SEN MAGAZINE - SEN78 -Sept/Oct 2015

Page 1

Sept • Oct 2015 Issue 78

Differentiation in action

Helping all pupils to access learning

Learning to love

Straight talking on adopting kids with SEN

How Asperger’s affects me

The joy and pain of life as an Aspie BESD/SEBD • dyspraxia • SEN publishing • working memory • diabetes independent sector provision • choosing the right school • TES SEN Show • school trips dyslexia • autism • recruitment • CPD and events • SEN news and much more

This issue in full Sept • Oct 2015 • Issue 78


The concept of differentiation is well established in our classrooms. Put simply, teachers are expected to adapt teaching to accommodate the differences between learners, giving all students the best possible chance to learn.

For students with SEN, it is one of the fundamental mechanisms by which schools attempt to ensure their individual learning needs are supported. For teachers, though, it can raise a number of key issues: how can they differentiate in lessons without putting excessive strains on their workload and without losing sight of the needs of the whole class? And what exactly should they do to make differentiation work in any given situation? In this issue of SEN Magazine (p.34), Sharina Klaasens examines some of the key elements of differentiation and provides an outline differentiation toolkit for teachers. Elsewhere, Murrough McHugh looks at how specialist settings can promote academic

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


and personal development in students with SEBD/BESD (p.30) and, ahead of National Adoption Week (p.36), Chris Burton talks to mum Claire Brasier about her experiences of adopting two children with SEN. Also in this issue, Emma Abdulaal explains how the right support can really improve the prospects of young people with dyslexia (p.51), Sonia Owen provides an insider’s account of life with Asperger’s (p.80) and Deirdre Donegan looks at how to choose the right school or college for a child with SEN (p.83). You will also find articles on dyspraxia (p.26), non-verbal communication (p.40), SEN publishing (p.42), working memory (p.48), diabetes (p.60), school trips (p.64), autism (p.67), independent sector SEN provision (p.93) and much more. For the latest from SEN, join us on Facebook and Twitter or visit:

Peter Sutcliffe Editor

SUBSCRIPTION ADMINISTRATOR Amanda Harrison 01200 409 801 DESIGN Rob Parry Next issue deadline: Advertising and news deadline: 7 October 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.

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


SEN news


What's new?


Point of view


SEN legal Q&A










Non-verbal communication


SEN publishing


Working memory




Book reviews


School trips




Asperger’s syndrome


Choosing the right school or college


Independent schools


TES SEN Show preview




About SEN Magazine


CPD, events and training


SEN resources directory


SEN Subscriptions

CONTRIBUTORS Emma Abdulaal Pearl Barnes Miriam Baseluoss Chris Burton Mark Chapman Beth Cox Lori DeMonia Kandy Dolor Deirdre Donegan Judith Hooper Sharina Klaasens Greg Loynes Thalie Martini Murrough McHugh Mary Mountstephen Sonia Owen Sally Payne Douglas Silas Richard Skelton Emma Sterland Alexandra Strick

SEN Magazine ISSN: 1755-4845 SENISSUE78

In this issue

SEN Code of Practice





Improving outcomes for dyspraxia


How OTs support children with dyspraxia/DCD


Hearts and minds

64 67


Learning to love

Planning school trips Thinking autism

Celebrating ability The inspirational relationship between an autistic girl and her sister

Straight talking on adopting kids with SEN, from one who knows


More than just talking

How Asperger’s affects me The joy and the pain of living with Asperger’s

Useful tips on how to communicate with people who are non-verbal


The right fit How can you find the most suitable school for your child with SEN?

Who’s on your bookshelves? How to ensure children’s books reflect the real experiences of kids


Diabetes in the classroom

How the cognitive styles of people with ASD can impact on their lives

What can teachers do to help all pupils access learning?



Making school trips enjoyable, rewarding and safe for all

34 Differentiation


Working memory

Supporting children with Type 1 diabetes at school

Promoting academic and personal development in students with BESD/SEBD


Sept • Oct 2015 • Issue 78


SEN provision in the independent sector How changes to the SEN system are affecting independent schools

Work that memory Improving working memory to open up learning



Looking forward with dyslexia

TES SEN Show preview A look ahead to the UK’s largest SEN show

What can we do to improve a dyslexic person’s future prospects?

Regulars 6 14

62 Book reviews

SEN news

100 Recruitment

What's new?

Is the supply and quality of new teachers causing problems for schools?

The latest products and ideas from the world of SEN


Point of view

103 CPD, training and events

Have your say!


SEN legal Q&A The SEN Code of Practice – one year on

Your essential guide to SEN courses, seminars and events

112 SEN resources directory




Learning to love


Looking fo rw with dyslex ard ia

To mark Nationa l adoptive mum of Adoption Week, Chris Burton talks to Claire Bra two children with SEN sier,


Ahead of Dyslexi a support can rea Awareness Week, Emma Ab du lly improve a dys lexic person’s futu laal describes how the right re prospects

ll adopters, however well prepared, take a huge leap of faith when they welcome a child with a complex history into their home. Had you considered the fact that your children may come with additional need s? “Yes, I think that this is a natural process that adopters go through, to learn about and to unde rstand that children from the care syste m will have additional need s and those will vary from child to child.”


henever I tell someone that I wor k for a dyslexia cha rity, they are alw ays full of que stio ns, rang ing from gen eral curiosity to outright plea s for help. Some want to know wha t dyslexia actually is or how they can spot it. Others belie ve they know all about it – “it’s that read ing problem , right?” – or they will star they are a child t talking abo struggling at ut a friend or family mem school, an adult stay ber they beli ing late at wor eve may be dyslexic k when the office is quie . Whatever t to get a repo the question, one thing is rt finished, or a parent clear: awarene wondering how ss and true understanding they can help their child of dyslexia is with their spel not as it should be. lings when they struggle themselves. We need to We all know find a way of that early inter making sense of dysl vention is a fantastic way exia for everyone of laying the , whether foundations that can help a person with dyslexia go

What do you know abou t your own son and daug hter’s histo ry before they came to you? “We were given as much infor mation as was available . But all adop ters need to accept that there may be unanswered questions whic h you learn to live with. There is also the question of what is genetic and what is envi ronmental, and the impa ct of each facto r on a child’s deve lopment.”

At first we didn’t appreciate the imp act of trauma or the impact of multiple foster placements

Employers should be aware of the po sitives of employing a pe rson with dyslexia

on to achieve to their full pote ntial, but when dyslexia awareness rem ains an optional part of initial teac her training, how are teac hers meant to feel able to identify and support a student showing indi cations of dyslexia? Teachers sho uld feel emp owered and comfortable in identifying children with specific lear ning difficult ies (SpLDs), not nervous and afraid. Employers should be aware of the positive s of employin g a person with dyslexia and underst and about reasonable adjustments . Employees should feel able to spe ak openly to their employe r about dyslexia and how >>

How and whe n did you begi n to become awa re that your children may need extra support? “At first we didn ’t appreciate the impact of trauma, for example sepa ratio n from a birth parent, or the impact of multiple foster placeme nts, but we learn t along the way.

36 Adoption SENISSUE78



51 Dyslexia WWW.SENMAG








How Asper ge affects me r’s


Sonia Owen pro pain of living with vides an insider’s account of the Asperger’s syndro joy and the me





The right fi t


t seems that while many people have heard of autism, far fewer people know about Aspe rger's syndrome, and fewer still have real understan any ding of how it can affect those who live with it. If autis m is not a feature of your life in som e way, it is often difficult to understan d the effects it can have on both the pers on with the condition and the people arou nd them.

Deirdre Doneg an parents of childre outlines the choice of schools n with SEN available to

What is Asp erger’s syndro me?

Asp erge r’s is a neu rolo gica l deve lopm enta l diso rder on the autism spec trum that affec ts how a person mak es sense of the world, processes infor mation and relat es to other people. It is characte rised by difficulties in Acceptance three main area and understand s: social ing are easing and emotiona Sonia’s journe l factors, com y on life’s merry munication and language, -go-round. and flexibility of thou Those of us ght. and feeling with Asperger’ sad and won s may also have difficultie dering how they so instin s with fine It is ctive not about putti and ly knew what to gross motor skills ng labels on As I watched do. and quite people; it is just abou and often listen ed to what they have sensory issue t gaining insig did, it helped s as well. ht and understanding me learn what . I should do. At pres ent, To a great degr autis m spec People with ee, my Aspe trum conditions Asperger’s rger’s was disguised and (ASCs) are fall at the high er I still was func seen as just considere tioning end primarily affec of the autism be a very shy d to ting boys, spec girl. trum and are and are usua very much unde lly highly r recognised intelligent peop in girls, meaning we le. Therefore all too often , generally speaking, we go under the are all too pain radar. It is diffic fully aware ult because that we are som the signs of autism can ehow different, be so subtle but not know ing why or how in girls. I am a fairly typic we are diffe al Aspie girl rent leaves us very in that I did a wonderfu open to the possibility l job of watc of developin hing other g depressio people and n or anxiety getting by using prob lems imitation; , both of whic in effect, I was h I have battl doing what with. ed I only wish I'd I thought was “right” or had my diag “normal” base nosis at a younger d on what age. I had seen othe Getting a diag r people doin nosis g. I have memories, from I went undi as young as Tes agno ting sed until the five or six times years old, of age of 26 and getti sitting at the Goin g thro ng the diag edge of the ugh scho school playg nosis was a long, hard battl ol as an round watching undiagnosed e. Many peop my peers Aspie girl was playing toge le ask the question abou ther, laughing so hard. I felt that I t whether diag and joking, was misunder nosis is necessary. To stood by teac me, it is vitall hers and peer SENISSUE78 y important. s alike. I knew I was different and so did they, but

We are all too pai nfully aware that we are somehow differe nt


oday, there is so much more although mos support in scho t senior scho ols than there ols now provide a spec ever used to be for children ial needs depa rtment or certainly with special a special need need s and this has to be a s teacher. At the prep positive thing scho . ol stage, child Child ren’s SEN also tend ren are sometimes offer to be identified ed extra help outs earlier and their need the classroo ide s picked up m and on more this is enou quickly than gh for some children. they used to There is often be. Having said this, pare a cost involved in this nts are still and it can be not always sure whether expensive. Some child their child need ren are simp s a special school and ly not able to manage it is importan important that in the mainstrea t that they identify a scho assessments m and a special scho ol that will offer are not carried out ol is the best the best too young as possible supp option. the results Where should ort. may not give parents begi an accurate read Stat e sch n, thou on gh, their ing at this ools can quest to find early stage. be very the right scho Once they are accommodatin for ol their equipped g and provide child? with an educ teaching ational psyc assistants for hologists children with report, pare SEN so nts can start that they can Starting the to look into be taught alon schools. Man process gside y factors will their peers. The first port Independent come into play in pare of call is gene schools can nts’ be more sele delib rally erations. It educational an ctive and som important to is psychologist etimes it look for exce may be more who will be able to asse llent pastoral difficult to gain care, a nurt ss a child and access, uring environm inform the parents ent and a of his or her WWW.SENMAG needs. It is AZINE.CO.UK

79 Asperger’s syndrome



State schools can be very accommodat ing and provide TAs for children with SE N

83 Choosing the right school or college



In the next issue of SEN:

PMLD • safeguarding • creative arts • spina bifida • epilepsy professional support for teachers • complementary therapy attachment • wheelchairs • parents’ rights and much more… Follow SEN Magazine on

Visit us at:

Join SEN Magazine on



Scientists find autism and creativity link New research highlights positive aspect of autism Autistic people may have fewer but higher quality creative ideas People with high levels of autistic traits are more likely to produce unusually creative ideas, according to new research. Psychologists from the University of Stirling and the University of East Anglia (UEA) examined the relationship between autisticlike traits and creativity. While people with high autistic traits produced fewer responses when generating alternative solutions to a problem – known as “divergent thinking” – the study found the responses they did produce were more original and creative. The research, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, looked at people who may not have a diagnosis of autism but who have high levels of behaviours and thought processes typically associated with the condition. This builds on previous research suggesting there may be advantages to having some traits associated with autism without necessarily meeting criteria for diagnosis. "This is the first study to find a link between autistic traits and the creative thinking processes. It goes a little way towards explaining how it is that some people with what is often characterised as a ‘disability’ exhibit superior creative talents in some domains”, says Dr Catherine Best, Health Researcher at the University of Stirling. "It should be noted that there is a lot of variation among people with autism. There can be people whose ability to function independently is greatly impaired and other people who are much less affected. Similarly, not all individuals with the disorder, or the traits associated with it, will exhibit strengths in creative problem solving. Trying to understand this variation will be a key part of understanding autism and the impact it has on people’s lives."

Problem solving Co-author of the study, Dr Martin Doherty from UEA’s School of Psychology, says that: "People with high autistic traits could be said to have less quantity but greater quality of creative ideas. They are typically considered to be more rigid in their thinking, so the fact that the ideas they have are more unusual or rare is surprising. This difference may have positive implications for creative problem solving." Data was analysed from 312 people who completed an anonymous online questionnaire to measure their autistic traits and took part in a series of creativity tests. These included providing as many alternative uses as possible for a brick or paper clip. Responses were rated for quantity, elaborateness and unusualness. People who generated four or more unusual responses were found to have higher levels of autistic traits. Previous studies using the same tasks have found most people use simple undemanding strategies, for example word SENISSUE78

People with autism may express creativity in a different way.

association, to produce the obvious answers first. Then, they move on to more cognitively demanding strategies and their answers become more creative. The new research suggests that people with high autistic traits go straight to these more difficult strategies. "People with autistic traits may approach creativity problems in a different way”, says Dr Doherty. “They might not run through things in the same way as someone without these traits would to get the typical ideas, but go directly to less common ones. In other words, the associative or memory-based route to being able to think of different ideas is impaired, whereas the specific ability to produce unusual responses is relatively unimpaired or superior.” Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive at the charity Ambitious about Autism, believes that lack of creativity is one of many autism myths. “What people with autism struggle with is fitting their feelings of sympathy and caring into everyday interactions”, she says. “Whilst it is true that some people with autism can have very specific interests and may struggle with abstract concepts, this research helps to highlight the fact that seeing the world in a different way can be a positive trait, too.” The research team hope that their findings will help researchers understand more about the relationship between autistic traits and how the brain adapts to problem solving in the general population. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Battle of the sexes for dyspraxia campaign This year’s National Dyspraxia Awareness Week will focus on the “diagnosis divide” between girls and boys. Taking place from 11 to 17 October 2015, the event will highlight what organisers the Dyspraxia Foundation say is the growing issue of girls, teenagers and young women “slipping through the net” in terms of early diagnosis Frequently falling over, difficulty walking up and down stairs, poor hand-eye co-ordination, short-term memory problems, lack of spatial awareness, difficulty getting dressed or applying make-up and illegible handwriting are some of the physical symptoms for people affected by dyspraxia. While young women with dyspraxia can struggle on through school, university and even in the workplace, without ever receiving a diagnosis, it can have a huge impact on their lives and their families. The results of a new national survey will also shed light on why so many girls “get by” without an official diagnosis and why they fall below the “professional radar”, as well as highlighting the benefits to young women with dyspraxia if introduced to special coping mechanisms from as early an age as possible. Once referred to as “clumsy child” syndrome, dyspraxia – which is also known as developmental coordination disorder (DCD) – is a common condition affecting fine and gross motor coordination, in both children and adults. Although the exact causes of dyspraxia are unknown, it is thought to be caused by a disruption in the way messages from the brain are transmitted to the body. This affects a person’s ability to perform movements in a smooth, coordinated way. Dyspraxia/DCD is thought to affect around five per cent of the population and around two per cent severely. Dyspraxia Awareness Week will include the “Funky Friday” event on 16 October. Children and adults are being asked to show their support for the campaign by wearing their most colourful or “funky” item of clothing to work or school. For more information, visit: On page 26 of this issue of SEN Magazine, the Dyspraxia Foundation’s Sally Payne looks at how occupational therapists can work with schools to support pupils with dyspraxia.

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

Help to get children’s DLA payments reinstated in hospital The charity Contact a Family has produced a template letter and short guide to help parent carers ask for their hospitalised child’s Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to be re-instated if it has been suspended because they spent 84 or more days in hospital. The charity produced the letter and guide following the Supreme Court ruling in July on a case brought by the Mathieson family from Warrington that challenged the government rule that removed DLA from their severely disabled son when he spent nearly two years in hospital. In an unprecedented step, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that taking away DLA from a disabled child after he had been in hospital for more than 84 days is in breach of his human rights and unlawful. The Court didn't say that the hospital rules would be unlawful in all cases. Instead this will depend on the individual circumstances. However, where a family continues to provide a high level of care to their child in hospital, they should be able to use the Mathieson judgement to get their DLA payments reinstated. Una Summerson, Head of Policy at Contact a Family says: “The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Mathieson family’s landmark case last month means this is the first time ever that the Supreme Court has found for a claimant in a social security case. Families affected by the DLA Takeaway rules when your child is in hospital should contact the DLA Unit and ask them to review the decision to suspend their child's payments.” Young people aged 16 and 17 are treated as adults under the DLA rules and have their DLA payments suspended after only 28 days in hospital. However, despite falling under the adult DLA rules, 16- and 17-year-olds are still defined as children under national and international law. If a 16- or 17-year-old continues to receive a high level of care from their family in hospital then they may still be able to use the Mathieson judgement to challenge the suspension of their DLA payments. For more information and to download the template and guide, go to: SENISSUE78




Project aims to improve mental health in autism A major new research programme is to investigate the mental health of people with autism and develop new interventions to help tackle problems with depression and anxiety amongst those on the autistic spectrum.

What do people with autism want to be called? The language that members of the autism community use to describe autism is changing, according to the findings of a major research project led by the National Autistic Society (NAS). The project looked at the preferences of people on the autism spectrum, their families and professionals. The aim was to identify what language people prefer, what terms they use, and what they don’t use or don’t like when referring to autism. The NAS says that the language used to talk about autism is important because it embodies attitudes towards autism and can help change them. The research, conducted with the Royal College of GPs and the University College London Institute of Education, analysed responses from 3,470 people. It confirmed that there is no one term that everyone prefers, as people make sense of autism in different ways depending on their own particular experiences and stage of life. “As expected, the research unearthed a general consensus around some terms – such as ‘on the autism spectrum’ – but different, sometimes strongly held preferences among and between different groups”, says Carol Povey, Director of the Centre for Autism at the NAS. The most highly supported terms were “autism” and “on the autism spectrum”, which were liked by autistic adults, families and professionals. Adults on the autism spectrum also like the terms “autistic” and “Aspie”, whereas families did not like “Aspie”. Professionals also favoured the term “autism spectrum disorder” (ASD). The research discovered that some traditional autism terms are barely in use any more. Only a small minority of people reported using the terms “Kanner’s syndrome”, “autist”, “pervasive developmental disorder”, “classic autism” and “low-functioning autism”. “Generally, the research shows a shift towards a more positive and assertive approach, particularly among autistic communities where autism is seen as integral to the person”, says Carol Povey.

The charity Autistica will fund a combination of world-leading experts and early-stage researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) and the University of Warwick to explore the mental health issues that often go along with autism. Roughly 70 per cent of individuals with autism meet the diagnostic criteria for one mental health condition and 40 per cent meet criteria for two mental health conditions, but these issues can often be missed. Just one-third are diagnosed, in part because clinicians can be more focused on an individual’s autism than their mental health difficulties. There is growing evidence to suggest that challenges with anxiety and depression can be as debilitating as the core social and communication difficulties of autism, yet there are no autism-specific interventions available. “This crucial research initiative stems directly from our consultation with the autism community”, says Autistica’s chief executive Jon Spiers. “A staggering three quarters of adults with autism told us that they wanted more evidence-based interventions to help with poor mental health.” A recent survey by the charity of parents of children on the autism spectrum showed that support with stress and anxiety was their number one priority. The Mental Health in Autism programme will commence with PhD fellowships at the IoPPN and the University of Warwick. The projects will use a combination of genetics, neuroscience and cognitive psychology to classify populations of people on the autism spectrum who may share similar characteristics and who would respond best to certain treatments. This research will lead to a range of intervention options as research suggests that a “one size fits all” approach is not suitable for such a diverse group of individuals. The project will also see the training of a core group of the next generation of leaders in autism and mental health research. Further information is available from:

News deadline for next issue: 7/10/15 Email:

The research findings are available at: SENISSUE78



PIP process disadvantages deaf young people

Assessment for vulnerable children is improving, says Ofsted The quality of care assessments for vulnerable children and young people is improving, a report from Ofsted suggests. A new survey by the inspectorate points to steady progress being made in the quality, efficacy and timeliness of the assessments given to children and families. Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, commissioned the thematic survey to gain an up-to-date picture of how effectively local authorities were carrying out their assessments in early help, children in need and child protection work. Inspectors visited ten local authorities and examined 123 cases. They sought the views of children, parents, carers and professionals from each of the authorities visited and its partner agencies. Good quality assessment is essential to build an accurate picture of a child’s circumstances and to ensure they are given the right support for their needs. Without it, social workers may find it difficult to identify whether children are being harmed or are at risk of harm. As a consequence, action to protect children may be hindered. In recent years, a number of Ofsted reports have identified poor quality assessments across many local authorities, especially in those judged less than good. However, the thematic inspection points to a steady improvement in this important area of work. Inspectors found that in 63 per cent of cases reviewed, professionals were carrying out assessments promptly and in line with the right timeline for individual children and families. In the majority of cases, social workers were talking and listening to the child and using their views to inform their analysis in assessment. The survey also found that assessments better reflected the views of parents, including close male family members. Parents told inspectors that workers spent more time listening to them than they had previously. The views of other professionals were also more frequently and consistently included in assessments and social workers were not waiting for an assessment to be complete before offering help to children and their families. The report, The quality of assessment for children in need of help, can be found on the Ofsted website: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

The Government is being urged to halt the rollout of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) until deaf young people have a fair chance to successfully claim the benefit. The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) says that the claim process strips young deaf people of their independence and makes them feel disempowered by requiring them to request an application by phone, leaving many resorting to asking someone to call on their behalf. Alternative options, such as emailing to request a form or an online system, are simply not available. Despite trialing a process where deaf claimants can email the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to ask for a paper claim form and developing a digital claim process, the Government has failed to ensure that this process was effective before PIP was rolled out, the charity claims. In addition, deaf young people have reported a lack of deaf awareness from staff during their assessments. In one case, communication support was not provided at an assessment despite a request being granted, but the meeting was expected to go ahead regardless. Others have experienced being refused PIP, only to receive a full apology and have their application accepted, once they decided to take legal action. “It is appalling that every aspect of the claim process for PIP is not accessible to deaf young people, despite it being a benefit designed to help people with a disability”, says NDCS CEO Susan Daniels. In an attempt to highlight how the current claim process for PIP discriminates against deaf young people, the charity has launched its PIP’d Off campaign, demanding that the Government immediately improve all aspects of the process, from the initial application to the individual assessment and final decisions being made.

