resources, without

which further exacerbates their sense

Such prompts trigger their

a clearer understanding of the impact

of stupidity.

recall in mainstream writing as

is dancing” • pictorially-linked memory traces to enhance visual

of dyslexia on the individual, there is a

Poor spellers are often provided with

this is when word-meaning is

danger that remedial interventions may

learning tasks such as the “look, say,

the focus of working memory.

be served in a poisoned chalice.

cover, write, check” method, popular

For example: The cat show

in many schools. However, methods

Dyslexia is a difficulty with things most people find easy

was a catastrophe! My cat

which lack the use of meta-cognition

was in a strop...he bit one of

This definition emphasises the impact

activity necessary to overcome the

• over-learning to practice and

of dyslexia on the everyday social and

memory storage and recall weaknesses

enhance memory storage

emotional aspects of learning.

associated with dyslexia. They may

and recall relating to context,

Dyslexic children are immersed in

retain the spelling pattern long enough

meaning and word extensions.

a curriculum infused with language,

to be tested, but their ability to transfer


fail to stimulate sufficient neurological

the judges!


can open up access to reading goals for children by removing the barriers of word-by-word decoding. To do this, adults should provide immediate and unconditional access to unknown words, removing anxiety, stress and distraction from the reading activity.

Dyslexics have difficulties acquiring skills which others use to measure success

These “access to reading” techniques bring relief to the struggling reader. By

Understanding dyslexia

maintaining a flow of meaning, the

The more we investigate dyslexia and its

brain is better equipped to predict

impact on learners, the clearer it becomes

forthcoming text – a vital component

that it is often the emotive responses

of reading fluidity. A selection of words

to failure, frustration and confusion

Dyslexia is invisible

can then be revisited at the end of a

that pose the biggest challenges to

The problems experienced by many

page for discussion and analysis.

learning success. Definitions which cite

Reading ability can have a big impact on self-esteem.

dyslexics are often invisible to others.

cognitive difference are useful to identify

Anxiety about a forthcoming activity

Emotional costs of failure

dyslexia, but many require displays of

and confusion surrounding terminology,

Dyslexics have difficulties acquiring skills

failure before supportive responses

memory storage and recall weaknesses

which others use to measure success,

are triggered. Tests and assessments

may not be apparent, or may be hidden

such as reading and writing. The failure

expose areas of learning vulnerability,

behind other behavioural responses.

to achieve competent literacy skills can

and guide practitioners towards

Reading failure is also a common catalyst

create serious, long-term consequences

remedial need, but schools must also

of silent emotional despair. Failure is

for the child concerned. Once a label of

employ empathetic practices to ensure

tainted with disgrace, emphasised by

failure has been issued, individuals can

a learner's confidence and capabilities

matching struggling readers with books

adopt this identity as a measure of their

are also developed and nurtured.

pitched at younger, less-able learners.


Removing barriers to literacy through

Reading for meaning stimulates

While positive attributes of dyslexia,

the use of appropriate teaching/learning

a variety of emotional responses,

such as lateral-thinking ability, problem-

strategies which recognise issues of

all driving the reader on to explore

solving and entrepreneurial skills, are well

memory and the de-motivating impact of

actions and outcomes set within real

known, they are rarely utilised within the

failure and emotional distress, may not

or imaginary worlds. Invasive word-

curriculum to boost the image and skills

raise spelling standards to perfection,

decoding challenges quickly distract

of dyslexic learners. Often, attention

but will greatly increases a dyslexic

the brain from indulging in these emotive

to failure over-rides investment in the

learner's access to literacy, achievement

thoughts, replacing the extraction of

development of alternative sources

and self-esteem.

meaning, implication and enjoyment

of success.

from texts with disinterest, lack of motivation and exhaustion. Persistent demands for word-level decoding activities, heaping progress-

By harnessing positive attitudes,

To help raise the confidence, self

expectations and opportunities,

esteem and positive identity of dyslexic

dyslexia need not be associated with

learners, everyday changes can be

derision and despair, but embraced and

made by:

congratulated on its ability to widen

based learning responsibilities onto the

• endorsing creative skills

the range of possibilities harboured

shoulders of the hapless learner, and

• accrediting empathetic skills and

within the complex workings of the

denying access to stimulating texts by

enterprising ventures with the

virtue of reading impediments, further

recognition and respect

disable the learner from the purpose of reading – to access meaning and discovery from the written word. A number of publishers provide books

they deserve • nurturing technological competencies to empower learners with alternative modes of

that match learner's age and interest

expression, experiences

to story-lines written using lower-age

and skills

text, buff pages and pictures. By also

• replacing expectations of failure

using paired-reading techniques, adults

with positive images of success.

human brain.

Further information

Sally Collard (nèe Raymond) runs SpLD training courses in Cornwall and is the author of a number of books:








Promotional feature

Supporting literacy with Read&Write GOLD How many people have dyslexia in the UK?

Writing: Read&Write GOLD solves complex spelling and

“Somewhere between four and five percent of the population

homophone errors, including phonetic mistakes. Dictionary

have dyslexia. It is estimated that there are about 375,000 pupils

definitions are provided allowing pupils to learn from their errors

in the UK with dyslexia and a total of some two million people

whilst improving the quality of their work.

who are severely affected” (Source: Dyslexia Action, Feb 2010). Organisation: Read&Write GOLD has excellent study skills

How does dyslexia affect pupils?

tools to assist any pupil to fulfil research projects independently.

About 60 per cent of dyslexic people have phonological

Pupils can store images and text from the web into their Fact

difficulties and struggle to sort out the sounds within words.

Folder, and use it to organise their material, before producing a

This means that they have problems with reading, writing

Word document with an automatic bibliography included. The

and spelling. The majority of dyslexic children have difficulty

Fact Mapper is an easy way of getting ideas down quickly by

with language, memory and sequencing processes of basic

brainstorming them into a mind map.


Flexibility: Read&Write GOLD promotes flexible learning by

What is Read&Write GOLD?

converting text into sound files, allowing pupils to access

Read&Write GOLD is literacy support software from Texthelp

information on the move. This is an excellent tool for slower

Systems, designed for pupils who have difficulty with their

readers. The software can be used both in school and at home.

reading and writing skills. The software is easy to use and helps pupils to improve their reading skills, to enhance the accuracy

Read&Write support across iPad and mobile devices

of their writing and to organise research for school projects.

Texthelp has extended the Read&Write functionality to offer similar support across other platforms, including the iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone and mobile devices, as well as on PCs and Macs. Texthelp’s web apps are available to any school currently

How does the software help pupils with dyslexia? Reading:


using Read&Write GOLD. The Apps include Read&Write Web, eBook Reader, Speech and Dictionary apps.

GOLD reads text aloud and highlights each word as it is spoken. The high quality voices are human sounding and customisable. Paper documents can be scanned into a variety of

formats, and then can be

How can I trial the software for our school?

read aloud using text-to-

Contact the Education Team at Texthelp Systems to receive

speech. Screen tinting options are also available to assist

a free 30 day trial, a demonstration via webinar or more

with tracking and prevent glare from the screen.

information about the software.

Comprehension: the talking dictionary in Read&Write GOLD allows pupils to find definitions of words quickly and easily. It also provides alternative words to help pupils expand their vocabulary. The picture dictionary provides a visual image to

Tel: 028 9442 8105 Email: or visit:

identify the meaning of an unknown word. Accuracy: the verb checker provides verb tables for more than 1,500 verbs and helps pupils find the correct verb conjugation. The word prediction tool also improves accuracy by suggesting words as the pupil is writing. SENISSUE57






Model behaviour

Sally Kane and Charlotte Hague look at how to teach positive behaviour to young people with ASD and learning difficulties


ur school is an independent residential special school for young people aged between

eight and 19 who have autism and learning difficulties. Most of our young people present with high levels of challenging behaviour.

When needs are met, there is less reason to engage in challenging behaviour

As a school, we have a clear view that

people, and that schools and the staff who work with them can make a huge difference to how young people behave. Research by the DFEE (2000) has shown that school staff support young people to behave well through: • developing positive relationships with them

our main purpose in relation to behaviour

perspectives. Obviously, the various

is to teach young people the positive

different elements are interlinked but,

behaviours they need in order to

for clarity, I have broken them down

management strategies

ensure that their needs are met in a

into a number of key categories below.

• creating a welcoming and

healthy way. This article lays out the

• using effective teaching methods and effective

appropriately stimulating

approach we follow to improve young

Meeting people’s needs

people’s behaviour.

school environment.

Generally, in both special and

Young people with autism and learning

In order to achieve positive outcomes

mainstream schools, there is a good

difficulties often present with high levels

in behaviour, we use a holistic approach

level of awareness that behaviour is

of challenging behaviour, and good

which draws on a range of theoretical

not just caused by problematic young

practice is essential to support them.




are tuned in to what they need and want, they are able to help the young people to learn to identify their own needs and develop ways of getting these needs met more independently.

Structuring the environment One way to ensure that young people’s needs are met is to plan the school and care environment, and visits to the community, carefully. You have to take into account the level of stimulation that suits each young person, the level of structure they need and how you can support them to understand their environment. It is important to look at

Developing independence skills.

what motivates each young person Young people engage in behaviour to

require to get their needs met. When

and provide activities and teaching

meet their needs. Human beings have a

needs are met, there is less reason to

approaches that maximise engagement.

range of physical and emotional needs,

engage in challenging behaviour.

and people with autism and learning

By managing the environment effectively, you can reduce frustration

difficulties are born with the same

Positive relationships

needs as other people. However, they

You will only be able to provide a nurturing

have restricted capacity to develop the

environment and help children develop

behaviours and skills they can use to get

appropriate skills if staff have positive

their needs met. As a result, they often

relationships with the young people

engage in behaviours that challenge in

and understand them well. We know

an effort to fulfil these needs (LaVigna

from research into parenting techniques

and Donnellan, 1986).

that when parents use approaches

Young people need to gradually learn to become more tolerant of a variety of environments

The job of the school staff is twofold:

that develop positive parent-child

to provide an environment that, as far as

relationships, children are less likely to

possible, meets the needs of the young

develop behavioural problems (Webster-

people concerned, and to support them

Stratton, 1992; Sanders,1999). If staff

and anxiety and the behaviours they

to develop the skills and behaviours they

really know each young person well and

can engender. However, it is crucial to ensure that you keep a balance. To enable them to have a good quality of life, the young people need to develop as much independence as they can and access community facilities as far as is possible. To achieve this goal, young people need to gradually learn to become more tolerant of a variety of environments and of less structured and less predictable situations. Young people need to develop strategies that they can use to help them cope with situations they find stressful or anxiety provoking.

By working closely with students, staff can help build relationships.




