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May • June 2015 Issue 76

High five for tablets Five reasons to use tablet computers to support kids with SEN

Communication breakdown Re-writing the literacy story

The benefits of being dyslexic

Are some of the qualities we most value classic dyslexic traits? SLCN • peer mentoring and buddying • numeracy • play • inclusive cycling home education • pupil voice • fostering • SEN legal Q&A: post-16 education sport • autism • recruitment • CPD and events • SEN news and much more

This issue in full May • June 2015 • Issue 76

Welcome As many as ten per cent of children are thought to have speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) which affect their ability to learn. Around seven per cent of the school population have a specific language impairment, where SLCN are their main or primary difficulty. In this issue of SEN Magazine, we look at what SLCN are, how they impact on young people’s education and what schools can do to improve outcomes. Abi Steady describes how re-organising its communication provision has enabled her school to better support pupils (p.48). Virginia Beardshaw examines the state of literacy amongst children with SEN (p.52) and Wendy Lee explains how to identify and support pupils with SLCN (p.54). Elsewhere in this issue, Peter Maxwell gives us five good reasons why schools should use tablet computers with kids with SEN (p.30), while Sarah Driver looks at the benefits of

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


having dyslexia (p.40) and asks: are some of the qualities society most values classic dyslexic traits? Also in this issue, you will find articles on pupil voice (p.24), peer mentoring and buddying (p.28), numeracy (p.34), dyscalculia (p.37), play (p.44), sport (p.59), cycling (p.63), home education (p.70), fostering (p.72) and autism (p.79). If you’ve got something to say about special educational needs, we want to hear from you. Whether you’re a parent/carer, professional or person with SEN, our point of view section can give you a voice. If you’re interested in submitting a point of view piece, please send me a brief email and let me know what you’d like to write about.


SEN news


What's new?


Point of view


SEN legal Q&A


Pupil voice


Peer mentoring


ICT in the classroom














All-ability cycling


Book reviews


Home education


Fostering and adoption






About SEN Magazine


CPD, events and training


SEN resources directory


SEN Subscriptions

Don’t forget – for the latest from SEN, join us on Twitter and Facebook or visit: Peter Sutcliffe Editor

SUBSCRIPTION ADMINISTRATOR Amanda Harrison 01200 409 801 DESIGN Rob Parry Next issue deadline: Advertising and news deadline: 3 June 2015 Disclaimer The opinions expressed in SEN Magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher. The publisher cannot be held liable for incorrect information, omissions or the opinions of third parties.

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CONTRIBUTORS Patricia Babtie Pearl Barnes Virginia Beardshaw Leon Brown John Carter Sarah Driver Kate Fallon Anne Marie Kelly Angela Kenvyn Wendy Lee David Maytham Peter Maxwell Mary Mountstephen Julie Pearce Jo Redman Fleur Sexton Douglas Silas Daniel Sinclair Abi Steady Abigail Tripp

SEN Magazine ISSN: 1755-4845 SENISSUE76

In this issue






Hearing pupils’ voices


Giving kids a say in their own education


Positive support



Communication breakdown

Tools for talk How schools can identify and support pupils with SLCN

High five for tablets Five reasons why tablet computers should be used to support children with SEN



Do we need to re-write the literacy story for children with SEN?

The benefits of peer mentoring and buddying


May • June 2015 • Issue 76


Kicking off World Champion kickboxer Jo Redman talks about living with autism and ADHD

Speaking of maths… The role of talk in developing pupils’ numeracy



Joining the dots

Free wheelin' The joys of inclusive cycling

Using dot patterns to help those struggling with maths



The benefits of being dyslexic

What role should professionals play in home education?

Are some of the qualities society most values classic dyslexic traits?



Planning for play

Special families The unique rewards of fostering a child with SEN

How to create rewarding outdoor learning and play environments for all


Home alone?


Autism provision in Northern Ireland Parents of children with autism continue to play a waiting game

Team talk How re-shaping communication provision enabled one school’s pupils to flourish

Regulars 6 12

SEN news


What's new?

94 Recruitment

The latest products and ideas from the world of SEN


Have your say!



Point of view SEN legal Q&A Post-16 education

Book reviews

CPD, training and events

Your essential guide to SEN courses, seminars and events

104 SEN resources directory

30 ICT 52 Literacy

59 Sport

72 Fostering

In the next issue of SEN:

PSHE • literacy/phonics • cerebral palsy • CPD • bullying • school refusal SEN law • recruitment • looked-after children • communication aids manual handling • visual impairment and much more... Follow SEN Magazine on

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Extra £1.25 billion for children’s mental healthcare New package to “revolutionise” mental health services Emergency care and waiting times must improve, says expert report Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced additional funding of £1.25 billion over five years for children and young people’s mental health services. The extra £250 million a year represents a 35 per cent increase on the current annual budget of £700 million for treating children with mental health conditions. The Government says the money will help treat 110,000 more children over the five year period and provide rapid access to mental health support for new mothers. As part of the package, the first access and waiting time standards for children’s mental health will be introduced and specialists in children’s talking therapy will be available in every part of the country by 2018. The funding will be targeted at helping children and young people at risk of suicide and those with issues relating to self-harming, depression or anxiety and conduct disorder. It will also extend access to services for children under five and those with autism and learning disabilities. Mr Clegg called the new package “a seismic shift to revolutionise children’s mental healthcare”.

Changing attitudes The funding announcement, which was confirmed in the Chancellor’s recent budget, follows the publication of a report by the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce. The report proposes a range of measures to improve services, including improving access and setting standards for waiting times. The establishment of one-stop-shop support services in the community is also recommended, along with measures to improve attitudes and tackle the stigma associated with mental health difficulties. Prof Dame Sue Bailey, Chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition (CYPMHC), welcomed the report. She called on whichever party forms the Government after May’s General Election to prioritise children and young people’s mental health and put in place the actions needed to implement the report’s proposals. However, whilst some proposals will require the backing of the next Government, Dame Sue said that others are cost neutral and require different ways of working. “We need national organisations and local agencies to take up the challenge”, she said. “This is where partnership working, the development of local transformation plans and co-commissioning will be crucial to driving through improvements in local areas”. SENISSUE76

The new proposals should extend access to services for young children.

According to the CYPMHC, 28 per cent of preschool children face problems in their lives that impact on their psychological development, while one in ten 5- to 16-year-olds have a mental disorder. Roughly 75 per cent of adult mental health problems are present before the age of 18.  

A “broken” system The report and funding announcement have been widely supported by SEN third sector organisations. Anna Feuchtwang, Chief Executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said the report “confirms that mental health services for children and young people have been a neglected part of the NHS for too long.” She welcomed the focus on the role of schools in building wellbeing and mental health. “As a universal service attended by children every day, schools bear witness to the full range of children’s needs, whether they are needs that can be met by the school or require input from another agency”, she said. The National Autistic Society (NAS) praised the report’s proposals to bring down waiting times and address the need for emergency provision close to home. While seven in ten children with autism have an accompanying mental health problem, the NAS reports many parents as saying they struggle to get timely and appropriate support. In some cases they have to travel hundreds of miles to access the right service. NAS Chief Executive Mark Lever called on the incoming Government to seize the opportunity to “fix our broken mental health system”. Contact a Family has welcomed the extra £1.25 billion of Government funding, which it says will help towards addressing the chronic under-funding of child mental health services. However, the charity warns that any gains to families may be counteracted by further benefit cuts for those with disabled children. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


New professional CPD standard for teachers A CPD Expert Group has been set up by the Department for Education (DfE) to develop a new standard for teachers’ continuing professional development (CPD) that will complement the existing teachers’ standards. The move aims to address a lack of clear and shared understanding of what makes for effective professional development in the teaching profession, as outlined in the DfE’s Developing the teaching profession to a world-class standard consultation. The new Standard will be designed to help teachers and schools make informed decisions about how to organise professional development and ensure that CPD providers are offering relevant and effective training for teachers. David Weston, CEO of the Teacher Development Trust, will Chair the CPD Expert Group, which will be made up of practising teachers and headteachers from the primary, secondary and SEN sectors, alongside nine academics and education experts, including Professor Rob Coe, Philippa Cordingley, Dame Alison Peacock and representatives from the National Education Trust, ResearchED and the Teaching Schools Council. The Group will receive additional advice from The Education Endowment Foundation’s Dr Jonathan Sharples and Professor Jonathan Shepherd, while Sean Harford will be attending as an observer from Ofsted. Sir John Holman, Chair of Teacher Development Trust, believes the new Group will help put CPD at the heart of education policy and high on schools’ agendas by providing recommendations based on evidenced research and evaluation. “This vital work will highlight activities that schools should be doing more or less of, show how schools can change their policies, procedures and approaches to CPD and make suggestions of future research and development”, he says.

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Green light for College of Teaching The Government has agreed funding for a planned College of Teaching to champion the status of teachers by sharing knowledge and supporting professional development. The College will be an independent, chartered membership organisation, governed by a board elected from the membership and founded by a group of teachers and supporters. The Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, and Schools Minister David Laws have announced “no strings” financial support to help accelerate the start-up phase of the memberdriven, voluntary College. The ministers say the funding will not compromise the independence of the College and will be issued on a “fire and forget” basis that will keep it free from government influence. The announcement follows vigorous lobbying by the Claim Your College campaign whose vision for the new organisation was outlined in The profession’s new College of Teaching: A proposal for start-up. The campaign was initiated last year by the existing College of Teachers, The Prince’s Teaching Institute, the Teacher Development Trust and the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, in collaboration with practising teachers and school leaders. Angela McFarlane, Chief Executive of the College of Teachers, has welcomed the Government’s support for the new College saying, “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape the profession from within to establish a clear vision that will help attract, develop and retain skilled teachers”. Gareth Alcott, Assistant Head Teacher at King Alfred’s Academy in Oxfordshire and a supporter of the campaign, believes the College offers a unique opportunity for teachers to create a vision for the profession and demonstrate that professional autonomy is justified. “If teachers want to finally rid themselves of the policy shackles that have for too long bound our profession’s development, it is crucial that we take control of the destiny of the College of Teaching so we can reclaim our professionalism”, he says. Campaigners say that the teaching profession’s hands are not tied by the proposal for the new College and as a membership organisation the College of Teaching will ultimately be funded by its members. SENISSUE76




Fewer children persistently absent from schools The number of students persistently absent from school dropped by 67,000 in 2013/14, according to official figures released by the Department for Education (DfE). The figure represents a fall in the percentage of pupils classified as persistent absentees from 4.6 per cent in 2012/13, to 3.6 per cent in 2013/14.

Colour blindness hidden in classrooms Teachers are underestimating the number of pupils who need help with colour blindness, according to new research by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) The research reveals that only 15 per cent of teachers said they have one or more pupils in their educational setting who require some support with learning because of their colour blindness. This is at odds with the statistical occurrence of inherited colour blindness, which affects one in 12 boys and one in 200 girls – or at least one child in every UK classroom. More than half of those surveyed said they are somewhat aware of how colour blindness affects pupils’ learning but that they do not have a pupil in their class/school/college with the condition. More than a quarter said they were not aware of how colour blindness can affect pupils’ learning. The ATL’s research has been welcomed by Kathryn AlbanyWard, Founder of Colour Blind Awareness, who says the findings confirm the charity’s own research: “if you ask any teacher how many colour blind pupils they’ve taught, their answer will usually be ‘one or two’ but statistics demonstrate that it is more likely to have been one in every class they’ve ever taught”, she says. The charity claims that colour blindness is a hidden disability that can lead to children becoming disillusioned with learning or feeling that they are stupid or less able than others simply because they see colours differently. It can provide a faulty foundation for learning and even affect how well these children do in their GCSE and A Level exams and the choices of careers open to them According to Colour Blind Awareness, there are approximately 450,000 colour blind children in UK schools but there is no government advice for parents or teachers. Teachers are not trained how to identify and support colour blind pupils, says Mrs Albany-Ward: “Colour blind children tend to be hidden in the classroom because their condition is currently not recognised as a special educational need by schools”. Colour vision testing is not a statutory part of the NHS eye test for children. Mrs Albany-Ward suggests this can often lead opticians to ignore the test, perhaps because there is no cure and therefore no way for them to make money from it. SENISSUE76

Attendance is a key issue in determining educational attainment and those pupils who are persistently absent from school are four times less likely to achieve five A* to C grades at GCSE including English and maths. Poor performance at GCSEs drastically increases the chances of children being not in education, employment or training (NEET) at the age of 18. The positive figures have been welcomed by the charity SchoolHome Support, whose Chief Executive Jan Tallis said that “Getting children in school is crucial to enabling them to achieve in their education and whole life.” However, she cautioned that the attendance figures for children from disadvantaged backgrounds are still substantially lower than their peers. “Children eligible for free school meals are over three times more likely to be persistently absent from schools than their classmates from wealthier families”, she said. The charity has called on schools and local authorities to provide the support to enable children from all backgrounds to attend school on a regular basis.

Grant to evaluate SLCN services The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists has been awarded a grant of £150,000 to develop a programme that evaluates the effectiveness of services for children and young people. The funding, awarded by the Department for Education (DfE) under the National Prospectus Grant Programme for Special Educational Needs and Disability, will support data collection to ensure more meaningful measurement of services for children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). The award also seeks to enable the College to identify how to support better collaboration and collation of data across education, health and care (EHC) sectors while giving children and families a greater say in agreeing their outcomes in EHC plans. The grant has been welcomed by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, whose Chief Executive Kamini Gadhok said that “Effective evaluation and benchmarking of interventions, such as speech and language therapy, is crucial to ensure all children continue to benefit from them”.

News deadline for next issue: 3/6/15 Email: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Are children being failed by complaints system? The pressures on the complaints system for children’s care services are being highlighted in a new report by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO). Some of the common issues the LGO sees in children’s social care complaints include failure to recognise a children’s service complaint, long delays in the process, refusal to go through all stages of the process and choosing the wrong complaints procedure. The report adds to an ongoing debate in local government about whether the current statutory procedure for children’s services complaints is the best way to ensure effective outcomes for children and young people. In addition to looking at complaints received, the LGO surveyed councils to understand experiences at a local level. Councils say that, at its best, the process is independent, has strict time limits for acting and has clear guidelines on who can complain. However, they also say the interests of children are often not central to a complaint because only a small proportion are actually from the young people affected. The process can be process-driven rather than outcome-focused. It can also cost thousands of pounds per investigation to recruit independent investigators and panel members, with some councils suggesting this is diverting funds from providing vital services. The evidence points to a children’s social care complaints system that is “creaking under the strain”, says Local Government Ombudsman Dr Jane Martin. “Councils provide crucial support to thousands of young people at difficult and often traumatic times so it essential that if things go wrong, problems are sorted out quickly and openly”, she says. Councillor David Simmonds, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, believes that councils are committed to listening to the concerns of children and young people and that they will want to reflect on the findings of the report. “We recognise there are always areas that can be improved and we will work hard to make the complaints system easier for young people to navigate and ensure that issues are resolved quickly and fairly”, he says.

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Short breaks scheme could set the standard A short break pilot scheme for disabled children run by Birmingham City Council has been judged a success in an independent evaluation conducted by the University of Chester. The findings suggest that both the children and their families benefitted from the respite. During the short break in the Cotswolds, the children were able to find new interests, build new relationships and friendships, and take part in a range of activities from music, art and baking cakes to go-karting, whilst the families and carers had some respite from caring. The University’s report says that 100 percent of beneficiaries came home happy from the short break, while 80 percent came home relaxed. In addition, 83 percent of carers felt better able to cope following the break. The same percentage of carers said that the holiday allowed them to have an uninterrupted night's sleep during the week. All the carers involved said they benefitted from the lack of responsibility and stress for a week and that the holiday was the most significant break they get from caring.   Like all local authorities, Birmingham City Council is legally bound to provide a range of short break services for disabled children. The council currently plans services for up to 7000 children and carers, of which, around ten per cent are children with substantial complex needs. National disability charity Sense, which was involved in the scheme, has called for all local authorities to follow in Birmingham’s footsteps. The charity is asking councils to commit to providing appropriate short breaks for families with children who have multi-sensory impairments or complex needs. Currently, much respite provision nationwide does not cater for these children’s complex care needs. Praising Birmingham’s approach as “innovative”, Sense’s Deputy Chief Executive Richard Kramer said that “Programmes like these provide preventative support, by increasing independence and promoting good physical and mental health.” SENISSUE76




Lesson plans sought for World’s Largest Lesson Schools across the world are being invited to join together in September to deliver The World’s Largest Lesson, educating students about the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Organisers, Project Everyone, are asking Filmmaker Richard Curtis praised teachers’ teachers to submit “unique creativity”. lesson plan ideas to the TES website. The winning lesson ideas will be those that are most highly rated by other teachers. Winners will have their lesson plans published as a global set of learning resources on The World’s Largest Lesson website, to enable teachers to craft a relevant lesson on the SDGs for the children that they teach. A winning teacher will be invited, along with their school, to take part in a filmed lesson event with a visiting celebrity. The World’s Largest Lesson will be delivered in partnership with UNICEF and with the support of TES Global and Education International. The initiative aims to communicate the SDGs, after they have been announced by the Secretary General of the UN in September, to seven billion people in seven days. Project Everyone is led by filmmaker, writer and campaigner Richard Curtis, who describes the World’s Largest Lesson as “the biggest collaborative education project the world has ever seen.” Praising the unique creativity of the teaching community, the man behind the film Four Weddings and a Funeral and TV’s Blackadder said: “this will be an opportunity for teachers to become recognised for their outstanding talent and indispensable expertise on a worldwide scale.” All lessons will be supported by a short animated film (with an audio equivalent) by Sir Ken Robinson which will explain why the goals exist. It will convey the idea that everyone on the planet is part of a wider team and that the new SDGs are essentially a “to-do” list for the planet, created and to be achieved through teamwork across all countries.

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National network of autism champions Norman Lamb, Minister for Care and Support, has formally launched a national network of autism champions which will include high-profile figures willing to use their ideas, experience and networks to advance autism awareness. The move is part of Connect to Autism, a national autism awareness campaign, which is being co-ordinated by the Autism Alliance UK and funded by the Department of Health. The campaign also includes a network of national retail and service industry chains who have committed to making some of their venues autism-friendly in a pilot phase. In addition, a network of local champions who will work in their own communities is being established, while the online autism community Autism Connect is already up and running. The group has introduced a simple autism charter, designed by people with autism, which sets out clear aims for autism-friendly venues. Those venues which sign up will display a window sticker inviting people to rate them on Autism Connect.

Schools not doing enough to support most able students, says Ofsted Schools are still not doing enough to ensure the most able children fulfil their potential, an Ofsted survey has found.   The most able students report finds that many of the most able children who attend non-selective secondary schools are failing to achieve their potential, compared with students who attend selective and independent schools. It follows an earlier Ofsted survey from 2013 and concludes that very few improvements have been made over the intervening two years.   In the most successful non-selective schools, the most able students thrive because school leaders provide a challenging curriculum and are tenacious in making sure that teaching is consistently good or better for all students. Successful leaders use the information they receive from primary schools to make sure that students are doing work that stretches them. This continues throughout the students’ time at the school and culminates in their successful applications to the best universities, training providers and employers.   Potential Plus UK (formerly The National Association for Gifted Children) supports Osted’s findings. “If the failure reported by Ofsted was about any other issue there would be a national outcry”, says the charity’s Chief Executive, Denise Yates.

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Boost for treatment of cystic fibrosis New research into cystic fibrosis could help develop treatments to improve muscle function. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease affecting multiple organs in which primarily the lungs and digestive system become obstructed by mucus, causing difficulties in breathing and digesting food. In a study published in Experimental Physiology, researchers at Georgia Regents University in the US have found that people suffering from cystic fibrosis have limited ability to uptake and use oxygen in their muscles, which gets worse with age. A lack of oxygen leads to a limited ability to exercise, which is an important tool to achieve a better and prolonged life quality in these patients. In their study, the team of researchers used near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) as a new method to evaluate skeletal muscle oxidative capacity in patients with the condition. They compared skeletal muscle oxidative capacity in a group of 13 patients with cystic fibrosis, aged seven to 42 years, and a group of 16 healthy controls, aged seven to 59 years. The NIRS device was placed on the middle of the thigh and a blood pressure-like cuff was placed on the upper thigh. The pressure cuff was inflated on the thigh to measure muscle tissue oxygen response over time. The senior author of the study, Dr Ryan Harris, Director of the University’s Laboratory of Integrative Vascular and Exercise Physiology in the Medical College of Georgia, says “The ability to measure the capacity of muscles to use oxygen non-invasively using NIRS is a big plus”. The new NIRS technique will provide a much cheaper way of evaluating patients than other methods such as magnetic resonance imaging. It can also be repeated as often as needed throughout a study, without any radiation exposure. In addition, Dr Harris says the NIRS technique can be used in children, giving it “a huge advantage over invasive procedures such as muscle biopsies.”

Young deaf dancers to star in deaf awareness film Twelve deaf children and young people will feature in a film which aims to increase participation in the arts, after winning a national competition.    “Raising the Bar” was developed by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) to drive up expectations of what the 45,000 deaf children and young people in the UK can achieve.   The winners will take part in a dance masterclass with touring deaf dance crew Def motion, working towards a live showcase that will be filmed and sent out to teachers. It will form part of a resource pack that will also include information on teaching deaf children, how to make classes and venues deaf-friendly and how to address the communication needs of deaf children. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Dr Cusack’s work looks at social skills and autism.