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

follow us on join us on SENISSUE78




Supporting maths skills in children born prematurely A team of researchers is developing a web-based e-learning programme for teachers to help teenagers who were born very prematurely with vital maths skills. As one in every 50 babies is born before 32 weeks of pregnancy, almost all teachers will be responsible for supporting children who were born very early. “Many children who were born very prematurely, before 32 weeks of pregnancy, have learning difficulties,” says Dr Samantha Johnson of University of Leicester. “Of all school subjects, these children are most likely to struggle with maths. Such difficulties, even in primary school, can affect children’s prospects throughout their whole life.” The team’s research suggests that teachers often have poor knowledge about the needs of premature children, with many feeling ill-equipped to support such children’s learning, especially in maths Maths skills are reported as being even more important than reading skills in predicting life chances. They are linked to future employment prospects and earning potential. A three year study, funded by children’s charity Action Medical Research, begins in September 2015. “We are investigating the learning and maths skills of teenagers who were born very prematurely to find out which areas of maths they are struggling with and why,” Dr Johnson explains. “Importantly, we also hope to find out what types of support these young people need at school.” With earlier funding from Action, the team studied the same children when they were eight to ten years old. Now Dr Johnson and her team will explore how the children’s maths skills have developed from primary to secondary school. They will use the information gained in this research to develop a web-based, e-learning programme that shows teachers how best to support premature children’s learning, especially in maths. “In earlier work, we found that over 90 per cent of teachers in the UK wanted this sort of support. We hope to enable teachers to help all premature children to achieve their full potential”, says Dr Johnson. Further information can be found at:

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


Commission highlights inequalities in patient care Children with SEN and disabilities have a poorer experience of hospital care than their peers, according to a new report by the Care Quality Commission. In its first children and young person’s survey, the Commission found that the vast majority of children and young people said they were happy with the care received, thought staff did everything possible to control their pain and understood the information given to them by staff. However, children with SEN, disabilities or mental health needs reported being less happy with their care experiences. Almost 19,000 children and young people who stayed in hospital overnight or were seen as a day patient took part in the survey. Nationally, the results from the 137 acute NHS trusts show that nearly 90 per cent of all eight- to fifteen-year-olds said that they felt safe on the ward at all times. Roughly 80 per cent of children and young people said that staff did everything they could to help control their pain, while almost three quarters of those who have had surgery or a procedure received explanations about what had happened in a way that was easy for them to understand. Responses were less positive across all areas that involved children with mental health conditions, learning or physical disabilities. Only 45 per cent of parents and carers of children with physical disabilities and 49 per cent of parents and carers of children with mental health conditions or learning disabilities thought staff were aware of their child’s medical history before caring for them or treating them, compared with 59 per cent for parents or carers of children without these conditions. Less than half of parents and carers of children with a physical disability, mental health needs or a learning disability felt that staff definitely knew how to care for their child’s individual needs. This compares to 72 per cent of parents and carers of children without these conditions. Almost two-thirds of parents and carers of children with a physical disability, and 68 per cent of those with children with mental health needs or a learning disability, said the ward had appropriate equipment or adaptations suitable for their child, compared with 81 per cent of those whose children did not have these needs. The report can be found on the Commissions website:



Shining a light on SLCN English parents restrict child freedom Parents in England are more restrictive than those in other European countries, granting their children less freedom to travel and play in their local neighbourhood unaccompanied by adults. This is one of the findings of new international research by the Policy Studies Institute (PSI) at the University of Westminster. The research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, compares children’s independent mobility in 16 countries around the world based on a survey of over 18,000 children aged seven to 15 from 2010 to 2012. The study found that children’s independent mobility – their ability to travel and play in their local area unsupervised by adults – varies widely across the 16 countries. Significant restrictions are placed on children in nearly all the countries surveyed, with the research revealing that fear of traffic was the biggest factor influencing their decision. England’s aggregate rank placed it in seventh place behind top performing countries including Finland and Germany. Overall, Finnish parents allowed their children more freedom for almost every independent mobility indicator in this study. The degree of independent mobility granted to children in Finland is striking, with a majority of children aged eight allowed to cross main roads, travel home from school and go out after dark alone. Going out alone after dark is the most withheld indicator of independent mobility. Children of any age are allowed to go out after dark in only a handful of countries – Finland, Sweden, Japan and Denmark. The report’s authors say that England needs to develop its policies in order to improve children’s independent mobility, with the report outlining seven recommendations on how to achieve this. These include reducing car dependency and adopting Daylight Saving Time to allow children to utilise daylight hours and reducing road casualties. Previous work by PSI in this area of social policy has highlighted a continuing sharp decline in independent mobility with significant impacts on child development. Ben Shaw, Director of Policy Studies Institute, said: “Allowing children the freedom to get about in their local area unaccompanied by adults has been found to be important for their health and physical, mental and social development. Yet we have found that children around the world have significant restrictions placed on their freedom to get about – to go to school, to visit friends, and get to places to play. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Judging has been completed for the 2015 Shine a Light Awards, which celebrate excellence in supporting children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). Organised by The Communication Trust and Pearson Assessment, the Awards seek to recognise those individuals and organisations whose work has made a real difference to the lives of children and young people who struggle with communication. “The right support can make all the difference to a child or young person with SLCN”, says SEN Magazine Editor Peter Sutcliffe (pictured), who chaired one of the judging panels this year. “In these times of cut backs and shrinking budgets, the Shine a Light Awards remind us just what can be achieved when best practice and innovation are given the opportunity to thrive.” The Shine a Light Awards winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on 24 September at Pearson’s UK headquarters in London.

Making sense of dyslexia The 2015 Dyslexia Awareness Week will take place between 5 and 11 October in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and from 2 to 8 November in Scotland. The theme this year is “making sense of dyslexia”. The campaign will aim to raise awareness of issues such as what dyslexia is and how it affects people in their daily lives, at school and at work. During the Week, local dyslexia associations, bookshops, libraries, schools and community centres will be hosting story time sessions that encourage children, families and adults to find books that they like and get involved in reading. The sessions will feature books that are suitable for people with dyslexia and, in some areas, authors with dyslexia will be there to read their work. Further information can be found on the following websites: In this issue of SEN Magazine (page 51), Emma Abdulaal of the British Dyslexia Association describes how the right support at different stages of their life can improve a dyslexic person’s prospects. SENISSUE78



Working and playing together to create art Earlier this year, children and parents from North West Leicestershire’s Children’s Centres got together to create a unique piece of art inspired by childhood memories and to celebrate what they enjoy about the children’s centre programme. The families were at the heart of the project which was inspired by what the children love to do and what the families enjoy doing together. The sessions created opportunities for children to learn and explore through touch, colour and messy play. Using their ideas and input and experimenting with different materials and tools, the groups of families worked with professional ceramicist Rachel Barnett on a number of ceramic tiles that have been put together to create the bright, colourful and playful mural. The mural is now complete and is in place in the Warren Hills Children’s Centre. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK





What’s new?

ADHD Symposium

Adopters sought for Birmingham

The third annual ADHD and Allied Neurodevelopmental Services Symposium, organised by the ADHD Foundation, will be held in Liverpool on 6 November 2015.

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.

This conference will be of interest to any professional working in education who is interested in exploring the latest research and developments for learners with a range of neurodevelopmental conditions. Presentations include “How OFSTED evaluate outstanding SEND provision”, “Ten steps to effective SEND provision” and “Girls and ADHD”. Workshops include current practice in achieving outstanding outcomes with learners with ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia and Tourette’s syndrome.

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:

For more information or to book a place at the conference, email:

Ambitious College expands to west London Ambitious about Autism is opening a new campus for its service Ambitious College in west London this September. The campus will be at the Southall site of Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College. Ambitious College is a further education provision for 16 to 25-year-olds with complex autism which supports learners to gain skills needed to transition successfully to adulthood. The college’s first campus opened in north London in September 2014 and is located on the same site as Barnet and Southgate College.

Innovation in assistive technology at Bridge College Bridge College is celebrating a year of highs using assistive technology. A range of highly innovative approaches are used to promote learning, which has recently been recognised with students being invited to present at local university conferences to talk about the impact of technology on their lives. The use of state-of-the-art technology such as eye gaze communication aids enables students to express themselves. Students blew away attendees at their summer film festival. The use of specialist software and equipment allowed them to use their creativity to design scripts, direct and film.

To visit the college, call: 020 8815 5428 or go to:

To find out more, visit:

BDA launches new series of webinars for teachers

Round of awards

Following the success of previous sessions, the British Dyslexia Association is kicking off its 2015-2016 webinars with “Promoting the best possible outcomes for dyslexic learners in schools” on 30 September 2015 at 7pm.

A special awards ceremony for children and young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities was held at The Children’s Trust School, where learners including 19-year-old Jamie (pictured) were joined by family and friends to celebrate their achievements.

The webinar will be presented by Cheron Macdonald, a former BDA Teacher of the Year and SENCO. She will be talking about practical ways to support children in the classroom. Future webinars will include “Exam access arrangements”, “Dyslexia friendly schools” and “Dyslexia and mental health issues”.

Ros How, a teacher at the school, said: “Our Achievement Awards ceremony is very important to us. It recognises the challenges our learners face on a daily basis and rewards their accomplishments. It’s wonderful to see the smiles on their faces when they collect their awards, and impossible not to be moved.”

Each webinar is priced at £6 pp. For more information, visit:

For more information about The Children’s Trust School, visit:




Personal care with the new iHelp2

SEN Code of Practice eBook updated

Easylink UK have launched the new iHelp2 personal care device, offering location tracking, SOS assistance calling, fall detection and personal reminders, including medication prompts.

For 2015/16, specialist SEN solicitor Douglas Silas has updated his eBook, A Guide To The SEND Code of Practice. It now includes the updated Code from January 2015, as well as providing further relevant information and links.

iHelp2 is free from monthly subscription charges or rental agreements, and delivers tracking location direct to a carers smartphone, without the need of a call centre. iHelp2 is set up using a simple-to-use free APP (Android or iOS). IHelp2 has a ten-day battery life and it speaks to the user to remind them when it needs recharging. iHelp2 is compact, stylish, and lightweight and is available only through Easylink UK.

A new start for children Adopt Together is Faith in Families Adoption Service. Rated “Outstanding” by Ofsted, the service has placed more than 2,000 children with new families since 1948. These are children who need a new start with a new family who can offer them what they need most: love, support, patience and stability. If you’re thinking about adoption and could offer a loving, stable and secure home to a child, or children, Adopt Together would love to hear from you. To contact Adopt Together, telephone: 0115 955 8811, visit: or email:

“I hope that by updating my Guide, I am again helping everyone concerned with children/young people with SEN and disabilities, either personally or professionally. This is the essential guide that tells you quickly what you need to know or do, with links to the full Code plus legislation and guidance you need to understand.” For more information, visit:

Personal development into adulthood The ELMS (enrichment, learning and multi-sensory) is a new facility which showcases the values and ethos of Hollybank Trust: quality of life, for life. It is designed for young people and adults with profound and complex disabilities who want to continue their personal development into adulthood when college and other educational options are no longer available. ELMS has sensory environments, multi-media rooms including music, soft play areas, assistive technology facilities, art and hobby workshops and enterprise activities. It is enhanced learning and leisure combined and welcomes members from both Hollybank and the wider community.

HELPWorks at Hesley Celebrations for graduating students at Henshaws There were celebrations of achievement and determination to succeed when 21 students graduated from Henshaws Specialist College in Harrogate this July. All the students have varying levels of disability and have faced their own individual challenges in completing their courses and making the transition to the adult world.

At the centre of supporting people positively in Hesley services is their modern, ethical approach to positive behavioural support: the Hesley Enhancing Lives Programme (HELP). HELPWorks comprises the activity and values of every member of the Hesley Group team, working together to ensure HELP is delivered to the highest possible standard, to give people with autism, learning disabilities and complex needs, as much as they can, to support them to achieve and progress.

Angela North, College Principal, said: “This was my first College graduation ceremony and it was an inspiring and moving event. It certainly underlined how important it is that we continue to strive to enable students to achieve their full potential and to progress along their individual pathway towards adulthood.”

HELP could not be effective without the framework provided by staff, Hesley’s positive values, the focus on progressive workforce development and the high quality facilities providing class-leading therapeutic settings.






Red Kite’s 17-seat, five-wheelchair accessible minibus

The SEND Framework: Compliance and Best Practice conference

The stylish new Red Kite 17-Seat, Ford Transit wheelchair accessible minibus has a unique flat floor system, allowing up to five wheelchair spaces in the rear salon as well as driver and attendant seating to the front.

Challenges are emerging for schools just over a year into the implementation of the SEND Code of Practice, including the transition from statements to EHC plans and new obligations on classroom teachers.

It embraces the latest technology, including the use of aluminium structures for both lightness and strength, and is designed so all 15 rear seats can be easily removed, or when required a more selective seating layout can be created. For further information on the Red Kite range of accessible minibuses or to arrange a demonstration, call: 01202 827678 or visit:

This November at Optimus Education’s conference you can take away essential legal updates and practical strategies to aid implementation of your new responsibilities. Key topics being covered include the transition to EHC plans, parental engagement and the SEN funding system. Plus, put your questions directly to a panel of leading educational lawyers in an exclusive Q&A session.

The National Autistic Society’s Professional Conference

Tailored support at Orchard Hill College

The NAS Professional Conference will take place on Tuesday 1 and Wednesday 2 March 2016 at Telford International Centre.

Orchard Hill College is a nonresidential specialist college offering educational opportunities for students over 16 years old with learning difficulties.

Exploring new thinking and approaches and providing a unique opportunity to discuss best practice and share learning, it is for all professionals working in the field of autism. Key topics include, improving support for autistic pupils within special schools, multi-agency approaches to safeguarding adults, anxiety and mental health in schools, supporting those with PDA, creative routes into employment, play therapy, and motor development and its relationship to other developmental aspects. For more information and to book your place, visit:

Supporting VI students New College Worcester is a national school and college for students who are visually impaired. As well as running as a residential school, there is a 2015/16 schedule of free and low cost events to support professionals and parents who are supporting a child with visual impairment. Outreach open days cover different subject areas such as maths, science, PE, music, IT, geography, independent living skills and mobility, and other courses include an introductory course for working with VI students and preparing students for exams. For more information, see: or telephone: 01905 763933. SENISSUE78

The College strives to get as close as possible to its students’ home communities, to help them build a network of people who appreciate what they can offer to the local community and workplace during and after their time there. Based across five centres in Surrey and South London, Orchard Hill offers tailored courses and Traineeships to students with a range of abilities. To find out more, visit:, telephone: 0345 402 0453 or email:

Fresh Start for struggling readers and writers Read Write Inc. Fresh Start, developed by Ruth Miskin, rescues children aged nine and above working below expected standards in reading and writing. Fresh Start works because it gets children reading and writing fluently in 33 fun, focused lessons, using rigorous assessment so every child is taught at the right level. Fresh Start engages older children with age-appropriate comic strips, quizzes, amusing stories and edgy non-fiction texts. It also uses simple and effective spelling strategies to increase confidence when writing. Fresh Start is underpinned by comprehensive training from Ruth Miskin Training. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Project X Code Extra

Functional learning at Prior’s Court

Project X Code Extra brings 24 new titles, an action-packed Companion Handboook and a gripping animation to the proven reading intervention programme Project X CODE. Coming in January 2016, this collection of brand new books provides your children with a rich-mix of fiction and non-fiction titles featuring their favourite characters.

Staff, students and families at Prior’s Court, a special school for young people with autism and severe learning difficulties, celebrated the record number of ASDAN modules undertaken by students this year and graduates achieving at Diploma and Certificate level.

These hi-interest, low-reading-age books provide extra practice in books your struggling readers will want to read. They are in line with and recap the phonic, vocabulary and comprehension progression in Project X CODE.

The curriculum at the school focuses on learning that is meaningful and functional to support young people in developing essential life skills, communication and social skills. One of the graduating students’ parents commented on the progress made; “Six years ago we gave Prior’s Court one of our most precious possessions to care for. Today you give us back a happy, confident young man.”

To watch the animation and find out more about Project X CODE, visit:

Solving behaviour issues today for better lives tomorrow Children and young adults with emotional and behavioural issues need the help of professionals like you to help them thrive at home and in school. The Behavior Assessment System for Children, Third Edition is the gold-standard for identifying and managing behavioural and emotional strengths and weaknesses. With the BASC-3 family, you can move through screening, to assessment and intervention, tracking progress and obtaining multiple perspectives. Key topics being covered include the transition to EHC plans, parental engagement and the SEN funding system. Plus, put your questions directly to a panel of leading educational lawyers in an exclusive Q&A session.

The facts about play therapy Research from Play Therapy UK shows that play therapy can be particularly effective because, as children can’t or don’t want to talk about their problems, only nine per cent of session time is spent talking. Research and registrants’ case studies also showed that the therapeutic medium most chosen by boys is the sand tray, while for girls it’s drawing and painting. Hide-and-seek games are therapeutically valuable but have to be used with care. They are not for all children. For more information about training and research: 01825 761143 WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Open Day invitation to LVS Oxford LVS Oxford is one of the newest and most progressive SEN schools around, having only opened in September 2014. The open day on Wednesday 23 September provides LEAs, SENCOs, parents and other interested parties with the opportunity to see LVS Oxford in action, talk to staff about the school’s provision and ethos and view the outstanding facilities. Offering a supported learning environment for children aged 11 to 19 with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, LVS Oxford focusses on positive outcomes for learners by building their life skills and educational achievement. To enquire further or to book your Open Day place, call: 03330 067433.

The exclusive “Senteq Select” label Sensory Technology have launched their own exclusive sensory product range, appropriately labelled “Senteq Select”. The sensory products available under this new label have all been designed, developed and manufactured in-house by Sensory Technology and are only available for purchase from the company. The range originated as a result of feedback they received from their customers and includes portable products like the new Portable Sensor Floor and Portable Borealis Tube, which until now were only available as installed fixed products. To view the Senteq Select Range, visit: Tel: 01157 270 777 or email: SENISSUE78




New independent autism specialist school – Gwenllian Education Centre Gwenllian Education Centre is a recently opened independent autism specialist school in Carmarthenshire, South Wales. It provides school placements to children and young adults between 11 and 19 years old who are resident in Carmarthenshire and neighbouring authorities. The school is operated by a team of highly qualified and experienced staff who provide a relevant and meaningful school curriculum to students and it specialises in supporting children who exhibit complex behaviour. Gwenllian Education Centre provides modern facilities, latest technologies, excellent resources and generous spaces within a safe and secure environment. Its approach is based on ABA and V/B.

Blob School Blob School, by Pip Wilson and Ian Long, is an educational resource designed specifically for one of the main purchasers of the Blobs – teachers. This practical resource aims to cover all the key areas of school life so that teachers, assistants, school workers, pupils and parents can reflect upon a wide range of contexts and issues which occur throughout the school year. The book includes 47 images which can be projected upon an interactive white board or photocopied for whole class or small group discussion. Blob School is for children aged 11+ and is priced at £35.00 (ISBN: 9781909301382).

Royal Blind School

SEN Learning Resources

The Royal Blind School, based in Edinburgh, is run by Scotland’s largest visual impairment charity, Royal Blind.

SEN Learning Resources are student-centered Year 7 to 13+ workbooklets offering engaging, modern resources for adolescents. Workbooklets are filled with practical, active and relevant tasks that build skills and learning programmes.

