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January • February 2013 Issue 62

Ups and Down’s Growing up against the odds

Different for girls Is female autism being missed?

Are deaf children being ignored? How reforms threaten to make bad provision even worse

post-16 options outdoor activities assistive technology CReSTeD • behaviour teacher wellbeing • mobility tablets and PMLD • dyslexia SEN news, CPD and much more...

this issue in full

January • February 2013 • Issue 62

Editor’s diary Collaboration across services is central to the Government’s vision for SEN, so it was fascinating to attend Manchester’s Autism Today conference recently to hear medical professionals discussing some of the issues that are so hotly contested in education circles. Particularly enlightening was consultant psychiatrist Helen Pearce’s practical analysis of mental health issues in autism and how to differentiate between ASD and its co-morbidities. At the Communication Trust’s Shine a Light Awards the vital work that so many professionals do to support those with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) was recognised. The Awards were hosted by TV presenter Paul Ross, but it was a young man with Moebius syndrome who stole the show. Four years ago, Jack Marshall’s speech was unintelligible but, as he returned to present the Award he won last year (Young Person of the Year), Jack delivered a speech which seemed to sum up both the challenges faced by those

with complex SLCN and how gloriously lifechanging the right support can be. Special Needs London was a welcome opportunity to talk with some of those who live and work with children with SEN on a daily basis. Unsurprisingly, budget cuts and changes to SEN provision were amongst the liveliest topics for debate.


SEN news


What’s new?


Point of view


Outdoor activities


Hearing impairment


Technology in deaf education


Assistive technology


Tablets in education

42 Wheelchairs/mobility 46

Post-16/work placements


Education options post-16


Down syndrome

58 Dyslexia 63 CReSTeD 68

SEN in Africa


Teacher wellbeing


Autism in girls


Autism leads in schools

84 Behaviour 86

Book reviews

I also spent a day at the Independent Schools Council’s excellent SEN Conference in London. With more than 200 SENCOs from across the UK in attendance, it was interesting to discover how some of today’s big issues are playing out in the independent schools arena.


About SEN Magazine


Education Show preview


Bett 2013 preview

With the imminent arrival of the Children’s and Families Bill, 2013 seems set to be a key year for special education. As always, SEN Magazine will keep you up-to-date with all the changes as they happen, along with expert comment and analysis. Join the debate at or on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

106 SEN subscriptions

96 Recruitment 98

CPD and training

104 SEN resources directory

CONTRIBUTORS Julianna Arva Jo Campion Ken Carter Rob Lott Kathryn Lovewell

Peter Sutcliffe: Editor

Mark McCusker Andrew Mercer Terry Miles Nicky Mosson-Jones

Contacts DIRECTOR Jeremy Nicholls EDITOR Peter Sutcliffe 01200 409 810 ADVERTISING SALES Denise Williamson - Sales Manager 01200 409 808 MARKETING & ADMINISTRATION Anita Crossley 01200 409 802

Subscription Administrator Amanda Harrison 01200 409 801

Mary Mountstephen Wendy O’Carroll Paul Rees Kate Reynolds

DESIGN Rob Parry -

Anthony Rhys

Next issue deadline: Advertising and news deadline: 6 February 2013

Jon Thickett


Kathryn Rudd Mark Smith Michelle Wickenden Brendan Wignall

The opinions expressed in SEN Magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher. The publisher cannot be held liable for incorrect 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:

Cover photo by Mike O’Carroll, courtesy of Ups and Downs Southwest:

SEN Magazine ISSN: 1755-4845


In this issue






Active living for all


Helping all children enjoy the benefits of outdoor activities


Are deaf children being ignored?

Listening to the future


Techno turnaround Are changes to SEN funding about to transform assistive technology provision?




Seeds of change

Looking out for teacher Taking care of the most valuable educational resource of all


Using technology to support deaf children’s education



How East Africa's fledgling SEN projects offer hope for change in the region

How Government reforms threaten to make bad provision for deaf children even worse


Jan • Feb 2013 • Issue 62

Different for girls Are we missing the signs of autism in girls?


Taking a lead on autism The role of a designated adult for autism


Tackling problem behaviour Managing challenging behaviour and removing barriers to education

Talking tablets Opening up new worlds for children with PMLD with tablet technology


Education Show preview

Freedom to move


Bett 2013 preview

Creating mobility solutions that help, rather than hinder a child’s development


A head for business How to devise meaningful work experience for those with complex SEN

Regulars 6


Real world transition Planning the post-16 education of your child with SEN


58 63

Where there’s a will...

14 20

SEN news What's new? The latest SEN products and ideas

Point of view Your opinions aired

How one young man with Down syndrome is defying all negative predictions of his abilities


Dyslexia: a primary issue

96 Recruitment

Reading the signs of dyslexia in young children


More than words CReSTeD feature: choosing a school for a child with dyslexia

Book reviews

CPD and training Your essential guide to SEN courses, seminars and events

104 SEN resources directory

24 Hearing impairment 32 Assistive technology

42 Wheelchairs/mobility

54 Down syndrome

In the next issue of SEN:

multi-sensory therapy • music and SEN • ADHD • Tourette’s • transition P-scales • learning outside the classroom • autism • dyslexia accessible vehicles, green schools and much more... Follow us on

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Five-year plan for speech, language and communication A new five-year strategy to develop public awareness of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) has been launched by The Communication Trust. The coalition of nearly 50 voluntary organisations working in the sector has pledged to put communication issues high on the political and public services agenda, and to keep pressing the Government to improve support and services for those with SLCN. The Trust has also published an evaluation of its Hello campaign, 2011’s National Year of Communication. It shows that, while the campaign did produce a marked boost in general awareness of speech and language issues, many children and young people’s needs continue to be misinterpreted, misunderstood or missed altogether. The strategy seeks to empower the children’s workforce to ensure that all children are supported in developing good speech, language and communication skills. The Trust plans to work with education and health professionals to develop their understanding of the issues involved, and provide them with the necessary knowledge and skills to support pupils. The strategy also focuses on making sure that those who have difficulties with communication are identified early on and given appropriate support. “We face crucial challenges in making sure every child is understood because the children’s workforce still

lack confidence in recognising and supporting SLCN”, said Anne Fox, Director of The Communication Trust. A range of new initiatives will be introduced to promote the Trust’s strategic objectives, alongside the development of programmes established for the National Year of Communication. The Trust will continue to model its community wide approach to language delay, Talk of The Town. It will promote the Level 3 Award in Supporting Children and Young People’s Speech, Language and Communication. It also plans to help schools deal with the new challenges presented by changes to Ofsted inspection guidelines and the National Curriculum. The Hello campaign evaluation report and a summary of the Communication Trust’s five-year strategy can be found at:

Education depends on strong leadership Effective leadership at all levels of the education system is crucial if England is to have a “world class education and skills system”, says Ofsted. Launching its Annual Report, the new head of the Government’s education watchdog, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said that leadership in schools, colleges and local authorities “is key to driving up standards and ensuring all young people get the good education they deserve.” The Report builds on the findings of nearly 25,000 inspections of early years and childcare settings, schools, colleges and adult learning facilities carried out during 2011/12. It says that while schools in England are improving, there is still a long way to go before the nation catches up with the best in the world. The proportion of schools achieving positive ratings is going up year on year, with 70 per cent of all schools judged to be good or better today, compared to 66 per cent of schools three years ago. Ofsted also noted that there are now nearly 1000 more outstanding schools, and nearly 1000 fewer SENISSUE62

inadequate and satisfactory schools, than there were three years ago. Sir Michael said that the upward trend in the performance of the schools system could be put down to better leadership and a slow improvement in the quality of teaching. “Heads are now in the driving seat in a way I could only have dreamed of 20 years ago. They now have more autonomy and more control over their resources than ever before”, he said. Ofsted found wide variations in the performance of schools across different local authority areas, leading to serious inequities for children in some parts of the country. Describing this regional inequality as “unacceptable”, Sir Michael said that, starting in January, he will be using Ofsted’s new regional structure to find out why certain areas are performing badly, and instigating inspections where necessary. The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2011/12, is available online at:


More training, less restraining, say children Children in care say that staff should be trained properly so that they do not need to use physical restraint, according to a new report by the Children’s Rights Director Roger Morgan. Drawing on interviews and discussion groups involving 94 children in care, the report suggests that many workers do not want to restrain children and that less restraint is used when staff have been given the necessary skills to calm children down. Children surveyed did recognise that, on rare occasions, some restraint may be necessary to prevent injury or damage to property. However, Mr Morgan says that “A common theme emerging from discussions included children warning that restraint itself can ‘wind people up’ and thereby pose the risk of making things worse rather than improving behaviour.”

England climbs up reading tables

Every discussion group agreed that staff should always try to calm things down before the situation get so bad that restraint is needed. Children also said that staff should know if a child has been sexually abused and take this into account when deciding whether to use restraint or not.

England has moved up the international league table for teaching reading. The Programme of International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), the international comparison of reading teaching achievement, has published results showing that England went from nineteenth place in 2006 to eleventh place in 2011.

The report, Children’s views on restraint, is available at:

Of the 45 countries participating in the Study, Hong Kong, the Russian Federation, Finland and Singapore topped the list. Students were tested at the age of nine and a half years.

Dyslexia forty years on The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) has published a report examining progress on issues facing adults with dyslexia over the past four decades. Produced to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of the charity’s foundation, the document identifies a range of issues that continue to affect dyslexics negatively. Access to written information in formats appropriate for those with dyslexia is cited as a prime example of how organisations are still failing those with condition. While the requirement to provide information in alternative formats was enshrined in law with the Equality Act of 2010, the charity says that not enough businesses take heed of this and provide information in a way that dyslexics can use. The Report, produced following consultation with over 100 organisations and individuals working with dyslexics, also points to some of the strengths of being dyslexic, saying roughly 20 per cent of entrepreneurs are dyslexic. Margaret Malpas, Joint Chair of the BDA, has called for an extension of the collaboration the charity secured in the production of its Report. “I think we have a real opportunity here to collaborate to tackle the problems identified and resolve some of them”, she said. “This would result in less cost and pain for individuals but also significantly reduce to the costs to society which are estimated at £1billion a year to the UK economy.” The BDA’s Adult Dyslexia Report is available at:

Speaking at an event organised by the charitable think-tank Reform, Elizabeth Truss, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare, claimed that England’s improvements in teaching reading were linked to the commitment of successive governments to synthetic phonics. She highlighted the importance of the 2006 Rose review, commissioned by the previous Labour Government, and the current administration’s implementation of the phonics check to identify those pupils needing additional help with reading. The Coalition Government has also been running a programme of match-funding of up to £3000 for all state-funded schools in England with Key Stage 1 pupils to help them to buy approved systematic synthetic phonics products and training. “Long-term research projects in the UK and abroad have confirmed that the early and effective use of systematic synthetic phonics can all but eliminate illiteracy”, said Mrs Truss. Chris Jolly, of phonics company Jolly Learning, also welcomed the news of England’s rise up the PIRLS ranking, but cautioned that much work still needs to be done. “We need to work harder in reducing the wide range of achievement in England, and the huge difference between girls and boys which is unreasonably high”, he said. The PIRLS report, published on 10 December 2012, can be accessed at: Look out for an article on synthetic phonics by Chris Jolly in issue 65 of SEN Magazine (July/August 2013). SENISSUE62




Virtual heads for looked-after children

Children with cancer bullied and left behind

In a bid to help children in care achieve better grades at school, the Department for Education (DfE) has announced that virtual school heads will be made mandatory for all councils in England.

Many children with cancer feel they are being left out when they return to primary school following treatment, according to a new survey by children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent.

The move came as the Department published its annual statistics on the school attainment of looked-after children. The figures show that the results of children in care remain well below average. Less than 15 per cent of this group achieve five GCSEs, including English and maths, compared to 58 per cent of children in the general population who achieve at this level or above. The figures do show some narrowing of the attainment gap at Key Stage 4. The Government plans to enshrine in law the duty of every council to provide a virtual school head, whose primary responsibility will be to support those in care at school and raise their educational attainment. Virtual school heads will work with headteachers to find out what children in care need, such as extra tuition or emotional support, to improve their results. The DfE says that the holders of this role will act as “pushy parents” on behalf of those in care, challenging colleagues and senior directors to provide quality learning and support. They will also be charged with ensuring that children in care, and their foster or other carers, are involved in decisions about the delivery of their education. The Government says that those local authorities that already have strong virtual school head arrangements in place achieve above the national average for looked after children. A DfE statement highlighted that, this year, 40 per cent of looked after children in Warrington, 37.5 per cent in North Tyneside and 22.2 per cent in Dudley achieved five good GCSEs.

Comic book take on glue ear A free resource has been made available to parents and children providing them with information on glue ear and how it is treated. The comic booklet, Harvey gets Grommets, has been produced by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS). It follows the story of a young boy, Harvey, who undergoes grommet surgery following a sudden loss of hearing due to glue ear. Glue ear is a condition that blocks the middle ear with fluid and, if untreated, it can lead to delayed speech development and affect a child’s behaviour. Glue ear is the most common reason for children to visit a doctor and grommet surgery is the most common surgery performed on young children; in the last year, 32,000 children had grommet surgery in England. “Glue ear causes hearing problems but can also be painful, making children unhappy and irritable”, says NDCS Audiologist Vicki Kirwin. “It’s important that parents are able to identify glue ear and talk to their child about what it means and how it can be treated.” Free copies of Harvey gets Grommets can be ordered at: SENISSUE62

More than a third of parents of those with cancer said that their child is bullied or teased at school because of the effects of treatment, such as hair loss or weight gain from steroid treatment. Parents also expressed fears about the support their children receive when they return to school, with 36 per cent saying that their child did not get the extra help s/he needed. More than a third of parents also felt that they did not get enough say in how their child’s illness was communicated to other pupils. The charity’s Chief Executive, Lorraine Clifton, has called on the Government, local authorities and schools to put in place the support children with cancer need in hospital, at home and at school. “No child should have to miss out on their education because they’ve had cancer – and it’s distressing to hear that some are teased and even bullied on their return to school”, she said. The report into the impact of cancer on children’s primary school education was published in December to coincide with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. It can be downloaded at:

Achievement for All gets funding boost Children’s Minister Edward Timpson (right) has announced the extension of funding for the Achievement for All (AfA) programme for an additional two years. AfA is a Government backed charity which supports schools to improve the aspirations, access and achievement of learners and young people. Mr Timpson said the programme “is a good example of where an evidence based programme is delivered within schools with close coordination of parents, teachers and staff and has delivered really impressive results”. The Minister made the announcement while giving evidence to the Education Select Committee on the Government’s proposed reforms to SEN and disability.


Deafblind need professional intervenors

Has your child been “unofficially excluded”?

Deafblind children should get one-to-one support from specialists called intervenors, says the charity Sense. Intervenors are highly trained professionals who work with deafblind children to help them play, learn and develop communication skills while they are growing up.

Contact a Family is seeking the views of parents with disabled children who may have been “unofficially excluded” from school. The charity, which runs the SEN National Advice Service, is responding to a number of enquiries it receives each month from parents whose children are not allowed to attend school or out of school activities, despite not being formally excluded.

Actress Rebecca Front with Sam Cowell (seven), who was born deafblind.

New research by the charity suggests that nine out of ten deafblind children do not get the professional support they need because only ten per cent of deafblind children have been identified by local authorities. Of those who have been identified, only 30 per cent get appropriate support. BAFTA award-winning actress Rebecca Front joined the charity at a Parliamentary reception in November to call on the Government to ensure that deafblind children are better supported. Speaking at the event, the star of the acclaimed political satire The Thick of It described witnessing an intervenor at work. “It is remarkable watching a deafblind child learn by touch as they feel the intervenor’s hands”, she said. “It is like watching a beautiful ballet.”

Autism good practice guide A guide to help colleges support students with autism has been launched by the charity Ambitious about Autism. Called Creating inclusive colleges for learners with autism, it focuses on good practice at eight colleges across the UK which have implemented the charity’s College Inclusion Charter. Fewer than one in four young people with autism currently go on to continue their education once they leave school. The Charter calls on colleges to commit to delivering quality educational opportunities for learners with autism and other disabilities. It was developed as part of Ambitious about Autism’s Finished at School campaign, launched in 2011. Speaking at the launch of the guide, the Children’s Minister Edward Timpson highlighted the importance of colleges in securing better outcomes for school leavers. “Our aspiration is for all young people, regardless of their disability, to be supported to enter the world of work and live as independently as they choose. Colleges have a vital role to play in making this aspiration a reality”, he said. Creating inclusive colleges for learners with autism can be downloaded from: The next issue of SEN Magazine will include an article discussing the findings of the report and how colleges can support learners with autism.

Such exclusions could include parents being asked to remove their child from school before the end of the school day, or children being refused the opportunity to take part in school trips. These kinds of exclusions are unlawful, even if conducted with the consent of parents. In England and Wales, pupils can only be excluded for disciplinary reasons and the school must formally tell parents that their child will be excluded. The school must provide written details of why the child is being excluded and how long the exclusion will last. Parents must also receive written documentation of their rights and opportunities to seek redress, and the arrangements the school has made to provide alternative full-time education for the child. Contact a Family is asking parents in England and Wales to complete its online survey so it can get a better picture of how widespread unofficial exclusions are, and how they can affect families. The survey, which is open until midnight on 25 January 2013, can be found at: unofficialexclusion2012

Nationwide autism challenge Primary school children across the UK are being encouraged to take up challenges to help raise awareness of issues affecting pupils with autism. The Anderson Schools Challenge, jointly organised by the National Autistic Society (NAS) and The Anderson Foundation, is calling on school pupils to complete 50 fun tasks, such as fitting 50 items into a small space or holding an autism-awareness assembly, in celebration of the NAS’s fiftieth birthday. The sponsored challenges can be undertaken by 50 individual pupils or a whole class. Money raised will help the charity to provide services and support for people affected by autism across the UK. “Autism is more common than most people think – around one in 100 people have the condition”, says NAS Chief Executive Mark Lever. “That’s why it’s so important that as many schools as possible take part [in the Challenge] and do their bit to help those with autism.” For more information, visit: SENISSUE62




Autism “myths” debunked The National Autistic Society (NAS) is running a Twitter campaign to confront common misconceptions of autism. The charity is using the social network to attempt to dispel popular “myths” about autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). Every day, it is tweeting an autism “myth”, closely followed by a corresponding fact about the condition. Some of the most popular myths and facts released so far are: • Myth: Autism is a rare condition which is only diagnosed in a small number of people Fact: There are over 500,000 people with autism in the UK • Myth: Asperger syndrome is a middle class condition made up by parents to excuse the bad behaviour of their children Fact: Asperger syndrome is a real and disabling condition that has its own set of diagnostic criteria • Myth: All children and adults with autism prefer to spend their time alone Fact: People with autism may want to interact socially but may not naturally have the necessary social skills. While campaigners across the world have done much to improve autism awareness in recent decades, the NAS says that false and often negative perceptions of the condition are still commonplace. For example, many people think that all those with autism are autistic savants, like Dustin Hoffman’s character in the film Rain Man. In reality, only around one per cent of those with the condition have an accompanying special ability. Misconceptions can lead to some people with autism feeling isolated and alone. In extreme cases, they can also lead to abuse and bullying. The Twitter campaign will run until World Autism Awareness Day on 2 April 2013. It can be followed at:

PTA set for Education Show

Awards honour young disabled sports stars The achievements of young disabled sports people have been recognised at an awards ceremony organised by the English Federation for Disability Sport. The Nationwide Disability Sports Awards 2012, held on 6 December at Lancashire Cricket Club in Manchester, were hosted by Paul Dickenson. Guests included cyclist Jody Cundy, athlete Shelly Woods, and swimmers Matt Walker and Natalie Jones.

Lewis Edwards receives his award from Esther McVey MP.

The junior awards were presented by the Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey. The winners were: Jack Thomas, Craig Harris, Hannah Russell, Eleanor Simmonds, Josef Craig and Alice Tai (swimming); Toby Sweeney, Vanesa Garzova and Southampton’s Cedar School (Festival of Sport); Lewis Edwards, Maria Lyle, Abbie Hunnisett and South West Athletics (athletics).   In addition, ten talented disabled athletes were awarded funds of £1000 each to support their development in their sport. They were: Jacob Thomas from Pembrokeshire (boccia), Liz McTernon from Lincolnshire (triathlon), Dan Hopwood from Stockport (para-canoeing), Paula Moulton from Manchester (wheelchair dancing), Jordan Howe from Cardiff (athletics), Gabi Down from Milton Keynes (wheelchair fencer), Julie Rogers from Bedford (sitting volleyball), Jack Hodgson from Gainsborough (judo), David Corr from Chorley (skiing) and Megan Atkinson from Peterlee (swimming).

Nystagmus research A new research project into the eye condition nystagmus has been announced by London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital.

Birmingham’s Education Show will host the first National PTA-UK Conference. This will be the first UK meeting of the charity that represents more than 13,750 parent teacher associations (PTAs) across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Nystagmus is characterised by involuntary movement of the eyes in any direction, and those with the condition usually have reduced vision. The project will investigate whether or not contact lenses can improve the vision of adults with infantile nystagmus.

Topics for discussion at the conference are expected to include how to run a PTA, practical guidance on applying for grants, and advice on how to use social media to effectively reach supporters and local communities.

The £15,000 project is being bank-rolled by the Nystagmus Network and Fight for Sight, following a charity fund-raising campaign.

Formerly known as the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations (NCPTA), the charity rebranded as PTA-UK in October 2011. The Education Show will run from 14 to 16 March 2013 at the NEC Birmingham, with the PTA-UK Conference taking place on Saturday 16 March. SENISSUE62

Moorfields’ Consultant Ophthalmologist Maria Theodorou will lead the research.

News deadline for Jan/Feb issue: 06/02/2013 Email: Tel: 01200 409810


Speech therapists fear for SEN services Speech therapists have warned that many children with communication difficulties could lose out through the Government’s proposed changes to SEN services. The warning came in evidence submitted by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) to the House of Commons Education Committee in November. The College is particularly concerned about the Government’s plans to replace statements of SEN with new combined education, health and care plans. Most children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) do not have statements and will not be eligible for the new plans. Around seven per cent of children aged about five years have SLCN but only 0.3 per cent of children in primary schools are identified in the SEN system as having SLCN as their primary type of need and have statements. The RCSLT fears that current financial constraints, combined with changes elsewhere in the SEN system, could mean that these children will lose out. It is calling for all children with SLCN to have access to appropriate services purchased jointly by local authorities and local health services.

Transition support for those with Duchenne A new project to help young people with Duchenne as they progress into adulthood has been introduced by Action Duchenne. The National Lottery-funded scheme, Takin’ Charge, will seek to help teenagers with the condition to learn life skills and plan for what they want to do in the future. It will cover a wide range of issues, including healthy eating, fitness, sex and IT. The project was launched at the charity’s recent international conference, where young people with Duchenne were able to quiz a panel of experts on the condition. The panel included Professor Steve Wilton from the University of Western Australia, Dr Ros Quinlivan and Dr Anton Emmanuel from Great Ormond Street Hospital, and older people living with Duchenne.  Dr Janet Hoskin, Manager of the Takin’ Charge Project, said that “It was fantastic to see so many young people taking responsibility and asking meaningful questions”.

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Obesity rife in primary schools A third of children in the final year of primary school are obese or overweight, according to new Government figures. The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) considered data for around one million pupils in state schools in England during the 2011/12 year. It also revealed that more than a fifth of children in Reception are either obese or overweight. The figures, which represent a small increase on the previous year, show that the percentage of obese children in Year 6 (19.2 per cent) was more than double that of Reception year children (9.5 per cent). The proportion of underweight children has remained virtually static from last year at 1.3 per cent. More girls were found to be of a healthy weight than boys. In Reception, 77.8 per cent of girls and 75.4 per cent of boys were a healthy weight and, in Year 6, these figures were 66.2 per cent for girls and 63.6 per cent for boys. The National Obesity Observatory (NOO) is to undertake additional analysis of 2011/12 NCMP data. Its findings are expected to be published in early 2013.