Autistic scientist challenges preconceptions about ASD A scientist with autism has used his own experiences to aid the completion of a study which challenges some of the most commonly-held beliefs about the condition. Dr James Cusack, from the University of Aberdeen, argues that generalisations about people with autism being poorer at interpreting gestures and body language may be exaggerated and could be overcome by developing their ability to pay attention to signals in their brain which may otherwise go unnoticed. The findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, are the result of a four-year study conducted with a group of adolescents with autism from Aberdeen. The team believe the results could bring scientists closer to understanding the condition, and unlock the potential of others with the disability. Those taking part in the study were shown a series of human action sequences, created using technology which reduces figures to a series of dots, and then asked to distinguish between similar actions such as dancing and fighting – something which it is commonly believed those with autism have greater difficulty in determining. The results showed that their ability to detect these subtle differences was significantly higher than that identified by previous research. The findings parallel developments within Dr Cusack’s own life by demonstrating that the impairment in those with autism could potentially be overcome if they could be directed to interpret what they see more effectively. Dr Cusack was told at the age of 12 that he may need residential care for the rest of his life to support his individual needs. Instead, he received a targeted education at a specialist autism centre and he went on to excel first at school and then at university. Dr Cusack’s doctoral project was jointly supervised by Dr Peter Neri, a leading visual scientist from the University of Aberdeen, and Dr Justin Williams, a psychiatrist who pioneered influential theories of autism, also based at the University. The researchers were supported by the Medical Research Council and the Royal Society. SENISSUE76




What’s new?

Adopters sought for Birmingham

Birmingham urgently needs more adopters. Some of the children in care have disabilities or health problems but like all children, they need nurturing “forever” homes to ensure the very best for their futures. Birmingham is looking for people like you, with specialist knowledge and skills, who might be considering adopting a child or children. The Council provides all necessary support and is keen to hear from you if you think you could give one or more children the stability, love and care which they deserve. Call: 0121 303 7575 or visit:

WHAT? campaign highlights how regulation of arts therapists protects service users The Health and Care Professions Council’s (HCPC) Why Hire an Arts Therapist? (WHAT?) campaign promotes the statutory regulation of arts therapists. Employing a registered arts therapist ensures that they meet national standards for training, professional skills and behaviour, that they’re genuine and that service users are protected. Only HCPC registered professionals can use these legally protected titles: art therapist, art psychotherapist, dramatherapist, music therapist. Case studies demonstrating how arts therapists have helped to benefit and improve the lives of children with SEN are now available online.

Secondary Progression Tools now available The Communication Trust have developed a new resource – speech, language and communication tools for secondary schools to support the communication development of students aged 11 to 18. The tools provide a quick way for practitioners to determine whether students are at the level expected for their age around speech, language and communication. They can also be used to track progress over time. “There are so many different learning and assessment tools on the market... TCT’s Secondary Progression Tools are more robust and effective in identifying specific student communication needs”, says an AVP Extended Learning Teacher from Clacton.

Henshaws supports young people with autism to prepare for adulthood Henshaws College in Harrogate is working with the EFA and its local authority to provide improved opportunities for young people with autism to prepare for adulthood. Henshaws offers a low arousal, reduced stimulus environment within a dedicated setting that is the starting point for students to step into the wider student community at their own pace. Principal Angela North says: “Our experienced team have piloted this approach, focusing on positive behaviour strategies. We know that being part of a community is important to our students and we support them to be the best they can be.”

Smart bike storage solutions Cyclepods specialise in innovative and secure bike storage solutions made from recycled materials, manufactured in the UK. Their Minipods and Scooterpods are unique storage units for smaller bikes and scooters. Their Lockerpod+ can hold larger bikes and trikes as well as equipment and Streetpods are ideal for older pupils and teachers. All are ideal for schools as they comply with eco standards and are available in an array of colours to brighten up playgrounds or match school colours. To find out more about storage solutions for your school, visit: or contact Jan Robinson on: 01959 546041 or: SENISSUE76

Free Events in Newcastle for parents, carers and professionals Now in their third year of hosting successful free autism events, Hesley Group will be repeating their recent London events on Positive Practical Approaches in Autism at Newcastle United FC’s conference facilities on 12 and 13 May. Speakers Alex Kelly, Steve McGuinness, Dawn Dunn, Sarah Leitch, Angela Stanton-Greenwood and Steven Wilson will provide stimulating interactive presentations and discussions around Positive Behaviour Support. For more information and online booking requests for each event, visit: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


2015 Autism’s Got Talent acts announced AnnaKennedyOnline has announced the final acts for Autism’s Got Talent 2015, the May event showcasing the talents of young people on the autistic spectrum. The line-up will include singers, dancers, drummers and bands. The search has also started for acts for 2016. In previous years, the show has featured a stand-up comedian, a young author, an acclaimed ballet dancer and opera singers. If you know someone who may be interested, contact Lisa via the email below.

New webinars from Douglas Silas Following his successful training days during the Autumn and Spring terms of 2014/15, specialist SEN solicitor Douglas Silas is staging weekly webinars entitled: “What You Need To Know (The New SEN Framework)” throughout the Summer term. They are all one-hour long, CPD-accredited and aimed at both parents and professionals.

For a full list of 2015 performers, go to:

Douglas says: “Due to demand, I am providing these webinars to make things even easier and more accessible for people – they can now get my training on a computer at home or work, or even on the move by using their phone or tablet”.

For tickets and information, email Lisa at:

For more information, visit:

Language development platform for tablets

Medpage launch new epileptic seizure monitor

Insane Logic – the award winning social enterprise dedicated to helping children, young people and adults learn to communicate – have developed MyChoicePad, a language development platform for mobile tablets which uses symbols and signs to help reinforce language. Designed to help those with communication difficulties, MyChoicePad helps develop understanding and makes teaching effective. It’s used by a variety of people with differing communications needs – from pre-school, mainstream and special schools, to adults with learning disabilities in supported living environments. Insane Logic’s three resident speech and language therapists devise projects and training programmes, helping to embed the tool and its practices.


New sensory classroom at Kisimul School The Kisimul Group supports pupils with severe learning difficulties and challenging behaviour with a diagnosis of autism. Pupils aged eight to sixteen have access to a wide and varied curriculum. Kisimul Schools recently invested in a fully integrated, immersive sensory classroom. The rationale for an innovative development was to provide a multi-sensory, interactive environment in which pupils are fully immersed in a particular theme through the medium of ICT and sensory play. Pupils explore a topic using a multitude of sensory play activities, sensory stories, an interactive floor, themed lighting, sounds and projections. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

The Medpage MP5 ULTRA was developed to provide seizure detection from a broader range of seizure types. It incorporates high specification motion sensors combined with analytical computer software that accurately determines if a person is having an epileptic seizure while in bed. Extensive research into seizure characteristics provided data which was used to develop algorithms to calculate and identify the regular sleeping movements of a patient. Nontypical seizure movement is ignored by the motion sensors, virtually eliminating false alarms in all bed types in patient trials. For further information, visit: or telephone: 01536 364869 for a brochure.

New union service for education middle leaders NAHT Edge is a new type of union service and professional association for middle leaders (including SENCOs, heads of department and heads of year) in schools. It provides the support they need to develop in their role and look ahead to the next stage, whatever that may be. It’s quick, responsive and digitally-driven to support a growing community of middle leaders. It’s part of NAHT, the biggest union of school leaders. If you’re looking for high quality professional development and trade union protection, visit NAHT Edge to find out more at: SENISSUE76




Supporting good transitions for people with autism

New speakers and features for The Autism Show

Making the transition from early years up to higher education, employment or into different services can be one of the biggest changes we make in our live. This conference, taking place on 1 June in Manchester, will help you to develop a greater understanding of how to support your students throughout different stages of transition.

The Autism Show returns in June at ExCeL London, NEC Birmingham and EventCity Manchester with new speakers and features.

Key topics include evidence base around transitions into adulthood, best practice models for transition, personcentred approaches to transitions for students with severe complex needs, supporting the Asperger/HFA child back into mainstream education, and understanding cultural differences and their impact on transition.

Features will also include the Sensory Classroom, enabling visitors to experience how it may feel to have a sensory processing difficulty, the Get Cycling Test Track, providing visitors with the opportunity to try out a range of adapted bicycles, and the Lego Therapy Workshop.

Autism awareness for sports professionals The National Autistic Society’s new project, Active for Autism, is designed to support people with autism in sport or physical activity by delivering training for sports professionals. Training is available online, face to face and through bespoke packages. Active for autism aims to increase confidence and skills of sports professionals delivering sport or physical activity and levels of participation of people with autism in sport and physical activity. It also aims to improve self-esteem and wellbeing of people with autism through participation in sport and physical activity. For more information: 0141 285 7117

Olympus voice recorder provides assistive support The innovative Olympus DM-7 Linear PCM voice recorder is primed for both business users and those with assistive needs. Exceptional recording quality matched with a full range of features and clever functions for those with visual impairments or dyslexia provide a level playing field that ensures everyone can make the most of their personal abilities. The sleek DM-7 boasts a wi-fi connection to provide the convenience of remotely starting and stopping the unit from afar; just download the Olympus app for iPhone and Android-based smartphones and connect to the recorder. SENISSUE76

This year's highlights should include talks from Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Dr Carole Buckley and TV and radio presenter Melanie Sykes.

You can book tickets and save 20 per cent at:

Shine a Light Awards seek communication champions for 2015 Do you champion the speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) of children and young people? Does your setting offer exceptional support and best practice? The Communication Trust and Pearson Assessment are looking for this year’s winners of the annual Shine a Light Awards 2015. They are looking for settings, schools, teams, young people and individuals who deliver innovative work and excellent practice in supporting children and young people’s communication development. The Awards open on 24 April 2015 and close on 24 June 2015. You can enter at:

LVS Oxford accepts weekly boarders A limited number of weekly residential places for young people with a diagnosis on the autistic spectrum aged 11 to 19 are now available at LVS Oxford. LVS Oxford and LVS Hassocks will be hosting open days during 2015 giving LEAs, SENCOs, parents and learners the opportunity to have a look around. The schools offer a structured environment as well as pastoral care and their approach is focused on building life skills and educational achievements. LVS Hassocks and LVS Oxford welcome enquiries, for more information about the open days and to register your interest, call: 03330 067433. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Quest 88 inclusive cycles and new Cycling HUB

Safety and enjoyment from Sunken Trampolines

The Quest 88 Cycling HUB in Pontesbury, Shropshire is a new cycle store specialising in electric and adaptive cycles for all ages and abilities. Its wide range of specialist and adaptive cycles includes A2B, F4W and Roodog electric cycles, plus Draisin and Hase recumbent three-wheelers and electric tricycles. It also stocks the latest cycling accessories and outdoor clothing.

Sunken Trampolines are a leading UK supplier and installer of safe, fun trampolines.

The HUB allows customers to receive practical and friendly advice and offers a demonstration area in the rolling Shropshire hills. Guided test rides are available on request. For more information, call: 0845 604 7258 or 01743 790191 or email:

Interactive sensory kit goes portable Sensory Technology have developed two of their most popular interactive products into portable models. Their in-house designed Borealis Tube and Sensor Floor are now more practical and versatile for the home buyer and organisations that want the flexibility and convenience of sensory products that can be easily transported from one room to another. The Portable Borealis Tube, standing at one metre high and fixed within a plinth on lockable wheels, is a handy size for bedrooms and classrooms.

From installing family trampolines to creating an Olympic training facility, they have worked to make trampolining a more accessible sport for everyone. The use of a trampoline for SEN is not new but, in association with Rebound Therapy, Sunken Trampolines have made these fun and health-promoting platforms available for the benefit of all. If you would like to discuss having a sunken trampoline for your home or establishment, call Joel on: 07801 573278 or Angus on: 07765 256537 or email:

#careis campaign highlights meaning of foster care Foster Care Associates (FCA) have launched a new campaign talking about what foster care is. The #careis campaign focuses on the different aspects of care, from being the reason someone smiles, to helping young people wrestle with their emotions or understanding that while fostering sometimes isn’t easy, it is always worth it. Care is at the centre of what FCA do, meaning they can offer the best in support because they know that when carers have the knowledge, training and assistance they need, they can do so much more for the children and young people they are caring for.

The Sensor Floor’s robust trolley, also on lockable wheels, houses all the required equipment. For full details, visit:

Music Teacher Award for Soundbeam It may have been around for 25 years but Soundbeam’s policy of continuous investment in improving their increasingly wireless technology has been recognised with a well-deserved award, as overall winner of the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence Best SEN Resource for 2015. “What’s great is that the nominations come from teachers who are actually working with Soundbeam, rather than anonymous ‘experts’, so we feel that this prize genuinely reflects how our users experience the product” says Soundbeam Director Tim Swingler. “The award is a fantastic endorsement from Soundbeam users” WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Professional Visitor Event at Treloar’s Treloar’s provides education and care for physically disabled children and young adults aged up to 25 years. Their next full day Professional Visitor Event will be held on Tuesday 23 June 2015 (10am to 3pm). Shorter tours will be held in the autumn term. At these events professionals working with special educational needs providers and students can learn about Treloar’s multidisciplinary approach to care and education, tour the state-of-the-art campus, visit the technology hub, residential accommodation and classes, meet students and find out about Outreach Services. To register your interest, email: or call: 01420 547400 extension 7840. SENISSUE76




Tactile and durable sensory panels

Could you be a foster carer?

Young children explore with their senses and the benefits of sensory play are well known.

There is an urgent need for foster carers throughout the UK. has been established to provide those considering foster care as a vocation or a career with the information they need to help their decision making.

Timotay have now developed tactile panels that can be hung outdoors all year round. These tactile panels will enhance any sensory garden. Safe and durable, every panel contains different natural materials that will stimulate children’s senses. They can be used as a set of large tactile panels or to create a caterpillar of smaller panels. Sensory items are designed and manufactured in the company’s wood workshop, so you can contact Timotay to discuss any special requirements, or visit the website to view panels in stock: works in partnership with a number of independent agencies, providing you with a choice of well established fostering agencies with a strong presence throughout the country. Their aim is to provide quality care and achieve the best outcomes for the children and young people entrusted to them. For more information, visit:

Newspaper for people with learning disabilities National disability charity United Response has produced the fourteenth edition of the award winning 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 coverage of the schoolgirls in Syria, Chelsea fans racist chants, the violent attack on Alan Barns, a tribute to the late Mr Spock and more. To download a copy and sign up for future editions, visit:

Bespoke education recruitment Vision for Education's SEN specialists provide a bespoke recruitment service for all alternative education and SEN provisions. Clients have their own dedicated SEN consultant who can supply emergency day-to-day cover, long-term and permanent candidate sourcing, covering leadership, teachers, SENCOs, teaching assistants and learning support assistants. They are experienced with SEMH, ASC, MLD, SLD, SpLD, PD and complex needs teachers and support staff, and are fully AWR compliant. The company pay the best rates to its fully qualified and vetted candidates and in-house training is offered to candidates including, Team-Teach, Moving and Handling, Autism Awareness, ADHD Awareness, AAC and Sensory Integration. SENISSUE76

PM’s wife hosts reception for disabled children’s charity Samantha Cameron (pictured second from left), recently opened the doors of Number 10 Downing Street for a charity reception for KIDS, the disabled children’s charity. Over one hundred guests attended the reception including children, young people and their families who have been supported by KIDS.   KIDS is a charity that works with over 8,000 disabled children, young people and their families across England each year. Their work empowers young people to achieve their aims while giving parents and carers the skills and confidence to nurture and develop their child.

Cerebral palsy charity branches into Cheshire Stick ‘n’ Step, a North West charity that works with children with cerebral palsy, has launched a pilot project in Tarporley, thanks to Big Lottery grant funding worth almost £10,000. This pilot forms part of the charity’s stated aim to make a difference to the lives of as many children with cerebral palsy as possible. The charity provides free conductive education and support services to 70 families. The pilot at Tarporley Community Centre will run for a year. Each Wednesday a Conductor will be running two three-hour sessions, working with up to eight families. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK



School band to compete for national crown A band of young learners from West Sussex will take to the stage of a famous London theatre in May having played their way into the final of a prestigious national competition. The Hassocks Allstars Blues Band saw off strong competition to be chosen for the shortlist of Autism’s Got Talent, and the group of seven students will now represent LVS Hassocks, a specialist school for young learners with Asperger’s and autism, at the grand final in the Mermaid Theatre on 9 May. With individual performers making up fourteen of the seventeen acts performing on the day, and only one other act (a dance troupe) made up entirely of students, it is testimony to the skills of staff at the school in building confidence and teamwork amongst the young learners that they have been able to achieve this together. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK















Point of view: company director

Supporting healthy minds Fleur Sexton hopes increased government backing for mental healthcare for children will filter into classrooms too


upporting young people with social, emotional or behavioural difficulties has always been important to me, so I welcomed the announcement in March of the Government’s new blueprint for improving mental health care and support for children and young people over the next five years. Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb MP seems to understand the need to make mental health as high a priority within the health service as physical health. The Government’s new plans align with key proposals in the report from the taskforce Mr Lamb set up in 2014 to make recommendations on improving and modernising mental health commissioning for young people, including plans to make specialist talking therapies available in every area of the country.  Other proposals include working to tackle stigma and improve attitudes to mental illness and developing a targeted

starting higher education or work, to relationships and peer pressure – and these can be intensified by constant exposure to social media. I want to change the way we think about mental health care so that any child, whether they have a mental illness or simply need support through a difficult time, can get the right help at the right time”.

campaign to create a culture where young people and their families are not afraid to seek help. This is something I have been highlighting for many years – vulnerable people can miss out on vital support where care is disjointed or non-existent. When a child suffers from any form of mental health problem which causes them difficulties and distress, it has to be tackled head on and quickly – particularly as these types of problem often precipitate a crisis in their education. As Mr Lamb said recently, “Children and young people face enormous challenges – from exam pressures and

not easy. Schools and colleges need effective and consistent strategies to engage (or re-engage) pupils, maintain their progress and instil a sense of hope and aspiration for their futures. It’s hard work. Like mining for gold, you have to chip away at all the obstacles to create an environment where engagement with education is possible. Pupils with mental health issues are commonly at risk of low achievement – they may become quiet and withdrawn, uninterested in lessons, non-compliant or the cause of low-level disruption.  So it’s very important that they have appropriate role models and mentors


Support when it matters Keeping children and young people engaged with their studies, or some form of work experience, when they are struggling with mental health issues is

Vulnerable people can miss out on vital support where care is disjointed or non-existent

to provide high-energy support and fast-paced lessons, usually involving kinaesthetic techniques so that they are bowled along with the fun of learning and able to celebrate every success, however small.  Ensuring pupils have mastered the basics is also key; children who have missed school, perhaps for medical appointments, often miss out on fundamental points and are therefore unable to follow enough of the subsequent lessons to become or remain engaged.    A reduced focus on bad behaviour can also work wonders, although this doesn’t mean being a soft touch. It just means being consistent, realistic and practical. Children facing challenges must feel there is hope for the future. Our duty is to integrate and support all young people into a society where they can take their place and have a positive impact. As a society, we have a moral obligation to help and support those young people who most need it. So I hope these new plans from Mr Lamb help to ensure that no child is left struggling alone.

Further information

Fleur Sexton is Joint Managing Director of PET-Xi, which runs courses for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties: 



Point of view: person with dyslexia

Written off

Leon Brown tells how teachers failed to spot his dyslexia and his potential for learning


only received my diagnosis of dyslexia during my final year of university, meaning that my entire education was provided without the support I needed and in a format that didn’t work for me. Fortunately, I was able to achieve “OK” GCSE results, as well as A Levels and a degree, but the pattern was always the same – a lot more time and effort was required to achieve “OK” results, while others put in less effort for the same or better results. My early experiences in education were also accompanied by teachers and family providing negative commentaries on my learning efforts: I was “too lazy to learn”, too much of a “daydreamer”, “too clumsy” or just “didn't listen” to what was being taught. I’ll always remember one humiliating experience in Year 2 when a teacher asked me to answer a question in front of the class and I had difficulty in interpreting what she meant; her response to my uncertainty was to suggest to the class that my future job would be a bin man. Unfortunately, this type of incident wasn't a one-off and I frequently had to struggle to find the balance between not understanding something and asking the teacher to explain, thereby risking humiliation. The signs of dyslexia were always there, though they were never identified; the need to go to speech therapy, untidy handwriting, ongoing difficulties in language acquisition, problems remembering how to spell words, struggling to learn left from right, and difficulties in interpreting questions, remembering instructions and WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

formulating my thoughts into spoken sentences all led to teachers and family assuming that my learning capabilities were limited and that I didn't try hard enough. Without the interventions that were needed, I was left to fall behind at school.

A double-edged sword Dyslexia has been both an enabler and a disabler in my education. The disadvantage of my slower ability to process information also provided a barrier from those who doubted my ability to learn. However, while many people thought of me as less able to

The teacher’s response was to suggest to the class that my future job would be a bin man learn skills, my slower processing of the criticisms directed towards me as a child meant that it never really occurred to me that I would fail to achieve something that I wanted. My struggles with education also meant that I developed the ability to persevere in my learning; so I have often been quite good at sticking with it and mastering skills long after many other people have quit. Many people affected by dyslexia are not diagnosed until long after their education has been completed, if at all. This is a worrying pattern that should be addressed by the education system: how can people clearly show all the classic signs of dyslexia without the

condition being identified? Children more capable of interpreting the critical remarks of adults often believe they are less able and either rebel or lose the ability to persevere in their learning, leading to unfulfilled potential. The turning point in my education was my introduction to computing, when I was given an Amstrad CPC 464 as a Christmas present. It enabled me to learn programming skills that, in turn, lead to an understanding of maths and English through visual and hands-on interaction. Not only was this present the catalyst for the development of my numeracy and literacy skills, it was also the foundation of my career as a software developer. I have gone on to write software for major international bodies, I’ve written articles for industry leading magazines and I’ve delivered IT training to a wide range of organisations. I’ve also developed my own learning method for helping those who struggle with maths and computing. Not bad for a dyslexic who was once told his highest career aspiration should be to become a bin man.