Founded in 1835, it educates and supports pupils at all stages of their education and runs a pre-school playgroup for visually impaired children aged five and below. In addition to offering subjects within the curriculum, and extra-curricular activities, it prepares students for life after school by giving them independent living and mobility skills. The Royal Blind School is well established and continually develops innovative approaches to teaching children and young people with visual impairments. For more information, visit: or email:

SEN Learning specialise in developing PDF workbooklets for students who require support with their learning, high learning needs or SEN students, disengaged students, alternative education, literacy/numeracy programmes and transition students to ensure meaningful pathways for all students are achievable. View sample pages, titles and free downloads and order online. Use promo code: SENmag at the checkout to receive ten per cent discount for September/October:

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. SENISSUE78

SprintPlus software set to uniquely support students with dyslexia SprintPlus software uniquely uses text-to-speech technology to support dyslexic students and adults with the challenges associated with reading, writing and spelling. This year, Jabbla is launching the latest version of SprintPlus at the TES SEN Show (Business Design Centre, Islington, 9 and 10 October 2015) on stand P46. You can visit them there to find out more about the latest text-to-speech product, now available on the Disabled Student Allowance scheme. Free software and training is available for all authorised DSA Scheme assessors. More information can be found at: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Boost students’ reading and writing confidence

View new facilities at LVS Hassocks Open Day

Texthelp has recently released an update to its award winning literacy software, Read&Write.

The doors of LVS Hassocks will be open to prospective parents and learners, SENCOs, LEAs and other interested parties on Friday 9 October for an Open Day.

Now celebrating its fifteenth year in continuous development, Read&Write for Windows has gained new features which enable students to highlight words, passages or whole online Word or PDF documents and hear them read aloud. Extra support is provided with useful literacy tools, including Dictionary/Picture Dictionary, Verb Checker, Spell Checker, Fact Finder and Study Skills.

With two new buildings opening in September, the school for eight- to 19-year-olds with Asperger’s, autism and dyslexia is now able to support additional pupils and can offer facilities including a new social space and two storey classroom block with state of the art food technology room.

Following changes in JCQ Access arrangements, computer readers such as Read&Write can now be used to read exam papers, even papers that assess reading.

Key focus areas are independent living, social and emotional wellbeing, academic progress and destinations beyond LVS Hassocks.

For enquiries and bookings, call: 03330 067433.

Archie’s sensory garden

Pinocchio promenade at Slindon

Timotay recently completed a domestic sensory garden for Archie Page, three, of Broadstairs, Kent.

The students of Slindon College overcame their individual learning challenges recently when they performed in the school’s first ever production – Pinocchio.

Archie has a severe form of cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Due to his disabilities he spends a large amount of his time at home, being cared for by parents Debbie and David. Following a fund-raising effort his parents enlisted Timotay’s services to transform their unusable garden into a specialist play area that now provides Archie with a safe, fun environment for him to enjoy multi-sensory outdoor play. For more information about Archie’s sensory garden, visit:

Make your Voice heard Voice is the union for teachers, early years and childcare professionals. You never know when you’re going to need the support of a firm but friendly union to fight your corner at work. Voice offers essential protection, support and a range of benefits for workplace and personal matters to make sure you get the Voice you deserve. Voice provides: personalised advice; support and legal representation; insurance benefits; publications and resources; Voice Rewards giving discounts on a range of products and services including high street shops, cinemas, gyms and attractions; and a customer first standard. Find out more at: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

The performance was in the style of a promenade which utilised the stunning school grounds with views to the sea from the sweeping lawn and the manor house. The audience followed the cast on their adventures as they visited several locations, met with bandits in the Inn, wizards in the forest, visited The Field of Miracles and were finally swallowed by a whale. The pupils also utilised the school’s farmyard where they were transformed into real life donkeys.

Rosanna makes a splash to help others North West girl Rosanna Ogden, who learned to swim before she could walk or talk, has raised an expected total of £6,000 from a sponsored swimming event for national charity Heart Research UK to help other young heart patients like herself. Five-year-old Rosanna (pictured with other fund-raisers), from Adlington near Chorley, had a tumour removed from her heart when she was just six weeks old but has gone on to raise thousands of pounds for charity with her own swimming events at the David Lloyd Centre in Chorley. SENISSUE78




Point of view: parent

The difficult parent Judith Hooper looks behind the label at the reality of parenting a child with SEN


am sitting in a meeting. Around the table is a team of fellow professionals: physios, speech therapists, OTs and psychologists. They have been talking about a parent of a young woman with learning disabilities. The parent has just been described as “difficult”, “over-attached”, “unable to let go” and “interfering”. I hear these words and I take no action. Two decades on, I am sitting in a workshop. Around the table are fellow parents of children with additional needs. No longer part of the professional team, I am now a member of the parental team. Several of these parents have described themselves, confidently, as “difficult parents”. And this sets me thinking – if we peel off the label, who might the person behind it actually be? Who is the “difficult parent” of a child with additional needs? 1. A parent who is fully in touch with the weight of their responsibility towards their child. 2. A parent who knows that they are, and probably always will be, their child’s advocate and ambassador in the world. 3. A parent who wakes up in the middle of the night thinking: What will happen to my child when I’m dead? Will they be safe and happy? Will someone abuse or take advantage of them? What will happen if they can’t look after themselves? 4. A parent who may well, like myself and my husband, have been told that their child’s


prognosis will depend on how committed they are as parents, and how determined they are to practise therapeutic recommendations and provide the requisite support. 5. A parent who had not necessarily expected to be leading this life. They may have assumed, like most parents, that they would be taking their child to scouts, football practice, ballet or playdates with friends. In reality, they are taking them to appointments with neurologists, paediatricians, OTs and physios; they are preparing them for operations and MRI scans.

We do not raise issues lightly and there is no handbook Most people want to be liked. But the difficult parent is willing to take the risk of not being liked because their child needs them to, however uncomfortable that makes them feel. If they make a suggestion, check something out or follow something up, they are not trying to undermine professionals. They are trying to ensure their child gets what they need. Sometimes they notice things that other people don’t. Most of us hate having to intervene at any level. The worry about how to approach a professional may keep us

awake at night. We do not raise issues lightly and there is no handbook. We have to learn from our mistakes. This sometimes upsets professionals and makes them dislike us. A parent may have experienced painful encounters with professionals – medical or educational or from social services – in the past, and may be carrying the memory of these nightmare encounters like a tortoise carries its shell. Nine years ago, I was told by a medical professional that I had been irresponsible because I had temporarily accepted the assurances of another medical professional that our daughter was fine. That accusation changed me. It forces me now to listen more acutely to my instincts. This sometimes makes me very annoying. In theory, a professional can shut the door at the end of the day and get on with their life. A parent of a child with additional needs can’t do that. They are on call 24 hours a day for the rest of their lives. A difficult parent may be grieving the life they expected their child, and their family, to lead. A difficult parent may not have slept much in many years. A difficult parent may be determined that their child will live the richest, fullest possible life and be encouraged to show the world who they really are. If that’s the sort of parent I have to be, then so be it. Had I known this two decades ago, I would have stood up in that meeting and defended that “difficult parent”. Now, I understand.



Point of view: parent

Speak for yourself! Kandy Dolor reveals how her daughter has defied doctors’ predictions and found her own voice


can remember the day doctors informed me that my daughter Savannah would never speak due to a condition called global developmental delay, which can affect a child's cognitive skills, social and emotional skills, motor skills, and speech and language. Savannah was just two years old at the time and I was in total disbelief about what they had told me. I felt deep down inside me that what they said was wrong and I kept my faith. Savannah's paternal grandmother was with me when the doctors gave me the news and she too could not believe what they had said. She encouraged me to stay strong and had hope that Savannah would speak. Savannah's dad also dismissed what the doctors had said and we both talked to our daughter all the time. Over and over again, I asked her to say “mummy”, until one day she did. I will never forget that day. After hearing Savannah speak, I informed the doctors who referred Savannah to a group speech therapy session with other children. Unfortunately, though, Savannah made no progress there. All the other children at the session could speak except my daughter, and although it was good for her to be around the other children in that environment so she could learn, it was also very frustrating and unfair for her, being unable to communicate as she didn’t know sign language back then.

Turning it around I removed Savannah from the sessions and instead set up one-toone therapy home visits. These were WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

a big improvement and I realised that Savannah was benefiting from the individual attention. It was when Savannah started speech therapy at her special in Edgware, though, that she began to make remarkable progress. Since then, she has been able to say more and words and she is currently learning how to form sentences. Savannah is a very well behaved little girl. There are times when she might not be able to express herself clearly but she doesn't become upset; she keeps on trying and is a true inspiration to others. Savannah will always get what

All the other children at the session could speak except my daughter she wants to say across to others, one way or another, as she is a smart girl. Now she has her four-year-old brother who understands her special needs and is very patient, supportive and protective of his sister. If someone cannot understand something Savannah is saying, Damiyon will tell them what his sister is saying. Savannah's hobbies include photography, reading, writing, swimming, bowling, theatre and days out. She is also close to both her grandmothers and contacts them with video links on her tablet computer. It also has an app that helps her with

her speech if she is stuck, but she rarely uses it and prefers to try for herself, which I admire. Savannah isn't afraid to ask questions and is helpful, caring, loving and is a good big sister to Damiyon. Savannah dreams of one day having her own talk show and she enjoys watching video blogs. One day, she asked me to start her own YouTube channel (Savannah Dolor). I agreed and we started off by filming the videos on my phone, editing them, then uploading them. Damiyon, now four years old, also guest stars in her videos. Savannah’s story has received quite a bit of media coverage in our area and she was even contacted by one of the big supermarket chains who very kindly asked her to open their new branch in Harrow Wealdstone. Of course, Savannah gratefully accepted their offer. I hope Savannah's story and her online videos create more awareness about global developmental delay and that she is able to become a role model to others. Savannah is a very happy child, known for always having a smile on her face, and I am very proud of my daughter for all she has done and for everything she will achieve in the future.

What’s your point of view? Email:





SEN Code of Practice: one year on How is the Government’s grand plan for SEN working out in reality? SEN solicitor Douglas Silas addresses some key questions What were the main changes introduced by the SEN Code of practice? The main changes were that: • statements of SEN would be replaced with education, health and care (EHC) plans • EHC plans would run from birth to 25 years (instead of from two to 19 as with statements) • the two school-based stages in mainstream schools for the majority of children without a statement (School Action and School Action Plus) would be replaced by just one stage, known as SEN Support. One of the main themes behind the changes was to seek better integration of education, health and care provision. Many parents also hoped that it would now be easier to get a preferred placement named in an EHC plan as, apart from maintained schools, there were also new rights to request nonmaintained schools, academies and colleges. In addition, as well as every local authority (LA) having to produce a local offer, there were also personal budgets. Most importantly, it called for children and young people with SEN (and their parents/families) to be put at the heart of the process.

Transferred EHC plans are often just watered down statements overall with the changes, as they now focus more holistically on the child or young person’s needs. Both parents and professionals also say that they like the idea of working together towards mutually agreed outcomes, which now also take account of health and social care needs.

What does not seem to have worked? Unfortunately, although the vast majority of LAs said that they were ready for the changes, it soon became apparent that many were not. This included, amongst

other things, the need to now provide comprehensive information about SEN support available in their area (the local offer) and the process of transferring statements to EHC plans. Some LAs local offers were also issued later than required and then found to be vague or missing relevant information; some LAs have also found it hard to comply with timescales for transferring certain statements to EHC plans.

What are the timescales for EHC assessments/ transfers? The EHC assessment process (from initial request through issuing an EHC plan) is now 20 weeks instead of 26 weeks. Although LAs still have six weeks by law to respond to a request for an assessment, the timescales

What seems to have worked? All in all, most parents of children with SEN and young people with SEN themselves (who now automatically are transferred legal rights when they turn 16, provided they are deemed to have “mental capacity”) have been pleased SENISSUE78

Children should now be more involved in decisions about their SEN support.



for an assessment, the issues of a proposed EHC plan and finalising it, are left to the LA to determine within the full 20 weeks, as opposed to each step of the process being prescribed by law, as it was previously. The transfer process to convert a statement to an EHC plan is usually initiated by a meeting which starts the process, known as a transfer review. The transfer process is supposed to take 14 weeks (20 weeks less the six weeks to request the assessment) and this is supposed to include sufficient time to conduct a proper reassessment of the child/young person, although it is open to the LA/ parents/young person and the author of whatever report they are relying on, to use the same reports as previously, rather than having to seek new ones.

Have timescales been met? Although many LAs have been trying to stick to timescales, some have not always been able to comply and are saying that they do not feel that they have enough time to get all the information that they need now, especially as they now have to get additional information from health and care services. This has sometimes resulted in poor assessments being conducted too quickly, poor plans being produced or EHC plans being rushed out. It has also been noted that there now appear to be more refusals to assess or make an EHC plan after an assessment, and that transferred EHC plans are often just watered down statements.

Are there common approaches? Many LAs are really trying to integrate the spirit of “working together” when drafting EHC plans. However, some parents feel that there are now too many unnecessary meetings, which hold up the process. Some schools and/or parents are also being asked to complete “standard” application forms when making a request, but then they (and, in particular, schools who may have done a lot of the same WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

We seem to have undertaken this massive task at a time of funding cuts work for many different children and young people for the LA) find that their request for assessment is either still turned down at the first hurdle, or when an assessment is agreed, the LA subsequently conducts the assessment and then says that there is no need for them to issue an EHC plan. This obviously wastes a lot of time and manpower.

Are there any common problems? The most common problem that I have noticed is again to do with the transferring of statements to EHC plans being used as an excuse to reduce provision, or to make it less specific. I have also seen a number of schools that seem to have been given all the hard work to do by the LA for an assessment/transfer, but then found that they have been doing all of this work for nothing (as the LA has not used it). I have also seen LAs indicate to a parent that they will issue an EHC plan after an assessment and will even name their preferred school in it, only for the parents to then be told that an EHC plan will not be issued. Other parents have been told by LAs that their child’s needs are being met in the independent special school that they attend, which the parents are funding privately, so therefore there is no need for an assessment!

Is the system working? My main concern is that we seem to have undertaken this massive task at a time of funding cuts. I think that it is now going to prove unrealistic to change all statements to EHC plans by April 2018, as was first envisaged. Some people are even saying that it

may take eight to ten years. I think it would be fairer if we adopted more realistic timescales and managed everyone’s expectations, as otherwise we are effectively setting ourselves up for failure. Currently, every LA seems to have a different way of doing things. Yet each LA seems to think that they are doing everything correctly and that it is the others who are doing it wrong, which does not make sense if they are all doing things differently. On the whole, though, I do believe that we are moving in the right direction. Perhaps the pendulum has swung too far one way and it will have to go back too far the other way before it can settle down in the middle. I remain hopeful, however, that subject to there being enough time to effect a proper cultural change (for both parents and LAs), things will sort themselves out in the near future.

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.









Sunken Trampolines provide the perfect platform for schools, care institutions and families across the UK to enjoy safe and enjoyable trampolining.

We ensure our installations are tailored to the needs of each client.

For a free consultation and site survey please contact us and we would be more than happy to help.

Contact Joel 07801 573278 Angus 07765 256537 WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK





Improving outcomes for dyspraxia Sally Payne explains how occupational therapists can work in partnership with schools to support children with dyspraxia/DCD


evelopmental coordination disorder (DCD), also known as dyspraxia in the UK, is one of the most common developmental disorders of childhood, affecting around five to ten per cent of the school-aged population, two per cent to a severe degree. However, poor awareness of the condition means that children’s difficulties are often dismissed as developmental immaturity, leading to delays in accessing the early intervention and support that a child needs.

What is dyspraxia/DCD? DCD affects fine and gross motor coordination; however, difficulties often extend beyond the motor domain to SENISSUE78

It can be difficult for parents to access help for their child as demand for relevant services often exceeds supply affect memory, perception, planning, organisation and speech. For this reason, many parents and adults prefer to use the term dyspraxia, feeling that the term DCD detracts from the wider difficulties experienced. Difficulties associated with the condition make it hard for individuals to

carry out everyday activities that others take for granted, such as learning to ride a bike, handwriting, tying shoe laces, using kitchen equipment and taking a telephone message. Whilst it was once thought that dyspraxia was something that children outgrew, it is now recognised as a lifelong condition for many of those affected that can have serious negative consequences for the individual, their family and society, if appropriate support is not provided in childhood.

Early support Early intervention is vital to ensure that children with dyspraxia develop the fundamental movement and organisational skills that they need WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


to carry out daily activities, including those necessary for successful school performance. It can be difficult, though, for parents to access help for their child as demand for occupational therapy, physiotherapy, educational psychology and other relevant services often exceeds supply. At the same time, teachers are expected to meet the needs of more students with a wider range of strengths and difficulties in their classrooms. It is essential, therefore, that the health, education and the voluntary sectors work together to support young people with dyspraxia, particularly during their formative primary school years. If everyone involved pulls together, it is possible to improve these children’s school performance, their achievement and consequently their self-esteem within the school setting.

The role of the occupational therapist Occupational therapists are the health professional most likely to be involved with children with DCD and they play an important role in its diagnosis and treatment. DCD is formally recognised by the World Health Organisation and criteria for diagnosis are described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Occupational therapists contribute to the diagnosis by administering standardised tests of motor function (for example, the Movement Assessment Battery for Children) and gathering evidence of the impact of a child’s difficulties on everyday life from the young person, parents/carers and teachers. DCD cannot, however, be diagnosed by an occupational therapist alone and it is essential that a medical doctor is involved to exclude other conditions that could account for a child’s difficulties. Securing a diagnosis, where appropriate, helps by providing an explanation for a child’s difficulties. Diagnosis can also help families and professionals to access resources and support to maximise a child’s potential. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Embedding therapy into a child’s daily routine provides opportunities for over-learning

Even when a child with coordination and organisational difficulties does not receive a diagnosis, occupational therapists can help by addressing the presenting functional difficulties and identifying ways to enable the young person to carry out important activities of daily living at home, at school and in their leisure time, or by referring on to other agencies where appropriate.

Assessments Occupational therapists typically begin their assessment by identifying the everyday activities that a young person does well and those that they find difficult. They then move on to explore factors that might explain the child’s difficulties. For children with dyspraxia these factors might include poor balance and core stability, limited hand and grip strength, poor spatial awareness and difficulty sequencing movements in the right order to complete a task. Problems with working memory, planning and attention might also be identified. Understanding these component difficulties and their impact on a child’s daily life helps the therapist to make recommendations and offer interventions to address areas of concern.

Interventions Interventions offered by occupational therapists fall into three categories: Individual skills The first group of interventions focus on the individual, for example developing gross and fine motor coordination, using both hands together and developing hand strength. Occupational therapists also think ahead, helping children to


develop the foundation skills that they will need to manage more complex activities as they get older. This is particularly important for children with coordination difficulties who need extra opportunities to practice and master skills compared to their peers. Activities The second area of intervention focuses on activities such as pencil grip and control, using cutlery and getting dressed. Difficulties might be addressed by recommending alternative equipment or finding another way of achieving the task. Environment The final avenue for intervention is the environment. Environmental interventions include organising equipment so that it is easier for the child to find or reach, recommending more suitable seating or providing training so that the adults who live and work with the child respond to their needs with greater understanding. Whatever the intervention approach, the aim is to enable children to master and carry out the meaningful, functional activities that make up their daily routines at home, at school and at play now and in the future.

Working in partnership with schools Partnership working between therapists, young people, families and teachers is key to the Children and Families Act (2014) aim of producing better outcomes for young people with SEN and disabilities, including those with dyspraxia. Working collaboratively will help ensure that children’s needs are identified early, that limited resources are used effectively and that therapeutic activities are meaningful and relevant. Embedding therapy into a child’s daily routine also provides opportunities for over-learning which is vital for young people with dyspraxia.




Occupational therapists work in partnership with schools by: • gathering information about the impact of a child’s motor and organisational difficulties within their own environment, ensuring that therapy recommendations are contextualised and meaningful • recommending fine and gross motor programmes to support the development of fundamental movement skills. Some therapy teams provide training to enable teachers and teaching assistants to deliver motor programmes, meaning that they can be delivered over several shorter sessions over the course of the week and integrated into PE lessons • recommending or delivering school-based programmes to develop skills such as cutting and the perceptuo-motor skills that underpin handwriting • suggesting task adaptations such as alternative pencils and other school tools, such as scissors and rulers. Although these are usually recommended for an individual child, it is suggested that schools purchase several pieces of the same equipment and make them available to any child who may benefit • adjusting a child’s seating to facilitate a better working posture. Providing furniture that enables a child to sit with their bottom back, feet flat and elbows resting comfortably on the table (without hunched shoulders) will allow them to use their hands more effectively for fine motor tasks such as writing and manipulating tools and equipment. Good seating will also help their attention and concentration • helping teaching staff to reframe a student’s behaviour in the context of their underlying motor and organisational SENISSUE78

difficulties, thus helping teachers to adjust their teaching methods and identify ways to enable a student to be more productive at school.