Supporting appropriate behaviour

behaviour, the young person may be

As with behaviour difficulties in any

left with fewer ways of meeting his/her

young person, the place to start is to

If a young person has learnt that the best

needs. The young person’s distress,

focus not on what we don’t want the

way to get what they need is to behave

agitation and anxiety may increase,

young person to do, but on what we

in a challenging way, for example, hitting

other inappropriate behaviours may

want them to do instead of this. We

out at staff, they will continue with this

follow or the young person may develop

need to teach the young person a new

behaviour unless they learn a better way

a new behaviour that presents an equal

behaviour or a new skill that s/he can

to get what they need. If staff efforts

level of challenge to the one they were

use to meet his/her need. When this is

are focused on removing the unwanted

originally being discouraged from.

achieved, the challenging behaviour will no longer be essential and staff are more likely to be effective in discouraging

Working to improve behaviour In order to make a positive behaviour approach work for young people with autism and learning difficulties, it is important to develop behaviour support plans which are tailored specifically to each young person in the school. The whole school staff then needs to be supported to put these plans into practice. Staff relationships with the young people need to be respectful and based on mutual trust. To develop such relationships, staff need to be self-aware and monitor their own and the young person’s behaviour. Here are some useful tips for how staff can encourage positive behaviour: • discuss support plans with all staff members involved and promote discussion of the functions of behaviour, the different purposes of proactive and reactive strategies in changing and managing behaviour and the importance of teaching skills in order to change behaviour. This will help staff members to work together and support each other towards common goals • ensure that the environment is suitable. Think holistically about potential issues which could arise and ways of minimising their likelihood, and ensure predictability and structure for the young person • respond to the young person with empathy. Listen carefully to what s/he is saying and understand


inappropriate behaviour. •

• •

• •

when it is appropriate and necessary to challenge him/her set clear boundaries for the student and apply them consistently be precise when communicating so that the young person understands what is required use agreed communication strategies and encourage the student to communicate appropriately and effectively. The use of symbols and key words to communicate can be effective model appropriate communication techniques encourage and prompt him/ her towards positive behaviour. Show affection and be playful with him/her to encourage positive interaction when appropriate, let one staff member take the lead communicating with the student and ensure that no more than one person speaks at any one time use positive, fun activities to engage the young person and to maintain his/her attention give the student the freedom to make choices provide opportunities for him/her to behave in a positive manner, which can then be verbally praised be sympathetic to any sensory issues the young person may have. For example, for a student who is easily distracted, you could turn the radio in the classroom up when people outside are making noise allow the young person the opportunity to leave the room when s/he is becoming agitated.

One of the complications we came across when we started to develop and clarify our positive approach to behaviour management was that the issues seemed huge, as they encompass almost everything that we do and don’t separate out easily. This, of course, is the simple reality: behaviour doesn’t happen in a vacuum and almost everything we do in school will influence how the young people in our care behave. References ƒƒ DFEE (2000) Research into Teacher Effectiveness: A Model of Teacher Effectiveness, Research Report 216, Hay McBer. ƒƒ LaVigna, G. W., and Donnellan, A. M. (1986) Alternatives to punishment: Solving behavior problems with non-aversive strategies. New York, NY: Irvington Publishers. ƒƒ Sanders, M. (1999) Triple P – Positive Parenting Programme: Towards an empirically validated multilevel parenting and family support strategy for the prevention of behaviour and emotional problems in children. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 2, 71 - 90. ƒƒ Webster-Stratton, C (1992) The Incredible Years: A Trouble shooting Guide for Parents of Children Aged 2 - 8 years. Seattle: Incredible Years.

Further information

Sally Kane is Senior Specialist Educational Psychologist and Charlotte Hague Assistant Psychologist at Higford School in Shropshire, which is part of the Options Group:


69 Promotional feature

Can you provide a home for Sandra? Sandra (12/2010) is a happy, smiley baby who easily engages with adults and children alike. Sandra is a rewarding child to spend time with as she gives smiles and cheeky grins to her playmates. When first placed with her foster carer at six months old, Sandra was delayed in her development. However, in the seven months since, she has made amazing progress, learning to babble, sit unaided and stand with support. She is about to crawl. Sandra is inquisitive and alert and takes time to take in her environment or new visitors to the home. Sandra’s foster carer adores looking after her.

Hobbies Sandra especially likes noisy and colourful toys and games. She is also very good at knocking down towers of blocks or stacking cups. Sandra enjoys clapping, listening to music and will watch TV for a short amount of time when tired. Sandra has an infectious laugh, and finds joy and humour in the smallest things.

Health Sandra was born four weeks premature and spent three days in neo-natal care for low blood sugar levels. Sandra was

discharged from hospital into her parents care and spent six months in a residential assessment centre. Sandra was removed from her parents care and placed in foster care at six months old. All of Sandra’s immunisations are up to date. She is having input from a physiotherapist and speech and language therapist. Sandra’s parents have learning difficulties. Her birth mother has a low IQ, between 50 and 60, and has been diagnosed as having moderate learning difficulties. Her birth father has been diagnosed as being borderline on the autistic spectrum, showing elements of repetition. Sandra has had tests, which have been inconclusive about any genetic links. Sandra is likely to have some learning difficulties and any family will need to understand the uncertainty about her future development. A White UK one or two parent family is required (no religion specified). Contact (social worker): Juliet Salmon Tel: 07984 515043 Email: Agency name and address: Coram Harrow Partnership, CORAM, 49 Mecklenburgh Square, London, WC1N 2QA




Transition: a bit of a drama?

Richard Hayhow explains how the arts can help young people with learning disabilities develop the skills they need for adult life


he move from school into the big wide world is perhaps one of the most difficult and

challenging times of life for any young person. However, if you have a mild or moderate learning disability, the odds of “making it” seem to be stacked against you much more heavily than for any other group in our society. For example,

Commonplace survival skills are not generally seen as relevant for people with learning disabilities

it has been widely reported that one

skills somehow as they mature into adults, even though they are not taught explicitly within our education system. For all sorts of reasons though, these commonplace skills are not generally seen as relevant for people with learning disabilities to develop. This group of young people have just as much right to these skills as every other young person and they may even need them more

in five young people are currently out

the distinction between a “content

than others in order to ensure they can

of work. While this figure is worrying

curriculum” and a “learning curriculum”.

compete on a level playing field.

enough, for those with mild or moderate

A content curriculum is about knowledge

learning disabilities, at least four out of

and know-how whereas a learning

How the arts can help

five young people are likely not to get

curriculum is about skills that enable

Claxton highlights the need for a

a job when they leave school.

us to make full use of that knowledge

learning curriculum but there is also

How can we explain this disparity

and know-how to learn more effectively.

a real need to create effective ways

in the employment statistics? Is it

Claxton talks a great deal about

of developing these survival skills

because young people with mild or

resilience but also about other skills

in young people more formally and

moderate learning disabilities are not

or qualities, such as resourcefulness,

thoroughly. Participation in the arts,

able to hold down jobs? Do they simply

determination, imagination, creativity,

mostly through the strong tradition of

not have the skills or abilities needed

cooperation, mindfulness, problem-

community arts in this country, has long

in the workplace? In 2009, the then

solving, willingness to experiment and

been recognised as an effective way

Department for Children, Schools and

take risks, and the ability to reflect. Our

to gain new skills and tackle a wide

Families (DCSF) identified the need “to

education system in general tends to

range of social and personal issues.

develop resilience in young people with

be heavily weighted towards imparting

The arts encourage the development

learning disabilities in order for them to

content rather than cultivating skills.

of confidence, self-esteem, team-work,

contribute in a meaningful way to society

These learning skills are also,

communication skills, self-management,

as young adults”. So maybe there are

arguably, exactly the skills that any

relationship building and so on. There

other more complex factors at play here.

young person needs once they leave

are many reports and countless personal

Maybe we are not equipping these young

school in order to compete in today’s

anecdotes that testify to the ways in

people appropriately enough to enable

challenging employment market; they

which involvement in the arts have

them to make a contribution to society.

are what might be called, in this context,

changed people’s lives for the better.

In Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind,

survival skills. We expect that young

Within the education system itself,

published in 1998, Guy Claxton makes

people will develop these much-needed

the power of the arts to improve the



way teachers teach and pupils learn

although it may be viewed favourably

has been validated many times across

for all sorts of other reasons.


The symposium was the first step in examining what this theatre practice

the country. Creative Partnerships,

A recent symposium in Birmingham

was, why it could be effective in

introduced by the Government in 2002

was organised to look at ways in

supporting transition, and what support

(but sadly no longer funded), supported

which the arts, and in particular theatre

structures need to be set up between

thousands of innovative, long-term

practice, can support the transition of

schools and employers to ensure the

partnerships between schools and

young people with learning disabilities

best possible outcomes for young

creative professionals. One of its guiding

into adult life. The inspiration for the

people with learning disabilities.

principles was that children's creativity

symposium came from a variety of

needed to be encouraged in order for

sources, but it was essentially in

Accessible learning

them to be fit for the challenges of the

response to a challenge set down by

Theatre is perhaps the most powerful

modern world of work. There does seem

the Deputy Head of a Birmingham

of all the art forms through which to

to be a growing recognition of the need

secondary special school who said,

explore human interaction and develop

to focus more on the learning curriculum

after his students had experienced this

the learning curriculum and the skills

and of the significant role that the arts

theatre practice several times: “If we are

associated with it. By its very nature,

can play in this.

to really address the problems that our

it is a group activity and simulates

But where do young people with

young people face and enable them to

and models real life in many ways.

learning disabilities fit into this? A

lead meaningful, fulfilled lives where they

However, most of theatre in this country

widespread concern within all secondary

can really make a positive contribution

is dominated by words and scripts,

special schools is about what happens

to society, we must recognise that this

which is a fine tradition but is, by its very

to the young people they have worked

type of work should be commonplace

nature, potentially fairly inaccessible to

with for so many years when they leave.

in all special schools.”

people with learning disabilities.

We rely far too much on words as the primary means of communication

symposium was examining has

The statistics show that the prospects for most of these young people are bleak. Arts practice in special schools is not often seen within that Creative Partnerships principle – as a way of equipping young people for adult life –

The theatre practice that the been developed by adult actors with learning disabilities working with theatre practitioners keen to make theatremaking more accessible. Through >>




an exploration of a range of more

necessarily the most effective means of

experimental theatrical techniques, a

communication. However, as a society,

unique practice was developed that

we are under-skilled in other means of

released and harnessed the creativity


of these actors and led to the creation of a range of powerful theatre productions.




“you get to show who you really are” and that is a liberating experience

through, then, if we limit the means

Unlike most of the theatre in this country,

of communication and interaction

have low expectations of what they can

the essential elements of this practice

to the solely verbal, we are implicitly

achieve because we haven’t developed

are non-verbal and not script-based;

limiting the development of a significant

satisfactory and effective means of

physical, gestural, visual and music-

number of people in our society (and

communication and interaction through

based ways of developing imagination

potentially all of us). The theatre practice

which we can all engage more fully with

and story-telling are at its heart.

concerned here opens up other means

each other.

When this practice was then promoted

of communication and interaction and

One of the principle findings of

within a number of special schools, it was

develops skills in these areas for all

the symposium was that in order to

found to have a significant impact not

concerned. In this way, it creates a

support the transition of young people

only on creativity but also on the learning

powerful combination of survival skills,

with learning disabilities, a wide range

and development of the children and

self-development and becoming. As

of adults need to work together in

young people involved. It seemed to be

one young person, aged 12, said after

partnership. This partnership work

addressing many aspects of the learning

just six theatre sessions: “you get to

needs to be informed by the enhanced

curriculum that Claxton advocates. A

show who you really are”, and that is a

understanding of what these young

closer examination revealed that what

liberating experience.

people can really achieve, what

the practice was allowing, through its

contribution they can make to society

emphasis on non-verbal techniques,

Empowering all learners

and how theatre practice can help

was the development of a range of

Young people with learning disabilities

realise this potential.

communication and interactions skills

remain at a disadvantage in our society

There’s much that needs to change

that are beyond words. By allowing

because of low expectations. We have

out there in the “real” world but it is

these young people to communicate

low expectations not just that they can

possible that this kind of theatre practice

and interact in ways that are more

learn content, gain knowledge and

can give a group of young people still

appropriate to them, the theatre work

know-how but also that they can learn

marginalised in our society more than a

enabled them not only to engage more

how to develop the survival skills that

fighting chance to earn a living like the

effectively in developing essential

they need to compete in the world. We

rest of us and to make the contribution

survival skills, but also to discover much

they are well able to make.

more about themselves in the process. David Brooks, in his book The Social Animal, says that none of us develop

Further information

in isolation as human beings; from the moment we are born “we become who

Richard Hayhow has worked as a drama practitioner in special schools for more than ten years. He is Director of Open Theatre Company (formerly shyster. inc), a charity which develops cultural opportunities for young people with learning disabilities principally in collaboration with Birmingham Hippodrome:

we are in conjunction with other people becoming who they are”. If this is true, then communication and interaction between human beings is a vital part not just of understanding each other but of self-development. Within our society, we rely far too much on words as the primary means of communication. This excludes many people with learning disabilities for whom words are not SENISSUE57

Drama is a powerful tool for expressing emotion.















sign language

Minister in TreeHouse Children’s Minister Sarah Teather recently visited Ambitious about Autism at its flagship service, TreeHouse School, to take part in a discussion with parents about the Government’s SEN Green Paper.