Does educational failure lead to social breakdown? A new study is to consider how educational failure contributes to social problems. Organised by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), it will form part of a wider analysis of the causes of poverty and social breakdown, which will also look at welfare dependency, family breakdown, drug and alcohol addiction and serious personal debt. The study follows a YouGov poll, commissioned by the CSJ, in which around 55 per cent of those surveyed said that at least one of their local communities features broken families, crime and poor schools. Wendy Lee, Professional Director of the Communication Trust, is on the working group on educational failure, which will feed into the overall report. “The research evidencing the poor language of children living in socially disadvantaged areas is becoming stronger and stronger and we know the massive impact poor language has on educational success, attainment and on long term prospects for children and young people”, she said. The CSJ study, Breakthrough Britain II, will run until 2014.









Promotional feature

New Jolly Phonics Extra – amazing extra help for learning to read Jolly Phonics Extra is a comprehensive kit of multi-sensory resources that help children who are struggling to read and write. The resources have been carefully designed to engage and enable children to rapidly become fluent at reading and writing. The Jolly Phonics Extra kit contains: • TalkingPEN* • Letter Sounds Book* • Jolly Phonics Extra Flash Cards* • Jolly Phonics Extra Pupil Books 1, 2, and 3 • Jolly Phonics Extra Teacher’s Book • Jolly Phonics Extra Readers, Red Level (18 different titles)* • Jolly Phonics Extra Readers, Yellow Level (18 different titles)* • Jolly Phonics Extra Readers, Green Level (18 different titles)*. * Compatible with the TalkingPEN.

The inclusion of a TalkingPEN in the kit means that children are able to reinforce the teaching; just by touching a page it: • speaks the letter sound • sings the Jolly Song • models blending • reads a story • asks a question (from 4,000 sound files). The TalkingPEN allows children to work alone or in small groups in conjunction with SENCOs and TAs. In addition, the 54 Readers give a second (more phonically regular) text which the children can refer to if they get stuck. Jolly Phonics Extra makes reading more accessible for children by giving them a variety of different ways to approach the texts and improve their skills. Support and guidance for teachers is also included in the kit. Jolly Phonics Extra empowers children to learn whether they are struggling with blending, have poor attention or have English as a second language. At only £175, the Jolly Phonics Extra kit provides outstanding value. To find out more or to order your Jolly Phonics kit, visit:




What’s new?

Specialist support from Autism Anglia

Autism Anglia offers a wealth of expertise in supporting people affected by an autism spectrum condition. The charity’s own specialist residential school, Doucecroft School in Essex, and adult housing/study centres across the region provide autism specific care to individuals. Support is also available free of charge to families who are experiencing difficulties in caring for someone on the spectrum through a dedicated family support team. Schools and health professionals can access training on autism and receive strategies for dealing with individuals on the spectrum. Practical advice and opportunities to network and share experiences are delivered through conferences and information days.

Overwhelmed by your health and safety responsibilities? Although working in special education, health and social care can be both rewarding and very enjoyable, there are times when you can feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities. With this in mind, EDGE Services has developed a couple of concise and informative guides that will help unravel the complexities of current legislation specifically around moving and handling issues; they offer guidance and support on best practice to help you. Copies of these free guides can be obtained by visiting: where you can also register for the free EDGE Services newsletter.

Autism Sussex brings Professor Tony Attwood to Sussex The Autism Sussex annual seminar is being held on Friday 10 May 2013 from 9am to 4.30pm at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhillon-Sea, East Sussex. Participants can learn about the CAT-kit programme for improving communication. Professor Tony Attwood is one of the creators of the CAT-kit programme which consists of visual, interactive and customisable communication elements for children and young adults. Tony is a world renowned expert on Asperger’s syndrome. His book, Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals, has sold 300,000 copies. For further information or bookings, telephone: 01424 773366, email: or visit:

Helping staff support learners with difficulties reading standard print, the new online service delivered by Dyslexia Action and RNIB, now has over 1900 downloadable, accessible textbooks for all key stages. It helps staff support learners who struggle to read standard print (dyslexic, partially sighted or blind) to access text more easily. It also offers over 1000 images that, along with the digital books, can be downloaded in different formats (word, audio, Braille). It enables students to work more independently, improving self-confidence and increasing learning. Load2Learn can also help schools meet the requirements around the Equality Act (2010). Tel: 0300 303 8313, email: SENISSUE62

Specialist SEN recruitment from Engage Engage SEN is the new specialist recruitment service for schools seeking teachers and support staff to work with children with SEN in both special and mainstream settings.   Engage Partners, the creators of Engage Education and iday, are established market leaders in the placement of day to day, long term and permanent staff for schools. Engage SEN now aims to provide this sensitive, professional and needs-led approach to schools looking for the special skills and characteristics they require for their SEN or alternative provision.   For more details, call 0333 800 7800 or visit:

Experia launches world first with iRiS+™ Experia has announced the launch of its new iRiS+™ range – the first suite of sensory products and environments enabling user control via any iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. The range features a variety of equipment and offers users noise, movement and vibration controllers suited to a wide range of abilities and requirements. It includes established favourites, such as LED bubble tubes, fibre optic cascades and projectors, and new products like the Sensory Roamer. iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch models are easily connected via the free Experia iRiS+™ app, available from iTunes at: For more information, email: or visit:


Playtime by Fawns expand inclusive play range

Anna Kennedy gets OBE from The Queen

Creating outdoor spaces that capture children’s imagination and offer physical and mental stimulation is a challenge for all educational settings. When the special needs of pupils are taken into consideration, particular attention needs to be given to designing a space that offers inclusive child led play.

Anna Kennedy has received her OBE, for campaigning work to help children and adults with autism, from The Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Fawns specialise in SEN focused play areas and have recently enhanced their inclusive play range to incorporate trim trails, swings and play dens specifically designed for children of all abilities. They offer free no obligation design and consultancy services as well as access to fund raising specialists within the SEN sector. 01252 515199

Henshaws College celebrates diversity Henshaws College has successfully achieved the Investors in Diversity Standard at Stage Two. Christine Sherman, Quality Manager, said: “The prestigious quality mark recognises the fantastic work of our team at Henshaws, who help the college to remain an equal and diverse environment for staff and students alike.” Henshaws was particularly praised for its work in supporting young people with disabilities to make choices about their own lives. The Student Council was commended for providing inclusive opportunities for students to contribute towards college plans and board meetings. The college’s use of accessible technology for all students also received a special mention.

Hesley has new and improved website The Hesley Group has taken on-board feedback and views from all those who work in partnership with it – the people it supports, families and carers, professionals and staff – in order to redevelop its website and make it more accessible and informative. With new areas of quick access for parents/carers and professionals, and a new accessible format, it is now quicker and easier to find everything you need to know. Detailed service provision pages for each establishment, and the company’s values and approaches, provide a comprehensive overview of how The Hesley Group seeks to provide the best outcomes:


Whilst picking up the honour at the Palace in November, Photo credit: PA. Anna also received a lunch invitation from actress Kate Winslet, who is keen to discuss Anna’s work. Mrs Kennedy co-founded Hillingdon Manor School and other adult care provision in 1999, when she couldn't get school places for her two sons. Since then, she has won a host of awards and written a book about her struggle to secure a good education for her children.

International Exhibition and Forum for Education (IEFE 2013) The IEFE 2013 will take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on 18 to 22 February. Over 20 countries are participating, with more than 40,000 visitors expected. The exhibition will focus on: • IT solutions for the Saudi education market • educational hardware, building equipment and design • training solutions for universities and educational institutions • education quality assurance systems • curriculum providers • pre-school and SEN equipment • educational broadcast media • sports equipment and infrastructure. For further information, call Edward Abankwa on: 44 (0) 7956 67 55 21 (UK) or: +966 563 4444 15 (Saudi Arabia), email: or visit:

Easy and funny SEN action songs CD SEN Music Stars have released a new CD and book with action songs created specially for children with SEN. Suitable from Year 1 to post-16 SLD, it has been described by one special school teacher as “one of the best ready-made resources I’ve found for my pupils”. Music Stars have an introductory offer: buy the CD only and have the words emailed to you (thereby saving postage). To take advantage, send your name, address and email address, with a cheque for £6 payable to “Sutton Arts”, to Batts Farm, Batts Lane, Long Sutton, Somerset TA10 9EQ. For more information and to listen to samples, visit: SENISSUE62



iPad app uses Makaton to build communication skills MyChoicePad is an iPad app that uses Makaton signs in a unique and engaging way. Users can access signs quickly, create their own grid collections and import their own images to improve their language skills in an easy, affordable and fun way. Train the Trainer Days are available from January to April 2013 to help introduce MyChoicePads into classrooms as effective teaching, learning and assessment tools. Quote “SEN” to attend for just £249, instead of £299. Annual training licences are £99. Visit: or email: to find out more.

Extra help with learning to read Jolly Phonics Extra is a comprehensive kit of multi-sensory resources that help children who are struggling to read and write. The resources have been carefully designed to engage and enable children to learn swiftly. The inclusion of a TalkingPEN in the kit means children are able to reinforce the teaching. Just by touching a page it: • speaks the letter sound • sings the Jolly Song • models blending • reads a story • asks a question from 4,000 sound files. Adam Saye, Assistant Headteacher at Thomas Buxton Primary School, says that "For struggling children, this is fantastic".

Magic Touch mobile interactive units Utilising the latest touchscreen technology, Magic Touch units provide an interactive table, easel or vertical viewing platform for gaming or learning. The suite of applications includes games such as draw, and musical applications like piano and drums, which can be accessed with one touch. For more able bodied users, there are games like ice hockey and bugs. The unit can be adjusted for height and can to become a flat table for multi-user play. Up to 32 touch points can be used at any one time, making it ideal for group learning. For more information, call: 01702 542231 or visit: SENISSUE62

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 twohour 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 2013, visit: or call: 020 7696 6925.

Free autism in education webinars The National Autistic Society and Axcis Education Recruitment are presenting a series of free one-hour webinars to help teachers and others working in the SEN sector learn the tools and strategies they need to support children with autism in the classroom: • Education of girls on the autism spectrum • Social Stories: what are they and why use them • The SCERTS model: helping children to become competent social communicators • Educational provision and teaching approaches for children with PDA • The new Ofsted inspection framework • Promoting inclusion, preventing bullying.

For more information, visit:

What if Soundfield did more than just amplify? The benefits associated with Soundfield systems are well established, so once you know you need it, how do you decide which system? While price is an important factor, so too is getting true, everyday value from it. The new Juno System from Front Row offers impeccable Soundfield quality that’s controlled by voice command and delivered through one powerful, portable speaker. What’s more, the incredible lesson capture technology allows any lesson (speech and visuals) to be recorded, shared and watched again by students at home. To learn more, visit: or email: BETT Stand: G180


Mood enhancing lighting from Optikinetics Optikinetics’ projected lighting effects are used to calm, soothe or stimulate, as well as to educate, inspire and entertain. The use of mood enhancing lighting has long been accepted as an essential part of multisensory/SEN environments. Projected effects can help relieve boredom and anxiety and can also create positive stress-reducing distractions for carers and clients. Optikinetics’ special lighting effects are simple to use and their new cool running LED projector is quiet and safe to operate. It has a 100,000 hour lamp, making it almost maintenance free. Hundreds of colourful effects are available and viewable at:

Celebrate friendship with Mr Tumble Something Special magazine, created especially for children with learning disabilities, has launched its We’re All Friends campaign this month. The magazine is based on the CBeebies television programme Something Special, starring Justin Fletcher MBE and his muchloved alter ego Mr Tumble.    The campaign is inspired by research which revealed that the best friends of children with SEN are often those who help them, such as carers and teachers. In recognition of this, Something Special magazine is running a national competition celebrating friendship. The winner will meet Justin Fletcher and receive a VIP family ticket to his live show.


Switch access for iPads Pretorian Technologies manufactures a range of assistive technology devices providing switch access to iPads, iPods and iPhones. All devices connect wirelessly to iPads via Bluetooth 2.1 and have integral batteries rechargeable over USB. APPlicator is designed for apps with built-in switch access and is particularly suitable for anyone requiring simple switch access to apps, media player and photography. For advanced switch users, Switch2Scan provides comprehensive, scanning switch access to all iPad functions. SimplyWorks for iPad provides completely wireless iPad access using devices such as trackball, joystick, switch or keyboard. It gives scanning switch access to apps, music and media, iBooks, internet, data entry and photography.

Enterprising students at LVS Hassocks Students in the Work Skills Department at LVS Hassocks are always looking for ways to develop their business, so a new venture by the Autism Trust has created some great opportunities. Polly's Place, a shop in Ascot, is selling items made by the students. As well as making greeting cards, candles and calendars, the group has worked together to package their items and work out how much to sell them for. Janet Anthony from LVS said: “The students have worked really hard and were very excited about seeing their products on the shop’s shelves and on the mail order website.”

Sensory issues get the Squease The Squease vest is designed for people with sensory differences, such as those with autism, ADHD or learning disabilities. When inflated with air, it applies a hug-like pressure to the wearer’s upper body. The vest can help the wearer to: • reduce sensitivity to sensory input • improve attention and focus • reduce anxiety and stress • increase body awareness • relax and fall asleep • ease transitions between activities. Squease are running a free rental scheme giving SEN readers the opportunity to try a vest. To take up the offer, email: (includes a two-minute animation explaining Squease)

Remploy and Do It launch innovative assessment tool Developed by Professor Kirby and Dr Smythe from Do It, in partnership with Remploy, Ability Profiler is an assessment tool which has been designed to gather detailed information on a learner’s academic, soft and vocational skills, in order to prepare for working life. The tool has already profiled over 6,000 individuals and is proving its benefits to both advisors and individuals on their journey into employment. For further information, contact Remploy on: 0845 600 2517, email: or visit: Further details can also be found on page 48 of this magazine. SENISSUE62



A fully inclusive play solution from Schoolscapes Schoolscapes creates innovative play solutions to accommodate projects of all sizes across the UK. It has recently completed a £150k project at Regency High School, Worcester, providing a unique play scheme for 160 pupils with a wide range of abilities. The School’s Headteacher, Frank Steel, reports that “The children are over the moon. It’s been a huge success and offers something for everyone – it’s fully inclusive, which is exactly what we wanted to achieve”. Call: 0845 163 0565 to arrange a no obligation, free site and design survey, or visit:

Tackling sensory and language processing An innovative approach that aims to improve attention, language processing and sensory overload by activating each brain-half separately using sounds through headphones, the Sensory Activation Solutions (SAS) method is easy to apply, non-invasive and cost-effective. It can help with conditions such as ADHD, APD, dyslexia and autism. Courses are tailored to the age, condition and abilities of each client and are available through UK based centres and practitioners, or via the internet. A free training module for therapists and educational professionals will be launched in January 2013. Tel: 020 3239 4880 or visit:

New SymWriter 2 from Widgit Widgit will be welcoming in the New Year with the release of SymWriter 2 and SymWriter Online. The new software is smarter and quicker than before, giving greater support to emergent writers. However, all current SymWriter owners will be able to upgrade for free. SymWriter Online takes symbol writing and puts it in the Cloud. With unlimited online storage, users can create, edit and share symbol documents from any internet-connected device. Widgit will be previewing the new software at BETT 2013. You can visit them for a demo on stand B140. For more information, visit:

Whinfell welcomes Hugo Whinfell School has welcomed Pets as Therapy dog Hugo into its classrooms. The delightful Basset Hound and his owner make regular visits to the school and have even helped the children in developing reading skills. “The visits are a great way of bringing the children together. They love the PAT dog visits and can become involved as much as they like. It’s lovely to see them relaxed around Hugo and we have seen them grow in confidence as the program has progressed”, says Deputy Headteacher Beverly Doran. Whinfell School offers personalised education and residential care for young people with autism.

Autism Trust Foundation joins ABILITIESme ABILITIESme, the first MENA event to enhance the potential of the special needs community, has confirmed the participation of the Autism Trust Foundation (ATF).   The ATF is a Dubai NGO that provides services and support for children and families by implementing a family-centered model, responding to the child’s identified needs and ensuring that each individual achieves his/her full potential.   ATF’s Vice-Chairman, Mr Fahed Bin Al Shaikh, is a spokesperson for ABILITIESme, as he believes it is opening up the dialogue on disability at home, school and work.   ABILITIESme runs from December 9 to 11, 2013 at Abu Dhabi National Convention Centre, United Arab Emirates: SENISSUE62

Prioritising personalised learning The My World Trust recently hosted a workshop with leading third sector representatives to discuss the need for children’s individual learning requirements and aspirations to be placed at the centre of education. It looked at how personalisation techniques for children with SEN can be applied to all children. “Each and every child in the UK deserves an education that responds to their individual learning requirements”, says the Trust’s Chief Executive Anita Kerwin-Nye (pictured). The Trust is now planning workshops on the use of IT in the classroom and how to support gifted and talented children and young people.


point of view

Point of view: college principal

FE choice for all New funding arrangements must not compromise young people’s right to choose the college which best meets their needs, says Kathryn Rudd


ll young people should be able to go to a college where their specific needs are met and their aspirations nurtured. Whether that is in mainstream further education or a specialist college, out-of-county or in-county and living at home, part-time or full-time, it is about choice. However, for young people with complex disabilities, that freedom is being threatened. Changes in funding will mean that they face a postcode lottery when it comes to further education. Under new funding arrangements which come into effect in 2013, local authorities will no longer have to ring-fence funding for school leavers with high levels of need – those who are identified as needing financial support for their education that is likely to exceed £10,000 a year. There are fears – and many of them substantiated with decisions we have seen made in 2012 – that resources will not be directed where they are needed most. What does it all mean? Well, for a start, it may mean that there is a huge difference between what parents and local authorities deem suitable education for a young person with disabilities. If parents feel that a specialist college is most suitable, it will depend on the policy of their local authority as to whether it will fund the choice. It will vary from area to area. Your child's education could depend on whether your authority SENISSUE62

is interested in long-term value or shortterm savings. While there are established national criteria, provided by the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted, on how to measure such decisions, many local authorities are drawing up their own. The level playing field is about to get very pot-holed indeed. Mainstream is not suitable for every young person with disabilities, any more than a specialist college is. We should work with each young person

Your child's education could depend on whether your authority is interested in long-term value or short-term savings and their supporters to agree their aspirations, needs (including health and social care) and their interests. Then a decision should be made on what is best for that young person and their long-term development. A mother of one of our students has first-hand experience of how the system works. She felt that an out-of-county specialist college was the most suitable choice for her 18-year-old son who has learning difficulties and issues with speech and mobility. Her local authority did not agree.

Following a visit to the local day centre, catering for people aged 18 to 80, which her local authority argued could provide for his needs, the family decided to stand their ground. They appealed the decision. They lobbied the local authority. They launched a trust fund as a plan B. Their persistence paid off and their son, now in his second year, is flourishing in a specialist college environment. What we are seeing more and more, though, is that the students who make it to specialist colleges are those who are fortunate enough to have parents willing to challenge the system, to fight for what they consider best for their children. I fear for those young people not fortunate enough to have such parents. If you are a parent, don't despair. You are certainly not alone and there are scores of others around the country who have achieved the best result for their child. And whatever you do, don't give up. Today more than ever, young people with disabilities and SEN need our support to ensure that their right to access the education that best suits their needs is borne out in reality.

Further information Kathryn Rudd is Principal of the National Star College, Gloucestershire:

point of view

Point of view: parent

Why do I bother? Paul Rees describes an epic tussle with the local authority to secure a special school placement for his son


have always believed in following procedures. So when my son Daniel was due to move up to secondary school, I completed the local authority (LA) application procedures in good time. On 8 September 2011, I put in the online application (for 2012 entry), nominating two special schools and one mainstream school. I visited the special school I favoured in October 2011 and it was perfect for Daniel – not just its location but also the attitudes of staff and pupils alike. Daniel’s annual review had been due in August 2011 but, despite repeated requests, did not happen until 25 November 2011. I was assured, at that time, that there was plenty of time. Christmas came and went, though, and I heard nothing from my LA. In February 2012, I was informed that the LA’s applications panel required more information on why my son needed to attend a special school. Dan has ADHD, learning difficulties, behaviour problems and physical Tourette’s, so I attended the educational psychologist’s (EP’s) review to explain our case. In March, I was informed that the EP’s report had been received and that the panel would meet again to discuss the situation. Given that the panel only meets once a month, I knew that even more time was being wasted. I telephoned my LA for information on a weekly basis until I was told, in June 2012, that the special school I had nominated was full.

What’s more, the second special school named was now not suitable, as it had changed its acceptance criteria thanks to LA instructions, and Daniel no longer fitted its criteria. The mainstream school, seemingly under subscribed, was keen to “help” Daniel. Maybe the offer of an enhanced package from the LA had some sway. The SEN Assessment Service told me when they sent out the final statement that I had to nominate a mainstream

I telephoned on a weekly basis until I was told that the special school was full school so that I would qualify for an appeal before tribunal. Mind you, that was not until June 2012. I followed this procedure and received a tribunal date in January 2013 – some 16 months after completing my admissions application. I immediately telephoned the tribunal office and was informed that my request for an earlier hearing should be on the appropriate form. Once received, this form was completed and returned within 24 hours, and I duly got a date in midSeptember 2012 back from them. If it was that easy, why could this date not have been suggested in the first place? The day of the tribunal arrived and the result was this: the special school

proved that they could not take my son because of a total lack of space. The mainstream school would take Daniel, with outreach help from the special school. Dan would be prioritised for a place at special school in September 2013. In the meantime, I would home educate Daniel until the mainstream school could recruit and train a member of staff, which could easily take another three months. Having digested these facts, I made some enquiries of an LA in Wales. They told me that Daniel could start at a special school tomorrow. My employers agreed to transfer me to that area and I already had accommodation that we could use, so that was it; we moved away. I feel that the original LA let my son down badly and I dread to think what might have happened if we had not been willing and able to up sticks and move. Sometimes, when dealing with the LA, I found myself wondering why I bother. But I know why: because I am Dan’s father and I, at least, do care.

If you have a point of view to share on any SEN issue, please email:




outdoor activities

Active living for all There has never been a better time to help everyone enjoy the benefits of outdoor activities, says Rob Lott


he Olympics and Paralympics may be over but the legacy lives on, with children across the country being

inspired to take up a new activity or return to one that they used to enjoy.

Now is an ideal time to build on the enthusiasm generated by London 2012

Our Paralympians are living proof

front-loaders and hand-crank cycles, as well as dedicated wheelchair bikes. Accessible cycling sessions allow a child to develop their self-esteem and confidence, as well as their motor skills and balance. They can also be great sensory experiences, offering the wind,

that disability need not be a barrier to

sounds, smells and sights of being in

participating in sport or embracing a

Now is an ideal time to build on the

new challenge. Indeed, many people

enthusiasm generated by London 2012

with disabilities and SEN find that taking

to engage children in exciting outdoor

Horse-based activities

part in new activities helps them develop

activities. There is such a wide range

Interacting with horses is a fantastic

skills and confidence that are of great

of activities on offer and I hope that by

way to engage, enthuse and excite

benefit in their day-to-day lives.

outlining just a few, I can get you thinking

a group of children, and there are so

and get your creative juices flowing.

many activities with horses that can

Most teachers recognise the benefits that learning outside the classroom

the great outdoors.

be enjoyed in addition to simply riding.

experiences bring to their pupils, either

Accessible cycling

A Riding for the Disabled Association

within the school grounds or out and

Were your children excited to see our

(RDA) registered centre should have

about. Taking up a new sport or activity

brilliant cycling Paralympians, such as

both the skills and equipment needed

really can be a life changing experience

Sarah Storey, David Stone and Mark

to offer a safe, engaging and fun

for children. It can be exciting, nerve

Colbourne, winning gold? Why not

session for children, whatever their

wracking, enjoyable and sometimes

help them emulate their success with

additional needs.

even downright terrifying, but ultimately

an accessible cycling session?