Strategies for the classroom One confusing aspect of dyspraxia is that no two people with dyspraxia are the same, as each individual has a unique set of strengths, difficulties, motivations and circumstances. Strategies that a teacher or therapist has successfully used with one child may not therefore help another. There are, though, a number of practical ways to support pupils with dyspraxia in the primary classroom: • incorporate physical activity into classroom routines, such as a hand workout before a handwriting session and a five minute wake and shake activity for all children at the start of the day and after lunch • provide “motor break” opportunities for pupils who need movement to help them concentrate, such as wiping tables, handing out books or taking a message to the school office

Dyspraxia Awareness Week 11 to 17 October 2015 This year, Dyspraxia Awareness Week will focus on how dyspraxia affects males and females differently. Practical resources for teachers, parents and adults and information about the second Funky Friday fundraising event are available to download from:

Incorporate physical activity into classroom routines, such as a hand workout before a handwriting session • have a fine motor table or activity box available for all children to access • provide a variety of writing tools and encourage children to choose the ones that they find most comfortable • carry out a “seat audit” to check that all children are sitting appropriately. Provide lower tables and chairs where possible, or put a firm step underneath children’s feet • reinforce task instructions with a task organiser sheet on the pupil’s desk, describing each stage of the task and what to do when the task is finished.

Further information

Sally Payne is Head Paediatric Occupational Therapist with the Heart of England Foundation NHS Trust. She has recently completed a PhD study at Coventry University exploring the lived experience of teenagers with DCD/dyspraxia. She was previously Chair of the Dyspraxia Foundation and continues to support the organisation as a Trustee and Editor of the Professional Journal:


ASDAN Advertisement feature

Personalising your life skills curriculum Lifeskills Challenge from ASDAN is a flexible way to recognise and reward small steps of achievement, with a focus on personalised learning and progression. It comprises an online bank of challenges tackling a wide variety of topics that are important for success in adult life. For example, one challenge examines road safety for pedestrians, while another helps learners discover what community organisations do. Learners can complete just one challenge or as many challenges as required and receive certification to show what they have done during the year. They can even be given a statement of achievement after every single completed challenge; this can motivate learners and demonstrate progression to parents and carers. The practice of rewarding small steps of achievement is one of the key principles at the heart of ASDAN’s methodology. It is also one of the most important considerations for The Yellow House School, an independent, alternative and therapeutic education provider for students aged 13 to 17 with complex needs. The school’s ASDAN co-ordinator, Sam Greig, explained: “We aim to celebrate achievement on a daily basis and at every level. While we can say it, show it and write about it, there is nothing as tangible as the giving of a certificate from an outside source. This allows our students the opportunity to believe in and sustain a foundation of self-worth that has been eroded by past educational experiences. “We have always used ASDAN’s Bronze and Silver programmes to promote initial re-engagement with learning, but for some it can still seem like a mountain to climb. Overcoming a default setting of “I can’t” into recognising “I can” by taking small but very significant steps is paramount and Lifeskills Challenge allows our young people to do just that.”

Another feature of Lifeskills Challenge is the ability to write and contribute challenges to the online bank. In other words, not only can centres personalise the curriculum to meet the needs of their learners, but they can also reward each individual achievement with certification from a nationally recognised awarding organisation. At The Yellow House this has added a new dimension to their work. The school has recently acquired an allotment, which has been a great success in helping to promote a sense of responsibility and wellbeing. Sam said that teachers were now able to write their own challenges with specific criteria for any setting, such as working on an allotment, meaning that all learners’ accomplishments could be accredited. “Our staff can identify practical skills, emotional resilience and social development that may otherwise go unrewarded and accredit at a level to suit each individual,” she said. “Assessment by using observation and conversation, without formality and any undue stress, contributes to the overall performance. It is particularly helpful when you are presented with a young person who has an aversion to any form of writing implement. “The Yellow House is very excited about the introduction of Lifeskills Challenge which provides an avenue to formally acknowledge the development and diverse skillset of our young people.” Lifeskills Challenge is for learners of all ages, working from pre-Entry to Level 1. It can be used in a range of settings, such as schools, colleges, residential centres and training providers. It is particularly suitable for those with education, health and care plans but can also be used with anyone who would have accessed additional learning support.

To find out more visit: or contact:






Hearts and minds Murrough McHugh looks at how specialist settings can support the academic and personal development of students with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties


oung people with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD) and mental health issues present a wide range of challenges to their peers, their families, the communities they live in and the professionals who care for and educate them. Issues as diverse as social withdrawal, ageinappropriate behaviours, aggression, achieving below potential, risk-taking and unhealthy lifestyle choices can all be involved. In an individual, factors producing these behavioural outcomes often seem like a Gordian Knot, with strands as diverse as learning difficulties, gaps in learning, family issues, lack of positive or limited social experiences, mental health difficulties, hidden abuse and bullying all entangling to complicate the situation. The key to academic and personal achievement for these young people is a structured environment which closely supports and stretches them as individuals and community members. Successful SEBD schools take a holistic approach to their students’ learning and their personal development. They will remove barriers and promote self-worth through opportunities to experience success, and show them how to understand themselves, while meeting their needs positively and in balance with the needs of those around them. Debates are ongoing around the medical versus social models of dealing with young people with SEBD. Diagnosing and officially naming a difficulty or set of difficulties can help young people to access the correct provision for their need type. Equally, labels such as “SEBD” can be nebulous and inaccurate as, for example, aggressive behaviour may SENISSUE78

mask other, more accurate need types (such as being on the autistic spectrum) or frustration arising from a hidden speech, language or communication issue (such as difficulties processing a teacher’s instructions in a noisy environment). At our Learning Centre we have found that SEBD is closely linked to a wide range of other secondary and primary SEN, as well as social or familial issues. Getting to know a child by developing a trusting relationship with them and looking at their past history with new eyes are key to uncovering their real needs. An assessment of the gaps in a child’s learning or experience, practical support with issues relating to personal safety (managing risk, aggression, substance misuse, e-safety or bullying) and an evaluation of current challenges faced by the family all add to

The key to academic and personal achievement for these young people is a structured environment a rounded picture of the young person’s life as it stands. Once a student has been assessed in detail, in partnership with their family and other professionals, a range of interlocking strategies combine to create a comprehensive, tailored provision for them. All special schools provide a basic offer of things like smaller class sizes, high ratio of adult support (teachers, learning support) and a personalised curriculum. The

Work experience can help young people to socialise and adapt to new environments.



individual’s support package may also include things like: • nurture group sessions • one-to-one tuition for literacy or numeracy • a learning mentor to provide a single, safe point of emotional and social reference for a child, as well as a conduit to multiagency support and information • therapeutic interventions such as play therapy • Team Around the Child (TAC) meetings which can result in referral to a range of services • access to short stay residential provision.

Learning and teaching The higher adult to student ratios in specialist settings means that the forensic knowledge of each student that is required to address their needs as an individual, and as a group member, becomes possible. Delivery of lessons must be structured, appealing to a range of learning preferences and must communicate high expectations of both behaviour and learning in a climate of tolerance for diversity. Even if some doubt has been cast by recent research over the effectiveness of differentiation in mainstream schools, it is necessary in special schools where a small group of students may vary greatly in their SEN, ages, social abilities and barriers to accessing the curriculum. Differentiation is crucial to ensure fair access for all. Constant and consistent learning support is important. Learning facilitators can encourage independence and provide another consistent person to whom students can attach and form a supportive relationship. Physical changes to classrooms or buildings should also be considered, with rearrangement of whole group seating plans, individual work stations, access to ICT and sensory rooms, and access to physical aids such as pencil grips and coloured reading overlays, WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Differentiation is crucial to ensure fair access for all all playing a role in maximising the chances of each learner’s success.

Team Around the Child (TAC) TAC meetings are centrally organised meetings called when a young person is experiencing a crisis. Common assessment by the correct assembly of family, carers and professionals ensures the cross-referencing of information from different sources and perspectives to arrive at the most accurate assessment of a young person’s needs. New referrals can be made to an array of services and a shared plan for future action drawn up and left in the hands of a lead professional who then takes responsibility for central communications and keeps all accountable for their commitments to help the young person. When a crisis affecting one of their caseload is acute, individual practitioners can feel isolated themselves and TACs can be as supportive to them as they are for their young charges.

The nurture group approach For some students, even with the high degree of support they receive in a specialist school, accessing a full timetable without serious conflict or disengagement can still present enormous emotional problems. Nurture groups are small groups of selected individuals staffed by two supportive adults which focus on social, emotional and behaviour barriers to learning (recognising their own feelings, finding solutions to interpersonal problems and understanding the consequences of their actions). The aim is that nurture group students always return to their own classes – the approach is backed by research which indicates that this transition is more successful after students have accessed such a hybrid environment designed to bridge the gap between home and school.


Camps, trips and short stay residential facilities The opportunity to develop as increasingly independent young people away from the pressures of school is an important aspect of what SEBD schooling can provide. Trips are often used as rewards for learning and positive behaviours. Residential camps provide multi-day opportunities to get away from home and the norms of community environments in order for young people to gain perspective on their own lives and to broaden their horizons.

SEN and the Law Following the implementation of the SEN Code of Practice in 2014, statements are changing to education health and care plans (EHC) plans. They aim to coordinate the support available to families across their child’s education, health and social care, from birth to 25 years old. Pupils who have existing statements will have transfer reviews in order to change to EHC plans. EHC plans intend to put young people and their families at the centre of the assessment and planning process. The EHC plan process should help early identification of needs and work to a swift timescale, with a single plan outlining all the support a young person and family needs. The process is still in its infancy and SEBD settings are working creatively to find ways of engaging and eliciting the views and aspirations of young people and their families.

Personalised support plans Within a specialist setting, personalised support is all the more necessary. The diversity of needs within an SEBD school is vast and personalised learning and inclusive teaching strategies are vital in ensuring each young person has their needs met as set out in their statement or EHC plan. Within the code of practice, IEP documents are no longer essential; however schools must >> SENISSUE78



show a way of showing provision and progress. One way to do this is through a personalised support plan (PSP), a working document that outlines the provision a young person needs in order to achieve academically, socially and emotionally. PSPs are drawn up by school staff in consultation with parents and carers and the young people. They also detail stepped responses to managing behaviour in a personalised way which works for the young person but is also in keeping with school rules and expectations. PSPs help ensure staff consistency in managing behaviour whilst also accounting for individual needs. They also help pupils and families have ownership of the support they receive.

One-to-one interventions including pupil premium Pupil premium, additional funding for disadvantaged children, can be highly effective in raising achievement through the use of additional support such as one-to-one tuition. Within the context of SEBD schools, there is a recognition that in order to close the gap, however, sometimes pupil premium may be needed to holistically support the needs of the young people; this may be through the use of services such as therapeutic support. In making provision for economically disadvantaged pupils,

Personal support plans help pupils and families have ownership of the support they receive

Conclusion there needs to be recognition that not all pupils who receive free school meals will be academically disadvantaged and also that not all pupils who are disadvantaged are registered or qualify for free school meals.

Personalised learning plans (PLP) Some pupils with SEN will have been out of education for a long period of time and require additional strategies to support them and their families to engage with full-time education. Recognition should be made that sometimes the individualised support needs to extend beyond the highly personalised classroom setting; for example, a pupil may require specialised tutoring from the main educational establishment together with bespoke packages including creative ways to meet their needs.

Work experience For older students, a bridge into the world of work not only provides skillsbased experience but is also necessary for safe, supported and positive socialisation as they are introduced to new environments and professional cultures. In order to make this transition smoothly a young adult may need help with a range of issues, such as independent travel, work and daily routines, personal hygiene, personal presentation and interview skills.

Ethos, values and behaviour

Personalised support is key to improving outcomes.


risky and, at times, illegal behaviours, the school needs to have rules and measures in place that keep them safe whilst they are learning more positive ways of dealing with difficult situations and negative emotions.

The overarching aim of any school is to instil the moral beliefs and ethics of the school community into its students. This “other curriculum” should be enshrined in the ethos and values of the school. When students arrive at school prone to engaging in impulsive,

In the short-term, students entering a SEBD setting can experience a culture shock, because the expectations of school life can sometimes conflict with those of home, peers and local communities. However, over time, the personalised support they receive across every aspect of school life can help them build a different kind of mindset, through exposure to the norms of a caring, respectful yet highexpectation environment. Students with SEBD are no different to their peers in most ways; achievement meets an intrinsic need in all human beings. All people feel increasingly in control and optimistic about life when they have new experiences of challenge and mastery. Meeting a person’s needs (no matter how complex) is a powerful argument. A school’s values are the basic lever it uses to create significant change in its students. With the right support, young people with SEBD, many of whom have experienced incredible damage and difficulty, can often recognise these values and respond positively to them.

Further information

Murrough McHugh is Acting Deputy Head at KnowleDGE Learning Centre, a specialist setting in Bristol for young people with social, emotional and mental health difficulties. He would like to thank the school leadership team, and particularly Kate Wells (SENCO) and Nick Lee (responsibility for social/emotional care), for their assistance with this article:


SEN RESOURCES Advertisement feature

Kalm Training and Design – educational animation specialists We understand the value of clear, simple, educational videos which work across the spectrum of learning abilities. We know that animation is particularly appropriate in special needs education because it combines narration with moving images in a way that engages the senses. Our materials work well within a whole class setting but are equally effective where students can use their own computers. Sensitive subjects such as sex education and body awareness can be explained via simplified illustrations which convey all necessary facts and enable learning to take place. Sensory options such as music and narration can be controlled and tailored to individual needs. Our aim is to put the teacher, parent or viewer in control of whatever sound level or visual pace best suits the student. We can also provide supporting study materials. Visit:, call: 07914 076032 or contact:






Differentiation: the teacher’s dilemma Sharina Klaasens looks at what teachers can do to differentiate classroom work so all pupils can learn


ifferentiation, at its most basic, is about making things different for pupils with different needs, abilities, and rates and styles of learning to help them learn better. This includes pupils who present with disruptive behaviour. However, one of the challenges that teachers face is how to differentiate the curriculum for different types of pupils in their lessons. This seems to be exacerbated by the lack of a specific discourse for curriculum differentiation. Even though the new National Curriculum has a strong inclusive education focus and provides greater autonomy for schools, like its predecessor and as with inclusive education internationally, there seems

to be an absence of a specific discourse for knowledge selection, sequencing, pacing and evaluation. Findings from a transnational comparative study on special education in two countries seem to confirm this (see Klaasens, 2013). In addition, with the new National Curriculum, what appears to be a shift from a skills-based to a knowledgebased curriculum poses additional challenges in curriculum differentiation. Yet, despite the absence of a discourse, the expectation remains that teachers should differentiate lessons adequately to ensure all pupils make progress regardless of individual differences. What is suggested in this article is that delivery of the curriculum could be differentiated rather than curriculum content, to avert the danger of pupils losing out on essential knowledge. The diverse types of differentiating teaching have been well-documented and can be easily found on the internet. Here are a few ideas presented as a differentiation “toolkit”.

Differentiation toolkit

Teachers need better information on how to differentiate lessons.


Know It is first essential that we know our pupils. We need to know at what levels pupils are performing and we also need to know how they learn best. We also need to know what their frames of reference are, what their personal interests are and what their social and cultural backgrounds are. It is also crucial to know whether they have SEN or a disability, whether they have English as an additional language (EAL)

We need to know how our pupils learn best or whether they are gifted and talented (G&T). This is challenging simply because there is not enough time to first get to know them fully before we plan for and teach them. So, here are a few quick strategies: • talk to teachers who have already taught them • when you first meet the pupils, do a quick fun game to find out what their interests are or ask them to fill out a fun survey covering things like “my likes”, “my dislikes”, “what I do after school” and “my favourite food”. It may be helpful to draw up a brief profile on each of them. Even though this may take time, it is an invaluable tool to use when planning. The profile could include things like their current levels (which can be obtained from data on prior attainment and their most recent school report) • it helps to know what their literacy levels are. The NfER New Group Reading Test and Single Word Spelling Test are easy and quick to administer and well worth the time invested. The administration of whole school reading and spelling tests at the start and before the end of each year yields data that is invaluable, not only in determining literacy WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


levels but also for mapping literacy progress • learning styles can quickly be obtained by administering a learning styles questionnaire. This will help in finding out whether the learning style is visual, auditory and/or kinaesthetic. Combine approaches Use a combination of two or more differentiation strategies. Some examples that teachers generally find helpful are: • have a seating plan. You could, for example, seat pupils according to ability groups, needs groups, behaviour, rate of learning or learning style. Have those pupils who are most likely to be disruptive, or those who struggle, closest to you • in order to raise self-esteem and to motivate difficult to engage pupils, alternate duties in groups or in the class at large, such as, book and resource distribution, running errands and the attendance register • differentiate by any one or more of the following means – resource, pace, support, outcomes, objectives and tasks • direct questions to specific pupils to stop the more able pupils answering low level questions. Make use of closed and open questions • use a variety of teaching styles. You might, for example, use interactive lessons, use of a story, hands on activities, informal teaching, direct teaching, cooperative learning and inquiry-based learning. Assess Assess the effectiveness of the type of differentiation chosen: • the RMTAS model (remember, model, try, apply, secure) is an excellent tool. A RMTAS selfchecklist can be used to check if all pupils were given equal WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

opportunities for learning even though differentiation was conducted • another indicator of the success of differentiation could be pupil behaviour. The key here is that behaviour is usually communicating something. So we need to ask, did all pupils remain engaged with the lesson for most of the lesson? Which pupils presented with lowlevel disruptive behaviour? At which point in the lesson did the behaviour commence? Did they misbehave because they were bored, found the lesson too difficult or too easy or were they just not interested? It may be that the disruptive behaviour presented because of an underlying issue stemming from an SEN, low self-esteem and/ or problems at home. In these instances enlist the assistance of the SENCO, form tutor and/ or head of year to obtain more details and support in the lesson, if required. Review Review the differentiation strategies used. Taking the above self-assessment into account, look at whether there is anything that could be done differently in the future to avert these issues. Revise Once you have identified what you would like to do differently, revise your strategies for future lessons. It helps to obtain the views of support staff and it is also useful to ask the pupils themselves about what could be done differently to make learning easier, more exciting and more successful for them. They are often our most honest and informative critics.

Making it work Enlisting the views of colleagues and managers can also be useful. The SENCO, for example, should be an invaluable source of information

Pupils are often our most honest and informative critics

and ideas. The EAL, G&T and ethnic minority coordinators may also be able to share successful strategies. Compile a bank of resources that can be shared by colleagues in a department or even across the whole school. Enlist the help of pupils themselves to create resources. They are invaluable sources of creativity. It also empowers them, raises their selfesteem and increases their ownership of learning. Parents’ views should also be sought. Parents are usually only too willing to discuss how their children learn best, and they may be able to offer practical ideas that work for them at home. You should also try to recycle differentiation resources, other than just worksheets. Use the same strategies and resources in future lessons or in different classes that you teach. There will no doubt be pupils with similar types of needs, abilities, rates and styles of learning in other classes. Differentiation is about making things different to help different types of pupils learn well. This can often be done without breaking the department’s budget or spending hours and hours on after school work.

Further information

Dr Sharina Klaasens is an independent education consultant and former headteacher of special schools in the UK who is currently based in the UAE where she is leading on an NGO SEND project.





Learning to love To mark National Adoption Week, Chris Burton talks to Claire Brasier, adoptive mum of two children with SEN


ll adopters, however well prepared, take a huge leap of faith when they welcome a child with a complex history into their home. Had you considered the fact that your children may come with additional needs? “Yes, I think that this is a natural process that adopters go through, to learn about and to understand that children from the care system will have additional needs and those will vary from child to child.” What do you know about your own son and daughter’s history before they came to you? “We were given as much information as was available. But all adopters need to accept that there may be unanswered questions which you learn to live with. There is also the question of what is genetic and what is environmental, and the impact of each factor on a child’s development.”