Children's Minister with a TreeHouse pupil.

A burning issue for parents was whether the Government was planning to extend the right to an education up to the age of 25. Many children with autism face an uncertain future once they leave education and Ambitious about Autism’s current campaign, Finished at School, calls for the legal right to be extended to the age of 25. The Minister said that the Government’s proposed education, health and care plan, from birth to 25 years, will ensure that those with SEN will be able to make a more successful transition to adult life. Parent Eva Phillips cautioned, though, that while the Government’s reforms look good on paper, parents still “want to know how they will they be implemented in this time of cuts”. Promotional feature

Primary-Sign provides access to BSL for all The School of Sign Language was established in 2006 to promote communication within the education sector. It has provided fun, interactive British Sign Language (BSL) courses to children covering a range of different topics and it has received countless awards for its pioneering work.

Primary-Sign In 2011, The School of Sign Language created an interactive computer learning package, Primary-Sign, which engages children in learning BSL through animated characters and games. The learning experience is fun, while promoting inclusion for deaf children, improved communication skills and supported learning across the curriculum. Primary-Sign enables all schools to access sign language by providing a package that can be used during curriculum time, as part of modern foreign language, as well as for PSHE and after school clubs. It supports family learning and provides the school with an opportunity to generate income. The programme is easy to use and consists of a range of modules that have been proven to develop signing skills. This interactive and flexible package allows schools to teach sign language in a way that is easy and fun to deliver. The animated characters captivate children, making the learning experience innovative and enjoyable. The package includes ten topics and ten animated lessons, with 27 games and over 100 handouts linked to the topics. SENISSUE57

The benefits of using Primary-Sign in schools:

• fully secure on-line environment • no prior knowledge of sign language required • printable handouts provide additional teaching resources • teachers have control over children’s access to learning modules both in class and at home • stunning interactive environment • increases a child's confidence • improves communication, literacy, numeracy and IT skills • encourages children to adopt inclusive attitudes • supports language development • provides an inclusive educational setting for deaf children.

For more information, call: 01254 54411 or visit:


Asthma and the special child

Jenny Parry provides a practical guide to managing asthma in the classroom


here are many misconceptions about asthma. Indeed, the severity of asthma and the need

for proper medicine management are often not understood. For people with learning disabilities, these problems can be magnified because of the lack of access to tailored information. It can be difficult to address these challenges in education settings where there are so many issues jostling for priority. However, it is particularly important for people who work with a person who has both a learning disability and asthma to be able to explain asthma

Be aware of any triggers which might exacerbate a pupil’s asthma Tips for handling asthma in the classroom Make sure your school has an asthma policy This can be a stand-alone policy or can be incorporated into a health and safety or first aid policy.

clearly and simply. It is also crucial that school staff work with parents to ensure that the way asthma is communicated remains consistent in both classroom and home settings. Schools also need to play a more effective role in ensuring that people with learning disabilities manage their asthma.

Asthma attacks Knowing what to do if a child has a potentially life threatening asthma attack will give you the confidence to act when needed. Sometimes, no matter how careful someone is about taking their medicines and avoiding triggers, s/he may still have an asthma attack. A person is having an asthma attack if: • his/her reliever inhaler does not help their symptoms • his/her symptoms are getting worse (coughing, breathlessness, wheezing or tight chest) • s/he is too breathless to speak, eat or sleep.

Knowing when to use an inhaler could save a life.

What to do if a child has an asthma attack • Help them to take one or two puffs of their reliever inhaler (usually blue) immediately.

Keep an asthma register Know which children in your class have asthma and talk with them and their parents to find out which inhalers they have to take and when. Get them to write this down so that you have written consent to administer medication. If a child has an asthma attack or needs their inhaler while in your care, always inform the person collecting the child. Ensure access to asthma medicines at all times Using a reliever inhaler could make the difference between a child needing to go to hospital or not, so make sure they are always accessible. Be aware of asthma triggers Make sure that you are aware of any triggers which might exacerbate a pupil’s asthma and any changes in the pupil’s condition or medication.

• Sit them up and get them to take slow steady breaths. • Reassure them and try to get them to keep calm. • If they do not start to feel better during an attack, make sure they continue to take two puffs of their reliever inhaler (one puff at a time) every two minutes, taking up to ten puffs. • If their symptoms do not improve, or if you are worried at any time, call 999. • Following an asthma attack, the child will still need to see a doctor or asthma nurse within 24 hours.

Further information

Jenny Parry is Children and Young People’s Development Manager at Asthma UK. For more information about asthma and the charity’s free teaching resources, visit:



statements: A parent's perspective


A chocolate fireguard In the first of a series of articles, a parent, “Embers”, tells how the reality of his sons’ SEN provision fell well short of what their statements promised don’t think that my two sons’


Part 3 focuses on provision, setting

statements of SEN are much different

out a whole range of objectives aimed at

from anybody else’s. They start with

enabling the boys to, for example: extend

the boys’ personal details, followed

their receptive and expressive language

by a list of advice the local authority

skills, develop concentration, attention

says it took into consideration before

and listening skills, improve literacy,

making its decision. In our case, all the

numeracy and personal organisational

usual suspects are on that list: parents,

skills, maintain positive self-image,

SENCO, community paediatrician,

manage and cope with change,

“Curriculum. Michael will have

GP, social services, educational

overcome learned helplessness and

access to the National Curriculum. The

psychologist, occupational and speech

improve coordination and control. The

National Curriculum will be differentiated

therapists, school reports and annual

list is very thorough and I’m genuinely

and functional to take account of

reviews. Every year the list gets longer.

impressed. These people certainly know

Michael’s language and learning needs

what’s needed for my lads.

and modified appropriately to ensure

Part 2 identifies each boy’s specific

Parents of children with SEN are often considered as having SEN themselves

SEN under the headings Communication,

The next bit is the clincher. Before it

Educational, Personal, Social and

sets out precisely what strategies are

emotional and, for one of them, Motor

to be used in school to achieve each

Staffing: Maintained schools in

skills. There’s a lot of information on

of the objectives, and how these will

(this authority) are funded to provide

there and we’re now into page five of

be monitored, there are two modest

support for all pupils identified as having

this document. All this information is

paragraphs which you could almost

Additional and/or Special Educational

absolutely crucial for the boy’s current

overlook but which, for me, are

Needs. The School will provide Michael

and future educators as my boys are a

fundamental to achieving anything in

with [in our case, a generous number] of

very long way behind.

mainstream education:

hours per week of one-to-one support


the maxim flexibility and attention to his academic and personal development.

statements: A parent's perspective

“He’s the SENCO. He was asleep when the head asked for volunteers”

from a teaching assistant. In addition

they are often meaningless for students

to curriculum support, support and

with SEN. It’s difficult enough talking

supervision will be provided during

directly to teachers in a primary school

unstructured times and on school trips.”

nowadays, and almost impossible in

Andrew’s statement reads roughly

secondary schools. And I don’t really

the same. He’s a couple of years older

want to talk to the ever-changing

than this brother.

stream of subject teachers; I want to

in our case) reports directly to a member

When the statements were first

speak to whoever it is that has direct

of the school’s senior leadership team,

issued, I certainly believed that the

responsibility for ensuring that the staff

and ultimately to the headteacher,

school possessed enough information

team works as a cohesive force and

those exalted educators are far too

to fully acquaint teachers with my sons’

across every sector of the curriculum

busy coping with staffing, budgets,

specific learning difficulties and that

to deliver education to my two boys at

Ofsted, league tables, absences, nosy

there was sufficient money in the pot

the level identified in their statements.

governors, vandals and parents from hell

for the school to obtain and allocate the

Is this so unreasonable? Both as a

to worry themselves about the twenty

necessary human and other resources.

parent and tax payer, I say that it isn’t. So,

or so (and rising) per cent of pupils

I also believed that the school had the

why don’t I trust the school to do what

presently on the school’s SEN register.

freedom to modify the curriculum in line

it’s meant to do? Like any concerned

“Who’s Mister Higgins?” I asked one

with the boys’ levels of understanding.

parent, I look at the (very occasional)

of the teachers I know out of school.

Put another way, having accepted that

homework brought home and at

“Tom?”, he chuckled, “he’s the SENCO.

my sons do, in fact, possess some

whatever else might be scrunched up in

He was asleep when the head asked for

level of academic potential, however

the bottom of school bags. As a family,

volunteers. You’ll never get him, he’s too

modest, the school would, I thought,

we talk about what happened at school

busy teaching.”

adapt what and how it teaches them

that day and what the boys think they

When I enquired what Tom was like

and, by following the strategies outlined

learnt. We read books together, write

from one of the SEN Mums she was

in the statement, would ensure that my

letters and postcards, use the personal

less circumspect. “Him”, she said,

boys come as close as realistically

computer, listen to the news and talk

“he’s about as much use a chocolate

possible to reaching that potential.

around the meal table. We have a good


Their progress would also be tested at

idea what our children know and at what

Now, though, I now know Tom

the various measurable stages of their

level they’re functioning. I talk to other

well and I find him likeable and

academic careers.

parents and other children, both with

committed, but more about that

That’s what I thought. But what

and without learning difficulties. And the

next time.

do I know about modern education?

realisation suddenly dawns on me that

Within the educational establishment,

my boys are genuinely struggling. More

parents of children with SEN are often

than that, neither of them seem to have

considered as having SEN themselves,

the foggiest idea about what is being

although this is never publicly admitted

said to them in class or written on their

– “Pssst, see those two sitting over

homework sheets by the teachers, or in

there? They’re SEN parents. Try not to

their journals by the teaching assistants;

upset them. Smile and speak slowly

I’m struggling to understand it too.

and clearly. Any nonsense, write their

It’s almost as if they’re being taught

names in the Awkward Parents Register

in a different language and I’m not

and make sure only the SLT deals

having that!

with them…”

So, who should I ask to tell me why

So how do we, the dreaded SEN

all the modified, functional, differentiated

Parents, know that the requirements of

flexibility isn’t working? Step forward

our children’s statement are working and

the SENCO, the school’s guru on all

how do we know exactly what’s going

matters of SEN provision and the

on in school on a day-to-day basis? It’s

school’s first line of defence against

no good waiting for grades reports, as

the SEN Parent. While s/he (Mr Higgins

In the next issue of SEN Magazine, Embers looks at the roles of different SEN professionals and asks why they seem to operate in isolation

Further information

Embers is the parent of two children with SEN. He also worked for more than 25 years in mainstream and special schools.