Horse-based activities might also

it offers a fantastic sense of achievement

There are many different types of

include carriage driving (which can be

which pupils bring back into the

accessible cycle, including recumbent

done from a wheelchair, with the right

classroom environment.

trikes, side by side tandems, wheelchair

carriage), horse behaviour and “learning


outdoor activities

to speak horse” sessions, or tandem

inland waterways, try your hand at

riding (where a child who can’t support

canoe polo or kayak slalom, or tackle

themselves can have a member of staff

the challenging thrills of surf or white

sit behind them).

water kayaking, paddle sports can

Children can also get involved in stable management sessions, such as

be accessed by people of all ages, all abilities and all levels of fitness.

With a creative approach, outdoor activities can be linked into other areas of the curriculum

grooming, tacking up and mucking out.

Paddling equipment adapts easily to

Horse agility sessions (involving working

accommodate many disabilities. There

history lessons, or through discussion of

with a horse to get round a course of

are, for example, many seating options

trajectories, force and energy in physics

cones, and over tyres and seesaws) are

available which offer additional support

and maths.

also popular.

and adaptive hand grips for those who

While horse-based activities offer

find it hard to grasp a paddle. Canoes

Getting involved

numerous benefits to children of all

can also be paired into tandem rafts for

With a creative and open-minded

ages and with all sorts of needs, they

much greater stability.

approach, outdoor activities can be

can be particularly useful for pupils on

A specialist outdoor activity centre

linked into many areas of the curriculum,

the autistic spectrum. Horses read body

may well have other equipment available

reinforcing learning and helping children

language in a different way to humans.

as well, such as a hoist on the jetty

to apply the skills learnt outdoors in

To a horse, making direct eye-contact

allowing wheelchair users to be hoisted

the context of the classroom. How this

is aggressive, dominating behaviour,

out of their chair into the boat, or hoisted

is done will vary greatly depending on

whereas if you are a little shy or

with their chair into a tandem raft.

age and ability, but examples include:

reluctant to make eye-contact, a horse’s

Taking part in paddle sports offers a

making presentations, slideshows and

natural reaction is to come and “say

broad range of positive benefits, from a

videos from the activity in an ICT session,

hello”. Often, children on the autistic

stimulating sensory experience, through

exploring the development of the activity

spectrum, who may be withdrawn and

improving motor skills and coordination,

in a history lesson, writing stories or

uncommunicative, begin to express

to learning and developing technical and

poems about the experience in English,

themselves in the company of horses.

cognitive skills.

looking at how circulatory systems and muscles work in a science class, or even

Canoeing and kayaking


exploring how the experience felt by

Paddle sports such as canoeing and

There are three main types of archery

writing a song.

kayaking can be undertaken in many

bow: longbows, recurve bows and

There are many clubs and providers

different ways and across such a great

compound bows. Each offer different

across the country that will run taster

variety of locations that wherever

approaches to the sport and can be

sessions or work with schools to

you live, you are never far from an

used in different ways. All three types

help deliver these kinds of activities.

opportunity to give them a go.

can be adapted depending on the motor

Specialist activity centres can also

Whether you go for a leisurely paddle

skills and upper body strength of the

provide opportunities to try several

on a secluded lake or one of our many

individual. Bows can even be attached

activities at once, perhaps during a

to a fixed stanchion and fitted with a hair

residential break, to really kick start kids’

trigger, allowing even those with minimal

enthusiasm. You may well be surprised

motor skills to participate.

by how much both you and the children

Targets can also be adapted to suit the group, both by adjusting the

enjoy it, and by the impact you see in the classroom as a result.

distance involved and by changing the actual targets to dartboards, balloons, bells, or stacks of cans to knock over. Archery is great for developing handeye coordination and fine motor skills. It also offers exciting ways to help teachers bring other school subjects to Boats and equipment can be adapted to suit most disabilities.

life, be it through the story of the English longbow and the battle of Agincourt in

Further information

Rob Lott is Head of Communications at the Calvert Trust Exmoor, an outdoor centre specialising in accessible activities for those with disabilities and SEN: exmoor





Are deaf children being ignored? Government reforms threaten the futures of deaf children, making bad provision even worse, says Jo Campion


t the moment, there are

work together to ensure a deaf child’s

no Ofsted inspections of

emotional, educational and health needs

deaf children’s education

are met. However, while the comments

services, which means that

about this model as a best practice

deaf children who rely on their teacher

example are encouraging, the sad reality

of the deaf or on specialist social care

is that in the majority of cases, the social

services are being ignored and in

care provision for deaf children just

many cases given poor or no support.

isn’t there.

It is crucial that these inspections are

In the majority of cases, the social care provision for deaf children just isn’t there also found that, when asked, two thirds of local councils were unable to provide

made part of the SEN reforms going

Failing services

information about funding for social care

through Parliament in the Children and

Research by the University of Manchester

for deaf children.

Families Bill.

found that the majority of deaf children’s

We know that in many cases there

In October 2012, Ofsted published

social care services are failing them,

are no social care services for deaf

the Communication is the Key report,

despite deaf children being twice as

children, and where these patchy

which praised three areas for their

likely to experience abuse. This research

and stretched services do exist they

best practice in providing education,

showed widespread lack of awareness

are rapidly disappearing. Teachers of

health and social care services for

of deaf children’s needs, even though 40

the deaf, who deaf children rely on for

deaf children. The report praised an

per cent are likely to suffer from mental

educational support, are plugging the

integrated care model used in one of

health problems. Earlier this year, the

social care gap as they try to balance

these local authorities, where education,

Stolen Futures investigation by the

their own growing case loads with giving

health and social care departments

National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS)

social care support to deaf children. This



can range from advising children about flashing alarms to giving them extra emotional care, as they may struggle with isolation, bullying or abuse. These teachers have ended up having to give advice to help a child’s social and emotional development, while struggling

These services are almost invisible – making them easier to axe as budget cuts bite

with the impact of cuts to their own

aids – which help pupils hear in the classroom – when their children become teenagers. An Ofsted inspection would highlight such a lack of service, alert parents that their children are getting a raw deal and drive up the provision for deaf children in the classroom. An Ofsted inspection of deaf children’s

services. Teachers of the deaf help deaf

services are threatening to make a bad

services would also fuel improvement in

children understand lessons, monitor

situation worse.

the quality of service provided, by giving

their speech and language development

The lack of regular inspections

and advise on any extra support they

by Ofsted of deaf children’s support

need. To do this job properly, though,

undervalues the very services that are

Services for deaf children are being

they need to be given the space to focus

so vital to deaf children’s futures and to

consistently ignored and cast to

on a child’s educational development.

their families. The quality of a deaf child’s

the bottom of the pile. There are no

The work of teachers of the deaf is

education is dependent on the specialist

government targets to provide a good

proving impossible as their services are

services s/he gets from the council –

or even basic level of service that

also being cut. Investigations by NDCS

but none of these services are being

would help the 45,000 deaf children

have revealed that a quarter of local

inspected. Despite the Government’s

in England learn and thrive. Instead,

councils are cutting services for deaf

rhetoric on transparency and parental

these services, which are largely for the

children this year, which in many cases

choice, they are denying this right to

forgotten children who rely on them, are

means teachers of the deaf are being

deaf children by failing to inspect their

almost invisible – making them easier to

axed. This is putting thousands of deaf

services properly.

axe as budget cuts bite.

children in England at risk by taking

continuous and constructive feedback to councils across the country.

The Government must incorporate an

their specialist educational support

The need for inspection

inspection by Ofsted of deaf children’s

away from them at a time when deaf

There would be many benefits of Ofsted

services into the Children and Families

children are already lagging behind their

inspections into deaf children’s services.

Bill. At present, the reforms simply do

hearing peers in educational attainment.

An Ofsted inspection would give parents

not address the real problem facing

Latest figures show that 60 per cent

an independent view of the services their

families of deaf children. Moreover, it

of deaf children fail to get five GCSEs

children are receiving. Many parents

is becoming increasingly difficult to

including English and maths, at grades

currently do not even know about the

support the Government’s reforms

A* to C, compared to 30 per cent of their

services that should be available to their

because the specialist staff needed to

hearing peers. Ongoing budget cuts and

children; some only find out about the

deliver them keep being cut.

a lack of joined-up working between

existence of technology such as radio

Further information

Jo Campion is Deputy Director of Policy and Campaigns at the National Deaf Children’s Society. The charity has launched the Stolen Futures e-petition, which calls on the Government to intervene where cuts to services for deaf children are being made:

Deaf children's education depends on appropriate support and specialist provision.




HEARING IMPAIRMENT Promotional feature

Communication and curriculum access for deaf students To gain full access to the curriculum it is essential that deaf students enjoy the rich linguistic and communication experiences which are equal to their hearing peers. Communication forms the basis upon which all students can participate fully in society and engage in meaningful two-way interaction. Hamilton Lodge is a residential school and college for deaf young people aged 5 to 19. Our communication philosophy centres on four statements: • developing a full language is a basic human right and the basis for learning • we take a child-centred approach to communication teaching both BSL and English whilst considering the specific needs of the individual • the grammar of British Sign Language is fully accessible to our students and where aspects of English are not we address this within our broad and balanced curriculum • students should leave able to communicate confidently in the Deaf world and with appropriate strategies for communicating in the hearing world. Both deaf and hearing staff work at the school and are highly trained to meet individual needs. Support is given by an educational audiologist and a speech and language therapist (SaLT). The Care department runs an independence programme, successfully training students to access activities in the community. We believe passionately in the role residential special


schools can play in the lives of children; the lifelong friendships made, the emotional support and the opportunities for formal and informal learning. We are in partnership with two local colleges, Brighton City and Plumpton, to provide our FE students with an enriched college life. Students are supported by student support workers, and further guidance, curriculum support and reinforcement is provided by teachers of the deaf, Deaf Studies tutors and the SaLT within the FE department. Hamilton Lodge has strong links with both the National Deaf Children’s Society ( and the Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre ( Ofsted wants pupils to develop and apply a wide range of skills to great effect, in reading, writing, communication and mathematics. Ofsted is looking for pupils to be exceptionally well prepared for the next stage in their education, training or employment. Hamilton Lodge School and College offers this opportunity.

For more information visit: Contact SaLT: or Head Teacher: or Principal:






Listening to the future How can technology be used to support deaf children’s education? Ken Carter takes us on a lifetime’s voyage of technological discovery


This programme could not have happened without the internet

or over 50 years I have been

telecommunications were slowly being

involved with the challenges

introduced into the business world,

of deafness through having

though not into the world of education.

a profoundly deaf daughter.

In addition, about one hundred years

Indeed, it was this reality that led me,

after Alexander Graham Bell invented

initially, to become a teacher of the deaf.

the telephone, deaf children and adults

As a young parent and teacher, I was

were now able to communicate over

technological change accelerated, the

very confused and slightly bewildered

public telephone lines. This delay had

Vistel 2 was introduced, enabling back-

with the issues surrounding the oralist

created a very real disadvantage in

to-back and email contact, as well as

approach to teaching deaf children

terms of social, educational, training and

giving more memory, word processing

– which concentrated on making

employment advancement for the deaf.

and answerphone facilities.

maximum use of residual hearing, lip-

In 1973, the first telephone call

reading and articulation – and the use of

between two deaf people was made

sign language. The teacher’s course that

in the UK. They used a teletype

Bringing deaf students together

I attended did not permit its students to

machine and the Phonetype system

It was because of the experience of

use sign language, but perpetuated the

invented by deaf American scientist

being involved with the introduction

use of hearing aids, auditory training and

Robert Weitbrecht. By the end of that

of these technologies, and visits to

speaking clearly and at conversational

year, there was a network of about 15

California State University, Northridge,

levels (60dbs).

Phonetype units. By 1978, there were

USA, that I set up Deafax, an educational

It did not take me long to realise,

165 Phonetypes in use throughout

enterprise (charitable company)

though, that the world was changing.

the UK. In 1981, the Vistel 1, the

to address how different kinds of

Newly emerging computers and

visual telephone, was introduced. As

telecommunications technology could help to improve the education of deaf children, with a special focus on literacy and communication. To start with, we organised the Deaf Students Can Conference which was funded by the European Union, to assemble together deaf students who wanted something better for themselves and the next generation of deaf children. A follow up conference, Deafness and Technology, brought together academics, teachers, researchers and deaf students to explore what technologies were being used worldwide and what could be used by them for the benefit of deaf children. This led to a project with telephones for deaf children, using minicoms and fax machines to link groups of deaf children together in a buddying scheme, helping

Webcams and video conferencing enabled greater collaboration across the deaf community.


to improve writing and literacy skills



as well as breaking down barriers of isolation by creating a network of deaf children around the world. This International programme inspired parents, teachers and deaf children to expand their vision of what was possible to challenge existing stereotypes. A number of modules were developed which were used for training purposes in India, Barbados, Australia, New Zealand, USA, and the Irish and Czech Republics. This programme could not have happened without the internet. It was important that we worked with teachers of the deaf from these countries so that their parents and deaf children could be part of the technology revolution which was slowly making an impact on the process of inclusion. The

Handheld devices provided instant access to communication media.

email was to create a pen pal scheme as well as a mentor scheme, where high

capacity and processing power of the

to text, email and send video messages,

achieving deaf adults would share their

computer had so improved that using

as well as having live mobile video

stories and experiences so that deaf

video footage of signing was possible.

chats. However, it was necessary to

children could be inspired and learn

It became important that all materials

ask what impact this was having on deaf

from their experiences.

needed to be visual with support from

children’s literacy and communication,

British Sign Language (BSL) and spoken

as there was still a worry that a linguistic

Developing specialist support


gap existed between deaf and hearing

One of the best developments was

children. Over the years, research has

One of the outcomes of these information

testing and trialling the introduction of

indicated that 16-year-old deaf children

and communications technology (ICT) projects was that the British Government recognised that different groups of children needed different types of specialist support. The Deaf Children’s Communication Aids Project (DCCAP) was created by the British Association of Teachers of the Deaf (BATOD) and

have a reading/writing linguistic age of

There was still a worry that a linguistic gap existed between deaf and hearing children

Deafax, and funded by the Government

about nine years, which means that they are three to six years behind on the tests given to hearing children of the same age.

Looking to tomorrow... It is, I feel, appropriate that this short introductory article on the changing

to run for five years. This project worked

webcams and online video conferencing

technologies in deaf children’s education

closely with schools for the deaf and

by different schools, so that they could

should conclude with a project which

hearing support units throughout the

share work locally, regionally, nationally

strengthens the way deaf children

UK, testing and trialling new hardware

and internationally and use these new

and young people, as well as children

and software and making sure that

technologies to empower themselves.

with SEN, are embracing the different

deaf children were given expert and

Following this, came smaller types of

forms of technology that are making

dedicated technical support.

mobile phones which were becoming

a difference to their lives. Indeed,

It became quite obvious once again

mini computers, with the internet being

new levels of independence, liberty

that there needed to be an expansion

shrunk down to fit onto smaller screens.

and freedom are now being exerted

of relevant resources, creating new

This revolutionary process was now

by deaf children through the use of

software and training packages on a

allowing deaf children not only to phone

deaf-friendly visual theme. The memory

someone with auditory support, but also




technology such as tablets, laptops

teachers, and deaf teacher/researchers

and smartphones.

took part in some of the processes.

New levels of independence are now being exerted by deaf children through the use of technology

The Deafax project, The significance

Pupils involved in the BAS and NARA

of ICT for the reading, writing and

tests were divided into three groups: (a)

communication skills of deaf people,

hearing impaired with special IT support

undertaken from 2006 to 2009 by myself

programme; (b) hearing impaired without

and some deaf and hearing colleagues,

such a programme; (c) no hearing

was funded by the Leverhulme Trust. I am

impairment and no special programme.

aware, of course, that since the project

Little or no reading improvement was

concluded, considerable progress has

found across the time scale in groups (b)

on teaching reading and exploring

been made in terms of ICT equipment.

and (c). Group (a), though, significantly

visual literacy. There are important

Indeed, technology truly waits for no-

improved their reading accuracy.

resulting pointers for development

one and the available devices seem to

There are some constraints, however,

and future research, and I am already

on conclusions drawn from these tests:

planning and taking initiatives, some

The project aimed to obtain

group sizes were relatively small, given

collaboratively, that will benefit

data about the impact of ICT from

the difficulties in recruiting participants.

from this project and its outcomes.

controlled experiments, interviews

By the second round of tests some pupils

Of course, the work to address the

be changing by the minute.

and group discussions with deaf

had left (for example, to go to other

challenging issues of ensuring that deaf

children and young adults about their

schools), and groups were not ideally

children get the very best support and

experiences in learning to read, write

matched for age. Future studies would

improve their educational attainment

and communicate, as well as from

benefit from using smaller age ranges

must go on. We are busily setting up

seminars on these and related issues

within groups, and levels of pupils’

an initiative entitled the Virtual Learning

with teachers of the deaf. Contexts were

hearing difficulty should be estimated

Academy for Deaf and Disabled

also explored, notably past and current

and used as controlling variables, since

Children, working with Dr Vinton Cerf,

research in the US and elsewhere. The

in the groups in this project the pupils’

who is Vice President and Chief Internet

project approach included the use

difficulties ranged from profound to mild

Evangelist at Google and recognised as

of British Ability Scales (BAS) and

hearing impairment.

one of the “fathers of the internet”. As

the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability

Tests associated with other ICT

the name suggests, it is our intention to

(NARA tests) at nine-month intervals as

programmes were the result of pupils

open this up not only to deaf children,

baseline measures of general cognitive

being shown particular technologies

but to children with a variety of SEN

ability, reading (decoding) and reading

or taking modules relating to ICT, and

associated with speech, language and

comprehension. Other tests explored

being tested at different points of time.

communication. The future, it seems,

the impact of specific technologies and

Those who saw online materials and

looks bright for those who embrace the

online deaf-friendly materials. Staff and

were tested for the European Computer

changing technologies of the twenty-

local administrators helped in a difficult

Driving Licence (ECDL) achieved

first century.

time with the recruitment of schools to

improved marks, but not sufficient to

take part in the research. Questionnaires

pass the ECDL. In all of these cases,

were completed by deaf pupils and

the different strategies for exploring relationships between the use of ICT and deaf pupils’ literacy and communication skills reflect the difficulty in the recent period of recruiting schools for the deaf or deaf units in mainstream schools for research purposes. The project counterbalanced this difficulty by adopting a multi-pronged approach, bringing together a range of insights into the use of ICT hardware and software

Ken Carter enjoying communication with Deafax CEO Helen Lansdown.


by deaf pupils and teachers of the deaf, different kinds of tests, and seminars

Further information

Ken Carter is Director of the Deafax Innovation, Research and Development Unit and is based at the Institute of Education, University of Reading. As well as being a teacher/lecturer in deaf education, he was also an SEN advisory lecturer. He set up Deafax in 1985 as a charitable company providing practical support and access to innovative technology to the deaf community:





assistive technology


Techno turnaround Mark McCusker discusses how changes to SEN funding are set to transform assistive technology provision for suppliers, schools and users


n April 2013, changes in legislation will mean that, for the first time, Department for Education (DfE) funding will go straight to schools

rather than via the local authority, as has been the case to date. From this budget, schools will be expected to meet the low-cost needs

In September 2012, all schools were made responsible for the provision of assistive technology

of pupils with high-incidence SEN,

The process in place at the moment has been broadly criticised for being too complicated and bureaucratic to enable parents to access services in a timely manner.

Planning for SEN requirements With parents now able to formally

and contribute towards the costs of

accessing services; however, there are

request appropriate support and AT for

assistive technology (AT) for pupils with

many questions about how well this

their children, it is important that schools

severe SEN.

will work in practice. For example, are

are aware that they could be asked to

For the first time, schools will be able

parents and schools best placed to

provide one-off expensive equipment for

to define what they do with the money,

understand the needs of their children

an individual child. With careful planning,

although many are likely to struggle

and the technology and services that

schools can provide a general level of

without the SEN expertise previously

can best help them?

support that every student can access

provided by their local authority. Schools

The first step is to diagnose the

– a solution that is more cost-effective

will have more flexibility but they will

problem. An in-depth knowledge of

than spending money in an effort to meet

need to understand the impact of the

the technology available is required in

individual needs. For example, making

changes and where to turn to for advice.

order to locate a suitable solution to the

available a literacy support tool, such

Schools will also be required to

issue – something that can be achieved

as text-to-speech software, across a

with some expert advice.

whole school will benefit a wide range of

provide parents with a personal fund from their budget. This is designed to

The changes are expected to speed

children with SEN and will often make

speed up and simplify the process of

up and simplify the existing system.

them into more independent learners, so enabling skills and resources to be used more effectively elsewhere. The design and refurbishment of schools also needs to include SEN considerations, for example, in terms of how the layout will impact on children with hearing impairments.

The responsibility of schools In September 2012, all schools were made responsible for the provision of AT and auxiliary aids under The Equality Act, putting further pressure on staff in need of expert advice. Currently, no one definitive list of AT solutions exists, and the boundaries between AT and mainstream technology Schools need to understand the available options and exactly what they can do for learners.


are no longer clear cut. For example,

assistive technology

People believe they can buy an app for £5 which will meet their individual needs some companies as they try and balance ease of access to AT with an affordable price. There is other equipment, however, that won’t be affected by technology advances, such as switches to help with access of computers.

Solutions such as text-to-speech software offer benefits to a wide range of children with SEN.

The challenge The challenge created by the change in the political landscape is for schools

the first automatic doors for buildings

authorities but will have to consider

and teachers to keep abreast of the

were developed for disabled access but

two new stakeholders in the equation

technology so that they can give advice

no-one nowadays would think of this as

– schools and parents. The industry

on its use in the classroom. A student

AT. I would like to see a list that is broad

is going to have to think about the

typically sees something that will help

and flexible so that it can be updated

impact of this change and to adapt their

them and they are up and running in

from time-to-time.

messaging and marketing accordingly.

seconds, but teachers need a much

There is a wide range of technologies

It is important that all stakeholders have

more strategic view of how it will fit in

designed to meet SEN and it is important

the information to hand as well as the

and help with the lesson plan.

to know how to match the two. This

local authorities.

is where access to the appropriate information and guidance is crucial.

Going forward, the assistive

Another consideration is that schools

technology market is going to be

are going to have less money. At the

intertwined with the evolution of more

The funding change will also make

moment, the schools market is dormant;

general technology. Mainstream devices

it law for education, health and social

schools do not have the funding that

are going to get better at doing more of

care services to plan and work together.

they used to have and this is likely to

the basic things like text-to-speech, and

This will mean that AT companies will

remain so for the next two to three years.

more apps will be developed. This will

no longer be specifically talking to local

mean that the AT industry will become

Changes to the technology market

more specialised and focus to a greater

Furthermore, the prolific use of

which could be anything from a product

consumer technology in our day-to-day

to help with blindness, to a large button

lives, such as the use of smartphones

or switch device.

extent on an individual’s specific needs,

and other mobile devices, has created an expectation that services can be accessed anywhere, at any time for a small cost. People believe they can buy an app for £5 which will meet their individual needs. The problem is that AT is a niche market, unlike the mainstream consumer market with its high volumes and low Pupils today respond instantly to new technology.

price points. This discrepancy is creating

Further information Mark McCusker is Chairman of the British Assistive Technology Association (BATA) and CEO of Texthelp:

both opportunities and challenges for SENISSUE62



ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY Promotional feature

Computer software that reads out scanned exam papers The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) has announced that computer readers can now be used in exams even where reading is being assessed, opening up a world of opportunity for dyslexic pupils to be assessed on a level playing field.