At first we didn’t appreciate the impact of trauma or the impact of multiple foster placements How and when did you begin to become aware that your children may need extra support? “At first we didn’t appreciate the impact of trauma, for example separation from a birth parent, or the impact of multiple foster placements, but we learnt along the way. SENISSUE78



“My children were in survival mode which meant that they operated in non-stop flight-flight-freeze mode. This stemmed from an overwhelming mistrust of adults, which made activities as basic as holding hands to cross a road a showdown.” Were you able to develop strategies to help build trust with your children? “What we learnt to appreciate was that it’s not a case of ‘won’t’ but ‘can’t. Children with complex trauma are wired neurologically in a way that makes daily life very challenging and once we appreciated that, we looked at parenting differently.” It must have sometimes been hard to separate the child from the behaviour? “It can be overwhelming to hear about the impact of trauma, the devastating impact, and it’s an incredibly emotional journey for adopters. The most important thing that we came to learn was about neuroplasticity, about literally rewiring a child’s brain through restorative parenting. That was incredibly empowering.” How was the experience of introducing your children to formal education? “Moving to school was a lengthy and well-planned transition, taking over six months with a well-thought out and coordinated plan. I wrote a personal education plan style document for the school and that helped immensely. My daughter has diagnosed sensory integration difficulties which have meant that she needs to be managed differently, from holding a pen, to being allowed down-time with sand, water and music on headphones. “She struggles when her teacher leaves the class without telling her, and when that teacher does not reconnect with her when she returns, or simply sharing the teacher with 25 others – no mean feat for a child with complex trauma. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

“The biggest challenge which gets to the heart of the matter is that my daughter who is bright, avoids putting herself in a position where she can make a mistake (which is part of learning as we know). It means that she refuses to write, even though she can, refuses to take part in group activities for phonics and she simply walks away to the edge of the class. The thought of getting it wrong for a child with a negative internal working model, which is the foundation of their self-belief and which is rooted within them, is unbearable, so it’s a clear decision to not set themselves up for failure, which would actually in their mind confirm what they think about themselves, which is that they are ‘bad’.” How have things been for your son? “The plan is similar for my son, with educational psychologist involvement as we speak, and the move to an education, health and care (EHC) plan when he moves to school. I have spent years advocating for my children as they spend too long in nursery or school to be anxiety-driven, and my efforts have been worth it.” Have you received the professional support you need? “It’s been a struggle, and at times a battle, and it proves to me that adopters need to be resilient, strong and proactive. You are your child’s voice, their advocate, and it takes energy. I’ve always approached every agency I work with in an honest, open and respectful way. We should all be on the same page which is to help the children. “We have had excellent early intervention with SEN input, starting with an educational psychologist who specialises in children from the care system. We have since moved to the EHC plan stage and I am so relieved to say that my daughter’s EHC plan has been approved so that she will gain one-to-one help from next term and those around her feel that


Moving to school was a lengthy and well-planned transition, taking over six months she will probably need to move to an attachment focused school next year. “We all want her to wake up on a school day without fear and to be in an environment that is fully able and set-up to unlock her potential. Sometimes it’s just about knowing who to speak to, who to turn to, and from there help can be found. The adoption landscape is changing so rapidly and it’s welcome. I really do foresee great things on the horizon for adoptive families to access the help they need. The Adoption Support Fund and the revision of statementing to the EHC plans shows an holistic approach.” You clearly did a great deal of studying and research to help understand your children’s needs and to source the right support. You then took this one step further and formed your own support organisation. Can you tell me how this came about? “I met Helen (who later became my business partner) at an adoption toddler group, just four weeks into my placement. I walked in as a new mum in a state of shock . As a more experienced adopter Helen took me under her wing and our friendship grew from there. “Nobody else I knew understood what it felt like to be an adopter, to feel disconnected from some friends and family who tried to ‘get it’ but who found it difficult. Adopters don’t have the NCT network that birth parents do, and at times it can feel quite isolating, so the adopter community became a lifeline. >> SENISSUE78



“We grew our support network of parents who would go on play dates, talk about common challenges and so on, and from there the topic of building a community of support and services to fill the current service gaps and inconsistencies was born. We were both adoptive parents who had given up our careers to be with our children, but we knew that we could make a difference with our passion, energy and our experience in the changing adoption landscape. We knew that

National Adoption Week 19 to 25 October 2015 Despite the recent sad news that the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) has closed, this year’s National Adoption Week will continue as planned and will be managed by First4Adoption. The theme of this year’s National Adoption Week, which will run from 19 to 25 October, is “too old at four?” Older children waiting to be adopted are often likely to be in sibling groups or to have additional needs and there is currently a shortage of adoptive parents coming forward for these children. Sadly, sibling groups, those with complex needs and children from black and minority ethnic families are amongst the children who wait the longest to be adopted. During National Adoption Week 2015, local authorities, adoption agencies and all those who work in adoption will be working together to highlight the plight of these vulnerable children and to help them find forever families. If you are interested in adopting or would like to know more, visit:


I really do foresee great things on the horizon for adoptive families to access the help they need adopters helping other adopters was so key, building a community of support, and from these ideas we formed Cornerstone. We also wanted to show that we could work with agencies in partnership, in an open and honest way, to create families and to support those families. “We currently have funding from the DfE for a 16 month pilot which is part of the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme. We feel really privileged to be given the opportunity to be part of the adoption reform that is taking place in the UK.” What has been the most challenging aspect of parenting so far? “Moving our children from a situation of mistrust to trust; it has taken a long time to prove ourselves and actions speak louder than words. Continually striving to see my children’s needs recognised, to spread the word that trauma does not disappear the day a child is adopted into a loving home. Adoption does not erase trauma overnight. Adoptive children need to be recognised with challenges just as all children from the care system are and they need a supportive environment to rewire their brains. I am big fan of being informed on neuroplasticity and I’m always learning.” And what has been the most rewarding thing for you? “Seeing my children develop before my eyes and to discover the childhood they truly deserve. For my daughter to move from sensory integration challenges to now horse ride with such grace and ease and to swim as strongly as a dolphin. For my son, who was so

shut down as a baby, to now express his emotions better than some adults and to give back to us the mindfulness that we model for him. I have always said that the most important job I have as a parent is not to teach my children colours, the alphabet or how to count, it is one thing alone and that is how to have a loving relationship with a parent. When my children look at me and I can see for myself that they know they are loved by me, then I know I am doing a great job.” Would you consider adopting again? “Well, our business partnership is like the collective fifth child between Helen and myself… so I think that we have enough to cope with right now. What we do hope is that whilst we have completed our families, we can help others build and nurture their own families.”

Further information

Chris Burton is Communications and PR Manager at First4Adoption, the national information service for those interested in adopting a child in England, and the organisers of National Adoption Week: Claire Brasier is the co-founder of the Cornerstone Partnership, an adoption support programme working in partnership with adoption agencies: Please note that the people pictured are not those mentioned in the article.



Advertisement feature

Could you help change children’s lives? As a registered charity and voluntary adoption agency, every donation made to Faith in Families really does change children’s lives. Faith in Families is reliant on voluntary income to help and support vulnerable children and their families throughout the East Midlands and beyond. Every donation made to Faith in Families goes directly to helping the children, through adoption, children’s support groups, community outreach and school social work. Last year, Faith in Families worked with over 600 children and young people, and placed 33 children with lasting, loving homes. “Faith in Families has a national reputation for delivering exceptional high standards in all it does, so it is an honour to be supporting a charity that does such excellent work on behalf of vulnerable children.” Jayne Torvill OBE


support they might need. £500 will equip an adoption social worker to provide specialist emotional and practical support to families whenever they might need it, and £1000 will allow the charity’s children’s support group to take part in special trips, events or projects. £5000 supports a school social work team to deliver much needed intervention work to children, families and communities in crisis. There are many ways you can help Faith in Families make a difference – regular giving, box collections, hosting an event on our behalf, undertaking a sponsored event, business sponsorship, or making a gift in your will. If you could help us make a difference, get in touch today and request a free fundraising pack. Call: 0115 955 8811, visit: or email:

Raising just £25 will buy therapeutic resources for use in schools and £300 will allow an adopted child to access the much needed therapeutic SENISSUE78




More than just talking Emma Sterland shares some useful tips on how to communicate with people who are non-verbal “Just because a person can’t speak doesn’t mean they have nothing to say.” This is a very important reminder from a parent of a non-verbal child. Communication is a basic human need, allowing people to connect with others, make decisions that affect their lives, express feelings and feel part of the community they live in. People with little or no speech still have the same communication needs as the rest of us. We may just have to work a bit harder to find a communication strategy that works. There are a number of things that we can do to improve communication

with and for non-verbal children. In this article, I will present a number of useful tips and ideas for families and professionals that have been shared by members of the charity Scope’s online community. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, some of these suggestions might give you ideas to try. 1. Make it mean something Katie can clap her hands, so we have taught her to clap when she wants to say yes. 2. Level it up Playing and talking are easier if you can see each other. Sit so you are at the same level.

I put stickers on my forehead as a target for my son to look at 3. Talk about it Eddy can’t speak and also has limited understanding but it is important to keep talking to him about what’s going on. 4. Eye contact I put stickers on my forehead as a target for my son to look at. This reminds him to look at people’s faces, so people feel more like he is engaging with them. 5. It has meaning – it’s just not obvious We treat every non-verbal indication as a communication and try to work out what Gaby is trying to say to us. 6. Use mirrors If looking directly into your eyes is too invasive for the person you’re supporting, try using mirrors to see if they can look at you that way. 7. Do you want X or Y? When I am out and about with my non-verbal son, I say “do you want X” (tapping my hand in one spot) “or Y” (tapping my hand in another). He then selects a spot. We use it for all sorts of communication now – not just choices.

Communication is a basic human need.


8. Find other means of expression Give your child an opportunity to express themselves. Dance, music, drawing, painting, messing with textures, banging drums, shaking maracas can all be good – and join in WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


If you have a child with autism, it’s worth carrying a “surprise” card with you learning disabilities and/or other sensory impairments to understand the world around them. Use an object to symbolise the activity they are about to participate in, such as a fork for dinner or a towel for bath. 17. Word bubbles Carrie likes cartoons. We use cartoons with speech bubbles to make information more accessible for her. Sitting on the same level helps improve communication.

too. Don’t be afraid to lay down with them on the carpet and see the world from their point of view. 9. Puppets and singing Often, children on the autistic spectrum do not communicate with other people or make eye contact. Yet they can, and do, communicate – often verbally – with a puppet or even their pets. Some children find singing a delight and can sing wonderfully even though they use very little verbal communication. Use these strengths as an aid to interaction. 10. Create social stories I have been creating my own social stories using pictures of my son and clip art images. I have then typed up our own personalised stories. 11. Make flash cards Take photos of a non-verbal person’s favourite toys, family members or objects (perhaps a cup or a biscuit) Choose the most motivating items to begin with. Print and laminate them postcard size. Giving a choice of no more than three cards at a time, encourage them to choose by pointing or touching. It may also be helpful to WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

put the relevant sign on the back of the photo as a reference for others. 12. Carry a surprise card If you have a child with autism or Asperger’s, it’s worth carrying a “surprise” card with you for unplanned situations (like unannounced fire drills). On the card, have a surprise symbol (an exclamation mark) and “SURPRISE! We are going to x, y, z” (your child’s favourite place). 13. Instant mobile photographs Don’t forget to make best use of your mobile (if it has a camera) – it’s a fabulous instant device to use as a photo communication tool. 14. Signing We are so glad we taught Zoe to use [signing]. Although she can’t yet say any words, signing relieves any frustration no end – she can tell us what she wants, and the signs we use help her understand what we say. It takes a while but it’s really worth sticking with. 15. Objects of reference Objects of reference are a great way of helping people with profound

18. Communication passports A communication passport is a onepage document that the child has with them all of the time. It gives the people they meet basic information about how they communicate and what support they need. 19. Communication books and charts Some children can learn to make choices by pointing to a symbol and/ or a word in a communication book or on a communication chart. They might be able to point with a fist or a finger or they might be able to point with their eyes or with a head pointer.

Further information Emma Sterland is Digital Community Specialist at the charity Scope.

The tips above have been contributed to Scope’s online community by parents of children with disabilities and SEN:





Who’s on your bookshelves? Alexandra Strick and Beth Cox look at how we can ensure children’s books reflect the real experiences of kids


n recent years, diversity has become an increasingly hot topic in the children’s book industry, with articles and campaigns both in the UK and the US calling for more diverse children’s books. However, in using the term “diversity”, people often assume the discussion relates solely to culture, race and heritage. In fact, the need is wideranging, with a dearth of books relevant to additional needs and disability, for example. Gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, family composition and religion also need to be more visible. For this reason, talking about the need for “inclusive” books sometimes seems more appropriate than “diverse” books. When we discuss inclusive books we refer to great stories that happen to include a diverse range of characters,

without necessarily focusing on what makes them diverse.

Why does it matter? Inclusive books not only provide the opportunity for children who are often underrepresented to see themselves in books and as equals, but for all children to become familiar with characters who may look or behave slightly differently, or use different equipment to them, but who are fundamentally just the same. Having worked with children with additional needs, we’ve seen directly the impact that an inclusive book can have – from the huge grin when a child recognises a character in a book who is wearing a wrist splint just like the one they (reluctantly) wear, to the partially sighted child enjoying a tactile book designed specifically with his needs in mind.

Books should mirror children’s experiences of diversity.


The writer, illustrator and publisher must consider the whole character rather than just their impairment What makes a book inclusive? Inclusion isn’t necessarily difficult, but it has to be authentic. For a long time, a child using an oversized oldfashioned wheelchair (usually being pushed by someone rather than selfpropelled) was the only representation of additional needs that could be found in a children’s book. Fortunately, this has changed in recent years, with children now being shown, for example, wearing eye patches (and not just pirates), signing, and using other forms of mobility equipment. Some books even challenge the idea of being “wheelchair bound” by showing characters out of their wheelchairs – a wonderful antidote to stories in the past where children were magically “cured” by their “goodness”. In order for inclusion to be authentic, the writer, illustrator and publisher must consider the whole character rather than just their impairment, or whatever else it is that might make them "different”. Any reader will find it much easier to relate to a fully rounded character with a wide range of interests, than to someone who is one-dimensional and only included in order to tick a diversity box. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Children need to see that disabled people can have relationships, careers and a family, just like anyone else

Tactile books can be great for children with visual impairments.

Selecting inclusive books When choosing books, research and selection is key. There are an increasing number of great inclusive books available, but there are also a number that perpetuate stereotypes, or reinforce a single story. When selecting inclusive books for use in school, it’s important to look out for books with an engaging story and high-quality illustrations, characters who have a variety of interests and those using modern equipment and who are playing alongside their peers. Books that show that parents and grandparents can be disabled too are also essential; children need to see that disabled people can have relationships, careers and a family, just like anyone else. The case of the child who thought their impairment would disappear when they grew up because they never saw any disabled adults is indicative of the importance of this.

Making a difference So what’s being done about this and how can you be involved? To ensure real and lasting change in terms of inclusive and accessible books, all WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

sectors of the children’s book world need to be involved. Writers and illustrators from different backgrounds need to be given the opportunity to get published; agents and scouts need to be on the lookout for compelling stories which include characters from under or misrepresented backgrounds; young people and adults with real experience need to be consulted to

Charters for change

Everybody In charters have been developed for the publishing and bookselling industries as a result of the recent A Place at the Table event, a roundtable forum where publishers, booksellers, teachers and librarians came together to show their support for a more inclusive children’s book world, debate the barriers to change, and identify practical and commercially sound solutions. The possibility of developing charter material for use in schools and libraries is being explored with the relevant agencies and organisations.

ensure authenticity; publishing houses need diverse workforces; libraries and booksellers need to be able to find, stock and display more inclusive titles; schools need the tools to source good inclusive and accessible books; book reviews and blogs need to highlight the best new inclusive titles – and so the list goes on. Schools can support this by, for example, carefully selecting the books that they stock, and aiming to have a fully inclusive book collection (rather than a separate section) and by seeking out and supporting publishers, authors, illustrators and booksellers who create and curate high-quality inclusive books. Various events and initiatives are allowing the children’s book world to explore ways of achieving true inclusivity. One of these encourages people, from publishers to teachers, to consider what action they personally could take as a step towards inclusivity. Because if we all do one small thing to make a change, the cumulative result will be far greater than the sum of the parts. Are you in?

Further information

Alexandra Strick and Beth Cox are the founders of Inclusive Minds, a collaboration of consultants and campaigners working towards inclusion, diversity, equality and accessibility in children's books:





Advertisement feature

Strawberry Jam Books Strawberry Jam Books produce stories and resources that make a difference. Aimed at all children from preschool to age 12, but particularly at those with specific needs, the books promote kindness, inclusion, friendship and understanding of ourselves and others. As well as the free online stories and resources, there are paperbacks that range from stories where heroes and heroines just happen to have disabilities, to short novels that deal with different issues such as mental illness or bullying. In addition, for primary schools and children’s groups The Friendship Adventure is a project of games and activities that promote the values of understanding, thinking of others, friendships and inclusion in a fun and interactive way. Stories for Feelings and The Forever Tree are two colour-illustrated books that help children deal with emotions and feelings. They are available from Amazon. For details of all resources, visit: SENISSUE78

Advertisement feature

Latest releases from Ransom Publishing New from Ransom Publishing are four fiction stories featuring the traveller community. The books in The Travellers all cover a single story arc, with each book focusing on one of four characters involved: Tess, Mike, Lizzie and Ben. Tess and Ben are siblings from a non-traveller, or “gorger”, family: Tess loves horses and makes friends with the travellers. Ben is hostile to them. Mike and Lizzie are travellers: Mike keeps horses and his younger sister Lizzie is very creative. Rosemary Hayes spent time with traveller families before writing these books and it really shows in these stories: the narratives are realistic, balanced and insightful, revealing much that is positive about traveller communities. These are compelling reads about teenagers from different backgrounds trying to make their dreams a reality. Interest Age: nine to 13 Reading Age: ten Pack of four books: £25.50 Individual titles: £6.99,, 01730 829 091 WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK



Work that memory Advances in our understanding of working memory are opening up new opportunities for learning, writes Richard Skelton


wide range of abilities develop during childhood that enable us to think and learn. For instance, we know that a five-year-old will struggle to remember the details of what they did at the weekend compared to a nineyear-old, and we know that a sevenyear-old will be less able to remember a series of facts read in a book than a 12-year-old. These are just two types of memory (that neuropsychologists call episodic memory and semantic memory) which naturally develop as children get older. However, for learning, we’ve recently discovered that there is one ability which is more important than all others. This is called working memory. We use our working memory when we hold on to or store some information in our head for a short period of time (seconds), and when we use or process this information in some way.


So, when we try to do something with information, this is what puts the work into working memory; when you see children work, they are using their working memory. You are using your working memory right now to process and understand what you’re reading. If you were to come across a word you didn’t recognise, you may fastidiously sound it out and use the passage context to give it meaning. This all relies on your capacity to process information; it relies on your working memory. And this is just the start. In fact, I can guarantee you that you've used your working memory hundreds, if not thousands, of times today already; every time you have read, listened to someone speak, or even had a thought, you've used it to make sense of the information. For children, working memory is essential to enable them to achieve success in reading, maths, and comprehension.

You are using your working memory right now to process and understand what you’re reading This makes sense when we think about how children learn; it isn’t a passive process but instead we are constantly asking them to process and think about information. From mental maths, to blending and segmenting in phonics, children need this processing capacity to achieve.

How can we assess children’s working memory? Using our working memory is perhaps most clear when we stretch its capacity; at this time we need to hold on to information and really process it to achieve a solution. A classic example of a working memory assessment is this: Remember these numbers: 2, 8, 3, 7, 5. Now, hold on to them, close your eyes and try to say them out loud, but backwards. See how you had to both store and process the information; that’s what we ask children to do in every lesson we teach. You can try this brief assessment out with children. Start by asking them to repeat back a series of numbers in the same order that you say them, starting with just two numbers and increasing the amount each time they get one right. Next, do the same again, but this time ask them to say the numbers to you in reverse order. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


distracted that they often forget what they were thinking about half way through the process and have to start over (imagine trying to do a mental maths calculation while someone whispers a string of random numbers in your ear). When we understand what working memory is, we know why these children are not achieving in class. We can now identify why they are struggling and we can help them.

Can we increase children’s working memory?

What about children with poor working memory? These children are the ones who find it difficult to follow instructions, who forget what they are doing, and can’t think as quickly as the other children. They are the ones who struggle with reading, spelling, or maths. They are the ones that we intuitively help by acting as their working memory and breaking down tasks for them to give them less information to process. Often, children with working memory difficulties underachieve across the whole curriculum. However, some children may have strengths in other learning areas which may compensate for their working memory difficulties. These are often the children that, when we look at how they are reading, they’re using a whole word approach, where they visually remember each individual word and how it sounds because they don’t have the capacity to use phonics. For these children, they often plateau with their reading around the age of nine years, but continue to demonstrate difficulties with their comprehension, maths, and general achievement across the rest of the curriculum. For other children, often those with ADHD, they can hold a good capacity to process information but are so easily WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Let’s think about this for a second: what would happen if we improved working memory? What would a child look like if their working memory suddenly improved? Fundamentally, if we can improve children’s working memory, we can help children become better able to achieve throughout the curriculum. Recent advances in our understanding of the human brain have demonstrated that we can actually help to improve children’s working memory capacity. In fact, we have long known that the brain changes when we intensively practice a skill. For example, we can actually see that the brains of skilled musicians are roughly 25 per cent larger in certain areas than non-musicians. Until recently, working memory seemed as if it was a bit more stubborn and unchangeable. As it turns out, although complex, we now know how to train it in just the right way to lead to improvements. A useful metaphor for understanding how this training works is to think of the brain as a bit like a muscle. For instance, we use our arm muscles to lift things such as a pen, phones, mugs of tea and thousands of other small movements every day. Using it in this way helps to stop them from wasting away, but lifting up a pen won’t strengthen our arm muscles. Instead, if we want to increase our muscles, we have to stretch them to their limits by lifting heavy weights. The heavier the weights, and the more frequent we lift them, the bigger our muscles get. In

Children with working memory difficulties underachieve across the whole curriculum

the same way, to increase children’s working memory we need to provide them with a range of targeted activities which actively stretches their capacity in just the right way.

What can schools do? This is an exciting time for schools. We now know that we can improve children’s working memory, and there are more and more ways in which schools are achieving this. The first demonstrations came from computerised programmes and there have also been advances in developing practical programmes for the classroom. These programmes are increasingly being used as a core part of the school day around the country. Beyond increasing children’s capacity to learn, they often feel a renewed sense of confidence in their learning and teachers are gaining a whole new insight into how children are able to learn. With neuroscientists, psychologists and educationalists continuing to advance our understanding of children’s brain development and methods to improve their intelligence, how long will it be until a full cognitive curriculum is just another part of the school day?

