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May • June 2013 Issue 64

Silent witness Speaking up for quiet and anxious children

No respite Tackling the crisis in short breaks

Paralympic inheritance

Have the “legacy Games” delivered what they promised?

SLCN • numeracy • outdoor play • peer support • inclusive sport • fostering cycling • autism • dyslexia • behaviour • SEN news, CPD, training and more...

this issue in full

May • June 2013 • Issue 64

Welcome Short breaks should not be a luxury. The needs of many children with SEN require constant vigilance; without regular respite, the strain of caring can take a huge toll on the health and wellbeing of all concerned. Over the past ten years, we have seen a succession of Government initiatives and the introduction of record levels of ring-fenced funding for short breaks. Yet the situation, it would appear, has not improved; a new report by the charity Mencap warns of an impending short breaks crisis which threatens to push many families to breaking point. In this issue of SEN Magazine, Mencap’s Dan Scorer examines the state of short breaks provision (p.22), how it affects families and what can be done to make it better. For some families, though, short breaks are not enough. In the second of a series of articles, Jane Raca (p.20) gives a candid account of


SEN news


What’s new?


Point of view


Securing support for a child with SEN


Respite care


Outdoor play


Speech, language and communication needs


Quiet children/selective mutism


Non-verbal communication

40 Dyslexia

her fight to secure a residential school placement for her son James. Jane’s battle with the local authority was long and hard, and it was mirrored by her internal struggle to accept the heart-breaking reality that James needed help which the family alone could not provide.

44 BESD 46 Fostering 48 Sport 52 Swimming 54 Cycling 56

ICT in the classroom


Home education

62 Numeracy

Elsewhere in this issue, a major feature on speech, language and communication includes advice on how to support those who struggle to communicate (p.28), understanding quiet and anxious children (p.32) and the importance of non-verbal communication in language comprehension. You will also find pieces on outdoor play (p.24), dyslexia (p.40), designing for BESD (p.44), fostering (p.46), inclusive sport (p.48), technology in the classroom (p.56), home education (p.60), dyscalculia (p.62), peer support (p.68) and autism (p.72).


Book reviews


Peer support


The Pupil Premium

72 Autism 77

About SEN Magazine


Autism Show preview

86 Recruitment 88

CPD and training


SEN resources directory


SEN subscriptions

CONTRIBUTORS Tony Attwood Karen Beeby Alison Boulton

Peter Sutcliffe: Editor

Sioban Boyce Isabelle Clement Anne Fox Claire Freeman John Howson

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

Michael Jones Subscription Administrator Amanda Harrison 01200 409 801 DESIGN Rob Parry -

Deborah Litten Lauren Lowry Colin MacAdam Bernadette McLean Niel McLean Mary Mountstephen Cheryl Moy

Next issue deadline: Advertising and news deadline: 5 June 2013

Cathy Nutbrown


Jane Raca

The opinions expressed in SEN Magazine are not necessarily those

Dan Scorer

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:

Paty Paliokosta

Dominic Stevenson Caroline Wright Sandy Wright

SEN Magazine ISSN: 1755-4845 SENISSUE64

In this issue






A cry for help


A mother’s struggle to secure support for her son with autism and cerebral palsy


No respite Playing outside the box Creative thinking about outdoor play




Into the future

Home sweet home A parent tells how home educating her son has made them both smile again


Five ways to understand dyscalculia Explaining the different problems dyscalculics face with numeracy

Communicating with a generation adrift How to support children who struggle with speech and language


Will technology revolutionise learning for children with SEN?

Tackling a crisis in short breaks


May • June 2013 • Issue 64


The power of peers Using a social skills intervention to improve behaviour


Please don’t be quiet! Understanding quiet and anxious children



Follow my leader How imitation can help parents connect with their child with autism

Is being able to talk enough? The importance of non-verbal communication for language comprehension


Organising chaos Helping dyslexics manage the potential overload of secondary school


Designing for BESD Creating the right environment to allow troubled students to flourish


Making a splash The inclusive and therapeutic joys of swimming


14 18 66

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

Point of view Book reviews

86 Recruitment 88

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

On yer bike Why everyone should be cycling

SEN news

Have your say!

The Paralympic inheritance Are the “legacy Games” delivering what they promised for disability sport?



Family values How fostering can transform the lives of children and parents alike




SEN resources directory

22 Short breaks 32 Quiet children

48 Sport

56 ICT

In the next issue of SEN:

visual impairment • dyslexia • bullying • literacy/phonics • autism cerebral palsy • SEN law • behaviour • Children and Families Bill looked after children • PSHE • communication aids • manual handling and much more... Follow us on

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Train parents to manage antisocial behaviour Parents should be given specific training to support children who have conduct disorders and display antisocial behaviour, says new guidance by the Governments’ National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Conduct disorders are characterised by repeated and persistent misbehaviour which is much worse than would normally be expected in a child of that age. This may include stealing, fighting, vandalism and harming people or animals. Roughly five per cent of all children aged between five and 16 years are diagnosed with the condition. Conduct disorders are the most common reason for children to be referred to mental health services. These disorders often coexist with other mental health conditions, most commonly attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The new NICE guideline includes a number of recommendations to support healthcare professionals to accurately diagnose and treat conduct disorders and antisocial behaviour. It recommends that parents should be provided with training programmes specifically tailored for them. “Aspects of parenting have been repeatedly found to have a long-term association with antisocial behaviour”, says Professor Stephen Pilling of UCL, the facilitator of the Guideline Development Group. While Professor Pilling recognises that many parents do an excellent job in caring for a child with conduct disorder, he says it can be “incredibly challenging” for families of those with the condition. The parent training programmes would be designed to provide parents with particular strategies for dealing with difficult children, and how to manage their children’s behaviour going forward. The guideline also focuses on more effective initial assessments for the condition, improving access to local services and childfocused initiatives, including group social and cognitive problemsolving programmes.

The Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) has criticised the NICE guidance, saying it could limit the access of vulnerable children and young people to support services by treating their behaviour as a solely medical issue. The organisation believes that NICE’s reliance on the term “conduct disorders” to define difficulties with children’s behaviour is likely to send the wrong signals to health and education professionals. Responding to the guidance, the AEP’s General Secretary Kate Fallon said she was alarmed “that difficult behaviour by children should be regarded as some sort of disorder”. She added that “All behaviour is a form of communication, which is something that NICE appears to have overlooked”. The NICE guidance on conduct disorder can be found on the Institute’s website:

Baby brain scans could predict autism The brain responses of young infants may in the future be used to identify individuals who are more likely to develop autism. Research at Birkbeck, University of London’s “Babylab” shows that infants at risk of autism exhibit reduced brain responses to social cues before they are six months old, compared to infants with no family history of autism.

indicator of risk”, says Dr Sarah Lloyd-Fox who led the study. “The earlier that we can measure infants’ responses, the clearer an idea we can develop of how genes and the environment might be interacting, and this will help us to develop interventions which could support typical brain development.”

While diagnoses of autism are currently only made after the age of two, the findings suggest that direct brain measures might be used to predict the future development of autism symptoms in children before the age of six months.

Working with four- to six-month-old babies with an older brother or sister with the condition, the researchers used optical imaging to register brain activity while the babies viewed videos of human actions or listened to human sounds, such as laughter and yawning, and non-human sounds like running water and toys rattling.

"At this age, no behavioural markers of autism are yet evident, and so measurements of brain function may be a more sensitive

The research team is keen to stress that the study is only a first step towards earlier diagnosis of the disorder.



SEN exclusions are “unacceptably high” Children with SEN are nine times more likely to be excluded from school than those with no identified special need. A new report by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England describes as “unacceptably high” the correlation between a pupil's special needs and the likelihood of permanent exclusion. It also points to very high levels of exclusion based on gender and ethnicity. The Commissioner is critical of some teacher training, saying that some newly qualified teachers have not received adequate instruction to manage the behavioural issues of a pupil population with a wide range of needs. Strong leadership and high expectations of pupils’ behaviour are cited as key factors in schools that were found to be managing needs effectively. The report says that best practice in managing pupil behaviour should be shared more widely among schools and that schools should clearly understand their duties regarding exclusions. “We can reduce the number of young people who are permanently excluded by learning lessons from schools that are good at managing the needs of their pupils”, said the Commissioner, Maggie Atkinson. Responding to the report, Elizabeth Archer, from the learning disability charity Mencap, called on schools to do more to promote inclusion and fulfil their obligation to meet the needs of all pupils, whatever their academic ability. “Children with a learning disability are not second class pupils who can be shunted aside as an inconvenience”, she said. The Children’s Commissioner’s report, They Go The Extra Mile, is available at:

October deadline for phonics match-funding Schools have until October 2013 to take advantage of the Government’s programme of match funding for approved systematic synthetic phonics products and training. In addition to schools with Key Stage 1 pupils, those with Key Stage 2 pupils are now also eligible for the scheme. Match-funding of up to £3000 is available to state-funded schools in England, including academies and free schools. Schools can access the funding at any time until October 2013 by purchasing products and training from an approved catalogue. The Department for Education is not providing funding direct to schools. The approved phonics catalogue is available from:

Children losing out because teachers don’t understand epilepsy Children with epilepsy may receive a poorer standard of education because teachers do not properly understand their condition. The charity Young Epilepsy says that teachers are not given adequate training on the subject or the right resources to support those with epilepsy. Using first-hand accounts by children with epilepsy and proxy reports from parents, a new study by the charity identifies a number of key barriers to education faced by these children. Misconceptions and a lack of awareness about the condition are blamed for the problems of inclusion in education faced by many children with epilepsy. The report says that teachers are not trained to recognise the different ways in which epilepsy can present, and some mistakenly believe that convulsing seizures, known as tonic-clonic seizures, are the only form of seizure. The lack of specialist training also means that schools can fail to appreciate the connection between epilepsy and the additional learning needs of children with the condition. In some cases, seizure symptoms and difficulties related to epilepsy may be misinterpreted as behaviour problems. It is estimated that around one pupil in every primary school and five in every secondary school has been diagnosed with epilepsy. The charity says that 50 per cent of children with epilepsy underachieve at school, compared to their peers. “Despite huge medical advances made in recent years, epilepsy is still very much misunderstood and it’s a sad fact that children often pay the price for this lack of understanding”, says David Ford, Young Epilepsy’s Chief Executive. The new report argues that policy makers and practitioners should look beyond epilepsy as just a medical condition, and address the associated educational and psychosocial issues faced by children. It calls for a multi-disciplinary approach to the care and education of children with epilepsy, and for education professionals to be given access to specialist training on the condition and its effects. The report is available at: SENISSUE64




Tough talk on speech and language MPs and peers are calling for action to address the speech, language and communication needs of socially disadvantaged children. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Speech and Language Difficulties has conducted an inquiry into the links between communication difficulties and social disadvantage. In its report, the Group says a comprehensive programme of training for practitioners is needed, along with better systems for monitoring and responding to the development of children’s communication. It also calls for targeted additional support to improve the communication environments of children living in socially deprived areas. The Better Communication Research Programme, a three year initiative funded by the Department for Education, reported in December that pupils entitled to free school meals and living in more deprived neighbourhoods were more than twice as likely to be identified as having speech, language and communication needs. Lord Ramsbotham, chair of the Parliamentary Group, pointed to effective collaboration between services as a key factor in tackling the issue. “We need a national framework for local education, health and social care services that covers all children with communication difficulties”, he said. The Group’s report, The links between speech, language and communication needs and social disadvantage, is available by searching at:

BSL users need better support The Government is being urged to do more to promote British Sign Language (BSL) and support its users. Ten years after the Government officially recognised BSL as a language in its own right, the deafness charities Signature, the British Deaf Association and the Royal Association for Deaf People are calling for MPs to sign an early day motion which proposes a responsible named minister for BSL and a fresh report on the subject. While there has been an improvement in support for BSL users over the last ten years, research by the charities suggests that users still find it hard to access health, education and employment services because of a lack of interpreters and public awareness. The charities believe that a new government report is needed to establish a coordinated, cross-departmental strategy to improve support and services for BSL users at local and national levels. “We hope that the next ten years will bring greater support and recognition for British Sign Language users but we need the support of local authorities and health services to achieve this”, says Jim Edwards, Chief Executive of Signature. SENISSUE64

Visually impaired children suffer at school Visual impairment can have a major impact on a child’s happiness, success at school and future opportunities, according to two national charities for visual impairment . Sight Impaired at Aged Seven, a report produced jointly by the Royal London Society for Blind People and the Royal National Institute of Blind People, claims that many children with visual impairment are at risk of being less confident, having fewer friends and under performing at school. While results of the study show that with effective early intervention blind and partially sighted children can prosper, the charities fear that cuts to local authority budgets are leading to reductions in the necessary specialist support. Children with sight loss and an additional disability are particularly prone to emotional and social problems, the report says. These difficulties can have a big impact on their behaviour and on educational outcomes. Teachers reported that fewer than 60 per cent of children with vision impairment had at least one good friend, compared with 80 per cent of children without vision impairment. Parents and teachers also reported higher levels of bullying of children with sight loss. Twice as many children with visual impairment said that they are bullied “all of the time” at school. The report is available from:

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People with autism fear for their future

Competition seeks young artists on the autistic spectrum

People with autism and their families say they are not receiving the help they need and are worried about their future.

A national art competition for young people with autism is open for entries for 2013.

A new report by the charity Autistica reveals that 73 per cent of adults with autism say they have received no specific help for their difficulties; 74 per cent of adults want support with their worries and stress, and 61 per cent want help with social difficulties. The charity asked asked over 1,000 parents and individuals with autism for their opinions and experiences of living with autism, the UK health system and what autism research priorities should be.

Now in its third year, CREATE! Art for Autism aims to celebrate the creative talents of young people on the autistic spectrum and showcase their work to a wider audience. Entries are invited from 11- to 25-year-olds across five categories – 2D art, 3D art, digital photography, digital animation and poetry – with prizes for the individual winners and their schools. Organisers Beechwood College and Orbis Schools hope that, by revealing the breadth of artistic talent in the autistic community, they can help to dispel the popular view that those with autism are not imaginative and creative. Darren Jackson, Director of Education at Ludlow Orbis Group, says the competition “gives the youngsters a way to really express themselves, to communicate in ways they find easier than many of us, and to get a great sense of achievement.”

The study shows that 94 per cent of parents are worried about their child’s future, while half of parents and 59 per cent of adults who saw their GPs about autism reported the experience as negative.

In 2012, the competition received over 550 entries from 52 schools throughout the UK, with judges including Jane Asher and Gaby Roslin.

The vast majority of parents (82 per cent) felt that more medical research would make a positive difference to their lives, with earlier diagnosis identified as the number one research priority.

The closing date for entries for 2013 is 16 June. Finalists will be announced on 1 July, with an awards ceremony taking place on 19 July.

The One in a Hundred report can be downloaded at:

For more information, visit:

£150m boost for primary school sport

Foster Care Fortnight

Primary schools are to receive £150 million a year to help them improve school sport and PE. The money will be ring-fenced and will go direct to schools to improve coaching for the youngest pupils and encourage the elite athletes of the future. With funding in place for two years, each school will receive a lump sum, plus a top-up based on the number of pupils. A typical primary school with 250 primary-aged pupils will receive £9,250 per year. To ensure that funding is used effectively by schools, Ofsted is to undertake tougher assessments of schools’ sports provision, placing special emphasis on how schools use the extra money. The Government has also announced a greater role for sporting and voluntary organisations in stepping-up specialist coaching and skills development for primary schools. Launching the initiative, the Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted to build on the inspiration that young people took from last summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games. “With this new approach to sport, we can create a culture in our schools that encourages all children to be active and enjoy sport, and helps foster the aspirations of future Olympians and Paralympians”, he said.

Fostering organisations across the country will be marking Foster Care Fortnight this spring by calling on people from all walks of life to consider becoming foster parents. The annual campaign to raise awareness of fostering and recruit new carers will take place this year from Monday 13 to Sunday 26 May 2013. Organisers, the Fostering Network, say that at least 9,000 new families will be needed in 2013 as the number of looked-after children continues to rise. With more and more children with statements of SEN in care, the demand for foster carers with the desire and skills to meet these children’s needs is particularly high. Those interested in fostering should visit: For a useful guide to becoming a foster carer, see the article on page 46 of this issue of SEN Magazine.

News deadline for July/August issue: 05/06/2013 Email: Tel: 01200 409810





Education Resources Awards Winners of the 2013 Education Resources Awards were announced at a gala dinner at The Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham in March. Now in their fifteenth year, the Awards are organised by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA); winners are selected by an independent panel of education professionals, most of whom are classroom teachers.

Healthy Eating Week Schools and nurseries are being urged to take part in a UK-wide Healthy Eating Week from 3 June 2013. Organisers, the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF), are aiming to promote healthy eating, cooking and awareness of food provenance and supply chains to children of all ages. The Week has been launched in response to concerns about increasing levels of childhood obesity, and what the Foundation sees as the lack of a formal framework for food and nutrition education within schools. A range of free resources will be available to schools registering to take part, including assembly plans and presentations, free posters and stickers, classroom materials and activity ideas. The BNF is working with participating schools to organise a national pupil survey on how young people view food and what they know about nutrition. Schools can join Healthy Eating Week at:  

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Winners for 2013 were:   Best Special Educational Resource or Equipment, non ICT Words Get knotted, Featherstone Education   Best Special Educational Resource or Equipment, involving ICT Early Shakespeare, SEN Assist   Best Early Years Resource or Equipment, non ICT Metallic Pebble Collection, TTS   Best Early Years Resource or Equipment, involving ICT 2Build a Profile, 2 Simple           Best Primary Resource or Equipment, non ICT Junior Construction, Morphun   Best Primary Resource or Equipment, involving ICT Arkive, Wildscreen   Best Secondary Resource or Equipment, non ICT Aegon School Tennis, Tennis Foundation   Best Secondary Resource or Equipment, involving ICT Learn Chemistry, Royal Society of Chemistry   Educational Book Award The Philosophy Shop, Independent Thinking Press   Supplier of the Year, less than £1million turnover Crossbow Education   Supplier of the Year, £1million to £3million turnover Crick Software   Supplier of the Year, over £3million turnover Rising Stars UK   Education Exporter of the Year Whizz Education   Innovation Classview, Avantis   Marketing Campaign of the Year Engaging Parents with Oxford Owl, Oxford University Press   Leadership in Education Suzanne Ship, Engayne Primary School   Education Establishment of the Year Boldmere Infant and Nursery School   Outstanding Achievement Award Barbara Higginbotham, DataHarvest Group


Scientists investigate how babies' brains develop

Schools get help to promote Parent View

A new project to discover how brains develop during the last third of pregnancy has received £15 million from the European Research Council (ERC) as one of only 11 new Synergy grants throughout Europe.

Ofsted has produced a toolkit for schools to help them promote Parent View, its online questionnaire for parents to give their views on their children’s schools.

Professor Daniel Rueckert of Imperial College London has received a £3,250,000 share of the funding for the Developing Human Connectome Project, led by King’s College London. The project will create a picture of how babies’ brains develop and form connections. This will allow researchers to understand how development differs in conditions such as autistic spectrum disorder, where parts of the brain are thought to have abnormal connection patterns. “Our role is to build a platform for the analysis of the huge amount of data, showing how the different parts of the brain interact,” said Professor Rueckert, who will partner Professor David Edwards and Professor Joseph Hajnal from King’s College London and Professor Steve Smith from the University of Oxford. “What we’ll try to do is find patterns of connections in the brain as they occur and match these to clinical data, such as medical notes, on how the child develops,” he added.

Energy Club tops 500 schools Energy Club, the extracurricular, physical activity programme for children aged four to 11, has attracted more than 500 participating schools in just five months since its launch. Energy Club is available free to all schools across the country. It has received the backing of major figures from the sporting world, including 11-times Paralympic gold medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Lord Coe, who headed-up last year’s London Olympics. St Stephens School in Cornwall was the five hundredth school to sign up. PE coordinator Tracey Brandon says: “We decided to get involved after reading about the initiative and anything to get children more active and knowledgeable about healthy living is great by our books." Energy Club is aiming to provide a legacy from the Olympic and Paralympic games by tackling the increasingly sedentary lives of young children. Currently, more than 23 per cent of four to five year olds are classed as overweight or obese as they enter primary school. This figure rises to 33.3 per cent as children reach ten to 11 years of age.

With a leaflet and poster, as well as useful tips and case studies, the toolkit is designed to support schools and help them encourage parents to complete the Parent View questionnaire throughout the year and during an inspection. The Ofsted website also features a video demonstrating Parent View to show users how to register, complete the questionnaire and set up alerts about schools. “I want to see all schools urging parents and carers to use the Parent View online questionnaire. The views of parents help inspectors form an accurate picture of how a school is performing”, says Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw. Parent View was created to give parents an accessible way to feed back about their child’s school at any time of the year. Their views contribute to Ofsted’s risk assessment process to determine when a school should be inspected. Since September 2012, Parent View has also been the main route for parents to give their views to inspectors during a school inspection. When a school is inspected, parents are notified and invited to submit or refresh their views online so that inspectors can take these into account with other evidence. The toolkit and video follow a number of changes to Parent View, after discussions between Ofsted, the National Association of Headteachers and other professional bodies. The changes are designed to give school leaders a fuller and more representative picture of parents’ views. Schools now need to have a minimum of ten completed responses – up from three – before the results for the school appear on the Parent View website. Schools can now sign up to receive regular email alerts about changes to the results to help them continue to improve their performance. Ofsted has also committed to investigate any concerns that a school raises about Parent View within 24 hours. Further information about Parent View is available at:

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

More information on Energy Club is available at:






Advertisement feature

ABILITIESme tackling disability rights in UAE Ahead of the main event in December 2013, ABILITIESme hosted a Preliminary Meeting on 31 March to discuss the UAE Federal Law (2006) on disabilities. The Meeting was attended by key officials within UAE education, health, civil defence, social affairs and transportation authorities, who evaluated emerging, current and historical disability trends. Offering a multi-disciplinary review of the implementation of the UAE Law, the Meeting’s ultimate goal was to lay the groundwork for further advancement in the implementation of disability regulations and policy enactment. The meeting voiced the concerns of all key actors in the process, including NGOs, with an assessment of the present and potential future realities for people with disabilities in the UAE, GCC and Levant.   The Preliminary Meeting also helped in defining timebound, social targets for the many disparate individuals and communities in the UAE disabilities sector, and mapping out responsibilities for government agencies regarding the economic, social, education and professional empowerment of people with disabilities.   Coming next will be the ABILITIESme Pre-Event Summit in June 2013, which will be open to the public and foreign organisations.