Looking for a quality computer reader for exams? Read&Write GOLD is the answer Texthelp’s Read&Write GOLD is a supportive toolbar that provides reading, writing and research support for pupils, and the good news is that it can now be even more widely used in examinations. You can use Read&Write GOLD to scan exam papers into a digital format, and the text-tospeech voices can then read them aloud.

Other permitted exam access arrangements If further access arrangements have been permitted (such as access to spelling and grammar help), Read&Write GOLD contains a spell checker and a homophone checker that will improve accuracy in written answers. Dyslexic pupils may also find it helpful to use the screen tinting as a virtual coloured overlay to help them focus on the text.

All-year-round support As well as providing the tools you need for exam access arrangements, Read&Write GOLD provides many other helpful tools, such as a talking dictionary, word prediction and study skills. So when it comes to exam time, Read&Write GOLD is already the usual way of working. What schools using Read&Write GOLD have said: "Read&Write has enabled not just our dyslexic students, but those across the whole school to become more independent in both their reading and writing. Being able to listen back to what they have written (through the text-tospeech functionality) and to choose the correct word has opened up a whole new experience to students." Sue Bradley, Belgrave High School "The software can read out digital exam papers and read your answers back; verbal revision notes can be converted


to MP3s for use on music players; it can scan worksheets and books before reading them back, and it can read web pages out loud, amongst many other features. This software shows huge potential in terms of giving greater access to the curriculum for all." Bruce Robertson, Director of Education, Aberdeenshire Council "Many students have made significant progress with their literacy skills since the adoption of Read&Write. The software is proving so successful with our students that we are hoping to provide the functionality of Read&Write during examinations, reducing reader and scribe costs." Jenni Holloway, Specialist Teaching Assistant for Literacy and Dyslexia, The Causeway School

Try it now! You can download a free 30-day trial of Read&Write GOLD at:

Want to know more? A single user copy of the software costs £320 + VAT. The best option for a school is to install the software onto the network so that it can be used for exam coursework and throughout the year. The network solution costs £1,995 + VAT and covers all machines in the school. More information on Read&Write GOLD for exams can be found at: Contact our Education Team – tel: 028 9442 8105 or e-mail:




tablet technology


Talking tablets

Anthony Rhys looks at how tablet technology is revealing a new world of possibilities for some of our most difficult to reach children


Tablets can do many things that other devices simply cannot do

hen I was appointed

With the needs of these pupils in

ICT Coordinator at a

mind, the school researched and trialled

large special needs

gesture-based, non-touch technologies,

school serving the

also now termed “natural user

Caerphilly Borough in the summer of

interfaces�. You may be unfamiliar with

2011, I drew up an action plan to update

the term but you use these interfaces

ICT provision in the school. I decided

every day if you have a smartphone,

video evidence to show progression

to start with a bottom-up approach,

tablet or advanced games console.

and increased levels of engagement,

to enable access for those pupils who

The school is now using an eye-gaze

had no, or very limited, access to the

system that enables computer control

wellbeing and task completion.

curriculum. This group comprised, in

by retina movement, an interactive

the main, pupils who were classed as

floor projection system, a set of tablets

having profound and multiple learning

and software that uses a motion

Why use tablets with pupils with severe learning difficulties?

difficulties (PMLD) or severe learning

sensing device.

In an SEN setting, tablets should not be

difficulties (SLD) and were working below

The school has also set up a

thought of as gaming devices, mobile

National Curriculum levels at around P3

professional learning community (PLC)

internet browsers or poor relations to

to P6. It also included students with

with other special and mainstream

PCs. They are an important piece of

specific physical disabilities as a result

schools in the South Wales area to look

equipment that can do many things

of conditions such as Rett syndrome or

at how best to use tablet technology

that other devices simply cannot do.

cerebral palsy, and pupils with sensory

with pupils with SEN. We meet regularly

Tablets are portable, small and light.

processing issues who were prone to

to share ideas and good practice. We are

This means that they can be used in the

breaking conventional equipment.

currently also assessing and evaluating

classroom but also in therapy rooms, >>

Endless arrays of visual effects can be created and manipulated using touch.



tablet technology

Tablets respond to pressure from any part of the body.

side and up and down and thereby

on the screen, make a duck quack, a

create a different response each time.

horse neigh, a favourite song play or a

A switch also usually causes an effect on

cartoon character move.

a computer or screen that is in a different

It doesn’t stop there, as touching the

place to the switch itself, meaning that

screen can cause sounds as well as

the pupil has to concentrate on two

visual effects. The tablet can become

points – the switch and the screen. The

a piano keyboard, guitar strings, a

tablet is the switch and its effect in one;

zither, drums or a panpipe set, using a

the visuals and sound emanate from

swipe of the finger to create the notes.

where the hand, fingers or face are on

Software programmers have also used

the device, giving a more immediate and

the technology to create new types

rewarding cause and effect response.

of musical interaction, where the user touches different parts of the screen

Engaging the senses

to create different notes, pitches or

sensory rooms, corridors, playgrounds,

Computers run programs but tablets run

tempos, or set in motion expanding

sensory gardens, and assemblies, and

apps (short for “applications”). There

discs that create notes when they touch

they can be transported easily into the

is a huge range of apps available and

each other.

community, to respite provision and into

the trick is to get the right ones for you.

You can touch the screen to produce

homes. A PC sits on a desk but a tablet

Luckily there are a few good guides on

musical raindrops, create repetitive

can be used on laps, beds, beanbags,

the web.

beats and place your own strings to

propped up on the floor or in tents. With

Visual apps respond to touch to

pluck and swipe. Tablets also have a

mounts and stands, it can be put into

create an endless array of visual effects,

microphone built in, so they can be

any position around the pupil who is

such as fireworks, where a touch on the

used to record sounds, speech and

using it.

screen creates one explosion, a longer

singing. Apps can repeat sounds and

We have traditionally accessed PC

touch creates a larger explosion and

vocalisations that the pupils make and

programs via keyboards, mice, touch

a swipe of a finger creates multiple

instantly repeat them, perhaps in a

screens, interactive whiteboards and

explosions that follow the finger trace.

comical voice, or instantly remix the

switches. These can be very inclusive

There are apps that replicate water

pupil’s short spoken phrase to make a

devices but they can also exclude

and produce ripples when touched,

whole song. The pupil’s voice can also

pupils. Screens and whiteboards are

fluid apps that mimic multi-coloured,

change visual elements on the screen,

almost always vertical and fixed to a

sparkling gloop, and particle apps

by making a face talk or by affecting an

wall or desk. Switches, although very

where thousands of lines or dots are

on-screen graphic. This gives instant

accessible, are limited to cause and effect actions, and keyboards and mice (even enlarged keyboards and roller balls) are obviously not suited to many pupils with SLD or PMLD. In addition to their mobility, it is the variety of input and output methods available that sets tablets apart in the classroom and makes them an important

feedback and is a great motivator

Apps provide visual magic...they open up whole new interactive sensory experiences for pupils

device in their own right. Tablets respond

for the pupils’ vocalisations and emerging speech. Some tablets also react to shaking, rotating, titling or other movement in space. This gives a new level of control for programs; balls on screen can be made to noisily bounce off the edges of the screen when the tablet is tilted, or particles can behave like water as the

to pressure, motion and the number

attracted to a touch of the pupil’s fingers.

device is shifted around. Some simple

of fingers (or a nose, elbow, wrist or

These apps can provide visual magic,

programs use this effect to change the

cheek) used in touching them. As with

especially in a darkened room and,

screen colour when the device is tilted

switches, pupils with any controllable

given the mobility of the tablet, they can

or rotated, so even simple gross body

body movements can input information

open up whole new interactive sensory

movements can be converted into a

into a tablet. Importantly, though, unlike

experiences for individual pupils or small

visual or auditory effect.

a switch, the input is not limited to “off”

groups. The touch element also means

So, apart from touch control, sound

or “on”; pupils can move from side to

that pupils can pop balloons or bubbles

interaction, tilting, rotating, creating


tablet technology

music, cause and effect activities and light effects, what else can the tablet do? Well, as the technology gets better, so do the ideas; programmers are realising that now you don’t even need to touch the device to get a response. One app

Even simple gross body movements can be converted into a visual or auditory effect

uses the tablet’s inbuilt camera to judge

he refused to interact with the tablet screen at all until his favourite app was put on for him, then he spent ten minutes creating lovely Chinese zither sounds. Of course, there are so many other ways in which tablets can be used in schools – literacy and numeracy

how far away a part of the body is, so

development and general curriculum

when this body part moves the pitch and

used the depth-camera sound-making

delivery, for example, are all very well

tone of a musical note alters. Another

program so that he started to move his

suited to tablet support. What I hope I

app uses the camera to track movement

face away from the device and notice the

have highlighted in this article, though,

and creates shiny coloured balls around

changing sound responses that he was

is just how important tablets can be for

the user, so they can watch themselves

creating. He is now learning to interact

pupils whose access to the curriculum

sparkling on the screen.

in different ways with his “mirror” as it

and learning opportunities is severely

has, to all intents and purposes, started

limited. For many of these pupils,

to interact back with him.

especially those with PMLD and SLD,

Tablets in action Our PLC’s work with tablets has

An older teenage pupil with ASD has

tablets can provide a whole new means

taken, quite literally, a very “hands-

serious sensory processing issues; he

of interaction, offering opportunities for

on” approach, focusing on trying them

requires and gives a lot of deep pressure,

multi-sensory experiences and learning

out with pupils in creative ways to see

is often agitated and on the move and

that were previously unavailable to

what they can do. One teenage boy

will hit and crush equipment. Switches

them. The ability of tablet technology

with Angelman syndrome (working at

and touchscreens only interest him for

to engage and inspire even the most

P4 level) normally engages with objects

very short periods of time. With a tablet,

hard-to-reach pupils should not

for very short periods and is usually

though, he can take it with him, hit at

be underestimated.

more interested in the switch than

the screen as much as he likes (in its

the response it is creating. One of his

protective cover) and engage with it

favourite objects is a mirror, which he

where and when he wants, whether

uses to look at himself and others. We

sitting, standing or lying down. He has

put a tablet in a protective cover and

now shown that he can choose the app

used the camera mode on it to serve as

he wants and will interact with it using

a mirror to engage him. This idea was

the touch screen for longer periods.

then quickly expanded so that when

He also has the opportunity to self-

he put the “mirror” to his face it would

regulate the sensory input he is getting;

produce sounds and visual effects on the

for example, he can move it closer to his

screen, right in front of his eyes. We also

ears if he wants more audio feedback. Another boy has severe cerebral palsy and can use a switch mounted by his head or elbows to engage simple cause and effect experiences, like playing music tracks or a recording of his mother singing to him. Now, a tablet can also be mounted by his head and he can use the small range of movement that he has to move his head over the surface of the screen in different directions. Instead of just having a “play” option, his movements now create different effects each time

A tablet can be secured wherever a pupil needs it.

Further information

Anthony Rhys has taught pupils with SLD and autism for ten years. He is the ICT Coordinator and on the senior leadership team at Trinity Fields School and Resource Centre, Wales: www.trinityfieldsschooland The school heads up two professional learning communities (PLCs) looking at tablet technology and pupils with SLD and gesture based technology. Anthony runs wiki websites for each PLC. Information on apps, the PLCs’ work and additional resources are available at: http://ipad-sen-plcsouthwales.

he interacts with musical programs. In a recent occupational therapy session, SENISSUE62



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Freedom to move

How can we ensure that mobility solutions promote independence, rather than hindering a child’s development? Julianna Arva explains all


here are many ways in which well-meaning people hold back a child’s mobility unnecessarily. With all good

intentions, professionals and parents often make the mistake of providing a child who is not capable of moving by him/herself with mobility equipment that will actually adversely affect his/her development. This phenomena is global; it comes from common logic, and a misguided sense of trying to achieve an “as close to typical as possible” status for children with mobility issues. It starts in infancy and tends to last until the child becomes capable of standing up for what s/he wants. In essence, the phenomenon is this: the visually least invasive equipment appears to be the obvious first choice when selecting a mobility device for a child. However, if we dig a little deeper, we find that often the opposite is true. A good indication of this is that many youngsters, when they get old enough to choose for themselves, make choices which differ from those of their parents and caregivers. They tend to pick a mobility solution that should have been issued for them a long time before.

What children want So what exactly is the divide between the two perspectives, between appearance and function? Parents often prefer their children to look as close to “normal” as possible. It is understandable; as we grow up and learn to navigate society, we discover all the attitudes towards people who are different. We would like to protect our child from this attitude, SENISSUE62


so we select the least “disabledlooking” equipment which will get him/her around. Children, on the other hand, have not yet experienced these attitudes –

Parents often prefer their children to look as close to “normal” as possible

they don’t care about looking normal;


common sense and what we learn from cases encountered. A typical example of misguided thinking is the case of overweight children in wheelchairs. Many practitioners think that these children should push a

Helping parents move forward

manual chair to exercise and keep their

What good does a mainstream looking stroller do for a child if s/he cannot run

Another psychological factor at play is

logical sense, we forget that those of

around in it with his/her peers? Sitting in

that parents also often struggle with the

us walking are not using our general

a corner in a pretty piece of equipment

acceptance of their child’s diagnosis,

mobility as a tool of exercise. We will not

is nowhere near as much fun as running

and all its consequences. Allowing

wake up one hour earlier just to jog to

around with the others in a bulkier one.

your child to move from a stroller into

work instead of taking the bus. We dress

Small children have not yet developed

a wheelchair is a very big step towards

up nice and would like to keep clean and

understanding of the norms – they don’t

this acceptance.

tidy until the end of the day. Youngsters

what they care about is acting normal.

weight under control. While it makes

know that their disability makes them

Many parents break into tears the first

in wheelchairs have the same desire – to

different, or if they know, they often don’t

time a wheelchair is mentioned to them;

keep neat and tidy throughout the day,

care – just as long as they don’t stay out

this equipment and what it symbolises

not to tire themselves out by trying to

of the activity because of it.

somehow announces, finalises and

get somewhere. Fitness is necessary

Their self image develops step by

officially declares the existence of the

for all people, especially those who are

step, and we need to ensure that this

disability. This really can be a hard pill

obese; however, we cannot and do not

image will be of a confident, self-assured,

to swallow, and all professionals around

sacrifice our own mobility to get training

independent person. The frequently-

the family should do their best to ease

– nor should we expect that from any

seen learned helplessness in children

them into the transition. It is our role,

child in a wheelchair. Most people have

with disabilities can be avoided if they

as teachers, caregivers, therapists

a bucketful of energy when they start

are taught to be independent from the

or doctors to show them positive

the day – this energy can be spent on

start. Such overreliance on caregivers,

examples, to help them understand that

meaningful activities, or on trying to get

and the lack of independence, develops

a better future awaits their children if

to them.

by age four, according to studies, so we

they become independently mobile early

It has also been shown that children

need to show children ways that they

on. At this stage, parents usually cannot

who are capable but not efficient at

can cope for themselves well before

see that far into the future and do not

pushing a manual wheelchair extend

they reach that age.

have an understanding of the benefits of

their level of activity once provided

independent function versus minimally

with a powered wheelchair. They

disabled appearance. Those of us with

start doing more, as they see more

years of experience behind us, who have

possibilities; when mobility is tiresome,

seen many children turning into adults –

people are more likely to stagnate and

some autonomous and others remaining

become unmotivated.

dependent – can help parents to see that difference.

As professionals, especially in the school setting, we are also concerned about safety – and rightly so. We must

Powered chairs can encourage independence and exploration.

Professional focus

ensure that any child in a wheelchair, as

Sometimes, professionals also make

well as all other children, will be safe.

a well-intended but misguided choice

Therefore, children who misbehave are

of mobility device. The mobility

often separated from their powered

industry is actually very young, and

mobility device as a first means of

our understanding of the effects of our

reprimand. Again, in such cases, we

choices is continually developing. What

must be cognisant of the effect this has

research institutions reveal does not

on the child – we wouldn’t tie a walking

get into mainstream thinking for many

child’s legs together if s/he misbehaved.

years; until then, we base our work on




We should attempt to utilise similar sanctions with wheelchair-using children as we do with those who ambulate. Many children with disabilities, especially if not verbal, use their mobility as a means of

Many parents break into tears the first time a wheelchair is mentioned

with the child, durability, maintenance requirements, ease of cleaning and safety are all important considerations. Gait trainers and mobile standers are training devices and, as such, are not

self-expression. When they misbehave with it, the underlying cause should be

is easy for all concerned to get excited

to be confused with means of mobility.

investigated and addressed, instead of

about new products at times, but careful

It is delightful to be able to move about

their mobility being limited.

consideration of the child’s abilities, as

during standing, however, for non-

well as the family’s possibilities and

ambulatory children, standing is often

Finding the right equipment

limitations (such as transport) must

a demanding task which should have

There are many types of mobility

be given.

its limits.

devices, and the options are constantly

The main focus of the selection

expanding. In addition to new and

must be function. The mobility device

Supportive strollers are often beneficial

interesting technologies becoming

needs to be able to get the child around

to have around as secondary devices;

available, many hybrids of existing types

effortlessly, as much as possible. There

they can fit into even the smallest cars

also surface routinely. National and local

are, though, many other factors to

and are easy to take on the plane or train

trade shows usually provide the best

consider, and our selection may be

for holidays. They are not designed to

opportunity to keep up to date with the

completely off (or end up in the closet)

be a primary means of mobility, simply

options. However, a critical approach

if any of these issues are ignored;

because their support surfaces are not

to the selection of equipment is vital;

accessibility in the home, transport in

typically firm and sufficiently fitted for

not even the most exciting or best

all necessary vehicles, the family and

proper postural support. The long-term

device will work for the child if it is not

child’s aesthetic preferences, ease of

lack of appropriate support for the body

selected and adjusted appropriately. It

use, the possibility to grow and adapt

may result in many negative physiological

While many factors influence wheelchair selection, the key focus should be function.



supportive tilting wheelchair with large rear wheels is a possibility. Manual, self-propelled wheelchairs also come in many shapes and sizes. They are designed for kids with many

Many children with disabilities use their mobility as a means of self-expression

levels of mobility – some for the very active, who are only limited in the lower

Active chairs tend to be suitable for those who can self-propel outdoors.

extremities, and some for children who

when the child is right on the borderline

also have issues in their upper bodies.

between two devices, or as a result of

Many seating and accessory options

a more complex background, such as

are available to help optimise the child’s

living in two homes, one of which is

pushing abilities – proper configuration

not accessible.

ensuring good access to the wheels is

The most important thing, whatever

therefore vital. In general, if the child is

type of equipment we are looking at,

able to get around outdoors with the

is that we keep our focus firmly on

and functional effects. Such strollers are

manual wheelchair, it is probably the

the child’s mobility throughout his/her

often preferred by families due to their

right choice for him/her.

development. As children grow and

unobtrusive looks, but parents should be

develop, their abilities also change; we

enlightened about the possibilities and

Powered wheelchairs are the largest

must frequently revisit the possibility

limitations of these devices.

and most expensive piece of equipment

of independent, functional mobility, to

and, as a result, they are, often thought

catch the right and first moment that this

Positioning strollers should be utilised

of as the last resort. This is a great

is possible. As cognitive improvement

for children who need postural support

shame. When non-mobile children can

leads to better mobility, so mobility can

already at a few months of age – as soon

get around in a powered chair, their

also augment children’s development

as normally developing children start to

world simply lights up. Many parents

and help them grow into independent

sit up. As the child grows and develops,

who were initially resistant to the thought

and self-sufficient adults.

however, frequent re-assessment is

of a powered chair are amazed to see

needed to evaluate whether the child

a different character blossoming before

has progressed to a level of independent

their eyes due to independent mobility;

mobility. Often, children are left in such

a child’s curiosity, intelligence and sense

devices for too long. If the child is not

of humour can really come to the fore.

a candidate for independent mobility,

What’s more, a powered chair is not only

sooner or later a tilt wheelchair should be

for those without cognitive difficulties;

measured for, as these can provide better

as mobility is a very basic instinct in

postural support.

humans, many children who function cognitively at a relatively low level can

Manual, tilt-in-space, dependent

learn to drive a powered chair. None of

wheelchairs are the choice for children

the technology needs to be understood,

who are not capable of pushing a

just the cause and effect relationship of

manual chair on their own, or driving

pressing a certain switch and moving in

a powered wheelchair independently.

a particular direction.

Again, caution should be exercised to give every opportunity to children to

Hybrids of many different types are

be independent; many will do well in a

also available in the market, such as

powered chair even if they have severe

manual chairs which can turn into

motor and some cognitive dysfunction.

powered chairs (or the opposite),

If the child is able even to play with

motorised standers and power-assisted

mobility and wheel just a few feet, a

manual chairs. These are often used

Further information

Julianna Arva is European Manager of Sales and Education for the wheelchair company TiLite: Ms Arva has lectured internationally, participated on industry panels in a variety of countries, and headed position paper sector development efforts. She is also a member of the Publications and Marketing Committee for the Posture and Mobility Group, a charity which shares knowledge and promotes good practice in posture and mobility:





A head for business Jon Thickett describes a project to create meaningful work experience for young people with complex physical and leaning difficulties


n July 2012, Michael Gove

aged 19 to 24 have an entitlement to

a common problem for many special



locally-driven, high-quality vocational

schools. However, there have been

response to Professor Alison Wolf’s

programmes along with their 16 to 19

significant developments to try and

report on vocational education. In

mainstream peers.

circumvent these difficulties, and many


his foreword to this document (Study

Finding an appropriate work

SEN schools across the country have

Programmes for 16- to 19-year-olds –

experience setting for any student can

come up with unique solutions to provide

Government response to consultation

be a perplexing time. Businesses are

meaningful work-based experience for

and plans for implementation), Gove

working with reduced staffing models,

their students.

celebrates the opportunity for schools

and have other priorities in the current

Creating opportunities

and other providers to develop excellence in localised vocational programmes for our young people. Alison Wolf goes on to describe the importance of accredited and nonaccredited study programmes which maintain a focus on maths and English while giving scope for providers to

You can sense the reluctance of businesses to accommodate our students

innovate ways of delivering meaningful

I am the Headteacher of Saxon Hill School in Lichfield, Staffordshire, which caters for children and young people with physical disabilities, complex medical needs, and associated sensory and learning difficulties. Our students face the additional barriers of physical access to the work environment and

and substantial work experience, and

economic climate. Add to this that

accessing meaningful and relevant

clear opportunities for progression.

we would like to place students with

work-based learning. These issues,

This is an issue that SEN schools

a disability into a work setting for

combined with the anxiety of the

nationally have been trying to address

something more than a token offer,

industrial and commercial worlds over

in recent years, and it was refreshing

and you can sense the apprehension

accommodating young people with

to see that Wolf acknowledges that

and reluctance of many businesses

complex needs, left the school with

young adults with a learning disability

to accommodate our students. This is

a problem in achieving a vocational programme that was sustainable and embedded in our curriculum offer. The school therefore set out to completely re-construct its vocational and workbased learning offer for students aged 14 to 19. The first project we instigated built upon a strong working relationship with our local garden centre. It was apparent that, as an accessible work environment, Shenstone Garden Centre had all the ingredients needed to build a dynamic work skills curriculum: students could engage with customers, help on pointof-sale and product displays, and get involved in horticulture. They could

When schools set up their own companies, students can work on all areas of the business.


also learn about the hidden aspects


We decided to set up our own business to enable work-based learning and enterprise

as our students pass through the sixth form. By the time they are ready to leave, they should have had an embedded vocational experience, and the opportunity to achieve diplomas in skills for working life, and accredited independent living skills.