Further information

Dr Richard Skelton is a child and educational psychologist specialising in neuropsychology. He works developing practical programmes that raise attainment across the whole school and is the creator of MeeMo: meemo










Looking forward with dyslexia Ahead of Dyslexia Awareness Week, Emma Abdulaal describes how the right support can really improve a dyslexic person’s future prospects


henever I tell someone that I work for a dyslexia charity, they are always full of questions, ranging from general curiosity to outright pleas for help. Some want to know what dyslexia actually is or how they can spot it. Others believe they know all about it – “it’s that reading problem, right?” – or they will start talking about a friend or family member they believe may be dyslexic. Whatever the question, one thing is clear: awareness and true understanding of dyslexia is not as it should be. We need to find a way of making sense of dyslexia for everyone, whether


Employers should be aware of the positives of employing a person with dyslexia they are a child struggling at school, an adult staying late at work when the office is quiet to get a report finished, or a parent wondering how they can help their child with their spellings when they struggle themselves. We all know that early intervention is a fantastic way of laying the foundations that can help a person with dyslexia go

on to achieve to their full potential, but when dyslexia awareness remains an optional part of initial teacher training, how are teachers meant to feel able to identify and support a student showing indications of dyslexia? Teachers should feel empowered and comfortable in identifying children with specific learning difficulties (SpLDs), not nervous and afraid. Employers should be aware of the positives of employing a person with dyslexia and understand about reasonable adjustments. Employees should feel able to speak openly to their employer about dyslexia and how >>




it affects them, without fear of being held back. The theme for this year’s Dyslexia Awareness Week is “Making Sense of Dyslexia” and in this article I try to do just that by looking at how dyslexia affects people in different parts of their life – at home, in education and in the workplace.

At home The issues that can arise from dyslexia at home can range from encouraging a reluctant reader, to supporting a parent with dyslexia. One of the most important things for a parent or carer with a child with dyslexia is to realise that they are not alone. Joining a local dyslexia association or group and speaking with other parents in a similar situation can help take the fear out of what you are doing and give you advice from others on what has helped and what hasn’t. When it comes to identifying the main problems facing people trying to support their child at home, a lot of it comes down to frustration. Many parents think that their child is the only one having difficulties. It is important to remember that you are not the only parent having these feelings. As can often be the case, a parent may suspect dyslexia in their child and want to both get and offer support for them, but because the child’s dyslexia has not been officially identified, they don’t know where to start. There are

numerous identification lists available online that offer indications and signs of dyslexia to be aware of for different age groups. It is also important to raise any concerns with your child’s school by making an appointment with the school SENCO. When it comes to being a parent struggling to support their child at home, the best advice is often to become an expert; indeed, many parents have more knowledge about dyslexia than their child’s teacher. Many excellent teachers also started this way – struggling to support their own child – before deciding to do a course. They now not only help their own child, but support many others.

In education Sarah Chapman – winner of the Positive Role Model for Disability award at the National Diversity Awards in 2014, British Dyslexia Association Ambassador and Behaviour Support Mentor for Aspire People – was identified with dyslexia in her first year at university, aged 27, after battling hard to turn her life around following, as she says, being failed so badly at school. On her life now, Sarah says: “Today I am a first class mature student proudly typing up my dissertation, which features the lived experiences of 320 dyslexic students like me from higher education institutions all over the UK. Interestingly, 52.98 per cent of those students were not identified as dyslexic

Three entrepreneurs from Good Story with the charity’s coordinator Bethan Arundel (far right).


Many parents have more knowledge about dyslexia than their child’s teacher until they reached university, 16.3 per cent were identified in further education and just 21.94 per cent were identified at school. These are obviously just some of the few dyslexic students that made it to university in the first place.” Given the struggles she had at primary school, it is amazing that Sarah has managed not just to build her confidence and gain impressive qualifications, but also to work supporting others in the same situation. “In school I was merely a failure, someone who didn’t work or try hard enough, was not very intelligent, who felt stupid and confused. I was rebellious, angry and I reached a point where I just didn’t care. “When I asked the participants in my study to describe the feeling of being identified as dyslexic, 171 of them said the word ‘relieved’, and this is how it was for me. It was an immense feeling knowing that it was not just me and that there was a reason I struggled so much at school. I wish that I had been identified sooner and given the right intervention to bridge the gaps in my learning before the damage was caused to my confidence and self-esteem.” As a person who was identified later on in life with dyslexia, Sarah is a huge advocate of early intervention and believes that being dyslexic does not have to be an issue if children are taught how to understand their differences. She says that being identified as dyslexic should not be seen as labelling, but instead as a call for action in understanding a way forward. Her advice to anyone who does not understand the complexities of dyslexia is to have an open mind. “Dyslexia is not a reading and writing problem, but rather a difference in the way our brains are wired, how we process, store and WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


retrieve information and how we think and feel. It is certainly not due to a lack of effort as dyslexics actually work incredibly hard”, says Sarah. “Dyslexics need a more holistic and multi-sensory approach to learning. Just know that dyslexics are perfectly capable of being successful in anything they want to do and if given the opportunity will thrive.”

Being identified as dyslexic should not be seen as labelling, but instead as a call for action

In the workplace

dyslexic entrepreneurs have access to trained mentors who can not only support them with these tasks, but can also help devise coping strategies so they don’t have to depend on people’s help in the long term.” The pilot programme saw five dyslexic entrepreneurs receive a workplace needs assessment to identify their weaknesses and suggest adjustments that could help, as well as a dedicated mentor who had been trained in dyslexia awareness. Two of the mentors were even dyslexic themselves. Another important part of the programme was offering dyslexia awareness training to the entrepreneurs themselves as many of them, despite being dyslexic, felt they needed to be more aware of the condition and following the training, all agreed they felt more confident. One of the entrepreneurs, Ellen, said, “Before I met my mentor, I really struggled to cope with my dyslexia. I felt anxious and had a lack of confidence. Through working with my mentor on the programme my confidence has now flourished. I am learning new coping strategies and how to adapt them not just to my working life, but also my personal life too.” This shows that there will always be a need for increased awareness and that identification is really only the start of the journey. Whether you are in an office, a supermarket or sat at the dining room table writing out a business plan there are going to be challenges and so much about success is to do with improving your awareness and that of those around you. Bethan added, “For any dyslexic entrepreneurs who want to turn their passion into a successful business,

Job interviews can be difficult enough for the most prepared individual, but add the tests many employers ask interviewees to complete and the fear of how a potential employer may react to being told you are dyslexic and it is no wonder many chose to not identify their difficulty until problems begin to surface. With more people becoming aware of schemes such as Access to Work, hopefully, this will change, but there is still a long way to go. Yet with news earlier this year that GCHQ, the British Intelligence Agency, had employed over 100 dyslexic and dyspraxic individuals because of their skills in decoding complicated patterns or sequences, dyslexia in the workplace is becoming more of a talking point. However, it isn’t just in the workplace that people can face difficulty; what about those with a fantastic idea for a business who struggle to fight their way through the paperwork. We can all name famous entrepreneurs with dyslexia, from Richard Branson to Jamie Oliver and Steve Jobs, but especially at a time when many small businesses and start-ups are failing, dyslexia can certainly make the process more difficult. Bethan Arundel, charity coordinator at Good Story, a charity that helps young creative entrepreneurs in the UK, has been piloting a mentoring programme for dyslexic entrepreneurs. She said, “Dyslexic entrepreneurs typically struggle with tasks such as email communication, writing business plans, drafting work schedules and determining cash flows; all of which are essential to running a successful business. This is why it is vital that WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

don’t let the barriers stop you. Having a mentor will help you reach a level of potential you probably never thought possible. Whether your business succeeds or not, having that support will undoubtedly propel you to a better future and will give you the confidence to believe it’s all possible.”

How can I help? One of the best resources we have for raising awareness of dyslexia is you. Share your experiences of dyslexia; talk about both the good and the bad, as well as what works for you. Attend a workshop or organise a coffee morning for other parents struggling to understand the complexities of dyslexia. Offer a friendly ear for a colleague who is struggling and encourage them to ask for help. For those in management, educate yourself about dyslexia and how you can help your staff to feel more supported, confident and, most important of all, happy.

Dyslexia Awareness Week 5 to 11 October 2015 The theme for the 2015 Dyslexia Awareness Week is “Making Sense of Dyslexia”. Many charities and dyslexia groups across the country will be talking part in the Week; the aims are to get people thinking and talking about dyslexia and to ensure dyslexia awareness and support are firmly on the political agenda. If you want to get involved, there are free resources on the British Dyslexia Association's website to help you organise an event, along with information to enable you to find out more about dyslexia:

Further information Emma Abdulaal is Media and Communications Officer at the British Dyslexia Association:












DYSLEXIA Advertisement feature

Assess, plan, do, review with the Target Ladders Teacher: What can I do with Brandon? He can’t read! SENCO: OK. What can he do? Teacher: No, what I mean is that he can’t read. SENCO: I understand that, but what is he able to do that is relevant to reading? What does he know about letters and sounds? Can he read any words? Can he read a simple text? Teacher: I don’t know. All I know is that he can’t read and I need something to do with him in my lesson. This conversation developed into the Target Ladders series. The conversation clarified for me that many colleagues don’t have a good understanding of the skills development children need to build on in order to make progress. Teachers are aware of the fact that a child can’t fully participate in their lessons and doesn’t have the skills the teachers want them to have, but they don’t always know what the child can do. This led to some detailed work, finding out exactly what Brandon could do. Before we did this work, his teachers knew that he couldn’t achieve well enough to join in with their lessons, so they differentiated, planned and provided easier work for him. The problem was that the work they planned was based on a deficit model: Brandon can’t read very well so we’ll give him some easier work. The work may have been easier, but it was still too hard for him, so it didn’t address his learning needs or impact on his behaviour.

help children achieve them. Each book has over 200 small-step targets which help to move a child on from high-level-specialschool-pupil to an appropriate level for the end of primary school (from about P4 to around a level 3A/4C in the previous National Curriculum levels). The series is explicitly written for the non-SEN-specialist teacher and supports them at every stage of the assess, plan, do, review cycle: • assess – Target Ladders books help the teacher to identify what the child can do in various aspects of learning which are grouped according to a range of different SEN • plan – the books include a template for a Record of Progress upon which targets, success criteria and review dates can be recorded • do – in addition to suggesting activities and strategies to help the teacher to plan for the child’s needs, the books contain a simple monitoring sheet which can be used to assess ongoing progress towards the targets • review – the Record of Progress sheets have space for the review session to record progress towards the targets, before the Target Ladders are used again to identify the next target. Under the new Code of Practice class teachers have increased responsibility for understanding and monitoring each child’s progress, and in identifying their barriers to learning. The Target Ladders approach supports them in doing this in a straightforward, accessible and non-threatening way.

Positive planning Now, the planning for Brandon can be based on an affirmative model: We know that Brandon can now read single-syllable words with long vowels and his current target is to read two syllable words, so we’ll give him a reading text that focuses on those skills. Target Ladders books present lists of developmental skills children need to acquire in the order in which they need to be acquired, accompanied by activities and strategies which can SENISSUE78

Kate Ruttle is the series editor for Target Ladders. She is a SENCO, primary deputy headteacher and Lead Practitioner for Inclusion in Suffolk. For more details, visit:










Advertisement feature

Notetalker benefits students under Disabled Student Allowance scheme(“DSA”) Students attending University in September 2015 will be the first to benefit from using Notetalker App for voice recording in lectures and Notetalker Edit to help them make their study notes from a particular lecture. Some 35,000 to 40,000 students qualify for some form of assistance with note-taking at University each year. Traditionally this has been provided using digital voice recorders and directional microphones. Now that smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous it seems logical to use them as the recording device – a student never forgets his smartphone or tablet, but he often leaves the Voice recorder behind! Conversor Limited, who supply around 10, 000 microphones per year to the DSA, introduced Notetalker solutions for note-taking earlier this year after a 2 year trial with Conversor Pro Recorder, a voice-recording app for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch. Notetalker is available for Android and Apple smartphones and tablets, and Notetalker Edit software is available for Windows and Mac PCs. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK





Diabetes in the classroom Thalie Martini explains what schools can do to support children with Type 1 diabetes


ype 1 diabetes is a serious and complex health condition. There are over 30,000 children and young people living with Type 1 diabetes in the UK and the numbers are increasing every year. Type 1 develops when the pancreas can’t make any insulin to manage the level of glucose in the body. No-one knows exactly what causes it, but it’s not to do with being overweight and it isn’t currently preventable. Type 1 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes found in children and young people. The condition is treated by daily insulin doses – taken either by injections or via an insulin pump. Every child will experience Type 1 diabetes differently and so will require varying levels of support at school. However, most need some support with

the following tasks: injecting insulin, using their insulin pump, blood testing, counting the carbohydrate content in their meals and managing hypos. Many children receive great support at school, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Poorly managed diabetes in school can lead to a child’s blood glucose levels rising either dangerously high or falling too low. In the short-term, this can result in a child becoming seriously unwell. In the long-term, persistent high blood glucose levels can lead to health problems later on in adult life. It’s not just their physical health that’s in danger. For some children, poor support at school can badly affect their confidence and mental health. We also know of cases where children have faced discrimination and have been told that they cannot attend residential

Poorly managed diabetes can result in the child not performing as well academically school trips or take part in PE lessons. In addition, poorly managed diabetes can result in the child not performing as well academically, and so not achieving their full potential at school. Recognising this, the Health Conditions in Schools Alliance ran a successful campaign for a new legal duty to be placed on schools to look after children with medical conditions. The duty, which applies to England only, was introduced in September 2014 as part of the Children’s and Families Act 2014. It is supported by new statutory guidance, which states that to look after a child with a long-term condition, such as diabetes, schools should: have a medical conditions policy in place; have an individual Healthcare Plan (IHP) for each child; arrange appropriate training for staff; establish a working relationship between the child, their parent or carer and their paediatric diabetes specialist nurse (PDSN).

Medical conditions policy

Elizabeth Rowley using an insulin pump.


Every school should have a medical conditions policy which recognises that medical conditions can impact on a child’s ability to learn and outlines how the school intends to support children with such conditions. The medical conditions policy will include what to WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Some children with Type 1 diabetes may qualify for an education, health and care plan

do in an emergency and arrangements for training key members of staff. The school’s complaints procedure should also form part of the policy. Headteachers, school governors and other responsible bodies should take the lead on forming the policy and a named member of the school’s senior management is responsible for effectively implementing the policy. The policy must also be readily available for parents and staff to view and be updated annually.

children and young people with SEN. If a child qualifies for an EHC plan, the special needs coordinator will need to input into the IHP, which will link to the EHC plan.

Individual health care plan Every child with diabetes should have an individual healthcare plan (IHP), which details exactly what their needs are and who will support them. The IHP will cover every aspect of the child’s care at school, including the procedure for testing blood glucose levels, injecting insulin or using a pump, how to treat low and high blood glucose levels, where medicines are stored and details of when the child needs to eat meals and snacks, and what help they need around meal or snack time. The IHP must be agreed jointly by parents, relevant school officials and the child’s PDSN and, if appropriate, the child as well. The child’s needs will change as time goes by so the plan should be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect this.

Training for staff Diabetes is a complex condition so, unless they have experience of the condition themselves, school staff will have a limited knowledge about diabetes and how best to support children with the condition. This why it is crucial that appropriate training is arranged for school staff so that they have an understanding of how to manage diabetes, and have confidence supporting a child with the condition. In many cases, PDSNs will arrange both whole staff awareness training around diabetes and the specific training required to support an individual child. It is also important that all school staff are made aware of a child’s IHP and WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Inclusion Tim Riley injecting insulin.

are made aware of the role they play in supporting a child with diabetes.

Relationships with parents School staff will be required to work with parents to create an IHP for each child and to ensure that it is effectively implemented, so good relations between all parties are vital. When working with parents and carers, it’s important to bear in mind the anxiety they may be feeling, especially those whose children have recently been diagnosed with the condition. School medical staff such as school nurses can, alongside other health professionals and partners, reassure parents with their existing knowledge and give them confidence that their child will be looked after. However, it is also important not to make comparisons or assume past experience is relevant to the individual child you’re dealing with.

Every child with Type 1 diabetes deserves to have the same education as their peers without diabetes. No child should be excluded from any part of school life because of their diabetes. This includes making sure they are able to take part in PE, extracurricular activities, school trips and residential trips. However, all relevant staff organising these activities should make plans to ensure the child can take part. For example, for residential overnight trips, the lead member of staff should meet with the child (if appropriate), the child's parents, the school’s trained members of staff and the child’s PDSN to agree the support and care needed for them to take part.

EHC plan Each child with diabetes will have different needs and so will require different levels of support. As such, some children with Type 1 diabetes, especially younger children with the condition, may qualify for an education, health and care (EHC) plan, which are replacing statements of SEN and learning difficulties assessments for

Further information

Thalie Martini is Make the Grade Delivery Manager at the charity Diabetes UK:





Book reviews by Mary Mountstephen

An Activity-Based Approach to Early Intervention: The Definitive Guide to ABI (Fourth Edition) J. Johnson, N. Rahn and D. Bricker Brookes Publishing £43.50 ISBN: 978-1-59857-801-0

This is a classic textbook for early years teachers and other professionals wishing to learn about activity-based interventions (ABI) for use with young children. The authors all hold academic positions in special educational and early education fields and have worked in a range of settings where they also developed assessment, evaluation and programming systems (AEPS). The book is divided into three sections, opening with an overview of the approaches the authors have developed to help children with disabilities to reach their individual goals within the context of daily activities and familiar routines. The ABI method’s strength lies in its adaptability for use across a wide range of settings and for children with varying needs, as well as for those who are typically developing. The second section describes the organisational structure of interventions and outlines issues and challenges that ABI users can encounter. In the final section, the authors describe how the interventions function in centre-based and home-based settings and the use of ABI with children with significant impairments. The section also includes many worked examples of the interventions in action as well as photocopiable blank forms. In this latest edition, there is also an associated website with activities, study questions and PowerPoint presentations. While this book has been written from a US perspective, it would be of interest to those working in the fields of early years and special education.


No Fighting, No Biting, No Screaming: How to Make Behaving

Positively Possible for People with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities

Bo Hejlskov Elven Jessica Kingsley Publishers £13.99 ISBN: 978-1-84905-126-2 The author of this book is a clinical psychologist, based in Sweden, who has received an award for his work on challenging behaviour. His aim is to define challenging behaviours, explore underlying concepts and to provide strategies for intervention. He describes the responses of a number of young people in specific situations and then proposes different ways in which these could be managed to minimise conflict. Factors such as stress, pain, allergies and lack of sleep are explored to explain irrational ways of responding. The author explains very clearly how close observation of the person can act as a way to head off extreme behavioural responses. He provides the reader with information about negative warning signs that are common in the general population, as well as in those with more challenges, and reminds us that we all often experience stress due to problems such as infections, restlessness and irritability. He uses the phrase “lack of surplus” to define situations where there is not enough energy to perform effectively and to do what is “right”. This will resonate with busy professionals. The book closes with a plea for positive interventions that emphasises creating a special educational and care framework based on respect, rights and comfort, and which seeks to eliminate what he refers to as inhumane care methods.



Deliberate Optimism: Reclaiming the Joy in Education D. Silver, J. Berckemeyer and J. Baenen Corwin (A Sage Company) £18.99 ISBN: 978-1-4833-0783-1

The focus of this book is on optimism and the development of a school environment where students and staff feel safe, engaged and productive. The book opens with more than fifteen comments from teachers that praise the authors for their “sensible, realistic and inspiring advice” which is “simply empowering!” So does the book live up to this? The book is built around five principles of deliberate optimism which include, establishing what you can control and seeking tools and strategies to help you maximise your power, and taking ownership of your plan and acknowledging responsibility for your choices. These principles are then linked to action steps and points for discussion, with illustrations of what can be controlled and what cannot. The authors also stress the importance of finding joy and optimism through striving for balance and developing the skill of “single-tasking”, as opposed to multitasking. The authors all include the word “humorous” in their descriptions of themselves, which they ally to a wealth of experience as teachers, consultants and presenters. Debbie Silver is the author of Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8: Teaching Kids to Succeed, which I have previously reviewed here. The appendix contains exercises, sample happiness and optimism tests, team building exercises and suggestions for using humour and managing stress. This is an interesting book that might have benefited from some cartoons or other visual content to balance its quest for optimism and joy.


Floortime Strategies to Promote Development in Children and Teens: A Users Guide to the DIR Model A. Davis, L. Isaacson and M. Harwell Brookes Publishing £27.50 ISBN: 978-1-59857-734-1 DIRFloortime (Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-based model) has been accepted by many as a highly effective intervention for children and adolescents on the autistic spectrum and with other developmental disorders. In this comprehensive manual, the reader learns how to take this research-based approach and apply it to improve crucial skills. Based on the pioneering work of doctors Stanley Greenspan and Serena Wilder, this manual brings the programme to a wider audience in a user-friendly format that does not require specialist resources or training. The book has been designed to provide the reader with a number of activities with a simplified format, linked to short, memorable catch-phrase titles. Throughout the book, the authors have used visual illustrations and clear instructions to heighten awareness of difficulties associated with sensory processing, sensory regulation and weak attention. Each section is well presented and easy to follow, with a common format that covers topics such as symbolic play, emotional and logical thinking, social interaction and complex thinking, and reducing problem behaviours. The approach is very practical and focuses on play, practice and sharing attention. The authors stress the need to include semi-structured social problem solving and work activities, alongside nutritional and medical interventions where appropriate. This approach is very intuitive and responsive to the needs of the child and the activities are differentiated to cover pre-school to adolescence. For those working in this field, this provides a useful resource.