Poppy powered cuddles Following the popularity of last year’s Toffee Teddy Bear, there are now two new additions to The Royal British Legion family in the form of Poppy and Leo. Super soft teddies, who come wearing poppy motif jumpers, Poppy or Leo make the perfect companion for any child looking for a new friend to cuddle up to. All proceeds raised from sales go directly to the charity to help their work providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces, past and present, and their families.




What’s new?

Acorn Park School opens the Oak Tree Centre

Communication: The Key to Success

The Oak Tree Centre, set in the grounds of Acorn Park School, provides education for youngsters who have autism and who are of average or above average ability.

Taking place at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk on Friday 21 June, this seventh international conference is a collaborative venture between Belle Vue House Assessment Centre and Edge Hill University.

The Centre provides an enjoyable educational experience for pupils who have the capacity to achieve well, but who need the support of an autistic-friendly learning environment where their individual needs can be met. Pupils in the Centre thrive in small classes which are led by members of an experienced teaching team, all of whom are skilled in working with children with autism.

Belle Vue House is an independent assessment and development centre for children with communication difficulties. Communication is a key factor in addressing the needs of young people diagnosed with autism or Asperger’s syndrome.

For more information, visit:

Introducing the Apollo Creative store Along with a new look, Apollo Creative has unveiled its online store – making it easier for people to choose the right sensory equipment for their needs. From creating a bespoke multi-sensory space to enhancing an existing room, a wide range of equipment is available direct from the manufacturer. This includes traditional products such as LED bubble tubes and fibre-optic light sources, with interactive and battery-powered options. The shop also features Apollo Ensemble, the interactive story-telling, musical and sensory room system that can be configured quickly and simply to create the perfect sensory environment. For more information, visit:

MT09 Motability scooter and powered wheelchair tracker With mobility scooter and powered wheelchair thefts making the news every day, and a reported rise in targeted thefts, now is the time to consider protecting your investment – your vehicle of independence. Research indicates that very few stolen Motability scooters are ever recovered, often leaving uninsured owners without a means of maintaining mobility. The new MT09 vehicle tracker from Easylink is designed to locate stolen vehicles, providing precise location details via Google mapping. Additional features include, SOS help call, movement alert and theft/ tamper alarms. You can see the new tracker in action on stand A62 at Naidex National: SENISSUE64

Keynote speakers will be Professor Simon Baron-Cohen (University of Cambridge) and Dr Wendy Lawson, a psychologist, counsellor, lecturer and author, who is also on the autism spectrum. The conference costs £180.00 for professionals or £75.00 for parents, carers or people with ASD.

The new Experia iRiS+ app The power of the iPad is changing lives, particularly for those with special needs. That’s why Experia has introduced its groundbreaking iRiS+ app. Designed specifically to enable the user to control a multi-sensory room through most devices, the unique app opens up a whole new world of interaction, learning and development. It’s probably the easiest and most advanced control switch on the market. The full iRiS+ app is free to download from iTunes and it can control either one or a number of Experia’s multi-sensory products in a variety of ways.  For more information on the iRiS+, visit:

Mobility Roadshow celebrates 30 years of innovation SENCOs can keep up to date with the best equipment to ensure those in their charge are well looked after, while fulfilling their role with maximum efficiency and minimum stress. At the annual Mobility Roadshow visitors can explore the latest innovations in the mobility market from around 200 exhibitors: vehicle adaptations and conversions for disabled passengers, powerchairs, wheelchair and scooter models, trikes and bikes, disability sports for students and more. The Roadshow is free and takes place this year at the Telford International Centre from 27 to 29 June. Register for news and tickets at: or tel: 01344 750 400.


Henshaws College opens Media and IT Centre


Integrex – the interactive specialists

The Centre houses a state of the art IT suite, two recording studios and a print centre, which are all fully accessible to Henshaws’ students.

At the forefront of special needs technology, Integrex design and manufacture versatile, interactive systems that offer all ages and abilities the opportunity to enjoy a rewarding learning or working environment. Products include fully mobile, height-adjustable interactive touch screens and tables with cutting edge multi-touch ability.

Nicki Eyre, Managing Director for Education and Training, said: “The building of the Centre was only made possible by the generosity of our supporters who’ve brought the project to life since the idea was first suggested three years ago. We’re delighted to announce the completion of these superb new facilities which will make such a difference to our students.”

Integrex’s innovative, immersive sensory rooms provide stunning audio-visual interactivity through a series of original, programmable software applications. A dedicated, experienced team provides bespoke software and hardware, full support and training for all SEN environments. Contact Integrex to arrange a demonstration of their innovative, interactive systems.

Tel: 01283 551551 or visit:

Give us a Break

IXL maths introduces skill search feature

Henshaws College recently celebrated the official opening of its brand new Media and IT Centre.

Could more to be done to stop autism bullying? In a new survey, 74 per cent of parents say their child with autism finds break or lunch times difficult, or even frightening; 67 per cent of children with Asperger’s report that they are taunted and bullied at lunch time. Tesco Mum of the Year and autism campaigner Anna Kennedy has teamed up with the Anti-Bullying Alliance for the Give us a Break campaign to highlight the problem. Former boxing World Champion Lennox Lewis has dubbed Anna “Autism Warrior Queen”, after seeing her recent ITV News interview. Lennox is now an avid Twitter follower of @Annakennedy1

With more than 2,000 skills available for Reception through to Year 11, IXL maths practice website offers a wealth of content from which to choose. To help users find what they’re looking for, the company recently added a search bar that allows users to search any skill, topic, or year on IXL. Features like adaptive questions, detailed improvement reports and unlimited access to all year levels for all students make IXL a popular choice for SEN teachers. The company hopes the new search feature will make it even easier to discover all that IXL has to offer.

Conquering maths at a special school A few years ago, the BBC reported that a group of students with moderate learning difficulties at Selly Oak SEN Secondary School in Birmingham had achieved significant GCSE pass rates using the secondary online maths program 45 per cent of their pupils taking GCSEs that year achieved grade C or above, including two pupils with Bs. They had only ever had one B before and for a special school these pass rates were impressive.

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. now includes every primary lesson in the UK curriculum and it is ideal for learners with SEN who often have problems with maths before they reach secondary school.

Adam Saye, Assistant Headteacher at Thomas Buxton Primary School, says that "For struggling children, this is fantastic".




25 per cent donation with Webb Ivory fundraising

Win the UK’s most progressive Soundfield system

For over 50 years, Webb Ivory has been helping a host of people raise thousands of pounds for good causes and charities, including SEN organisations.

PC Werth is giving away a JUNO Soundfield with integrated Lesson Capture technology worth £1,000.

When distributing Webb Ivory catalogues among potential supporters, you are guaranteed to receive a 25 per cent donation for every order placed; so raise £100 and you’ll get £25 for your good cause. These funds could be used for things such as learning resources, support staff or mobility equipment. For more information and to claim your free fundraising pack, register online at: or call: 0844 800 0475 and quote GM6G.

JUNO boasts the power of a fixed-speaker system with the convenience of a portable. Effortlessly controlled through voicecommands anywhere in the classroom, it accommodates up to five microphones at a time. JUNO Lesson Capture software works with Soundfield to record lessons and allow anyone – especially absent or SEN students – to review classes anytime and anywhere. To enter, email: with the subject “SEN FREE JUNO”, giving your name, school, position and contact details. The prize draw ends 1 July 2013. Tel: 020 8772 2700

A perfect revision tool for students Olympus offer a range of products that can assist those with disabilities to capture recordings. The DM-670 digital recorder allows the recording of lectures with an unrivalled range over three microphone settings, whilst allowing up to 99 index marks to identify key areas of the recordings. Files can then be downloaded into the Olympus Audio Notebook software, with the recorded audio file being separated into manageable segments. Audio segments can then be linked with a variety of information associated with the section of recordings (powerpoint slides, PDF pages, JPEGs, etc). For information and to obtain an assessor copy of Audio Notebook, email:

Sunfield shines bright for Ofsted An independent residential special school in Stourbridge has been deemed “outstanding” in care, and the school rated good with reference to outstanding practice, following a recent Ofsted inspection. The care report said: “Young people make exceptional progress. They learn new skills, reduce the risks they take, and make marked progress in coping with the challenges that they face.” The report goes on to say: “Young people benefit from a range of specialist staff...who come together with care and education staff to form a ‘team around the child’...young people are at the centre of planning and practice throughout the home.” SENISSUE64

One Autism Show, two venues The national event for autism this year takes place in both London and Manchester, offering greater access for parents, carers, professionals and individuals on the autism spectrum from across the country. You can hear from leading professionals and high profile parents, discover hundreds of specialist products and services, access free one-to-one specialist advice clinics, learn new strategies in practical workshops, interact with sensory features, be inspired by performances in Autism's Got Talent and listen to individuals on the spectrum speak about their experiences. Book in advance and save 25 per cent off your ticket price by visiting:

Students celebrate success at LVS Hassocks LVS Hassocks is celebrating the success of its older students as they move on. Liam, aged 17, is working towards his NVQ Level 2 in catering and food preparation. The school’s work experience programme found him a placement in the kitchens of one of The Yummy Pub Co’s pubs. Tim and Anthony of the company (pictured with Liam above) said: “Liam was so good, and we enjoyed having him around so much, we extended his placement beyond the three months”. Jared, aged 18, has secured a place to study drama at Northbrook College, following a placement this year which helped prepare him for the move.


Double "Outstanding" award for RNIB Pears Centre RNIB Pears Centre for Specialist Learning has achieved a double "Outstanding" grading following a recent Ofsted inspection of the school. This rating is in addition to the "Outstanding" grading of the children's home, which is regulated separately. The report praised the “outstanding impact of the teams that support learning in every class”, adding that “relationships with other professionals who support the students and with their parents are exceptional”. The report supported the school's ambition to further develop its outreach service, which offers specialist advice and support to teachers and students in other schools, both special and mainstream.

Easy News for those with learning disabilities National disability charity United Response has issued the second, new and improved edition of Easy News – the first ever newspaper designed specifically for people with learning disabilities. Featuring simple language and visual cues, this edition gives readers a news round-up which includes: the horsemeat scandal, the Oscar Pistorius court case, a new report into disability benefits, the nationwide freezing conditions and the EU referendum, amongst other topics. To download a copy of Easy News and sign up for future editions, visit:


New autism provision at Westmorland Westmorland School, Lancashire meets the needs of a diverse group of pupils aged five to 11 with SEN including autistic spectrum conditions and behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. To ensure even greater progress for pupils who require a higher level of nurturing support, the school has announced the opening of the BEARS autism provision within the school grounds from May 2013. The specialised provision includes a sensory garden, sensory room, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, educational psychology and autism-specific specialist staff. For more information, call: 01257 278899, email: or visit:

Understanding individual differences An Introductory course on DIR®Model and Floortime™ Intervention took place recently at St Christopher’s School, Bristol. It was a unique opportunity for participants to gain an insight into the Developmental Individual difference and Relationship-based® Model, which provides an understanding of the impact individual differences have on a child’s development, and a guide to creating emotionally meaningful interactions that promote critical developmental capacities. The objective of the model is to build healthy foundations for social, emotional and intellectual capacities. The course was presented by Frie Heyndrickx, Developmental Psychologist at St Christopher's School, one of the few professionally accredited trainers in this technique in the UK.

Free places for professional autism symposium A group of expert, experienced and enthusiastic speakers will gather together to discuss how everyone can work in partnership to deliver the best possible outcomes for those with autism and complex needs. Senior adviser and health care specialist Nancy Hollendoner will chair the free event, which will be held at Villa Park, Birmingham on 20 June. Speakers include, author John Clements, Dr Peter Vermeulen, lead clinical commissioner Sandy Bering, Professor Chris Heginbotham, education specialist Anne Hayward, clinician Anna Sutherland and parents Martin and Cathy Billett. More information and online booking can be found at:

Prior’s Court celebrate World Autism Awareness Day Prior's Court staff and students celebrated World Autism Awareness Day on 2 April by "lighting it up blue" with displays and information in the local town of Newbury, and uploading photos and stories from parents about the impact of autism onto the school website. Based in Berkshire, Prior's Court School offers specialist education and care for young people from across the UK with autism, moderate to severe learning difficulties and complex needs. For more information, visit: SENISSUE64


point of view

Point of view: academic

Equality from the start

All young children need high-quality education and care, says Cathy Nutbrown


guiding principle for my review and recommendations to the Government last year was that every child deserves the very best early education and care. Early years practitioners need to be confident in their own work with children, their parents and other professionals, such as health visitors and social workers. In Foundations for Quality, I set out recommendations to improve the quality of early education and care so that: • every child is able to experience high-quality care and education whatever type of home or group setting they attend • early years staff have a strong professional identity, take pride in their work, and are recognised and valued by parents, other professionals and society as a whole • high-quality early education and care is led by well-qualified early years practitioners, and the importance of childhood is understood, respected and valued. I have long argued that if settings are able successfully to understand and include children with specific physical and learning needs and difficulties, they are well positioned to provide a high-quality experience for all children, and I am committed to the belief that young children need well educated practitioners with good qualifications, as well as the important personal attributes that make them caring human beings. The Government’s More Great Childcare report proposed a second kind of teacher, heralding a two-tier teacher status, those working with SENISSUE64

younger children being (it seems) less qualified and attracting lower pay than teachers of older children who hold qualified teacher status. There is a risk, here, of an Orwellian state where – to borrow from Animal Farm – ….all teachers are equal but some are more equal than others. Given that those working with young children are frequently perceived as lower status professionals than those working with older children, this is a danger, not only to teaching professionals, but also to

It is not possible to provide good foundations for life and learning on the cheap the importance of young children’s early years experiences. Why should those working with children in these challenging and complex years of development and learning be less well qualified and afforded a lower professional status than those teaching older children? That those who care for and support their learning are properly qualified is important for all children, and for those with additional needs there is a particular imperative. Work with young children demands a strong body of knowledge, skills and understanding of their needs and those of their families, and the ability to work with other professionals and agencies. Any positive impact of raising the quality of qualifications will be weakened if, as proposed in More Great Childcare, ratios are weakened. Reducing the number of

adults working with young children with complex needs will dilute any positive effects on the quality of the experiences children could expect to receive; there just won’t be enough people. Trading staff to child ratios for higherqualified staff will threaten quality provision that can positively support young children’s development, learning and wellbeing, in calm and positive child- and family- oriented learning communities. Watering down ratios, regardless of the level of qualifications held by staff, will reduce the time staff have for children and their parents. It is not possible to provide good foundations for life and learning for the youngest children on the cheap. But it should be possible, with political will, to provide properly funded, quality experiences for children. Inequality is bad for everyone, particularly those who are most vulnerable. High-quality early education and care provides one effective means of combating inequalities. Young children must not bear the costs of government getting this wrong.

Further information

Professor Cathy Nutbrown was commissioned by the Government to lead a review of early years education. Her report, Foundations for Quality, was published in June 2012. She is Editor in Chief of the Journal of Early Childhood Research and Head of The School of Education, The University of Sheffield:

point of view

Point of view: SENCO

SENCOs are people too

Even the most dedicated SEN coordinators can’t work miracles, says Karen Beeby


read with interest Hayley Goleniowska’s article, What Do Parents Really Think of SENCOs?, in SEN Magazine (SEN63, March/ April 2013) and whilst I agree in principle with all that she says, I feel I need to add the following as a balance. I am fortunate to work in a school where the Headteacher provides nonteaching time, every week, for me and the colleague with whom I share the role. We are part of the school’s Leadership Team and our views are regularly sought and respected. Our school is a new-build and well-resourced, creating a positive environment for staff and pupils alike. My colleagues, I know, value my advice and support; we have a fantastic team of well-trained, enthusiastic and caring teaching assistants and the majority of parents work well in partnership with the school. So what’s my gripe? The problem is one of scope and scale. There are currently 145 pupils on our SEN Register (the school is an urban, three-form entry primary with nursery). This number has risen steadily year on year, particularly in the number of children entering nursery and reception with speech, language and communication difficulties. Throughout the school, increasing numbers of pupils are displaying social, emotional and behavioural difficulties due to difficult home circumstances and backgrounds. This is not simply because of our catchment; in other local schools, of varying sizes, I know this pattern is replicated. For many pupils, I need to link up with a wide variety of outside agencies, as well as parents and carers. The meetings, phone calls, referrals, IEP/

ILP paperwork and supporting of class teachers and TAs takes a huge amount of time and, understandably, every parent can only see their own child’s needs; each colleague is focussed on the pupils currently in his/her class and every outside agency is pushing its own agenda and requirements of the school. We have responsibilities to all our pupils and sometimes the demands made by parents and others involved with a particular child become impractical or even unreasonable – it actually feels

Sometimes the demands made by parents and others become impractical or even unreasonable as though there are aspects of their responsibility that they would rather we take on. Inclusion, in the true sense of the word, is always the best we can aim for, but in reality, lack of adequate and appropriate support can leave schools struggling, staff stressed and pupils’ needs failing to be properly addressed. With recent and continuing cuts to local education authority support, it is often a harder and more drawn-out process to access specialist help. Even when that help is accessed, we regularly receive letters informing us that a child has been discharged from specialist intervention due to non-attendance at clinic appointments. I have been an additional educational needs coordinator (AENCO) in Wales for more than ten years and our school supports pupils with additional

needs very well, as confirmed by an “Excellent” ranking from Estyn (Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales) and the fact that several professionals outside education have recommended us to parents of pupils with SEN. But even so, we seem to come in for a lot of flack from different quarters at different times. Sadly, it is rarely, if ever, that we get a “Thank you”. The role is extremely challenging and demanding and most SENCOs/AENCOs I know are completely dedicated to it. Believe it or not, we do it for the children. There are many occasions when I have felt like throwing in the towel but it is the children that keep me focussed. What we need is for all those we are working with to realise that we are not magicians or superheroes, and are not always able to meet everyone’s every demand – but we are, in the main, caring, committed, hard-working professionals who often, unseen, go above and beyond the call of duty to do our best for the children in our care.

Further information

Karen Beeby is a primary AENCO in South-East Wales.

What's your point of view?

If you have an idea or opinion to share on any SEN issue, please email:




securING support for a child with SEN

A cry for help

Jane Raca describes her family’s struggle to get assistance with their severely disabled son when they could no longer cope


y the time he was five, James had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and autistic spectrum disorder

(ASD). This triple hit was difficult for all of us to take. The labels seemed disproportionately heavy for our fragile blond child with the heart-breaking blue eyes. The feeling I had was like looking at a toddler wearing his father’s jacket, where the shoulders are much too broad for his small frame. But as James became larger and heavier, we began to feel the reality of the diagnoses. His incontinence was a challenge. Changing a cooperative baby is a doddle for an experienced parent; changing a six-year-old who wants to find out what is in his pad and then eat it, is another matter.

At six, James was afraid to leave the house and his behaviour was very difficult to manage.

He became more rigid in his behaviour. He developed obsessions,

slowly suffocating us all. We had no

and I broke down in tears; the consultant

such as wanting only to watch

sleep and no liberty.

asked us about respite care. We didn’t

Teletubbies or Fireman Sam and having

know what she meant.

tantrums at anything else. He couldn’t

Seeking support

cope with the unpredictability of TV,

I began to dream of walking into our

needing instead to control his characters

local reservoir until the water closed

by constantly rewinding videos. He must

over my head and left me in a cool,

have watched Naughty Norman Price

noiseless vacuum. I didn’t know that this

steal an apple about a thousand times.

was called “having suicidal thoughts”. I

He developed a phobia about going

began to notice reports on the news of

out. He would attack his brother and

women who really had killed themselves

little sister if we tried to get him in the

and their disabled children, not wanting

car, and was often terrified of leaving

to leave them behind. One day, I was

the house. He would be awake for hours

sitting on a bus when tears began to

each night and needed to be checked

run down my face and I just couldn’t

supported by social care from birth. An

in case he had a fit, or hurt himself with

stop them. I went to see my GP, who

advocate from a charity approached the

manic rocking and bouncing.

Eventually, we found out that, as a disabled child, James should have been

I was sitting on a bus when tears began to run down my face and I just couldn’t stop them

diagnosed me with severe clinical

local authority on our behalf for a short

All of this happened so gradually

depression and put me on drugs. They

break, but they refused. Even though I

that we didn’t see how destructive it

helped a lot, but my marriage was still

had been a lawyer, I was so low that I felt

was; we just felt as if a dark blanket

under severe strain. At one appointment

helpless and hopeless. But despite the

had been lowered over our household,

with James’s consultant, my husband

dark blanket of depression, I managed


securING support for a child with SEN

The tribunal was a scary process because so much hung on it In January 2008, James and the rest of the family began slowly to build a new, more meaningful lives. James became a termly boarder at the boarding school, James and his dad enjoy a recent family day out on the water at Salcombe.

coming home for some of the school holidays. I became a governor at his

to summon up the strength to appeal.

school, excellent though it was. At the

school. I visit James on my own twice

After almost a year, we were granted

new school, his teachers and therapists

a term. At other times, all of us visit,

two nights respite a month.

would also visit him in his bedroom, and

and take him to the beach or out on

At first, to have even these little

make sure that his getting up routine

the sea in a motor boat – something he

breaks was like a survivor in a desert

included some stretches to help with

wouldn’t have tolerated before. Now,

being given a few drops of water. We

his spastic limbs. Every communication

his face lights up as he takes in the

managed to give our other children trips

exchange would also reinforce the idea

sensations of the blue water, speed and

out of the house, like normal families.

that he had the power to make choices,

salty foam. For a rare hour we shriek

It wasn’t enough though, and the

if he made them properly.

with laughter together as we enjoy the

inexorable downward spiral continued.

The problem was that a place for

shared experience.