Further information

Leon Brown is the founder of Nextpoint, which creates interactive software tools for learning:





Post-16 issues Specialist SEN solicitor Douglas Silas answers questions about young people with SEN in post-16 education What has the post-16 system been until now? Prior to 1 September 2014, at the end of their compulsory education, young people who wished to remain in education for post-16 provision were entitled to keep a statement of SEN until they were 19 years old, provided that they stayed in a school. However, if they moved to a college or other further education institution, they were no longer able to keep their statement; instead, they had a learning difficulties assessment. After the assessment, there would be a written report known as an LDA, setting out the young person’s educational and training needs and the provision required to meet them.

What is an LDA? An LDA is supposed to be similar to a statement, as it sets out what additional or different learning support and provision a young person needs when continuing their education post-16. The contents of an LDA are discussed during transition reviews. A number of people are asked for information, such as the school, the local authority (LA) educational psychologist and representatives from Connexions or other organisations that assist with transition. The LDA would then be passed on to the relevant post-16 institution.

were often reluctant to assist, because that would require them to find that LAs were sometimes acting unlawfully in the way that they produced them. Some people also felt that young people were “falling off a cliff” when they left school, as they no longer had the protection of a statement.

What is happening to LDAs now? LDAs are now being transferred to education, health and care (EHC) plans. Where an LDA has been carried out and a report has been written for a young person before 1 September 2014, it will continue to have legal effect until 1 September 2016, unless the young person/post-16 institution asks the LA to secure an EHC needs assessment (or the LA decides itself to secure an EHC needs assessment). As with statements, during the transition period, transitional arrangements will be in place to maintain elements relating to LDAs prior to 1 September 2016. After that date, all young people who receive support as a result of an

There is no automatic entitlement for a young person to have an EHC plan until they are 25 LDA who wish to continue in further education and training must have an EHC plan.

Do EHC plans go up to the age of 25? Theoretically, yes, but practically this may not always be the case. Although we have been told that EHC plans can continue up to the age of 25, in fact, they are only able to do this if the “outcomes” contained in them have not yet been achieved. There is no automatic expectation or entitlement for a young person to have an EHC plan until they are 25. For example, they may still finish their education or training by the time they are 19 years old and so would no longer require an EHC plan.

Were there any criticisms of LDAs? Many people felt that LDAs did not have the same legal rights attached to them as statements, since parents were unable to appeal against them to an independent body. Also, although the Judicial Review process could be used to try and challenge them, the courts SENISSUE76

Students needing support with learning post-16 will need an education, health and care plan.



How will LDAs be transferred to EHC Plans? LAs must first conduct a proper EHC needs assessment by way of a transfer review, as improving the preparation of young people for adulthood is one of the key aims of the new SEN system. Although it is for LAs to determine when young people will be transferred to the new system, the transitional provisions state clearly that, during the academic year 2014/15, young people in further education or training who receive support for their SEN as a result of an LDA and who wish to continue in education beyond 31 August 2016, can either continue to receive the support arising out of their LDA or request an EHC needs assessment. During the academic year 2015/16, LAs must consider whether an EHC needs assessment is required for them if the LA believes they will remain in further education or training beyond 31 August 2016. From 1 September 2014, LAs have had to take all reasonable steps to inform young people with an LDA of their option to request an EHC needs assessment and how this could benefit them (for example, there is more of a focus now on outcomes, there is reference to social care and health input, it is possible to ask for a personal budget and there is a right of Tribunal appeal against an EHC plan).

How long will the transfer take? LAs have six weeks following a request to consider whether it is necessary to carry out an EHC needs assessment. The new SEN Code of Practice sets out the evidence that LAs should take into account. If the LA agrees to conduct the assessment and issues an EHC plan, it should be issued in final form within 20 weeks. LAs should use assessment information contained within reports obtained for the LDA (it they remain accurate) to contribute to the EHC needs assessment. If the LA maintains a statement for a young person over 16, any transfer must be completed within 14 weeks from the end of the two WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

An LEA must not cease to maintain an EHC plan just because a young person is 19 or over

institution named in it, unless the LA reviews it first and ascertains that the young person does not wish to return to education or training, or considers that returning to education or training would not be “appropriate” for them.

What about mental capacity issues? week notice period for commencement of the EHC needs assessment. Where a young person is aged over 18, the LA must also consider whether they require additional time to complete their education or training outcomes, in comparison with the majority of people of the same age who do not have their SEN.

Who decides when the transfer should take place? If the transfer/assessment is being considered in the academic year 2015/16 the LA should liaise with the young person and the post-16 education provider to identify the most appropriate time for the assessment to take place. Alternatively, it may be at the point that a formal review of the LDA would otherwise have taken place. Where the LA decides not to conduct an EHC needs assessment and not to secure an EHC plan, a young person has the right to appeal against that decision to the SEND Tribunal. If they have an existing LDA, the provision being made as a result of the LDA should continue as planned if an EHC plan is not secured.

What about ceasing to maintain an EHC plan? Under the new system, an LA must not cease to maintain an EHC plan just because a young person is 19 or over. The LA can only cease to maintain the plan if it is “no longer necessary”. The question will be whether the education or training outcomes have been achieved. As the main aim for an EHC plan is to prepare a young person for adulthood, an LA cannot just cease to maintain a plan even if the young person over 18 ceases to attend the

Mental capacity has been a major cause for concern. There will always be an assumption of capacity of the young person, unless all practical steps have been taken to help them without success. However, there is a difference between someone having no capacity and them making unwise decisions. This means that, just because a young person makes a decision which their parents, the LA or others may not have made, this does not mean that they automatically lack capacity. Obviously, in some situations, a young person (perhaps with severe learning difficulties) may not have capacity, but in other cases it may not be so clearcut. In some circumstances therefore, it may be necessary to seek a declaration from the Court of Protection for parents (or others) to seek a Deputyship Order, which will only be granted where there is proof of incapacity and it can be shown that they are acting in the best interests of the young person.

Further information Douglas Silas runs the website:

and is also the author of A Guide To The SEN Code of Practice (What You Need To Know), which is available for all eBook readers: www.AGuideToTheSEN The advice provided here is of a general nature and Douglas Silas Solicitors cannot be held responsible for any loss caused by reliance placed upon it.





Hearing pupils’ voices All pupils must be allowed to have their say in their own education, writes Pearl Barnes


ourteen years ago, the then revised SEN Code of Practice (2001) introduced the notion of pupil participation, supporting the idea that children have a right to receive information, to express an opinion and to have that opinion considered when making decisions that matter to them. It recognised the UN International Rights of the Child (Article 12), where all children have a right to be part of the decisions which influence their lives – to therefore be freely involved in making decisions regarding their educational provision. It additionally placed a duty upon professionals to make “every reasonable endeavour” to obtain these views and hence a variety of modes of communication should be utilised to gain the views of pupils with a diverse range of SEN and disabilities. The revised SEN Code of Practice and the Children and Families Act

Some children may struggle to make choices or to reflect and evaluate (2014) further reinforce these views by placing children at the very heart of provision, supporting the ongoing importance of listening to the views of children and young people whilst providing them with opportunities to participate in the development of their educational provision. Moreover, the Code of Practice goes a step further than previous regulations, saying that local authorities also have a duty to ensure children and young people are involved in discussions and decisions about their individual support and local provision. Whilst children are often caught up in an adversarial

Children who are involved in the development of their education provision are more likely to achieve.


system, their feelings and preferences should be taken into account and responded to, when considering their educational provision and planning for future outcomes. The Code of Practice and the revised Ofsted Inspection Framework (2014) are now closely aligned, with the Inspection Framework outlining the importance of schools involving pupils alongside inspectors listening to the views of pupils from a range of backgrounds, including those with SEN and disabilities. It advocates that the views of pupils should be thoroughly explored both formally and informally, in order to paint the child’s perspective of the educational provision available to them. It is therefore enshrined in national and international law that all children and young people, including those with SEN and disabilities, should have a regular involvement in, resulting in a tangible impact upon, the development of their educational provision. The purpose of including pupils in the development of their education is founded upon sound research which shows that children are more likely to achieve when motivated, engaged and happy. Moreover, assessment for learning (AfL) promotes the positive impact of involving pupils in sharing learning objectives, setting goals and targets and sharing feedback with pupils. Best practice provides pupils with opportunities to develop a deeper understanding and insight into learning how to learn (metacognition) and develops learning objectives in collaboration with the child. By being involved in the development of provision, children and young people are much more likely to take ownership of it and strive towards the joint targets set. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


What is the best practice responsibility of the local authority?

Simple thumbs up/down pictures can help children express preferences.

Obtaining the views of children and young people Children and young people with SEN experience a spectrum of conditions and developmental needs and it can be a challenge to engage with, and obtain information from, pupils with such a diverse range of communication and social interaction needs. When a well-meaning system is put in place, it cannot always compensate for the variability in individual human features. Only by seeking the views of the child or young person themselves can a true picture of what is in their best interests be developed. However, children’s own experiences may be extremely limited, restricting their ability to comment upon what is in their best interests. Some children may struggle to make choices or to reflect and evaluate. Nevertheless, by providing information for pupils which is meaningful and accessible and subsequently allowing them to be an active participant, they are much more likely to view it in a positive light as enabling and empowering. The challenge is facilitating the ability to obtain the views of all children and young people at every level, irrespective of their need, and participate in the decisions which impact upon their lives. In order to provide a platform for pupil participation, it is imperative that best practice is shared across regions. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Children and young people should be: • able to have a say in their educational placement and provision • involved in case reviews • involved with the shaping of local provision by talking with local authority (LA) representatives regularly • known to the LA personnel who make the decisions about their education • involved in the shaping and development of the local offer • able to have an independent advocate/representative to provide support and advice for the child and family.

What is best practice for schools? Schools should: • run independent or anonymous satisfaction surveys • conduct pupil walks or shadow a pupil to obtain their experiences of a whole day • allow the opportunity for pupils to interview staff • conduct regular interviews with individual pupils, building rapport and trust • allow pupils to make a video of their life at school and discuss the pros and cons of the school day • allow pupils to be involved in the development of school-wide policies and provision, such as the behavioural policy and what the school can offer • provide a forum, such as a student forum/council (led by children), with SEN representatives, for their views to be regularly heard school-wide.

Hearing the voices of pupils with SEN Many teachers often struggle to gain the views of children and young people with SEN because of the difficulties in


Allow pupils to be involved in the development of school-wide policies and provision communication and social interaction, and the belief that they do not have the experience of what it is that they need. However, a recent study by the Children’s Commissioner’s Office found that children and young people in residential settings do feel strongly about their educational provision and want to have their views heard and acted upon. Many continue to find that they are not able to participate in the key decisions which shape their lives, often compounding their wellbeing.

Quality first teaching All teachers are teachers of pupils with SEN and teachers should involve all pupils within their lessons. The following are examples of good practice which could be implemented across the whole setting: • allow children the opportunity to record their work in a variety of ways, including the use of film, pictures, mind-maps, and be flexible to the individual learning style of the pupil • provide regular feedback to individual pupils to enable them to feel secure in knowing what they can do well, and what they need to do next to improve to the next stage • set goals and targets jointly with pupils for joint ownership of them – ask them for their own long-term goal and determine the small stages to achieve this goal • provide a time for self-reflection and evaluation; did the learning opportunity enable them to improve? If not, what would help them engage and improve further? >> SENISSUE76



• do not put children under pressure; allow them time to think and consider the options • ensure children understand what they are learning and why it is important • use traffic lights during a lesson to gauge the level of understanding and engagement: red = too hard/do not understand; yellow = about right, some challenges, but fairly secure; green = very secure knowledge and understanding. • when using questionnaires, ask children why they answered in the way they did • promote readiness to learn by contextualising learning, linking to prior knowledge and how the learning relates to the key concepts and skills they are developing • observe pupils’ engagement in learning and discuss their level of understanding with them • provide children with opportunities to talk about their learning to advance their critical thinking • allow children to be involved in the shaping of the lesson to develop an enquiring mind • consider the extent to which the adult fosters and respects the child’s independence.

Different coloured post-it notes can help children to discuss their likes and dislikes.


Teach children to recognise their signs of anxiety and take ownership of their behaviour Good practice for children and young people with SEN: • ensure pupils are involved in the development of their annual reviews • build in choice as a life skill; use visual clues, objects of reference, photographs and symbols for developing the ability to make choices • use a trusted adult/keyworker who is able to understand the pupil’s body language, eye gaze and method of communication • provide support around key transition points from year-toyear and from one school to the next; visit new settings regularly and use photographs, pictures and social stories to ensure the pupil fully understands the reason for the change • get to know the children, how they convey their needs and desires, what they like and don’t like, through facial expressions, body language, sounds, posture and alertness • create the opportunity for pupils to be able to escape; teach children to recognise their signs of anxiety and take ownership of their behaviour • use peer support to discuss views • use role play to explore options and choices • use two different coloured postit notes for obtaining information about what the children “like” and “don’t like” (thumbs up/ thumbs down); show pictures/ photographs as memory aids of different activities to determine what they like and don’t like • provide pictures and statements and allow children to rank them

in order from most important to least important • ensure children are aware there are no right or wrong answers when seeking their views • match picture activity cards with a range of pictures of emotions to determine what they enjoy and do not enjoy • discuss the notion that “you can’t always get what you want”. Children and young people are empowered and their learning experiences are enriched when they are able to participate in forming them. Educational provision at all levels should strive to listen to the views of all children and young people, including those with SEN and disabilities, in order to develop educational provision which meets their individual needs and to reduce the adversarial nature of decisions that have a direct impact upon their lives. Involving children and young people right from the start ensures they feel valued as active participants in influencing and shaping their future. This, in turn, helps improve their motivation, level of engagement and self-esteem and thereby provides far greater opportunities for making long-term improvements to their life chances as adults.

Further information

Pearl Barnes, a former President of nasen, is an SEN consultant and specialist teacher: Pearl would like to acknowledge the work of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner in providing information essential to the formulation of this article.



Professor Adam Ockelford with Seashell Trust student Cayman Norton.

Sounds of Intent at Seashell Leading academic Professor Adam Ockelford recently visited Seashell Trust near Manchester to see how it uses non-Western music to help severely disabled young people. Professor Ockelford joined groundbreaking student workshops for the gamelan, an Indonesian percussion orchestra. His team at the University of Roehampton developed the programme Sounds of Intent to study music development in children with profound and multiple learning difficulties. “'The gamelan must surely be one of the most inclusive forms of music making there is, and it is wonderful to see it being used so effectively”, said Professor Ockelford. Two workshops were led by Dr Rachel Swindells, from Manchester Metropolitan University, alongside project musicians Ros Hawley and Mark Fisher. Professor Ockelford then met the project team and Seashell Trust staff to discuss ways to develop the project using Sounds of Intent. Ros Hawley explains the working relationship: “We are interested in exploring the wellbeing and relief of anxiety in students who attend live music sessions and we are looking at how creating music as a community can have benefits for an organisation. “Professor Ockelford's Sounds of Intent, for assessing music for children and young people with special educational needs, is increasingly endorsed by OFSTED. It has not as yet been used with non-western musical forms such as the gamelan so we invited Adam to see how our staff work closely with students to support their participation in the sessions. “Professionals from music, therapy, audiology, and education shared ideas for using interactive music with young people with complex communication needs. These students often benefit from experiencing music as a multi-sensory or communication-intensive interaction to provide a musically, emotionally and educationally rich experience. “The gamelan project Common Pulse is funded by Youth Music, and based at Seashell Trust for 12 months. The project aims to develop the use of the gamelan not only for students, but for staff and families too.” WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK





Positive support Angela Kenvyn examines the benefits for all concerned of peer mentoring and buddying


entoring is widely used in many countries for social, educational and workplace integration and development, promotion of positive relationships, supporting individuals at key points in their life such as during transition, and promoting an individual’s independence. Mentoring is not a new concept. In fact, most adults could probably bring to mind someone, for example, a friend, relative, teacher, coworker or acquaintance, who has had a positive, lasting effect on their life. Similarly, peer support is not new. As Hartley-Brewer (2003) points out, it “uses the knowledge, skills and experience of children and young people in a planned way to support and help develop the skills and confidence

of other children and young people”. Hartley-Brewer identifies different approaches to peer support: • peer listening – anything from a one-off listening experience, to someone talking about what is on their mind, to spending extended time with a person as they work through a difficult problem • befriending/buddying – typically between young people of the same age, this approach can help reduce isolation, develop social skills and encourage friendships • mentoring – usually involves a supportive one-to-one relationship where the mentor provides friendship and guidance and may act as a role model • mediation – used when young people are trained to diffuse interpersonal disagreements between peers such as name calling and bullying • tutoring – used to promote academic/vocational learning where the peer supporter or mentor works alongside the learner, helps, and gives encouragement and praise • advocacy – when young people or mentors represent the views of other young people.

Who can be a peer mentor or buddy?

Peer support can help a pupil to settle at school.


Many young people have the potential to become a peer mentor. Their academic level is not important. Success is dependant on commitment, personal and interpersonal skills, training, being supported and feeling valued. The ability to build and maintain relationships, be non-judgemental, trustworthy, have good communication

People who have experienced and overcome issues themselves often make good mentors skills, and understand empathy and inclusion is key. Typically, the peer mentor will be a more experienced person who assists the mentee to develop their skills and knowledge, broaden their experiences and enhance their personal growth. People who have experienced and overcome issues themselves often make good mentors for others going through the same or similar difficulties. Most people have buddies – friends who they hang out with, discuss everyday life with and sometimes seek advice from. To become a buddy a person needs to have a desire to help others, give their time, share experiences, and offer friendly support. They should be able to communicate with peers and be well regarded by others around them.

How does a scheme work? Mentoring schemes can be informal: the goals of the relationship are not specified, outcomes are not measured, access is limited and may be exclusive, and mentors and mentees self-select on the basis of personal chemistry. Alternatively, mentoring schemes can be formal: goals are established from the beginning, outcomes are measured, access is open to all who meet the criteria, mentors and mentees are paired based on compatibility, and training and support in mentoring is WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


provided. Mentoring can last for a long period of time. Buddying schemes are more informal than mentoring and usually involve a buddy being partnered with someone who is new. Support may be to help the new person settle in, provide general information and help them to socialise with others. Likewise, someone who has participated in an activity previously may be assigned as a buddy to a person who is new to that activity. Buddying offers a lower level support than peer mentoring and the relationship tends to be short term. Although some schemes do include training, it is not always necessary. Increasingly, young people who have received peer mentor support, including young people with SEN, are becoming engaged in peer mentor or buddy schemes and are offering peer support to others themselves. The benefits of receiving support are numerous in relation to the development of personal, social and practical skills, including improved motivation, selfconfidence, communication and social interaction among peers. This kind of support can also help individual’s deal with personal problems, emotions and integration in school. Having a buddy can reduce initial confusion, uncertainty and anxiety, and help the person being supported to become familiar with the environment or activity. Peer support can help to address barriers to ensure all young people are treated fairly and given the respect and opportunities they deserve. The use of peer mentors has been found to assist in increasing quality of life (Hibbard et al., 2002) and increase communitybased knowledge, self-efficacy, and self confidence (Powers et al., 1995). Support by a peer is a more natural and less obtrusive way of enabling young people with SEN to participate in a wide range of experiences. A peer who acts as a role model can help young people with SEN to form better relationships with others and may also improve social behaviours. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Having a buddy can reduce initial confusion, uncertainty and anxiety What’s in it for those who give support? For those providing peer support there are a number of benefits: satisfaction in enhancing the skills of someone else and helping them to grow; a sense of achievement that they have supported another to reach their goals and realise their potential; gaining fresh perspectives through the interaction; the development of leadership skills, communication and interpersonal skills; and having the opportunity to reflect on their own behaviour and ideas. The inclusion of peer mentoring or buddying in an application for further education, higher education or employment suggests that the person is a committed, well-rounded individual who has good values and is keen to develop. Volunteering as a peer mentor or buddy can also count towards schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Even though the majority of young people gain a great sense of enjoyment from providing support, it is important that their efforts are recognised and rewarded as they are making a positive difference to the lives of others.

Understandably, parents of young people with SEN are often anxious that their child may not be fully accepted, included or treated with respect. Peer support for their child can help them to overcome any anxieties they may have and feel better about their child stepping out into the big wide world. Buddying and peer mentor support can also have advantages in relation to the workplace. The appropriate support of a peer can assist young people with SEN to become integrated into the workplace, either as part of work experience or employment. In conclusion, both buddying and peer mentoring schemes can benefit everyone involved. Peer support can play a vital role in the social, educational and economic inclusion of young people with SEN. Taking the role of peer mentor or buddy can also increase the skills, confidence, selfesteem, and therefore employability, of young people with SEN.