Students need meaningful placements which offer real work experience.

be run initially by a volunteer workforce,

Looking forward

with the sixth-form curriculum meshing

A core principle of this project

into the operation of the company.

is sustainability. The school has

The business headquarters is

restructured its staffing model to ensure

situated in a portable building on the

that the philosophy of work-based,

school site, from which the company’s

vocational and enterprise education is

online business activities, such as EBay

embedded and supported at all levels.

of communication, health and safety

and Amazon stores and direct online

The school’s business management

education and understanding the factors

sales via the website, will be run. The

team has a remit to ensure that the

that drive the business year. Last year,

main business, however, operates from

businesses are self sustaining and

the school sealed the partnership with

a commercial unit at the local Innovation

can operate independently of the

the installation of a classroom on the

Centre. This provides a genuine work

school budget. A post of Vocational

Garden Centre’s premises, so that

environment away from the school,

Development Officer has also been

students can access weekly work-based

and allows the students to engage in

created with the responsibility of

learning on-site all year round.

retailing to the general public, as well

ensuring that students access the

The partnership with the Garden

as manufacturing items for retail and

businesses as part of their accredited

Centre gives the curriculum a strong

running craft workshops. The company

and non-accredited curriculum.

retail and horticulture strand. However,

will also be able to offer placements

With school funding undergoing

the school also wanted a robust business

to adults with learning difficulties in

radical reform, and local commerce and

and enterprise element, along with a

partnership with the local authority.

industry still vulnerable as it comes out

hospitality and catering dimension. The

The third strand of the school’s

of recession, we cannot depend upon

leadership team knew that it would be

vocational offer is to develop hospitality

central funding or national initiatives to

difficult to find similar partnerships to

and catering skills for our students.

provide relevant vocational and work-

facilitate this, so we decided to set

In order to achieve this, we have

based learning for our most vulnerable

up our own business to enable work-

decided to build a community café.

young people. Alison Wolf described

based learning and enterprise, and an

Following a major fund-raising effort,

a vision of localised solutions based

inclusive work-based curriculum. It was

successful grant bids and careful budget

on local needs. The solutions will lie

important for this offer to accommodate

management, the construction of the

with creative leadership, business

our students with the most complex

new school kitchen and café is now

management and the nurturing of

needs, as well as those who would go

underway. Due to open by the summer

partnerships between schools, business

on to full employment.

of 2013, the café will be operated by

and local authorities.

The school developed the idea

volunteers, community groups and

which has become Lichfield Scrap

students from the school. It will be

Barn Community Interest Company. As

registered as a separate enterprise, as

an independent registered company,

a community interest company, and will

with its own board of directors, and

be expected to pay its own way as a

financially independent from the school,

business. As with the Scrap Barn model,

its brief is to source and re-sell upcycled

students will access this through their

and recycled equipment and materials,

curriculum offer.

to manufacture items from recycled

The three projects together should

materials, and to sell craft materials and

enable us to offer meaningful work-

run craft workshops. The Scrap Barn will

based learning in a range of contexts

Further information Jon Thickett is Headteacher of Saxon Hill School:








Real world transition When planning your child’s education post-16, start early and be realistic, says Terry Miles


he first thing to do, when

what you are really seeking for your



child. Create a list of essential, non-

with SEN’s transition from

negotiable things that the placement

secondary school, is to

must provide, and another of things

begin the process as early as possible,

you would like but which are not

ideally in Year 9. You will need time to



Create a list of essential, non-negotiable things that the placement must provide

assess the future you want for your child

There are many different types of

(and what s/he wants), time to travel

provision available post-16, and the

more focussed atmosphere, and they

around and see what is available, and

choice of which one is right for your

rarely have to wear a uniform.

time to find (and sometimes chase) the

child will involve careful examination

professionals who should be there to

of the options.

help you.

Many academies set a high standard for entry, sometimes four B grades at GCSE. However, local authority (LA)

Mainstream sixth forms

maintained schools, where teaching

have the clearest possible understanding

These are not just for young people

standards and facilities can be just

of your child's needs, we have to live in

who've been educated in a mainstream

as high, often ask for less. Be warned

the real world and, in the main, make

school to Year 11. Even if you didn't

though, the non-A level offer might be

choices from the options which actually

choose a mainstream school at

quite restricted.

exist in it. Facilities cannot be conjured

secondary transfer, look again now.

from nothing, at least not quickly and

Things won't have stood still for the

Special school sixth forms

easily. The seemingly impossible might

last five years. Sixth form classes are

If your child has been educated in a

take some of the time you gave yourself

usually smaller and pupils often don't

special school that has a sixth form, it

by starting your search early.

have to be in school all day and every

is likely that s/he will be offered a place

If you are considering an educational

day. Sixth formers often have their own

there, unless there is some very clear

placement, sit down and think about

learning suite or block, with a calmer,

reason – volatile or dangerous behaviour,

Try to remember that although you will

for example – why the school may not wish to offer an education beyond the statutory minimum school-leaving age. You do, of course, have the right to consider other schools but if your child has been reasonably happy, has made reasonable progress and has had his/ her needs met there up until Year 11, it is unlikely that the LA will agree to a change unless your child has been learning at an out-of-county or boarding school, when the LA will want you to reconsider its own local offer. This can be very stressful for parents. They may have fought to get their child into the school in the first place and may now face the prospect of having to fight all The learning environment in a mainstream sixth form can be very different to that at secondary school.

over again to keep him/her there. >> SENISSUE62



Independent special school sixth forms Some local authorities do not have many (or any) maintained special schools. Of those that do exist, some do not have 6th forms. Not all independent special

Local colleges have an enormous range of courses for an enormous range of students

upon a decision by any LA SEN Panel. The LA does have a duty, however, to provide a learning disability assessment (LDA), sometimes called a Section 139a, that informs FE colleges of a student’s support and learning needs and which must recommend a course. This cannot

schools have 6th forms. If they do and you feel that one or two might meet

A student with SEN can access

be sent to the FE college without the

your child’s needs post-16, go along

academic or vocational courses

student’s signed permission, and it is

and visit. Check the school against

alongside other students, or join

good practice for it to be prepared after

your lists of criteria. Do not commit to

courses specifically designed for young

consultation with the school, parents

an assessment at the school until the

people with learning difficulties and/

and supporting professionals, to ensure

LA SEN Panel has agreed to send the

or disabilities. These offer routes to

accuracy. The document is usually

school your child’s papers to consider.

further study or employment, or aim to

drawn up by an officer from Connexions

It is, therefore, particularly important to

encourage independence, basic living

(or its successor body).

carry out these visits before the Year

skills, awareness of the community

Some courses fill up very quickly and

11 annual review (or before the Year

and its facilities, and self-care. They

colleges usually like to have applications

10 review, if possible). Try to get the

usually build upon the courses students

in by the end of January, but it is

Year 11 annual review arranged early

have followed at school. Indeed, school

worthwhile checking the position later

in the autumn term. Sometimes, these

students often take part in link courses

on. Getting the advice of teachers and

schools have few places available

at local colleges one day a week, so

professionals at the annual review is

and the process of seeking the LA’s

that they can become familiar with

generally helpful but, as there is no need

agreement to amend a statement to

the environment.

for an amended statement, there is no

name an expensive post-16 option

As statements of SEN lapse when

need to wait for the annual review for

can take time, even if they agree that it

the student leaves the school system

visits, assessments and offers of places.

is appropriate.

(something that will change with the

Further education (FE) colleges

health and care plans in the forthcoming

Independent specialist providers (ISPs)

Children’s and Families Bill), access

Specialist advice is particularly helpful

Local colleges have an enormous range

to local FE courses does not depend

when approaching this sector. Your

introduction of personal education,

of courses for an enormous range of students. People of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, genders and abilities are there, embarking on their personal journeys to untold different destinations. Colleges can look large, lively and even a little intimidating from the outside, but get past security and inside the walls and different possibilities can open up. There are some excellent lecturers, committed support staff, and a whole range of support mechanisms, equipment and enabling facilities available. Students can be met at the door and accompanied to classes, be supported or supervised in unstructured times, get access to therapies, or receive specific help with things such as note-taking, dyslexia support and counselling. SENISSUE62

Specialist colleges can offer huge expertise in working with students with particular needs.


adviser will often have visited the colleges or have students who have passed through them. It is very important indeed that you listen to the advice and keep your adviser in touch with your progress. The LA has the duty to provide

It is essential to be clear about who provides what support and in what circumstances

the LDA and it is usually the professional

paperwork when it is received. S/he will combine this paperwork with the LDA and take it through the decision making process – usually a funding panel. There are mechanisms for appeal but hopefully, if everyone has done their homework and preparation, you'll get a

adviser from Connexions that does this

almost certainly a specialist college out

work. The LDA requires your signature

there that can meet the needs of any

positive outcome.

before it can be shared, so it is very

student to one extent or another, and

Finding the right placement

important to review it carefully. Make

provide a safe and positive experience.

My advice, then, is to start planning

sure it covers all areas of your child's

Once again, it is very important

for transition from school at Year 9.

needs that will have to be met if funding

to be clear about exactly what your

Recognise that it is likely to be a long

decision-makers are to get a realistic

requirements are, especially when

and sometimes stressful process. Give

picture and a placement is to work.

considering residential provision, where

yourself time and seek advice. Draw up

Your professional adviser should

students spend a great deal more time

and use lists of essential and desirable

explain the local funding process and

with care staff (who may not be well-

criteria. Keep in touch with your adviser

give you some idea of whether funding

paid) than they do with any individual

and social worker, if you have one. They

will be available, as well as the timescale

teacher. As with any college, all the staff

can be vital in the initial transition and

for accessing it. It can be a very complex

need to be properly trained; they need

subsequently in seeking appropriate

area with some tough criteria to meet

to be engaged with the students and

living arrangements and care options.

and a strong presumption that local

treat them with respect. Communication

Be prepared for setbacks and dead

provision should be, or should be made,

with home needs to be good; visits

ends in your search, but try to remain

appropriate. Budgets are under great

should be welcomed, and complaints

resilient and determined. The outcomes

pressure; allocations for many local

procedures should be more than mere

of the right post-16 placements can

authorities have been cut drastically

defence mechanisms.

be astonishing, helping young people

and some very harsh decisions are being





to become more independent and

faced as a result. You can waste a good

arrangements with FE colleges in their

preparing them for their next steps

deal of time and money travelling to

area, and students spend a day or more

into whatever the adult world has to

unsuitable or inappropriate colleges.

being supported to access the much

offer them.

Advisers can vary in terms of their

broader range of courses available

expertise and experience and, as

there. It is essential to be clear about

a result of budget and management

who provides what support and in what

pressure, perhaps in terms of the

circumstances, though.

degree of their impartiality. If you feel

If, after consulting your professional

the need, you can employ the services

adviser, you visit an ISP and it meets

of a private independent consultant. The

your criteria, you can apply and your

involvement of the appropriate social

child will be invited for an assessment,

services team may also be needed,

usually over two days. If the college

if transport or any exceptional care

can meet his/her needs and provide

funding is required.

an appropriate course, they will write

ISPs usually have considerable

to make a formal offer of a place,

experience and expertise in working

subject to funding being agreed. If

with the young people with whom they

you are happy with the offer, write

specialise. Some ISPs are quite large,

back and accept it. Forward a copy

with quite a broad range of students

of your acceptance letter to your LA

and a wide variety of courses. Others

professional adviser from Connexions

may be very small indeed, with perhaps

(or its successor team). S/he will use it

just 20 students, all having very specific

as part of the funding process and add

complex needs or disabilities. There is

it to the ISP's assessment and funding

Further information

Terry Miles works as a Special Needs Team Manager in a local authority Connexions service in South London. He has worked in careers guidance, information and advice, sometimes in very senior management positions, since 1982. Terry blogs at: Details of local FE colleges can be found at: Information about independent specialist providers can be found at:







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down syndrome

Where there’s a will... Children with Down syndrome can surpass all expectations, if only they are given the chance. Wendy O’Carroll tells her son’s inspiring story


liver Hellowell was born

exclusions” for challenging behaviour,

with Down syndrome

and by eleven he had been diagnosed

(DS) and serious cardiac

with ADHD. Although he thrived at

problems – so serious it

mainstream school, his secondary

was thought he might not survive to

placement failed and he attended a

reach open heart surgery, which he

local special school for children with

underwent at 14 weeks. At 18 months,

moderate learning difficulties (MLD),

his physiotherapist reported that he had

until he left earlier this year at the age

extreme hypotonia (reduced muscle

of 16.

I watched him grow from a frail, almost skeletal, baby into a smiling, chubby little “Buddha” grow from a frail, almost skeletal baby

tone) and informed me that although

Depending on your experience and

into a smiling, chubby little “Buddha”,

I should encourage a little physical

background, this may sound like a

and determined to do everything I could

activity, he would never be sporty.

nightmare or an unfortunate story with

to ensure that he was as happy and able

a bitter ending – but, I assure you, it is

as he could possibly be.

At the special needs playgroup he later attended, it was noted with concern


that “Oliver laughs and cries without

I am Oliver’s mother. It so happens

sound”. When he was three and a half,

he was born to a woman who doesn’t

it was reported that he had “verbal

respond kindly to words like “can’t” or

dyspraxia”, as well as the “usual speech

“won’t”. To get him from his birth weight

and language delay” experienced by

of 7lbs, 13oz to the target weight of 8½

children with DS. They suggested it

lbs for cardiac surgery took three and

was therefore unlikely that his speech

a half months of breast feeding, bottle

would ever be understood by an

feeding, syringe feeding and spoon

“unfamiliar listener”.

feeding – anything to get goodness into

By the age of eight, Oliver had

him. After he survived open heart surgery

been the subject of several “informal

for three heart defects, I watched him


Oliver at three and a half months, following cardiac surgery.

down syndrome

Passion for reading I started with flash cards and books before he could even really focus properly. He struggled terribly with making sounds so, whilst encouraging and requiring some sound production


The Headteacher couldn’t understand the point of having a child like this at his school

to get what he wanted, I also introduced signing from 12 months – although he didn’t start to use signs himself until

physiotherapist, mainly because he

20 months. Once he could see that it

hated it. I just believed that if the only

worked, his sign language took off and

time he stood was when he was strapped

he invented signs when we didn’t provide

into something he hated, standing up

them quickly enough. My daughter Anna

would have negative associations. It

(eight years old when Oliver was born)

seemed far better when he succeeded

and I used signing all the time and when

in pulling himself up to stand using the

he started mainstream primary school,

bars of a big old square play-pen and he

Oliver had a signing vocabulary of

would peer over the top, grinning from

350 signs.

ear to ear and beaming with the joy of

One of Wendy and Oliver's many outings.

I used books and pictures at every

success. He was a bottom-shuffler and

opportunity – he was surrounded by

didn’t walk until he was 23 months old,

to pursue every passion, and actively

them at all times and loved them all.

only after which we all learned to crawl

involving myself and others in his

I started matching words (just words,

together on the floor, either me and Oli or

interests helped to further enrich his

without pictures) before Oliver was three

Anna and Oli; I thought it was important

understanding and enjoyment of the

years old, using methods recommended

that those neural pathways were laid –

many hobbies he was developing. If he

by a DS charity. By the time he started

better late than never.

wanted to look at the encyclopaedia of

school, he had a sight vocabulary of

He learned to throw – food, dinner,

sharks and rays together at bedtime,

70 words. In Reception, he was in the

plates, drinks, telephones – pretty much

instead of having a story, then we did.

top reading group, even though he

anything we didn’t want thrown. So

He developed a fascination for

could hardly speak – he babbled and

rather than trying in vain to stop him

history, so we visited endless castles

signed the words to show he knew

throwing, I made sure he had access

and took great pleasure in reading all

and understood.

to things he could throw. I got those

the information boards together to find out interesting facts.

He was assessed by the educational

little basketball hoops you put on the

psychologist who clearly didn’t believe

back of doors and we took one with

A friend of my daughter left his

that he could read or that he could

us wherever we went. Regular visitors

skateboard at our house and Oliver was

understand what words meant. She

to our house knew they would have to

completely enthralled by it. The friend

spread out some single word cards, all

spend a significant amount of time taking

gave the skateboard to Oliver and, from

of which were animals, and provided a

turns throwing basketballs into the hoop

the age of five, he started to sit on it and

large basket of toy animals. She turned

during our conversations, as well as

push it along in the living room, then

to me saying “If I ask him to match the

sitting looking at Oliver’s latest wildlife

stand on it wobbling. By the time he was

animals to the words, will he understand

or marine encyclopaedia with him, as he

seven, he was shooting along the living

what I’m asking him to do?” She hadn’t

pointed out animals and called out or

room carpet and wreaking havoc with

even finished the question before Oliver

signed their name (everything from tapirs

my skirting board. At eight and nine, he

had already got the idea and was placing

and armadillos to leafy sea dragons and

was skateboarding on the path in front

the model pig on the card with the word

white tip reef sharks).

of the house and loving it.

pig on it. He went on to complete the set.

To secure Oliver’s cooperation

Developing interests

in routine aspects of our daily life, it

A growing boy

I continued to use anything Oliver

also often helped if I could engage

From a physical point of view, when

was interested in to assist with his

his interests. For example, we usually

Oliver was 18 months, I abandoned

development, speech and physical

the standing frame provided by the

activity. He was always encouraged



down syndrome

needed to have a game of snooker in the

year (Year 11) with Oliver only attending

garage to help get him out of the house

school for two days a week, spending

and into the car for school; moving from

one day at college, one having private

one environment or activity to another

maths tuition and one out of school

has always been a point at which we

studying for GCSE photography with

could have issues, so I frequently

his beloved Mike (now my husband),

needed to introduce a bridging activity.

who is a professional photographer.

Oliver’s brief and failed placement

The young man who some said might never speak, gave the Best Man’s speech at my wedding

at mainstream secondary school was

Lust for life

an extremely distressing time for both

Oliver is now a 16-year-old young man

could be doing even better – but without

him and me. Unfortunately for us,

who loves life. He is currently taking a

doubt, the refusal to accept negative

we encountered a headteacher who

level 1 art, design and media course at

predictions has been the major reason

was about to retire and who couldn’t

college and he dreams of being a wildlife

he has got to where he is today.

understand the point of having a child

and landscape photographer when he

In June 2012, the young man who

like this at his school, as well as a

grows up. Oliver enjoys skateboarding,

some said might never speak, stood up

SENCO who seemed to have no desire

playing football, snooker and basketball,

and gave the Best Man’s speech at my

to make it work. On one occasion, when

he likes watching extreme sports and

wedding. He did it with pride and he did

a teaching assistant was asked why

he absolutely loves cars and girls. So,

it perfectly. Amongst an assembled party

some of the suggestions made by the

in many ways, he is just like any other

of some 70 guests, there was barely a

Specialist Advisory Teacher hadn’t

16-year-old boy. His bedroom contains

dry eye in the house.

been put in place, she whispered: “The

three large bookcases crammed full of

My son is not a particularly able child

SENCO told us we weren’t allowed to”.

books and magazines on marine life,

with Down syndrome. I know of many

His four and a half years at the local

mammals, birds, cars, skateboarding,

other children and young people with

school for those with MLD did not

history and wildlife and landscape

DS who are clearly more academically

produce the best outcomes for Oliver;

photography. He goes fishing at least

able and/or socially aware than he is.

he was not pushed academically and he

once a week for most of the year and

However, the real point is that Oliver

absorbed and imitated more challenging

loves bird-watching and being able

is far more able than he might have

behaviour than he had arrived with.

to wander in the countryside with

been without the interventions and

However, we continued our work with

his camera. He has just held his first

encouragement he has had.

him at home and out of school, devising

photography exhibition, which was a

innovative and creative educational

great success.

opportunities. This culminated in his final

It is vital that parents and professionals have high hopes, are

His first weeks at college have not

positive and determined for these

been without their difficulties, but the

children, and are willing to go the extra

staff are determined to do their best

mile. A creative and flexible approach is

for Oliver and have taken on-board

essential, alongside the determination

every suggestion and strategy we have

to make it work. As the old saying goes,

suggested. His timetable has been

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way”.

individualised and made more flexible, in close consultation with us, and we are moving forward positively. The many successes experienced on Oliver’s journey so far, battling bleak and negative expectations and the various difficulties and challenges faced along the way, have come about because of the thoughtful and determined support of those closest to him. I do believe that there are people and institutions that have let my son down badly – and The Best Man at his mother's wedding.


Further information

Wendy O’Carroll (formerly Hellowell) is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ups and Downs Southwest, a Down syndrome support organisation based in Somerset and serving 12 counties:

if things had been done differently, he



Dyslexia: a primary issue Michelle Wickenden looks at how to read the signs of dyslexia in young children


hildren of primary school age

Until recently, dyslexia was thought to

often show clear signs of a

affect many more males than females,

specific learning difficulty

though recent research suggests greater

(SpLD), such as dyslexia. If

parity between the sexes.

Dyslexic learners often have a high IQ, yet may not test well academically

left unnoticed, and without appropriate

In simple terms, there is broad

intervention, these difficulties can cause

agreement that dyslexia is a genetic

feelings of isolation, which in turn may

condition that creates differences in the

over or underestimated). They can

lead to a lack of confidence and low self-

way information is processed, stored

lack organisational skills and can also

esteem both at school and later on in life.

and retrieved. It has nothing to do with

experience problems with sequencing

Although intervention for dyslexia often

intelligence, just the ways in which

(for example when throwing or catching)

takes place later in a child’s schooling,

people learn.

and dexterity issues. Indeed, children

support is available even for children at Key Stage 1. This article will outline common signs of dyslexia and how to spot key traits early in a child’s life.

with dyslexia are often referred to as

Common indicators of dyslexia

being clumsy.

Many of those with dyslexia have

that are often noticeable can include

Common early processing symptoms

Dyslexia is believed to affect around

problems with long- and/or short-term

mixing up letters within words, and

ten per cent of the population and we

memory, information processing speed

words within sentences, while reading

know that the earlier we can detect it,

and time perception (for example, the

and/or writing. Dyslexic learners may

the better the support we can provide.

time it takes to complete a task is often

also have difficulty with spelling and can show signs of severe frustration and become extremely emotional about exams. This is often related to shortterm memory problems; for example, if a child forgets how to spell a word just a few hours after memorising it, then how are they expected to remember entire passages of text for exams in a highly pressured environment? Dyslexic children may have a tendency to zone-out, lose track of time and suffer severe mood swings. It is common to be labelled with a behavioural problem at school due to a short attention span. Dyslexic learners often have a high IQ, yet may not test well academically, especially in written exams. They

Support is available even for young children with dyslexia.


may also lash out, hide or cover-up


A dyslexic learner can be particularly strong at thinking outside the box

weaknesses with ingenious coping strategies that both educators and parents need to be able to spot. For example, some dyslexics may confuse left and right but will remember that they are right handed, which jogs their memory. They may also use their fingers

Dyslexics often combine visual and

to count, and have good vocabulary but

kinaesthetic learning styles; they tend

be unable to write the words down. They

to learn something and make it stick

can therefore become flustered when

by actually completely the task, rather

asked to stand up in the classroom to

than just reading about it. Therefore, a multi-sensory environment is often

read aloud or recite a timetable. Where literacy difficulties are

Dyslexics can be very creative thinkers.

identified, you should always take into

“prescribed” in primary education, which can be effective.

account the quality of the teaching

as this ensures that information is

However, a lot of educators are not

received; difficulties with reading

received, learnt and retained, thereby

aware that assistive technology is also

may be the result of the nature of the

improving the child’s confidence, skills

available – even for key stages 1 and 2.

teaching rather than inherent learning

and self-belief.