One day I sat down and cried,

James at the boarding school was

James has blossomed into a much

realising that none of us could carry

going to cost £185,000 a year. Perhaps

more confident, fulfilled young man and

on as we were. James was suffering

unsurprisingly, the local authority

can now cope with life and learning.

too. He was bored, frustrated, and

said no. However, unlike social care

However, the pain of being separated

sometimes terrified.

provision, education statements could

from him never leaves me – if my heart

I didn’t know where to turn for help,

be challenged at an independent

could make a noise, you would hear

but decided to start with something

tribunal, which is what I eventually did.

a ripping sound every day. I have had

I knew: the law. I got hold of some

The tribunal was a scary process

to accept a truth which I would have

textbooks. I realised that the answer

because so much hung on it. Some

rejected before I had James: sometimes,

lay in getting James into a residential

people from James’s school thought we

if you really love someone, you have to

school and that, to do this, we had to

were trying to get rid of him, which was

let them go.

get his statement of SEN changed. I

distressing, although we understood

had to prove that he needed education

why they could think that. We had hired a

In the next issue of SEN Magazine,

outside of school hours. This sounded

barrister, and so had the local authority,

Jane provides a personal view of how

strange until I read that for a child like

so it all felt rather dramatic.

some of the Government's sweeping

him, “education” could mean learning to walk and talk.

The judgement came a few weeks after the hearing. It included a draft

changes to the SEN system will affect families like her own.

statement detailing James’s educational

A school for life

needs and how these could be met.

I found the perfect school for him, a

On the very last page it set out the

specialist boarding school in Devon. It

most important point of all – where

seemed to offer a seamless approach to

James’s needs should be met. I hardly

James’s time inside and outside class.

dared look.

The ratio of therapists to students, and

As I summoned up the courage and

the allocation of a one-to-one assistant,

read slowly down the page, there, at

meant that he would get much more

the bottom, was the name I needed to

intensive teaching than at his day

see – the name of the boarding school.

Further information

Jane Raca is the author of Standing up for James, a memoir about coming to terms with her son’s disabilities, and her fight to get support for him from the local authority:





No respite

We must act now to combat a short breaks crisis that is pushing many families to breaking point, says Dan Scorer


hort breaks provide much needed time off for carers to rest and focus on other activities and other family

members. They are equally important for the people being cared for, allowing

Carers reported feeling “desperate”, “abandoned” and even “suicidal”

them to develop new relationships and

have reached a state of crisis. Family carers describe this situation as reaching “breaking point”, a state of emotional, psychological and physical exhaustion, where they feel they can’t go on. Given that most carers who took part in the research provide over 15 hours of care a day, it is no surprise that without

take part in different activities outside their home. Families often call these

However, the latest investigation

adequate support, they are experiencing

services a “lifeline” – the one thing

by Mencap reveals a worrying picture.

that can make life bearable and keep

Three out of ten carers have never had

Since the charity’s first short breaks

them going. Often, just a few breaks a

a short break, and half do not know

report, Breaking Point, in 2003, there has

month can be the difference between

how to access short breaks. This has

been significant debate about the lack

a family carer managing their caring

led to eight out of ten families claiming

of short breaks. Parliamentary hearings

responsibilities or reaching a point where

that they do not receive enough short

in 2006 found that “the lack of short

they are not able to carry on.

breaks and, consequently, that they

breaks was the biggest single cause of

such extreme difficulties.

unhappiness with service provision”. The Government’s Aiming High for Disabled Children programme in 2008 marked a significant step forward. Since May 2010, the Coalition Government has allocated over £800 million to local authorities for disabled children’s short breaks over four years – the highest ever level of investment in England. This was accompanied by a £400 million allocation to primary care trusts. However, despite investigations, strategies and considerable investment, the situation has not improved since 2003. A decade on, the new report found, like the 2003 study, that eight out of ten families are still reaching crisis point because of a lack of short breaks. Nine out of ten family carers who responded to the latest survey said they felt stressed; eight out of ten said their family life had suffered and over half said they had given up, or considered giving up, work as a result of their caring Despite Government initiatives, figures show no improvement in respite support since 2003.


responsibilities. Carers reported feeling


So, despite extra investment from the Government, services are being cut and there is no evident improvement in short breaks provision for families. This leads to the conclusion that while money may have been allocated, it is not being

Some authorities have continued to invest in short breaks, while others have cut services

spent on the intended purpose. We all know the huge pressures

Many parents give up work because of their caring responsibilities.

faced by local authorities, with an overall

local authorities a huge amount, yet this

budget cut of 26 per cent over the

doesn’t need to be the case. A short

current comprehensive spending review

break of just a few hours a month can

period. However, the apparent failure to

make all the difference.

invest in short breaks services cannot

The Government must ringfence the

“desperate”, “abandoned” and even

be explained away by this alone. Some

money it has allocated for short breaks

“suicidal” as a result of not getting the

local authorities have continued to invest

to ensure that it is spent on those

time off from caring that they need.

in short breaks support, recognising

services. Local authorities must also

How can this be happening, though,

how vital it is for families, while others

ensure that they prioritise short breaks

when over £1.2 billion of funding has

have made different choices, and have

services when it comes to allocating

been allocated specifically for short

cut services.

resources. Without central and local

breaks since 2010?

Cuts to short breaks, combined with

government taking joint responsibility

significant cuts to benefits and other

for the current short breaks crisis,

Local variations

social care services, mean that the

many more family carers will be left in

As part of its research, Mencap sent

level of support for families is likely to

an untenable position and many more

freedom of information requests to

reduce even further, even in the face

disabled children, and their siblings,

all local authorities in England. These

of growing need. The majority of local

will suffer. We must not allow this

revealed major differences in the way

authorities (55 per cent) are expecting

to happen.

central government allocations are being

an increase in the number of children

spent on children’s short breaks at a

with a learning disability needing short

local level. Since 2011, over half the

breaks services in the future. However,

local authorities that responded have

short breaks service closures are

cut their spending on short breaks.

steadily increasing and data from the

This has impacted on service provision,

2013 study suggests that 60 per cent of

with 29 per cent of responding local

local authorities provided short breaks

authorities saying they had closed

to a smaller proportion of children with

short breaks services for children with

a learning disability in 2011/12 than in

a learning disability over the past three

the previous year.

years. These facts explain family carers’ experiences, with four out of ten saying

What can be done?

that they have experienced cuts to their

I am concerned that local authorities

short breaks services and the same

are losing their grip on this precarious

number saying short breaks provision

situation, meaning more and more

has got worse in the last three years.

families will miss out on the services

Even amongst families who are receiving support, there is a very mixed

they so desperately need and will be pushed to breaking point.

picture. Only one in ten family carers

The pressures of caring without

from the survey said that their short

adequate support can lead to

breaks services have improved in the

relationship breakdown between

past three years, and seven out of ten

parents, and disabled children being

said the services they receive do not

sent away from their home to residential

fully meet their family’s needs.

care. This costs families, society and

Further information

Dan Scorer is Senior Campaigns and Policy Manager at Mencap. The charity’s report on short breaks can be found at: breakingpoint





Playing outside the box Colin MacAdam explains how creative outdoor play environments can support learning and promote wellbeing for all


nterest in outdoor learning and play is on the rise worldwide. As more and more studies highlight the benefits of children spending quality

time outside, there is growing curiosity into how this can help improve a variety of physical and mental skills for those of every age and ability. However, it is estimated that there are over 770,000 children with SEN currently living in the UK and many do not have access to an outdoor space that is accessible and exciting. Creating play areas suitable for children and young people with SEN

Playing outside is a great antidote to stress.

is clearly something on which schools around them, is a stimulating experience.

feel socially excluded from their friends.

By designing accessible outdoor

To promote multi-sensory engagement

Introducing outdoor play equipment

learning and play spaces, schools can

and encourage positive behaviour and

designed to fit the needs of these pupils

provide every one of their pupils with the

emotions, schools should develop an

can ensure they are included where it

help they need to develop and grow. A

outdoor space that combines natural

really matters. A playground accessible

fun and interactive play environment is

stimulators, such as wind and grass,

to everyone means that those with

particularly beneficial for vestibular and

with play equipment that features

SEN don’t have to feel that they have

need to focus.

proprioceptive development. Schools

been separated out, and can therefore

can develop their playgrounds to ensure

help combat problems of exclusion

that they are suitable for those who need to improve mobility, coordination and spatial skills. Vestibular training can be stressful for children, so creating

Regular access to outdoor play can help reduce tension and anxiety

a safe environment at school where

and bullying.

Letting off steam Some children with SEN find themselves feeling stressed and uncomfortable

they can climb, balance and play on

at school. Having regular access to

equipment with friends can help improve

heightened sounds, textures and

outdoor play, and a fun way to expend

their development without it feeling like

colours. In addition, a multi-sensory

energy, can help reduce tension and

doctors' orders.

environment can improve interaction

anxiety. Confidence is a big issue for

and communication, prevent boredom

all children, but it can be particularly

and reduce stress.

important for pupils with SEN; being

Introducing more outdoor learning and play to pupils with SEN allows schools to add a new dimension to their

Schools that do not have space

able to play on the same equipment as

daily routine through sensory stimulation.

for outdoor learning and play readily

their friends can boost self-esteem and

Taking lessons outside, where pupils

available for children with SEN could be

improve social interactions for many of

can explore and understand the world

creating an environment where pupils

these children.



Schools have to meet safety regulations without compromising on fun and adventure Innovative play equipment, such as musical panels, can stimulate imagination and creativity.

A play lodge has inspired imaginative The example of Calthorpe Special

space for exploration and play means

and cooperative play, while swings

School in Birmingham demonstrates

that schools have to meet regulations

help the pupils develop physical skills

how a well-designed playground can

without compromising on fun and

together. Giving pupils something to

benefit children with SEN. The school

adventure. Rules and requirements will

share has minimised opportunities for

wanted to redesign its playground to

vary depending on the school and needs

inappropriate behaviour and bullying.

offer a unique experience to each child.

of the pupils, but working with a school

Since installing the new playground

It chose musical instrument play panels

ground specialist will ensure the correct

equipment, the pupils have become

designed to develop investigative,

precautions are taken. Health and safety

more engaged and have been able

musical and creative skills. It has

issues do not have to create conflicts

to develop their social skills, improve

found that the creative drawing wall

with play and a little imagination can

relationships and enhance their

and playground graphics have helped

make a space that is both fun and safe.


improve imaginative thinking and

Schools should choose playground

Outdoor learning and play benefit

encouraged pupils to work together

equipment that can be incorporated into

all children and have been shown to

to find new ways to play. The children

both outdoor learning and play, in order

have a particularly positive influence

now interact more with each other

to provide stimulation and motivation in

on young people with SEN. Spending

and staff, are inspired by their natural

all aspects of the daily routine. Sandpits,

more time outdoors in an environment

surroundings, and motivated by the new

musical instruments and planting beds

that caters for all abilities is good for

equipment. Having a new way to expend

can be combined to create a natural,

children’s health and development. It

energy has helped to reduce stress and

sensory outdoor classroom that can be

provides sensory stimulation and can

anxiety and the opportunity to play on

used to teach about the environment,

help reduce problems with social and

a variety of equipment has boosted

and as a base for interactive play.

behavioural issues. A creative and

their confidence.

Schools must design a social space

inspiring space can also provide the

to encourage all children to play and

stimulus for safe and unique learning

Inclusive design

learn together. Installing equipment

experiences. Schools should work

Planning an outdoor learning and play

that is accessible to all pupils, and

alongside specialists, staff and pupils

space for children with SEN is a process

using a variety of activities requiring

to design playgrounds that can bring

requiring care and consideration. Every

teamwork and coordination, will make

inspirational outdoor play and learning

school is unique and has pupils with

the process much easier. Zoning (the

to all.

specific requirements, so it is vital

creation of separate themed areas) for

that this is reflected in the playground

noisy active play and relaxed quiet play

design. Working with staff and children,

gives pupils the opportunity to play and

throughout all stages of playground

learn alongside other children in the

development, will ensure that the school

same mood or mindset, reducing the

is fulfilling everybody’s needs. What’s

chances of arguments and tension.

more, involving the pupils gives them a

At The Court School in Cardiff there

sense of ownership of the playground

are a number of children with severe

and is an exciting process in which they

social, emotional and behavioural

can participate.

difficulties. When designing a new

Health and safety issues are a major

playground, staff focused on equipment

concern for all schools when developing

that would be multi-functional and easy

their playground. Creating a safe

to incorporate into a variety of activities.

Further information

Dr Colin MacAdam is Managing Director of Playforce, a company specialising in the design and creation of children’s play environments:









Communicating with a generation adrift Anne Fox looks at how to help children who struggle with speech and language


Children need language to learn, socialise, manage their behaviour and develop emotionally

ommunication is vital. The

language. Assumptions are made when

ability to speak, listen and

children don’t talk – maybe they are

understand are three of

deaf, shy, a bit slow, naughty, rude or

the most important skills

antisocial. This is the most prevalent

we ever develop. They enable us to

childhood disability and yet it is

learn and interact with other people.

frequently misunderstood, misidentified

But for ten per cent of children in this

or missed altogether. The problem is the

country who have speech, language

scale of the issue – both in the number

and communication needs (SLCN)

of children affected and the complex and

50 per cent of children start school with

these skills require specific attention.

changing nature of their needs. These

delayed language – language that is

Of these children, seven per cent have

statistics – from The Communication

not good enough for their next stage of

a specific language impairment (SLI),

Trust’s recent paper A Generation Adrift

learning. This also leads to difficulties in

meaning they cannot learn language in

– are frightening, but they are not new.

thinking, reasoning and communicating

the same way as most children. They

For many years, these problems have

effectively with adults and other children.

don’t have general learning difficulties;

been known, but the time has come to

Research has also shown that children

they are simply unable to learn language

say enough is enough.

from low income families are often a year

in the usual way, through parents talking

behind in terms of vocabulary, putting

Recognising communication difficulties

them at a disadvantage. Having such a

For these children, learning language

Experts agree on one point: children

with delayed language creates additional

means having specialist support, usually

need language to learn, socialise,

problems – it can make it very difficult for

from a speech and language therapist.

manage their behaviour and develop

teachers to differentiate between those

They need to be taught how to learn

emotionally. In deprived areas, up to

who are language delayed and those

and listening and through interacting with those around them.

large cohort of children arriving at school

who have long-term needs and specific language impairments. The Trust’s Talk of the Town project found real difficulties for teachers in accurately identifying children with SLCN, an issue backed up by the recent Better Communication Research Programme. However, supporting schools to understand what “typical” language development looks like enables them to identify when children are struggling; creating a communicationfriendly environment and using catchup interventions makes it possible to support those with language delay and Communication friendly environments can enable all pupils to learn together.


identify those who need extra


term support, such as those children

need direct support from a specialist

with SLI.

in collaboration with children’s teachers

If children with language difficulties

and parents. Language is all pervading

are not supported, they can easily fall

and needs to be supported in this way,

behind their classmates and this can

through a graduated approach.

A child who struggles with language will also struggle with social interaction

affect their self-esteem, behaviour and

The Talk of the Town project aimed

engagement with education. Imagine

to make early identification of children

how frustrating it would be if you were

and young people with SLCN the norm,

development and how to identify and

always in trouble because you could

while encouraging joint working between

support children who struggle with

not understand what your teacher is

schools and the local community and

language. It is important to increase

telling you to do or if you have lots of

creating positive outcomes for children

skills and capacity in identifying and

ideas but not the language skills to be

in a sustainable way. Tests carried out at

supporting children and young people

able to share them. We know that early

the start of the pilot showed more than a

with SLCN and making sure all children’s

vocabulary and concept development is

quarter of children in the nursery classes

communication skills are able to grow

particularly critical for children from low

had a language level which would meet

and develop.

and moderate income homes, and that

the criteria for a statement of SEN in

Recent reports by experts such as

vocabulary at the age of five is a strong

many local authority areas. Samples

Professor Cathy Nutbrown (University of

predicator of qualifications achieved

of children were assessed throughout

Sheffield) show the benefit of well-trained

at school leaving age and beyond.

the schools and high prevalence

staff in early years settings. Moreover,

Leaving academic achievement aside

levels were found to persist through

embedding a focus on speech, language

for a moment, though, the impact of

Key Stage 1, 2 and into Key Stage 3,

and communication in training and

poor communication is much wider.

particularly with very poor vocabulary

practice can reap real rewards for all

Children who struggle with language

levels and difficulties for children in

staff working with children and young

will also struggle with social interaction

constructing sentences.

people. It is vital that all teachers receive

and this creates difficulties for them

The project helped the schools

a good grounding in speech, language

in learning skills such as organisation,

embed early identification procedures

and communication as part of their initial

problem solving, and evaluating their

so that by the end of the year-long pilot,

training; to be effective, though, this

experiences. These are critical skills

under-identification had fallen from

must be supported by good continuous

not just for school, but also in their

between 31 and 50 per cent to between

professional development in the

life beyond.

five and 15 per cent. The programme

school setting.

encouraged joint working between

How to support those with SLCN

schools and practitioners in health and

Supporting language can be as simple

children’s communication development

as a “tweak” to good practice, mixed

through ambassador programmes.

with a solid knowledge of language

Reassessments of the children at the

development, but this relies on teaching

end of the pilot showed a significant

staff having this kind of knowledge.

improvement, with children’s language

Sometimes, supporting children with

levels in nursery classes improving by 15

SLCN can be as simple as allowing them

per cent. There was also a 16 per cent

more time to frame their answer after

increase in staff feeling very confident in

asking them a question, or breaking

providing positive strategies to support

down lengthy instructions into shorter,

speech, language and communication

more manageable sentences. It might

development in children.

education, as well as involving parents in

just be about knowing more about the nature of their condition and taking

Training school staff

guidance on the best ways to support

All school staff – from head teachers

them. For some children, a more

and teachers to teaching assistants and

targeted intervention may be required

support workers – need to know more

to help boost their skills; others will

about the ages and stages of language

Further information

Anne Fox is Director of The Communication Trust, a consortium of almost 50 voluntary groups concerned with SLCN. A wide range of resources and information on courses is available from: Information on how to support a child with SLI is available from the charity Afasic:




speech, language and communication

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speech, language and communication

Prime Minister visits ACE Centre The ACE Centre, a charity for children and adults in England with communication needs, recently welcomed Prime Minister David Cameron to its newly opened site in Cassington, Oxfordshire. Mr Cameron was introduced to children and adults who use a range of technologies to communicate. The Centre, which narrowly escaped closure last year, has launched itself as a national charity after its sites in Oxford and Oldham joined forces and relocated to the new facility within the Prime Minister’s constituency. David Cameron said that “It was great to meet so many individuals who have benefited from augmentative and alternative communication devices, many of whom are now able to communicate with their friends and families for the first time. From chatting to these people and their families, I know what a real difference these devices have made to their quality of life”. Anna Reeves, Manager of the ACE Centre, said: “We are of course absolutely delighted that the Prime Minister has been able to visit us today to see for himself exactly what type of support we provide to those with communication needs, and how specialist some of these needs are. One person in ten in the UK has a communication disability, and while many do not require a communication aid, a substantial number need very specialised support if they are not to be deprived of the basic right of communication. “As the Prime Minister has seen, the type of support we are able to provide can have a fundamental effect on the quality of life

David Cameron with communication aid user Tamsin England and her mother Karen England at ACE Centre.

and independence of children and adults requiring technology to be able to communicate. At a time when numerous changes are being made to the way services are commissioned and delivered, and opportunities are opening for voluntary sector organisations to deliver public services, it is vital that individuals with these specialist needs can continue to access ACE Centre support.” For more information about the ACE Centre, visit: SENISSUE64




Please don’t be quiet! Michael Jones speaks up on how to support quiet and anxious children


race is six and has been

She is beginning to whisper to certain

at her primary school for

children in the playground, as long as no

two years. At home she

adults are within earshot. Yet, when her

is boisterous and chatty

mum comes to pick her up, she will talk

with members of her immediate family,

quite freely to her, once she is outside

but the adults in her school have yet

the school gates.”

In school, children often feel the need to compete with each other to attract an adult’s attention

to hear her speak. One staff member

Staff are, naturally, very concerned.

reports that she “won’t answer when

They initially described Grace as "just

her name is called during registration

shy", but because she talks to her

end of the session, they are beginning

and refuses to talk to any of the adults.

mother when she collects her at the

to wonder whether Grace is an “elective mute”. Grace’s mother says that Grace behaved in exactly the same way when she was at preschool, though there she was unable to talk to other children. Unfortunately, mum, who describes herself as having been "painfully shy" when she was at school, has researched elective mutism on the internet, and has become very confused and alarmed. Her search engine refused to accept "elective mutism" and automatically changed the search to "selective mutism". This led to hundreds of entries, many of them suggesting that her child has "high anxiety" and "social phobia", and is possibly using refusal to speak as a way of gaining control, or that it is a symptom of trauma or even abuse. Up to this point, Grace’s mother was confident that she was doing a good job as a parent, but now she has become anxious that her daughter is "starting to have the same problems" that she went through. Although selective mutism in children is relatively rare, the situation I have just described is quite common, and it is essential that all adults working with young children are clear about why some children are very quiet, and what to do about it.



Some teenagers fail to understand why smalltalk can be useful

Children who are shy

go first. When faced with a new activity,

Maggie Johnson, co-author of The

shy children usually need to see another

Selective Mutism Resource Manual,

child get the activity right and, most

says that it is particularly important

importantly, need to see someone make

to understand the difference between

a mistake, so that they can see how

shyness and selective mutism: “Many

adults react. While they welcome and

children can be described as ‘reluctant

respond well to adult support, children

Amy Eleftheriades, an educational

talkers’ outside their homes, and being

who are shy may remain uncertain in

consultant who works with older

shy is just one of the reasons for this.

new situations, or with unfamiliar people.

children, their families and schools,

Some shy or timid children are often

is exploring how deeper issues of

lacking in confidence with unfamiliar

Children with high sensitivity

communication may have an impact

people, and especially in groups. They

Some children may be quiet because

on children becoming silent. These can

may have a quiet temperament, or

they are highly sensitive. Dr Elaine Aron,

include teenagers failing to understand

possibly a sensitive disposition, or have

author of The Highly Sensitive Child,

why small-talk and banter with their

low self-esteem. Children with low self-

gives a detailed description of what

peers can be useful, and failing to

esteem expect that nothing they do will

she calls high sensitivity or sensory

appreciate the very subtle ways that

be right, including talking. ”

processing sensitivity. "It is a genetically

we use non-verbal signals to keep conversations going.