Everybody benefits Organisations such as schools, colleges and youth settings can benefit from facilitating peer mentor support or buddy schemes. Programmes can serve to ensure that the setting is a fully inclusive, supportive and positive environment. Accredited peer mentor training courses can be built into subject areas such as health and social care and in Wales, the Welsh Baccalaureate. Moreover, effective peer support within these settings can increase staff capacity to carry out their duties.

Further information

Angela Kenvyn is Community Services Manager ALN at Caerphilly County Borough Council:





High five for tablets Peter Maxwell offers five reasons why tablet computers should be used to support children with SEN


n just a few short years the tablet computer has become a musthave gadget for many children. In the United Kingdom, over onethird of those aged from five to 15 now own their own tablet, and over six in ten children have access to a tablet at home (Ofcom, reported in The Guardian, October 2014). Although not designed to be an educational tool, tablet computers are also being brought into the school environment in ever-increasing numbers. Educators at all levels are integrating these mobile devices into their teaching and are finding new and interesting ways to use them in their lessons. What role can these devices play in assisting pupils with SEN, though?

1: motivation The use of tablet computers has a motivating effect on most students and


this is no different for children with SEN. Tablet computers can be particularly engaging for children on the autistic spectrum. Indeed, a concern amongst some teachers is that they can become something of an obsession for learners with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). This situation obviously requires careful management but when so many of the traditional forms of motivation tend not to be as effective with this group, it is very useful for teachers to have something that they can rely on as a motivator. There are concerns that a novelty effect may be at play here and that the motivating impact of tablet computers will diminish over time. However, this might not necessarily be the case. Some schools have been using tablet computers for a number of years and students do not appear to be any less motivated by them now than when they

Tablet computers offer a practical and convenient method of providing differentiation for learners first got their hands on the devices. Ultimately, the motivating effect is not created by the device itself but rather by the content created for it. This is a constantly evolving picture with exciting developments happening on a regular basis.

2: touch screens Touch screens are proving to be a fantastic support to children with SEN. They allow some learners to interact with tablet devices much more effectively than they would be able



Tablets can promote inclusivity and bring children with SEN closer to their classmates

4: accessibility

Using tablets at school can be very motivating for pupils with SEN.

to do with a desktop computer. The immediate feedback provided by the touch screens also helps to keep pupils engaged. Often, students with SEN will tend to lose interest in activities quicker than other pupils but the multi-sensory feedback provided by these devices helps to counter this. An increasing number of educational apps are also making use of the accelerometer built into most tablets. So not only can students see, hear and touch items on the screen, they can also interact with them by rotating and shaking their device.

3: individualised learning The very nature of their difficulties means that children with SEN usually require individualised approaches to learning. Tablet computers offer a practical and convenient method of providing differentiation for learners. They also provide alternative ways of accessing and presenting knowledge, something that is vital for those students who struggle with more traditional methods. In addition to this, the best quality educational apps are responsive and automatically adapt the tasks to fit the learner’s ability level. This allows many students with SEN to work more independently of the teacher than would ordinarily be possible. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Tablet computers are proving to be invaluable devices in helping some children access the curriculum. Simple features such as the ability to quickly and easily enlarge the font and zoom in on pictures have made them an ideal companion for students with visual difficulties. Dyslexic learners can have text read to them and can utilise voice recognition capabilities rather than having to rely on typing or handwriting. However, one of the most transformative uses I have encountered is where tablet computers are enabling children with severe speech disorders or autism to communicate more effectively. The augmentative and alternative communication apps that make this possible are usually more expensive than most educational apps but compared to the bulky communication devices of the past, they are a fraction of the cost.

example, one school has introduced a helpdesk where students can come to get advice and support regarding their tablet device. The pupil in charge of this initiative is very knowledgeable about computers and is also on the autistic spectrum. Running the helpdesk is benefiting him in a couple of ways. It enables him to spend his lunch time doing something he enjoys rather than having to go out into the playground, which he dislikes. The role also helps him connect with his peers around a shared interest and helps to change their perceptions of what he can and cannot do.

Making tablets work at school Tablet computers undoubtedly have the potential to enhance the learning experiences of children with SEN but there are many challenges that schools need to overcome. These include not only the practicalities of managing the devices but also the challenge of ensuring that their use is embed firmly within a sound pedagogical framework. One of the key components of this is investing in training for teachers. They need to understand the technology and what it can do for their learners with SEN and they need ongoing support to implement this successfully within the classroom.

5: inclusivity Another really appealing aspect of using tablet computers to support students with special needs is the way in which they can promote inclusivity and bring children with SEN closer to their classmates. There are a range of electronic and non-electronic devices that can be used to support children in school. Unfortunately, many of these have the effect of making the child stand out from their peers, but when the support is provided through a tablet computer the student is able to get the help they need in a far less obtrusive way. Some schools have also been quite inventive in how they use tablet computers to promote inclusivity. For

Further information

Peter Maxwell is an educational psychologist, qualified teacher and father of three tech loving children. He runs a Facebook and Twitter page called Educational App Advice to help parents and teachers find appropriate educational apps: EducationalAppAdvice




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Speaking of maths‌ David Maytham looks at role of talk in the teaching of mathematics


oday's teachers are under ever increasing pressure to ensure all children achieve excellent progress and good attainment, regardless of background or SEN. The 2014 maths curriculum is designed to be fully inclusive and aims to ensure all pupils become fluent in the fundamentals of maths, reason mathematically and can solve problems by applying their maths in a range of contexts. In these aims and in children's maths progression more generally, talk can have a profound and meaningful impact. Interestingly, these core aims, which on paper seem both realistic and achievable, are actually what teachers across the country find most difficult to develop in their children. Teachers will report that many children lack the ability to rapidly recall facts, which is detrimental to their fluency. They will suggest that children struggle to access and understand core mathematical language, and, for many, it is reasoning, explaining, justifying and problem solving that are major barriers in the classroom.


I believe that for children to be successful they need three key competencies: procedural proficiency, conceptual understanding and language competence. Procedural proficiency refers to them mastering a procedure. For example, a child is able to use their fingers to recall the nine times table, or can successfully follow a column addition procedure to complete addition sums. Procedural proficiency on its own is useful, but without conceptual understanding and an ability to access and understand mathematical language, the child will lack both fluency and the ability to reason to solve problems. For example, I recently taught Ben, who knew his times tables up to 12x12. That is to say, he knew the procedures to recall these facts. However, when I asked him to work out 12 multiplied by 13, he looked at me blankly. Ben had procedural proficiency, but lacked the conceptual understanding to apply his knowledge of multiplication to solve this problem. Conceptual understanding thus refers to a child’s understanding of the underlying

As soon as a mathematical concept is put into a story form it comes alive mathematical concept. Children who have procedural proficiency, but lack conceptual understanding, will often demonstrate an inability to adapt skills to unfamiliar contexts, will have difficulty reconstructing forgotten knowledge or skills and will compute without meaning. An inability to access mathematical language will often make the development of a conceptual understanding harder. Of course, some children have the reverse problem. These are the children who have a good conceptual understanding of an area of maths, but will lack the procedure to enable them to solve the problem. When this occurs their computation will be slow, effortful and frustrating, as they grapple with the procedure. Often these children will show an inability to focus on the



bigger picture when solving problems and will have trouble progressing to new or more complex ideas.

Talking the talk by David Jones, class teacher at St Hugh’s Communication and Interaction Specialist College, Lincolnshire I have used maths stories in both primary and SEN settings. These stories provide a hook to engage children in new mathematical vocabulary in a real life context. The pupils in both settings have enjoyed writing them and refer back to them to support their learning. The stories have deepened the understanding of pupils and have provided them with skills to teach other children independently. Short maths games create a buzz in the classroom and provide access for all levels of ability. High quality maths vocabulary is established and the children within my classes have shown vast improvements in retention and recall of key concepts. Dedicating just one to five minutes to intense quality discussion every day is important and allows the children to consolidate their learning through deeper reasoning skills. A focus on the key skills of mathematics is important here; children are given the opportunity to move their learning from superficial to a deeper understanding of concepts. They are given an armoury of skills which enables them get rich and meaningful experiences through investigations and applying their skills with fluidity. As pupils’ viewpoints become more critical, they are able to look at particular skills from many angles. These are vital skills which will prepare our pupils to solve problems with confidence and meet the challenges of the wider world.


Understanding procedure and concepts The use of talk in the maths classroom aims to support children in developing the procedural proficiency alongside their conceptual understanding, while supporting language competence through systematic mathematical language acquisition. While the use of talk in the maths classroom is not limited to the two principles below, these are the most powerful. Principle 1: gamifiy your maths lessons Schools which have introduced the concept of playing short maths games ranging from 60 seconds to ten minutes every single day (across the curriculum and not just as starters) report positive shifts in pupils' perception of maths, engagement with the lesson content and ability to rapidly recall mathematical facts. The principle behind this is a simple one. In the natural world, young animals learn through play. We are familiar with this as a concept with babies and toddlers; why, then, do we reject this as children begin to grow? When an idea or concept is made into a game – something which children recognise and respond to – children begin to engage with it and take ownership of it. Gamifying learning allows children to generate ideas for themselves, cultivate their creativity, and lay the foundations for fluent learning. Principle 2: use mathematical stories Through centuries of exposure to the story form, our brains have become hardwired to respond to stories. The way our brains work to decipher stories is highly sophisticated, yet evidence proves that children can engage in this process from a very young age. Using mathematical stories is a revolutionary

Maths games create a buzz in the classroom and provide access for all levels of ability development in the teaching of maths in the twenty-first century classroom. For younger children, stories such as The Hungry Caterpillar could be successfully used as a hook for a maths unit, supporting children with counting to five and learning the days of the week. However, I highly recommend that teachers write their own maths stories, which contain the mathematical language and concept appropriate to the topic they are teaching. As soon as a mathematical concept is put into a story form it comes alive. It can provide a suitable hook or engagement for a topic and provide purpose and meaning for maths. Crucially, mathematical stories can support children in understanding abstract concepts as well as help them internalise and learn specific mathematical language and facts. Through engaging with mathematical stories, children will try things out, polish them, come back to them, look at them from a different viewpoint, bring their peers in to support the idea they are investigating, swap roles and find reasons and answers to problems that will sometimes seem impossible. These types of engagement will support procedural proficiency, conceptual understanding and language competence and, ultimately, create a new generation of confident and fluent mathematicians.

Further information

David Maytham is a former fast track teacher, education expert and the creator of Talk for Maths:









Joining the dots Patricia Babtie explains how dot patterns can be used to help those struggling to grasp the basics of number


he bonds of the numbers to 10 are the bedrock of calculation. Knowing the key facts is essential for calculation strategies such as bridging through 10 and multiples of 10, and working with number lines. To generalise effectively pupils need to understand the concepts embodied in the key facts. These concepts include the relationships within and between numbers, the commutative property of addition, and the inverse relationship between addition and subtraction. Dot patterns of the numbers from 1 to 10 provide distinctive images for each number which helps pupils to learn key facts. Pattern recognition and recall is an essential cognitive skill. A multisensory approach is required to build the strong visual images essential for useful memory. Pupils model numbers using concrete materials, talk about what they see and do, draw diagrams and write numbers in symbolic form. “Activities that require the manipulation of concrete objects provide tasks that make number concepts meaningful by providing an intrinsic relationship between a goal, the learner’s action and informational feedback on the action”, writes Brian Butterworth in Educational Neuroscience (Mareschal, Butterworth and Tolmie, 2013). It is also essential to practice number bonds regularly as well

as using numbers in varied contexts in word problems.

Dot patterns Dot patterns, derived from the conventional dice patterns, provide distinct images for the numbers from 1 to 10. It is important that pupils are guided to derive the patterns for 7, 8, 9 and 10 for themselves in order to develop logical thinking and the ability to explain their thoughts. Inherent in the dot patterns are cardinal and ordinal aspects of number: each number represents a fixed quantity, and each number represents a position in the number sequence. Whilst exploring the relationship within and between numbers, pupils learn to use comparative language, such as more than, less than, same as, smaller, larger, double and half. Start teaching by asking the pupil to use counters to make the conventional dice patterns. The counters should all be the same colour and size. If they have difficulty, show them a dice. Encourage them to place the counters within each number close enough together to make the impact of the pattern clear. Discuss the relationship between the pattern of 2 and the pattern of 4. The teacher demonstrates by pointing to the relevant patterns and saying: “4 is made of 2 and 2, so 2 and 2 makes 4.” Then ask the

Dot patterns of the numbers from 1 to 10 provide distinctive images for each number pupil to use their own words to describe the patterns of 2 and 4. Allow them to move the counters to model their thinking if necessary. Also introduce the language of double and half: 4 is double 2, and 2 is half of 4. Next, the teacher says: “Look at 3 and 6. Can you tell me about these patterns?” The pupil should express the relationship between 3 and 6 in a variety of ways: “6 is made of 3 and 3. I can see that double 3 makes 6.” The teacher says: “4 and 6 are called doubles numbers. A doubles number is formed by adding a number to itself. I want you to make a pattern of 8. Make the pattern of 4, then another pattern of 4 below it.” It is important that the repeated pattern of 4 is explicit, rather than appearing as two lines of 4. Encourage pupils to explain exactly what they see, so they may say: “I can see 8 counters. 8 is made of 4 and 4. There are two fours in 8, so 8 is double 4.” Then the pupil makes the pattern of 10 making it clear that 10 is made of 5 and 5. >>

Dot patterns from 1 to 10.





The near doubles numbers are the numbers that are one more, or one less, than a doubles number. Introduce near doubles by investigating the relationship between adjacent patterns. For example, 5 is one more than 4 and one less than 6. Using this logic, guide pupils to construct the pattern of 7 so it is clear that 7 is one less than the pattern of 8, so it will comprise 4 and 3 (or 3 and 4). Finally, construct the pattern of 9 which is one less than 10, so it is made of 5 and 4 (or 4 and 5). It is important that pupils draw diagrams of the patterns they have made.

Doubles and near doubles bonds The doubles and near doubles bonds are inherent in the dot patterns. Pupils use triads (also known as number triples) to record these bonds and write the equations. A triad is a diagram that shows how a number can be split into two components. This introduces the concept of partitioning quantities.

Triads can be used to show the component parts of a number.

Use counters to make the pattern of 2 on a triad mat (a diagram on A4 paper). Show the pupil how to split 2 into 1 and 1 by moving the counters into the lower ovals whilst saying: “2 is made of 1 and 1.” Simple, direct language is essential. Pupils draw diagrams to show their thinking. First they draw the dot pattern and an empty triad. Then they explain their thinking as they write number 2 in

the top oval and draw the pattern of 1 in each of the lower ovals whilst saying: “2 is made of 1 and 1.” It is important to write the numeral 2 rather than draw the pattern of 2 in the top oval. If they draw a pattern of 2 in the top oval and then draw a counter in the lower ovals, the diagram will show 4 counters. Next, record the relationship between the number and its components using numerals in the triad formation. Finally,

Triads, diagrams and equations reinforce understanding of doubles and near doubles bonds.




The key facts of 10.

All the key facts up to 10.

pupils write equations to show that the relationship between a number and its components can be represented in various ways. Start with 2=1+1 to follow the modelling sequence. Then write 1+1=2 and 2–1=1. (Omit 1=2–1 in the early stages as this is very difficult for young children to conceptualise.) Pupils work through each of the doubles and near doubles bonds in this way.

Key facts: bonds of 10 Pupils must know the facts of 10. The dot pattern of 10 shows 5 + 5. Because addition is commutative, there are only WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Pupils draw diagrams to show their thinking four additional facts to learn. These are 9+1, 8+2, 7+3 and 6+4. Teach these facts using triads as described above.

Remaining bonds to 10 Once pupils know the doubles and near doubles bonds and the facts of 10, there are only twelve further facts to learn. Six of these involve adding 1 which leaves only six remaining facts. These are 4+2, 5+2, 5+3, 6+2, 6+3 and 7+2. Teach these using triads.

Further information

Patricia Babtie is the co-author, with Jane Emerson, of The Dyscalculia Assessment and The Dyscalculia Solution: teaching numbers sense. Patricia conducts workshops on using multi-sensory teaching and is a collaborator on the project “Digital interventions for dyscalculia and low numeracy” at the London Knowledge Lab (Institute of Education and Birkbeck) which provides free resources for basic numeracy at:





The benefits of being dyslexic Are some of the qualities society most values classic dyslexic traits? Sarah Driver thinks so


here has been much talk in recent years of “character” and “resilience” – the importance of it and even that it can be taught. The Centre Forum and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Social Mobility published the Character and Resilience Manifesto in February 2013, arguing that “personal resilience and emotional wellbeing are the missing link in the chain [of social mobility]”. This, in turn, raised a key challenge to policy makers: to “recognise that social and emotional ‘skills’ underpin academic and other success – and can be taught”. They found the evidence base for this work is still “developing” but is sufficient enough to “not be ignored”. However, other research is less promising, with a report from the US Department of Education arguing that of the programmes evaluated there was, on average, “no improvement to students’ social and emotional competence, behaviour, and academic achievement”.

These traits may come from the struggles dyslexics face on a daily basis at school referred to characteristics of grit, spirit, perseverance and drive. My very first reaction was to put pen to paper and inform Anthony that the qualities he was referring to defined every dyslexic I had ever met, both as adults and children. They possess positive qualities that deserve to be

embraced. Not only are they curious about the world but they often look at it, and the problems in it, in a different way.

Driven to succeed This fact is borne out by the high proportion of dyslexics who are successful entrepreneurs. We constantly refer to famous dyslexics such as Richard Branson and Jamie Oliver but the statistics suggest things go further than this. In 2001, research at the University of Bristol reported that one in five of the UK entrepreneurs surveyed were dyslexic (Entrepreneurial Success,

Overcoming obstacles I first came across these concepts about three years ago when Anthony Seldon, Headmaster of Wellington College, referred to an article in the New York Times. In that article it discussed “resilience” in a child as encompassing the following characteristics: they are interesting, show curiosity, learn to overcome their inability to succeed in a “standard” way and often prove to be entrepreneurial. I have seen in the media and in a recent Government announcement that character based education additionally SENISSUE76

Living with dyslexia may encourage the attributes children need to succeed.



Most dyslexics have known what it is like not to succeed

Dyslexic children often need to develop resilience and perseverance early on.

Logan, 2001). This rate is almost double the ten per cent estimated incidence of dyslexia in the general UK population, according to the British Dyslexia Association. This equates to at least 300,000 dyslexic entrepreneurs working in the UK. In 2009, the same researcher, Professor Julie Logan, on behalf of Cass Business School, reported 35 per cent of entrepreneurs in a sample from the USA showed characteristics of dyslexia – more than double the general population rate of 15 per cent. What really defines for me the resilience in a dyslexic, or for that matter any child who may have SEN, is how they learn to overcome their inability to succeed in a “standard way”. For dyslexics, this may well be by learning to spell words using mnemonic devices (such as big-elephants-can’talways-use-small-exits for “because”), having extra time for exams, learning the difficult art of using a reader and a scribe, or simply becoming adept at getting others to help them.

Support, not shackles As I thought about this article it occurred to me that many of the traits I have talked about may come from the struggles dyslexics face on a daily basis at school. By taking a whole school approach, training teachers to WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

understand and recognise dyslexia, screening all children in Year 1 and putting in place targeted interventions, do we risk quelling the very characteristics that so often ultimately enable a dyslexic to succeed? The answer has to be a resounding “no”. You do not grow out of dyslexia; it is a genetic condition that dyslexics learn to live with throughout their life. Whilst for many, early help in the classroom ensures that their sense of isolation and struggle is minimised, there are those, like my son Archie, who will always find it hard to read and write. No child deserves to feel inadequate and stupid. As Jennifer Aniston recently said about her dyslexia, before being diagnosed, "I thought I wasn't smart. I just couldn't retain anything." Which takes us to some of the other character traits I have seen so often with dyslexics: tolerance, community spirit, kindness and respect. Most dyslexics have known what it is like not to succeed and often they can display these characteristics to others who struggle. They show empathy – the ability to put oneself in other people’s shoes and be sensitive to their needs and views.

Character building

In my view, character and resilience develops in a variety of ways, as much through adversity as anything else I’ve discussed. Children need to be given the opportunity to explore their interests and develop as a more rounded person, rather than racing towards the highest possible GCSE results – important as they are. The Warwick Commission’s 2015 report, Enriching Britain, stated that creativity and the arts are being “squeezed out” of schools, with pupils from low-income families being hardest hit. By encouraging children to engage with the arts, sports and all manner of societies and community based projects we can, and are already, developing character. What children really need is the space and time to explore other aspects of themselves, diversify their interests and feel able to express themselves both within and outside the classroom.

Further information Sarah Driver is the founder of the dyslexia charity the Driver Youth Trust:

Sarah would like to acknowledge the input into this article of the Trust’s Director Chris Rossiter. The Driver Youth Trust runs a teacher-friendly resource site, Drive for Literacy, which also highlights some of the ways in which dyslexics overcome their difficulties:

So, should we be teaching character as part of our education curriculum? SENISSUE76












Planning for play Julie Pearce looks at how to create a rewarding outdoor play and learning environment for kids with SEN


ith the correct guidance, creating an outdoor environment to support learning, while offering hours of happy, safe play, can be easily achieved. The abilities of young people with SEN can differ dramatically from child to child – and this inevitably impacts the choices made by parents, teachers and carers when considering the best outdoor facilities for use by all children. This is especially true when selecting play equipment which, depending on setting, may be required to serve hundreds of young people each year. Each condition or disability has a different impact on the way children engage in recreation, so access to play facilities can be difficult for families and carers of these children. This is no doubt frustrating and de-motivating for the young people who are not able to enjoy and benefit from playtime. With this in mind, it’s important to create a play or learning space that is easily accessible to all, whether you are creating a new play area or replacing existing equipment.