A question of inclusion Craig Goodall asks teachers what they really think about teaching children with ASD


have been teaching in a special

excluded from mainstream and other

school for children with social,

special school settings. Is it because

Teachers identified many positives, such as the quirky nature of children with ASD

emotional and behavioural difficulties

teachers don’t have enough training to

in Northern Ireland since 2007. Early on,

cater for children with ASD? Is it that

I realised that despite a keen interest in

schools don’t have the resources to

the subject, I had received only limited

support children with autism? Does the

training in SEN, and in particular in

hidden nature of ASD make it hard to

autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), during

include these children or is it all the result

teacher training. I therefore decided to

of negative attitudes towards them in

experienced secondary school teacher

undertake a master’s degree in ASD in

schools. Questions such as these were

said that “Managing the needs of all

which I examined the experiences of

the driving force behind my research.

pupils in the class while providing the

other teachers in relation to conditions

individual attention ASD pupils require

on the autistic spectrum. This article

Attitudes to ASD

is a challenge”. An integrated teacher

explores the attitudes and knowledge

The questionnaire’s findings showed

with roughly five years of experience

of a sample of post-primary school

that the majority of the 65 teachers who

identified “Lack of organisation,

teachers surveyed in one education

responded are currently teaching pupils

homework not done, constant on task

and library board in Northern Ireland

with ASD and that they are all aware of

reminders, noise levels causing concern,

via a lengthy questionnaire undertaken

ASD. This sample was taken from across

refusal to work and inappropriate

through dissertation research.

the secondary, integrated, grammar and

language” as problems associated with

Since starting at the school, I have

special school sectors, and teachers

ASD pupils.

noted and wondered why the number

provided a wealth of information

Teachers also identified many

of children with ASD being referred to

pertaining to their experiences of

positives, such as the quirky nature of

the school has increased. The school is

teaching children with ASD. Teachers

children with ASD. A grammar school

effectively for children who have been

identified many challenges. A very

SENCO said that “The children often



relate very well to adults [teachers]; they are very enthusiastic about topics in which they are interested. They are very often highly intelligent and gifted. They present an interesting view of the world.” Many teachers support inclusion and they identified key factors which can

Only 63 per cent of teachers said that they enjoy teaching children with a diagnosis of ASD

help promote inclusive practice in the classroom. These include: • effective use of training and external support • positive attitudes from teachers, parents and other children • good knowledge of the condition

the questionnaire, many respondents provided thought-provoking insights into their experiences, as the following three comments demonstrate: “As an SEN teacher and a parent of an ASD child I have strong views against inclusion for the sake of it. I

amongst the sample, with 62 per cent

feel outside pressure on parents often

saying they are confident to cater for

disregards the fact that the resources

children with ASD in their classrooms.

(both financial and skills) are simply

Moreover, 45 per cent of the teachers

not available to adequately provide the

felt that classroom assistants are better

child with a suitable placement in a

trained to deal with children with ASD.

mainstream setting.”

and teaching strategies

As one SENCO explained, “One-day

• the ability to use classroom

teacher ASD training is a flash-in-the-

“Each pupil with ASD has different needs

pan approach which doesn’t lead to

and the attitudes of individual teachers

very long-term provision”.

also vary.”

assistants to promote inclusion. However, many also pointed to issues which can act as barriers to effective

The need for ASD training

“Teaching children with ASD is

• large class sizes

The lack of knowledge and want for

exhausting. They need a quite calm

• negative or poor attitudes from

more training expressed by many of the

and gentle environment without any

sample may explain why only 63 per cent

distractions. They find ordinary school

• lack of knowledge or training

of teachers said that they enjoy teaching

life very difficult.”

• intolerance from peers.

children with a diagnosis of ASD. This

inclusion, including:


As one special school teacher pointed

is not so shocking when one considers

What seems apparent to me is that

out, inclusion is only possible if

how training increases knowledge and

children with ASD should not have to

appropriate resources have been put in

confidence. Indeed, appropriate training

change to fit our education system or

place and if staff have the right abilities.

should help any teacher to be more able

teaching style; we as teachers should

Interestingly, no trend was identified

to adapt and support children with ASD

seek appropriate training and gain as

based on the length of teaching

in the classroom, consequently making

much knowledge as possible so that

experience, with a wide range of

the task seem less daunting. Crucially,

we can include them in school life and

responses coming from newly qualified

better training on ASD also enables

nurture their uniqueness. After all, what

teachers up to those with 25 years or

teachers to encourage the positive

works for children with ASD, will benefit

more of service.

and engaging characteristics of these

all children.

Most teachers were aware of some of

children to shine through.

the potential difficulties associated with

While effective training is important

teaching those with ASD and possible

in terms of giving teachers knowledge

strategies for managing these issues.

about ASD, it is also essential that

Strategies mentioned included, creating

teachers understand their obligations to

a routine, using visual cues and providing

develop themselves and their teaching

information in small chunks. However,

methods to enable greater inclusion for

teachers’ perceptions of their level of

children with ASD in both mainstream

knowledge of ASD did not necessarily

and special school settings.

match their actual understanding of the

While the sample of this study was

subject. The vast majority of teachers (74

relatively small, it does provide valuable

per cent) said they want more training

insight into the opinions and daily practice

on ASD. This seems to contrast with the

of teachers working with children with

level of confidence in managing ASD

ASD. In an open section at the end of

Further information

This article is based on research conducted by Craig Goodall for his Masters Degree in Autistic Spectrum Disorders at Queen’s University Belfast:







85 Promotional feature

Sunfield: enabling children to achieve Sunfield is a UK Charity and residential special school supporting children and young people aged six to 19 with complex needs and autistic spectrum disorder. Based in the Midlands, Sunfield boasts 58 acres of idyllic parkland providing ten residential houses. Sunfield provides structure, routine and a learning environment in which students truly flourish, with communication being a vital part of every student’s education. Sunfield utilises a wide range of supportive educational approaches to enable students to learn and develop, including TEACCH, PECS and Intensive Interaction. Sunfield currently offers a wide range of provisions: • • • •

38 to 52 weeks full boarding 38 week, term time only Monday to Friday boarding 38+ weeks with additional respite.

From September 2012, Sunfield will be providing an increased number of day places along with our new three year reintegration package. A limited number of places are available, so applications should be in by 1 June 2012.

Nurturing Pathway to Learning 3 Year Re-Integration Programme This package is aimed at forward thinking local authorities who believe that early intervention can make a real difference to the lives of children and their families who are challenging the services available within the authority. This is a bespoke residential package, for children aged between six and 12 years, which will provide intensive support, care and education to ensure that the child is able to return to their local authority school, home or foster home. Sunfield’s Chief Executive and Principal, Amanda Jones, says: “I am very excited about this project as it builds on our knowledge that early intervention with children provides a firm foundation for learning and enables them to make the very best progress. Sunfield has an extensive psychology and therapy team that work in a ‘blended' way with our highly skilled care and education teams ensuring that each child begins to achieve and experience success at the earliest opportunity. This programme offers solutions to local authorities and success for each child and their family enabling children to achieve and become lifelong learners.”

For more information, please contact: Principal, Amanda Jones. Tel: 01562 882253 or Email:










Challenge yourself, get fit and raise money for autism research Research Autism are looking for runners to participate in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival, taking place on 26 and 27 May 2012. Research Autism is a charity that conducts research into autism interventions, and provides independent information about autism treatments and therapies to people with autism and their families. It relies entirely on donations and various annual fundraising events to continue providing this much needed service. 2012 promises to be an historic year, with the Olympic Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee taking place, so why not make it more memorable by joining thousands of runners and spectators to run through the heart of Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Marathon Festival is unique in that if you don’t wish to run a full marathon, you can take part in 5k, 10k, half marathon or team relay events. For the team relay, the full marathon course is split into four legs of differing distances. This enables those of varying abilities to take part in the same team and at the same time. Feedback from corporate supporters who have taken part in previous years has indicated that this is a wonderful team building opportunity for their staff. There are also two junior races suitable for children, so why not make this a family weekend. Research Autism can pre-book trips to many tourist sites, including Edinburgh Castle and Edinburgh Dungeons to help you make the most of your visit. SENISSUE57

Research Autism aims to help all their runners throughout their training and fundraising experience by providing them with a runners pack, which includes training and fundraising tips, a sponsorship form and a running shirt for the big day. To find out about this and other running opportunities, call: 020 8617 0536 email: visit:


rett syndrome

A class apart Rett syndrome has long been linked to autism. So why, asks Hilary Cass, is it now being re-classified away from the autistic spectrum?


ett syndrome is a complex

exploration of glia and gene therapy.

neurological disorder. Genetic in

Despite this international progress,

origin, it affects approximately

there are still an estimated 2,500 people

one in 10,000 females and very few

living with Rett syndrome in the UK

males. Although signs of Rett syndrome

today. They desperately need effective

may not initially be obvious, it is present

diagnosis and support to ensure that

at birth and becomes more evident

they achieve the best possible outcomes

during the second year. People with

throughout their lives.

There are an estimated 2,500 people living with Rett syndrome in the UK today

Rett syndrome are profoundly and

Rett syndrome is about to be

multiply disabled and need a high level

reclassified in the new American

A new system

of support throughout their lives.

diagnostic system, DSM-V. Many

Doctors are fairly methodical creatures,

The past fifteen years has seen many

parents are concerned about the

and to give some order to their world,

advances in Rett syndrome research,

implications of this for their daughters

they like to be able to neatly classify

from the identification of genes causing

and about why the change is taking

the diseases that they see. There

Rett syndrome, through the partial

place. This article should help answer

are currently two main classification

reversal of symptoms in mice, to the

some of the questions and concerns.

systems in use: • The International Classification of Diseases (ICD). This classification covers all diseases that we encounter across the field of medicine and, as its name suggests, it is used internationally. The current version is ICD-10. This will be replaced in 2015 by ICD-11 • The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This is the system for diagnosing mental and psychiatric disorders in the United States. The current version is DSM-IV. This will be replaced in May 2013 by DSM-V. In the UK, we use both DSM and ICD. Although there are some differences in approach, for individual disorders like autism and Rett syndrome the two systems are quite similar in the

The vast majority of those with Rett syndrome are females.


diagnostic criteria that they use.

rett syndrome

In DSM-IV, “Rett’s Disorder” is an

pointing, shaking his/her head or eye

official diagnosis within the family of

pointing (looking at what they want and

autism spectrum disorders. In DSM-V

then back at their parent to indicate their

it is planned that Rett syndrome will

choice). A non-verbal child with autism

be removed from the autism group. In

will not even use these physical means

fact, the recommendation is that it will

of communicating, because they do not

be removed altogether from DSM-V.

understand the need to do so.


Children can arrive at a package of autistic behaviours through many different routes

To understand the rationale for this, it is important to understand a bit

Restricted interests and

conditions that can cause autism

more about the diagnosis and causes

stereotyped behaviours

is individually quite rare, but

of autism.

Children with autism often insist that

together they make up quite

things are done in the same way, or

a large number of children.

What is autism?

they may have obsessional interests or

Examples are phenylketonuria,

The most important thing to understand

topics of conversation. To make matters

fragile X syndrome and tuberous

about autism is that it is not a single entity

worse, because of the social relatedness

sclerosis. Even a small proportion

with a single cause. The word “autism”

problem, they will have no idea that their

of children with Down syndrome

describes a package of behaviours that

listener is completely bored by hearing

can have autism, even though

we may see in children, consisting of

endlessly about 1930s postage stamps

this is a condition in which

three main areas of difficulty:

or whatever it is that has captured their

individuals are more usually very

interest. It now becomes clear that a

friendly and chatty.