Children who are described as shy

inherited trait characterised by depth

have a natural tendency to be wary of

of processing and sensory sensitivity.

new situations and people. They may

It is a normal trait found in 15-20% of

The silent phase

feel anxious if they are suddenly asked

the population. It often displays itself

Many young children in the very early

to do something that they have not

in an innate 'pause to check' type of

stages of learning a second language

tried before. This may be especially

behaviour, in which the person prefers

go through a silent phase. This is an

noticeable in a group. The children

to observe and wait before acting.

active silence, when they spend a lot of

feel very self-conscious, which may

Highly sensitive children are more

time listening and working out important

manifest itself in the children blushing

aware of subtleties and tend to be more

aspects of their new language, such as

or becoming tearful. Shy and quiet

affected or over-stimulated by their

when one word ends and another one

children may function well at home

physical or emotional environment than

begins. Children often emerge from this

because they are in an environment

(other) people.”

stage as chatty individuals who then

that is predictable. Language at home is

According to Aron, children with

learn their new language by talking a

also very predictable, where children, in

high sensitivity may be silent because,

lot. However, some children who may

general, begin conversations and adults

“they avoid the high stimulation involved

have a shy, anxious or highly sensitive

respond. Children are therefore much

in meeting strangers and as a result

nature may need more support during

more familiar with topics of conversation,

become increasingly unskilled and

their silent phase, to make sure that

which are often very repetitive and

over-aroused when they do have to

they join in activities with other children,

based around daily routines. This can be

speak to strangers....Further, many

so that they are getting the practice

the opposite in school, where children

have experienced painful rejections for

they need to learn their new language

may feel the need to compete with each

being 'too quiet' or 'lost in thoughts'.”

with confidence.

other to attract and maintain an adult’s

Barbara Allen-Williams, founder of

Children who are shy may initially

has observed that “Highly sensitive

Children with selective mutism

talk very quietly to a few adults and

children experience a great deal of over-

Children with selective mutism speak

children, but are more likely to talk freely

stimulation and 'new-ness'. While they

freely with only a small number of

once they get to know the staff and

are young they are introduced to many

people with whom they feel comfortable.

routines. This is particularly the case if

new people, things and experiences.

Typically, the children are able to speak

they are encouraged to join in with group

They can find this totally overloading

at home with familiar family members,

activities where adults avoid putting

to their senses. Even at a young age

but experience extreme anxiety about

them under pressure to speak. They

they may be aware that they appear to

speaking outside their home. This

are usually keen to join in with group

be the only one who is not enjoying a

anxiety is so strong that the children

activities, as long as they are not put on

new or boisterous experience, leading

the spot, for example, by being asked to

to self-doubt, fear and shame.”

often describe experiencing an actual >>

attention through talk.

the National Centre for High Sensitivity,





Anxiety is so strong that children often describe experiencing a physical blockage in their throats However, we need to let children know that there is no pressure to rush into talking and that it is OK for them to talk when they are ready. If, like Grace, children have been silent for several years, though, their own self-image may be of “one who never talks". In these cases, children will need a structured programme to gradually desensitise them to their fear, and to Selective mutes can fear hearing their own voice outside the family environment.

help them to develop their confidence as a talker throughout school. If school staff decide that the time is right to

physical blockage in their throats,

that adults may put pressure on them

introduce a structured programme,

possibly caused by muscular tension.

to talk.”

it will be vital to enlist the support of local professionals with experience of

The condition was originally referred to

selective mutism. This is often the local

thought that the children were electing or

Providing appropriate support

choosing to be silent. It is now generally

So how should the staff at Grace’s

possibly working in conjunction with

recognised that these children have

school respond to her? The very first

educational psychologists. Parents

developed a fear of hearing their voice

action to be taken to support any child

will also need to be fully involved with

outside the family and have little or no

with anxiety about talking in groups,

the programme.

control over their reaction.

and particularly if the child has selective

as "elective" mutism because it was


mutism, involves all the adults working

practitioners can make a clear distinction




together. Everyone needs to believe that

between children who are shy and those

Grace is not choosing to be silent, but

with selective mutism by observing their

finds herself unable to talk in certain

reactions to adults. “Shy children are

situations and with certain people.

generally unsure of themselves and

Adults who say, “Grace won’t talk to us”

usually welcome help with joining in,

should be encouraged to say, “Grace

whereas children with selective mutism

is a confident talker at home, and we

have a specific dread of speaking. They

are helping to build her confidence at

may suddenly shut down, back off, or

school.” The fact that Grace is beginning

become almost frozen or rooted to

to talk to other children should be seen

the spot and unable to respond. They

as a positive step in the right direction.

become wary of what they perceive to

There also needs to be an agreement

be a threat to make them talk. They may

to reduce pressure for Grace to talk. As

also be too ‘frozen’ to communicate

Maggie Johnson explains in a training

non-verbally, including making eye

DVD produced by The Selective Mutism

contact, smiling, nodding or pointing.

Information and Research Association,

They often develop a response of 'silent

“We often find that once the pressure

watchfulness', where they have become

is off the children to talk, they relax and

extremely sensitive to the possibility

speech begins to emerge naturally”.


speech and language therapy service,

Useful reading

• Aron, E.N. (2003) The Highly Sensitive Child, Thorsons. • Johnson, M. and Wintgens, A. (2002) The Selective Mutism Resource Manual, Speechmark Publishers. • Johnson, M. And Wintgens, A. (2012) Can I Tell You About Selective Mutism? Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Further information

Michael Jones is a freelance educational trainer who has written extensively on the subject of children's communication: His latest book, Supporting Quiet Children, is co-authored by Maggie Johnson: Selective Mutism Information and Research Association (SMIRA):

speech, language and communication


Is being able to talk enough? Sioban Boyce explains why non-verbal communication skills are a vital element in our understanding and use of language


ome years after I completed a French conversation course we went to France on holiday. My husband

decided it was time for me to develop my French conversational skills by undertaking little tasks he would set for me. To start with, I had to order the

It is very scary not being able to understand what people are saying, especially when it appears so easy for them

drinks at a café; this went well. The next

health problems. I have been told that the same behaviour is found in some dyslexics as well. It is relatively easy to put adults, even those who view themselves as good communicators, in situations where they will resort to inappropriate behaviours. But most adults can find other ways of dealing with confusing situations.

task was to go into the café to ask for the

very scary not being able to understand

For example, you can ask for help or

toilets. He primed me by telling me what

what people are saying, especially when

communicate your confusion non-

I should say and what I might expect

it appears so easy for them.

verbally (with a puzzled look or raised

in reply.

arms). In this way, you can get the

Avoiding conversation

speaker to adjust the message to make

my simple task, and asked the question:

Children I have worked with for the past

it easier for you to understand. Children

“Où est les toilettes?” Unknowingly, I

twenty years feel like this in everyday

with poor non-verbal understanding

had already made my first error – I had

situations – but in their mother tongue,

are unable to benefit in this way. They

used a singular verb when it should

not a foreign language. These children

simply don’t understand why they can’t

have been plural. This communicated

can talk well and most people think

communicate effectively in all situations

to the staff that I was not French. My

they understand all that is said to them.

– they think everyone else is just talking.

accent probably also let them know I

Sometimes they do understand but at

So what is the problem? During my

was English.

So, I walked into the café, confident of

other times nothing anyone says to

conversation course we had to listen to

However, this was a minor problem

them makes sense. As a result, they

French radio for ten to fifteen minutes

compared with what happened next.

feel panic, anxiety, frustration and

each night. It was thought that this

The man replied to my question in a

anger; they develop ways of getting

would improve our understanding of

way that I was totally unprepared for:

out of conversations rather than find

French spoken at normal speed. But

he said “Elles sont bouchées”, which

themselves unable to understand what

what I found was that trying to listen to

means “They are blocked”. Initially, the

is going on or how they are expected

people speaking at speed in French,

effect on me was panic; he might as

to behave.

without any other visual clues as to the

well have been talking Chinese. I left

Such children are found in all walks

context, made me shut off and feel a

the café in a hurry, feeling upset and

of life, including children in mainstream

sense of frustration and failure at not

confused. My feelings of incompetence

education who have difficulties behaving

being able to understand.

were exacerbated when my husband

appropriately, those who simply opt

There were occasions when I could

asked me what the man had said.

out of communication – elective or

make some sense of what was being

The long term impact, though, was to

selective mutes or non-verbal children

said, because two or three of the words

undermine my confidence in using my

with severe autistic features – those with

were familiar enough for me to deduce

very limited French in other situations.

Asperger’s syndrome or attention deficit

the context of what was being said, such

As a result, I simply opted out of future

hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), some

as social greetings or requesting food

attempts to communicate in French. It is

stammerers and children with mental




speech, language and communication

and drink. As these phrases had been

of what is being said. On top of this, we

practiced over and over in my French

have to be able to pick out the important

classes throughout secondary school,

words; speech and language therapists

they were engrained in my memory.

call these “information-carrying” words.

However, when even familiar words

When I worked as a speech and

were put in a different context, or in

language therapist twenty years ago,

an unfamiliar combination of phrases,

these information-carrying words were

I couldn’t make sense of them at all.

recognised as significant, but what I

Our brains do not have the capacity or processing speed to listen to every word that is spoken

have discovered since then is that the

Clues to communication

non-verbal signals of stress, rhythm and

spoken information coming at you with

To be able to make good sense of

intonation pattern draw our attention to

no visual clues as to what the person is

language, we need to understand

those important words and also let us

talking about. Our brains do not have the

the non-verbal clues, such as facial

know which words we can ignore.

capacity or processing speed to listen

expression, body language and,

Going back to foreign language

importantly, the situational clues that

learning from the radio for a moment,

Here is what you have to be able to

combine to inform us about the context

think of the agony of hearing a mass of

do to make sense of a spoken message:

to every word that is spoken.

1. listen to the words 2. relate them to the other words in the message. For example, the grammatical position and relevance 3. remember the words in the correct order to be able to understand what is being said. For example, “Put the book on the box” means something completely different to “Put the box on the book’” 4. decide what the message means. What we actually have to do is identify the information-carrying words and then, through our knowledge of grammar and vocabulary, piece together the likely meaning of the sentence. When learning a foreign language, the difficulty is that, unless you are taught to pick up the nonverbal signals of stress and intonation patterns – which in French, for example, are completely different to English – then you will not know which words to listen to in order to get an idea of the topic and which words will help you understand the message accurately and in full.

Impact on children The children that I work with are mostly able to talk but have no idea that we are using non-verbal clues from the people present and the situation, that we relate these to past experience and combine all this with information from the prosodic SENISSUE64

speech, language and communication

Try listening to important information when you are stressed and see how well you can remember it

• distracting others • using verbal abuse or being very verbally aggressive in style and language • being physically aggressive – damaging objects or hurting people • fleeing from situations. They will

than likely to opt-out of the conversation – for children who are still learning

Without confidence, communication can be difficult.

run away with no fear or concern about safety.

how to communicate, the impact is

As will be apparent, particularly if they

even greater.

adopt the penultimate strategy (and

It is easier for these children to only

many do), these children are at risk of

talk on a subject they know about; this

exclusion from school, rejection by their

may be seen as a lack of imagination

peers or family conflict. This is why so

by some. The vocabulary and level

many children find entry to secondary

clues (such as stress, rhythm, intonation

of interest around this preferred topic

school so difficult and often either self-

and volume) to make good sense of the

grows and grows so that soon they are

exclude or have to leave as a result of a

words. Even adults don’t realise they are

able to make sure they can dominate

deterioration in their behaviour.

doing this until it is pointed out, because

a conversation about the topic they

Professionals working in all spheres

it happens in our subconscious.

choose. This performs another

of children’s services, from early years

Children with poor non-verbal

function which is to stop others from

to secondary level, will recognise the

understanding listen to every word we

asking awkward questions that they

high incidence of the difficulties outlined

say and the outcome is similar to the

can’t answer.

in this article. The problems these

experience I had when learning French

Here is what you will see in children

– sometimes they can make sense of

as a result of their inability to make sense

what is being said but in a new or slightly

of non-verbal information; they may do

different situation, they are unable

some or all of the following:

to process non-verbal information effectively and suddenly things start to

• not look at you while speaking or listening, or only do so occasionally

happen that they don’t expect. Another

• be happy to give information, as

difficulty that compounds their confusion

long as it is a topic of interest

is that they cannot predict well either.

to them

Some situations make sense to the

conversation. You have to

have experienced over and over again.

work hard to extract relevant

But when it goes wrong, they have no

information from them

how many times parents or teachers tell them how to behave better, the message doesn’t get through because it is usually given when the child is stressed. Try

• have a monotonous or limited intonation pattern • use bland and/or exaggerated facial expressions and body language.

listening to important information when

They may also resort to one or more of

you are stressed and see how well you

the following strategies to get out of a

can remember it.

conversational situation:




• dominating conversations

these children have many negative

• opting out of conversation

experiences of communication which

(shutting down). They might pull

sap their confidence in their own ability.

their hood over their face. Others

If your confidence is taken away, it is

might be diagnosed as selective

hard to communicate and you are more

or elective mute

concerned are profound. Non-verbal communication skills tell you what to say, whether to say it and when to say it, as well as how to behave. If you can’t do this, you may as well be living on another planet.

• give little information in free

children – the familiar situations that they

idea what is going on. It doesn’t matter

difficulties can cause for the children

Further information

Sioban Boyce trained as a speech and language therapist in the 1970s and worked for nearly twenty years in the NHS, before setting up the communication/ behaviour consultancy Not Just Talking. She is the author of Help your child communicate – from day one, Not Just Talking: Identifying non-verbal communication difficulties and Not Just Talking: Helping Your Baby Communicate – from Day One:




sen education




Organising chaos Bernadette McLean explains how to help dyslexic students manage the increased demands and potential overload of secondary school “What sensible organization would forbid its workers to ask their colleagues for help, would expect them to carry all relevant facts in their heads, would require them to work in 35-minute spells and then move to a different site, would work them in groups of thirty or over and prohibit any social interaction except at official break time. The typical secondary school...” Charles Handy: The Age of Unreason


he transition to secondary

encouraging that most recent definitions

school can be difficult for

emphasise the abilities and strengths of

many children but particularly

dyslexic profiles.

so for those with dyslexia.

Dyslexic pupils need to know that it is not stupidity that is causing their problems

Children encounter a greater number

Signs of dyslexia

of teachers and subjects, placing a

Teachers will be aware of known

higher demand on organisational skills.

dyslexics in the classroom but others

There is an increased need for speed of

may not have been picked up earlier

Beyond this, there may be problems

processing and multi-tasking. Higher

in the system. It is therefore a good

in acquiring topic words which can

reading and writing skills are expected,

idea to look out for signs of difficulty

change in meaning from one context

as is the ability to cope with revision

with literacy based activities, particularly

to another, such as “bug” and “scale”.

and exams.

relating to:

The learning of a foreign language can

The changing nature of dyslexia definitions suggests that not just

be challenging. Listening attentively • reading speed, accuracy,

literacy problems are indicated. More

comprehension and recall

recent definitions pinpoint difficulties

• written output, which may be

and recalling information may also present difficulties. These pupils’ difficulties may perplex

with organisation, memory, word

scant and poorly proofread,

teachers because, in many ways, they

retrieval, lack of automaticity and

often with basic but easy to

are bright and can often contribute orally

speed of processing. Furthermore, it is

spell words.

very well in the classroom.



Other signs of dyslexia may include an attitude of negativity, loss of selfesteem and motivation, and problems with behaviour. Avoidance of public humiliation may be at the root of this, so questioning why these signs are present

Dyslexia friendly classrooms are those with less auditory input and more visual prompts

is crucial.

Ginnis’s Teachers Toolkit is to convert a thought like “he cannot do such and such because...of his SpLD” into “he can if...” This allows us to explore possible solutions rather than accept the limiting belief. When giving feedback, it helps if we can formulate it in terms of how

Helping dyslexic learners

arrangements – such as allowing 25 per

work can be even better next time.

There are a number of things that can

cent extra time in public examinations –

Acknowledge the effort made and

help dyslexic students:

or simply giving extra thinking time when

compare only with previous work and

asking questions in the classroom or

not with that of peers. Showcase what

Self understanding

giving advanced warning of deadlines.

these learners can do. Encouraging

Dyslexic pupils need to know that it is not

Dyslexia friendly classrooms are those

resilience and persistence is vitally

stupidity that is causing their problems,

with less auditory input and more visual

important, as they are the ingredients

it is simply a difference in the way they

prompts to help with difficulties with

that will lead to success.

learn. They also need to understand their

working memory.

specific areas of difficulty and the impact

It is noteworthy that at a conference on adult dyslexia many years ago, a

these may have on their studies. As one

Alternative means of input

panel of highly successful adults were

student noted, “I have a poor memory

and output

all asked the same two questions: “What

so if you tell me more than three things

Difficulties with speeds of processing

helped the least in your education?”

I won’t remember them – I need to see

mean that these children listen more

and “What helped the most?” Their

them written down.”

slowly and take longer to process

answers were unanimous. What had

Self-understanding and self-advocacy

auditory inputs. A fast paced delivery

helped the least had been placement

are promoted by the demystification of

and complex language can lead to

in a remedial group, being treated like

specific learning problems.

overload and shut-down.

a slow learner and being given more of

The insistence on written output might

the kind of teaching that had not worked

Study skills

be rethought. Is it always necessary to

in the classroom; this compounded their

Tasks need to be broken down into small

have understanding checked through

feelings of failure. What had helped the

steps so that these children know how

writing? Perhaps students could watch

most were not expensive solutions,

to proceed at all stages of the task –

a video or hear an audio version of the

either professional or technological, but

be they flexible strategies for reading,

Shakespearean play before they read it.

simply being believed in long enough

or stages in writing an essay, revising

Maybe they could produce a PowerPoint

by another person that they began to

or doing examinations. Metacognitive

presentation or a mind map rather than

believe in themselves. This is something

approaches encourage reflection on

a lengthy essay.

that any secondary teacher is capable

these strategies. Explicit help may be needed with

of doing. Using feedback

If you esteem these pupils they will

organising time and equipment. Having

In Accelerated Learning in the

learn to esteem themselves. This will

the right items in the right place at the

Classroom, Alistair Smith writes that self-

lead to the development of those skills

right time might be too much to manage

esteem “can be built and developed with

of resilience and persistence that in time

independently. It is worth remembering

interventions that disrupt the downward

may be the envy of non-dyslexics.

that many dyslexic children have

cycle of limiting beliefs and negative

dyslexic parents who may have similar

self-talk”. One way that teachers can

organisational difficulties.

do this is by providing constructive feedback. Feedback is more useful if we

Extra time

consider it as a feed-forward to future

Poor processing speeds for verbal

activities. Neurolinguistic programming

and written information mean that

(NLP) teaches us how to use language

extra time is the most common of

in a way that will enhance learning and

reasonable adjustments applied for

maybe even alter teachers’ expectations

dyslexic learners. This can involve formal

of learners. An elegant reframe from Paul

Further information

Bernadette McLean is Principal of the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre:





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Designing for BESD Creating the right environment is crucial for students with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties to flourish, says Sandy Wright


roducing a good learning environment is a complex undertaking. Many factors need to be considered,

from the fundamentals of light, space

The school boundary is an emotional as well as a physical boundary

and movement, to the more complex

Although many common principles can be set out, in much the same way that that there is no one type of student with BESD, there is certainly no single, catch-all, appropriate environment for students with BESD.

psychological and managerial aspects of a given set of spaces. Behaviour can

extraordinarily charged thing and the

The role of good design

be related strongly to the quality of the

factors that impact on behaviour are

For many students with BESD the school

design of space, be it a classroom, a

many and difficult to quantify.

boundary is an emotional as well as a

theatre or even a bus stop. It is perhaps

The term BESD covers a wide range

physical boundary. It can be a case of

easy, then, to appreciate the added

of special educational needs although,

leaving baggage behind at the gates, as

importance of the role of good design

importantly, not all young people with

well as preparing to face the challenges

when dealing with the sensitivities and

BESD have SEN. Typically, though,

of the school day. Sequencing a clear

challenges of children and young people

those affected may have emotional

and safe route from the boundary to the

with behavioural, emotional and social

disorders and/or conduct disorders and/

front door – forming a buffer zone – will

difficulties (BESD).

or conditions such as ADHD. In seeking

set the tone for the school. It should

Improved academic performance

to educate young people with such

feel welcoming, secure and inviting to

is often the benchmark when

multifarious conditions the design of

those who use the school every day,

monitoring the success of a school.

spaces must also be tough, protective,

and to new arrivals. In most BESD

In BESD education this is also true,

inviting and conducive to learning – no

schools, the frequency of structured

but the learning environment is an

easy feat.

and unstructured parental visits is higher than in mainstream schools. A simple phased entrance sequence, with meeting rooms located between the main entrance and reception, allows staff to meet parents without giving them access to the rest of the school. This “valve” allows for privacy and minimises possible distractions to students. A separate, secondary entrance into the school is important for externalagency access. How these spaces are structured is open to debate; there could be a designated multi-agency “wing”, or dispersed quiet zones for therapy. BESD schools typically have higher than usual truancy rates, which can put pressure on timetabling and allocation of space. It is equally important to understand that school may be the only

Common areas in schools should feel welcoming and secure.


place where a good hot meal is provided.


No space should feel isolated from the rest of the school

If student displays enrich and enliven wall surfaces, the overall choice of a neutral palette of colours will help to establish a deeper note for a calming and therapeutic environment. This is counter to a recent trend for strong, bold colours in mainstream school design,

Students with BESD are often drawn to quiet spaces.

conversations with teachers, I have

which can look striking but can cause

been frequently reminded that no space

adverse sensory responses from pupils.

should feel isolated from the rest of the

External space should also be

school – an eventuality more likely if all

carefully considered for management,

staff areas are clustered at one point in

including clear sight-lines, defined lines

the building. An increased staff presence

of planting and no hidden corners.

not only encourages calm behaviour

Variety and richness should be sought.

If it is said that “an army marches on its

but also eliminates opportunities

During consultation with students, I

stomach”, this can certainly be applied

for bullying.

have been surprised to note how many

to a school. A pre-school breakfast club

If space permits, teaching spaces

students were drawn to images of quiet

will mean that students are fully charged

should be kept to a single storey.

courtyards, smaller spaces to sit and

for a day of study and will behave better.