What’s your grand plan? A common problem faced in almost all playground projects is the temptation to jump straight into selecting the play equipment you’d like to provide. However, the best play and learning zones are those that have been well thought through, so your first step should be to develop your “grand plan”. Your plan should set out the project's aims and what you want to achieve from your outdoor environment. Once you know this, you will be better prepared to choose the most appropriate play equipment to support your requirements, along with SENISSUE76

Play equipment can encourage exploration and creativity.

consideration of your available space, budget and safety provisions.

Learning outcomes While play equipment is often seen as a way of creating enjoyment for children, it can also be used in a number of ways to create a resourceful

Your plan should set out the project's aims and what you want to achieve from your outdoor environment learning environment. From promoting imaginative, creative and co-operative development to providing sensory experiences, play equipment can be used to deliver a range of learning outcomes for children with SEN. Learning through play has many benefits. Inspiring children to play in an

outdoor environment can, for example, result in experiences that promote physical, social and personal skills, while broadening horizons, promoting positive values and helping young people to develop soft skills such as confidence and self-esteem. A particularly important factor to consider for children with SEN is inclusivity. When developing a play area, consider whether your chosen equipment caters for the inclusion of all children. Can all children take part in the activities and feel the same when playing, regardless of their individual conditions? Most SEN settings think of play provision along the lines of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework. So when you plan your project, think about providing opportunities for role-play, imaginative play, understanding the world, and expressive art and design. With the right planning, all these learning processes can be encouraged through learning and playing outdoors and incorporated WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Using sensory elements is one of the best ways to enhance a setting that is inclusive to all

inclusively. Delivering these kinds of learning experiences outdoors can also be an extremely powerful way of engaging pupils who are hard to reach or who do not respond well to traditional teaching methods.

Choosing play equipment When exploring the play equipment that is available and beneficial to young people with SEN, it’s important to keep your grand plan and learning outcomes in mind. Play equipment comes in a wide variety of forms and today many pieces of equipment are designed with features to support children with SEN and disabilities.

Sensory play equipment Whether through sight, touch, sound or even smell, the opportunities for play and learning are endless for children who enjoy interacting through their senses. Sensory play can be enjoyed by children of all ages and abilities and using sensory elements is one of the best ways to enhance a setting that is inclusive to all. The types of equipment available include: • music and activity play panels – clearly visible musical or activity play panels with pieces that can be easily manoeuvred provide noises, textures, smells and gross motor skills development on a much larger scale than might be achieved indoors

Designing your play space

Designs for play areas must consider all pupils’ needs.

• sensory pathways made up of textured elements can encourage different sensations underfoot, or under the wheels of a wheelchair. Pathways can also benefit from living willow tunnels to provide another dimension, as well as natural shade • planters can encourage digging, planting and growing, while enhancing smells and exploration of a variety of materials, such as sand, shells or pebbles • sand and water play require no skills and have no boundaries but they can really encourage young people to explore the senses of touch and sight.

Traditional play equipment

Water play offers great multi-sensory experiences.


Much traditional play equipment can also be used to encourage inclusive play. Traditional options include basket swings with large scooped seats to provide greater stability, as well as sunken trampolines that reduce jumping heights to a safe level. Play towers designed to a lower, safer height with an assortment of activity panels are also a good option. In addition, there are pieces of play equipment that have been modified to ensure inclusivity, such as roundabouts that are installed flush to the floor to allow easy wheelchair access.

Once your aims have been set and you’ve researched suitable play equipment, it’s time to get the whole vision down on paper. Visualise your outdoor area and consider the placement of play facilities and furniture. Consider story telling areas, sheltered seating areas, sensory play zones and areas for physical activity. By designing your play area this way, you are more likely to identify free space that can be used in different and more effective ways. Try to locate areas that can be utilised for wheelchairs; think about the safety of items grouped close together and consider whether safer surfacing or fencing to separate play and learning areas is required. Next, consider your budget and opportunities for fundraising; your project can always be implemented in phases to give you time to fundraise for your play equipment. Your project is much more likely to be successful, and provide hours of happy and resourceful play for all children, if it has been well thought through and thoroughly planned. When you’re ready to talk to playground equipment companies, don’t be afraid to ask for their help with your grand plan as many providers will have a wealth of experience and ideas to bring to your project.

Further information Julie Pearce is Play Space Consultant at play equipment suppliers Sovereign:









Team talk Abi Steady describes how re-shaping her school’s communication provision is enabling young people to flourish


rguably the most important role of the SEN practitioner is to provide young people with effective and appropriate means by which they can communicate. This proves pivotal not only in meeting the basic need for human interaction, but also in expressing and regulating emotions, facilitating curriculum access, promoting independence and encouraging community participation. It was this desire, to help young people communicate so that they can have more meaningful input into decisions affecting their lives, that promoted my school to re-organise the team driving communication development within the school.

Challenge to change Prior to re-structuring in 2014, communication provision had been typical of many local area special schools. Visits by speech and language therapists (SALTs), teachers of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and occupational therapists (OTs) often occurred in isolation and, in their absence, class teams worked to the best of their ability to coordinate the delivery of multiple programmes designed by these peripatetic professionals. Over time, it became evident that this way of working all too often led to significant delays in the implementation, dissemination and update of communication programmes and exacerbated issues around continuity, consistency and, ironically, communication itself. In order to address these issues, we felt it prudent to introduce a structured communication team through which the delivery of communication work could be more effectively and efficiently SENISSUE76

coordinated. The remit of the team was, and is, to continually improve communication practice not only within school but more broadly to provide coherent support for families and surrounding schools.

Cooperation and consistency The team includes contributors from classroom support in each class through to senior leadership, as well as representatives from all external agencies involved with communication. This model ensures investment at all levels and seeks to optimise consistency of both vision and access. “It has been invaluable to have the support of classroom support staff. Their knowledge of the children gives more insight into the children’s day to day needs”. Helen Nightingale, Lead Teacher for AAC Because the Strategic Lead for the team is also a senior leader within school, the team’s proposals are well represented at all meetings involving development and budgeting. Leadership’s commitment to the model is evidenced in and supported by the

The team includes contributors from classroom support through to senior leadership acquisition of new resources and the provision of an extensive training programme for staff both within and outside school. Under the new model, timetabling of lessons and the availability of core team members has been aligned to facilitate a common weekly language and communication focus across the school. As part of this focussed work, we have created eight language groups to date involving VOCA, eye gaze and Makaton users, as well as pupils using spoken language and those working at a pre-intention level. Provision for regular meetings between all team members serves to ensure that work is continually reviewed and developments are rapid and sustained. Having all external agencies linked to communication working within

Communication team members must understand how technology can help those with SLCN.



school on the same days each week has facilitated multi-agency working and has provided us with the availability of joint-expertise not open to the school under previous models of delivery. “I have been able to coach the team and a speech and language therapy student in running a language group so they can continue with this work while I establish further sessions”. Katherine Hawker, SALT

Freed to lead With the appointment of a full-time Lead Communication Mentor to oversee and provide support for the existing team of ten highly skilled communication mentors, work at a grassroots level is stronger than it has ever been. Being released from her classroom responsibilities, the Lead Communication Mentor has been

Ashmount’s communication team Strategic Lead: Assistant Head Teacher, Abi Steady

Core team

SALT: Katherine Hawker Specialist teacher of AAC: Helen Nightingale, Leicestershire Partnership NHS trust PECs Coordinator: Sue Condon Lead Communication Mentor: Kirsty O’Connell

10 class communication mentors

Class teams


The team’s proposals are well represented at all meetings involving development and budgeting able to be trained to instructor level in several communication-based interventions. This has enabled her to provide weekly training for staff and blocks of workshops for parents and colleagues from surrounding schools. This input has enhanced pupils’ access to quality provision both within and outside school. Working in this capacity full-time has also enabled the Lead Mentor to complete a thorough communication audit, update pupil passports, objects of reference and visual systems and run additional communication clubs at lunchtimes. “Working with regular staff in both communication groups…we have been able to build on tasks, experiences and ideas from week to week.” Kirsty O’Connell, Lead Communication Mentor

• the development of an assessment toolkit for use with pupils operating between P1i and P2ii • the implementation of a programme specifically designed to meet the speech and language needs of pupils with Down syndrome and hearing impairment • an evaluation of the use of video-modelling in reducing dependence on prompts in the acquisition of Makaton signing. The work of our communication team, whilst focused, is not self-contained. Rather, it seeks to facilitate the dissemination and generalisation of these interventions by working in tandem with class teachers and support staff as part of a broader Joint Practice Development model (D. H. Hargreaves, 2011). Many staff have now been equipped to take over the lead role in programme delivery with the Strategic Lead and core team providing consultative support and monitoring. By working in this way, it is hoped that the principles underpinning targeted interventions will become embedded practice and therefore prove self-sustaining.

Embracing change It is important for the team to recognise everything that new developments in technology and pedagogic and therapeutic interventions may have to offer pupils. With this approach in mind, the core team plans to undertake a range of projects during its next development cycle. These include: • the introduction of a full programme of communication workshops for parents, carers and staff, including hands-on workshops on how to support interaction and early communication through music and play • the creation of a switch/AAC assessment library for use by school, parents and associated schools and centres

Further information

Abi Steady is Assistant Head and Strategic Lead for Communication at Ashmount School, Loughborough: Images courtesy of David Donagani, a Governor at Ashmount School.





Thousands of books made available in accessible formats Students with sight loss or dyslexia are set to benefit from a decision to start making textbooks and reading books available in accessible formats through a free online service. Pearson has teamed up with Load2Learn, a web-based service delivered by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Dyslexia Action, to offer access to its titles for UK schools and colleges in alternative formats. Pearson is making thousands of its books available, across Early Years, all Key Stages, GCSE, A-level and BTEC. As well as PDFs, Load2Learn offers a means to access the most popular titles in Word, EPUB, audio and Braille. Teachers can now access texts within hours rather than days, saving time and allowing staff more opportunity to support students in their learning.

Around 10 per cent of school and college students require texts in an alternative accessible format due to a sight loss condition, dyslexia or another disability. Pearson provides learning materials, technologies, assessments and services in over 70 countries. In the UK, Pearson brings together well known brands and businesses including Heinemann, Longman, Edexcel, BBC Active, Rigby, Ginn, Payne-Gallway and Causeway Press. Maura Moran, Pearson’s Head of Content Management for UK Schools, said: “it is vitally important for students to be able to learn at all levels across the curriculum and in a format that is individual to their needs. “Being part of Load2Learn allows us as a publisher to demonstrate our commitment to equality of opportunity for all with regards to education. We’re pleased to be able to add to this fantastic online resource which allows students to learn at their own pace and in their own way regardless of any disability.” Load2Learn was developed with funding from the Department for Education and is run by RNIB to provide accessible curriculum materials for students and guidance, information and training support for teaching staff. It is available free to schools and colleges in the UK. For more information about Load2Learn, visit: or call: 0300 303 8313.



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Find out more at: @InsaneLogicUK SENISSUE76




Communication breakdown We need to re-write the story of children with SEN’s literacy, writes Virginia Beardshaw


ood levels of literacy and language skills are the key to unlocking a child’s full potential and the best route out of poverty for our poorest children. Yet in the UK today too many of our children, including 40 per cent of our poorest children, leave primary school without being able to read well. New research on this issue was recently published in How reading can help children escape poverty, a report highlighting the alarming issue of children’s poor literacy and language skills. The report draws on new analysis by Newcastle University which found that one and a half million children will reach the age of 11 unable to “read well” by 2025 unless urgent action is taken now. In addition to this, the report shows that it is poor children that are the worst affected, as four in ten are not SENISSUE76

Only 40 per cent of pupils with SEN are reading well by the age of 11 reading well by the age of 11 – almost double the rate of their better off peers. The report highlights the fact that these children are not reading enough outside school, are less likely to have books of their own and are less likely to have a broad range of reading materials.

A picture of inequality Not only are there differences in performance relating to poverty levels, the report also highlights differences between the reading levels of boys and girls. The report found that 73 per cent of eight- to 11-year-old girls said they enjoyed reading compared to 59 per

cent of boys. Worryingly, the reading gap in England between boys and girls is one of the widest in the developed world: boys are twice as likely to fall below even a very basic reading level. The importance of encouraging reading for pleasure is highlighted as an important step to ensure children can read well by age 11, as the report shows that children who don’t enjoy reading at all are ten times more likely to have fallen behind and be reading below the expected level for their age than children who enjoy reading. 25 per cent of children from poor families said they would be embarrassed if their friends saw them reading outside of school. The report provides many stark facts highlighting the challenges that children growing up in poverty are facing; for example, children in homes with more than 500 books are on average more WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


than two years ahead of those growing up in households with fewer than ten books by the time they are age 11. Even the difference between those with 11 to 25 books in the home compared with 201 to 500 books is equivalent to over a year’s progress.

SEN indicators For children with SEN, the findings of the report are stark: only 40 per cent of pupils with SEN are reading well by the age of 11, compared with 85 per cent of children not recognised as having additional needs. And in 2013 only half of all pupils with a hearing impairment, close to 60 per cent of those with a visual impairment and just under half of pupils with a physical disability were reading well by the age of 11. Worryingly, we know that many disadvantaged children will be over represented within SEN categories; as part of this, many of these children will have underlying speech, language and communication needs that will hamper their ability to learn and make friends, as well as develop good reading skills. This is because we know that good language skills are fundamental to achieving good literacy development. The importance of ensuring all children, including those with SEN, have the language and literacy skills they need for learning and life is well documented. Poor language skills have a lifelong impact, not only on literacy development but on all aspects of school achievement and social skills. Children whose language difficulties are unresolved by the time they start school are more likely to have later academic difficulties and those with ongoing communication difficulties are less likely to achieve formal qualifications at the end of compulsory schooling.

Early language issues The report also found that young children with delayed language were close to three times more likely to be behind at the age of 11 compared with those with advanced language skills at age three. This is worrying WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

given that latest reports on the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile results show that nationally almost a quarter of children are starting school at age five with delayed communication and language skills – a figure likely to be much higher in areas of deprivation; research has found that the language of children from the poorest families is, on average, 19 months behind their better off peers when they start school. Of course early language is so crucial to reading and learning. It is well established that language development in the early years influences educational achievement right through to school leaving age. Children starting school with poor language are immediately disadvantaged as they do not have the skills that they need for the next stage of learning. Their thinking, reasoning and effective communication with adults and peers lags behind as well. Additionally, children with delayed language are at greater risk of behavioural issues, and can struggle to form relationships and make friends. As most children with SEN have difficulty with some aspect of speech, language and/or communication this is an area that must sit firmly at the centre of SEN support. Without the right help, children with delayed language will not catch up. Children with SEN are most likely to struggle without targeted help.

Schools need to recognise the importance of spoken language in all areas of the curriculum the teaching of every subject. English is both a subject in its own right and the medium for teaching; for pupils, understanding the language provides access to the whole curriculum.” We know too that inequality contributes to the UK’s low levels of social mobility. In 2012, OECD research found that the difference in reading ability between high achieving 15-yearolds and low achievers of the same age was equivalent to over eight years of schooling. England is one of the world’s most unequal countries when it comes to children’s reading levels, second only to Romania in the European Union. The UK has high educational inequalities and a large proportion of children, including those with SEN, are left behind. If we don’t act now to get all children reading well, we are on track to leave close to 1.5 million children behind by 2025. We all need to work together to ensure that we change the story for our children and give them the language and literacy skills they need to thrive.

Time to act The centrality of language for learning has been recognised as essential by Ofsted for some time now; how well pupils develop and apply their skills in communication and how well communication is taught forms part of the inspection framework. And the advent of the revised national curriculum means that schools need to recognise the importance of spoken language in all areas of the curriculum; it should not just be left to be taught in English lessons. As the National Curriculum in England Framework said: “teachers should develop pupils’ spoken language, reading, writing and vocabulary as integral aspects of

Further information

Virginia Beardshaw is Chief Executive of I CAN, the children’s communication charity which is one of the founding members of the Read On, Get On coalition, a language and literacy campaign including communities, parents and schools, businesspeople, media and politicians:





Tools for talk Wendy Lee looks at how schools can identify and support pupils with speech, language and communication needs


ots of what we do in our learning and in our lives relies on communication skills. We need these skills to make our needs and feelings known, have conversations, understand what is being said to us and formulate our responses. Our pupils need speech, language and communication skills in order to learn; if a child or young person has speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) it can impact not only on their communication and social interaction, but also on learning and attainment. Research suggests that between five and seven per cent of all children have a language impairment and we know that many students with SEN, such as autistic spectrum disorders or learning difficulties, struggle to acquire and develop their language in the same way as their peers. Identifying these children and young people is fundamental to supporting their needs. It might sound strange, as I’m sure we all know or have

SLCN may be significantly under identified in our schools.


known students who have really obvious difficulties with their speech, language or communication, but there are others whose difficulties may be more subtle or whose underlying language or communication deficits show themselves in other ways. Evidence suggests a significant under identification of students with SLCN takes place in our schools. Without the right support these students struggle to make effective progress and there is a growing gap between the attainment of students with SLCN and all other students. Confusing terminology doesn’t help and though SLCN is the most prevalent childhood disability, there remains a lack of understanding about what it is, how to spot children who are struggling and how best to support them.

What are SLCN? As with most conditions, children with SLCN are all different. Difficulties can range from being severe, where they might have very little language or no speech at all, through to those children and young people whose difficulties are much more subtle and difficult to spot, such as word finding difficulties or difficulties with understanding grammatical concepts. Difficulties can be any one or a combination of: • speech that is unclear or difficult to follow. These children may also struggle to discriminate between words and sounds, which can impact on their ability to decode for reading • difficulties with understanding or using language effectively, so students may struggle to learn new words, to put sentences together or to understand what is being said. For those with

Research suggests that between five and seven per cent of all children have a language impairment more subtle needs, they may have difficulties understanding abstract or complex language such as inference or figurative language. These difficulties can obviously impact not only on social interaction, but also on ability to access the curriculum • issues with specific aspects of communication, such as listening, turn taking or eye contact. They may not understand the rules of conversation or the subtleties of social interaction and may find themselves in trouble with peers or teachers when they fail to understand or respond appropriately.

How can we identify students with SLCN? There are three key pieces of information that can help us spot children who might be struggling: • knowing what to expect at different ages and stages – there are free resources that can help teachers to know what students of all ages should be doing in terms of their speech, language and communication • knowing what to expect in your community – in areas of social deprivation, we know from research and from practice that WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Supporting SLCN: five tips for the classroom

1. Use visual support; signs, symbols, pictures, writing frames and mind maps can all help to support understanding and use of language. 2. Provide safe opportunities for talk – using strategies such as group roles; giving students with SLCN clear scaffolded opportunities for talk and interaction ensures they can be included and builds independence. 3. Chunk information – give information in bite size chunks, present instructions in the order you want them to happen, have an idea of the level students are functioning at with their language and keep it simple. 4. Implement think time – wait seven seconds after you ask a question. This gives students time to process information and formulate responses. It allows students with SLCN to have their say. Evidence suggests it’s also good for teachers and all students. 5. Check out understanding – create a “question friendly” classroom, encourage students to be specific about what they don’t understand and ask students to state, summarise, clarify or list what you asked them to do so you know they understand. It’s worth saying that simple doesn’t always mean easy. It can be hard to change the way we say things, to remember to check out whether students have understood or to ensure visual support is in place, but these things can make a world of difference to students with SLCN. For the students themselves, they say the biggest difference for them is when people understand the nature of their difficulties – that the adults around them understand SLCN and the impact it can have.


It’s useful to ask whether the poor readers or writers in your school might have underlying SLCN


It’s hard to think of a lesson or area of the curriculum where learning can take place without language. This makes communication the business of every class teacher – of every adult that interacts with children and young people.

What can teachers do? around 50 per cent of children and young people can have SLCN that can impact on their learning and social interaction skills; many of these children don’t have an impairment as such, but may not have had the opportunities needed to support their development of language • knowing what to look for – students with SLCN can be difficult to spot. However, there are well evidenced links between the spoken and written word; it’s useful to ask whether the poor readers or writers in your school might have underlying SLCN. If students can’t say a word, sentence or narrative they are going to struggle to write it down. If they can’t understand the spoken word, they will equally struggle to understand what they have read. Children with poor language can also struggle with social and emotional development, which can impact on their behaviour; many children excluded from school have undiagnosed SLCN.

Supporting students Our schools are overflowing with spoken language – words, sentences, narratives, conversations, non-verbal interactions and, for teenagers, newly forming rules and social language. All teachers and students use their language and communication skills in 101 different ways as a vehicle to interact and to support learning. This is problematic for children and young people with SLCN. The vehicle by which they access learning is the area where they have their difficulties.

We know how busy class teachers are, though the wonderful thing about good practice for students with SLCN is that it is often good for all students. It can also be just a tweak to everyday good practice rather than a massive change or upheaval. A combination of knowing students’ levels of language and having communication at the forefront of our minds can make a huge difference to students with SLCN. This can enable us to adapt our language to support and scaffold our students’ learning. In addition, there are some simple strategies that will support children and young people with SLCN in the classroom; research suggests a communication supportive classroom includes: • a physical environment that supports communication • opportunities for communication with adults and peers • language learning interactions. This is probably the most important and most difficult to change but just the way adults use their language is key.