Problems in social relatedness

few autistic traits can sometimes be

So, in the world of autism, diagnosis is

These can range from very cut-off and

helpful, for example, if you are faced

at two levels. Firstly, does the child have

aloof children (who were described

with the task of sitting down to rewrite

autism? This question is answered by

when autism was first recognized by

the entire system for the classification

taking a careful description of his/her

Leo Kanner in 1943) to children who

of diseases. Along with the obsessions

behaviours and observing him/her in

are intellectually very able but who have

and/or repetitive behaviours, children

clinic and sometimes in a more natural

difficulty in understanding more subtle

with autism often have stereotyped

situation with peers (perhaps in school).

social nuances. What is important is

behaviours such as hand-flapping,

Secondly, if the child does have autism,

that the degree of social impairment

twirling or tapping on things.

is there an identifiable medical cause?

is disproportionate to the intellectual

What this may mean in practice is

capability of the individual; so, for

What causes autism?

example, you would not expect a person

Children can arrive at this package

• Charlie has autism. His brother

with normal IQ to ask if they can smell

of autistic behaviours through many

has a language disorder, and his

your shoes, but a person with autism

different routes, but there are two

uncle was always thought to be a

may not see any problem in asking such

broad groups:

bit eccentric and lives alone. No

a question.

• in the majority of cases no single cause can be identified, although

as follows:

medical cause has been found for Charlie’s autism.

Problems in communication

we know there can be a genetic

The hallmark here is not whether or

predisposition. This is like having

some learning disabilities, but is

not the child has verbal language;

heart disease running in the

very sociable and does not meet

often s/he has quite fluent speech.

family; not everyone will get it, but

criteria for an autism diagnosis. He

The more particular problem is that

if you have a strong family history,

has a cousin with Fragile X who also

the language the child has is not used

you have more chance than the

communicatively. For example, a child

average person on the street

with autism may be able to label lots

• in a smaller number of children

she is not like any of the other

of different items, but will not realize

(currently about 15 per cent),

children in her Down syndrome

that s/he has to use that language to

there is a definite specific medical

group. Her progress is slower, she

ask for a drink. Even a child without

condition that has caused the

does not interact with any of the

language can communicate well by

autism. Each of the medical

• Joe has fragile X syndrome. He has

has autism. • Megan has Down syndrome, but



rett syndrome

other children and she spends

Now that it is clear that Rett syndrome

much of the time playing repetitively

is a biologically caused condition in its

in the sandpit. Megan has Down

own right, it no longer makes sense to

syndrome and autism.

have it as a type of autism. However, like many other conditions, it can be a

Classifying Rett syndrome

cause of autism.

It is clear that Rett syndrome is a biologically caused condition in its own right

When Rett syndrome was first described,

We now know that once girls are

people did not understand what caused

out of the regression phase, their

it. They observed girls in their regression

social interest and interaction can be

Helen Leonard in Australia and our own

phase when they were often at their

amongst their strongest skills, even

team in the UK, have observed that we

most cut off and withdrawn. They saw

though their ability to communicate

more frequently see this autistic picture

that, like many autistic children, they had

may be very limited. We also know that

in the mobile girls than in those who are

some language and then lost it. They

the hand stereotypies in Rett syndrome


also noted that they had stereotyped

are neurologically driven rather than

For these girls, a diagnosis of autism

hand movements. It is not difficult so

being something they choose to do; in

and Rett syndrome will be useful

see why they would have decided that

fact, sometimes the stereotypies can

because it may dictate a different

this was a form of autism. However,

interfere with them doing the things

educational approach from those who

even in making this diagnosis, they

they want to do. So for many girls with

do not have autism.

could see that girls with Rett syndrome

Rett syndrome, it is not accurate to

were different from the majority of other

describe them as autistic, and may be


autistic children, so they put them in


I think it is a good thing that Rett

their own little subgroup:

syndrome is coming out of the autism

Rett syndrome and autism

spectrum. It allows us to make a much

DSM-IV: Pervasive Developmental

As we have seen, someone with Rett

more individualised assessment in each

Disorders (Autism Spectrum)

syndrome can also have autism. Some

girl as to whether she has Rett syndrome

299.00 Autistic disorder

girls with Rett syndrome will be less

and autism or just Rett syndrome, and

299.80 Pervasive developmental

socially engaged, more motivated by

to plan accordingly. If she does have

disorder, not otherwise specified

toys than by people, and have other

autism, she should still be able to access

299.80 Asperger’s syndrome

repetitive behaviours which are distinct

relevant educational approaches.

299.80 Rett’s disorder

from their hand wringing. Anecdotally,

299.10 Childhood disintegrative disorder

many clinicians in the field, such as

Further information

Hilary Cass is Paediatric Neurodisability Consultant at Evelina Children’s Hospital, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust: For more information about Rett syndrome, visit:

Although a girl may have both autism and Rett syndrome, the two conditions are distinct.



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book reviews


Book reviews by Mary Mountstephen

Addressing Challenging Behaviors in Early Childhood Settings: A Teacher’s Guide

Music Therapy in Schools: Working with Children of All Ages in Mainstream and Special Education

Dawn M. Denno, Victoria Carr and Susan Hart Bell

Edited by Jo Tomlinson, Philippa Derrington and Amelia Oldfield

Brookes Publishing Co Softback, 245 pages + CD ROM £31.50 ISBN: 978-1-55766-984-1

Jessica Kingsley Publishers Softback, 252 pages £24.99 ISBN: 978-1-84905-000-5

The authors of this book have

The authors of this book have

field-tested all the tools in the

worked as music therapists

Department of Early Education

in mainstream and special





Children’s Hospital and at the Arlitt Child and Family Research and Education Center, where Victoria Carr is the Director. The book is aimed at

schools in the UK, and here they bring together their experiences of addressing a wide range of issues, disabilities and disorders with children of all ages and abilities. The book is divided

teachers working in early years settings and it provides

into 12 chapters; it opens

practical advice, information and sample forms to support

with information about

them in managing difficult situations or children whose

setting up and developing

behaviour is causing concern.

music therapy centres and moves on to outline multiple

The book is divided into sections which explore the

views of music therapy in different contexts. It concludes

intrapersonal, environmental and transactional contexts

with appendices which cover questionnaires and

relating to early childhood behaviour and each section provides completed forms detailing their practices. The CD which comes with the book is divided into 12 sections covering subjects such as:

• • •

Designing the Physical Classroom Space: creating

related information. For teachers who have an interest in music therapy, this will be a useful resource, with a number of case studies providing information about the ways in which this form of therapy can address the needs of individual children. The book is aimed at music therapists working in schools

a safe place where all children feel welcome

as well as at a wide range of professional colleagues,

Using Routines and Schedules to Support Positive

parents, relatives and carers. It is an interesting and thought

Behaviour: practical advice and tested strategies

provoking work which offers the reader new insights into

Teacher Language: using verbal and non-verbal

music therapy.

communication to strengthen bonds with children

An article on music therapy by Amelia Oldfield, one of

Although this book has been written from a US perspective,

the Editor’s of this book, can be found on page 42 of this

there is much in it to support those working in early years

issue of SEN Magazine.

environments in the UK.


book reviews

The Really Useful ASD Transition Pack Alis Hawkins and Jan Newport Speechmark Publishing 113 spiral-bound pages + CD ROM £54.00 ISBN: 978-0-86388-839-7 The core of this book is The Provision Record, which is “a detailed map of potential inschool provision from the moment the child walks into school to the time they are picked up”. The authors (a speech and language therapist and a teacher) devised the Record to enable teachers to describe in detail the level of support a pupil with ASD needs and the likely consequences if appropriate provision is not put in place, for example, on transition from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3. It is also a useful tool for managing transition from year to year within a school and as a more efficient method of transferring information about a child. It is intended to be a working document which also enables the teacher’s expertise with a child to be handed on to the next teacher, thereby contributing to good practice. Five cases studies are used to illustrate how the plan works in practice and the authors also include brief discussion points on managing the behaviour of children on the autism spectrum. The book is full of practical tips, hints and examples of resources such as mood cards and writing frames. This is a very useful book for teachers and is highly recommended.

Strategies for Building Successful Relationships with People on the Autistic Spectrum: Let’s Relate! Brian R. King Jessica Kingsley Publishers Softback, 267 pages £13.99 ISBN: 9781849058568 King is a licensed clinical social worker and an international consultant on autism spectrum disorder. He is based in the US, where he has worked for over 20 years with children and adults on the autistic spectrum. The author is himself diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and his immediate family are all on the autistic spectrum. In this book, he draws on his own and his family’s experiences and the strategies they have developed to understand and relate to each other more effectively. In Part 1 of the book, he writes movingly about what it is like to be on the autistic spectrum and he uses many examples of children’s experiences and behaviours to illustrate his points. He refers to his own sensory issues and the way in which his hypersensitivity affects his life in all situations, including when walking, sleeping and avoiding being touched by others in crowded places. In Part 2 of the book, King addresses issues such as self-confidence, social confidence and asking for help. He also writes about dealing with rejection and developing resilience. This is a very readable book, which includes many sensible strategies and interesting insights, and is highly recommended.




TES Resources North

The North’s largest education and SEN show returns this April


re Friday 20 and Saturday 21

The programme of inspirational and

resources exhibition. Hundreds of

April in your diary yet? You won’t

informative CPD seminars offers up-

suppliers will be demonstrating their

want to miss the North’s largest

to-date training, advice and solutions.

extensive product ranges with exclusive

show of its kind, TES Resources North,

Divided into four streams (Special

show discounts and even some free

incorporating Special Needs North.

Educational Needs, EYFS and primary

samples on offer. Try, compare and buy

This year’s TES show at Manchester

teaching, creativity, and leadership and

everything you need for your school

Central will be seen by over 5,000

behaviour), the programme features

or setting.

visitors. Offering a hub of advice and

well-known experts, including Dr Rona

With so much on offer, you’re certain

resources for primary and secondary

Tutt, Pat Chick, Laura Henry, Penny

to find a wealth of fresh, exciting

educators, early years specialists, and

Tassoni, Alan Heath, Maggie Johnson,

and creative SEN resources and

SEN professionals, this show promises

and many more. Find renewed energy,

suggestions for classroom activities

to have it all: exciting new products and

practical strategies, and inspiration on

and lesson plan ideas.

services from hundreds of exhibitors,

topics such as sensory processing,

creative free workshops and insightful

Makaton, Down's syndrome and the


CPD seminars.

Green Paper on SEN and Disability.

TES Resources North is the ultimate show for anyone involved in education,

Be inspired….


For 2012, the organisers have packed

In addition to the expert training, visitors

Network, get inspired, and discover

the show with 64 CPD certified seminars,

to the show can find thousands of

tools and strategies to support a range

a number of free exhibitor workshops

educational resources and services,

of special needs. Whether you are

and demonstrations and lots more to

including books, sensory equipment,

responsible for one or many pupils with

help keep visitors abreast of advances,

ICT and software, arts and crafts, toys,

SEN, you will find the support, tools

practical tips, policy changes and the

furniture and playground equipment,

and the resources you require to help

latest research being made within SEN.

within the free-to-enter teaching

all pupils achieve.

early years, or SEN.

See you there! Entry to the exhibition and workshops are free, and CPD seminars cost as little as £10 plus VAT, when booked online before midnight on 17 March 2012.

Come to the show and win a trip to NYC! The prize includes 3 nights accommodation, flights and transfers. To enter, simply visit the STA Travel stand D54 at the show.