Children need not wait until secondary

difficulties, though some children may

Dyslexia is not only about literacy,

school to have specialist software at

although weaknesses in literacy are

their fingertips. Indeed, because the

Understanding a child’s preferred

often the most visible sign. Dyslexic

traits associated with specific learning

learning style, be it visual, kinaesthetic

learners can also exhibit a number of

difficulties often present themselves at

and/or auditory, is extremely important,

other difficulties, not directly related to

a more obvious level at key stages 1

learning. They can be more prone to

and 2 assistive technology support can

ear infections, more sensitive to foods,

be very effective for younger children.

have difficulties arising from both.

Famous dyslexics

A link between dyslexia and creativity is widely recognised, and the list of successful, highachieving dyslexics is seemingly endless. Here are just a few household names who have, or are believed to have had, dyslexia: Albert Einstein (theoretical physicist) John Lennon (musician, songwriter) Sir Winston Churchill (Prime Minister) Keira Knightley (actor) Tom Cruise (actor) Jamie Oliver (TV chef) Robbie Williams (singer) Sir Richard Branson (businessman) Guy Ritchie (film director) Sir Steve Redgrave (five times Olympic champion).

additives and chemical products, they

There is much that can be done to

can be extra deep or light sleepers, and

support the dyslexic learner, and early

they can have an unusually high or low

(and appropriate) intervention is widely

tolerance to pain.

believed to lead to better outcomes for

People with dyslexia can be

the pupil concerned. If you think that

emotionally sensitive and they may be

your child may have dyslexia, you should

a perfectionist by nature. Poor time-

talk to his his/her school. There are also

keeping is a common problem and

many dyslexia associations nationally

they can find it difficult to estimate how

and locally that can provide information

long a task will take to complete. These

and advice and point you in the right

kinds of issues can be exacerbated by

direction for additional support.

confusion, pressure of time, emotional stress and poor health.

Creativity in action Dyslexia also tends to bring with it certain characteristics as to how the brain functions. A dyslexic learner can be particularly strong at thinking outside the box; many of those with dyslexia are very creative and excel in subjects such as art, engineering and

Further information Michelle Wickenden is from assistive technology training provider e-Quality Learning:

drama. Dyslexics can also make great designers, inventors, entrepreneurs and musicians.





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Four-legged friend helps pupils blossom Pupils at a Derbyshire special school are making good progress with their reading and speech after their teachers introduced them to a brand new classmate – a puppy called Woody. The five-month-old Border Terrier has been recruited as Stubbin Wood School’s official dog and spends his days either sleeping in his cage or wandering around the classrooms. He first came to the Shirebrook school in September, and not only has his gentle nature proved a hit with pupils, his presence is having a calming influence and even puts youngsters at ease during their reading and speech work. Woody is owned and looked after by a teacher at the school, Vicky Jobson, who is also responsible for the school’s current collection of animals – a rabbit, a guinea pig and six chickens. The pets are used as part of the school’s Animal Care course, where pupils feed, clean out and generally look after them, and Vicky thought that introducing a dog to the menagerie would help pupils develop more skills. Woody now comes in every day and pupils feed him, groom him and take turns to walk him. They have also learned to respect his need to return to his cage to sleep when all the excitement becomes too much. There is a wealth of evidence showing how introducing dogs into the school environment can have a positive effect on children with SEN. In the future, Woody, who is currently SENISSUE62

Woody, pupil Lily Davie (11) and teacher Vicky Jobson enjoy a spot of reading.

undergoing a behaviour training course, will become a therapy dog at the School. He will also work with pupils when they do their guided reading. “Already, Woody has provided a calming effect on our pupils who have emotional problems, which helps to build their confidence. He is also brilliant for children who are shy when it comes to guided reading with adults. They will read to him quite happily, because he is non–threatening and nonjudgemental”, says Vicky.



More than words When choosing a school for a child with dyslexia, the school’s ethos speaks louder than any official documents can, says Brendan Wignall


s Chair of CReSTeD, and

be worried if they are not), a perceptive

the Headteacher of a

parent should be able to see past the

school with a long tradition

artifice and gain a feel for the ethos of

of catering for pupils with

the school. While a personal visit to a

specific learning difficulties (SpLD) in

school in the maintained sector may

a mainstream environment, I am often

be difficult to arrange in some cases,

asked for advice on choosing a school

the open or information events should

for a child with dyslexia. The first point

be useful in helping you gain an insight

I usually make is that the principles

into the school.

There are plenty of apparently poorly performing schools doing an excellent job for their pupils

involved in selecting a school really

When considering a school, look

the opinions are from parents with

should not be significantly different

at its promotional materials. If they

similar educational values to your

– if we are considering mainstream

are smart and well-presented, that is

own. If you value an education which

schools – whether a child is dyslexic

all well and good, but look past the

concentrates on individual development,

or not. Choosing a school for any child

surface appearance; does the school

a recommendation from a parent on

is a potentially fraught exercise for a

make it clear that it celebrates individual

the grounds that a school achieves

caring parent, and the vast majority of

achievement or does it boast about the

high results is not likely to be of

the most important factors to consider

number of A* grades its pupils achieve?

much relevance.

will be common for all parents.

Does the school make it clear that it has

There is no substitute for a personal

a vision of education that goes beyond

Beyond league tables

visit to the school. In the independent

the classroom, or does it simply make

Performance tables also have to be

sector, this should be a normal part

vague mention of an “after school”

seen in the right context. Such tables

of the admissions process. An open

(one suspects this phrase almost

do provide information and some of it

day event will usually be helpful; while

always means “not taken seriously”)

is useful, though not necessarily in the

such events are often criticised on the

activity programme?

obvious way. In the independent sector,

grounds that they are stage-managed

Word of mouth is, of course,

if a school is doing a poor job for the

by the school (and you should perhaps

very useful for parents, but only if

majority of its pupils, it will close (and a good thing too). So far as independent schools are concerned, league tables tell us more about the selection policies of a school than anything else. Highly selective schools should score high marks in the performance tables, but this does not mean that they are adding any more value than less selective schools with more modest rankings; it is very unlikely to be the case that they focus more on individual pupils than the more averagely ranked schools. The relationship between league table performance and maintained schools

Good schools should value each pupil's fulfillment over league tables.




not to have too many enquiries from dyslexics and an inability to meet the criteria are all possible answers. Of these three possibilities, the final answer is potentially the least worrying. A school could be working towards CReSTeD criteria, and be heading in the right direction and therefore worthy of consideration; there is a CReSTeD category suitable for just about every type of school. The other two answers could suggest a lack of interest or, worse, an attitude towards dyslexic pupils that suggests that it is worth having a few for All subject areas must embrace a dyslexia-friendly ethos.

the money or the capitation but that too many might get in the way. I would not

takes one into risky and controversial

suspicion. Indeed, to turn the situation

want my child to be in a school with such

political waters. Undoubtedly, there are

on its head, the parents of a dyslexic

an attitude to human beings regardless

some poorly performing schools that

child – and, indeed, the parents of

of whether s/he was dyslexic.

are in that position because they are

any child who would like their son or

It is important to remember, though,

poor schools, but continue to operate

daughter to be treated as an individual

that while good dyslexia provision is

because the healthy market disciplines

– should be wary of a high-performing

a necessary foundation, it can never

that apply to independent schools do not

school that places excessive emphasis

be the solution on its own to the

apply in the maintained sector. However,

on that high performance. As a parent

challenges that dyslexic pupils face.

there are plenty of apparently poorly

you should not be interested in how

Good specialist provision is hugely

performing schools doing an excellent job for their pupils. Good schools with relatively low examination results may be judged unfairly negatively. Similarly, there are high-performing schools that are not

important, but what goes on in the

The school’s desire for achievement should go well beyond the academic

pupil-focused and are coasting along

maths, English and history classrooms, for example, is just as important and – unless it is a specialist school – it is this non-specialist environment in which dyslexic children spend most of their educational lives.

because they have a good catchment.

many pupils achieved A* grades at

The importance of a school’s ethos

In short, “objective data” should

GCSE and A level, or how many got

cannot be over-stressed. Indeed,

be treated with great care and a little

into Oxford or Cambridge. Instead,

the emphasis that a school places

your focus should be upon the school’s

on individual development and

emphasis – or lack of it – on helping all

achievement, in all its forms, is important

its pupils to achieve their full potential,

for any pupil, but for those with SEN it

whatever that might be. Ideally, this

is absolutely vital.

desire for achievement should go well beyond the academic.

Dyslexia provision The specifically-focused provision that a school provides for dyslexic students will be an important consideration for parents, and there are some specific questions that can be asked of a school Pupils should be encouraged to develop their individuality.


in this regard. Is it CReSTeD accredited?

Further information

Brendan Wignall is the Chair of CReSTeD, the Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic Pupils, and the Head of Ellesmere College:

If not, why not? Ignorance, a desire









Seeds of change Mark Smith sees signs of hope in East Africa's fledgling SEN projects


The belief persists that children with disabilities are a product of their parents’ sins

ountries in Africa have made

Working together

huge progress in many

There is still a great deal of social stigma

areas of education in the

regarding disability in Africa. In rural

last ten years. In Ethiopia,

areas in particular, the belief persists that

for example, primary enrolment has

children with disabilities are “gifts from

increased from 68 per cent in 2005

the devil” and a product of their parents’

to an estimated 90 per cent today.

sins. This means that, in many families,

However, for children with SEN – in

these children are hidden away and are

is the Ethiopian Church of Mekane

particular those with conditions such

simply not sent to school. What's more,

Yesus Rehabilitation for Persons with

as Down syndrome or autism – and

to take a child to school, who cannot

Disability Project. It operates in the town

those with hearing or visual impairment,

travel there on their own, might involve

of Nekemte, which has a population

it is statistically a much less successful

a walk of an hour or more, which results

of over 100,000, in Western Ethiopia.

picture, with an estimated ten per cent

in lost income from farming or selling

The story, though, is not just about a

or fewer accessing education.

products in the market. When their

project but also about a town coming

The reasons for this are complex.

income may be less than £1 a day, this

together with a determination to make

There is a severe shortage of trained

is something that many families simply

a difference for people with disabilities

SEN practitioners, and classroom

cannot afford.

and SEN.

teachers generally do not have the

However, such harsh realities only

The Project runs a school for the

training or expertise to handle a child

tell part of the story. A true picture

deaf which provides residential primary

with SEN in classes that often include

can be seen equally in the efforts of

education for 168 children with hearing

60 to 100 pupils. As a result, when a

African people and the projects which

impairments. There is a real debate in

child with SEN does attend school,

are beginning to introduce changes

Ethiopia about whether to mainstream

s/he often quickly drops out.

across the region. One such example

children with special needs or use special schools. The Government, to its credit, wants an inclusive education system, with children with SEN integrated into mainstream schooling. However, there is a dearth of trained SEN experts, in particular in the field of learning disability, and signing teachers for the hearing impaired. With well over 50 per cent of children in Ethiopia attending isolated rural schools, it is impossible to get a signing teacher to each school, where only one or two hearing impaired children may attend. As a result, there is still a great need for special schools which recruit children from rural areas. The children at the school in Nekemte follow the Ethiopian National Curriculum, after an initial year in “pre-school”

Chaaltu practises her writing.


learning signing and basic literacy and



“Teachers tell me that my child has a problem with learning. I know that. What I don’t know and what they seem to not know is what that problem is, and how I and they can help my child. I hear time and time again that there is problem, but time and time again nobody can provide either the solution or more information.” One positive result of this state of affairs is that parents/carers have formed themselves into really strong community groups. In Nekemte, the parent/career group is called Ol Adema, literally meaning "the seed". All 31 parents are active members and the Project provides small loans to those who live in extreme poverty, to ensure that they can send their child to school.

VSO volunteer Jo Keenahan models a literacy session.

The town has also helped by providing them with three “shops” (simple metal

numeracy. However, what are really

The children stay at the school for

changing, through the hard work of the

the deaf and the project also supports

Project, are activities involving the wider

them by providing twice weekly

community. In 2011/12, the school took

supplementary tutorials. In addition,

Vocational education

part for the first time in sporting activities

the school has a centre for children

In the past year, the Project has been

in the town, and the celebrations (and

with learning disabilities which up to

working with an Irish Voluntary Services

pitch invasion by 168 children) after the

15 children attend. It also supports

Overseas (VSO) volunteer to develop

team’s first victory in volleyball was a

a second centre in a government

an improved curriculum for these

sight to behold.

mainstream school. All this means that,

children. This includes basic literacy and

in total, 31 children and young people

numeracy, gross and fine motor skills,

Two children from the school are now attending and actively participating in the town's Student Parliament. The school has facilitated the opening of bank accounts for its older children (50 in total) and, as a result, the bank now wants to work with the Project to

containers) to rent to bring in a small monthly income for the organisation.

life skills and basic vocational skills.

80 per cent of those with disabilities in employment are self-employed

ensure that two of its staff are trained in

For the latter, they are learning how to make fuel-efficient stoves. Significant improvements in education outcomes are beginning to be seen. Vocational training opportunities don’t stop there. The town labour and

signing. The school has no secondary

with disabilities or SEN are receiving an

social affairs office has campaigned to

provision, so this year it has worked

education, while three years ago only

ensure that more than 60 young people

with the town's education authority to

five were.

with disabilities and SEN have been

ensure that 16 of its children can attend

There are huge challenges in Ethiopia

given scholarships to vocational college.

a government mainstream high school.

in terms of accurate assessment of these

When they finish, they can access a

The 16 children are fully integrated

children and how to meet their needs.

micro-finance loan fund to help them

into a mainstream class of 50 and the

The Ethiopian curriculum is knowledge

start a business; across Africa, 80

town’s education authority has assigned

rather than skills based. Children with

per cent of those with disabilities in

a signing teacher to ensure that they

SEN can therefore find it difficult to

employment are self-employed. The

get signing support in lessons. Such

access, and no supplementary materials

fund for these loans was originally

a model of integration was previously

or specialist training are available.

supported by local businesses, which

unknown outside of Addis Ababa, the

One parent of a child with learning

country's capital.

disabilities said:




raised around $1000, an outstanding amount for a small town in Ethiopia. “Not everything works and it is not always easy", says Project Director Selam Sagni. “It is often one step forward, two sideways and one back. Things take

“Of course we need funds for developing our projects, but most of all we need expertise”

though, as Jimmy takes the children with SEN to the market with their peers to sell their produce. This also serves to raise the profile of those with SEN in the community and challenge existing prejudice.

time but with determination and hard

Jimmy and Selam are just two

work, we can make changes. But it’s

examples of people running small

great to have a town that supports us”.

the Headteacher at Bulima School,

African projects which are making a

which has a special unit supported by

real difference for children with SEN.

The wider picture

the Children with Learning Disabilities

However, while change is definitely

Change is, though, extending beyond

Centre (CLDC) Uganda. There are

beginning to happen for these children,

the town. At a recent meeting, the

more than 100 children with disabilities

much more needs to be done. “Of

Head of Education for the area, which

attending his school, alongside 600

course we need funds for developing

comprises a population of 1.2m people,

other children. At the school entrance

our projects, but most of all we need

said that “to get universal primary

is a sign which reads: “Disability is Not

expertise", says Selam.

education into Ethiopian schools we

Inability”, and the school does its best

Both Selam and Jimmy’s projects

have to get disabled children into school,

to live up to this motto. For example,

have benefitted from input from long-

in particular children with learning

in addition to learning in a mainstream

term VSO volunteers from western

disabilities.” He offered to provide a

environment, children with learning

countries. Selam’s project also has

classroom and teacher in a mainstream

disabilities learn vocational skills such

a link with a London special school,

school in six regional towns to set up

as animal rearing. For homework, the

Sherwood Park; children at both schools

a centre for children with learning

project gives pupils an animal. One boy

are learning about each other’s cultures

disabilities. He has identified that the

with Down syndrome started with one

and teachers are sharing experiences.

teachers need training and mentoring,

chicken. After breeding this bird, he has

Bulima in Uganda, and many other

that the centre needs resources and

had 18 chickens, sold ten of them and

similar projects, have yet to have

that parent associations must be set up.

bought a goat. He now has his own way

that opportunity.

Hopefully, funding and time permitting,

of supporting a basic livelihood.

Both Jimmy and Selam would love

Another vocational skill that is

the opportunity to work with short-term

Change is also extending to other

encouraged is cultivating vegetables.

volunteers with skills to help develop

countries as well. Jimmy Obonyo is

The children do not stop with growing,

their projects and improve the education

it will happen.

of their children. SEN practitioners in Africa do not need skilled western practitioners to do things for them but they do need the expertise and skills of such people to work with them. The challenge is there for all of us.

Further information

Mark Smith runs a small nongovernmental organisation called Supporting Education and Development For All (SEDFA), which provides voluntary consultancy to inclusive educational projects run by small African organisations. A reading lesson at the learning disabilities centre.





TEACHER wellbeing


Looking out for teacher Teachers are the most valuable resource in education and need looking after, says Kathryn Lovewell


magine a classroom without a

the right state to handle the challenges

teacher. Imagine a group of children

that can arise. It is an emotionally

sat in front of computers and

resilient and mindful teacher who can

Without energetic, healthy, mindful teachers learning will not be effective or efficient

being instructed to learn without

cope and open his/her heart to a child

the guidance or input of a teacher:

who has just shouted abuse at him/

“Welcome to the world wide web. All

her, kicked him/her or destroyed their

the knowledge and information you’ll

own work. Let’s be honest, teaching is

ever need is on this machine. Off you

a tough enough job without the added

and structures are put in place that

go; now sit down and learn!”

challenge of personal threats to your

help, not hinder, teachers to do the job they love?

The truth is that education is not just

physical, mental or emotional stability.

about knowledge; it is about relationships

We know that teachers’ daily routines

It is time to re-align our approach

– learning to interact socially, kindly and

can be very draining: not taking a break,

to education. If you truly believe that

with compassion. Teaching involves

rarely getting any fresh air during the day

every child matters, then surely every

developing connections. Most of us

(unless on playground duty), stuffing

teacher matters too. It’s not rocket

can remember the impact our teachers

down lunch whilst marking books or

science; a happy, healthy, mindful

had on us – the teacher who made

preparing the next lesson, or not making

teacher, fully equipped to deal with the

us feel special and encouraged us to

time to eat at all. It may sound like utter

plethora of challenges they face every

follow our dreams, or the one whose

madness, but this passes for normal

day, will provide quality and inspirational

influence was not so positive. The key

practice in many schools.

teaching and learning for every child.

here is not whether the interaction was

Teachers are at the heart of education

It is time to ensure that every teacher

“good” or “bad”, but simply that there

and of the school community. Without

has the emotional competence training

was interaction.

energetic, healthy, mindful teachers who

and personal resources to help them

So why is it that so little attention is

are centred, and socially and emotionally

navigate the myriad of social, emotional

paid to such a pivotal influence that can

competent, teaching and learning will

and learning needs our children and

make or break a learning experience for

not be effective or efficient – so why

young people have in the twenty-first

a child? Why is so little time and money

isn’t there genuine investment to ensure


spent on looking out for the emotional

that every teacher is fit, well and fully

and social health of the one person who

equipped to meet the huge demands

is responsible for the wellbeing of that

of the “noblest profession”.

child for at least seven hours every day, five days a week?

It is imperative that resources are focused on ensuring that teachers can deliver the best teaching programme

You create the weather

appropriate to the needs of their

How a teacher presents him/herself in the

students. Children and young people

classroom has a big effect on students:

spend approximately 10,000 hours with

how they learn and their attitude towards

their teachers. This is a lot of time to

those in authority and their peers. For

influence, and impact on, a young mind.

those teaching children with SEN, it is,

Shouldn’t we be ensuring that teacher

perhaps, even more important to be in

status is raised, systems are simplified


Further information

Kathryn Lovewell trains education professionals and learners to manage stress and cope with the emotional and psychological demands of teaching and learning. She is the author of Every Teacher Matters:



Different for girls Are parents and professionals missing the signs of autism in girls? Kate Reynolds looks at why female autism is often diagnosed late and misunderstood


he most common autistic

protection from the genetic variants that

spectrum disorders (ASD)

are thought to cause autism.

seen by health and education

However, it is becoming clear that

services are autistic disorder,

girls simply may be under-represented

also called childhood or classic

in Asperger figures because the history

autism, and Asperger’s syndrome*.

of research into ASD, from its inception

Autistic disorder is characterised by

with Kanner’s and Asperger’s work in the

speech delay and signs of impaired

mid 1940s onwards, is based on males.

social interaction, communication

Diagnostic tools – using interviews,

and imagination.

specific tasks and categorisation of

Girls may be underrepresented in Asperger figures because the history of research into ASD is based on males

Lorna Wing’s research found a ratio

behaviours resulting in quantitative

are not challenging and would

of two to one male to female prevalence

scores for analysis – were developed

allow the child with ASD to

of autistic disorder and fifteen to one for

according to male phenotypes (Gould

dominate play, giving them the

Asperger’s syndrome, suggesting that

and Ashton-Smith, 2011). The ways in

predictability and control children

girls were less prone to the more subtle

which Asperger’s syndrome manifests

forms of ASD (Wing, 1981). Certainly,

in girls have not been adequately

• girls with Asperger’s may

males are more susceptible to organic

investigated and only in the last five to

“adopt” a less able peer,

conditions (where there is measurable

ten years has attention been focused

perhaps someone with a learning

disease) such as autism which is a

on females.

difficulty, who may themselves

neurological developmental condition. In addition, girls appear to have some

with autism crave

be marginalised so they are open

Signs of autism in girls

to being dominated by the child

Diagnosis of ASD is based on the triad

with ASD

of impairments, identified by Wing

• girls with Asperger’s may be

and Gould in 1979. With Asperger's

unnecessarily dependent on their

syndrome, girls can present differently

mother (or other primary carer)

to boys in each of these areas

whom they regard as their best

of impairment.

friend and confidante in a social world which they find challenging

Social interaction:

and frightening.

(Holtman et al., 2007) • boys with ASD tend not to appear motivated to be socially

behaviours, whereas girls may be

spectrum do. However, girls have

persistently “ill” to gain what they

and maintaining friendships • girls gravitate towards older girls, who tend to mother them and act as a form of social “protection” • girls may be socially immature

• boys engage in disruptive

interactive, but girls on the a history of failure in achieving

Girls with ASD tend to behave more passively than boys.

Social communication:

and make a preference to play with much younger children who

want or control their situation • girls with ASD tend to act passively and ignore daily demands, while boys become disruptive in response • girls appear more able to concentrate than boys, who >> SENISSUE62



become distracted more easily

all-consuming and experienced

and can be disruptive

in detail

• girls tend to learn social

• children with ASD can engage in

behaviours by observation and

repetitive questioning well beyond

copying, which can disguise their

the age that those who are not on

social deficits

the spectrum would normally do.

• girls may find the idea of social

They can exhibit poor empathic

Girls on the autistic spectrum may be less noticeable than boys because they are less disruptive

hierarchy difficult, so they can

skills and a lack of social interest.

respond inappropriately to people

They can also seem disinterested

in authority, such as teachers

in the classroom and exhibit

may have dissolved. Additionally,

immature, impulsive and unusual

multiple stimuli (such as crowds in

sexes need to learn the rules

behaviours. An inability to “move

corridors or screams in playgrounds)

of “small talk” which they often

on”, even with basic matters, can

and changes to routines which occur

find incomprehensible as a

be common – for example, not

at secondary education can increase

pastime. Girls’ difficulties tend

being happy to throw away old

individual anxiety greatly. Adolescence,

to be masked by their passive

toys or clothes which the child

involving unstoppable changes, such as

behaviours and ability to mimic

has long since grown out of. This

menstruation and the growth of breasts

without understanding.

“cluttering” behaviour can outline

and body hair, can profoundly affect

their difficulties with change. While

girls with ASD, heightening anxieties

such types of behaviour may be

due to lack of control over what

common to both sexes, the ways

is happening.

• children with ASD of both

Social imagination: • parents may perceive their daughter as being non-

in which they present can be

specifically “odd”, but without

different for boys and girls.