What can SENCOs do? The SENCO’s role is a challenging one and they often also have teaching and a range of other responsibilities, but there are a few things that can help. Professional development is important. It’s crucial that SENCOs are confident in their own knowledge and skills and there are free resources available to help with understanding the issues. There are also qualifications available for support staff in speech, >> SENISSUE76



language and communication which could be used to help grow expertise in the team. Many teachers are not confident about supporting students with SLCN, so why not consider a staff meeting or training session? In terms of supporting identification of SLCN, it is useful to look at school data and compare it with prevalence levels of SLCN; consider your context and cohorts; are you confident all children with SLCN are being identified? Could some of the children identified as MLD or SpLD have underlying communication needs? When providing support for students, build pen portraits or communication passports with the students themselves. Students can be really insightful and clear about what works best for them and this information coming directly from young people is often much more powerful than from other adults. Ensure evidenced and targeted approaches for supporting communication are in place; many schools have a range of interventions to support literacy, writing and numeracy, though may not give equal attention to

Students can be really insightful and clear about what works best for them

students’ language or communication which might be at the foundation of these other difficulties. If possible, seek advice from specialists. Speech and language therapists can be thin on the ground, but try and make contact with your local department to see what is on offer. In addition, look to what charities and other organisations can offer. What can leadership teams do? It is no revelation that strong leadership makes a huge difference to a school. I’ve worked in hundreds of schools, working directly with students, supporting whole school development, implementing targeted interventions, running research programmes or supporting links with specialists such as speech and language therapists. The one consistent element that leads to greatest success is strong

leadership. Ensuring SENCOs have a place on the senior leadership team means expertise is shared across the team with issues, challenges and solutions for SEN integrated with other priorities. It’s important that leadership teams understand the importance of strong language and communication and what is needed to support these fundamental twenty-first century skills for all students. A focus on good communication for all can help those students with SLCN. Greater awareness of these skills, a focus on them as a whole school and a particular focus on what works for children with SLCN in the classroom as well as through targeted or specialist support can make a huge difference. Leadership teams can ensure a plan is in place so that there is confidence that all children with SLCN are being identified and that evidenced interventions are supported in the classroom and where needed through targeted interventions and specialist support.

Further information

Wendy Lee is part of the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) SEND team, working with academies on identifying and supporting children and young people with SLCN. She is also an independent education consultant:

Images courtesy of The Communication Trust.

Small adjustments to teaching practice can have a big impact on pupils with SLCN.








Kicking off SEN Magazine’s Peter Sutcliffe talks to Jo Redman about living with ADHD and Asperger’s and how sport helped to turn her life around


World Champion kickboxer with a career in public speaking, Jo Redman has come a long way from the girl who couldn’t even utter her name to answer the register at school. Diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and ADHD as an adult, Jo now uses her success in sport to promote awareness of her conditions. Here, she answers questions about her struggles at school, the empowering quality of sport and her hopes for the future.

What sort of issues did you face growing up? I was very sheltered growing up. I had a lot of structure, which helped, but there

were a lot of misunderstandings. I felt lonely, I didn't always know how to join in with other children. Things got harder from the age of around nine or ten as I became more aware of how difficult I found it to join in. There was an expectation on me to socialise with girls my own age but I was happier running around playing football with boys. On reflection, I understood a lot less than anyone realised and this meant I was very withdrawn. I went along with things even when I didn't understand, as I couldn't communicate my lack of understanding and I didn't know how to cope with expressing how I felt. As a teenager, I couldn't even ask my nan for milk to go on my cereal.

Jo wears her three World Championship gold medals with pride.


I understood a lot less than anyone realised and this meant I was very withdrawn When she forgot to give me some, I just went along with the situation and ate it without. I had bad anxiety and depressed moods from adolescence which worsened during the transition to adulthood; the older I got, the harder life was and the more I realised I just didn't "get it”.

What was school like for you? I would go days at school not speaking, not even answering the class register. Teachers would skip me when going round the class asking questions because I didn't engage and appeared vacant. I just didn't cope with being there in those years and nobody could work out why as I couldn't communicate and didn't understand any of it. Academically, I didn't do too badly at school but I did underachieve. With undiagnosed Asperger’s and ADHD, I had a lot of challenges and also the challenge of making sure nobody noticed. Those challenges probably mean that my achievements since are greater than they seem, but that can actually be really hard to accept – that you could have achieved more or could have had more support. I had big problems organising my homework and revision, so much so that I could not do homework until the last minute and I did little revision. My concentration was so bad I had to have music on to do homework but SENISSUE76




it had to be the right music or I'd be distracted. I would have no interest in timed essay questions in English, so I'd write nothing or I'd make up my own question to answer. I thought in English it was perfectly fine to read my own book rather than listen to the teacher because books were written in English and that's what we were studying. I hated maths and I couldn’t do even simple mental arithmetic; I had to write it out. I fell asleep in maths a few times.

as positive as it could be, although it was difficult to process and I went through an analytical phase where I went back over my entire life. This was tough but I learnt so much and it brought a lot of resolution and closure to some of my experiences. At this stage I thought I had it all figured out and enthusiastically went into putting strategies in place, but none of these seemed to work for long and nearly five years later I was diagnosed with ADHD.

To be respected and accepted as you are is so powerful after struggling to fit in for so long

How did other pupils respond to you?

Has your ADHD diagnosis helped you to understand yourself?

How did you get into kickboxing?

At a young age I was laughed at because I interpreted things differently; then I learnt to keep it in and follow. I was always on the periphery but usually had one girl mothering me and making sure I was "looked after". I was lucky that there were quite a few people who did this; they would make sure I was concentrating on work in class and eating my lunch. They even communicated for me to teachers. But I also had a lot of people make fun of me, taunt me and call me names. However, because I wouldn't respond or even show how I felt, it unnerved these kids which I think made them back off. The fact that reacting and expressing emotion was so difficult for me served me well in these scenarios as the kids just got bored, but that doesn't mean that those experiences didn't sit deeply with me.

How did getting a diagnosis of Asperger’s as an adult help you? My Asperger’s diagnosis was a relief. I didn't expect it but it made sense. I often wish I had known at a younger age but that's no guarantee it would have been any better or I would have got the support I needed. I think maybe getting the diagnosis at the age of 23 enabled me to accept it better and learn about how it presented within me. I think that because I hadn’t understood what I was going through and because of the constant struggles I'd faced, it actually made my diagnosis seem SENISSUE76

The ADHD has been a tougher diagnosis to come to terms with. I'm not sure if it is because I thought I had all the answers before and felt there had been a wasted few years where I still hadn't worked it all out, or if it is due to the poor follow up times making it more difficult for me to process. Perhaps it's the fact that with the right ADHD medication I might have found work and school easier. Even so, I'm glad to have the answers now. I never imagined ADHD would apply to me but it does make sense and it does explain why I continued to struggle and why the Asperger’s strategies never seemed to stick. Understanding why I can't follow the structure I need has relieved a lot of self-pressure; I just need to know how to make a structure work. It has been very upsetting getting passed from service to service, being told you are too complex and they can't help

Autism campaigner Anna Kennedy (left) with Jo. Photo by So Shoot Me Photography.

you, and it has really dented my selfconfidence and the belief that I can reach my potential.

My dad took me kickboxing when I was 13 and I loved it straight away. He thought it would help my confidence and would be a nice activity for us to do together. I didn't speak there for two years and I certainly wouldn't have gone without him. A lot of people laughed at me for doing kickboxing, either because I was so quiet they couldn't see how this sport would be suited to me or because I was so interested in the sport it became an obsession and the only thing I would talk about. I didn't compete until I was 17 and this came about after I was invited to train with the England squad. I surprised my instructors a little and was asked to join the team for the Irish Open. I had always been reluctant to compete because of my anxiety and lack of confidence but it was such a big thing to be considered for the England squad.

Has sport helped you to develop as a person? Sport has been life changing for me. It has been so important in my development into the person I am today. My coach Alex Barrowman has been very influential in my life and I’ve found the ethos of his teachings to be highly transferable into my life as a whole. He taught me to set goals, work hard toward them, never give up and believe I could reach them, but also to act with humility and respect. My team, the BCKA, are like family to me. I have grown up with most of them and I’ve watched the younger members WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


too well; I want to do whatever I can to help people follow their dreams and have some positive experiences.

What should we do to improve awareness of conditions like Asperger’s and ADHD?

Jo (left) in action.

develop and tried to help guide them. It has taught me what it feels like to belong and be valued for who you are and what you can do, rather than just what you give to others and what they want from you. To be respected, appreciated and accepted as you are is so powerful after struggling to fit in for so long. I can just be who I am and nobody judges. Sport has also taught me that I can be successful and my conditions have actually helped in my sport in some ways.

Have you been able to use your experiences to help others? After winning world titles in my sport I wanted to use what I had learned to encourage and inspire other young people who might feel they could achieve nothing. So I started public speaking and did school assemblies. I was asked by Anna Kennedy to speak at Autism's Got Talent and then asked to be a patron of her charity. I love words and writing. I wrote to compensate for struggling to talk to people and became quite articulate. Once I learned and became confident to speak what I wrote, I fell in love with public speaking, which is bizarre for someone who struggled to answer the school register. I try to give my time to people just to offer encouragement and listen, because I think these things are important. Words are so powerful and I want to use mine to build belief in others and inspire confidence, because I remember my bad experiences only WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

There is a lot that needs to be done for awareness and ultimately acceptance but I think the most important thing is that we need to hear more of the perspectives of individuals with these conditions. We need to hear from parents and families too and give their views more importance in determining how young people with these conditions are treated and educated. I often feel as though people would actually prefer to read the views of somebody who doesn't have my conditions about what it is like to have my conditions; this effectively means that my voice is not being heard, which is just as bad as not having a voice. It’s kind of ironic when the point is to help people understand what it is actually like to have these conditions. I think the involvement of people with conditions such as Asperger’s and ADHD is important in developing services that can better meet their needs. Fundamentally, we are people not a subgroup and we all have differing thoughts, views and opinions which deserve to be heard, especially in determining our futures. There also needs to be more cohesion and collaboration between interested groups and charities; more can be achieved if everyone works together.

What are your plans for the future and how do you see your life developing? I'm at a big turning point in my life now. The last year has been very rough for me with my diagnosis of ADHD. I want to become as independent as possible because despite my intelligence and successes with public speaking and in sport, I actually really struggle. I have always aimed really high but I think I need to take a look at day-to-day life

Once I learned and became confident to speak what I wrote, I fell in love with public speaking

first now. There are so many things I've never learnt or been taught and I've never been independent as an adult. I struggle hugely with conversation and travelling and I can't cook or budget. I need to look at the basics now – the things that might help me to get some independence in these areas. I want to do more public speaking and continue with my sport competitively and as a coach. I would like to thank SEN Magazine for its support and sponsorship for the World Championships. Due to the costs involved, it simply wouldn't be possible to compete without support like this. Looking forward, I also want to help others and do what I can to establish more acceptance and understanding of Asperger’s and ADHD so that services improve and individuals are valued as people – for what they can do and bring to society, big or small.

Further information

Three times World Kickboxing Champion Jo Redman is a patron of autism charity Anna Kennedy Online and an Ambassador for Fighting for Autism. Jo also presents motivational talks about her life with autism and ADHD and how she became successful in sport:





Paralympic star inspires young athletes to overcome challenges Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson met with twelve-year-olds India Oates and Jacob Bray at Barnard Castle School in County Durham to give her support at the start of their journeys as young athletes with disabilities. The Welsh athlete, who has won sixteen Paralympic medals, broken 30 world records and won the London Marathon six times, gave her top tips to athletics star India and swimmer Jacob, both pupils at Barnard Castle School, before they begin to compete in more high profile competitions. India Oates, who has cerebral palsy, was talent spotted by her prep school teacher Sue Seddon at the age of ten. Mrs Seddon noticed that India was hitting quicker sprint times than Paralympians in the spotlight and with the school’s encouragement and her love of athletics, India now trains with Darlington Harriers and the Barnard Castle School team four times a week. She is now going through the International Paralympic Committee classification process so she can compete in regional and national competitions. School swimming champion Jacob has a prosthetic hand and he asked Dame Tanni for her advice on how to get to the top in sport. “Miss Thompson has given me some help on how I can achieve my first goal which is to become the fastest swimmer in my year group”, he said. “She explained that the SENISSUE76

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson with Jacob and India.

more effort you put in, the more chance you have of winning and I’m trying my hardest all the time at the moment. I train four times a week in school. If I keep trying my hardest I hope I will become the best swimmer, which is my dream.” Tanni Grey-Thompson said: “India and Jacob both have great attitudes at this stage. Jacob told me he didn’t just like swimming, but also likes high jump and other sports; it’s important when you’re young to try lots of different sports until you’ve found ‘the one’.” WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK



Free wheelin' Sociable, healthy and inclusive, cycling is so much more than just fun, says Abigail Tripp


ycling is a truly inclusive pastime; everyone can have a go. Today’s cycles come in many forms, to suit virtually all needs, and not all have just two wheels. Many adults and children ride tricycles, recumbents and hand cycles, or ride in pairs on tandems, tandem tricycles, wheelchair cycles and side-by-side cycles. Whatever the individual’s needs, cycles can be adapted to provide the right support, for example, by adding back support to a seat, foot plates to pedals and harnesses to recumbents. The Davies family from Llangollen enjoy nothing more than a weekend bike ride around their local area. Thanks to a wheelchair tandem, ten-year-old Jake, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, never misses out on the family fun. Jake’s condition makes it extremely difficult for him to sit still in any seat for long. However, once he is in the wheelchair tandem seat and he starts moving, Jake relaxes in a way he is unable to do anywhere else. “The ride

may only be four miles but Jake loves every minute of being on his bike”, says his father, Rob. “We do not know if it is the motion or the fresh air but Jake spends the whole time laughing and smiling.”

Once he starts moving, Jake relaxes in a way he is unable to do anywhere else

Healthy option The health benefits of cycling are clearly there for everyone, but they can be particularly important for some children with SEN. One of my colleagues recently met a mother at a children’s centre who described why cycling is good for her son who has Down syndrome: “He has a thyroid problem which means he puts on weight quicker, so it’s crucial he exercises and he loves cycling, but he can’t ride on the roads. When we go to the cycling sessions on the track, we can’t get him off the bikes.” A US report by Ability Path (Finding a Balance – Obesity and Children with Special Needs) sheds more light on the issues many children with SEN can face when it comes to staying healthy: “…many, if not most children with

special needs face multiple challenges when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. Food aversions, the side effects of medications, and mobility limitations make these children even more susceptible to being overweight or obese than other children, who are already facing a nationwide epidemic of obesity. One study found that among teens with Down syndrome, 86 per cent were either overweight or obese. Those figures are just as startling for children with other disabilities.” Research summarised by Public Health England reveals a similar picture of health inequalities saying that while there is limited data on disability and obesity, “It is known that people with disabilities are more likely to be obese and have lower rates of physical activity than the general population. Children who have a limiting illness are more likely to be obese or overweight, particularly if they also have a learning disability.”

Activity for all Because cycling can be such an inclusive activity, it is a good way of getting more people with disabilities and SEN involved in sport and physical exercise. Research by Sport England has shown an increase in the number of disabled people taking part in sport. However, it also found that barriers to inclusion remain, with many young people with disabilities and SEN citing A student and teacher cycle side by side.





the unsuitability of sports facilities, money and health issues as key factors. Where the right facilities are available, though, cycling can offer a great deal to children with SEN and their families. Liam and his sister Mia enjoy their after school inclusive cycling club; their mother explains why: “He doesn’t join in other after schools clubs as he doesn’t like them as much. They love trying all the various bikes. It’s difficult to get them doing activities together. For my daughter, she sees other children and sees she’s not the only one with a special needs brother. They all accommodate each other; it’s lovely to see them all together.” This club is at Lark Hall School, Lambeth which includes the Lambeth Centre for Autism. The club helps children improve their social and communication skills, balance and coordination, as well as exercise.

Feel the benefit

Cycling is good for us in so many ways, and it can be particularly important for children and young people with SEN. Here are just some of the ways it can help. Physical health benefits • stimulates cardio-vascular and circulatory systems • low impact exercise • strengthens musculoskeletal system – bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons. Emotional health benefits Cycling is great for encouraging: • confidence • self-esteem • independence. Social health benefits Cycling clubs and activities help children with: • social interaction • communication • enjoying shared experiences with peers and siblings • learning new skills. Above all else, cycling is fun!


Cycles can even be adapted to incorporate wheelchairs.

Games include Mind the Gap and Traffic Lights, where the children learn about overtaking each other and how to use the brakes; they also get to be in charge of the traffic lights.

New opportunities Students from Greenvale, a Lewisham community special school for 11- to 19-year-olds, attend a weekly inclusive cycling session at Herne Hill Velodrome. The students have severe

They love trying something new, spending time outdoors and the positive social aspect and profound learning difficulties, some with an additional diagnosis of autism. Many of the students have additional medical needs and sensory difficulties. “All the students really enjoy and benefit from the experience and having exercise, particularly as cycling is an activity most of them have never tried or were previously unable to do without an adapted cycle”, says teacher Abby Sensenig. “They love trying something new, spending time outdoors and the positive social aspect. It also provides

a fun experience they can share with their peers and teachers from school.” Nikki Johnston, a mother with a daughter at Severndale SEN School in Shrewsbury, which has recently bought a fleet of inclusive cycles, believes that cycling is opening up new opportunities for her daughter: “Madison absolutely loves using the bikes; they have been wonderful for her independence and confidence. She has hypertonia, so the bikes have helped immensely with her muscle tone also. I would definitely recommend them to parents of other children in a similar position.”

Further information

Abigail Tripp, is Community Engagement Officer for Wheels For Wellbeing, a charity which promotes and facilitates inclusive and all-ability cycling: The author would like to acknowledge the assistance of Quest 88 with some of the quotes and case studies.


CYCLING Advertisement feature

Wheels for All The Wheels for All initiative is a national inclusive cycling initiative that offers people of all abilities the opportunity to cycle in safe and enjoyable surroundings, using a wide range of adapted cycles from a variety of manufacturers and under the guidance and supervision of qualified and skilled Wheels for All leaders. The Wheels for All network is now a nearly 50 strong network of centres and facilities that offer regular inclusive cycling to their local communities. It is a very exciting movement with ongoing requests for new centres across England and beyond by local authorities, public health trusts, SEN schools, colleges and other disability and cycling organisations.

Why do we set up Wheels for All centres? Several years ago, Cycling Projects recognised that people with various abilities and impairments wanted to cycle regardless of the challenges and issues they faced on a daily basis. These challenges include: • lack of awareness of the availability of adapted cycles • ownership and cost of the adapted cycles • not knowing how to cycle or who to cycle with • not knowing where to cycle and how to enjoy the pleasant surroundings.


Through the Wheels for All programme our aim is to breakdown such barriers and create a facility where everybody is supported and encouraged to cycle – somewhere they can embrace cycling as an activity and weave it into their lives. Overseeing the operations of Wheels for All and influencing governance of each centre is a crucial role of Cycling Projects. We want to ensure that delivery at each centre is kept to a high standard, whilst also supporting the development of new centres. For more information about your local Wheels for All centres, please call Ian Tierney on: 01925 234213, email: or check out the website:





Book reviews by Mary Mountstephen

Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Research Challenges and Solutions Editors: J. Van Herwegen and D. Riby Psychology Press £32.99 ISBN: 978-1-84872-329-0

The Essential Manual for Asperger Syndrome (ASD) in the Classroom: What Every Teacher Needs to Know Kathy Hoopmann Jessica Kingsley Publishers £14.99 ISBN: 978-1-84905-553-6

There are over 20 expert contributors

Kathy Hoopmann is the author

to this exploration of current issues,

of the very popular book All Cats

research and future directions in

Have Asperger Syndrome and

the study of neurodevelopmental

several other publications. She

disorders. The authors begin by

has been shortlisted for many

presenting different definitions of

literary awards and has over 20

these disorders, highlighting the

years of classroom experience.

fact that these range from very

The book is set out with

restricted to very broad concepts.

a common format for each

Their definition refers to disorders

chapter, opening with a short

that are of a genetic or multi-factorial origin that result

description and including

in one or more specific cognitive deficits, which persist

classroom activities and linked information for the student’s

throughout life. Their aim in this book is to make the link


between research and the development of interventions and training programmes to help families at a practical level.

Hofmann’s stated aim is to assist the primary classroom teacher, although she indicates that the information is also

The book is divided into three parts, with an overview of

relevant to other settings. The structure is designed to

key approaches and research, linked to specific illustrations

enable the teacher to access information from a section

of disorders such as Fragile X syndrome and autistic

that is relevant at the particular time and she stresses that

spectrum disorders. The authors also include interesting

the book is not intended for specialist teachers of ASD.

research into approaches such as eye tracking techniques

Topics covered include adapting to change,

and explorations of social attention as well as a critique of

understanding the perspectives of others, apparent lack

some well-established tests.

of emotions, field trips and sensory processing

This is a wide reaching but accessible book, which

The book closes with a list of references to books that help

provides a very useful overview of the key issues involved

explain ASD to other children and to teachers and parents.

in researching neurodevelopmental disorders and how this

It does not have an index, which could prove a difficulty

relates to changes in practice. The practical tips sections

if looking for a specific reference, but in all other respects

in particular would be of interest to postgraduate students

it is a useful source of straightforward advice, information

working in the field of SEN and psychology.

and guidance.