Register for your free fast-track entry badge now at


TES Resources North

Seminar highlights Friday 21 April Forging better relationships with parents of children with dyslexia and dyspraxia Sal McKeown, freelance journalist and author

Rethinking the role of teaching assistants in supporting pupils with SEN Rob Webster, Research Officer, Institute of Education

Breaking the news to parents that their child has special educational needs Rabbi Miri Lawrence, Director and SENCO, Beginnings Early Childhood Centre

Dyslexia and multilingualism Jill Fernando, Project Coordinator, British Dyslexia Association

Brains, genes and dyscalculia Professor Brian Butterworth, University College London

Makaton taster for pre-school children Tracy Clark, Makaton senior tutor

Supporting reading by using technology Carol Allen, advisory teacher: SEN, ICT and inclusion

Leading and supporting colleagues working with children with SEN, and sharing information with their parents Rabbi Miri Lawrence, Director and SENCO, Beginnings Early Childhood Centre

Supporting children and young people with Down's syndrome in mainstream schools to develop age appropriate behaviour Cecilie MacKinnon, Education Training Officer, Down's Syndrome Association

Dyscalculia in the classroom Professor Brian Butterworth, University College London

Saturday 21 April Dyslexia friendly education Kate Saunders, Chief Executive Officer, British Dyslexia Association

Exhibitor list

AQA B53 ATL B64 Autopress Education B28 B-Active Brain Solutions E34 British Dyslexia Association E24 Maggie Johnson, speech and Cambridge House Dyslexia Resources A4 language therapy advisor and Capstone Thinking/Create Abilities C46 educational consultant CATSC C98 Chantelle Bleau Memorial Fund C26 Claro Software D46 The Green Paper on SEN and Crick Software B68 Disability, including Ofsted SEN Crossbow Education E20 requirements Deafness Research UK/Bionic Ear Show E40 Sarah Rawsthorn and Rebecca Diana Award E10 Early Years Resources A16 Duckhouse, inclusion consultant and Ed 1st A8 educational psychologist, EDGE Edge Hill University E38 Inclusion Consultancy Education City B60 Educomm Direct C20 Eibe-Play Ltd C64 Sensory processing and the Equality 580 Ltd B30 autistic spectrum eSchools C74 Alan Heath, education consultant, Family Fund (The) D34 Learning Solutions Fawns Playtime B24 GCSEPod C84 GL Assessment B54 Bringing professionals and Hills Components E46 parents together Iskcon Personal Hinduism E72 Pat Chick, independent Jofli Bear D12 education consultant Jungletrex C116 Kiddiwash D54 Kumon Educational C68 How we created a 21st Century Lancashire Professional development E48 special school Learning Materials E2 Maxine Pittaway MBE, Headteacher, St Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester E4 Lifestyle Checkout Ltd- Explore your Senses A40 Christopher's Special School Millwood Education B48 Monster Play B62 Asperger's: a personal perspective Morrells Handwriting D8 Robyn Steward, specialist Asperger's MyDidThat E18 NASUWT B40 trainer and mentor Nature's Play Resources A30 New Directions Education B50 Making letters and sounds Norseman Direct Ltd A32 accessible to all Numbergym D14 One Education C50 Maggie Johnson, speech and Optimus Education B38 language therapy advisor and Outside Classroom Boards A42 educational consultant Pearson Assessment B10 Pennine Playgrounds C32 Play Doctors (The) C24 The fundamentals of development Playscheme A24 for attention and learning Reach-Out Interactives B66 Alan Heath, education consultant, Resike - Teachshare B26 Learning Solutions RSPCA Education D100 SEN Magazine A12 SEN Marketing E6 Don't stand so close to me Sense Toys C96 Dave Vizard, behaviour solutions Sensory Technology Ltd A26 consultant and trainer Shabang Inclusive Learning E22 Smart Kids A48 Spacekraft C82 An international perspective on Speechlink Multimedia Ltd D48 special needs STA Travel 251 Pat Chick, independent SUMO4Schools A10 education consultant Sweet Counter / Playground Pictures C86 Synergy Learning C2 Text Help D56 Classroom strategies for pupils Topical Resources A2 with ASD Topsy Turvy Theatre D2 Robyn Steward, specialist Asperger's Unison E36 Unistage C70 trainer and mentor Voice B80 WaterAid B78 Including children and Young Wicksteed Leisure Ltd A18 people with Down’s syndrome in Wild Roadshow A46 Witherslack Group of Schools C44 national curriculum subjects Yellow Door A38 Cecilie MacKinnon, Education Training YHA D50 Officer, Down's Syndrome Association Young Digital Planet D64

Pupil involvement in assessment for learning - an inclusive approach



tes north

99 Promotional feature

Outdoor play for all with Fawns


utdoor play, within a well planned and resourced area, is a great way for children of all abilities to explore and discover their environment.

It is vital, before installing a new play area, to address the

needs of the children and establish which equipment will offer them absorbing and stimulating activities that will enable them to learn and develop. James Gowans, Head of Sales at Fawns Playtime, believes that the projects they have recently completed within SEN schools have reflected a growing recognition of the importance of learning through play: “Schools within the SEN sector seem to have to work so much harder to get the funds in place for their projects; we are often in consultation with these schools for two to three years as they are fundraising. This time is well spent in identifying the unique needs of the children and matching equipment to the space and existing landscape of the play area. The design process evolves and our play consultants set aside time to meet with teachers and carers as well as talking to the students about what they would like to see.” Establishing different zones can be an effective way to meet the individual needs of pupils with disabilities. For example, a

exploration and adds to the children’s knowledge and understanding of the world around them.

multi-sensory zone is deliberately designed to stimulate the

To encourage physical development, an activity zone was

senses and provide an extraordinary experience; this can be

formed. A trim trail was incorporated into the design complete

created by installing activity panels to invoke imagination and

with walk and stretch posts, a balance beam and monkey bars.

exploration, musical panels encouraging touch and sound

A Pick-Up-Sticks was installed to complete the activity area;

interaction and mirrored panels to develop recognition. A quiet

this would introduce the children to an element of challenge and

zone can be created with the installation of an outdoor classroom

managed risk through its irregular structures, with logs interwoven

which lends itself to a multitude of different uses, including being

randomly at all angles, building the ability to balance, scramble

a peaceful place for children to take time out.

and swing. Another benefit of using random logs is that there are no “right” or “wrong” ways to climb and explore, ensuring

Fawns at Riverside School

that children could grow in confidence in their own ways and

Fawns were called into Riverside School in Beckenham to

in their own time.

develop an innovative new play space for their pupils, many of whom have autism.

A quiet zone was also created by installing a Play Barn. This had a dual purpose as it offered the children the opportunity to

Autistic children often find imaginative play difficult and

sit and chat in a sheltered environment and also gave teachers

need visualisation to enable them to learn while coping with

the facility to bring the classroom outside for specific activities.

an abundance of energy which needs to be released within a

Business Manager at Riverside School, Sue Crane,

controlled but challenging environment. As a result, a Fawns

commented: “We wanted a play area which would meet the

play consultant worked with teachers at the school to create

wide needs of our children on an everyday basis. The finished

a playground which would both engage the children and offer

result is visually exciting and gives us huge potential to

the potential for outdoor learning.

learn outside.”

The surface of the playground was covered with multicoloured wetpour to create a vibrant setting, while the previously flat space was given a different dimension with the installation of Fawns’ Poly Tunnel Mound, to offer the children the experiences

For more information on Fawns

of being up high while challenging them through managed risk.

Playtime, please call: 01252 515199

The tunnel element provides the opportunity for investigation and

or visit:


CPD, training & recruitment Keep up to date with the latest developments in special educational needs, with SEN Magazine's essential guide to the best courses, workshops, conferences and exhibitions

We take every care when compiling the information on the following pages. However, details may change, and we recommend that you contact the event organisers before you make arrangements to attend.

recruitment & cpd Rebound Therapy Staff Training Courses The National Rebound Therapy Consultancy - with founder Eddy Anderson. The official UK body of reference and provider of nationally accredited, certificated staff training courses in Rebound Therapy.

01342 870543

Diploma in ParentChild Therapy London The Centre for Child Mental Health

020 7354 2913

Certificate in Therapeutic Play London The Centre for Child Mental Health

020 7354 2913

Postgraduate Diploma in Profound & Complex Learning Disability University of Manchester

Two years, part-time distance learning and annual study school. Study includes communication, education and behaviour.

Postgraduate Certificate in Profound and Complex Learning Disability University of Manchester

One year, part-time distance learning plus autumn study school. Study inclusion, communication and an option from wide range.

BSc Speech Sciences University College London

0844 351 0098

This four-year degree in speech sciences is a fulltime programme which provides a direct pathway into the profession of speech and language therapy. The degree is focussed on the processes of communication, how these may be impaired, and clinical methods of remediation.

Special Educational Needs (SEN) Diploma Level 3

MSc in Speech and Language Sciences

Teaching Assistant Diploma Level 3 An NFCE accredited distance learning course for those who want to qualify for this ever popular career. It comprises four modules and will take approx. 160 hours to complete.

An NFCE accredited distance learning course for those who want to qualify for this caring career. It comprises four units and will take approx. 60 hours to complete.

University College London

One year full-time, or two to three years part-time distance learning with annual study school. Topics include communication, inclusion and behaviour.

This full-time, two year course is a clinical training programme as well as an academic degree. The core subject is speech and language pathology and therapy. Students consider approaches to the investigation and management of clients with communication and swallowing problems. They learn about working with clients and others professionals in health care and education.

0844 351 0098

MSc in Profound and Complex Learning Disability University of Manchester




cpd & TRAINING Supporting Learners: Understanding Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD) and Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD): Part 1 University of Birmingham

MEd/BPhil/Postgraduate Diploma/Postgraduate Certificate/Advanced Certificate This distance learning programme has been developed for staff who work with people with severe, profound and complex learning difficulties, such as teachers and lecturers, nurses, therapists, psychologists and support staff. It is primarily about the learning and development of children and adults with severe, profound and complex learning difficulties, particularly in the areas of cognition and communication.

Advanced Certificate in Language and Communication Impairment in Children. University of Sheffield

One year, distance learning programme at the University of Sheffield for learning support/speech and language therapy assistants. Next intake is in September 2012. Contact admissions:

0114 2222405 lacic.html

Language and Communication Impairment in Children: Pg Certificate, Diploma and MSc University of Sheffield One, two or three years, distance learning at the University of Sheffield. Next intakes are in September 2012. Contact admissions: 0114 2222405 lacic.html

Post-Graduate Courses in Speech, Language and Communication and Cleft Palate University of Sheffield

Share and develop your knowledge and skills with full-time courses, parttime courses and courses by distance learning. Individual modules are also available. Next intakes are in September 2012. Contact admissions:

0114 2222405

MPhil or PhD in Speech, Language and Literacy University of Sheffield

Part-time and full-time modes of attendance. Next intakes are in September 2012. Contact admissions:

0114 2222405

Postgraduate Certificate in Autism and Learning University of Aberdeen

The programme aims to give practitioners an in depth understanding of the condition and the working of the autistic mind. It will equip participants with a range of practical approaches and interventions that will enable children and young people on the spectrum to access learning, participate actively, experience success, gain independence, and fulfil their potential.

01224 274807


This undergraduate SCQF level 8 (equivalent to SHE level 2 or SVQ level 4) course is a collaboration between The National Autistic Society and Edinburgh Napier University. Comprising of six, one-day units, the course is very much practice-based. The assessment will enable candidates to reflect upon their own practice and integrate the knowledge gained to further improve the care and support they carry out. The course will be relevant to anyone working with or caring for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder, including parents, health professionals, support staff, social services and staff from education.

Certificate in Understanding Autism in Schools A three-day programme leading to a Certificate in Understanding Autism (accredited at 40 credits level 4 or 5 by Canterbury Christ Church University). The course is usually taken one day per school term. Courses are purchased by local authorities who then make places available to staff working in education.

Postgraduate Certificate in Dyslexia and Literacy online

ACE offers accredited training and consultancy covering the latest developments in education law and guidance; SEN, disability, equality, children missing education and much more. Over 50 years of daily contact with parents, carers and educationalists means that our training is evidence based and comprehensive.