Staircases are known hotspots for

chat in, as well as external spaces to

All mealtimes are important social arenas

incidents and present increased

run around, exercise and let off steam in.

for the school community; they offer a

hazard for injury. However, the physical

This is a reflection again of the complex

space to develop friendships, to develop

characteristics of a site often mean that

and diverse needs of students with

table manners and to grow together. For

several storeys are required. Staircases

BESD, variously manifested through

a dining space to be easy to manage

should be designed to be wide, with

propensities to withdraw or isolate,

it will not only need good spaces for

clean detailing of balustrades and

disrupt or disturb, be hyperactive,

the preparation of the food, but simple,

handrails, and, if possible, with staff

convey troubled social skills or present

comfortable, robust and orderly spaces

accommodation strategically placed for

challenging behaviour arising from other

for the collection of food and eating

monitoring at the top and the bottom.

complex special needs.

together. I have had the experience

As the understanding of BESD

of sharing a lunchtime in a compact,

Space to learn

develops, it is important that spaces

flagging dining hall and it was very easy

Classrooms in BESD schools are

for teaching evolve. Through continued

to see how a cramped room with a poor

typically the size of those in mainstream

collaboration and debate, and a critical

outlook could create an adverse set of

schools, but will have a much lower

assessment of new and existing schools,

conditions, working against the desire

occupancy – as few as eight students,

we can come closer to understanding

for calm and sociable interaction.

a teacher and a teaching assistant.

strengths and weaknesses of different

Ease of movement and safe

The added space per pupil means that

approaches, to be gauged in relation

circulation is the product of a clear

formal and informal study areas can

to students’ needs and behaviour.



be provided, along with ample space

classrooms and dispersed staff offices

to control incidents, should they occur.



can help management. Simple design

Ownership, identity and display

parameters, such as the critical need to

are important to student confidence.

avoid both blind corners and dead ends

Practical spaces, as well as class bases,

at all costs, will help reduce the number

will benefit from a shop-window or

of incidents that seem to escalate if

large areas of display that showcase

escape in more than one direction is

the students' skills. Nurturing a sense

denied. The creation of visual links by

of self-worth and a system of praise

increasing zones of internal glazing will

and celebration of achievements is a

aid safety, but complete transparency

crucial counterpoint to schools that have

is to be avoided as students can

higher levels of behavioural control and

find the extra stimulus distracting. In

poor discipline.

Further information

Sandy Wright is a partner at Wright and Wright Architects, who have recently completed two new schools for students with BESD in Hull and Southwark:





Family values Dominic Stevenson looks at how the right fostering placement can transform the lives of children and parents alike


The number of children in care with statements of SEN is rising

or the first time, there are now

The shortage of foster families means

more than 50,000 fostering

that children sometimes have to live

families across the UK.

with foster carers who may not have the

Despite this record figure,

right experience, training and support to

though, at least 9,000 new families are

meet their specific needs. This can put a

needed in 2013 alone, as the number

strain on the relationship and may cause

of children coming into care continues

placements to break down, meaning

way from their home, are split up from

to rise.

children are moved around time and time

their brothers and sisters, and have to

Each looked-after child is an individual, often with complex needs.

again, suffering even more disruption to

move from family to family and school

their often already traumatic lives.

to school. Some live in children’s homes,

They can all benefit from a foster carer

A well-matched fostering placement,

with the right skills to help them develop

on the other hand, can see a child live

and thrive, both in care and when they

and thrive with one foster carer over

leave, whether they return to their

many years.

birth family, are adopted or live as an independent adult.

even though foster care has been identified as the best option for them. A wider pool of foster carers with the right skills and qualities would make it more likely that the right homes can be

Matching families

found for children first time, giving them

The number of children in care with

The shortage of foster carers also means

the best chance of a happy childhood

statements of SEN is rising, so there is

that fostering services often struggle

and a successful future.

an increasing demand for foster carers

to find the right home for a child, first

Hayley became a foster carer two

who have the skills and willingness to

time around. As a result, children often

years ago and has never looked back:

support a child with special needs.

have to live with a foster family a long

“I wanted to do something to help



Ten steps to fostering

“It has, without a doubt, been the best decision I've ever made”

1. Starting point – visit:

tough experiences at the start, but in a way I think it gave me the determination, inspiration and ambition I needed. My foster carer, who I now see as my mum, always instilled good values in me and to find local fostering services.

amazing”, says Claire. “I had some

she’s why I’ve been successful and gone families that needed it”, she says. “I

on to university. She’s encouraged me

had a spare room and spare time so I

to go for everything I want to achieve

contact local agencies for an

made the decision to become a foster

and has been the biggest inspiration in

information pack.

carer. It has, without a doubt, been the

my whole life.”

2. Choose a fostering service –

3. Find out more – attend an

best decision I've ever made. I love how

information session and meet

I've made a massive impact on families

current foster carers.

that I now feel a part of.”

4. Make a formal application. 5. Start the assessment – a

Paula and her family have also put themselves in the frame, despite

social worker will support you

extraordinary circumstances: “My

through the process, carrying

husband is a paraplegic full-time

out a thorough assessment of you and your household. 6. Attend training – all prospective foster carers complete pre-approval training to prepare them and

wheelchair user and we thought, at first, that we would not be able to foster due to his disability. But this has never been an issue due to a very supportive fostering service,” she explains. “None of the children placed with us have seen my husband’s disability as a problem,

their household for a career

and we are able to show the children

in fostering.

that whoever you are and whatever your

7. Get checked out – background checks are made

problems, you can be someone.” Janet, who has been fostering for 35

on all applicants as fostering

years, knows that fostering can not only

services need to be sure that

change the life of the children you care

children will be safe and well

for, it can change yours too. “We have

cared for.

had lots of great success during our

8. Fostering panel – when all information has been gathered, a report is made to a fostering panel who recommend whether the applicant is suitable to foster. 9. Becoming a foster carer

time fostering”, she says. “My husband has walked one of our children down the aisle at her wedding and I have

13 to 26 May 2013 Fostering services are currently looking for people from all walks of life, and of all ages, to become foster carers. Having the right skills and a desire to work with children are essential. Carers also need to have a good sense of humour, to show resilience in the face of challenging behaviour and to have the confidence to provide stability in a welcoming home where a child can feel secure and safe. This Foster Care Fortnight, 13 to 26 May, the Fostering Network is asking people to get in the frame and consider becoming a foster carer. If you believe that you’ve got what it takes to foster, visit:

attended the university graduations of young people that we have cared for. I have been at the hospital for a scan when someone we used to care for had her first baby and she is now a

– the fostering service then

police constable. We are just so proud

makes the final decision

of them all.”

about approval.

Foster Care Fortnight

Clare was two when she went into

10. Looking after a child – the

care. For the first five years, she was

fostering service matches a

moved around between a lot of different

child with a new family. This

homes, before a permanent foster carer

could be the next day or in a

was found. “I’ve had a stable home since

few weeks.

I was about eight years old when I was

Further information

Dominic Stevenson is Media and Communications Officer at the Fostering Network, organisers of Foster Care Fortnight:

placed with my foster family, who are





The Paralympic inheritance Last summer’s “legacy Games” promised much for disability sport. Alison Boulton looks at how reality is matching up to the hype

"It has made people realise that athletes are athletes and people are people. It doesn't matter if you're Usain Bolt or in a wheelchair, we're all people and everyone just wants to talk about the sport now”.


It is probably unrealistic to imagine investment will continue at such intensive levels

to take on the best in the world at the Paralympics. But, six months on, it is easy to wonder whether the impact on young disabled people, who simply want to play more sport but are never going to be the next Sarah Storey, is sustainable.

his was how Charles Walker

The Paralympians obviously fall into

of Great Britain’s sitting

learning disability were able to take part

the elite bracket and their talents

volleyball team, described

in the games, making them truly the

undoubtedly benefitted from being hot-

the levelling effect of the

most inclusive sports event the country

housed in facilities that gained targeted

has ever seen.

Government funding at a time when

2012 Paralympics. Throughout the

summer of 2012, people began to re-

This new zest for competitive disabled

the Games were in sight. It is probably

asses what they felt were achievable and

sport had a transformative effect at a

unrealistic to imagine investment in

desirable aspirations for young people

grass roots education level too, with

disabled sport facilities will continue at

with a disability in the UK.

students inspired to try new sports

such intensive levels, post Paralympics,

The London-based games created

and activities at schools and colleges

especially at a time when public money

some impressive new disabled sports

across the UK. There was plenty of

is so scarce. So have the games left their

icons, like British cyclist Sarah Storey,

home-grown talent to inspire them, as

legacy at an educational level?

whose multiple gold medals made her

colleges and their facilities played their

the most decorated Paralympian of all

part in nurturing Paralympic talent. The

The next generation

time, surpassing even the great Tanni

GB blind football squad, for example,

It could be argued that the promotion

Grey-Thompson. It was also the first

was based at the Royal National College

of inclusive sports like blind football

time in 12 years that athletes with a

for the Blind (RNC), where they prepared

and boccia, through the Paralympics,



went some way to democratising sport by demystifying some of these games and elevating their status. Some independent and mainstream colleges with good facilities for disabled students have been playing these games to very

Colleges have been working together on some inspirational inclusive sports projects

they receive as part of their education can make the difference between simply learning the basic skills they need for daily life or enriching their curriculum by developing hobbies, talents and passions they will cherish throughout their lives. For young people

high competitive levels for years, both nationally and internationally. But it

with complex needs, the prerequisites

was only with the advent of the 2012

colleges. This is good news because,

of support and safe, specialised

Paralympics that the sports gained

as recently as 2001, a study by Sport

education that meets their needs must

such a high mainstream profile. This,

England claimed that 62 per cent of

be in place before their talents can grow

in itself, means that they are reaching a

disabled young people surveyed felt

and flourish.

broader audience and will have a greater

that they were left out of sport because

appeal, which should help to inspire the

of their disability.

next generation of Paralympians and

The recently published Children and Families Bill sets out some aspirational aims for young people with learning

disabled sporting heroes. FE colleges

Making it count

difficulties or disabilities and ratifies the

must have a role to play in this as they

Capitalising on the increased profile

need to make a full range of educational

feature in a young person’s life at a time

of, and appetite for, disability sports,

choice available to young people, their

when they are most likely to be learning

post Paralympics, is an important part

families and carers. In the absence of

what drives them on and what they will

of making the most of the Paralympic

sufficient public funding to ensure that

choose to be passionate about for the

legacy for young people. With this in

every disabled child has high quality

rest of their lives.

mind, many colleges have been working

inclusive sports facilities in their local

One such talent, nurtured through

together on some inspirational inclusive

community, it may often fall to schools

a college with good sports facilities, is

sports projects that are relevant to both

and the FE sector, and those colleges

Zac Day. Zac began studying at Portland

disabled and able-bodied students.

that have achieved excellence and

College, an independent specialist

A project funded by Sports England

quality in their sports provision, to

college in Nottingham, aged 16. An

– and piloted through Portland College,

help identify, encourage and sustain

acquired brain injury made it difficult

Royal National College for the Blind,

the growing wealth of talent that we

for him to attend mainstream college

Derwen College in Shropshire and

have amongst young disabled people in

due to short-term memory problems

Doncaster Communication College

the UK.

and complex cognitive difficulties.

– involved collaboration between

However, once at college, Zac soon

specialist colleges and ten mainstream

found he excelled at football and also

colleges. The colleges worked closely

began playing wheelchair basketball,

together to draw up strategies and

boccia and cricket, sports that he

deliver workshops on how to make

hadn’t had the opportunity or support to

their sports facilities fully inclusive by

play before.

adapting existing games and learning to

His football abilities were quickly

play new ones. The process helped to

spotted by Notts County and he was

demystify sports traditionally associated

selected to be part of their pan-disability

with disabled athletes, as well as

squad, competing throughout the East

promoting inclusion. The project showed

Midlands. He has since moved on to

how games played at the Paralympics

Loughborough College to further his

can be adapted to be played fairly with

qualifications in sport, and is perfectly

mixed disabled and able-bodied teams.

placed to begin a successful career

It gave many non-disabled and disabled

in sport.

students the chance to play together

Zac is part of a wave of young people

competitively for the first time.

taking advantage of a fuller range of

For many young people with

sports options for disabled people

disabilities and SEN, the quality and

at both specialist and mainstream

diversity of the education and support

Further information

Alison Boulton is the Chief Executive of the National Association of Specialist Colleges (Natspec): Photo: Holly Kuchera /





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Ability, not disability Sport for all is high on the agenda at Treloar’s School and College A thrilling and comprehensive programme of sporting activities awaits young disabled people joining Treloar’s. Both School and College students are given access to dozens of sports and our staff actively encourage students to try things they’ve never done before, despite their physical disability or learning difficulty. Our dedicated and trained staff help our young disabled students explore sport like never before, opening up a world of activity, including wheelchair basketball, boccia, athletics, sailing, swimming and more. We’ve even offered rock climbing, which one student was blown away by, saying: “I came out of my wheelchair. I climbed up the wall. I was sweating. It was wicked!” And while many take part in sports simply for enjoyment, numerous students compete in local and national competitions. Some have even gone on to become Paralympic medallists, an achievement we are truly proud of. Treloar College student Marie has her sights firmly set on sporting success. “Treloar’s has changed my life in many ways. I now believe that I can achieve the goals I set myself. My next big step is working to be admitted at the 2016 Paralympic Games”, she says. Our students are welcome to join sporting teams across the School and College and we’ve had great success recently, with Treloar’s swimming squad picking up “Team of the Year” at a regional sporting awards ceremony. We are also proud to have the GB boccia coach as Head of Boccia Development at Treloar’s, ensuring our current and former students’ Paralympic legacy continues to thrive. This summer will see Treloar’s host a national boccia tournament for the first time, as we continue to build on our students’ success in this sport.

For more information about joining Treloar’s, visit www. to register for our open days, or contact our admissions team on: 01420 547 425 or by emailing:




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Sunken Trampolines and Rebound Therapy bouncing in harmony Rebound therapy is an exercise therapy being used by schools across the world which uses trampolines to provide opportunities for movement, therapeutic exercise and recreation for people across the whole spectrum of special needs. Rebound therapy is used to facilitate movement, to promote balance, to increase or decrease muscle tone, and to aid relaxation and sensory integration. It is also used to improve fitness and exercise tolerance and to improve communication skills. It is popular in special needs schools and is becoming increasingly popular in mainstream schools with a special needs unit – partly because the trampoline is a piece of apparatus that virtually all people, regardless of their abilities, can access, benefit from and enjoy. Above ground trampolines can provide a platform for this form of therapy. However, safety issues and ease of use are often prohibitive and discourage many schools and facilities from implementing this highly beneficial means of exercise. Sunken Trampolines have begun working with schools and care institutions to provide them with a safer and more amenable asset for their play areas, which help facilitate the addition of rebound therapy to their portfolio of treatments and therapies. Angus from Sunken Trampolines says: “We are now finding many special needs schools are opting for a sunken trampoline for the added safety and ease of access for the children.”

Sunken Trampolines build all their sunken trampolines to specific specifications and precise standards, in order to ensure maximum safety and enjoyment. Examples of Sunken Trampoline’s work can be found on the company’s website. For further information on how a sunken trampoline and rebound therapy can benefit your organisation, contact either Joel or Angus at Sunken Trampolines. Email: or visit: For more information about rebound therapy and staff training courses, telephone: 01342 870543, email: or visit:

Young disabled people wanted for sports festival In May, the English Federation of Disability Sport will deliver three days of sporting fun for young disabled people at the home of Paralympic sport, Stoke Mandeville Stadium. The Festival of Sport is being held from 10 to 12 May 2013 and is designed to enable six- to 16-year-olds with all impairments to try a range of sports. Supported by Everyone Active, the event is free for participants to take part (accommodation and lunches are chargeable). The event is so popular that is has featured on the Disability Sport Events (DSE) calendar for over twenty years. DSE is the events programme for the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS), the national body for disabled people in sport or physical activity throughout England. This Festival at Stoke Mandeville is just one of the opportunities in the programme, which encourages young disabled people to find a sport and enjoy the benefits of being active. Barry Horne, EFDS’s Chief Executive said: “Our Festival is really popular with many schools and individuals across the country. It is great to have so many young people, sports bodies and volunteers join together to introduce a variety of fun opportunities. You do not have to be a Paralympian or even dream of being one to love sport. We want the young disabled people taking part to enjoy it so much, that they take their enthusiasm back home and continue being active in whatever sport they choose.” Over three days, sporting partners will come together to offer exciting opportunities to participants. The main aim is for

participants to learn new skills, try new sports and, most of all, have fun. Organisers hope that children will take their positive experience to another level and continue in one or more sports, whether locally or nationally. For more information on EFDS and the DSE participation opportunities, visit: SENISSUE64



Making a splash Inclusive and therapeutic, swimming is so good for kids it’s a wonder they like it so much, says Claire Freeman


earning to swim provides children with a vital survival skill and this is no different for children with a disability

or SEN. There is no need for anyone to be deprived of the developmental opportunities on offer when getting wet, or to miss out on all the fun. Swimming is a very inclusive activity and a great way for families to have fun together. It’s an essential part of children’s school life too. First and foremost, learning to swim is a skill that could ultimately save a

Learning to swim can really boost children's confidence.

child’s life. As drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death in

children have fun in a non-competitive

form of therapy because the water is

children, it is vital that every child has

environment. Disabled swimmers say

weight bearing.

the opportunity to learn to swim and gain

that one of the great things about

Added to that, the sensory effects

core knowledge regarding water safety.

swimming from an early age is the

of water have been shown to stimulate

The Government continues to see the

new friends they made. They also say

interaction in children with emotional,

value of learning to swim as a life saving

that it gave them a massive boost in

skill, with proposals announced recently

confidence and really helped with social

for the new draft National Curriculum

skills and communication.

confirming that swimming will remain on the curriculum for Key Stage 2.

Swimming can also greatly aid therapy for those with physical

Swimming provides a lot of pleasure;

disabilities. Indeed, it is often prescribed

it’s a great leveller and can help

for those with a physical disability as a

Learning to swim is a skill that could ultimately save a child’s life behavioural and communication disorders and neurological conditions such as autism. These children are known to benefit from sensory stimulation, as it helps with proprioception (awareness of the body in space).

Learning to swim The majority of children with SEN or disabilities can learn to swim with nondisabled children and progress using the same British Gas ASA Learn to Swim Pathway (the national syllabus Swimming is often recommended for those with physical disabilities.


for swimming lessons).


Ben has loved water ever since his first bath in the hospital

• if the swimmer’s disability has

s/he is physically unable to achieve

• if the swimmer requires

been acquired recently (for example through amputation) and so is new to the swimmer • if there are any restrictions or limitations in or under the water

Ben Foulston with four-times Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds.

Born to swim

According to his parents, twelveyear-old Ben Foulston has loved water ever since his first bath in the hospital. An inspiration to others and a born competitor, he enjoys his swimming so much that he now boasts a host of medals from competitions across the UK. When he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in April 2011, he was already swimming for a club, and he now swims for both a mainstream club and the county disability squad. “Ben swims five days a week, in the evenings and weekends”, says his dad Geoff. “He loves swimming and has made lots of friends. He has a right side weakness which mostly affects his stroke in breast and butterfly and he has stiffness in all his joints. “Our family life revolves around training sessions, galas and competitions. He will be competing this year in his first International race. He hopes to swim in the Paralympics and we have told him that if he trains hard and has a positive mental attitude to his swimming, then anything is possible.”

them. It has been recognised that some

medication during the session.

individuals need skills broken down into

Support staff in schools can help

small steps in order for them to be able

encourage participation in swimming by

to achieve, so with this in mind, there

ensuring that school swimming lessons

are three disability awards that form part

are adapted, and that full consideration

of the learn to swim awards scheme.

is given to any extra support that may

The intention is that once they have

need to be put in place.

achieved these three stages there will be

Care must to be taken to ensure

a smooth transition into the core stages

that the pool and surrounding areas

suitable for all.

are suitable for all children, including

Some disabled children will never

those with specific needs. If hoists are

be able to reach the later stages – for

required, it is highly recommended that

example, some may not be able to swim

staff visit the centre to check that these

on their front due to the nature of their

are operational.

disability. However, properly qualified

Additional arrangements may need

swimming teachers understand that they

to be made for those with visual and

are teaching aquatics, regardless of the

hearing impairments and those with

ability/disability of the swimmer and so

learning disabilities. For example,

will adapt the teaching methods to suit

visually impaired learners may benefit

the needs of the participants.

from music, originating from one source,

Clearly, no two people are identical

to aid orientation in the pool. The use of

and the teacher will consider how

photos and pictures may help those with

the individual’s physique, mobility

hearing impairments and the rhythm

and application affect the swimming

of a drum may also be used as an aid

technique. For example, breathing skills

to timing. Continuous repetition and

are very important and people who have

reinforcement of instructions in a variety

difficulties swallowing may be at risk and

of different ways may help many with

require careful observation.

learning disabilities. The use of praise to reinforce small steps – be it verbal, a

An individual approach

smile or a thumbs-up – can also make

Determining the specific needs of the

a big difference.

participant is an essential prerequisite for his/her successful involvement in swimming. These may be determined by direct consultation with the individual and parent or carer. The swimming

Rewarding success and praising achievement keeps children motivated to continue learning and it’s important that they retain this during their swimming

teacher will consider: • if the swimmer is able to cope in a group • if s/he requires one-to-one

journey. The child can work through

assistance to move in the water

the same award stages as others, but

• if the swimmer has a special need

will be exempt from some skills where

Further information

Claire Freeman is from the ASA (formerly the Amateur Swimming Association), the governing body for swimming in England. The organisation provides a range of resources, information and support for parents, teachers and practitioners:

that is not apparent SENISSUE64




On yer bike Isabelle Clement looks at why everyone should be cycling


n our hi-tech age, we can access

it. It also helps increase stamina

nearly everything online, without the

and mobility.

need to move an inch. This makes

Obesity is a much discussed

life much more convenient but there

contemporary concern and cycling is

is a downside; much has been said and

ideal for targeting problems with body

written about the negative effects of

weight, enabling people who might

an inactive lifestyle on health, and not

not otherwise move easily to increase

just on physical health but on mood,

their physical fitness and stimulate fat

concentration and general wellbeing.

Many first-time riders describe the feeling as exhilarating and empowering

burning processes. Cycling is especially

and other psychological problems.