An Occupational Therapist’s Guide to Sleep and Sleep Problems Editors: Andrew Green and Cary Brown Jessica Kingsley Publishers £40.00 ISBN: 978-1-84905-618-2

As the title states, this book is aimed primarily at occupational therapists and the authors have experience internationally and in the UK in the treatment of sleep disorders. There are also a number of additional contributors to some chapters. The topic of sleep issues is of interest to teachers as the media often refers to the increase in the number of children who present as underachieving at school due to sleep related issues. The authors claim that up to 30 per cent of children experience a sleep problem at some point during their childhood and they link poor sleep to behaviours such as aggression and impulse control, cognitive development, mood regulation and attention. They use a case study approach to illustrate points and provide useful descriptions of common sleep disturbances and the management of intervention programmes, including specific interventions for those with learning difficulties. Temperature, noise and light are cited as key factors in creating the right environmental conditions for sleep and they also stress the impact of inconsistent bedtime and pre-bed routines or requiring a parent or other external stimulus to be present while falling asleep. A number of interventions are discussed and the chapter on children’s sleep includes a list of resources for parents and therapists, a guide to some assessment tools and links to relevant organisations.


Eat Well and Keep Moving: an Interdisciplinary Curriculum for Teaching Upper Elementary School Nutrition and Physical Activity (Second Edition) Lilian W.Y. Cheung, Hank Dart, Sari Kalin, and Steven L. Gortmaker Human Kinetics £48.99 ISBN: 978-0-7360-6940-3 This programme has been developed by the Harvard School of Public Health and is used extensively in the USA and over 20 countries worldwide. According to the authors, it has proven effective in getting children to eat more fruit and vegetables, reduce their intake of fat, watch less TV and improve their knowledge of nutrition and physical activity. This very comprehensive book is divided into two main sections, with the first one containing classroom lessons and the second one providing physical activities. The book is aimed at those working with pupils in Year 5 and Year 6, but would be relevant to older students with learning differences. The authors also provide a CD, which contains further resources to support the programme at home and teacher training through workshops on nutrition, wellness and physical activity. The book promotes an active approach to learning and uses physical activities to reinforce the taught sessions on nutritional concepts. While it is aimed at mainstream teachers, it contains many useful worksheets and work cards which could be adapted to more specialist settings. The book also provides the reader with information to guide school and home nutrition and exercise programmes, as well as acting as a wellness coach for teachers themselves.





Home alone? Home education shouldn’t be limited to just parents, says Kate Fallon


tailored curriculum, a oneto-one tutorial approach, higher confidence levels, more emphasis on learning life skills and more flexibility are some of the benefits ascribed to parent-led home-based education – which is why the fact that there is a rise in the number of families in the UK who choose to educate their children at home does not come as a surprise. And it is why now more than ever we need to ensure that children who are home educated have access to any and all of the specialist support they may need, particularly for children with SEN. It is crucial that we consider ways in which the support to which homeeducating families are entitled can be made readily available to them. Children and young people with SEN need to regularly draw on the support of a range of professionals who can advise, assess and work with them to help give them the best possible chance to realise their potential. While some parents are very skilled and able to fulfil the role of a teacher, school support is much more than teaching. Educational psychologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech and language therapists are just some of the professionals who work in schools to ensure that children benefit from an integrated approach towards their education. Each of these disciplines plays a crucial role in the process of assessment and support for a child with additional needs. Unfortunately, home education by its very nature means children are less exposed to the professionals that they would otherwise be engaging with in their school setting. This leads to a risk of home-educated children suffering various psychological and social illSENISSUE76

effects and therefore the most suitable and correct provisions must be made for them, both by their parents and by councils. Indeed, studies have shown that where the right provisions were made, there have been many instances where home-educated children have outperformed their school-educated peers.

Why home educate? Children educated at home traditionally fall into one of two groups; the first are children whose parents have deeply held convictions – perhaps religious – or believe in a particularly different philosophy and as a result ultimately feel they can offer a more suitable education for their child at home; these parents make a carefully considered decision to home educate. The second are children who are educated at home out of necessity, either children who have been to school but whose parents perceived their experiences to be unsatisfactory and believed their needs were not being adequately met,

In reality there has not been very much contact between homeeducating families and local authorities or children who’ve been to a school where staff have then encouraged parents to educate them at home because they feel they’re unable to provide the right support. The majority of children with SEN fall into the second category, which is usually the category that requires the most support. Despite the fact that legally, a local authority has a duty to monitor any child with a statement of SEN, including those that are home-educated, in reality there has not been very much contact between home-educating families and local authorities; where communication has taken place, conflict between the two very often occurs.

Home educated children with SEN can miss out on support they are entitled to.



This can arise if parents begrudge intervention from external sources, believing that they’re in control and have their child’s best interests at heart. There have been numerous cases where local authorities reported anxiety for the wellbeing of some children following the failure of their parents to respond to legitimate requests for information about the child’s progress. These parents tend to believe there needs to be greater sensitivity in intervention and some are even fearful that the act of monitoring by local authorities would in itself be detrimental to the child. On the other hand, there are many scenarios where parents want additional support from local authorities but argue that they are not able to access the services otherwise found at schools in order to educate their children. Many of them criticise local authorities for their lack of support and lack of understanding of the various different approaches to home education.

Resolving conflict In 2009, Graham Badman submitted a report to the then Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls, following his review of elective home education in England. Within it, he concluded that home educating families should be better supported by local authorities through improved access to services and facilities. More recently, the House of Commons Education Select Committee, Chaired by Graham Stuart MP, in its report on home education pushed for local authorities to “serve and support” home educators, something he has also insisted on following an Ofsted report into local authorities and home education. However, we have only recently seen positive changes to this route. The new SEN Code of Practice has rightly put more duties on local authorities to be proactive about engaging with homeeducated families. The Code puts more emphasis on ensuring that local authorities meet their obligation to monitor statements of SEN WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

The outlook for homeeducated children with SEN can be very positive indeed and to secure adequate resources and support for the home-educated child. This includes explicitly stating that local authorities should ensure parents have made suitable provision that meets the child’s needs, and even where satisfied that the parents have done all that is needed, to continue to maintain and review the child’s statement annually. The guidance also puts the onus on local authorities to arrange for the child’s special education provision to be made otherwise than at school, which is to include engagement with all the required specialist professionals.

What next? The most important next step is to ensure that communication between parents and local authorities is in fact taking place. This is where educational psychologists can play an important role; in addition to being a crucial part of the statutory assessment of a child with SEN and designing specific interventions tailored to the child’s needs, educational psychologists can also be invaluable in trying to build those crucial bridges between families and local authorities. Educational psychologists’ relationships with children, schools and families, as well as their grounding in holistic assessments and approaches both within and outside of school settings, puts them in a very strong position to provide the very specific support needed by home-educating families. Their work in the broader community means they are well placed to contribute to the work and research of local authorities on home-educated families. The outlook for home-educated children with SEN can be very positive indeed, as long as there is

communication between parents, local authorities and specialist professionals. The hope is that the new Code of Practice will allow families and professionals to have constructive discussions that centre around the child’s wellbeing, in which they determine the correct provision and resources that will ensure the child is receiving all the support he or she needs. Ideally, parents should see tangible results from these discussions. Best practice has, in the past, included arranging to have regular drop-in days, local authorities publishing booklets to signpost families to support, and implementing a schedule of regular termly meetings between parents and a range of specialist professionals. Unfortunately, difficulties such as lack of funding or the national problem of staff shortages mean that this is far easier said than done. However, the one issue that parents and councils alike can work together to overcome is that of communication. Good relationships and mutual respect are at the heart of the engagement of local authorities with home-educating parents, which is the first step towards ensuring children receive the very best support they can get.

Further information

Kate Fallon is the General Secretary of the Association of Educational Psychologists, the professional body and trade union for educational psychologists in the UK:





Special families Fostering a child with SEN can be uniquely rewarding for parents, writes Daniel Sinclair


he number of children in foster care is growing year on year, with over 55,000 fostering families looking after over 63,000 children and young people across the UK. The Fostering Network has recently released figures showing that over 8,370 new foster carers are needed in 2015. This figure takes into account replacing foster carers leaving the service and providing homes for new children coming into foster care. There is also a significant need for foster carers who have the skills and experience to support a child or young person with SEN. Around seven out of ten looked-after children have SEN, compared with roughly two in ten of all children. It is vital that a child going into foster care is correctly matched with a SENISSUE76

suitable foster family, so having a range of families with diverse experiences and skills is becoming ever more important. Without this, relationships can become strained causing placements to break down, meaning children are moved and that they suffer even more disruption to their often already traumatic lives. A well matched fostering placement can see a child live and thrive with one foster carer over many years.

Tools of the trade One of the main challenges in the recruitment of foster carers is finding those who have the skills to specialise in fostering children with ever more complex needs. Those with a background in this area are key to making sure that our most vulnerable children have a home where they can develop with people who are ambitious

Many foster carers who look after children with SEN already had a background in this field 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 found for children first time, giving them the best chance of a happy childhood and a successful future. Many foster carers who look after children and young people with SEN already had a background of working in this field. For example, Bernadette, a foster carer for almost a decade, was the Additional Needs Coordinator at a large college: “I worked with lots of young people with special needs who WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


were fostered and who didn’t have good placements or were moving out and it made me think I could become a foster carer”, says Bernadette. Other foster carers, like Cheryl and Steve Walker, have experience of looking after their birth children who have SEN and this is what motivates them to explore their own connections to fostering: “I have a son with Asperger’s syndrome so we thought we might have what it takes to look after another child with special needs”, says Cheryl. “We told fostering services that we’d love to have a special needs child as that’s where our skills lie and we bought a bigger house in readiness to foster. We came into fostering to give a child a normal family life – whatever normal is. We’ve worked hard for seven years with our little whirlwind now and love him like he’s our own. We’ve had other children placed with us over the years, all unique in their own way.”

New horizons For some foster carers, looking after children and young people with SEN isn’t even on their radar, but as they became more experienced carers, they become more open to caring for children with more complex needs. The story of Steve and Lynne Greening from Cornwall is not untypical: “We have been foster carers for almost ten years, with a focus on babies to sevenyear-olds”, says Lynne. “When doing our initial assessment, we remember being asked about our thoughts on fostering children with disabilities. We both shook our heads, positive that it was not for us. Neither of us has ever had any experience or training in the care of children with any kind of disability, so without specific training for a specific child then it was out of the question because we could not provide the care that they would need. How wrong we were.” After some years of fostering, Steve and Lynne were asked by the local authority to foster a new-born baby boy: “As we had fostered his brother some two years previously and had WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Good foster carers can make a real difference to outcomes for children in care a good working relationship with the parents, we said yes”, Lynne continues. “We were aware that there were some medical difficulties with the baby, but had no idea of how complex his needs would turn out to be, ranging from brain damage to blindness. “We can honestly say that this baby, who we have now fostered for almost three years, has enriched our lives. We have learnt so much. We have learnt body signing with him, endless physio techniques, and first aid techniques to help him in the earlier days with breathing and swallowing difficulties. We have had amazing support from children’s services and always know that there has been someone at the end of a phone whenever we needed it, day or night. We have also had a special needs social worker pointing us in the right direction for safety issues within the home and supplying equipment that was needed.” Despite the complexities and hard work, Steve and Lynne have benefitted greatly from fostering this little boy. “We are so glad to have had the opportunity to have him as part of our life. Even with all the sleepless nights, hospital stays and many worrying times wondering whether he would get through the night, we wouldn't change our time with him”, Lynne concludes.

Getting involved Of course, not all fostered children and young people have such complex needs, but all are individuals in need of support to help them develop and thrive. Fostering services are looking for people from all walks of life to connect to foster caring – from single people to large families. Good foster carers can make a real difference to outcomes for children in care. They are

highly skilled and use their personal qualities, including a sense of humour and resilience, to bring the security, stability and commitments needed to provide a welcoming home where a child can feel secure and safe. This Foster Care Fortnight take time to consider your connection to fostering. Perhaps you know some foster carers who need some extra support; maybe you could help spread the message of the importance of foster care in helping young people flourish despite difficult circumstances, or it might be that you have the skills and willingness to foster and could change a young person’s life for ever.

Foster Care Fortnight Foster Care Fortnight is the annual foster carer recruitment and awareness campaign run by The Fostering Network. It runs from 1 to 14 June 2015:

Further information

Daniel Sinclair is a foster carer and the Communications Manager at The Fostering Network: The people pictured are not those mentioned in the article.




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Autism provision in Northern Ireland Parents of children with autism continue to play a waiting game, says Anne Marie Kelly


recent Department of Health Report confirmed that there has been a 67 per cent increase in the number of school age children in Northern Ireland diagnosed as having autism across all trust areas. The report went on to highlight the fact that boys are five times more likely to have a diagnosis of autism. There has also been an increase in the rate of girls with this condition. The news of this increase does not come as a shock to professionals working in this area in both care and education. In October 2010, figures also released from the Department of Health showed that half


the children waiting for a diagnosis of autism had been waiting longer than a thirteen week target time set by the Government.

What is an autistic spectrum disorder? Autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) cover a broad range of conditions. People on the spectrum can present in very different ways, as ASD can vary greatly between individuals. Some may exhibit only mild or moderate issues while others may have profound difficulties. Furthermore, there are within children with a diagnosis on the autistic spectrum greatly varying levels of intelligence. Depending on the

There has been at best piecemeal provision of diagnosis services across Northern Ireland specific condition they have and how it affects them, some have very high IQs while others can have severe learning difficulties. There are, though, a number of key factors that are usually present to





differing degrees in children and young people with an ASD. These include: • social difficulties • slower or different development of speech • poor imagination • unusual behaviours. Most children with ASD have sensory difficulties, which means they are either over or under sensitive to sound, sight, taste, smell and touch. These common autistic traits tend to make it more difficult for children to process information in the same way as those without autism.

Early identification is key Professionals and researchers agree that early intervention and diagnosis is essential to improve the developmental and educational outcomes of the child with an ASD. However, in my experience, there has been at best piecemeal provision of diagnosis services across Northern Ireland. In many cases, parents have to make a number of visits to a variety of professionals before a diagnosis can be achieved and parents often have had to resort to private funding in order to obtain a diagnosis. One key factor here is the poor link between various education and library boards and the relevant health and social services trust. The shortcomings identified include: • a lack of resources, including trained, designated ASD staff to support families of children with ASD • ad hoc arrangements to deliver support • a lack of educational input from some professional teams who are charged with diagnosis • a flawed referral system • a lack of training of health staff, particularly health visitors • a lack of intervention services to refer children to following diagnosis • insufficient training, specifically for clinical psychologists and speech and language therapists. SENISSUE76

Some parents find themselves fighting a seemingly constant battle against education professionals The picture is not all bleak, though. A number of trusts in Northern Ireland have established multi-disciplinary services for ASD and can therefore make good progress in early identification and support. If your child has been formally diagnosed on the autistic spectrum, it is important to know that it is the ultimate responsibility of education and library boards to make arrangements to meet the needs of your child. However, there are parents who have not received a formal diagnosis and who are acutely aware that their child is demonstrating difficulties in using speech and understanding language. They may be manifesting difficulties developing basic study skills, for example in literacy or numeracy. The child may also be considered disruptive in class or refuse to join in group activities. It is sometimes the observations of the parents which are most important to make sure that the child’s SEN are identified as early and accurately as possible.

What rights do children with SEN have? Children with SEN are by law entitled to additional support. These rights are enshrined in a Code of Practice on the identification and assessment of SEN under the Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1996. One of the fundamental principals of the Code is that the needs of all pupils who may experience learning difficulties during their school careers must be addressed. These children require the greatest possible access to a broad and balanced education, including the Northern Ireland Curriculum.

Where those needs cannot be met in mainstream school, the boards must produce clear and thorough statements setting out the child’s educational and non educational needs, the objectives to be secured, the provision to be made and arrangements for monitoring and review. This involves close co-operation between all professional agencies and a multi-disciplinary approach. There is a five stage approach in identification, assessment and delivery of provision. The first three stages are based in the child’s school and involve the school making use of external specialists. The School does this with the assistance of a SENCO, who takes lead responsibility for collecting and recording information abut the child. Stages four and five are where the Board considers the need for a statutory assessment, if appropriate, and a multi-disciplinary assessment. If appropriate, the statement is made which arranges, monitors and reviews the education provision for that child. Statements are subject to annual review as the child’s needs evolve and change, particularly where support has been provided at the earliest possible stage.

The appeals process Some parents of children with autism find themselves fighting a seemingly constant battle against education professionals to obtain even the most minimum levels of intervention for their child. I have encountered considerable delays between the various stages of diagnosis and support and also a refusal to recognise the parameters of responsibility between the school and the education and library board. Where either the school or the board are not complying with and implementing the Code of Practice for a particular child, an appeal can be made to the SEN Tribunal. There are, though, cases where appeals do not provide the appropriate remedy for a particular breach of the Code of Practice by a school or board. These cases may be appropriate for WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


judicial review proceedings. This type of court action allows the parent to challenge the decision or action of the board or school. The court will examine whether the board or school has observed all relevant legal rules, standards and requirements and acted within the limit of its powers. It should not be considered as an appeal and can only be used where there is no adequate alternative way to resolve the issues, such as an appeal to SEN Tribunal. A decision can be challenged if the board or school have acted illegally, in a procedurally unfair manner, irrationally or contrary to the child’s legitimate expectation as protected by law. The overriding consideration is that a child with autism has the same right to be educated as a child without autism.

What will the courts do? If the court finds that the board has acted either unlawfully or without taking into account relevant considerations in their decision making processes, the court may make one of the following orders. It may: • strike down the unlawful decision made by the board or school, which must then retake the decision in a lawful manner • make an order requiring the board or school to carry out an action it has a duty to perform • declare what the law is and declare the respective rights of the parties without making any further order. In some cases, an injunction can be issued preventing the board or school from acting in a certain way, or compelling it to take a particular course of action. Obviously, before initiating this action it is important to engage in correspondence with the body in question to try to resolve the problem informally first and then resort to other methods only if that does not work. There is also a pre-action protocol which must be adhered to. Where all other courses of action WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

A child with autism has the same right to be educated as a child without autism

have been exhausted and a judicial review appears to be the only remedy left, a parent can apply for a legal aid certificate in the name of the child and based on the child’s means to secure public funding for the application. A certificate is not always granted and, in many cases, counsel’s opinion should be sought to support the application. Alternatively, an appeal can be brought if the decision of the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission is to refuse to grant a legal aid certificate. Judges can adopt a pragmatic approach which includes adjourning an application for either leave or judicial review if leave has been granted, so that steps can be taken by the school or the education and library board to remedy the breach or to at least work in tandem with the parent to achieve a settlement which best meets the child’s SEN. This is a growing area of case law and can include challenges regarding breaches of the Code of Practice or failure to consider the placing of a child in a non mainstream school where the child’s statement does not allow for that provision.

What steps can parents take? There are a number of organisations dedicated to improving the overall care, wellbeing and development of children with autism in Northern Ireland. I would urge all parents to access their websites and to speak with professionals to establish what support is out there for their child and how it can be accessed. It is heartening to note that the Education Minister John O’Dowd has approved the establishment of autistic spectrum disorder units in a number of board areas. These units benefit children with a diagnosis of autism who cannot cope in a mainstream classroom situation on a full-time basis. The units are attached to mainstream schools, to enable the child with autism to access small group teaching and periods of individualised support, whilst remaining integrated with their peers in mainstream education. It has obvious benefits for the children, both educationally and socially. There is an ongoing consultation process in relation to other board areas and I would urge all parents to become involved in these processes and educate themselves as to what choices their child has and how they can be individually supported within their respective schools. The Government is currently failing a significant number of children with autism both at primary and post primary level in Northern Ireland. The challenge is to ensure that those charged with the responsibility of educating our children continue to be educated themselves about the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Further information

Parents should talk to the school before considering legal action.

Anne Marie Kelly is head of the Family and Matrimonial Law Department at MKB Law in Belfast:



AUTISM Advertisement feature

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AUTISM Advertisement feature

Positive practical approaches in autism Positive Behavioural Support: Hesley Group - Spring Series Of Educational Symposia: London and Newcastle - March and May 2015


esley Group are very grateful to the speakers, the

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Minister helps Gloucestershire College celebrate success of autism scheme On Friday 20 March, Gloucestershire College welcomed Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper (pictured) to an event at its Cheltenham Campus to mark the completion of a two-year programme that supported local young people with autism to access further education (FE). The College took part in the Finished at School Programme, run by national charity Ambitious about Autism, to help improve support for students with autism as they move into college. Sponsored by the Department for Education, the programme was developed because fewer than one in four young people with autism go on to FE after school and only 15 per cent of adults with autism are in full-time employment. Working in partnership with The Milestone School, Alderman Knight School and The Dean Academy, Gloucestershire College acted as a hub to: • develop staff skills and autism awareness • improve person-centred planning for students • strengthen assessment processes for students • design curriculum pathways for students • make sure students were able to access everything college life offered. Mr Harper met staff and students who took part in the Finished at School Programme and heard how WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Gloucestershire College spent two years working to ensure it became one of the leading organisations in the country for students with autism. “We took part in the programme because we believe young people with autism have the right to an education beyond school”. said Joe Baldwin, Head of Learning Support and SEND Transition at the College. “We’re really proud of how everyone involved worked together to transform the experience students with autism have when they go to college. We’ve found that our students have really benefitted from the programme and are sure this will improve their chances of getting a job or going to university.” SENISSUE76




Leading from the front John Carter looks at the qualities needed to be a successful teaching leader


he teaching arena is facing numerous changes and challenges that are altering what employers require from those who lead and manage it. In today’s fast-paced environment, education institutions now need two key things to succeed: high standards of teaching and effective leaders able to drive this. However, what this changing landscape has created is a greater demand for a broader set of skills that are more commonly associated with those in corporate senior positions than teachers. Perhaps one of the most sought after skills of today is a level of analytical understanding. Education institutions now require a much greater understanding of what happens in them than ever before. This includes understanding every pupil’s current level of attainment, their goals, and the progress being made in reaching these goals. This analytical understanding also extends to the assessment of teacher performance and their effectiveness

in fulfilling their roles. One of the most important considerations for any school is its current Ofsted rating, and these are prominently based on this data. School leaders must be able to use relevant data to analyse an institution’s success, demonstrate the value of financial investments and monitor the impact of new developments. Building on from this, schools are in need of true leaders. By this I mean an individual who doesn’t just make key decisions as to the institution’s future plans, budget spend or staffing requirements, but also ensures that the entire workforce is pulling together in the same direction. Under-performing schools are in need of transformational leadership if they are to overturn years of poor results and deliver to the level that is currently expected of them. Transformational leadership requires a head or a principle to change the conversations of all stakeholders in a school – staff, pupils and parents – about the school and about what is possible.