Planning school trips Greg Loynes looks at how to make school trips enjoyable, rewarding and safe for all pupils


trip away from the classroom is a great way to introduce your pupils to new environments; it can enhance the way they see the world and themselves, which can have a lasting, positive impact on their lives. While this time can be incredibly enriching for young people with SEN, it is important, though, to remember that many people with conditions such as autism may feel frightened or disoriented when the structure in their lives is removed. Therefore, a vast amount of work goes into planning a school trip for pupils who have SEN. From choosing a venue with the required facilities and helping students to alleviate any anxieties before a visit, to organising a structured plan for the day, the process can seem daunting.

What to look for in a venue Choosing where to go largely depends on whether the purpose of the visit is educational or for leisure. If the aim is SENISSUE78

Consider asking if there are calming areas to relax in if children need them

SEN, so consider asking if there are calming areas to relax in if children need them. This might be a designated room, or even a space outside. Most attractions will be able to accommodate this request with relative ease; if not, then the venue is likely to be unsuitable.

to complement the curriculum, then dynamic, multi-sensory attractions, such as museums or farms, are ideal places to facilitate engaging and stimulating learning. On the other hand, short-stay locations are perfect for having a fun, pleasurable time while bonding with friends and family. Every young person with SEN requires varying support. It is vital to do your research and ensure that the chosen destination can easily cater to the needs of all pupils. Liaising with the team at the venue might sound obvious, but it will ensure everyone feels as prepared as possible. Sensory experiences can be overstimulating for some pupils with

Making a school trip successful It’s essential to start introducing pupils to the destination you will be visiting in the run up to the day, so they can feel better prepared. Perhaps arrange a day in school to focus on the trip and incorporate planned elements into lessons. Bear in mind that a residential trip can be an even greater upheaval for pupils, so pre-empt any questions they might have and encourage family members to do the same at home. Use visual aids in lessons to familiarise everyone with the surroundings at the venue or destination. Being able to see a new environment in advance can help WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


to ease any anxieties and increase confidence. For example, routine activities such as using the bathroom can distress someone with autism if it is unfamiliar. Speak to the team at the attraction and highlight any areas of concern prior to your visit to limit any disruptions during your visit. Themed lessons can also help to expose pupils to various aspects of the visit. If you’re going to a museum, spend time doing fun work around the subject. Art, crafts and writing are great outlets for pupils to express themselves. The internet is a very useful tool too. Many child-friendly attractions with an educational element have interactive websites, often with downloadable content that can be used in school. Searching for pictures, information, or facts online about your chosen destination can boost your pupils’ enthusiasm from the comfort of the classroom. As well as completing the necessary risk assessments for each young person, liaise with the staff at the location to ensure they can accommodate any specific dietary or sensory requirements. They might, for example, be able to reduce lighting or sound levels when necessary. For overnight visits, speak to parents and carers to find out all that can be done to make the stay calming for the young person and alleviate any concerns shared by the family. The pupil might want to take things from their bedroom at home to make a stay more comfortable, if possible.

If any pupils feel worried or overloaded, having support from venue staff is of the utmost importance places to take a break, such as cafés. Occasionally there are free-of-charge fast-track entry options for SEN groups, as well as admission for support workers, so make sure to use these resources when out with your pupils, if they’re available. Integrate what you focused on in lessons. Devising interactive activities, which are tailored to each pupil, will get the most out of the visit and create something fun to centre the day around. Use of a visual schedule throughout the visit will help remind pupils what will be happening during the day, including the journey home, to give greater reassurance. If any pupils feel worried or overloaded, having support from

venue staff is of the utmost importance. They can help to manage any issues subtly and avoid drawing unnecessary attention to the young person, which can cause even further distress. It’s also handy to work with your class to make cards, which quietly convey how they might be feeling and what other people might do in case of distress or an emergency.

There’s no right or wrong It is important to remember that what works well for one pupil might affect another negatively, so the time spent preparing for a school trip is invaluable. The best school trips take into account that each young person with SEN is an individual. Plans should rarely be set in stone. Collaborate with family members and the venue to ensure that planning, while thorough, is flexible. Considering all possibilities benefits every pupil in attendance and the team responsible for taking care of them when away from school.

On the day It’s a good idea to reach the location early to minimise any anxious feelings. At busier spots, this can help to avoid crowds or lengthy queues. Also consider time of year; the last week of the summer term or public holidays are likely to be busy with various trips, so it’s best to avoid times like this when possible. More and more public attractions now have autism-friendly guides with maps highlighting particularly sensitive and high traffic areas, as well as the WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Further information

Greg Loynes is Head of Admissions, Transition and Outreach at Inscape House School in Cheadle, the Together Trust’s specialist school for pupils with autistic spectrum conditions.

Outdoor locations can really stimulate multi-sensory learning.




SCHOOL VISITS Advertisement feature

Free* introductory weekends with the Lake District Calvert Trust Are you an SEN teacher or a SENCO and want to see how a residential outdoor activity course could work for your school or college? Then you might want to take up our offer of a free* multiactivity introductory weekend to experience first-hand how our educational courses offer life-changing experiences for those with physical, learning and sensory disabilities. • Experience a range of outdoor activities delivered by our dedicated and specialist instructors. • Stay in our specially adapted en-suite rooms** to see the full range of facilities available. • Enjoy delicious home cooked food with all meals from Friday evening through to lunch on the Sunday prepared on-site. • Take the opportunity to discuss your potential future requirements with Calvert Trust staff members, including bursaries and any specific requirements that your group may need.

If you would like to know more (including qualification criteria and all terms and conditions) please call the enquiries team on: 017687 72255 or go to: *A £50 per person holding deposit is required at point of booking. This is fully refundable following participation in the introductory weekend.

The dates for this year’s intro weekend are Friday 20 to Sunday 22 November and limited spaces are still available.

**Accommodation for the introductory weekend is in shared twin-bedded rooms. This is based on an expectation of 2 attendees per organisation. Single rooms are available at a non-refundable supplement of £44.00 per person.





Thinking autism Mark Chapman observes how the cognitive styles of people with ASD can affect their lives and interactions with others


have worked in a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) team for several years and been involved with the assessment and treatment of those diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). I would like to share some of my experiences and observations regarding the cognitive styles of those with autism that really seem to differ from the way most people process information. It is important to bear in mind that not all individuals with ASD have all the cognitive styles I will discuss; indeed, some people never have any of the symptoms I am describing. Those diagnosed with ASD can demonstrate astonishing cognitive strengths that are really worth considering. Many will display an WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

uneven profile of cognitive abilities; this means they are noticeably better at some things than most people and not so good at other things. Individuals living with ASD tend to have exceptional long-term memory for events and facts and many are primarily interested in information and not that interested in fictional works. Equally, some are interested in recalling scenes that happened years ago. In the long-term, these skills can easily be transferrable to the work arena, for example working in research or building intricate mother boards for computers. Some individuals with ASD often do remarkably well when the material they are reading is technically straight forward, requiring minimal rational skills, and falls into an area of high interest. At school or university,

Very few people are willing to listen to what can become an intense monologue students with ASD may show above average understanding of subjects like mathematics, science or history. These cognitive strengths can also easily be transferred to creative fields such as music or art.

Distinct interests Individuals with ASD often have distinct interests that they research >> SENISSUE78



extensively and enthusiastically. These interests can dominate their free time and interactions with others. Some people with ASD tend to steer away from social conversations unless they are focused on their special interest. One-sided conversations can result and the topic can be discussed at great length, usually without awareness of the listener's level of interest. Alternatively, it can lead to chronic frustration, as the person with ASD often finds that very few people are willing to listen to what can become an intense monologue. There are, though, lots of advantages of being focused on particular topics of interest. These days, many people struggle to remain focused on specific things or subjects, as there is so much choice in all aspects of our lives. The person living with ASD has the advantage of being focused on their unique interests. I am convinced that we all move towards what we focus on in life. So if someone is focused on music, art or research, they are likely to do exceptionally well, turning their difficulties into achievements.

People living with ASD can struggle with attention difficulties which can also be related to their limited interest in other topics outside their own internal thoughts and fantasies. While showing impressive levels of focus on their preferred topics, they can also demonstrate poor attention to topics of limited interest. These attention problems are secondary symptoms to their ASD and are frequently misdiagnosed as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Individuals with ASD can often have significant problems with calendaring, time management and organisational skills. While they may not intend to miss appointments, they are often hyper focused on their own interests and lose track of time and important events in their life.

Executive functioning Over the years, I have found individuals living with ASD who have highly developed reasoning skills, often scoring in the superior range on standard intelligence (IQ) tests.

Having a special interest can demonstrate a child’s ability to focus.


Those living with ASD often struggle to adapt from one task to another

I have also found some people on the autism spectrum with very impressive, clear-cut and defined memories that are rich in specifics. Again, these qualities can be symptomatic of highly transferable skills that can be very useful assets and of great worth in this day and age. Indeed, some companies are starting to recognise the worth of these qualities associated with people with ASD when considering their employment policies and decisions. Using the executive functioning of the brain – which involves our ability to capture, understand and make decisions based on information received – can be a challenge for some people who are on the autistic spectrum. Smooth functioning requires a person to be flexible and shift easily from one focus of attention to the next. Those living with ASD often struggle to adapt from one task to another. Some tend to dwell on tasks or ideas when the situation requires change. This way of thinking will often persist even when additional information is added that contradicts their original line of thinking. In social situations, those with ASD can struggle to amalgamate complex information and this can result in artificially splitting decisions into extremes, such as good or bad, or right or wrong. For those with ASD, making decisions can be overwhelming, as most decisions involve thinking about the good and not so good in order to come to an informed choice; the person can often become paralysed by this, causing them to revert to seeing the situation in terms of polar opposites. The use of polar opposites to make sense of situations in our complex world can help people living with ASD to reduce their anxiety, though, as it WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


simplifies their world. For those on the autistic spectrum, the world can be a confusing and complex place. On an interpersonal level, they interact best with others who are straight forward in conversations – those who say what they mean and mean what they say. Again this is a great skill to have as it is always nice to be with people who “speak from their heart” and are honest. Another cognitive style that can lead people to oversimplifying things can be potentially difficult to navigate. Some people with ASD may tend to view themselves as all good or all bad. They can become acutely selfaware, identifying, more than most people would, their internal sadness, loneliness and anger that is associated with their social isolation. For anyone, being socially isolated can lead to depression, or cause them to devalue themselves. Where a particularly simplistic cognitive style pervades, people with ASD can view themselves in an overly critical way. Those with ASD often benefit from support targeted to help them understand themselves. Strategies can be taught to help make sense of a confusing world and social stories can be used to help people tolerate ambiguity by helping them see themselves as existing on a continuum and promoting balance.

Cognitive inflexibility In order to reduce sensory overload, minimise ambiguity and maintain emotional regulation, many people with ASD tend to have an inflexible cognitive style and this needs to be understood, and interventions developed, to support them. With the right help from others, especially in dealing with the resulting anxiety that accompanies any unexpected change, the person with ASD can often be supported in making the transition to a new way of thinking about a problem. However, this is not an easy shift for them and the person’s support network should always be on WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

People with ASD commonly have trouble learning from their experiences board with any proposed changes. The key is to be consistent, persistent and structured. If an intervention is tailored in such a way that is keeps these principals in mind, it should be a good start in the move towards positive change. People with ASD commonly have trouble learning from their experiences. They can have difficulty accurately reading social situations and trouble recognising similar situations in the future. The first step in being able to transfer learning requires an ability to understand the present social situation or interaction. People with ASD can really struggle with in-depth analysis of their own and other people’s intentions. They find it difficult to see things from another person’s perspective. While they may not intend to hurt someone, their actions may cause harm simply because they did not take account of the other person's needs before acting. In this way, their actions can be unintentionally offensive to others, which in turn can contribute greatly to their social isolation and their internal sadness and loneliness. At times, people with autism can misperceive events and form mistaken impressions of people and what their actions signify. This is an adaptive liability that is likely to result in frequently failing to anticipate the consequences of actions and misconstruing what constitutes appropriate behaviour. Most people with this degree of impaired social understanding may have difficulty managing basic psychological aspects of everyday living without assistance or supervision. Again, appropriate and accurate interventions can support the person to achieve much higher levels of social competence. It can be done.

I have seen what an accurate, well thought out social intervention can do for a person with autism.

Adherence to rules and routines Problems with overly simplifying their experiences, abstract reasoning, cognitive flexibility, and reading nonverbal cues can mean that individuals with ASD can become selfappointed rule enforcers. Usually, they adhere to rules because of their literal interpretation of boundaries and they are quick to assign a value to other people's behaviour (such as right or wrong). Those with ASD are particularly prone to being bullied by others, which can lead to a heightened sensitivity to the concept of “fairness”. Although the social norm may be to ignore others who are breaking the rules, individuals with ASD often cannot disregard even a minor violation and act to enforce the rule. In acting quickly to re-establish the rule, they not only break the social norm, they can also become hyper-focused on correcting the rule-breaker without considering the complex variables at play, or the risks. This can lead to errors in social judgment which have unforeseen consequences. Again, with a well thought out intervention, these difficulties can often be developed into strengths.

Further information

Dr Mark Chapman is Approved Lead Psychologist, CAMHS Neurodevelopmental Disorders Team at South West London and St Georges NHS Trust:




AUTISM Advertisement feature

Sign up to

In Christopher’s world, school is now a safe, happy place to be... On Friday 9 October, The National Autistic Society will be hosting a free autism education breakfast event featuring talks and a panel on inclusion and mainstream or specialist education for children on the autism spectrum. For your exclusive invite, sign up to MyWorld - The National Autistic Society's free autism education resource programme - today at Gianna Colizza, Head of the Woodlands ASD Resource Base at Netley Primary School in London, shares her experience of working with children with autism and why she loves it. "I started working with children with autism nine years ago. I fell in love with the challenges and the rewards of it, and I’ve been doing it ever since. "Working with children with autism brings a different challenge every day. It’s about making relationships and understanding a realm of different and interesting personality traits. It’s about getting to work with some of the most complex, creative and energetic children. I find it fascinating, and very rewarding, especially when you make connections with children who can find that quite difficult. "At Woodlands, we have a sensory room which is a safe environment for the children. Used for soft play, it helps the children develop their motor skills, and it is also used for behaviour management. If a child is upset, they have a place to go, where there are no demands on them and no expectations. They can just sit and take in the lights and the calmness, and recover from the overstimulation that they may be feeling from the day.

"The main concern when supporting children with autism in mainstream school is usually a child’s behaviour, which may be misconceived as naughty. The school are trying to stop the child behaving in a certain way, but most of the time it only happens because the child is scared and anxious. "I think it’s better to take the time to truly understand the child’s needs and what is affecting them, and try a different approach. You have to be patient, understanding and think outside the box. Making the child feel safe and comfortable will often help their behaviour. "When I’m supporting a child with autism, I start by looking at their specific needs. I speak to teachers and teaching assistants about what will best suit the child, and I also consult the National Curriculum and The National Autistic Society website. Then I try to find the best resources for them. MyWorld gives teachers somewhere to turn, and will allow them to develop a deeper understanding of autism. "At the moment, it’s quite difficult to find resources for children with autism. We have to make most of them ourselves. A lot of teachers, particularly in mainstream schools, want to understand more about autism and how to support them best, but don’t know where to start. That’s why I think MyWorld, The National Autistic Society’s resource for teachers, is going to be extremely useful. "Having the patience, understanding and time to develop relationships means teachers can actually change the lives of children with autism."

"We also take our children out into the community at least twice a week. I think that public awareness of autism is quite weak, but making children aware is the best place to start. The 400 students at Netley Primary School have grown up alongside children with autism. From the age of three, the children know that it’s okay to be different, and they go home and tell their families about autism. I think that grasping a deeper understanding of autism at a younger age is the way forward.

Sign up now to start receiving your free autism resources and your exclusive invite to our breakfast event:





Advertisement feature

Seashell provides outstanding education and care services for children and young people with complex communication and learning needs, including autism and multi-sensory impairment. Our specialist on-site assessment and leisure facilities enhance and extend the curriculum; individual programmes are designed by a multi-disciplinary team and delivered by qualified and experienced staff. Our Objectives:

• • • • •

accept and value each student, recognising strengths and develop and broaden experiences provide an individual education and care plan that targets key priorities for the student emphasise the teaching of communication and social skills and the development of independence understand and meet the changing needs of the individual student by providing an innovative, flexible, interdisciplinary approach throughout their education and care work in partnership with parents/carers in a positive and supportive way.

Royal School Manchester Royal School Manchester is a 60-place, non-maintained day and residential special school for children and young people with low incidence disability. The school specialises in supporting students with severe and complex learning needs including autism, hearing impairment, visual impairment, multi-sensory impairment and sensory processing difficulties.

Royal College Manchester Royal College Manchester is an independent specialist day and residential college with capacity for 60 students aged 19 to 25, with complex lowincidence special education needs, involving a combination of cognitive, physical, sensory and behavioural disabilities.

Short Breaks Seashell offers a range of short breaks packages for children and young people aged between three and 25 years of age. Designed for those with severe and complex learning difficulties, they are tailored to meet the needs of the individual and their family. Short breaks can range from a few hours during the day or evening, to overnight, weekend or week long stays and they are delivered with the same skills, expertise and care given to those in our full time care.

Family Support Our Family Link Worker organises a range of events to support family members including family weekends, training sessions and coffee mornings. Stanley Road Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, SK8 6RQ t: 0161 610 0100 e: Registered Charity No. 1092655



AUTISM Advertisement feature

Tough Furniture – a flexible approach that makes a difference in the SEN classroom As SEN schools increasingly move to raise the standards and quality of their learning environments they have looked to Tough Furniture’s problem-solving approach and been able to combine this with the hard-won experience of their own staff to produce real benefits for students with learning difficulties, complex needs and ASD. Much can be achieved by thoughtful design to optimise outcomes in special needs environments and manage the practical daily problems of challenging behaviour. Flexibility has proved to be a key component for successful SEN classrooms and it’s this aspect of the furniture, together with the company’s trademark durability and long life that delivers real budgetary value over the years.

with a stock of just three types of table a very wide range of layouts can be configured and easily changed to. The U shape table has proved very popular with PECS practitioners, for example. Sunfield had all its furniture made in a muted colour tone to blend with the low-arousal colour scheme of the building design, and the co-ordinated effect has been well-received. As well as the special considerations that have gone into the furniture design, it's also still “Tough Furniture”, heavy-duty and built to cope with challenging behaviour environments. “You gave us solutions, not a catalogue”, commented a manager at Sunfield School of our partnership with them.

Springwater School

The Sunfield project Sunfield School was first established in the 1930s to provide special needs education. With the planning of a new school building Sunfield made every effort to design and equip it to be a dedicated learning environment, so senior staff got together with Tough Furniture’s design team to develop a specialised type of classroom furniture to benefit both students and teachers. Basic prototypes were produced at the factory for evaluation and these were taken to the new school as the building was nearing completion, so that teachers had the opportunity to input into the design and be able to plan their new classroom layouts. The key requirement was an individual workstation with screening to create the desired working environment for the student to be focused and free from distraction and which could be equipped with a choice of shelves or racks to suit both the individual and the educational approach, such as the TEACCH method. It was also essential that the sizes and proportions of these workstations could be easily varied in order to best accommodate the needs of the individual which was achieved with a flexible modular design style and a simple robust extension system for the screening height. Each classroom was also equipped with a matching computer workstation which provides secure storage for the equipment. The tables were designed as modular sizes and shapes, so that WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

At Springwater School we worked with the Facilities Manager to design new seating arrangements for the common areas which have to accommodate children from four to 19 years old with a variety of needs. An ocean wave themed breakfast bar and an autism friendly protective bench and table were just some of the products installed. Says Nigel Reaney, Commercial Director at Tough Furniture: “We’ve always aimed to be, not just a quality specialist supplier, but also the company who will really listen to your needs and can offer standard or bespoke problem-solving furniture at a sensible price.” The company has invested heavily in the evolving design and manufacturing technology that can deliver both flexibility and value for money, and their achievement has been recognised by three prestigious business awards in as many years.

All enquiries to: Tough Furniture Ltd, Stokewood Road, Craven Arms Business Park, Shropshire SY7 8NR Tel: 01588 674 340 Email:





















Celebrating ability The relationship between an autistic girl and her sister has proved inspirational for US “mom” Lori DeMonia


hen our daughter Leah was first diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, the one thing that usually brought her out of a meltdown was giving her art supplies. When a friend commented on her artwork being advanced for her age, I started to save some of her work. 2015 was the sixth year she received an art grant from KindTree – Autism Rocks, and the Lane Arts Council based in Oregon, USA. It's been such a joy to watch her art style change and get a sense of what she's feeling through her work. At 18 months old, Leah stopped responding to her name and at times became upset when we got too close to her while she was playing. We thought taking her to a daycare centre a few times a week for social interaction with other children would help. However, after we were asked by two daycare centres to remove her, we had a feeling something more serious was wrong. She

was diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) at age two.