Everyone can enjoy and benefit

good for aerobic exercise, as it generally

Improved stamina reduces tiredness

from exercise and cycling is a hugely

places less of a strain on the body than

and fatigue and promotes a sense of

beneficial and fun way to maintain an

other endurance sports.

wellbeing. Indeed, many first-time riders

active and balanced lifestyle. Studies

Physical activity can serve as a

show that moderate physical activity,

regulator to relieve stress and can

such as cycling, strengthens the immune

therefore contribute to improved

The challenge is to make cycling

system. Exercise puts demands on the

emotional wellbeing. It can help

accessible to everybody. Inclusive

skeletal system and can strengthen


cycling can sometimes look a bit



describe the feeling as exhilarating and empowering.

different to cycling on a standard bicycle. Bikes come in a wide range of different shapes and sizes to meet the requirements of a broad range of users. There are tricycles, hand-bikes, recumbent cycles, and bikes for two riders, to name but a few. A number of organisations across the country run inclusive cycle sessions on a non-profit basis, providing opportunities for children and adults with a wide range of physical, cognitive and emotional impairments to enjoy the benefits of cycling. Thanks to Britain’s highly successful sporting year in 2012, public funding has been funnelled into sport, including a larger proportion, for the first time, for disability sport.

How cycling benefited students at two SEN schools Wheels for Wellbeing recently ran cycling sessions at two South London SEN schools. A group of fourteen Key Bikes come in many forms, including hand-operated cycles.


Stage 3 pupils at a Lambeth special


school took part in the sessions. All have complex learning difficulties, including some with autistic spectrum disorders, and all are working below National Curriculum levels with minimal, if any, speech. A number of the group can

Students with challenging behaviour were able to learn in a relatively safe environment

display challenging behaviours. Most

result, some of them may be able to take part in public sessions as a leisure activity in the future. One student in the group who initially refused even to wear a helmet at the first session is now completing eleven laps at Herne Hill Velodrome.

of the pupils have under-developed gross and fine motor skills and physical

routines, and showed greater levels of

A positive future

coordination. Many of the pupils have

independence. They would, for example,

The investment of Olympics and

limited access to leisure facilities during

arrive at the venue and go to find their

Paralympics legacy funding in inclusive

their free time.

helmets without being prompted.

sporting projects means that at-risk

The broad aims of the sessions from the school’s perspective were: Physical • to develop students’ motor skills and coordination

Most of the students developed a

groups and those who are hard to reach

preference for particular bikes, and

are now getting more attention and

would make independent choices

enabling resources from sporting bodies

about their equipment. Some students,

and charities. More sports are looking

who were initially more tentative about

to extend their appeal, helped greatly

participating, became more confident

by the publicity and mainstreaming

when working with members of staff on

of disabled people in sport achieved

and fitness activity that may

the side-by-side bikes. Most were able

by the London Games. Blind football

otherwise be unavailable to them

to ride one of the bikes independently.

clubs are becoming more inclusive, with

• to help students learn or develop

Evidence of problem solving was also

disabled and able bodied participants,

seen, as some of the students worked

mountain biking centres are making

out for themselves how to use the

trails accessible to adaptive bikes,

different types of equipment.

and sailing, traditionally the domain

• to help students access a health

a physical skill. Social

All of the pupils showed improved

of the privileged, is catching up with

activity, in an unfamiliar setting,

physical coordination. The amount

specially constructed boats for use by

where students are required to

of exercise the students got from

disabled sailors.

interact with each other and with

continuously cycling round the track

Cycling is beneficial to mind, body

unfamiliar adults

was significant, and the pupils showed

and the environment. With the recently

how much they enjoyed the activity by

published Mayor’s Vision for Cycling

their high levels of participation.

in London, the capital should see a

• to aid participation in a group

• to help students experience a new activity • to encourage students to follow

Teachers from Nash College in

significant rise in cycling numbers. Such

the routines and structures of a

Bromley also found that a more

initiatives are also starting to spread

structured form of cycling session

across the country and there is no

• to help students enjoy a new

was very rewarding for their students.

reason why increases in participation

activity, that they may not

Consistent availability of equipment,

shouldn’t include more cyclists with

otherwise have access to,

and familiarity with regular staff on the

disabilities and SEN.

outside the school environment.

programme, enabled the students to

new activity

feel comfortable engaging in an activity Over the course of the sessions, the

that many of them find physically

pupils showed significant progress in

challenging. It also meant that the

all of the areas the school was seeking

students were more able to anticipate

to develop. In the initial stages, many

the different stages of the session and

pupils needed support and prompting to

therefore to participate in a calmer and

use the bikes, put helmets on and ride

more proactive manner.

on the track in the correct way.

Having sessions exclusively for

As pupils became more familiar with

the school meant that students with

the activity, though, the school noticed

challenging behaviour were able to learn

that most of them quickly learned the

in a relatively safe environment. As a

Further information

Isabelle Clement is the Director of Wheels for Wellbeing, a charity supporting disabled people to cycle in London:





Into the future Niel McLean looks at how new technology is revolutionising learning for children with SEN


hirty years ago, I was a

and analyst. He may not have lowered

science teacher in a London

the thermometer into the beaker, but

comprehensive. The school

he read the scale, entered the date and

was unusual. It had pupils

produced the cooling curve graph that

from both a partial hearing unit and from

clearly showed the point when the ice

a school for children and young people

was dropped into the warm water.

Technology can create a safe distance between the user and the world

with physical and medical difficulties,

Of course, the examinations board

SEN, and an increasing recognition that

who may have had additional learning

were very clear that he could not use

hardware and software tools can level

or sensory needs, integrated into

the programme in the examination itself,

the playing field for learners. The Joint

mainstream classrooms.

as if that would give him some sort of

Council for Qualifications’ recent change

David was a student in my O Level

advantage over other pupils. I was to

in the regulations allows students with

physics class. His cerebral palsy

act as his scribe, with an extra hour

reading difficulties such as dyslexia to

prevented him from engaging directly

being allowed for him to provide me

use text readers in examinations. New

in much of the practical work, though he

with spoken instructions. Back then, I

technologies offer a myriad of ways for

was an active participant in group work,

was unaware of the terms “augmentative

educators and examiners to respond

and he wrote using two footswitches

and alternative communication” and

to the statutory requirement to make

connected to an early micro-computer.

“assistive technology”, but I remember

“reasonable adjustments”.

One of the first pieces of software

the frustration we all felt and the feeling

I wrote was a simple programme that

Technology is a powerful tool to

that there must be a better way.

support learning with others. Online

diagrams. He could now produce reports

Enabling technology

good for motivating children with SEN.

of his practical work that read well and

In the intervening years, we have seen

Technology can create a safe distance

looked professional, and he increasingly

an explosion in the use of technology to

between the user and the world, allowing

took on the role of group data recorder

support learners with a diverse range of

children with emotional or behavioural

allowed him to draw graphs and basic


collaborations can be particularly


difficulties to engage in group activity through online tools and social media. In the age of the Internet, learners can be continents apart or in close proximity, working together on an interactive

Even in the 1980s, touch screens were available for the BBC Micro

whiteboard to solve a problem together.

onscreen mind-maps to capture their thoughts and visualise ideas as an aid to studying, problem solving, decision making and writing. The latest versions of these tools allow pictures, sounds and videos to be created and linked

Touch screen tables, where a group

to the mind-maps. Once the ideas are

sits round an interactive table-top

quick to innovate. There are objects

captured, they can easily be transformed

screen, working together using touch

that say what they are when they are

into stunning animated presentations,

to move onscreen objects, are a new

touched, and others where a message

documents or even a complete website.

development that offers huge potential

can be recorded and activated by

For all learners, the more that learning

to learners with special needs.

touch. Speaking tiles can be ordered to

can be seamless, with connections

Technology helps those with SEN

produce a sequence of words or sounds.

between what happens in school

learn through exploration in a variety

Learning by making has always been

and outside, the more effective the

of ways. On the software side, it can

a key component of special needs

learning is. Experiences in school can

help learners interact and experience

education. The process of making aids

be recorded as sound or video files to

the world in new ways. Many products

understanding, and the accompanying

be played back or podcasted in other

exist that help learners access the

sense of achievement increases

settings. Parents can become more

written word. Words can be magnified

motivation and engagement. Technology

involved and more supportive of their

on screen, text can be translated into

can put learners in control of their

children’s learning, and children can

speech and speech into text, and

environment, as well as helping them

practice what they are learning wherever

symbols can represent words and words

express themselves and communicate

they are.

symbols. The key common feature

their thoughts. Recent developments in

These are exciting times in the

is that an aspect of the world that is

eye controllers are bringing what was

development of technology, as devices

not available to the learner, perhaps

once highly specialised technology

become more personal, portable

because of a sensory impairment, can

within everyday reach. The latest

connected and interactive. As ever,

be translated into an experience that is.

versions simply plug into the computer’s

creative teachers and developers

USB connection. Games controllers

continue to find innovative ways of

Hands-on learning

can also be modified to provide new

harnessing the potential of these new

Some software offers multi-sensory

ways for children to manipulate and

technologies to help learners, and

experiences. For example, many children

control events.

particularly those with SEN, experience,

with hearing difficulties experience

The explosion in tablet PCs, where

music through touch. This can be

the user controls things by directly

complemented through an onscreen

touching the screen, has transformed

visualisation of a piece of music to

personal computing. The SEN world

provide a more expressive experience.

has always been at the cutting-edge

Learners can also explore online

in using touch technology. Even in the

environments, stories and simulations.

1980s, touch screens were available

Complex real world experiences can

for the BBC Micro. Now there are apps

be modelled or broken down into

for tablet PCs that distinguish between

simpler steps in a way that makes them

intentional and non-intentional touch

more accessible.

and provide feedback so that you know

Technology is developing at such

the world.

that you have touched the screen.

a pace that soon it will be possible to connect anything to the Internet. ICT

A bright future

specialists talk about the “Internet of

Computer software can support and

things”, where your mobile phone can

scaffold thinking. The potential is

talk to your central heating system, or

enormous, from simple software allowing

locate your lost car keys through the

events to be dragged and dropped into

chip embedded in the key holder. Again,

a time line, through to sophisticated

special needs education has been

programmes allowing learners to create

learn about and make their mark in

Further information

Niel McLean is the Head of the Futurelab Research Centre at NFER, which is tasked with developing innovative approaches to education:








Home sweet home Cheryl Moy tells how home educating her son has made them both smile again “Please don’t make me stay.” “But mum, they won’t let me read my book.” “He isn't badly hurt but you might

I did what most mums do: I sent my child to nursery thinking it would be good for him

want to come and get him because

parent. It was adamant that this was why my son preferred to read a book than play football, why he would rather stand than sit on a cold floor, constantly made noises, ignored demands from teachers, asked questions and refused to get ready for PE.

he is refusing to move.”

My beautiful little boy would cry and scream every day when I left him at the

“You do know he is naughty all

he has known for years. They choose

school door. His teachers would tell me

the time?”

to be his friends; they accept him and

that he always settled very quickly; it


his quirks.

seems this was not the reality, though.

rom my son being three years

I did what most mums do: I sent

A friend, a dinner lady, explained how

old, until I deregistered from

my child to nursery thinking it would

he would often sit in the corner of the

school at the age of eight to

be good for him. He was an extremely

playground sobbing, kicking out or

educate him at home, I heard

bright, energetic, happy child. At school,

biting other kids. He was often made

these kinds of things daily. Three years

he was already three years ahead of

to stand facing the wall for all his break

on, my son is about to have his twelfth

his peers, but the school refused to

times because he had refused to put

birthday, surrounded by a small group

give him ability-appropriate work until

his coat on, or had pushed to the front

of friends of various ages, both boys

his behaviour conformed to their rigid

of the line.

and girls, who he sees almost every


After a lengthy battle with the school

day. Some he met through the activities

The school was determined that my

to recognise his issues, which were

he attends and some are local children

son had ADHD and that I was a bad

supported by paediatricians as being



autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and sensory processing disorder, I was becoming concerned about my son’s health, so I visited our GP. I was told that my six-year-old was depressed because of school. I thought my only option was to find another school, so off he went with

He is allowed the freedom to do things at his own pace, without the pressure to conform

home. He can eat at a time he is hungry, choosing food he is happy with. My son has confidence again; he is happy with whom he is, and content with the life and freedom he now has. The educational psychologist agrees that home education suits him (and his siblings). His music teacher is amazed

an educational psychologist’s report

by him and his commitment to learning

recommending how to get the best from

the piano (an interest he didn’t have in

him. Things started well, but he began

school). He is academically ahead of his

to show signs of depression again and

is often heard correcting someone or

peers and he loves maths, chemistry

the school were refusing to listen to the

adding some interesting information to

and physics. He is likely to be ready

educational psychologist.

a conversation from a book he has read.

for his GCSEs before he turns 14, if

He was in that school for two years

When I first deregistered him, he

he chooses to sit exams, and he has

before I heard about home education.

refused to put pen to paper. This was a

already shown an interest in a maths

Within three days I had sent the letter

concern the school had expressed for

degree with the Open University.

to school saying that he would not be

many years, but as he was continually

My son smiles every day; my son

returning. He hasn't set foot in a school

being told he wasn’t neat enough at the

hugs me and tells me he loves me every

since. I had no idea that school was

age of five, it isn't surprising that he was

day. With counselling, and me to love

not compulsory, that as long as he was

reluctant. I didn’t put any pressure on

him, he recovered from the depression

receiving an education, that was all that

him. I would write for him if he wanted

that had eaten away at him. It took a

mattered in law.

to do a workbook; if he wanted to write

couple of years to get my happy little

a story, he could type it instead. Now I

boy back, but he is back.

Freedom to learn

have to make sure I take the pens away

My son often needs to control his

from him because he is often found late

environment; he can be overwhelmed

at night filling in his diary or writing out

by a noise or smell, or he may need

rules for the “secret group” he and his

to create a noise or movement. Home

brother have. He will often take the pen

educating means he can. He can

off his brother and do the writing for joint

have his iPod on while working on a

projects now. He is allowed the freedom

maths book, he can tap his foot if he is

to do things at his own pace, without

concentrating on a science experiment,

anyone demanding he do it, and without

he can stand up to discuss the Cold

the pressure to conform.

War or he can lie in bed while reading

Home educating my children means

Everything You Ever Needed to Know

that when we go on outings we can take

About Physics.

as long as we want to look around. I can

My son needs 12 hours sleep a day

take the time to talk my son through

and often struggles to switch off at night,

the new experience and he can talk to

so being able to wake up when he is

the museum curator for as long as he

ready means he is happier and more

chooses. If he is scared, he can hold my

alert throughout the day. He will read

hand. If he needs to run around, he can.

whilst eating his breakfast or play Lego

My son is free to learn as much as he

with his siblings. He loves books and is

wants from the place and leave when

usually found with one, whether he is

he has had enough.

eating, out shopping, in the car or in the

My son’s “issues” are under control

bathroom. He is free to pick which book

most of the time now, because he can

he wants and has hundreds to choose

choose what he is going to wear – so

from. He will read the same book a few

no annoying tags or socks that don’t

times before moving on to another and

feel right, as he is usually barefoot at

Further information

Information on home education is available from: Many support groups for home educators can also be found on online social networks.





Five ways to understand dyscalculia New research may shed light on the different types of problems dyscalculics have with numeracy, says Tony Attwood During 2012, the results of 300 online dyscalculia tests taken by children and teenagers aged between eight and 18 were analysed in an attempt to reveal patterns which might allow different types of dyscalculia to be identified.

They cannot imagine what “five minutes” means any more than they can grasp how long a millennium is

Dyscalculia is a deep-rooted

times as long as non-dyscalculic people of the same age and intellectual ability and this becomes a constant reminder to them of their “difference” in relation to maths. Thus, like Type 1 dyscalculics, they

inability to understand and undertake mathematical calculations. The word

often find themselves taking two or three

retain a deep embarrassment and level. As a result of this combination of

worry about their condition. However,

dyscalculia is normally reserved for

difficulty and lack of support, their self-

unlike Type 1 dyscalculics, the Type

people whose mathematical problems

doubt appears to make their difficulties

2 individual will often believe his/her

arise because of a genetic malfunction.

even greater. A feeling that “I can’t do

disability is much greater than it is,

As such, dyscalculia may be seen as the

maths” takes over and actively prevents

because the individual is extremely aware

mathematical equivalent of dyslexia.

remedial work.

of how slow s/he is at basic maths.

Just as dyslexic people need help with

Type 1 dyscalculics may grasp the four

reading, often utilising very different

basic functions of maths but generally

Type 3 students have a profound

methods from those used in the general

find that more advanced concepts such

difficulty in comprehending and

classroom, so dyscalculic individuals

as fractions are completely meaningless

dealing with the concept of time. This

need special help.

to them.

may be combined with the conditions

As such individuals tend to feel

revealed in Type 1 or 2 individuals,

Types of dyscalculia

themselves to be living in an alien

but it is the problem with time that

As a result of this analysis, undertaken

world that makes no sense, anxiety and

distinguishes them.

by the Dyscalculia Centre, the

concern tends to grow. Everyone around

This temporal difficulty is not just

proposition has been put forward that

them seems to “get” maths, but they

a problem in coping with the 24-hour

there are, in fact, five different types of

don’t, no matter how often it is taught

clock, which many dyscalculics express,

dyscalculia. These are described, for

to them through conventional means.

but relates to something far deeper. For

the first time, below.

the Type 3 dyscalculic, the notion of Type 2 dyscalculics also experience

time simply doesn't make sense. They

Type 1 dyscalculics report significant

a deep concern about their maths but

cannot imagine or estimate what “five

worries about their maths and are very

have found strategies for understanding

minutes” means any more than they can

poor at completing basic maths tasks

and coping with basic mathematics.

grasp how long a millennium is.

which 90 per cent of people of the same

These people may not be able to pass

Individuals with Type 3 dyscalculia

age could do.

GCSE maths at grade C but they have

invariably also have a short-term/

In effect, because of their dyscalculia

enough mathematical knowledge to get

long-term memory problem, as well as

and because they have either received

by on a daily basis. They can generally

sequencing difficulties. Typically, they

no support or the wrong type of support

operate a calculator and appreciate how

will find it hard to describe a series of

to help them overcome their difficulties,

the basic functions of maths work.

actions (for example, for the running of

they have failed to learn any strategies

However, when asked to undertake

a bath) as a sequence, and will either

to help them do maths even at a basic

mathematical calculations, they can

put actions in the wrong order or will



omit some fundamental issues from the sequence completely. Correcting the Type 3 individual and then asking him/ her to run the sequence again rarely results in any improvement. Type 3 is much rarer than other types

Type 5 dyscalculics do not see numbers as in any way related to the real world

of dyscalculia but for those who suffer from it, day to day problems can be huge.

know what six sheep are, but what is "six"?) Most of us, however, set this

Type 4 dyscalculics turn out not to be

aside and work happily with this strange

dyscalculic in the strictest sense, but are

concept. Some people can’t or don’t do

in fact people who display many of the

this, though, and continue to be puzzled

symptoms of dyscalculia because they

by numbers and their meaning.

have short-term and long-term memory

People with this condition can get by

problems, combined with a home life in

in maths, if they have special tuition, but

which the value of maths has not been

always find fractions difficult, because

appreciated and has not resulted in a

they can't grasp the concept of "half"

desire to learn maths.

or "quarter". Thus they might learn

Typically, these individuals may not

how to add fractions, but the whole

have been recognised as having a

operation remains mechanical, and has

memory problem at school, and may

no relevance to the world they live in.

well have been told at home that maths

Such individuals, if asked to add ¼ +

was not important. A parent may have

¼ + ¼ + ¼, might well write “4/4” as the

said something along the lines of “I

answer. Some might then have learned

could never do maths at school and it

the rules for handling maths to such a

never harmed me.”

degree that they then reduce this answer

While such statements may well

to “1”, but it is a mechanical process,

have been made with the best intent,

rather than one that starts from imagining

they can, in many cases, undermine

a piece of paper cut into quarters, and

any subsequent attempt to help the

then immediately seeing what it means

young person overcome their difficulties

to put the four pieces back together. In

with maths.

short, the addition of the four quarters

Type 4 students are recognised by their inability to remember sequences

does not have the same meaning as it does for most people.

of numbers, such as their telephone

It is important to remember that the

number, because of their difficulty in

results and analysis of the Centre's

finding a way to move sequences of

research are not definitive, but I believe

numbers from the short-term to the

they represent a useful first stage in

long-term memory. Thus, numbers and

the search for a comprehensive

sequences get lost, and any calculation

classification of dyscalculia. There is,

involving two sets of numbers in which

though, a long way yet to go before

one conclusion has to be remembered

we have a full understanding of

while the second is calculated, is liable

this condition.

to be highly problematic. Type 5 dyscalculics are people who do not see numbers as in any way related to the real world. In a sense, most of us have this. After all, what is "six"? (We

Further information

Tony Attwood if the founder of The Dyscalculia Centre:










book reviews

Book reviews by Mary Mountstephen

The Intensive Interaction Handbook Dave Hewett, Graham Firth, Mark Barber and Tandy Harrison

Sound Before Symbol: Developing Literacy through Music Maria Kay

Sage Publications 168 pages, paperback £24.99 ISBN: 978-0-85702-491-6

Sage Publications (Lucky Duck Books) 98 pages, paperback £22.99 ISBN: 978-1-4462-5247-5

Intensive interaction is a method of teaching the fundamentals of communication to children and adults who have severe learning difficulties or autism and who are still at the early stages of communication development. The authors come from a range of backgrounds and have experience as intensive interaction consultants and trainers. The book is divided into three parts covering the history of intensive interaction, the practicalities associated with it and some of the broader issues and topics associated with this approach. Each chapter opens with an overview of the content and uses boxes, case studies, photographs and suggestions for further reading and resources. Activities, ideas and techniques are linked to a reflective practice approach and the book provides a wealth of information on the subject. The authors stress that this approach is intended to provide people with positive experiences of being socially included and emotionally connected with others, by providing them with repeated opportunities from which to learn about “doing” human communication. It also teaches them how to develop the fundamental skills needed when being sociable with other people. Intensive Interaction sessions are described as simple, enjoyable activities which can be integrated into a number of settings. The practicalities are covered in detail, as are documentation and record keeping, and this is the strength of this straightforward and useful text.