Involving stakeholders

Leaders should ensure the whole school is pulling together.


A wide variety of stakeholder groups is involved in an education institution, including both internal and external audiences such as governing bodies, pupils, parents and the local community. Given that each of these will have a different interest in the education outlet, the best professionals will need to be able to build meaningful relationships with each group. This will, of course, include the ability to balance the needs of each to ensure all remain on board with any future plans and continue to support the school. While the sector is plagued by constant challenges, the best managers must recognise wider issues that will affect the school and its pupils. These

The current crop of outstanding headteachers operate beyond their school gates could range from local community group disagreements that could impact pupils, to the difficulties in attracting new staff due to the location of the institution. While creating meaningful relationships with stakeholders will aid this knowledge gathering, the best professionals should ensure they can demonstrate their understanding of what is really impacting a specific school. The current crop of outstanding headteachers operate beyond their school gates and act as system leaders. Those who are national leaders of education mentor other headteachers and disseminate best practice to the schools in their area. Many of these heads will go on to take up executive positions such as academy group leaders or regional education directors. How the education arena will evolve in the coming years is perhaps anyone’s guess, but what is clear now is that those individuals able to demonstrate the broadest range of skills will be the experts leading reform in education in the very near future. The most in demand teaching leaders will be those who demonstrate that they themselves are willing to learn.

Further information John Carter is a director at recruitment consultancy Veredus Education:









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CPD, TRAINING AND EVENTS 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

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.

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.


Sounds of Intent training days In-house training packages for schools Training days will allow schools to begin using the Sounds of Intent framework of musical development, which was designed particularly (though not exclusively) for children and young people with learning difficulties, including autism and sensory and motor impairments. The training package/day(s) can be tailored to suit the needs of individual schools, primarily to fit in with how music is delivered.

MA in Education (Early Years) Centre for Research in Early Childhood Accredited by Birmingham City University and recognised for their practice based approach, the modules are intended for practitioner researchers looking for a framework and academic recognition of their current research and work. Popular modules include: Learning Outdoors in Early Childhood, Early Years Music, Leadership and Management and others

NAS Training and Consultancy

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

Certificate in Understanding Autism in Schools

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

Postgraduate Diploma in Dyslexia and LiteracyÂ

This course is for those who have already completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Dyslexia/SpLD or equivalent at Level 7. The Postgraduate Diploma has a focus on assessment and leads to 120 credits with Middlesex University. The Diploma provides eligibility for an Assessment Practising Certificate (SASC accredited) as well as AMBDA (BDA) with Module C2.




CPD, TRAINING AND EVENTS Autism Seminars for Families: sensory needs insert now available A resource pack to enable you to deliver autism seminars in your local area. A cost effective way to help you support families.

Network Autism: free online discussion group on SEN reforms Take part in the new policy group dedicated to SEN reforms, read the latest research and collaborate with others.

MA Leading Inclusive Education

Looking for development opportunities?

Middlesex University The MA Leading Inclusive Education provides career development for teachers working in inclusive education, allowing them to explore the best ways of leading and managing children and teachers in an inclusive situation. The course provides an insight into the skills needed to deal with various conditions affecting children's learning, and allows teachers to gain a deeper knowledge of how good, effective leadership can impact children's learning and development.

Study MA Inclusive Education online and part-time at Middlesex University. Learn best practice teaching children with Specific Learning Difficulties - see the impact on your own work and advance your teaching career.

Do you or your colleagues work with children and adults with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties (SLD/PMLD)? If the answer is yes, you can apply now for the Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties programme at the University of Birmingham. The programme enables professionals/practitioners such as teachers, lecturers, nurses, therapists, psychologists and support staff who work in educational settings to develop their practice. Graduates work in specialist services such as special schools or colleges, as well as inclusive services in nurseries, mainstream schools and community education. The programme is offered through a combination of campus faceto-face and online learning, and can be taken at two levels: undergraduate (level H) and post-graduate (Level M). There are three core modules and successful study of these leads to either AdCert or PGCert. For more information, visit:

Study Specific Learning Difficulties with Middlesex University


Active for autism Improving sport and physical activity opportunities for people with autism by delivering training to sports professionals through an online module, face to face delivery and bespoke packages.

CPD accredited online training Autism, sport and physical activity online module is available as part of the Active for autism project. The online module introduces autism focussing on the delivery of sport and physical activity.

Autism and sport consultancy Sports professionals can arrange bespoke consultancy and audit packages dedicated to their needs to help them involve people with autism in sports and physical activity.



Various dates and times

What You Need To Know (The New SEN Framework) Webinar (1-hour) Award-winning, specialist SEN solicitor, Douglas Silas, comprehensively explains the new SEN framework in his weekly, CPD-accredited training webinars, available to watch on computers, tablets and phones. This training is aimed at both parents and professionals.

6 May

Measuring, Monitoring and Evaluating Progress: Value for Money Hilton London Euston For specialist teachers working with SpLD learners in both the public and private sectors delivering intervention programmes and discuss the implications the new SEND Code of Practice. £155 members/£185 non members

Various dates

Henshaws Family Open Days Henshaws College, Harrogate Regular Open Days for families and students to explore the campus, meet staff and students and learn how Henshaws could support you to achieve your goals. Next Open Day is 17 June. Booking is essential.

01423 886451 Various dates (as required)

People First Education SEN INSET training Effective, personalised, in-house training delivered by experienced, qualified and approachable trainers. Contact for information and availability. Online booking available.

01427 667556

Various dates (as required)

People First Education SEN Consultations and Observations In-house observations of learners, supported by teacher consultations followed by whole staff lunchtime/twilight feedback session and detailed, personalised written reports including recommendations and interventions. Contact for information and availability. Online booking available.

13 May

SENCOs and SpLD Reports: What Next? From Assessment to Action Hilton London Euston Designed for SENCOs who are not SpLD specialists to help them pull together the wealth of information contained in a full diagnostic report and use that information effectively to support the student £155 members/£185 non members

18 May

Raise the aspirations and achievement of deprived pupils and families Cardiff Practical strategies to engage the disadvantaged and focus funding and teaching effectively to help break cycles of deprivation. Key Speakers include Professor Robert Winston, Professor Steve Higgins and Geoff Branner.

20 May

Standard Tests: Interpretation, Action and the Graduated Approach Hilton London Euston The day focuses on the role of selected tests used in SpLD diagnostic assessment in the SEND Code of Practice graduated approach

01427 667556

£155 members/£185 non members





CPD, TRAINING AND EVENTS June 2015 Various June

Dyslexia training 3 June: Hull 11 June: Bristol 15 June: Hertfordshire 22 June: Cork, Ireland 26 June: Dublin, Ireland Strategies for the effective inclusion of learners with for educators and/or support staff, designed to successfully include learners with Dyslexia Online booking available

01427 667556

Various June and July

Visual Interventions and Social Stories 4 June: Liverpool 10 June: Gateshead 12 June: Birmingham 17 June: Harlow 23 June: Cork, Ireland 25 June: Dublin, Ireland 10 July: London Visual and auditory social and behavioural strategies for learners with ASDs, ADHD and related conditions. £145 + VAT. Contact for information and availability. Online booking available.

01427 667556

1 June

Supporting good transitions for people with autism Manchester Making the transition from early years up to higher education can be one of the biggest changes we make in our lives. This National Autistic Society conference will help you to develop a greater understanding of transitions and will provide various practical approaches for supporting children throughout the process.

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.

9 - 11 June

Three-day Structured Teaching course Prior’s Court, Newbury, Berkshire An intensive course for all working with individuals with autism which provides both the theory and the practical applications of structured teaching. Delivered by trainers with extensive TEACCH and practitioner experience. £295 professionals/£145 parents/ concessions Prior’s Court Training & Development Centre

01635 247202

10 June

Exploring Current Issues in SpLD: IT, DSA Reports, Local Offers, Mindfulness Hilton London Euston An opportunity for specialist teachers, teachers and other professionals to increase their knowledge and understanding of a range of current issues in SpLD practice. £155 members/£185 non members

12 - 13 June, 19 - 20 June and 26 - 27 June

The Autism Show in association with The National Autistic Society, sponsored by Hesley Group and Witherslack Group ExCeL London, NEC Birmingham and EventCity Manchester The Autism Show is the national event for autism, dedicated to the two million people in the UK who live and work with autism on a daily basis. Taking place in London, Birmingham and Manchester, the event connects the growing autism community with the latest information, advice, products and services on the condition. At the event visitors can hear from the UK's leading autism professionals; discover 100s of products and services; listen to adults on the spectrum talk about their experiences; learn new strategies and approaches for home and the classroom; access one to one specialist advice; and interact with inspiring and thought-provoking features. Book tickets in advance and save 20% at:

15 and 16 June

17 June

PECS Level 2 Training Bristol Learn practical ideas for advanced lessons in expanding language and communication within functional activities, plus tools for identifying communication opportunities across the day. Successfully problem solve PECS implementation and take it to the next level.

01273 609 555

16 June

Diagnostic Assessment: Identifying Dyspraxia in Post-16 Education Hilton London Euston This course has been designed to advance the understanding and practice of specialist teachers/assessors in SpLD diagnostic assessment to include the identification of students with dyspraxic difficulties. £155 members/£185 non members

16 June

Understanding autism and introduction to the SPELL framework London This course will provide an overview of the autism spectrum. SPELL is a framework for understanding and responding to the needs of children and adults on the autism spectrum developed through evidence based practice, useful in identifying underlying issues, reducing the disabling effects of the condition and providing a cornerstone for communication. This course is organised by the National Autistic Society.

18 June

Towards a Positive Future London This is an annual conference for parents and the professionals who support them. It covers the changes in health, education and social care law which affect families with children with SEN and practical and therapeutic strategies to enable families “Towards a Positive Future”.

Autism and sport – day one Birmingham This two day training course is for anyone involved in delivering sport or physical activity and who wants to develop on awareness and understanding of autism.

20 June

Getting it Right for Dyslexia, Getting it Right for All Staffordshire With Neil Mackay at SpLD Central, the new inclusion conference. Details and booking at:

17 June

Autism and sport – day two Birmingham This two day training course will help you recognise and understand what can be done to assist individuals to overcome key barriers and utilise strengths.

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PECS Level 1 Training Workshop Leicester PECS is an approach that teaches functional communication skills using pictures. This workshop will give you all the practical details you need to start implementing PECS immediately, including: demonstrations, videos and opportunities to practice.

01273 609 555

22 - 24 June

TEACCH three day training – with Professor Gary Mesibov Manchester The primary aim of the TEACCH programme is to help to prepare people with autism to live or work more effectively at home, at school and in the community. Special emphasis is placed on helping children with autism and their families. This course is organised by the National Autistic Society.

30 June

Early Intervention: integrating services, funding and best practice Central London Westminster Social Policy Forum Keynote Seminar with Carey Oppenheim, Early Intervention Foundation; Candida Brudenell, Nottingham City Council; Tim Davies-Pugh, Big Lottery Fund; and Ailsa Swarbick, Family Nurse Partnership and others. Chaired by the Earl of Listowel, Treasurer, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children.

30 June - 1 July

The Digital Education Show UK Olympia, London The Digital Education Show UK brings together the world’s leading minds in education and technology. Extraordinary speakers include Sir Ken Robinson, Sugata Mitra, Richard Gerver, Tim Rylands and more.

July 2015

25 June

Understanding and managing challenging behaviour London Featuring Professor Gary Mesibov, this National Autistic Society conference will present the latest research and best practice in understanding and responding to behaviour that challenges us in children and adults with autism. Key topics include: positive behavioural support, anxiety and its impact on behaviour, sensory understanding for classroom support and physical restraint – is it ever necessary?

25 and 26 June

PECS Level 1 Training Workshop

July (date to be confirmed)

Autism and sensory integration Cardiff This event is a great opportunity to gain an understanding of sensory issues and autism. It will look at how difficulties with sensory integration can impact on a person with autism, and at the main sensory integration approaches in practice. It will also discuss the use of sensory stimuli to encourage and support the development of language and interaction, plus strategies for teachers – how to make your classroom more sensory friendly.

1 July

SoSAFE! Social and Sexual Safety

Darlington PECS is an approach that teaches functional communication skills using pictures. This workshop will give you all the practical details you need to start implementing PECS immediately, including: demonstrations, videos and opportunities to practice.

Leeds SoSAFE! is a set of visual and conceptual tools designed to promote social safety for people with MSID and/ or autism spectrum disorder. SoSAFE! provides visual tools to enhance the social-sexual and social-safety training of these individuals.

01273 609 555

01273 609555






Autism in schools – workshop by Dr Wenn Lawson Birmingham This workshop is a must for education professionals. It will highlight varying learning styles, ways to build social awareness and understanding, whilst acknowledging different sensory issues and demonstrating ways to adapt school life to be truly inclusive. Dr. Wenn Lawson is a psychologist, lecturer and author. Being on the autism spectrum, Dr Wenn is passionate about the rights of those who so often cannot speak for themselves. This workshop is organised by the National Autistic Society. Lawsonschools2015C

10 - 12 July

New Forest Spectrum Lyndhurst Three days of music, dance, circus school, theatre, shows and activities with camping, exclusively for people of all ages with learning disabilities, their families and those in the care industry. Bands will include ABBA Revival, Kosheen (unplugged), Fleetwood Bac, Wille and the bandits, The Egg and more.

September 2015 16 September

Teaching Assistants: High-Impact Training and Effective Deployment London The definitive event, from Optimus Education, to ensure your school is maximising the impact of teaching assistants through effective communication, high-quality training and successful deployment in the classroom. Book using promotional code SEN15 and receive 20 per cent off your place.

020 7954 3434 SENISSUE76

28 September

Language of Emotions London Many people with autism have difficulty acquiring language related to expressing their emotions and identifying emotions in other people. How do we talk about things that happen inside us?

01273 609555

29 September

PECS to Speech Generating Devices London Learn to identify students ready to make the progression to an SGD. This workshop will teach you how to select a device, prepare the learner and trouble shoot. A full day interactive workshop.

01273 609555

October 2015 7 October

Child Development in Education: Integrating Neuroscience with Education in Policy and Practice Conference RSA House London The conference will examine what children really need in terms of the physical, social and neurological substrates that support educational success. The conference will cover theory and practice including evidence of the role of physical development in educational performance obtained from schools in different regions of the UK, and will provide a forum for the exchange of information between different professional disciplines, academics, policy makers and parents.

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.

9 to 11 October 2015

10th Biennial Conference of the Asia Pacific Society of Speech, Language and Hearing (APSSLH) Guangzhou, China The theme of APCSLH 2015 is “Education, Research and Clinical Service: Within and Beyond Asia and the Pacific” and it will be focusing on the issues of training, research, and practice of the speech, language and hearing science within and beyond the Asia Pacific Rim, benefiting more people with speech, language and hearing disorders.

25 - 26 November

Occupational Therapy Show NEC Birmingham Free-to-attend show for NHS, care sector and independent OTs with CPD training, education conference and exhibition. Around 250 exhibitors are expected to be in attendance, showcasing the latest products in assisted living and mobility. Lectures and presentations will cover issues such as mental health, physical support, and children and the family.


19 - 23 October

TEACCH five-day course Inspirational and intensive course combining active learning sessions with direct, supervised experience working with students with autism in a structured setting. Led by trainers from Division TEACCH, University of North Carolina and experienced practitioners and TEACCH trainers from Prior's Court Certified at Advanced Consultant Level and Certified at Practitioner Level. Prior’s Court Training and Development Centre, Newbury, Berkshire

01635 247202

November 2015 19 November

Kidz Up North EventCity, Manchester One of the largest, free UK exhibitions dedicated to children and young adults with disabilities and special needs, their families and the professionals who work with them. More than 170 exhibitors will be offering advice and information on subjects such as funding, mobility, seating, beds, communication, access, education, toys, transport, style, sensory issues, and sports and leisure. Running alongside the event are free seminars for parents and professionals. Topics include will include moving and handling, sleep issues, continence, direct payments, parental experiences, transition and legal advice.

20 - 23 January 2016

Bett Excel London The UK’s biggest education technology show returns to Excel London with an A-list of speakers and hundreds of stands featuring the latest tech gear for schools and colleges.

27 January 2016

Social mobility - raising teaching quality and reducing the attainment gap Central London Guests of Honour will be Heath Monk, Chief Executive Officer of The Future Leaders Trust, and Professor Sonia Blandford, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Achievement for All 3As. This seminar is timed to follow the publication of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission's annual State of the Nation report, due at the end of the year. Delegates will consider measures to raise the attainment of the most disadvantaged pupils in England. Sessions will assess the impact of the Pupil Premium, as well as strategies to raise the quality of teaching in the most deprived areas of the country, including the progress of the Teach First and Talented Leaders programmes.

17 - 29 March 2016

The Education Show Birmingham NEC National event for education professionals with conference speakers and seminars covering a wide range of topics and a major exhibition showcasing products and services for education.



Dress Up and Dance for Macmillan Cancer Support Friday 19 June 2015 Macmillan Cancer Support has announced that the fundraising initiative Dress Up and Dance will be returning to schools, nurseries and uniform groups across the UK on Friday 19 June 2015. The event encourages teachers and group leaders to sign up and ask their students to get dressed up and have a dance, in exchange for making a suggested donation of £2 to Macmillan. This year’s theme is “Legends”. Macmillan has worked with Stagecoach Theatre Arts Schools to produce a free fundraising pack full of teaching resources. The organisers are keen to point out that those taking part are welcome to choose an alternative date to hold their Dress Up and Dance event, should they wish to. For further information or to register, call Macmillan on: 0845 673 0720 or visit:






SEN resources directory Information, advice and support for all things SEN... ADHD

Information and support forum for those affected by ADD/ADHD:

Bullying Bullying UK

Dyspraxia Foundation UK

Support and advice on bullying:

Dyspraxia advice and support:

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

Cerebral palsy



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

Epilepsy Epilepsy Action Advice and information on epilepsy:

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


Down syndrome Asperger Foundation UK (ASF)

Down’s Syndrome Association (DSA)

Support for people with Asperger’s syndrome:

Autism Awareness

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

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

The Down’s Syndrome Research Foundation UK (DSRF)

Charity raising funds for medical research into autism:

The National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome UK Support for those affected by foetal alcohol spectrum disorder:

Charity focussing on medical research into Down syndrome:


The FASD Trust


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

National Autistic Society (NAS)

Cerebra UK

Help and information for those affected by ASD:

Charity for children with brain related conditions:

Research Autism

Charity focused on researching interventions in autism:

Bullying Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA)

Charity dedicated to reforming attitudes and policy towards bullying:

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

Child Brain Injury Trust

Supporting children, young people, families and professionals when a child has acquired a brain injury:

Crick Software

Clicker 6 is one of the most widely-used reading and writing tools in the UK for children with dyslexia:

Department for Education (DfE)

Dyslexia Action

The UK Government’s education department:

Charity providing services to those affected by dyslexia:


UK bullying prevention charity:

Beat Bullying


Learning disabilities charity: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


General SEN National Association for Special Educational Needs (NASEN)

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

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

Awarding body for the LOtC quality badge:

Literacy National Literacy Trust (NLT)

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

Clicker 6 is the child-friendly talking word processor that helps pupils of all abilities to significantly develop their literacy skills:

Information and support for PMLD:

Rebound therapy

Action on Hearing Loss

Deafness Research UK

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

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

Home education

SEN law Douglas Silas Solicitors Specialising exclusively in SEN cases:

Independent Parental Special Education Advice Legal advice and support for parents:

The Home Education Network UK National organisation for home educators:


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:

Charity promoting medical research into hearing impairment:

Communication Matters

PMLD Network


Hearing impairment charity:

Afasic Help and advice on SLCN:

Literacy charity for adults and children:

Hearing impairment


Support for people with little or no clear speech:

Crick Software


Spina bifida

New College Worcester National residential school and college for young people who are blind or partially sighted, also offering training and support for professionals:

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Support and advice to those affected by visual impairment:

Shine Information and support relating to spina bifida and hydrocephalus:

SLCN ACE Centre Advice on communication aids:

For the latest news, articles, resources, cpd and events listings, visit: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK



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SEN Magazine - SEN76 - May/Jne 2015  

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

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