This course is an online qualification designed for specialist teachers. The aim of the programme is to train teachers to be informed, skilled practitioners who understand the theory and practice of teaching and assessment of dyslexic learners of all ages. The programme is currently under redevelopment but will be an online, modular programme with personalised tutor support. The first course is expected to start in early April 2012

Advisory Centre for Education - Training


Working with the Autism Spectrum (Theory into Practice)

cpd & TRAINING Strategies for Successful Special Needs Support Online

Strategies for Successful Special Needs Support is an introductory online course accredited by The College of Teachers at Certificate of Educational Studies level. The course is for teachers and others working with children with special needs and includes full tutor support. The cost per candidate is only ÂŁ200.

Leadership for Teachers and Trainers Online

This course will help develop your strategic leadership skills and is aimed at teachers and leadership teams in schools including senior and middle managers within a school or training organisation. The cost per candidate is just ÂŁ300.

Level 4 CPD Certificate in Dyslexia in the Classroom Online

Dyslexia Action's continuing professional development online course has been developed specifically for classroom teachers and teaching assistants working in the primary and secondary education fields. Many units are also suitable for those working in further education. This CPD course is primarily intended for UK based applicants. However, UK teachers working overseas in an English speaking international school may also apply.

Level 4 CPD Certificate in Dyslexia and Literacy in Primary School Settings Online

Dyslexia Action's continuing professional development online course has been developed specifically for classroom teachers and teaching assistants working in the primary and secondary education fields. Many units are also suitable for those working in further education. This CPD course is primarily intended for UK based applicants. However, UK teachers working overseas in an English speaking international school may also apply.

March Various March

Engaging vulnerable young people: what works? 7 March: Nottingham 15 March: Leeds 21 March: London 29 March: Glasgow

Understand why vulnerable young people are often difficult to engage. Confront some of the stereotyping that creates barriers to effective communication. Explore why young people experiencing sexual exploitation are especially difficult to engage. Be aware of good practice, and other helpful links and resources. Identify better ways to engage with hard to reach young people. Plan how to transfer their learning into practice. This half-day training course will run twice on each date, in the mornings and in the afternoons.





6 March

Working in Schools with Children who have Autistic Spectrum Disorders London

This course provides insights into the needs of children with autistic spectrum disorders and discusses how to meet their needs in a variety of educational settings. The cost per candidate is just £180.

6 March

SEN Law and Practice Conference 2012 London

Learn about the latest trends and receive guidance on the most topical issues and recent cases in SEN law and practice. Topics include the SEN Green Paper, First-tier Tribunal, annual reviews and disability discrimination. Jordans

0117 918 1490

7 March

Henshaws College Open Day Harrogate

Henshaws College provides specialist further education to residential and day students with a range of disabilities, aged between 16 and 25. We specialise in visual impairment. Our open days are a chance for potential students, their parents/carers and professionals working with them to visit us and find out more about who we are and what we do. Please contact us to book your place as spaces are limited. If you are unable to make any of the dates, please contact us and we will make alternative arrangements with you. N.B. Open Days must be pre-booked

01423 886451

For the latest news, listings and resources visit:

7 & 8 March

Free Learning Difficulties Presentation London

A talk by SEN therapist Usha Patel aimed at parents with children with SEN. The presentation will cover the use of motor sensory therapy and computer based solutions for children with dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, ASD and ADHD. Pre-booking required.

8 - 11 March

Healthcare Industry Forum 2012 Industry forum featuring opportunities for one to one meetings between leading industry suppliers and UK care and nursing home directors, owners and buyers.

15 - 17 March

The Education Show Birmingham NEC

Visit the SEN Zone at the Education Show 2012 (15 - 17 March, Birmingham NEC) to get practical ideas and guidance in our free CPD-accredited Learn Live seminars. Receive advice at the nasen information point and discover resources from leading SEN suppliers. Secondary SENCOs can also benefit from free training. Register at: Enter priority code: esenm

16 March

Postgraduate Certificate in Asperger Syndrome This course is a collaboration between The National Autistic Society and Sheffield Hallam University. The course has been sponsored and developed with support from The Asperger Syndrome Foundation founder Beatrice Buisseret. Course speakers include Dr Luke Beardon, Dr Jacqui Ashton Smith and speakers with Asperger syndrome.

23 March

Capita's 2nd National Special Educational Needs Conference Central London

Addressing government response to the SEN and Disability Green Paper, the impact of the new Ofsted framework on SEN provision and AFA 3As programme in facilitating outstanding achievement for SEN pupils, Capita's CPD accredited SEN conference offers an early opportunity to hear about pathfinder projects, latest policy developments and their implications for provision going forward.

26 March

Driving Change in 14-19 Education Conference London

This course is designed for family support practitioners with the aim of enhancing parental support of early communication development. It includes some information for practitioners carrying out the Healthy Child review at 2 - 2½ years. The cost per candidate is just £250.

Strategic keynote sessions and case study examples of best practice will address the following issues: implementing of the first phase of the National Curriculum Review, providing impartial careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG), and the expansion of apprenticeships and work experience placements.

Parents in Partnership for Supporting Communication Development in Under-3s London


20 - 22 March

cpd & TRAINING 29 March

17 April

Kidz in the Middle Coventry

This is a free exhibition dedicated to children with disabilities and special needs, their parents, carers and professionals who work with them. Over 100 exhibitors will offer information on mobility, funding, seating, beds, communication, access, education, toys, transport, style, sensory, sports, leisure and more. A programme of free CPD seminars will take place alongside the event. Children are welcome to attend, try out the equipment and products and participate in sporting activity sessions throughout the day.


Practical Tools to Tackle Behaviour in the Classroom Glasgow

This course is bursting with tried and tested strategies to get pupils focused and engaged in positive behaviour. This widely acclaimed approach is a must for any teacher who has ever been confronted with low-level and challenging behaviour and wants to get the best out of their pupils. Concept Training Ltd


20 & 21 April

TES Education North 2012, incorporating Special Needs North Manchester

2 April

Discover, absorb and inspire

The 1st International Conference on Maths Learning Difficulties and Dyscalculia

at TES Education North

Kensington, London

North) returns to Manchester

Speakers are Prof. Brian Butterworth (UK), Prof. Egbert Harskamp (The Netherlands), Prof. Ngan Hoe Lee (Singapore) and Dr Steve Chinn (UK). A day for listening, networking and discussion which includes the launch of Steve Chinn’s new book/tests for dyscalculia/MLD. Conference fee: £200. Bookings - Judith Shone:

2 - 4 April

Cultivating Mindfulness and Empathy London

2012. TES Education North 2012 (incorporating Special Needs Central on 20 and 21 April with more exciting free practical workshops, feature areas and an engaging CPD programme. It’s the ultimate show for anyone involved in education. To register for your free entry badge, visit:

21 April

Difficult Behaviour: Practical Tools for Toddlers to Teens London Conference with Camila Batmanghelidjh. 10.00 - 5.15pm

Three-day breaks for teachers, to enhance wellbeing and inspire good practice.

Cost: £168

The Centre for Child Mental Health

020 7354 2913





23 April

Implementing the Pupil Premium Conference London

This conference will cover the latest policy and research on what works in narrowing attainment gaps, improving accountability and demonstrating success and easing the transition from primary to secondary school. It will also consider the impact of peer tutoring and one-to-one tuition in raising attainment and aspirations, and utilising Pupil Premium funding for extended services.

23 - 27 April

TEACCH Five-day Course Newbury, Berkshire

Inspirational and intensive course combining active learning sessions with direct, supervised experience working with students with autism in a structured setting. Led by TEACCH trainers from Division TEACCH and trainers from Prior’s Court with extensive training and experience with the TEACCH approach following more than seven years working with Division TEACCH. December 2012 dates also available. £995 professionals/parents Prior’s Court Training & Development Centre

01635 247202

23 & 24 April

26 & 27 April

PECS Basic Training Workshop

PECS Basic Training Workshop



The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is an approach that teaches functional communication skills using pictures. This workshop will give you the background and all the practical details you need to start implementing PECS immediately, including demonstrations, videos and opportunities to practice.

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is an approach that teaches functional communication skills using pictures. This workshop will give you the background and all the practical details you need to start implementing PECS immediately, including demonstrations, videos and opportunities to practice.

01273 609 555


The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is an approach that teaches functional communication skills using pictures. This workshop will give you the background and all the practical details you need to start implementing PECS immediately, including demonstrations, videos and opportunities to practice.

01273 609 555

01273 609 555

0191 2728600

PECS Advanced Training London


P Scale Moderation Workshop

This workshop will provide practical ideas for advanced lessons in expanding the learners’ language and communication within functional activities, and essential tools for identifying communication opportunities across the day. Participants will leave the training with innovative and creative ideas on how to successfully problem solve PECS implementation and how to take PECS to the next level.


26 & 27 April

01273 609 555

27 April

The workshop includes: • a brief overview of the P scales • the new “Using the P Scales to Assess Pupils’ Progress” guidance • assessment and moderation in context • opportunities to develop skills and confidence in making judgements about work within the P scales and lower National Curriculum levels • an opportunity for delegates to moderate assessments from their own school/setting.

PECS Basic Training Workshop

30 April & 1 May

Various May

Positive Ways of Changing Behaviour 1 May: Doncaster 21 May: Belfast 22 May Dublin

Gain an understanding of behaviour and its function and learn to recognise early warning signs of negative behaviour and make positive early interventions Concept Training Ltd


1 - 3 May

Naidex National Birmingham

Naidex National is the UK's largest homecare, disability and rehabilitation event. Attendees include occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, nursing professionals, special needs teachers, carers and those working in paediatric occupational therapy and physiotherapy. Thousands of healthcare professionals attend the show to see the latest new products and gain CPD certificates of attendance.


cpd & TRAINING 4 May

P Scale Moderation Workshop Manchester

The workshop includes: • a brief overview of the P scales • the new “Using the P Scales to Assess Pupils’ Progress” guidance • assessment and moderation in context • opportunities to develop skills and confidence in making judgements about work within the P scales and lower National Curriculum levels • an opportunity for delegates to moderate assessments from their own school/setting.

0191 2728600

10 May

Reforms to the Child Protection System London

This seminar will bring together key policymakers and stakeholders - social workers, education professionals, parents' groups and others involved with children - as Government consults on its plans for the reduction of centrally prescribed guidance and considers reform of the assessment timescales for reporting on children in need. The Guest of Honour is Fiona Harrow, Deputy Director, Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy Division, Department for Education.

9 May

Henshaws College Open Day Harrogate

Henshaws College provides specialist further education to residential and day students with a range of disabilities, aged between 16 and 25. We specialise in visual impairment. Our open days are a chance for potential students, their parents/carers and professionals working with them to visit us and find out more about who we are and what we do. Please contact us to book your place as spaces are limited. If you are unable to make any of the dates, please contact us and we will make alternative arrangements with you.

10 & 11 May

PECS Basic Training Workshop Peterborough

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is an approach that teaches functional communication skills using pictures. This workshop will give you the background and all the practical details you need to start implementing PECS immediately, including demonstrations, videos and opportunities to practice.

01273 609 555

N.B. Open Days must be pre-booked

01423 886451 10 May

Sensory Issues: Are They the Key to Unlocking Autism? Manchester

International speaker Wendy Lawson will be sharing her experiences, insights and knowledge when she talks on “Autism and Sensory Issues” at the University of Manchester.

0191 2728600




108 15 May

Play for People with ASD Birmingham

This workshop is for anyone who wants to help a person with ASD increase their play skills and develop playfulness. Concept Training Ltd


16 May

Effective Partnership with Families Birmingham

Aimed at SMT, teachers, teaching assistants, governors, and pastoral support staff. It has been well documented that there are lots of benefits for the child if schools and organisations can work in partnerships with parents. This course is designed to provide strategies to help bridge the gap in a fun, active way. Concept Training Ltd


16 May

The next steps for Early Years and childcare provision in England: funding, curriculum and the workforce London

16 - 18 May

Educational IT Solutions Expo (EDIX) Tokyo, Japan

Japan's largest industry trade show for educational IT solutions/services will attract 600 exhibitors and 18,000 visitors.