Maria Kay is a teacher, music and


literacy specialist with particular expertise in delivering literacy through the medium of music. This book has been produced for early years practitioners and it would also be of value to parents and those working with children with additional needs. Each chapter is preceded by an outline of contents and concludes with a short summary. Kay provides suggestions for activities and, at the end of each chapter, she includes suggestions for further reading and reflective activities. Icons are also used throughout the book to guide the reader. The opening chapter covers a basic outline of what is meant by “music” and she explains the beneficial effects of music for small children. The author points out that there are many similarities between music and pre-literacy skills, and that music has long been associated with developing communication in children who have no speech. She includes a number of songs to illustrate these points and, in subsequent chapters, develops further links between literacy and music – the ways they are processed in the brain – and links to movement and the consolidation of language. In the final chapter, Kay provides ideas specifically for children with additional needs. The book concludes with a comprehensive glossary. This is an interesting and useful book which makes an important contribution to our understanding of early learning and literacy.

book reviews

The Pocket Occupational Therapist for Families of Children with Special Needs Cara Koscinski Jessica Kingsley Publishers 144 pages, paperback £12.99 ISBN: 978-1-84905-932-9 The author is an occupational therapist with many years’ experience of working with children, as well as personal experience of home schooling two children with autistic spectrum and sensory processing disorders. The book is a practical overview which parents and practitioners will find easy to understand. It provides activities which can be integrated into daily life. The main sensory systems are covered, as well as the proprioceptive and vestibular systems, and the author outlines the implications of poor sensory modulation on academic performance. This is a well-written and reassuring text which covers the importance of early experiences such as crawling and tummy time. Other issues which often cause concern, such as hair washing and teeth cleaning, are addressed and the advice given is sensible. The book includes a section on developmental checklists which provides parents with an understanding of what they should expect in terms of developmental progress. The uniqueness of each child is stressed, but this is linked to expectations in areas such as play skills, hand skills, gross motor skills and cognitive skills in children aged two to five years. This book would be of value to parents and early years students working with children with physical and developmental disabilities, or children in rehabilitation from illness or injury, particularly in terms of clarifying what an occupational therapist’s role is and how therapists can improve a child’s daily functioning.

Understanding Stammering or Stuttering: A Guide for Parents, Teachers and Other Professionals Elaine Kelman and Alison White (foreword by Michael Palin) Jessica Kingsley Publishers 126 pages, paperback £12.99 ISBN: 978-1-84905-268-9 This book is an excellent guide to stammering and stuttering and how schools and families can help children who are faced with this difficult barrier to achieve effective communication. The authors have combined expertise in speech and language and journalism, as well as personal family experience of stammering therapy. This experience enables them to produce a book which is both readily accessible and helps the reader to understand more about this complex condition. The chapter headings are straightforward and guide the reader to specific aspects which may be of concern. The viewpoint of the child is central to this book and the child’s voice is clearly represented: it is stressed at the start of each section and highlighted in boxes throughout the text. The difference, or lack of difference, between stammering and stuttering is clarified and the authors point out that about five per cent of children will show some signs of difficulty with fluency at some point in their lives. Only one per cent will continue to stammer into adulthood. I would recommend his book to parents, teachers and others coming into contact with children who are struggling to express themselves fluently. This can be a very difficult area for children and this book provides sensitive and practical advice for developing strategies and dealing with stressful situations.




peer support

The power of peers Deborah Litten and Paty Paliokosta explain how a social skills intervention can promote positive behaviour and reduce social isolation


his is a success story about

and calm, he showed glimpses of his

a boy who, for the purposes

strengths and academic potential.

of this article, will be called

However, although he was proficient

He found it hard to tolerate others’ emotions, resulting in gradual isolation from his peers

Peter. The article discusses

at deciphering emotions, he found it

the development and evaluation of

hard to empathise and tolerate others’

a Circle of Friends approach to peer

emotions, resulting in gradual isolation

support in a mainstream school, which

from his peers. His social isolation

produced significant gains for Peter and

became a barrier to his learning, due to

for his peers, who also proved to be

repeated refusals, leaving the class and

very influential in promoting positive

being aggressive towards other children.

a statement are eight times more likely

behaviour and reducing isolation.

The interplay between Peter and his

to be permanently excluded than pupils

learning environment was identified;

with no identified SEN. As Peter was

What is Circle of Friends

this is in line with the acknowledgement

becoming vulnerable to exclusion,

The Circle of Friends (CoF) is an approach

that situational and peer factors affect a

preventing social isolation and

developed in North America by Jack

child’s social functioning, which can be a

promoting positive behaviour and raising

Pearpoint and Marsha Forest, supporting

predictor of a child’s social competence

self-esteem became the driving forces

the integration and socialisation of

(Frederickson et al., 2005). As Peter was

behind the project. In order to collect

children and adolescents of all ages

at risk of exclusion, CoF was proposed

measurable data, a frequency and

described as having deficits in social

by a multi-disciplinary team as an

severity chart was completed weekly

skills (Newton et al., 1996). Its popularity

approach that would support a more

to monitor occurrences of undesirable

increased in the United Kingdom during

positive relationship with his learning

behaviour, alongside qualitative data

the 1990s and it was endorsed by the

environment and peers.

gathered through peer questionnaires

Department for Children, Schools

Department for Education figures

and Families as a useful strategy for

(DfE, 2009/10) show that pupils with

with stakeholders (parent, SENCO and teachers).

supporting the inclusion of children with ASD into mainstream schools. Although its creators intended it to be more of a tool, it is now widely accepted as a supportive intervention for children who struggle to make friends and potentially become vulnerable to social isolation. Equally, peer support groups have been successful for children experiencing emotional, behavioural or social difficulties.

Peter's story At the time of the CoF intervention, Peter was in Key Stage 2 at a mainstream primary school, where he found school expectations to be increasingly challenging. When he was happy SENISSUE64

Interaction with peers can have a big effect on an individual's behaviour.

peer support

It was fundamental to the group to create an atmosphere of trust and closeness


respond appropriately throughout the meeting. The school SENCO observed a session and described it as “a moving experience. All the children were engaged in offering strategies and helping Peter with the difficulties he faces in all aspects of school life; it was wonderful to observe this openness”.

importance of these relationships. The

Figure 1: The Circle of Exchange process (Newton and Wilson, 2003, p.25).

Implementing the group

area of friendship is highlighted and

Making a difference

the children are encouraged to share

It was fundamental to the group to

how they would feel if they didn’t have

create an atmosphere of trust and

any friends to talk to or play with. The

closeness, encouraging a relaxed forum

aim and expectations of the group were

for the sessions each week. The children

discussed and the children were made

discussed difficulties and decided on

aware of their voluntary participation.

strategies using problem solving skills.

Eight children were involved in the

The main focus for the adult was to

The intervention ran for eight weekly

group, four girls and four boys. All eight

facilitate rather than control, and to

sessions, lasting 30 to 45 minutes.

children were between nine and ten

observe the relationships at work. When

Each week, targets were discussed

years old and in the same class as Peter.

Peter was asked how he felt about the

and reviewed by all the children and

The individual peers were chosen by the

sessions and the discussions that took

decisions were made regarding their

facilitator, from amongst those who had

place, his response was: "it is okay

continuation or alteration; Peter was

volunteered, for their honesty, empathy

when they talk about good things but

involved in the decision making and

and problem solving skills, as well as

a bit hard when it is bad things, but my

evaluation of targets. In the first session,

for their existing relationship with Peter.

friends are helping me. I like it when the

the facilitator explained the complexity

For each child involved, permission was

group see and say good things about

of the sessions and the children shared

obtained from parents/carers prior to the

my behaviour”.

why they wanted to be involved. The

start of group sessions. The ethos, from

The evidence collated throughout

children discussed the impact of

the very beginning, was to empower

the research indicates that the CoF

unhappy playtimes and shared any

all the children involved. Each child

approach is an intervention that has

worries that they had at school. Later

had a turn at being the Chairperson

contributed to positive changes in

they discussed their opinions of Peter's

and was responsible for running the

behaviour and social acceptance, both

behaviour and the positive aspects

session and directing the other children

in the classroom and playground, from

of his personality. Finally, the group

to take turns, listen to others and

peers and adults. The data collated from

reflected on behaviour targets for the


following week. The





implementation of CoF took place in the classroom with all the children, but without Peter. The children were given a diagram to fill in, using the circles of exchange process (see Figure 1); the circular rings were filled in individually by the children to show a clear system of social connections. The rings represent intimate relationships, such as parents and siblings, friendships and acquaintances like class teachers, doctors or dentists. It is believed that this helps the class to focus on the people they have around them and the

Figure 2: Impact of CoF on Peter’s behaviour in the classroom.



peer support

the frequency and severity behaviour logs over one week are shown in Figure 2. It shows a significant drop in Peter’s difficult behaviour, especially "refusing to follow adult instructions" which was deemed Peter’s most problematic

Peter was genuinely surprised at how his behaviour affected the other children

behaviour for staff.

is important to remember, though, that Peter is still on a journey; as he approaches secondary school, he will need to continue to develop his newly acquired confidence. Positive feedback on his efforts to self-regulate will be crucial to this process. A well supported programme for his transition

Listening to peers’ voices

a unified forum to support children in

to secondary education should help

The children observed that Peter was

the formation of friendships with their

ensure that Peter sustains his ability to

making an effort to be more positive

peers. It is not about focusing on the

make friends, as he now has positive

with his behaviour and commented on

child’s deficits and trying to “fix” them,

friendship experiences to build on.

this in their questionnaires: “Peter has

but instead it emphasises giving more

The Circle of Friends approach is

not just got up and left the classroom

attention to the child to increase skills

not a new one, but it is worth revisiting.

in ages”; “I’ve noticed he is calmer in

and enable independence.

Small qualitative studies have repeatedly

the classroom and playground"; “I think

CoF gave those in Peter’s school

shown that the perceived benefits of

he is calmer since CoF; before if he got

environment the opportunity to see

this approach for all children involved

upset in the game he would push us or

beyond his difficult behaviour. It also

include increased social awareness,

shout, now he explains why he is feeling

changed the perceptions of the other

empathy and acceptance, developed

cross and he listens to me more now”.

children involved. They began to realise

problem-solving and listening skills,

When the children gave Peter positive

that Peter was not just a "naughty boy"

greater awareness of human change,

feedback on his behaviour and he could

and that he had worries and difficulties

and enhanced self-esteem. Such

see that they were proud of him, his

just like them, but was unsure how to

schemes have also had a very positive

body language would change; his self-

deal with them. Peter’s class teacher

effect on the integration of children in

esteem grew visibly week by week.

noticed that Peter seemed more relaxed

mainstream classes (Newton et al.,

It could be claimed that the success

following the CoF intervention, and that

1996; Whitaker et al., 1998; Kalyva and

of this particular CoF intervention lies in

he had fewer behavioural outbursts.

Avramidis, 2005).

its ethos of security and trust, adopted

She reported "fantastic progress as a

by all group members, reducing the

result of the CoF. Peter’s new-found

focus pupil’s anxiety and desire to

confidence and emotional wellbeing

control his environment. Peter was

is visible. Peter is more popular, a

genuinely surprised at how his behaviour

considered member of the class and

affected the other children in the

because of this Peter appears to be

class, especially when he refused to

much happier.”

participate. The children commented

Peter’s parents agreed, commenting

that it was annoying if he didn’t get

that “Peter often discusses Circle of

changed for PE, as their lesson was

Friends with us at the dinner table. He

delayed. Group members explained how

is always talking about it and told us

they felt about supporting Peter: “It has

how much he likes it and how much it

been really fun listening to each other;

has helped. He seems more popular

I have enjoyed thinking of ways to help

at school, and we are so pleased.

Peter"; “I trust him and I think he trusts

Peter would regularly refuse to follow

me, I think it is a good thing because

structures and rules and most things

we are all helping each other”.

would become a battle. Since CoF, Peter seems much more willing to collaborate

Looking forward

with others.”

Being excluded from a social group is an

Peter’s example highlights the

unpleasant experience; loneliness and

importance of peer relationships, and

feeling different can be heartbreaking

the transformation that can take place

to observe in some vulnerable children.

in terms of a child’s self-regulation,

The CoF approach, though, encourages

confidence and friendship skills. It


Further information

Deborah Litten undertook an evaluation of Peter’s Circle of Friends project as part of her BA (Hons) degree in Children’s Special Needs and Inclusive Education at Kingston University. Dr Paty Paliokosta is Senior Lecturer in Inclusive Education at the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, Kingston University and St George's, London. All names have been changed and the children pictured are not those involved in the study.

pupil premium

Premium rates Caroline Wright looks at how schools are using funding from the Pupil Premium


fsted recently stated that “schools could do better with



Premium However,

having assessed the allocation of

Pupil Premium funding in 70 schools

More than half of secondary schools expect to change their spending patterns

in England, only a small minority were

a third (39 per cent) of primary schools and more than half (57 per cent) of secondary schools expect to change their current spending patterns, with the additional funding contributing towards small group support and oneon-one teaching provision. More than

identified as spending extra funding

relating to disadvantaged pupils; the

90 per cent of schools said they would

for poor pupils ineffectively, with some

majority stated that some is reserved

buy reading books and other printed

struggling to show how they use Pupil

for this purpose. Roughly a fifth of

material, and 68 per cent would allocate

Premium payments. With the increase

schools said that none of these funds

money for digital content and software.

in funding in 2013/14 to £900 per pupil,

are ring-fenced. This is not to suggest

According to this research, schools

and a requirement for Ofsted to increase

that children with specific learning needs

are willing to invest in additional

its focus on inspecting Pupil Premium

are not supported in these schools, but

resources to support pupils’ specific

spending, are schools changing the way

simply that Pupil Premium funding is not

needs. Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted’s

they allocate their funds?

ring-fenced for this purpose.

Chief Inspector, commented: "Following my criticism of schools last year, it is

Pupil Premium funding comes with strict criteria: it is given to schools

Responding to Ofsted

clear more schools are now taking their

“so that they can support their

So where does this leave these schools

responsibilities seriously when it comes

disadvantaged pupils and close the

in terms of their Ofsted inspection? Are

to using the Pupil Premium money and

attainment gap between them and their

the 20 per cent of schools who do not

our inspectors have found evidence

peers”. The question is, are children

ring-fence funding concerned about

of some very good practice in their

from disadvantaged families necessarily

receiving poor inspection reports?

recent visits."

the ones with additional educational

Apparently, they are not.

It would seem that what schools are

needs? Statistically, there is probably a

The majority of schools say there will

doing is supporting those pupils who

link but it is not always the case. Should

be no difference in the way they monitor

they believe will gain the most from this

schools therefore be using the money

and allocate funding in 2013/14. Just 20

increased funding, and that they are

for disadvantaged children or those

per cent of primary headteachers and

happy with their decision. It is heartening

with SEN?

deputy heads, and around 30 per cent

to know that schools feel they are using

Recent research from 263 primary

of SENCOs, are planning on making

the Pupil Premium effectively and are

and 169 secondary schools carried

changes to Pupil Premium allocations.

therefore confident about their Ofsted

out for the education sector’s trade

However, this is clearly not about

association, BESA, provides an insight

schools ignoring the importance of

into how the money is being used and

Ofsted inspections. Instead, it suggests

how the renewed Ofsted interest will

that schools, who are free to spend the

affect the application of funding.

money as they see fit, are comfortable

Roughly 60 per cent of SENCOs saw

that the use of their Pupil Premium

the Pupil Premium as extra funding,

allocation is helping the children who

while only 44 per cent of headteachers

will benefit from additional support.

and deputy heads saw it in this way.

The research also showed that the

About a third of schools interviewed

increase in funding in 2013/14 will have

stated that they ring fence all their Pupil

a significant impact on what schools

Premium funding for specific schemes

spend their allocations on. More than


Further information

Caroline Wright is the Director of the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA):





Follow my leader Lauren Lowry reveals how imitation can help parents connect with their child with autism


f you have a young child with autism

Why copy your child?

spectrum disorder (ASD), you may

There are many advantages to imitating

find it difficult to join in with the child

young children with ASD:

when s/he is playing, or to catch

• your child chooses

his/her attention when you want to show

the activity

your child something. However, when

As you imitate something that

you follow the child’s lead, by imitating

your child is already doing,

or copying his/her behaviour, you will

s/he is naturally motivated by that

discover an easy way to connect and

toy or activity. Children are more

get the child to notice you.

likely to interact when they pick

If you ever played the game “follow my leader” as a child, you will remember

the activity themselves • you and your child share the

Imitating your child involves letting go of the lead, which means not telling your child what to do • it helps your child notice you and look at you When you do exactly the same

that one person is the leader, and the

same focus

thing that your child does, it

others follow along, copying whatever

When you are both doing the

encourages the child to look at

the leader does. You can do the same

same thing, it is easier for your

what you are doing. Studies have

thing with your child at home, copying

child to pay attention to both you

shown that when children with

his/her actions, movements and sounds.

and the activity

ASD are imitated, they look at the



adult more than if the adult plays with them without imitating1,2 • it promotes other social skills Besides encouraging children to look at the person imitating them, children with ASD have also been

Children are more likely to interact when they pick the activity themselves

if you take their toy when it is your turn to imitate. By having your own identical toy or object, your child is less likely to get upset. You might also want to try to imitate your child in front of a mirror. Many

observed to vocalise, smile, play,

children enjoy looking at themselves

sit closer, and touch the adult

in the mirror. If you imitate the facial


drumstick and beat the drum

expressions, movements and sounds

too. Copy any sounds your child

your child makes while s/he looks in

When your child notices that

makes during these activities so

the mirror, s/he is likely to notice you.

you are copying him/her, it might

that you do exactly what your

imitating them

• it encourages your child to lead

encourage him/her to perform

child does.

During moments when it seems difficult to get your child’s attention or

new actions or try new things in

After you have copied your child, you

interact with him/her, imitation can be

an attempt to get you to copy

need to:

very helpful. It is a very simple way to

him/her again • it encourages your child to

• wait for your child’s reaction –

help your child notice you, look at you,

your child may not notice you the

and interact with you. So let go of the

imitate you

first time. If s/he does not, copy

lead and let your child be the leader. By

Imitating others is a particular

him/her again. Alternatively, your

playing copycat, you and your child can

area of difficulty for children

child may look at you or do the

interact and have fun, and at the same


with ASD The ability to imitate

action again. If this is the case,

time your child will learn some valuable

is linked to other skills such

keep copying him/her. You will

social skills.

as language, and it also helps

eventually get a back-and-forth

children learn through observing

game of copycat going, when it


others Therefore, helping

becomes difficult to tell who is

your child to imitate you is an

imitating who.

important goal. When you imitate

It makes it easier if you have doubles of

your child, s/he may notice what

toys/objects. Some children get upset

you are doing and start to imitate you back.

How to imitate your child Imitating your child involves letting go of the lead, which means not telling your child what to do or trying to get him/her to do something else. Your child is the


1: Sanefuji, W. and Ohgami, H. (2011). Imitative behaviors facilitate communicative gaze in children with autism. Infant Mental Health Journal, 32, (134–142). 2: Field, T., Field, T., Sanders, C., Nadel, J. (2001). Children with Autism Display more Social Behaviors after Repeated Imitation Sessions. Autism, 5(3), 317-323. 3: Rogers, S. J., Hepburn, S. L., Stackhouse, T., and Wehner, E. (2003). Imitation performance in toddlers with autism and those with other developmental disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44, 763-781. 4: Ledford, J. and Wolery, M. (2011). Teaching Imitation to Young Children With Disabilities: A Review of the Literature. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 30 (4), 245-255.

leader in this copycat game. Before you imitate your child, you need to: • observe your child – watch

Further information

him/her closely and notice his/

Lauren Lowry is a Hanen Certified Speech-Language Pathologist and Clinical Staff Writer at The Hanen Centre, Toronto, Canada. The Centre offers a range of programs and resources for parents and professionals to help all preschool children, including those with ASD, develop language, social and literacy skills:

her actions, movements, facial expression and sounds. Once you have noticed what your child is doing, copy what s/he does: • imitate his/her actions, movements, or sounds – if your child taps on the table, you tap on the table. If s/he jumps up and down, you do that too. If s/he beats on a drum, grab a

Study your child carefully before you begin imitation.










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In the next issue of SEN Magazine: • visual impairment • dyslexia • PSHE • literacy/phonics • autism • cerebral palsy • bullying • SEN law • Children and Families Bill • behaviour • looked after children • communication aids • manual handling Plus news, reviews, CPD and events listings and much more Follow us on

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Visit The Autism Show in June The national event for autism is back in June and is packed

support packages for young

with more information, advice, products and services on the

adults and legal entitlements

condition than ever. Now taking place in both London and


Manchester, The Autism Show is expected to attract over 5,000 parents, carers, professionals and individuals on the

An interactive experience

autism spectrum over the two events.

There are many exciting interactive features at the show

Visitors can choose from a huge new range of presentations,

which will add colour and

practical workshops, one-to-one advice clinics, interactive

inspiration to your visit. Don't

features, performances, and suppliers of specialist products

miss the BIC Art Zone – where

and services.

BIC will be creating an exciting

Janis Sharp

“feelings mural” for all visitors

The voice of the autism community

to add their own personal touch to with BIC stationery

The Autism Matters Theatre

products, such as the Plastidecor plastic crayon range

in association with Research

shaped in chunky triangles and tapered pencils – or the

Autism this year hosts new and

My Autism Gallery, displaying work from artists on the

exclusive presentations from

spectrum. After that, you may want to try out the sensory

the renowned entrepreneur,

integration equipment in a special feature created by Rompa,

philanthropist and leading

or experience the many sensory products on display in the

autism campaigner Dame

sensory room created by Mike Ayres Design.

Stephanie Shirley, Janis Sharp,

Dame Stephanie Shirley

mother of Gary McKinnon (who

Every lunchtime at 1pm, why not take a look at the live

for ten years was threatened

performances taking place in Autism's Got Talent in association

with extradition to the US),

with Anna Kennedy Online.