Mental health issues for girls

It seems that girls on the autistic

Anorexia nervosa has been called

• imaginative play does exist, but it

spectrum may be less noticeable than

“female Asperger’s” because around

is intense in nature, often focused

boys because they are less disruptive

one fifth of girls who present with

on stereotypical female interests,

and have an ability to mimic behaviours

anorexia have traits which are peculiar

such as dolls, make-up, animals

(Attwood, 2012.) However, they lack

to the autistic spectrum; around 20 to

and celebrities – which is why

social understanding and any deep

30 per cent of anorexic patients are

girls with ASD may not seem that

knowledge of language. This becomes

perfectionists and demonstrate rigid

different to females not on the

increasingly obvious at secondary school

modes of thinking and behaviour, which

spectrum. The key is the intensity

level, when there are no younger children

are common autistic traits. Anorexia

and quality of these special

to associate with, when peer groups

offers girls with ASD what they perceive

interests, which are exclusive,

are more mixed and any “protection”

to be a positive outcome because lack

being able to pinpoint the cause

of nutrition prevents menstruation and physical development. It is not until puberty that girls’ social difficulties become more obvious, particularly as they enter secondary school when they can become the subject of bullying or can be generally marginalised and perceived as strange. Unlike boys, they become withdrawn, depressed and quiet, rather than aggressive. Profound




demonstrated in altered behaviours, lower grades at school, poor sleep patterns, low mood/depression and The special interests of girls with ASD can focus on stereotypical "female" subjects.


obsessive behaviour.


Research from 2011 found that many women who were later diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum initially were thought to have learning difficulties, personality disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder or eating disorders (Rivet and Matson, 2011). This differential diagnosis could be related to

It is not until puberty that girls’ social difficulties become more obvious, particularly as they enter secondary school

lack of awareness of how ASD present

More research is essential to identify

as the basis for diagnostic tools, which continue to be male dominated. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism is recommending that there is a lead teacher for autism in every school who has relevant expertise and training. This follows a survey which found that 80 per cent of respondents thought that teachers were not given

in females.

The need for change

not been thoroughly examined or used

performed by small groups of

sufficient training to support children

children with ASD

with autism. Any such training should, of

• buddying between individual

course, include gender issues. After all,

features of ASD, particularly Asperger's

children with ASD and older

teachers are in a unique position to be

syndrome, in girls and to train health

volunteer children in school,

able to identify the signs of ASD in girls

and teaching staff about presentations

who can offer social support and

and implement strategies to help them

in females. Diagnostic tools must

advice about social interactions

to develop to their full potential.

be adapted to incorporate gender

• structuring breaks and lunchtimes

differences and ensure that scores attributed to behaviours include the

for girls with ASD • increasing awareness among

range of symptoms in girls. Observation

teachers so that they do not

of girls in the social setting of school,

suddenly present tests to children

paying close attention to friendships,

with ASD (and therefore other

is vital for diagnosis. Seeing how girls

children). Lessons should be

manage during unstructured time is also

highly structured and teachers

telling, since those with Asperger's have

should help those with ASD

difficulty identifying how to fill the time

during unstructured time

and do not enjoy the freedom but are lost and anxious. The earlier diagnosis is made, the sooner intervention can be implemented. Within a school, this might mean: • use of visual timetables or

• careful positioning of children with ASD in the class, away from distracting children • warning of sensory stimuli that are to be introduced into the class • close liaison with parents to

other visual aids to underpin

understand if school is causing

communication and increase

high anxiety which is being acted


out at home (for example, with

• emphasis on visual and sensory play for younger children • occupational therapy input to

friendships issues) and discuss behaviours in school • helping parents to support

address any sensory issues

language skills, using games

and enhance coordination and

provided by school or speech

musculo-skeletal abilities • programs to improve knowledge

and language therapists. All research suggests that an early

of facial expressions and

diagnosis of ASD, followed by

understand the physical signs

appropriate interventions, will optimise

of feelings and attach names to

the person’s life chances by increasing

those emotions

independence, understanding and

• social programs, involving exercises and language games,

References and Bibliography ƒƒ Attwood, T. (2012) The Pattern of Abilities and Development of Girls with Asperger’s Syndrome. Archived paper at: ƒƒ Gould, J. and Ashton-Smith, J. (May 2011) Missed diagnosis or misdiagnosis? Girls and women on the autism spectrum, Good Autism Practice, Vol. 12 No. 1 p 34-41. ƒƒ Holtman, M., Bolte, S. and Poustka, F. (2007) Autism Spectrum Disorders: Sex Difference in Autistic Behaviours Domains and Coexisting Psychopathology, Developmental and Child Neurology, 49 p 361-366. ƒƒ Rivet, T. T. and Matson, J. L. (2011) Review of Gender Differences in Core Symptomatology in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 5 (3) 957-976. ƒƒ Wing, L. (1981) Sex ratios in early childhood autism and related conditions. Psychiatry Research 5(2): 129-37.

accumulation of language and social abilities. To date, the ways in which

Further information

Kate Reynolds is a registered general nurse, counsellor and trainer of health professionals with 18 years’ NHS experience. She is the mother of an autistic child and the author of Party Planning for Children and Teens on the Autism Spectrum. Kate blogs at: * The term “Asperger’s syndrome” is used also to refer to higher functioning autism (HFA) for the purposes of this article, since the only difference in presentation is that HFA involves clinical speech delay in childhood.

females present with Asperger’s have





Lambeth free school for autism planned The National Autistic Society (NAS) is working with parents to submit an application to the Department for Education to set up a new autism-specific free school for children in Lambeth and neighbouring boroughs. If the application is successful, the school will open in September 2014. Â The project is being spearheaded by local parents who say there is a need for specialist autism education in the area. A recent Lambeth Council review of SEN projects found that the demand for school places for children with autism in the area will increase from approximately 550 currently to 650 by 2018. The council also aims to reduce the number of local pupils who are educated outside the borough by 180 over the next five years. The NAS and local parents are currently looking for a potential site for the school. Parties interested in the school project are invited to complete an online survey to give their views: SENISSUE62












Taking a lead on autism Andrew Mercer outlines a timely project to introduce a designated adult for autism into mainstream schools


nowledge and understanding about autism have increased markedly in both medical and education circles in recent

years. Our ability to recognise signs of autism has improved, and diagnoses

Direct support could be provided to pupils on a more individual and high-quality basis

My research involved four mainstream schools in Plymouth – one primary and three secondary – that were piloting the scheme. All had relatively high numbers of pupils with ASD.

The role of designated adult for autism

have become more focussed as they have increasingly included input from multi-disciplinary professional teams.

of time available for support interventions

Once selected and trained, the

Improvements in diagnosis also seem

for ASD in Plymouth, such as group

designated adult was asked to carry

to have brought about an increase in the

work for social and communication skills

out the role for 15 hours each week

number of those diagnosed with autistic

and one-to-one support, was becoming

alongside his/her regular job. The

spectrum disorders (ASD). Indeed,

severely limited. The new designated

plan was for the scheme to run for

during the four years that I worked as

adult scheme seemed to be an obvious

an academic year, after which time it

an advisory teacher for autism, I saw my

and practical solution to some of these

would be assessed for its impact and

caseload grow from just 80 diagnosed

problems. I decided to make it the focus

effectiveness. In each school, five pupils

cases to almost 250.

of my dissertation for my Masters in

with ASD were chosen randomly as a

Special Education (Autism).

focus group.

Despite continued efforts by schools to adapt their learning environments for children with ASD, it is increasingly difficult for educational settings to manage. Students who meet the criteria for special schools are often not given these placements due to a lack of available places. Consequently, mainstream schools have to meet this challenge by increasing their knowledge and skill base, adjusting their special needs provision maps to suit the increasing demand. In 2009, the Autism Support Service in Birmingham offered training to my Masters Degree cohort for a role called “designated adult for autism”, in which one staff member in a school takes a lead on issues relating to students with ASD. With the pressures of increasing caseloads, I recognised that the amount SENISSUE62

Designated autism leads can help teachers understand the needs of their pupils with ASD.


The main duties of the designated adult included: • delivering social and communication skills groups • running social clubs • one-to-one intervention • acting as a point of contact for students, staff and parents

Staff appreciated having access to an inschool autism “expert” who could suggest practical strategies

the coffee sessions, welcoming the opportunity for better contact and communication with the school. All of the parents interviewed said they hoped that the role would be made into a permanent full-time post. Staff members’ responses, even those from the initially sceptical, were positive, with many commenting that

• developing resources • dissemination of good practice

the designated adult, ensuring greater

since the scheme’s introduction, the

• liaison with outside agencies

continuity of support for students.

frequency of major incidents had

• attendance at relevant autism training • raising the profile of autism needs across the school • being an advocate for the autistic

The schools involved noticed

reduced due to a quicker response time.

improvements in the confidence and

They all appreciated having access to

ability of their staff to work with students

an in-school autism “expert” who could

with autism, and I was able to look

suggest practical strategies and help

forward and plan the next steps for

deal with incidents and problems.

population within the setting.

each student, offering more specific

The main negative from the school

In each school, the occupant of the role

one-to-one support with emotional and

leaders’ perspective was that the role

was allowed some flexibility to meet

independent life skills.

needed to be full-time. However, all

the school’s specific needs. As the

four of the participating schools were

scheme became more established, each

A positive force

planning to instigate this as a next

designated adult became more self-

As the academic year came to an end,

step; indeed, in one of the schools, two

sufficient and autonomous. Many began

I began interviewing the staff, students

people were eventually appointed to the

adding work systems for the students,

and parents involved. Students with

role, both as full-time employees.

creating safe spaces and specific talk

autism said that they were happier in

times to help solve student and staff

school now that they had the support

autism scheme in the trial schools

concerns. Parent coffee meetings

of the designated adult. Many talked

received an overwhelmingly positive

were developed, which in turn fostered

about how they felt their social skills

response. In addition to the clear

great support networks, benefitting the

and communication had improved.

benefits of having a trained member of

families and helping to create a joined-

Some mentioned new friends they had

staff on site and available to ease the

up approach to support. In my advisory

made in the social clubs, and that they

pressure on the SENCO, such a role can

role, I was able to help the designated

were now joining new clubs outside

also give much needed confidence to

adults develop support networks and

of school. Their feelings about school

parents, pupils and school staff. The All

disseminate information.

Overall, the designated adult for

in general had improved, with some

Party Parliamentary Group for Autism

As the research concluded, it was

feeling more confident about school

is currently calling on the Government

obvious that the quality and consistency

and less anxious about attending. This

to ensure that every school has a

of support that I was able to offer as

was often attributed to the fact that they

designated autism lead. As the research

an advisory teacher for autism was

had someone they felt more comfortable

showed, such an initiative could do much

being enhanced by the hard work and

with and could go to for help, if they

to improve the school experience, and

organisation of the designated adults.

needed it.

ultimately the life chances, of children

Problems with time restrictions, as a

One parent said: “A year ago, my

result of high caseloads, were eased,

child was completely depressed...

even through the overall caseload did

Since the designated adult has been

not actually decrease in size. Direct

in place, my son feels someone really

support could be provided to pupils on

understands him and he trusts them to

a more individual and high-quality basis.

help solve his worries. Now my child

By working with the designated

loves school and I can’t believe the

adults, I was able to reach a wider range

complete turn-around”.

of students; any advice and resources

Similar sentiments were echoed

I supplied could be followed up by

by other parents. Many really enjoyed

with autism.

Further information

Andrew Mercer has worked with people with autism for 12 years, starting as a support worker. He is a qualified teacher, has worked as an advisory teacher and is now an Autism Advisor for Cornwall Council.








Tackling problem behaviour Nicky Mosson-Jones outlines a model for managing challenging behaviour and removing barriers to engagement in education


eing able to identify, monitor and manage behavioural risks in young people with behavioural difficulties is

a key focus of education and clinical

Brian would routinely miss lessons after aggression towards care staff

teams in breaking down the barriers

difficulties, which, alongside previous negative experiences, contributed to a significant barrier to learning. During the previous 12 months, Brian was not in education and had received a final warning from the police after an escalation in aggressive behaviour,

monitoring scale, and applying it in

Assessment, monitoring and measuring

practice, can be an important strategy in

There are five stages in applying the

breakdowns. Using the scales, initial

reducing behavioural barriers to learning

scales in practice: initial assessment,

assessment indicated that Brian’s

amongst pupils with statements of SEN.

monitoring, measuring, reporting and

capacity to learn was primarily affected

to education. Introducing a specific

and an array of continuous placement

One model that I use is a simple

self-evaluation. By looking at a specific

by behaviour within D2 (verbal and

observational ratings scale – behaviour

student, we can see how these stages

physical aggression) and D3 (failure or

monitoring scales. Behaviours are

are applied in practice.

refusal to engage).

mapped against five domains – D1

Initial assessment using the scales

Brian would routinely miss lessons

disruption, D2 verbal and physical

can pinpoint how an individual’s learning

after aggression towards care staff, while

aggression, D3 engagement, D4

can be affected by behaviour. Brian has

in the lessons he did attend he would

attention and concentration and D5

a statement of SEN which includes

often become verbally and physically

sexualised behaviours.

severe social, emotional and behavioural

aggressive, swearing, banging tables, arguing with peers and even eating written work. Following his initial assessment, an individual education plan (IEP) was drawn up with targets for Brian that directly related to these areas, specifically to avoid physical aggression towards peers, staff and school property and to increase attendance. Once formal assessment is complete, stage two involves the continual monitoring of an individual’s progress. The behaviour monitoring scales can be used to monitor behaviour on a weekly basis, with teachers collaboratively rating behaviour on a scale of 0 to 5 against each of the five dimensions. An individual’s targets are then

Individuals can be involved in managing their own behaviour.


reviewed as a minimum every quarter (or


more frequently, if necessary, depending on progress) and subsequently amended in response to any changes in behaviour. In Brian’s case, staff identified and consistently deployed personal intervention strategies,

The individual is engaged in managing their own behaviour through a behaviour contract

mean that learning needs have to be reviewed, and the process started again, to implement new targets and strategies to ensure that all barriers to education are broken down. In Brian’s case, the scales put into

including rewards systems, positive reinforcement incentives and therapeutic crisis intervention which allowed Brian

Changing needs and behaviours may

practice were successfully used by the The reporting showed that the

teaching team to identify the behavioural

level of behaviours in both of these

problems which were barriers to his

By the end of his first term using

dimensions reduced from scores of

learning. By monitoring and measuring

the scales, the level and occurrence

4 and 3 (indicating high occurrence/

his patterns of behaviour, strategies

of behaviours which affected his

severity and significant impairment

could be developed to help Brian access

engagement in learning had reduced

to learning) to scores of mostly 0 and

his IEP more effectively.

(from completely impairing his ability

1, which indicated no occurrence or

Furthermore, due to the success of

to engage, to a manageable level with

very limited occurrence and minimal

the programme, and the successful

only occasional incidents and a lesser

disruption to learning.

reduction in challenging behaviours

to modify his behaviour.

The next development phase

which were barriers to learning, Brian

Informed by observational changes,

involves self-evaluation from the

has since been able to move on to

new targets were implemented,

individual (stage five). The individual

access a college programme as well

remaining focused on D3 (engagement

is engaged in managing his/her own

as continuing with his studies at school.

in class), which were subsequently met

behaviour through the implementation

By introducing behaviour monitoring

at the end of the next term.

of a behaviour contract, where s/he will

scales, and using them in daily practice,

level of aggression).

By measuring (stage three) data

self-evaluate personalised targets on

challenging behaviours can be reduced

collected through the tracking and

a daily basis. This enables the pupil

greatly. The assessment cycle helps

informing process, school staff can

to not only recognise behaviours, but

professionals identify and put in place

effectively plan for an individual across

also to deploy skills developed in the

the correct personal intervention

all aspects of their care programme.

previous year in order to develop an

strategies, therapy and care in order

The monitoring data provided, and

internal focus of control that s/he can

to meet the needs of each young

joint intervention planning enables, a

sustain, maximising future development.

person. Furthermore, outcomes can

holistic representation of quantitative

be easily measured and tracked, with

data analysis. A qualitative interpretation

Assessment cycle

comprehensive data produced for each

of the results from multi-professional

The introduction of the behaviour

individual allowing for easy assessment


and review.


monitoring scales helps to track

construction of individual intervention



progress of behavioural targets and

packages, catering specifically for the

inform practice through a cyclical

young person’s needs.

process. Initial assessment or review helps assess learning needs, which in

Reporting and self-evaluation

turn feeds into an integrated care plan

Stage four in the process involves

that establishes targets and strategies

reporting, with comprehensive behaviour

to meet learning needs. This helps form

monitoring highlighting the progress an

IEPs, which are critical in developing

individual has made. In Brian’s case,

and implementing strategies to achieve

reporting showed that he successfully

the targets of reducing challenging

met all IEP targets over the whole year,

behaviour. Behaviour monitoring and

relating to D2 and D3 and, through

data collection by staff then helps to

engaging in intervention programmes,

measure and record the outcomes

those behaviours that were barriers to

of targets; progress is then tracked

his engagement in education showed a

through data analysis and evaluating

steady reduction to manageable levels.

the progress of targets.

Further information

Nicky Mosson-Jones is the Clinical Director at Oracle Care, which provides education and therapy to young people with challenging behaviours:




book reviews

Book reviews by Mary Mountstephen

Emotional Well-being for Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Gail Bailey A Lucky Duck Book for Sage Publications 164 pages £22.99 ISBN: 978-1-4462-0160-2 Dr Bailey is a child psychology consultant based in Wales. She is also an experienced teacher and has written this book to support classroom practitioners in actively promoting emotional wellbeing. The main learning difficulties covered are ADHD, dyslexia, visual impairment and autism, and the book opens with an explanation of the reasons why children with SEN and disabilities are at risk of developing mental health problems. The book is divided into three main sections: the first sets out a model for classroom practitioners, the second is devoted to assessment and the third provides a plan of action based on a STEP model, which challenges a child’s negative thinking with problem solving approaches based on their strengths and other resources around them. The author uses some case studies to illustrate her points and chapters conclude with a useful summary of the main issues. The summaries also reinforce the author’s view of the importance of encouraging the young person to push forward, whilst understanding issues from his/ her perspective. The book concludes with several appendices, providing a framework for assessment, observation and goal setting, which are well set out and informative. This book would be especially useful for teachers in charge of personal, social and emotional aspects of the curriculum.


Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: Teaching Kids to Succeed Debbie Silver Corwin: A Sage Company 207 pages £21.99 ISBN: 978-1-4522-0590-8

Silver, a former teacher, has written this book as a practical guide on specific strategies to help children become independent, successful learners. She sets out to synthesise the thinking of major motivational theorists into a framework of what to say and what not to say to children and why. Her underlying belief is that the key to successful learning lies in developing selfsufficient, resourceful life-long learners. The book uses a number of case studies and scenarios where the reader is asked to make the best choices in terms of dealing with situations such as when a child doesn’t do as well as expected in a competition. The book presents a very interesting approach, which addresses the habit many of us have of over-praising children to maintain their self-esteem. Silver argues that we do children a disfavour by protecting them from failure and clearing obstacles from their path, rather than teaching them how to deal “forthrightly” with potential stumbling blocks. The last chapter of this useful and informative book covers some frequently asked questions posed by parents and teachers and includes a glossary of common terms. It also includes a discussion guide which proposes a number of topics relating to each chapter. These would form a good basis for group discussion or reflection.

book reviews

Autistic Spectrum Disorders Through the Life Span

Bipolar Disorder for Dummies: 2nd Edition

Digby Tantam

Candida Finck MD and Joe Kraynak

Jessica Kingsley Publishers 550 pages £29.99 ISBN: 978-1-84905-344-0

John Wiley and Sons Ltd 362 pages £16.99 ISBN: 978-1-118-33882-7

This substantial textbook

Fink is a board certified

brings together all the latest

psychiatrist specialising in

research and clinical practice

the diagnosis and treatment

in the assessment, diagnosis

of bipolar disorder and

and treatment of individuals

Kraynak is a professional


writer with a personal



disorders (ASD). It is written by an eminent psychiatrist and psychotherapist who is Emeritus Professor at the University of Sheffield. The book is set out in two main sections, with the first providing an extensive review of the current literature (mostly published since 2005). The second part provides a detailed clinical overview of ASD and case descriptions covering a wide age range. The book looks a little daunting initially, due to its size and the range of material covered in its seventeen chapters and appendix. However, it is set out in a format that includes boxes, tables and sub-headings which break up the text and make it more manageable.

interest in bipolar disorder. This



the familiar “Dummies” format, with a style that is easy to read and cartoons illustrating some of the key points. It is packed with information in a user friendly format, and symbols in the margin direct the reader to points to remember, tips and notes of warning. The book is divided into seven parts, covering the characteristics of the disorder, sources of support, and different types of interventions, as well as relating the disorder to specific populations, including children. There is also an appendix covering related definitions and terms.

I was drawn to the chapter on Presentation in Infancy

The section on developing essential survival skills would

and Early Childhood, which includes a useful guide to

be of benefit to anyone living with someone with this

developmental milestones in social and communicative

disorder. It includes advice on establishing healthy routines,

behaviour, illustrated by a case history and information

relieving stress and the role of nutrition.

about recognised syndromes associated with ASD. This was a fascinating read.

Although parts of the book relate more to the United States, there is much in here that is relevant to anyone with

Other sections of the book cover middle childhood,

a diagnosis of this disorder, as well as those with anxieties

adolescence and adulthood in detail, and there is an

about someone they know who may not be aware that

extensive reference section at the end of the book. This

they may have bipolar disorder.

book is impressive in its scope.

This is a useful introductory guide to the subject.





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education show preview

Inspiration for all at the Education Show 2013 A host of new features await visitors to the NEC’s flagship education event


hanges to SEN education policy and the Ofsted inspection framework put professional development front and centre for UK schools. September’s draft legislation outlined the Government’s plans for reform but, in a cautious economic climate, how can schools adhere to policy shifts and reinvigorate practice to meet the needs of all pupils? The biggest reform to SEN education in years means that targeted professional development content makes up the mainstay of the free to attend Education Show (Thursday 14 to Saturday 16 March 2013, NEC Birmingham). Free SENCO training from nasen, supported by the DfE and developed with leading SENCOs, will run alongside a practitioner-led continuing professional development (CPD) programme featuring more than 70 hours of specialist seminars and workshops. SEN practitioners have a rich spread of developmental content to choose from. Lorraine Petersen OBE, CEO of nasen, explains why the training is

fundamental to school development and improvement: “CPD in the primary setting is often facilitated by SENCOs, who not only support children but can be instrumental in developing early intervention strategies, carrying out assessments and providing advice on revising the learning pathway as the pupil moves through the school. The training supports schools by providing SENCOs with the tools to disseminate training to their workforce as whole school professional development. This is supported by online professional development materials on specific impairments to assist the whole school workforce.” This framework to share expertise collaboratively with schools across the country also underpins the seminars and conferences at the show. Anita Pal, exhibition director for the Education Show agrees: “Collaboration can be used to help schools minimise the cost of specialist support by sharing services with other schools in their region. These official and unofficial relationships often begin life at events like the Education Show; professionals with a common

interest can forge useful links, learning from each other’s experiences.” So, with a programme of content that offers hours of free advice and professional development guidance from experts, along with more than 350 exhibitors offering the latest products and services, how should professionals plan their visit? Hosted by nasen, the SEN Information Point helps visitors find details on all SEN resources, gain practical advice and meet with experts to discuss the latest inclusive practice and specialist SEN teaching techniques. Meanwhile, the main Information Point, hosted by BESA at the entrance to the show, is a useful stop for insight into all resources and content. Educators can also pick up a copy of the BESA book, which lists all 300 plus BESA members – educational suppliers of every kind who adhere to a stringent Code of Practice, offering schools peace of mind when looking for new products and services for their school.