17 May

Practical Tools to Tackle Behaviour in the Classroom Birmingham

This course is bursting with tried and tested strategies to get pupils focused and engaged in positive behaviour. This widely acclaimed approach is a must for any teacher who has ever been confronted with low-level and challenging behaviour and wants to get the best out of their pupils. Concept Training Ltd


19 May

Why Empathy Heals Theory, Intervention and Key Techniques (from Toddlers to Teens) London

Conference with Dr Dan Hughes and Graham Music.

An SLD Curriculum for the 21st Century Manchester

The workshop includes: developing an SLD curriculum teaching the “P” level learner teaching the higher functioning (P8+) learner literacy and numeracy the primary/secondary split the legal position.

0191 2728600

28 & 29 May

Gulf Education 2012 London

Gulf Education London 2012 is a strategic twoday event that will provide opportunities for international businesses in the education sector to create partnerships and strike up meaningful business agreements with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members (comprising of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates).

1 June

Supporting Children with Additional Languages with SLCN in the Early Years London

This course provides both theoretical and practical insights into working with children with speech, language and communication needs who have more than one language. This is an interactive opportunity to explore bi/multilingualism in an educational context, through information sharing, workshops and discussions. The cost per candidate is just £180. More

13 & 14 June

The Essentials of ChildCentred Play Therapy London

Two-day training with Dr Garry L. Landreth. 10.00 - 5.15pm Cost: £288 The Centre for Child Mental Health

020 7354 2913

10.00 - 5.15pm Cost: £168 The Centre for Child Mental Health

020 7354 2913

23 & 24 May

Chaired by: Sharon Hodgson MP (Shadow Minister for Children and Families), this event will feature presentations by Professor Cathy Nutbrown (The School of Education, University of Sheffield), Laura Bradley (Institute for Public Policy Research), Pamela Park (Parenting UK) and Dr Jane Payler (University of Winchester). This event is CPD certified.

National Primary Headteachers’ Conference: Children’s Education - What is their Entitlement?



25 May

Stratford Upon Avon

01403 252013

23 & 24 May

nasen Live Bolton

This exhibition includes a full seminar programme, a free to enter resources exhibition and free SEN and SENCO keynote sessions.

cpd & training 14 June

Kidz South Reading

This is a free exhibition dedicated to children with disabilities and special needs, their parents, carers and professionals who work with them. Over 100 exhibitors will offer information on mobility, funding, seating, beds, communication, access, education, toys, transport, style, sensory, sports, leisure and more. A programme of free CPD seminars will take place alongside the event. Children are welcome to attend, try out the equipment and products and participate in sporting activity sessions throughout the day.

15 June

The Autistic Spectrum - when things are not straightforward! Liverpool

Working with children with a complex profile. There are now many children who have characteristics of more than one syndrome and provide challenges as to how they can best be supported. This course will look at the concept of “co-morbidity” and explore practical ways of managing behaviour and supporting learning. Concept Training Ltd


15 & 16 June

The Autism Show in association with The National Autistic Society ExCeL London

The national event for autism, dedicated to the growing community of professionals, parents, carers, and individuals on the autism spectrum who all too often don’t know where to turn for answers. The event attracts over 3,000 people looking to find the latest information, advice, products and services. For more information and to book tickets visit:

21 June

The Future for Young People's Services London

This seminar will offer delegates an opportunity to discuss the Government's policy for the future of young people's services, as well as the future of the National Citizen Service (NCS) scheme – which aims to encourage volunteering amongst young people – as it is rolled out nationally. The seminar will include a keynote address from the Minister responsible for this area of policy, Tim Loughton MP.

21 & 22 June

PECS Basic Training Workshop Reading

This one-day conference will draw on aspects of the new Ofsted publication “School governance: Learning from the best” and is aimed at school leaders and governors.

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is an approach that teaches functional communication skills using pictures. This workshop will give you the background and all the practical details you need to start implementing PECS immediately, including demonstrations, videos and opportunities to practice.

0191 2728600

01273 609 555

15 June

Towards Outstanding Governance in Special Schools Manchester

Book now to advertise in the May/June issue of SEN Magazine

For the best advertising package, contact Denise: 01200 409808




cpd & TRAINING September

22 - 24 June

Bal-A-Vis-X Workshops Scotland

3 days of intensive training. Bal-A-Vis-X is a series of more than 300 exercises of varied complexity which are all deeply rooted in rhythm. Workshops are now available UK wide.


25 & 26 June

PECS Basic Training Workshop Gloucester

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is an approach that teaches functional communication skills using pictures. This workshop will give you the background and all the practical details you need to start implementing PECS immediately, including demonstrations, videos and opportunities to practice.

01273 609 555

25 & 26 June

PECS Basic Training Workshop Nottingham

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is an approach that teaches functional communication skills using pictures. This workshop will give you the background and all the practical details you need to start implementing PECS immediately, including demonstrations, videos and opportunities to practice.

01273 609 555

Join us on SEN Magazine



17 & 18 October

Naidex South 19 & 20 September

DNEX 2012 Newcastle

The annual exhibition of Disability North, DNEX is independent living event looking at digital technology, aids and adaptations for independent living and accessible leisure facilities. This free exhibition provides information, advice and equipment for disabled people, carers and health and social care professionals on a range of disability related issues.


With an exhibition covering homecare, disability and rehabilitation, attendees include occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, nursing professionals, special needs teachers, carers and those working in paediatric occupational therapy and physiotherapy. Thousands of healthcare professionals attend the show to see the latest new products and gain CPD certificates of attendance.

27 & 28 September

This is a two-day, level two accredited course for all staff, parents and professionals interested in using a trampoline for rebound therapy. Learners will have the opportunity to experience and become familiar with the safe use of a trampoline for rebound therapy and will be taught the rationale behind its use. This course is appropriate for all ages, phases and types of disability including PMLD, ASD and specific learning difficulties.

0191 2728600

November 24 - 26 November

Bal-A-Vis-X Workshops London

3 days of intensive training. Bal-A-Vis-X is a series of more than 300 exercises of varied complexity which are all deeply rooted in rhythm. Workshops are now available UK wide.


learning sessions with direct, supervised experience working with students with autism in a structured setting. Led by TEACCH trainers from Division TEACCH and trainers from Prior’s Court with extensive training and experience with the TEACCH approach years working with Division £995 professionals/parents Prior’s Court Training & Development Centre

01635 247202

29 November

Kidz up North Bolton

TES Special Needs London

course combining active

12 & 13 October

Inspirational and intensive

07766 837 616

TES Special needs London provides an opportunity to shop for the latest SEN resources and services from hundreds of suppliers, for every kind of special and additional need. There is also a comprehensive SEN focused seminar programme and up-to-date CPD training on the latest issues in SEN.


Newbury, Berkshire


This is a free exhibition dedicated to children with disabilities and special needs, their parents, carers and professionals who work with them. Over 100 exhibitors will offer information on mobility, funding, seating, beds, communication, access, education, toys, transport, style, sensory, sports, leisure and more. A programme of free CPD seminars will take place alongside the event. Children are welcome to attend, try out the equipment and products and participate in sporting activity sessions throughout the day.

TEACCH Five-day Course

following more than seven

Rebound Therapy for SEN, OCN, Level 2 Newcastle upon Tyne

3 - 7 December

We take every care when compiling the information on these pages. However, details may change, and we recommend that you contact the event organisers for up-to-date information before you make arrangements to attend.

cpd & training Promotional feature

Teachers take a holiday for charity National deafblind charity Sense is calling for teachers and teaching assistants to volunteer to support deafblind kids and adults and enjoy new experiences on a well deserved summer break. You’ll get a free week-long summer holiday and you could be making sandcastles on the beach, camping in a yurt or perhaps patting a pig on a farm, all while making a difference. Sense runs 26 summer holidays each year in locations across England and Wales, from city breaks in Bristol and Cardiff, to the Yorkshire dales and a folk festival in Kent.   Teachers of all kinds support people with a range of abilities, and their unique skills are invaluable to deafblind people, helping them to have an amazing time away from home. Applications close at the end of March. For more information, call: 0845 127 0060 or visit:




sen resources DIRECTORY

SEN resources directory Information, advice and support for all things SEN... ADHD Information and support forum for those affected by ADD/ADHD:

Bullying Bullying UK

Dyspraxia Foundation UK

Support and advice on bullying:

Dyspraxia advice and support

Childline National Attention Deficit Disorder Advice and support for those suffering from bullying: Information and Support Service (ADDISS) Resources and information for ADHD:

Cerebral palsy

Autism/ASD Asperger Foundation UK (ASF) Support for people with Asperger’s syndrome:

Autism Awareness Forum for sharing experience/advice for those affected by ASD:

Autistica Charity raising funds for medical research into autism:

National Autistic Society (NAS) Help and information for those affected by ASD:

Scope UK Help, advice and support for children and adults affected by cerebral palsy:

Down syndrome Down’s Syndrome Association (DSA)

Advice and information on epilepsy:

National Centre for Young People with Epilepsy Epilepsy support for young people:

General SEN British Institute for Learning Disabilities Charity for learning disabilities:

Cerebra UK

The Down’s Syndrome Research Foundation UK (DSRF) Charity focussing on medical research into Down syndrome:


Charity for children with brain related conditions:

Child Brain Injury Trust Supporting children, young people, families and professionals when a child has acquired a brain injury.

Department for Education (DfE) The UK Government’s education department:

Charity dedicated to reforming attitudes and policy towards bullying:

Epilepsy Action

Information, support and training for those affected by Down syndrome:

Charity focused on researching interventions in autism:

Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA)


Research Autism



British Dyslexia Association (BDA) Mencap Information and support for people affected by dyslexia:

Learning disabilities charity:

Dyslexia Action

National Association for Special Educational Needs (NASEN)

UK bullying prevention charity:

Charity providing services to those affected by dyslexia:

Organisation for the education, training, advancement of those with SEN:

Beat Bullying


sen resources directory

General SEN National Parent Partnership Network Network of local partnerships providing information, advice and support for parents and carers of those with SEN:

Home schooling

Support for people with little or no clear speech:

National organisation for home


PMLD Network Information and support forPMLD:

Hearing impairment Hearing impairment charity:

Deafness Research UK Charity promoting medical research into hearing impairment:

Rebound therapy The National Rebound Therapy Consultancy UK governing body for rebound therapy.

SEN law

National Deaf Children’s Society Charity to help deaf children and young people:

Independent Parental Special Education Advice

The Communication Trust Raising awareness of SLCN:

Tourette’s syndrome Tourette's Action

Information and advice on Tourette’s:

Visual impairment National Blind Children’s Society

Support and services for parents and carers of blind children:

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

Support and advice to those affected by visual impairment:

Legal advice and support for parents:

Learning outside the classroom Council for Learning Outside the classroom (CLOtC)

Communication Matters

The Home Education Network UK (THENUK)


Action on Hearing Loss


Spina bifida Shine

Awarding Body for the LOtC quality badge:

Information and support relating to spina

bifida and hydrocephalus:



For the latest news, articles, resources, cpd and events listings, visit:

ACE Centre Advice on communication aids:

National Literacy Trust (NLT) Literacy charity for adults and children:

Afasic Help and advice on SLCN: SENISSUE57


eazine for special SthuebUK'sslecadrinib g mag

to ar (6 issues) educational needs - ÂŁ48.50. aForye call 01200 409802) international subscriptions please online. (UK only UK Subscription discount available

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SEN Magazine - SEN57 - March/April 2012  

The UK’s leading special educational needs magazine and is essential reading for parents/carers and SEN professionals. Keep up to date, read...