Vice Presidents of the National Autistic Society (NAS) Lady Astor and Baroness Browning,

Amongst all this content, you can find the largest collection

and TV presenters and parents of two autistic children Carrie

of autism specific products and services in the UK. Explore

and David Grant.

the exhibition to find leading suppliers of learning tools, visual aids, sensory equipment, furniture, advice and support

The Hub, in association with Witherslack Group is located at

services, residential care and specialist schools.

the heart of the event and provides a wide range of workshops on subjects from managing challenging behaviour to transitions and community care assessments, and sensory and social communication difficulties to sleeping problems. An important element of The Autism Show is the voice it provides for individuals on the spectrum and this year’s talks programme will include many unique insights into what it means to live and work with the condition. Free and confidential one-to-one advice clinics will be available at the event offering specialist support on subjects such as bullying, sleep difficulties, challenging behaviour, legal advice on special educational needs, employment, welfare rights,

For the most up-to-date information and to book advance tickets, saving 25 per cent off the door price, visit: The Autism Show London: 14 to 15 June 2013, ExCeL, London. The Autism Show Manchester: 28 to 29 June 2013, EventCity, Manchester.

sensory integration and occupational therapy, wills and trusts,



Autism Show Preview



Autism Show Preview



Autism Show Preview



Autism Show Preview



Autism Show Preview

Towards a Positive Future The third Towards a Positive Future Conference for parents of children with SEN and the professionals that support them is being held on 20 June 2013 in Central London to inform delegates about the current changes to health, education and social care legislation. Speakers include Jane McConnell, CEO of IPSEA, Elaine Maxwell, Maxwell Gillott Solicitors, Tania Tirraoro and Debs Aspland of Special Needs Jungle, Charlie Mead, Educational Psychologist, and Dr Nicki Martin, Head of WellBeing and Disability Services at the LSE.   In 2012, speakers included Jane Asher (pictured), President of the National Autistic Society, who said afterwards: “One of the biggest problems that we hear about at the National Autistic Society is that of accessing the right school. [Conference organiser] Janet and her colleagues are extremely well informed about this area.”   Maxwell Gillott will offer a free legal consultation to any delegates attending the conference on the day. Book your place now at:

Mayor and Mayoress reward hard work at St Joseph’s St Joseph’s Specialist School and College in Cranleigh welcomed the Mayor and Mayoress of Waverley to present certificates at its recent work experience presentation evening. For two weeks prior to the event, learners from St. Joseph’s had taken part in the Block Work Experience Programme either in an enterprise group or at a work experience placement. This year, the enterprise groups consisted of ice cream making, car washing, chutney making, horticulture, making bird boxes and catering. Products were sold at the presentation evening, where employers, parents and school governors came together to celebrate the learners’ achievements. There were also internal work experience placements for those not yet ready to work in the community. These included working in the school office, in the grounds and on maintenance. Other learners worked on external placements at Cranleigh Exhaust centre, Rainbows End Playgroup, Cedar Court Nursing Home, Furniture Express, MIND charity shop, Sayers croft and Beechwood farm. Principal Mary Fawcett said, “For several of these learners it was their first experience of working unsupported in the community and St Joseph’s is very grateful to all the local businesses”. SENISSUE64



Squaring up to teacher shortage After years of teachers struggling to find jobs, is a new staffing crisis just around the corner? John Howson investigates


here are now nearly a dozen ways you can become a teacher in England, the majority of which lead to

qualified teacher status (QTS). However,

We will see more pupils in schools than at any time since the early 1970s

the three main routes remain as:

has left much to be desired in recent years. There is also more to do in the professional development field to ensure high-quality teaching is available for all pupils with SEN, whether those with multiple disabilities or just challenges

higher education, whether through the

there are signals that it will be more

with their fine motor skills.

declining undergraduate sector or on

challenging to meet recruitment targets

Whether Mr Gove’s dislike of university

a postgraduate course; employment-

this year than in any year since 2008. Of

involvement in teacher preparation will

based routes, where the Government is

course, with nearly half of the recruitment

affect specialist SEN provision must be

phasing out the former Graduate Teacher

round still to go, circumstances may

a real anxiety for the sector. University

Programme and replacing it with the new

change, but compared with this point

education departments have played an

School Direct salaried or training route;

last year, higher education courses have

important part in developing specialist

the Teach First programme.

generally attracted fewer applicants;

SEN teachers, as well as linking research

Confused? You might well be, and

Teach First was still recruiting in mid-

and practice and helping to disseminate

no doubt some would-be teachers are

March for what might be described as

outcomes across the whole school

too, as they navigate their way through

the traditional shortage subjects.

system. It would be a tragedy if a too

courses requiring them to pay fees,

School Direct is the new kid on

courses with bursaries, programmes

the block and, despite government

dogmatic approach caused the collapse

with a salary and no fee, and almost

pronouncements about strong levels

At present, I think 2013 may be

any other combination you can imagine.

of interest, it isn’t clear if that is just

harder work than recent years, but the

of this expertise.

In a drive to increase the quality of

because some applicants who might

sector should attract enough high quality

new teachers, the Government has

have previously applied for PGCE

applicants to teaching in most areas; I

required new entrants to postgraduate

courses have switched routes or

am not as sanguine about 2014 and

programmes to have a minimum

whether it has opened up a whole new

the years immediately afterwards.

of a second-class honours degree.

source of would-be teachers? Again,

Interestingly, no minimum point score

by mid-March, at least in physics

at “A” level seems to have been set for

and history, two subjects at different

the undergraduate programmes, and the

ends of the recruitment challenge, the

degree class also doesn’t seem to apply

School Direct website, maintained by

to those who train overseas and can

the Department for Education, was still

claim QTS. All of these changes have

showing the majority of places on offer

taken place while secondary school rolls

as “available”.

have been in decline, but primary school

One good point is that some

numbers are at the start of a boom that

special schools have become involved

will see more pupils in schools than at

in School Direct. While I personally

any time since the early 1970s.

believe all teachers must learn to teach in mainstream schools before

Meeting staffing needs

specialising in teaching pupils with SEN,

So how is teacher recruitment faring

I do think that the sector’s relationship

in 2013? After three years of over-supply,

with the teacher preparation sector


Further information

Professor John Howson runs and is an authority on the labour market for teachers. He is a visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University and a visiting research fellow at the University of Oxford. He writes here in a personal capacity. His blog can be found at:


Third wave of teaching schools announced The National College for Teaching and Leadership has confirmed the latest wave of teaching schools to be officially designated. The NEW tranche of 150 schools brings the total number of teaching schools to just over 360. The announcement coincided with the publication of two new papers by the agency. The first, How teaching schools are making a difference, includes examples of how teaching schools are taking advantage of greater autonomy to develop high-quality approaches to teacher training, staff development and school improvement. The second publication, a think piece called Teaching Schools: first among equals?, looks at the origins, development and future of teaching schools and their alliances in England. To date, almost one in ten schools nationally, representing one in eight pupils, have already joined a teaching school alliance. The number of teaching schools is set to rise to about 500 by 2015. The National College for Teaching and Leadership – the new single agency created by the Department for Education from the merger of the Teaching Agency and the National College for School Leadership -  has responsibility for the designation and quality of teaching schools. More information is available on the DfE website:



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




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

MSc Profound and Complex Learning Disability University of Manchester

2 to 3 years part time. Distance learning with annual study school. Topics include communication, inclusion and behaviour.

Postgraduate Certificate Profound and Complex Learning Disability University of Manchester

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

Speech and Language Sciences MSc University College London

A clinical training programme as well as a challenging 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.

MSc/Post Graduate Diploma in Deaf Education University of Manchester

Are you ready for a new challenge? The Manchester course offers an opportunity for professional development that will open a new and exciting area of teaching to you. Deaf children have amazing potential. Support their aspirations and become a specialist teacher of deaf children. On-campus and distance e-learning options are available for this course. Admissions considered until 31/08/2013, to commence the course in autumn 2013. Opportunities for NSF funding are available now.



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.

Autism and Learning - PG Certificate/Diploma/MEd 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.

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.

Strategies for Successful Special Needs Support


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.

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

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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.

Various dates as required

People First Education SEN INSET training Effective, personalised, in-house training delivered by experienced, qualified and approachable trainers. Full details and booking available online:

01427 667556 Various May

Attention Deficit Disorders 13 May: London Euston 14 May: Birmingham 15 May: Leeds 16 May: Manchester

This one-day workshop explains the common symptoms of ADD and ADHD and explores routes and options for formal diagnosis, before providing guidance on how teachers and trainers can adjust their teaching or workplace mentoring to meet some of the most common needs. It also covers tried and tested strategies for rage and anger behaviour, which are not just restricted to those with these conditions.

CPD and training Various May

Dyslexia: Understanding and Improving Support 20 May: London Euston 21 May: Birmingham 22 May: Leeds 23 May: Manchester

This fast-paced, intensive but fun workshop provides an understanding of dyslexia, including indicators and implications, and a range of easy to implement ideas, suggestions and strategies that organisations and individuals can adopt to enable those affected to maximise their potential and efficiency.

Various May and June

Practical and Effective Ways of Using Multisensory Equipment 9 May: Birmingham 10 May: Liverpool 13 May: Middlesbrough 26 June: London 27 June: Taunton

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. Gain a greater understanding of how to apply multi-sensory principles and learn new ideas you can take away and use the next day. Concept Training Ltd


Various May - July

Introduction to Autistic Spectrum Condition (including Asperger’s Syndrome) 1 May: Birmingham 13 May: Southampton 15 May: Chorley 21 May or 3 July: London 7 June: Taunton 11 June: York 12 June: Middlesbrough 27 June: Sheffield 10 July: Maidstone

This course is for anyone working with or caring for either adults or children with autism. All those successfully completing the day will receive one credit at Open College Network Level 2. Concept Training Ltd


Various May - July

10 and 11 May

Developing Special Needs Practice in Early Years Foundation Stage 4 June: Chorley 19 June: Taunton 2 July: Doncaster

16th SEND Residential Conference for Independent and International Schools

This course is for practitioners in all EYFS settings (school, private, voluntary and independent settings) who want to develop their confidence, knowledge and skills regarding inclusive practice and a systematic approach to assessment, planning and support for children with SEN and disabilities.

Mike Fleetham. The leading

Concept Training Ltd


Denham Grove, Bucks

Keynotes: Dr Penny Lewis and practitioners' residential conference for SENCOs, learning support coordinators, teachers and senior managers working in independent and international schools.

15 May

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

10 - 12 May

Festival of Sport Stoke Mandeville Stadium

The Festival of Sport is an

Various May - July

Promoting Positive Behaviour in Early Years Foundation Stage 3 June: Chorley 11 June: Taunton 1 July: Doncaster

This course is for all practitioners in EYFS settings (school, private, voluntary and independent settings) who want to develop confidence, knowledge and skills in promoting positive behaviour for all children and for assessing and planning targeted interventions for children demonstrating more challenging behaviour in their setting.

opportunity for 6- to 16-yearolds with all impairments to try a range of sports. The main aim is for participants to learn new skills, try new sports and have fun.

Concept Training Ltd


May 2013 9 May

The Mental Capacity Act and transition London

This free seminar for parents and carers of young people with a learning disability will cover a range of issues including an overview of the Mental Capacity Act and how it affects young disabled people and their parents/ carers.



CPD and training


15 May

Perfect Assessment for Learning Birmingham

Based on the best-selling book, this event provides a straight-talking guide to outstanding AfL – what it looks like in the classroom, and how to ensure EVERY teacher in the school is doing it consistently. SEN readers get a 20% discount: quote code 178SEN when registering. Contact Lisa Wood

0207 787 1210

16 May

NAS conference: Understanding and supporting challenging behaviour in people with autism Bristol

Keynote presentation from Carol Gray, who originally developed the use of Social Stories™ for people with autism.

18 May

21 May

Further Education, the Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA) and vocational opportunities London

This free seminar for parents

23 May

Various June

The Perfect Ofsted Lesson Birmingham

Amazon’s best-selling education book, The Perfect Ofsted Lesson, has become known throughout schools

12 June: London

Bible”. Come and hear first-

13 June: Glasgow

hand from the author (a former

24 June: Chorley

“outstanding” headteacher) as

28 June: Birmingham

well as an Ofsted inspector on

Learn how to identify the

what inspectors are looking out

“brain-body language”

for this year. SEN readers get

a 24 hour curriculum and

a person uses to talk to

a 20% discount: quote code

entitlements to vocational

themselves. Develop the

188SEN when registering.

training and employment

confidence and knowledge to

Contact Lisa Wood

set up a “conversation”. Learn


0207 787 1210

how to focus on the difficulties

a person is experiencing,

and carers of young people with a learning disability will examine the legal entitlement to further education for young people leaving school, including residential and

rather than the problems

22 May

Raising Educational Standards in Autism: Autism Wessex’s Annual Conference, AFC Bournemouth

Running from 9am to 4.45pm, the conference will feature presentations by Dr Kerstin Wittemeyer and Dr Glenys Jones, both from the Autism Centre for

June 2013 Various June

People First Education: ADHD Day 12 June: Holiday Inn, Frith Rd, Croydon

effective inclusion of learners with ADHD. £175 + VAT


be four workshops: Facing

01427 667556

and overcoming obstacles

classroom, and Introducing

children to their diagnosis and supporting siblings.

19 May

The Developing Brain: Key Relational Interventions That Every Child Professional Should Know London

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

22 and 23 May

respond due to their disability or behavioural difficulties. Concept Training Ltd

ADHD day course to enable


020 7354 2913

people who do not speak or

Birmingham. There will also

with autism to learn, A sensory

how to communicate with


Full details and booking available

principles to enable individuals

thorough understanding of

18 June: Swallow Hotel, Gateshead

(ACER) at the University of

with Asperger syndrome, Key

they are presenting. Gain a

14 June: Latton Bush Centre, Harlow

Education and Research

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

7 June: Taunton

in the UK as “the Teachers’

Trauma, Abuse, Neglect: Creative Interventions for Children and Teenagers Conference

Intensive Interaction: Connecting with non verbal children and adults with Autism or Profound Learning Disabilities

Various June

8 June

The Traumatised Child: healing Brain, Mind and Body with international leading expert Dr Bruce Perry London

Conference 10.00 - 5.00pm

People First Education: Dyslexia Day

Cost: £168

6 June: Rougemont Thistle, Exeter

020 7354 2913

11 June: Swallow Hotel, Gateshead

19 June: Premier Inn, High

The Centre for Child Mental Health

Fishergate, Doncaster 20 June: Novotel, Leeds 27 June: Stonecross Manor, Cumbria

nasen live

Effective inclusion of learners

Reebok Stadium, Bolton

with dyslexia: a day course to

An event sharing the best

enhance the literacy skills of

education practice which is

learners with dyslexia.

11 June

NAS conference: Autism, relationships and puberty Manchester

Learn tools and strategies to help talk confidently about

designed to get you up-to-date

£175 + VAT

with the latest developments

01427 667556

in SEN, and help you access

Full details and booking available

Dr Elizabeth Laugeson, UCLA

training and resources.


PEERS Program.

020 7354 2913


relationships with children and adults with autism. Featuring

CPD and training 13 June

Kidz South Reading

The largest free UK exhibitions dedicated to children with disabilities and special needs, their parents and carers and the professionals who work with them. Source and test the latest products and services on the market, with over 120 exhibitors. Find advice and information on funding, mobility, seating, beds, accessible vehicles, communication, sensory, bathing, continence, wellbeing, sports and leisure, specialist schools and colleges, benefits and more.

19 June

Health and social care funding London

This free seminar for parents and carers of young people with a learning disability will cover NHS Continuing Care and Social Services – and an overview of the duty to assess and how to ensure you are on the appropriate care pathway and how to appeal decisions.

19 June

Henshaws College Open Day Harrogate

13 June

Coaching to Improve Performance Management London

In this practical workshop run by Jackie Beere OBE, learn how to implement an effective coaching model that will raise performance amongst staff. This course addresses where coaching fits into the new Ofsted framework and how to build it into your CPD programme; to make rapid progress towards 90% good and outstanding lessons. SEN readers get a 20% discount: quote code 189SEN when registering. Contact Lisa Wood

0207 787 1210

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

20 June

Towards a Positive Future London

14 and 15 June

This conference will inform

The Autism Show London

parents of children with SEN


and the professionals that

The national event for autism offers unrivalled CPD accredited learning opportunities for professionals teaching and supporting pupils on the autism spectrum. From in-depth conference sessions and practical workshops to talks from individuals on the autism spectrum.

support them about the

changes to health, education and social care. Maxwell Gillott Solicitors will offer free legal consultations for parents attending. Cost £30 for parents, £90 for professionals




CPD and training 21 June

Communication: The Key to Success Edge Hill University, Ormskirk L39 4QP

Conference addressing autism/Asperger’s syndrome organised as a collaborative venture between Belle Vue House Assessment Centre and Edge Hill University. Keynote speakers: Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at the University of Cambridge, and Dr Wendy Lawson, psychologist, counsellor, lecturer and author, also on the autism spectrum. £180.00 for professionals £75.00 for parents, carers or people with ASD/Asperger’s syndrome

27 June

5th National Dyscalculia and Maths Learning Difficulties Conference Marble Arch, London

This unique conference brings together the worlds of research, maths teaching and SEN expertise. You will hear three keynote speakers and be able to choose three workshops from eleven themes that will give you access to cutting edge research and opportunities to engage with leading practitioners and trainers.

27 June

Shaping the Local Authority’s Role in Education Manchester

The Conference will provide an opportunity to establish the positions of local authorities and schools in an increasingly autonomous education system. As a middle tier takes shape, this conference is your opportunity to get to grips with emerging practice and understand how local authorities are adapting to a new role in supporting schools and how they deliver their education services.


28 and 29 June

The Autism Show Manchester EventCity

The national event for autism has also launched in Manchester offering unrivalled CPD accredited learning opportunities for professionals teaching and supporting pupils on the autism spectrum. From in-depth conference sessions and practical workshops to talks from individuals on the autism spectrum.

July 2013 Various July

People First Education: Dyslexia Day 1 July: Holiday Inn, Lancaster 2 July: Premier Inn, Watling, Cannock 4 July: Premier Inn, Trafford Centre, Manchester 11 July: Premier Inn, Albert Dock,

4 July

10 July

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities – personal budgets and support post-16 London

As Parliament scrutinises the Children and Families Bill, this seminar will bring together key policymakers with stakeholders – including schools, LAs, health professionals and private providers – to discuss the proposed reform of SEND provision.

01344 864796

4 and 5 July

Engage in Their Future 2013 National Conference

Holiday Inn, London Stratford City

The theme is "B Inspired! Engage in a Collaborative Future" and an exceptional line-up of speakers and effective practical workshops are guaranteed by the organisers. There will also be plenty of opportunity to network with colleagues.

Housing and benefits in transition London

This free seminar for parents and carers of young people with a learning disability will cover supported living, tenancies, housing benefits and what housing entitlements young disabled adults have.

12 July

Launch of Education Forum on FASD Peterborough

Special one-day conference at which the FASD Trust will formally launch its FASD Education Forum. The Trust is seeking to develop consensus guidelines around learning and teaching strategies which can be used for all children and young people affected by FASD, with the ultimate aim of ensuring that all those of school age affected by FASD in the UK can thrive and achieve their full educational potential.


Effective inclusion of learners with dyslexia: a day course to enhance the literacy skills of learners with dyslexia. £175 + VAT

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01427 667556 Full details and booking available online:

join us on

Various July

People First Education: Visual Interventions and Social Stories Day 5 July: Holiday Inn, Lancaster 9 July: Holiday Inn Express, Burnley 12 July: Premier Inn, Albert Dock, Liverpool

Visual and auditory social and behavioural strategies for learners with ASDs, ADHD and related conditions. £225 + VAT

01427 667556 Full details and booking available online

CPD and training 17 - 19 July

Three-day Structured Teaching Course Prior's Court, Newbury, Berkshire

Intensive broad-based course mixing theoretical knowledge with practical applications. Includes the culture of autism, physical and visual structure, schedules, behaviour management, communication, vocational and independence, leisure skills and assessment. Delivered by trainers with extensive practitioner experience. Suitable for all working with individuals with autism or supporting individuals with autism in the home.

September 2013

October 2013 1 October

Coaching to Improve Performance Management Manchester

In this practical workshop run by Jackie Beere OBE, learn how to implement an effective coaching model that will raise performance amongst staff. This course addresses where coaching fits into the new Ofsted framework and how to build it into your CPD programme; to make rapid progress towards 90% good and outstanding lessons. SEN readers get a 20% discount: quote code 189SEN when registering. Contact Lisa Wood

0207 787 1210 11 September

Kidz Scotland Edinburgh

The largest free UK exhibitions dedicated to children with disabilities and special needs, their parents and carers and the professionals who work with them. Source and test the latest products and services on the market. Find advice and information on funding, mobility, seating, beds, accessible vehicles, communication, sensory, bathing, continence, wellbeing, sports and leisure, specialist schools and colleges, benefits and more.

18 and 19 September

Naidex Scotland

11 and 12 October

TES Special Educational Needs Show

Kidz Up North

EventCity Manchester

The largest free UK exhibitions dedicated to children with disabilities and special needs, their parents and carers and the professionals who work with them. Source and test the latest products and services on the market, with over 120 exhibitors. Find advice and information on funding, mobility, seating, beds, accessible vehicles, communication, sensory, bathing, continence, wellbeing, sports and leisure, specialist schools and colleges, benefits and more.

Occupational Therapy 2013 NEC, Birmingham

Free, national event dedicated to OTs and designed by OTs. Find practical CPD and the opportunity to meet innovative new suppliers. Speakers will include Esther McVey MP, Minister for Disabled People.

December 2013 9 - 11 December


ABILITIESme is the first 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-todate information before you make arrangements to attend.

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

21 - 25 October

Five-day TEACCH Prior's Court, Newbury, Berkshire

Homecare, disability and rehabilitation exhibition, enabling you to touch, test and compare the latest products to aid independent living. Attendance is free to all healthcare professionals, retailers, buyers and members of the public, and will include access to free educational and informative seminars.

21 November

26 and 27 November

Explore inspiring CPD seminars and dynamic free workshops, get advice and training from a host of professionals with SEN expertise, and discover fresh ideas to take back to the classroom. Thousands of SEN resources from hundreds of exhibitors will be on display at the capital's dedicated SEN event.

Active learning sessions combined with supervised experience working with young people with autism. Led by Trainers from Division TEACCH, University of North Carolina and experienced practitioners from Prior's Court. Limited number of places available. Suitable for SEN professionals, teachers and practitioners.

SECC Glasgow

November 2013




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: SENISSUE64


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to ar (6 issues) educational needs - ÂŁ48.50. aForye call 01200 409800) international subscriptions please online. (UK only UK subscription discount available

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SEN Magazine - SEN64 - May/June 2013  

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

SEN Magazine - SEN64 - May/June 2013  

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