Tap into a source of CPD With three new conferences for 2013, the Education Show provides access to more CPD opportunities that ever before. The School Leaders Summit focuses on the most crucial issues affecting school leaders, heads and school business managers. The free two-day conference brings leading experts together to explore and discuss key issues including the new curriculum and examinations system, achievement, assessment and how to meet individual and collective challenges.


education show preview

Providing a platform for discussion around the academies movement, the new Academies Forum debates the merits and concerns associated with the move to academy status. A balanced panel of speakers will explore these issues during the conference, including finance, inspections, the changing role of staff and the future for examinations. To support the work of Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) across the UK, the Education Show will host the first PTA-UK National Conference offering guidance and support to PTAs in these changing times. The conference gives delegates the opportunity to meet, ask questions and garner advice from fundraising experts and a whole host of suppliers with great money-making ideas and suggestions on how to spend hard-earned PTA funds. The popular Learn Live programme of workshops, seminars, training sessions and discussion events returns with more than 65 free-to-attend, CPD accredited sessions. Covering topics including behaviour, funding, specific teaching practices and whole-school concerns, the Learn Live programme aims to address the professional development needs of all practitioners in four theatres at the heart of the show floor, including SEN.

Understand your options The UK has a number of specialist companies to support specific educational needs and the Education Show brings many of them together, enabling practitioners to get advice and

guidance across a number of topics. More than 350 leading education suppliers and innovative smaller companies are on hand to offer advice to visitors, enabling teachers to try and test products to find the resources that are right for their schools and students. Looking to support personal development? Dore is on stand K104 with its DORE progamme, a personalised physical exercise programme for people with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD. This aims to improve the efficiency of cerebellar function, which researchers believe plays a major role in learning. Suitable for children aged seven and over, each student is assessed to determine their level of learning difficulties and assigned a personalised exercise programme. Project X CODE from Oxford University Press is an intervention programme for SEN and struggling readers, which combines systematic synthetic phonics, attention to comprehension, motivational 3D design, and gripping stories to accelerate readers’ progress so that children reach expected literacy levels as soon as possible. Project X CODE is said to see children making an average 8.7 months gain on their phonics age and 6.8 months on their sentence reading age after one term. Find out more on stand K79. Mantra Lingua on stand E35 is showcasing its new Tactile Talk Technology, specifically geared to visually-impaired students, that combines visual, tactile and Braille learning and is sound-enabled to let printed material speak. Tactile Talk

Technology is designed to help bring the costs of published products down to a more accessible level, transforming standard posters, books or even assessment charts into tactile Braille and sound-enabled material. Looking for advice on personal, professional and whole school development topics? Teacher’s Pocketbooks on stand F94 provide 40 titles of A6 cartoon illustrated books covering teaching and learning, and special needs amongst other areas. Titles include the Asperger Syndrome Pocketbook, exploring Asperger’s syndrome and offering a range of helpful strategies for overcoming the classroom challenges it provides. The Challenging Behaviours Pocketbook focuses on three particular behaviour disorders – ADHD, Conduct Disorder and ODD – to explore typical characteristics and practical classroom strategies and tips. Providing specialist education and care is St Vincent’s School, a specialist school for sensory impairment and other needs. Catering for pupils aged from four to 19 years, the school offers a range of placements from day, joint and full- or part-time residential. Pupils enjoy full access to the National Curriculum and an extended curriculum to ensure specific needs are met in small class groups, led by qualified teachers of the visually Impaired. Visit stand J107 to find out more.

The Education Show 2013 takes place from Thursday 14 to Saturday 16 March 2013 at the NEC Birmingham and is free to attend. To discover more and to register for free fast-track entry, please visit: and enter the registration code: EPR2





Promotional feature

Inclusive play boat ready for launch at Education Show Playtime by Fawns create inspirational playscapes for children of all abilities and will be launching their new range of inclusive play boats at the Education Show. Play should be impulsive, challenging and open ended with opportunities for challenge and risk taking, no matter what the ability or nature of the special needs of the child. The young explorer range of play boats offers modularity, sustainability and plenty of thrills using natural material, such as timber and ropes, to engage children in both physical and role play, no matter what the space or budget. 01252 515199 SENISSUE62


BETT 2013 preview

Bett 2013: powering learning Exciting CPD opportunities, new services and innovative resources await all SEN professionals at Europe’s biggest education technology event


ett 2013 offers educators the opportunity to keep abreast of the latest policy shifts, services and resources to meet the needs of pupils with all levels of ability. In response to the demand for information and training, particularly in light of recent Government initiatives, Bett 2013 will host a targeted SEN continuing professional development (CPD) programme. The show will host free SENCO training from nasen, developed in partnership with the Schools Network and leading SENCOs.


The role of training is critical in meeting the needs of SEN pupils, says Lorraine Petersen (OBE), CEO of nasen: “Robust training is needed for all teaching staff in order to ensure that vulnerable young people are given the best possible start in life. The UK has some of the most passionate and committed SEN practitioners and nasen works hard to support them, developing guidance and a framework to ensure that this expertise can be shared collaboratively with schools across the country.” Collaboration is a watch-word for schools wishing to minimise the cost of specialist support by sharing services with other schools in their region. This model looks set to become more official, with the formation of clusters of further education colleges, independent specialist providers and special schools to share their practice, knowledge and skills. For school leaders concerned with the financial impact of resource planning, and in the absence of the much-desired ring-fenced funding, proposals for funding provision for high needs pupils within the School Funding Reform consultation are hoped to give a clearer picture of what is and should be available for schools. Local authorities will be given a high needs budget for children and young people with higher needs, most of whom will have SEN. Named the High Needs Pupil Block, the budget will fund all additional provision across early years, schools and post-16 education and training. The Government intends to make a general assumption that mainstream schools should spend

up to £10,000 out of their core and additional support budget before the local authority takes up the funding out of the High Needs Pupil Block.

Planning your visit To help educators source the areas of the show best suited to their individual requirements, the show’s Information Point, run by the education sector’s trade association, BESA, is situated on stand e250 at the heart of the show floor. BESA can help visitors plan their visit to get the most from the day, and educators can also pick up a copy of the BESA book, which lists all 300 plus BESA members: educational suppliers of every kind who adhere to a stringent Code of Practice, offering schools peace of mind when looking for new products and services for their school. In addition to the main show Information Point, the SEN Zone information point is available to help schools fulfil the needs of pupils with SEN or disabilities. In 2013, nasen once again hosts this Information Point at the heart of the show’s SEN Zone. Visitors can find details on all SEN resources, gain practical advice and meet with experts to discuss the latest inclusive practice and specialist SEN teaching techniques. In addition to the seminars, workshops and conferences, there are of course more than 600 exhibitors, all giving visitors the opportunity to ask questions, review, evaluate and ensure they are buying the best value product for their specific needs.

BETT 2013 preview

The latest SEN technology On stand C20 award winning publisher Mantra Lingua is demonstrating its new resource, Tactile Talk Technology. This unique and highly innovative resource enables users to make posters, books, assessment charts – in fact any printed material which is all tactile, yet sound-enabled. In addition to Tactile Talk Technology, Mantra Lingua has worked with the RNIB to create a series of four charts that assess the blind and a partially-sighted person's ability in handling maths. The product represents a breakthrough in technology at a relatively low-cost. Visitors looking for tools to support students with reading and writing difficulties should plan to visit stand B102 where LingApps is showing its newly launched AppWriter, the first text editor for the iPad. AppWriter has a breadth of assistive features including context based word suggestions, text-to-speech, OCR and the special Dyslexie-font. There is no need for Wifi or 3G access, everything is embedded and runs directly on the iPad. On stand C135 Claro Software is demonstrating ClaroSpeak an assistive technology app available on iOS for iPad or iPhone. ClaroSpeak is a text-tospeech reader capable of speaking any accessible text with a range of human

voices. ClaroSpeak is available in a wide range of languages and voices, for different countries. Iansyst welcomes visitors to stand B130 for a first time viewing of ”azzapt”. This cloud-based service, which removes barriers to accessing books, learning materials and text on the move, makes text content suitable for learners’ needs, whether it be via a larger font, a coloured background, different font styles or an audio version. azzapt is available on all types of devices, including desktop computers, mobiles or tablets. Taking cloud syncing technology a step further, azzapt automatically applies an individual’s reading preferences to their files whilst transferring them between different mobile devices. One benefit of visiting Bett is to leave with the assurance that you have reviewed and evaluated all the products available for your specific requirements. It is only once you have done this that you know you have invested wisely. For example, another organisation offering a tool to support those with visual impairment is Optelec, with its new Compact 7 HD. Designed to support those with visual impairment, the Compact 7 HD provides access to learning materials as if they were in large print, and all in high definition. Lightweight and easy to use, the Optelec Compact 7 HD features a high definition camera, 7-inch screen and rechargeable batteries. Students can

simply switch-on, place over reading materials and objects and view enlarged images at a more comfortable size. To see the Compact 7 HD in action visit stand C123. Similarly, on stand B140, Therapy Box is introducing the Android version of Predictable and Predictable 3, the text-to-speech communication app for iDevices with a word prediction engine, on screen keyboard and switch access. Predictable is especially designed for people with communication difficulties who require quick message generation on a portable device. Both the Android and iOS versions are customisable to suit a range of needs including those requiring alternative access.

Technology to change lives Whatever your requirements, the host of exhibitors from global corporations Google and Dell, to smaller specialist companies will be showcasing the latest and greatest ideas and innovation within the industry. For schools seeking free advice and CPD, the show features an extensive conference and workshop programme, providing visitors with knowledge and best practice that can be taken away. For headteachers, local education authorities, business managers and bursars looking to discover how technology can improve and enhance learning, Bett 2013 provides the perfect platform. Hopefully, this has given you a taste of what is on offer at Bett 2013, the global meeting place for those who are passionate about the transformational power of learning technology.

Register for free entry and your free workshops places at:





Schools to determine teachers’ pay The Government has given schools the go ahead to set the salaries of teachers and introduce performance-related pay. In his Autumn Statement, on 5 December, the Chancellor George Osborne announced proposals to end mandatory national pay scales for teachers. Teachers will no longer get automatic pay rises but will instead undergo annual appraisals to determine their salary. There will, however, be minimum and maximum levels of pay which schools must adhere to. For a classroom teacher on the main pay scale in England and Wales the minimum salary will be £21,804, and the maximum £31,868, if s/he is working outside London. Those in inner London will be paid between £27,270 and £36,751. For more experienced teachers, on the upper pay scale, there will be a minimum of £34,523 and a maximum of £37,124 outside of London, rising to between £41,912 and £45,450 in the capital. The Education Secretary Michael Gove said that “These recommendations will make teaching a more attractive career and a more rewarding job. They will give schools greater flexibility to respond to specific conditions and reward their best teachers.” The Government’s plans have met with stiff opposition from teaching unions, who fear that individual, performance-related pay will anger teachers and may drive many from the profession. “With the profession under such continual attack and criticism, the mandatory national pay scales are one of the few things


that have kept the profession attractive”, said Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers. Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said that “The war on teachers waged by the Coalition Government continues.” By giving headteachers “virtually unlimited discretion” regarding teachers’ pay, she claimed that the Government would be adding to the unfairness and discrimination already in the system. “The dismantling of the national pay framework is going to be bad for children’s education and bad for the teaching profession”, she said. The Government is now consulting on its proposals. If approved, the new arrangements for teachers’ pay will be implemented from September 2013.




CPD, training and events

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.

CPD and training 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

BSc Speech Sciences University College London

This four-year degree in speech sciences is a full-time 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.

MSc in Speech and Language Sciences University College London 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.

Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties MEd/ Postgraduate Diploma/ Postgraduate Certificate University of Birmingham

This part-time, campus-based, blended learning programme has been developed for a range of professionals/ practitioners who work with children and adults with learning difficulties in educational settings across the severe and profound range (SLD/ PMLD) such as teachers and lecturers, nurses, therapists, psychologists and support staff.

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.

New NAS Training and Consultancy brochure The NAS can offer in-house and open access training to suit your timetable and learning outcomes.

Working with the Autism Spectrum (Theory into Practice) Edinburgh

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 Assessment for Dyslexia and Literacy Online

The aim of this online programme is to train teachers and support tutors to become informed, skilled practitioners who understand the theory and practice of teaching and/ or assessment of dyslexic learners of all ages.

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CPD and 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.

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.

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.


Various January - March

Practical & Effective Ways of Using Multisensory Equipment 28 Jan: London 29 Jan: Birmingham 11 Feb: Doncaster 12 Feb: Manchester 4 March: Cardiff 11 March: Glasgow 18 March: London 19 March: Taunton

16 January

British Assistive Technology Association (BATA) AGM London

Concept Training Ltd

Continued action to improve the availability of communications aids and assistive technology in schools is the focus of this year’s BATA AGM. The event, to be opened by Baroness Walmsley, is to feature presentations by keynote speakers Peter White MBE, Disability Affairs Correspondent for the BBC, and Sharon Hodgson, Shadow Education Minister responsible for SEN.


Find out everything you need to know to get the most out of a multi-sensory environment, how to use it and how to set up a new multi-sensory environment without breaking your budget.

Various January - April

PMLD - Engaging Children in Learning 25 Jan: London 7 Feb: Chorley 14 Mar: Middlesbrough 15 March: Birmingham 25 April: Brighton

This course is suitable for anyone working with and supporting a child or young person with profound and multiple learning disability. It explores areas that are particularly relevant in enabling an individual to get the most out of their environment, and addressing their need to feel safe and secure within it. Concept Training Ltd


January 16 January

Henshaws College Open Day Harrogate

Henshaws College provides specialist further education to students aged 16 - 25 with a range of disabilities, specialising in visual impairment. Potential students, their families and professionals working with them are invited to visit the fully accessible campus and meet current students and staff. Open Days must be pre-booked.

01423 886451

28 January

School Funding Reform Conference London

The School Funding Reform Conference will prepare you for the introduction of the National Funding Formula in the next spending review and explain how the local funding system will operate from 2013/14 so you are ready for implementation in April 2013. This conference provides a range of tools and practical solutions for making savings, spending funds prudently and maximising your resources in order to invest more in teaching and learning.

30 January - 2 February

Bett 2013 Excel London

For visitors seeking continuing professional development (CPD) at the world’s leading event for learning technology, Bett 2013 features an extensive conference and workshop programme.

31 January & 1 February

Moving and Handling People: Future-proofing Care and Practice Business Design Centre, Islington, London

Pre-conference New Products Evaluation Workshops on 30 January. DLF’s annual CPD accredited event in three parts – conference with plenary/ concurrent sessions, practical interactive workshops considering paediatric/adult handling situations, plus comprehensive exhibition and Professional Resource Centre. 3 for 2 offer and early booking discounts.

Various February & March

Positive Ways of Changing Behaviour 6 Feb: London 4 March: Birmingham 11 March: Glasgow 15 March: Manchester

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


Various February & March

Intensive Interaction: Connecting with non verbal children and adults with Autism or Profound Learning Disabilities 12 Feb: Chorley 26 Feb: Brighton 28 Feb: London 4 March: Taunton 14 March: Birmingham 19 March: Edinburgh 21 March: Glasgow

Gain a thorough understanding of how to communicate with people who do not speak or respond due to their disability or behavioural difficulties. Concept Training Ltd


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 and training February

Various February - April

Introduction to Autistic Spectrum Condition (including Asperger’s Syndrome) 13 Feb: Peterborough 6 March: Doncaster 7 March: Leeds 8 March: London 8 March: Portsmouth 8 March: Wrexham 11 March: Norwich 11 March: Bournemouth 14 March: Guilford 14 March: Birmingham 18 March: Carlisle 20 March: Nottingham 21 March: Swindon 30 April: Glasgow

Accredited at level 2 by the Open College Network. This course is for anyone working with or caring for either adults or children with Autism.

Meeting the needs of children and young people with vision impairment Online

RNIB offers two online courses for education professionals to help them to understand the implications of visual impairment for teaching and learning. Both courses were developed with the Open University to maximise the benefits of studying via an online learning environment. The training courses seek to challenge you to consider your current practice, share and develop this with others in the field, and apply your new understanding to your working context.

0121 665 4235

Concept Training Ltd


Various February - May

Meeting the Needs of Learners with ADHD in the Mainstream Classroom Accredited at L2 + L3 28 Feb: London (L2) 19 March: London (L3) 18 April: Bournemouth (L2/L3) 7 May: Derby (L2/L3)

Find out how to make reasonable adjustment without re-writing the curriculum. Aimed at teachers and LSAs, this training provides comprehensive knowledge of ADHD plus managing behaviours for learning. Can Do Behaviour

01737 321204

5 - 7 February

Succeeding at Ofsted Short Notice Inspections & 2012 CIF: Maximising grades under the 2012 CIF & 2 day notice inspections 5 Feb: Leeds 6 Feb: London 7 Feb: Birmingham

This intensive one-day workshop will be of interest to managers and quality specialists from all organisations subject to inspection under the common inspection framework for further education, learning and skills. The workshop will be of specific interest to those organisations involved with apprenticeship and ACL programmes.

8 & 11 February

Babcock 4S Annual SEN Conference: SEND: The New Landscape – Preparing for Change

8 Feb: Epsom Downs Racecourse, Surrey 11 Feb: Mercure Maidstone, Kent

This annual event for SENCOs and SEND professionals working in all phases of education provides an invaluable opportunity to update knowledge and inspire and improve future classroom practice. To book, contact:

0800 073 4444 ext. 835008




CPD and training 13 - 15 February

Commencing March 2013

Three Day Structured Teaching Course

Intensive Interaction Co-ordinator Course

Prior's Court, Newbury, Berkshire


An intensive course for all working with individuals with autism which provides both the theory and the practical applications of structured teaching. Delivered by trainers with extensive TEACCH and practitioner experience.

Of interest to all practitioners who work in the field, the course will be open to all practitioners, of whatever qualification, or holding no qualifications except for their practical experience. This course will be attractive to employers in that they will see the value of having a member of staff within the establishment or service who is an II co-ordinator. Course Aims – by the culmination of the course an intensive interaction co-ordinator will: • be an advanced practitioner in the techniques of intensive interaction • have read and be knowledgeable on publications and theories on intensive interaction • be knowledgeable about much of the underlying research theory on parentbaby interaction • be knowledgeable about many of the issues and associated theories. • be able to train and mentor individuals and small staff teams in the practice of II • be able to give workshops on II to larger groups (optional). Contact Sarah Forde:

Prior's Court Training & Development Centre

01635 247202

18 - 22 February

3rd annual International Exhibition and Forum for Education Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Annual event of the Saudi Ministry of Education focused on providing opportunities for international businesses in the (special needs) education sector to create partnerships between international and GCC decision makers.

27 February

Visual Stress: Colorimetry Training Seminar Glasgow

One day Colorimetry Training Seminar for education and vision professionals. The day includes practical workshops with coloured overlays and intuitive colorimeter. For more information and confirmed speakers visit:

Various March & April

Play for People with ASD 5 March: London 14 March: Doncaster 19 March: Birmingham 18 April: Taunton

March 5 - 6 March

PECS Basic Training Workshop Plymouth

Language of Emotions Workshop London

01273 609 555

Many people, especially

an array of strategies that can be used in the classroom with pupils of all ages and abilities.

8 March

those with autism, have difficulty acquiring language related to expressing their emotions and identifying emotions in other people. In this workshop, you can review traditional approaches to teaching children with autism to communicate about their emotions as well as respond to such language from other people.

01273 609 555

10 - 13 March

The Jerusalem International Conference on Neuroplasticity and Cognitive Modifiability

13 March

Guide to Managing Challenging Behaviours Plymouth

This workshop outlines a powerful and effective model for dealing with difficult behaviours, including selfinjury and aggression. The Guide to Managing Challenging Behaviours training involves an introduction to broad-spectrum behaviour analysis in the form of the Pyramid Approach to Education™.

01273 609 555

13 March

Jerusalem, Israel

A Teachers Guide to Organising and Managing the Classroom

This international conference


will examine the role of

for abstracts from interested

Do you ever wonder how much of the school day your students actually spend learning? This dynamic presentation provides educators with many practical strategies for maximising teaching time for their learners with autism and complex communication difficulties. Participants will leave with easy to implement strategies that will improve any educational environment.


01273 609 555

cognitive intervention in

of scientists, practitioners,

11 & 12 March

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a tried-and-tested 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 chances to practice.

The half-day event will cover



Copthorne Prep, West Sussex

the shaping of wo/man. It


Concept Training Ltd

Working Memory, Learning and the Classroom Tour

The National Autistic Society’s Professional Conference Education stream highlights: Dean Beadle, Aspergers, education and me, Charlie Henry, Achieving success for pupils with an outstanding Ofsted judgement – what are we looking for? Brenda Mullen, Community based education and support.

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

7 March

will offer the opportunity for a worldwide gathering therapists, and educators to explore developments in the fields of cognitive modifiability and neuroscience. The organisers are currently calling

CPD and training 14 - 16 March

The Education Show Birmingham NEC


22 & 23 April London

As the UK’s leading education training and resources event, the Education Show 2013 offers more free CPD opportunities than ever before, with a comprehensive programme of conferences and workshops. For special educational needs, these include the Learn Live SEN seminar programme, and free one-day primary SENCO training from nasen.

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.

01273 609 555

18 & 19 March

PECS Basic Training Workshop Carlisle

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a tried-and-tested 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 chances to practice.

01273 609 555



PECS Advanced Training 21 - 25 October

9 - 11 December

TEACCH Five-day Course


Prior's Court, Newbury, Berkshire

ADNEC, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Inspirational and intensive

ABILITIESme is the first

course combining active

special needs event to be held

learning sessions with direct, supervised experience working with students with autism in a structured setting. Led by TEACCH trainers from Division

in the UAE. ABILITIESme's core mission is to enhance inclusiveness and bring the special needs community into mainstream society.

TEACCH and trainers from Prior's Court with extensive training and experience with the TEACCH approach

May 1 May (AM or PM session)

Moving from PECS to Speech Generating Devices (SGDs) Manchester

New workshop for 2013. With the current influx of communication devices and apps to the market how do we ensure that basic functional communication skills are maintained and taught right from the beginning? This talk covers guidelines for deciding if someone is a good candidate for using an SGD, and will discuss how we can use SGD’s with the PECS protocol.

following more than seven years working with Division TEACCH. 3 day course also available. Prior's Court Training & Developing Centre

01635 247202

01273 609 555

22 & 23 April


PECS Basic Training Workshop Peterborough

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a tried-and-tested 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 chances to practice.

17 - 19 July

Three Day Structured Teaching Course Prior's Court, Newbury, Berkshire

An intensive course for all working with individuals with autism which provides both the theory and the practical applications of structured teaching. Delivered by trainers with extensive TEACCH and practitioner experience.

01273 609 555

Prior's Court Training & Development Centre 01635 247202




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:


Dyspraxia Foundation UK

Bullying 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:

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

Down syndrome Down’s Syndrome Association (DSA) Information, support and training for those affected by Down syndrome:

Autistica Charity raising funds for medical research into autism:

The Down’s Syndrome Research Foundation UK (DSRF)

National Autistic Society (NAS)

Help and information for those affected by ASD:

Charity focussing on medical research into Down syndrome:


Research Autism

Charity dedicated to reforming attitudes and policy towards bullying:

Epilepsy Action Advice and information on epilepsy:

Young Epilepsy Support for children and young people with epilepsy plus training for professionals.

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

Cerebra UK 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.

The UK Government’s education department:

Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA)


Department for Education (DfE)

Charity focused on researching interventions in 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 for PMLD:

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: SENISSUE62


eazine for special SthuebUK'sslecadrinib g mag

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SEN Magazine - SEN62 - Jan/Feb 2013  

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