Sibling support Leah now has a younger sister who has been an amazing role model and advocate for her. We didn't know how our younger daughter would respond when she started attending the same school as her older sister. We knew she was an extremely loving and supportive sister, but being faced with comments and questions about her autistic sister might be awkward or embarrassing for a child her age. Her older sister also had a one-on-one aide who accompanied her during the school day, making it more noticeable that she has special needs. A telling moment came on the day Leah darted into her sister’s classroom to say “hello”. After the aide escorted her sister out, our younger daughter was left with all her classmates looking at her. Without hesitation she said, “That's my sister Leah. Sorry she came in here; she just wanted to see me. Things are a little harder for her because she has autism.” Far from being embarrassed, she proudly stated that Leah was her sister. Now a little older, our younger daughter wants to make people aware of autism and shares information about it whenever she gets the chance. Leah's relationship with her younger sister even inspired me to write a fictional children's book. There seemed to be very few children's books with a female character with autism and I saw a need for an uplifting story that would also show how gifted some children with autism are. Some of Leah's artwork was incorporated into the illustrations by the illustrator, Monique Turchan.

Celebrating Leah's progress

Leah (left) with her sister Sarah.


Last year, Leah had a birthday party for the first time and invited some friends from school. It was amazing to see that she has friends that show such kindness

Far from being embarrassed, she proudly stated that Leah was her sister and patience with her. What a blessing it was to meet children who were so accepting and understanding. Another huge step was her being invited to be in the school talent show. Watching Leah dance the Cupid Shuffle with her girlfriends in a talent show was something I never thought I'd see. I've learned to find joy in the small accomplishments too. One day, Leah left the house to catch the bus. While walking with her dad and sister, she stopped in her tracks, went back to the house and opened the door to say “goodbye mom”. Even though millions of moms hear those words daily from their children, that moment meant so much to me, particularly as it was unprompted and done out of love. Living with autism is still something of a rollercoaster ride and new challenge always seems to pop up. But I am so grateful to everyone who has recognised Leah's artistic ability and given our family inspiration and a positive outlook. Leah's art is such a bright spot in her life as well as in ours.

Further information

Lori DeMonia is the author of two children's books inspired by her daughters, Love for Logan and Leah's Voice, which received the Temple Grandin Outstanding Literary Work of the Year Award in 2014:




How Asperger’s affects me Sonia Owen provides an insider’s account of the joy and the pain of living with Asperger’s syndrome


t seems that while many people have heard of autism, far fewer people know about Asperger's syndrome, and fewer still have any real understanding of how it can affect those who live with it. If autism is not a feature of your life in some way, it is often difficult to understand the effects it can have on both the person with the condition and the people around them.

What is Asperger’s syndrome? Asperger’s is a neurological developmental disorder on the autism spectrum that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people. It is characterised by difficulties in three main areas: social and emotional factors, communication and language, and flexibility of thought. Those of us with Asperger’s may also have difficulties with fine and gross motor skills and quite often have sensory issues as well. At present, autism spectrum conditions (ASCs) are still seen as primarily affecting boys, and are very much under recognised in girls, meaning we all too often go under the radar. It is difficult because the signs of autism can be so subtle in girls. I am a fairly typical Aspie girl in that I did a wonderful job of watching other people and getting by using imitation; in effect, I was doing what I thought was “right” or “normal” based on what I had seen other people doing. I have memories, from as young as five or six years old, of sitting at the edge of the school playground watching my peers playing together, laughing and joking, SENISSUE78

Acceptance and understanding are easing Sonia’s journey on life’s merry-go-round.

and feeling sad and wondering how they so instinctively knew what to do. As I watched and listened to what they did, it helped me learn what I should do. To a great degree, my Asperger’s was disguised and I was just considered to be a very shy girl.

We are all too painfully aware that we are somehow different

It is not about putting labels on people; it is just about gaining insight and understanding. People with Asperger’s fall at the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum and are usually highly intelligent people. Therefore, generally speaking, we are all too painfully aware that we are somehow different, but not knowing why or how we are different leaves us very open to the possibility of developing depression or anxiety problems, both of which I have battled with. I only wish I'd had my diagnosis at a younger age.

Getting a diagnosis

Testing times

I went undiagnosed until the age of 26 and getting the diagnosis was a long, hard battle. Many people ask the question about whether diagnosis is necessary. To me, it is vitally important.

Going through school as an undiagnosed Aspie girl was so hard. I felt that I was misunderstood by teachers and peers alike. I knew I was different and so did they, but WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Sonia at the age of two or three.

as I didn't know how or why, how could they? They just thought I was weird and I got picked on and bullied mercilessly by my peers – both verbally and physically – and I was completely isolated and alone. This, unfortunately, is a very common picture for people on the spectrum going through school, although it's important to note that it's not the case for everyone. As an adult, I worked for a number of years in a secondary school and I could not help but note how differently the children diagnosed with autism were treated to how it was when I was a girl. These pupils had far more support and understanding from the school and seemed to suffer much less bullying and nastiness from their peers. So, my own experiences, and my observations from working in a school, make me firmly believe that getting a diagnosis can make a real difference to a child.

I have sensory issues, particularly with sounds, lights and textures. They can easily cause what we would term “overload”, which basically refers to times when the brain simply cannot process all the sensory input it receives, causing extreme emotional responses. This can lead to meltdown. My meltdowns typically manifest themselves as overwhelming displays of emotion and/or anxiety. This can be problematic if I'm in public. Meltdowns can also be problematic for those around the person with Asperger's, both because it tends to be those we love that are always there and so end up in the firing line, and also because to see your child, partner or sibling in distress, and not know what to do, can be heart-breaking.

Families matter It is vitally important that those close to us receive the support they need. Parents and partners may become exhausted as they try to deal with meltdown after meltdown. It’s hard for them to be constantly having to see the world as an Aspie does whilst still trying to hold down a job, look after other children and complete chores. Siblings may also feel pushed out and not understand why their brother or sister gets so much more of their parents’ attention. They may get teased

Emotional struggles Living with Asperger’s is a very interesting journey. It has its ups and downs. I am most comfortable in my own company but that's not to say I'm happiest then. I get lonely very easily, which can make me feel very low, and I often get frustrated at the fact that I find it so hard to communicate with people and cannot interact well. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

As a teenager, Sonia felt awkward and alone.

I am most comfortable in my own company but that's not to say I'm happiest then about their autistic sibling and they may harbour worries about what will happen in the future; will they have to look after their sibling? Will their own children be autistic? Asperger’s syndrome really does affect the whole family.

Growing pains Perhaps the best way I can describe how having Asperger’s makes me feel is to say that so often I feel very childlike and vulnerable – like being a little girl living in a big, scary world. If you imagine yourself as an eight-year-old child, you would feel pretty small and scared faced with sorting out a doctor’s appointment or a visit to the hairdresser by yourself, or having to go to talk to someone at the bank or post office. Take the case of a hair appointment, for example: imagine having to get yourself there, dealing with communicating with the receptionist, and answering questions fired at you about whether you want a drink, what style you want, if you want it thinning and if you've been on holiday recently. Imagine trying to focus on all this while there are a million and one other conversations going on, hairdryers blasting out, music playing on the radio, the door constantly opening and closing, kids making a fuss, the till ringing and countless other distractions. Now imagine that the world governed that all this was expected of this child; how would you suddenly make the eight-year-old become an adult? I don't know the answer to this question but this is pretty much what is being asked of me on a daily basis. Inside, I feel like an eight-year-old: scared, vulnerable and fragile. On the outside, though, I am a 30-year-old >> SENISSUE78




adult, so society says that I should be able to live and function as an adult. The eight-year-old inside me is being forced to grow up fast to try to cope with and live in a world which feels so alien.

You’ll always know where you stand with an Aspie because we don’t have hidden agendas

The good things While having Asperger’s can be very daunting and cause serious issues, it can also be a blessing, given the right help and support. There are so many positives to having this condition, such as the special interests, the honesty and the strong sense of justice. You’ll always know where you stand with an Aspie because we don’t have hidden agendas and we tend not to lie. That is not to say that we never lie, but if we do, you will probably be able to see straight through it. We are just not that way inclined and so are totally unconvincing if we try. We are generally very unbiased, which means we can be very good at listening to people and their problems, and offer a fresh, pure perspective based entirely on the facts and not on any kind of pre-judgements. We can make excellent employees if we are able to work in a suitable and supportive environment, because we

are generally conscientious, reliable and honest and have an excellent work ethic. Having Asperger’s can bring such simple joys. The love an Asperger person has for their obsessive interests can bring so much pleasure and happiness. I personally love football and one of my strong obsessions is football stadia. Just seeing a football ground from the outside fills me with such immense joy and pleasure. Plus, due to sensory issues, something as simple as the tactile pleasure of stroking a pet can bring joy to us.

Support is key The unfortunate thing is that it's not always easy to find the right support. The difficulty is that, although Asperger’s syndrome is a neurological condition, it doesn’t fit into the traditional idea of mental health, so

you will only really come under the remit of mental health services if you have co-morbid conditions such as depression and anxiety. However, it also doesn’t fit under the umbrella of the learning disabilities team in social services because intelligence and IQ are usually deemed to be too high. It’s quite a struggle, therefore, to know where you fit in and where you can get the support you need. However, it’s important not to despair or give up because the support is out there. I was lucky enough to come across a wonderful charity which offers nationwide autismspecialist counselling. The counsellor didn’t just have specialist knowledge and qualifications, but also familial experience of Asperger's syndrome, and this support has helped me to grow and blossom in a way that previously I could never have imagined possible. Why the big turnaround? Well, first I have been shown acceptance and understanding, which has helped me to see that it’s OK to be myself. I am who I am and there is nothing wrong with that. Second, I have been given tips and strategies to help me cope better. Both of these things go a long way towards bringing out the positives of Asperger’s syndrome.

Further information

Sonia Owen received her diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome at the age of 26. She is a Trustee and Client Representative for the Charity Action for Asperger’s, where she works with people with Asperger’s syndrome and their families:

Sonia’s passion for football is a source of great joy for her.





The right fit Deirdre Donegan outlines the choice of schools available to parents of children with SEN


oday, there is so much more support in schools than there ever used to be for children with special needs and this has to be a positive thing. Children’s SEN also tend to be identified earlier and their needs picked up on more quickly than they used to be. Having said this, parents are still not always sure whether their child needs a special school and it is important that they identify a school that will offer the best possible support. State schools can be very accommodating and provide teaching assistants for children with SEN so that they can be taught alongside their peers. Independent schools can be more selective and sometimes it may be more difficult to gain access, WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

although most senior schools now provide a special needs department or certainly a special needs teacher. At the prep school stage, children are sometimes offered extra help outside the classroom and this is enough for some children. There is often a cost involved in this and it can be expensive. Some children are simply not able to manage in the mainstream and a special school is the best option. Where should parents begin, though, on their quest to find the right school for their child?

Starting the process The first port of call is generally an educational psychologist who will be able to assess a child and inform the parents of his or her needs. It is

State schools can be very accommodating and provide TAs for children with SEN important that assessments are not carried out too young as the results may not give an accurate reading at this early stage. Once they are equipped with an educational psychologists report, parents can start to look into schools. Many factors will come into play in parents’ deliberations. It is important to look for excellent pastoral care, a nurturing environment and a >> SENISSUE78



sense of feeling comfortable with the school. It is also helpful to look at how many clubs and outside activities are provided, as this gives an indication of the breadth of each school’s activities and its interest in finding a child’s talent when their academic abilities don’t necessarily come to the fore. It is also important to look into how many special needs teachers there are at the school and whether there is a department for special needs or just one teacher allocated to help. Some children will have a statement of SEN, or one of the new education, health and care plans that are being phased in to replace statements. These detail the specific needs the child has that are to be supported. Schools should provide a comprehensive plan for how these needs will be addressed and how the progress of the child will be monitored. The school should offer a coordinated approach, with all departments involved, so that the school can identify exactly where the support is needed and the strengths and weaknesses of the child. Parents should ask how children’s special needs are managed in the school and how all staff members are kept up to date with each child’s situation, as this will provide an idea of how much emphasis the school places on SEN.

Understanding needs When looking at wether a particular school will be right for your child, honesty is key. There is no point skirting around a child’s developmental or learning difficulties; the facts will eventually emerge. Highlight your child’s talents. For example, those on the higher functioning end of the autistic spectrum can be particularly good at maths. Some children with SEN have highly developed creative sensibilities and others may be good at sports. Try to get a sense of the school’s ethos and how children with SEN may fit into this. Some schools are highly competitive and focused on academic results, while others may be more SENISSUE78

Special schools often offer a far greater level of on-site therapeutic support accommodating and inclusive for those with different abilities and needs.

Special schools Some children manage in mainstream school until the age of about six or seven, or sometimes until the end of the primary years, and then start to fall behind their peers. Sometimes the school will alert the parents to any issues, or the parents will have a niggling doubt that everything is not going well. This can create a conundrum for parents as they are often reluctant to send their child to a special school, fearing that they may be labelled as a “special needs child”. For children of average ability but with a learning difficulty, some of the special schools provide excellent intense tuition which follows the national curriculum for a couple of years, after which children are often ready to return to mainstream schooling. If they have struggled a little in their previous mainstream schools, it can be a relief to have your child’s needs fully catered for in a special school that just approaches teaching in a different, more accessible way. Suddenly, children start to turn the corner and are taught the tools they require in order to achieve. These tools remain with them for the rest of their school careers. Special schools often offer a far greater level of on-site therapeutic support for children, such as speech and language services and occupational therapy. This can be a relief for parents who have previously had to take their children out of school for sessions with these professionals. Special schools can also be more flexible about things such as homework, matching demands to the

abilities of students. Children who are bright but who have struggled to achieve at mainstream school because of their SEN, may suddenly find that they are nearer the top of the class in the special school, which can be a huge confidence booster. Once self-esteem is established, children begin to thrive. Children can also be taught specific skills in special schools, such as touch typing, which can be invaluable as they may be able to use a lap top for exams and later on at university.

Living in Sometimes, if parents live too far away from an appropriate special school, or the needs of their children dictate it, they may want to consider boarding. There are many excellent boarding schools that provide different levels of support. At these schools, children are able to progress at a slower pace and there tend to be very good therapeutic and extra curricular activities on site. Children can also find it easier to learn to be sociable and mix in with the other children in the special school environment. Special schools tend to have a strong ethos of pastoral support. The priority for all parents is to find the right school for their child. The most important thing is that the child is happy and feels comfortable in his or her skin. This lays the foundation for them to become confident and successful adults.

Further information

Deirdre Donegan is SEN Consultant at Gabbitas, which advises families on independent and SEN education for their children and publishes the guide Schools for Special Needs:















The Hesley Enhancing Lives Programme Helping young people to help themselves Pioneered by Hesley Group, the Hesley Enhancing Lives Programme (HELP) is making a positive difference to the lives of young people with autism and complex needs Combining the latest techniques and practices, HELP is Hesley Group’s successful value-based positive behaviour support programme. Based on sound and accredited principles, HELP reduces the need for high-risk interventions by taking an empathic and proactive approach. The key to its success is simple. The Hesley Enhancing Lives Programme runs throughout everything they do. Across their schools and colleges all staff are trained in the theory and practice of HELP and build it into their person-centred approach. Recent success stories have shown that HELP has had a positive effect on the emotional wellbeing of those who use their services. Many can now self regulate their behaviour and as a result are able to move to less intensive supported living, often closer to home. The following case studies demonstrate the power of Hesley’s innovative programme.

Claire’s story When Claire first arrived at Hesley’s Fullerton House School she was an aggressive and destructive 13-year-old, with some of the most challenging behaviour they had ever seen. Within Hesley’s safe environment they put in place a multi-skilled team to deliver a range of therapeutic and support services. The transformation in Claire’s behaviour was incredible. Today she enjoys a level of independence unthinkable when she first arrived. She regularly meets up with her friends and works three days a week at Hesley’s in-house hairdressers. The consistent support she received from her team has helped her move from children’s services to adult services. She’s now planning to move to a supported living setting.

Rob’s story When Rob arrived at Hesley’s Wilsic Hall School, he could make sounds and noises, but they were very hard to understand. He couldn’t read or write and he was obsessed with turning electrical equipment on and off. All this frustrated Rob who would become agitated, throw things, hit and kick out. The dedicated speech and language therapy, as well as their occupational WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

health, teams worked closely with Rob to develop a unique and structured education programme. Rob really took to this and made great progress. Now Rob’s speech is much clearer and he’s reading independently. And out of the classroom, he’s much happier, relaxed and confident.

Amir’s story When Amir arrived at Hesley, his needs were complex. He would grab staff around the neck and push his face very close to others to get attention. He’d also bang his head and bite his finger when not understood. Amir refused to enter places such as the supermarket and to complicate things, Amir had some medical issues around eating, made worse by his tendency to eat anything he could get his hands on. Hesley’s multi-disciplinary team quickly created a person-centred plan to meet Amir’s needs. Specialists helped with his dietary requirements and the team developed strategies to help him find positive ways for him to express his needs, wants, likes and dislikes. With a consistent team who really understood his needs, Amir has grown in confidence. He interacts with others, self-injury behaviour is now rare and he’s much happier. He now enjoys going swimming and even takes part in his weekly food shop. Spurred on by recent success, Hesley Group is more committed than ever to their Hesley Enhancing Lives Programme. They continue to find innovative and unique ways to help those in their care be as happy and independent as possible.

Enquiries freephone 0800 055 6789





Advertisement feature

Opportunities for training with Treloar’s Treloar's is a centre of excellence in Hampshire for the education and care of children and young people aged two to 25. Treloar’s specialises in supporting individuals with complex physical disabilities, often linked with learning and other disabilities. Treloar’s now offer a full range of accredited, mandatory and professional development courses for those who educate, work with or care for disabled children and adults. The professionals delivering the training work daily with the students at Treloar’s and have a wealth of knowledge and understanding not only of the difficulties faced by the young people themselves, but also of the educational, health and social care teams supporting them. Examples of our courses are: Working Creatively with Disabled Children and Adolescents (£95 pp) is a one day CPD conference aimed at professionals including counsellors, psychotherapists and CAMHS clinicians. The aim is to provide an insight into working with individuals with low cognitive functioning, learning disabilities, and/or little or no verbal communication, combining theory with specific, creative interventions to support communication and therapeutic working. Advanced Professional Certificate in Teaching Learners with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Level 5 (£595 pp) is for qualified teachers working with learners who have special educational needs and disabilities. SENISSUE78

Learning Support Assistant, Facilitating Learning (£95 pp or £850 per group of 10+) is a CPD course designed for those working with children and adults in the classroom. The objective of the course is to facilitate learners to engage in more peer to peer working, promote independent learning and work more effectively with learners. NVQ Diploma in Advice, Information and Guidance Level 4 (£1300 pp) is aimed at experienced individuals who work directly with people disseminating information, advice, guidance and formal advocacy. Some previous course feedback includes: “Very well thought out, knowledgeable trainers”. “Great practical session”. “This course is a must for practitioners working in the sector”. Contact us today for full information on all our courses and workshops. Kaz Lodge, Training Services Co-ordinator: 01420 547400 Ext 6428 WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Cruckton Hall

Cruckton School offers education on a residential or day basis to boys aged seven to 19 years who have been diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder, providing a warm, structured, caring learning environment. The school specialises in educating boys with Asperger’s syndrome and associated co-morbid presentations, vulnerabilities and/or challenging behaviours and providing continuing support throughout the boys’ school career, into further education and beyond. Cruckton Hall’s strengths lie in its consistent record of success, in both academic and social spheres, the quality and experience of the staff team and the positive measurable outcomes for all the students. Placements may be on a day basis, weekly, termly, full 52-week residential, for respite care overnight, at weekends and during school holidays. Please contact: T: 01743 860206 F: 01743 860941 Cruckton Hall School, Cruckton, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY5 8PR email:

A futuristic answer to classroom shortages A Hampshire school has transformed what was once a problematic, wasted area into a striking outdoor classroom. Lydlynch Infant School was facing an issue many schools share: a lack of available learning space. On any particular day, small groups gather for sessions on phonics, handwriting, storytelling and pastoral care. Accommodating these activities was proving a significant challenge. The school initially considered installing a wooden summer house, but when a future parent at the school introduced the Solardome glasshouse design, they could see its advantages. Firstly, its futuristic look complemented the “space”-themed classroom that it would be adjacent to. But more importantly, the fact that teachers could easily see in meant it could be used much more freely. Since it opened, the dome has hosted small group sessions, meetings and even became a polling station for Lydlynch Election Day. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK









SEN provision in the independent sector Pearl Barnes examines how changes to the SEN system are affecting independent schools


ince they were introduced a year ago, the Government’s SEN re f o r m s have dominated every SEN department across the country, but with reforms spanning across all ages and phases of education, what do they mean for the independent sector and how should they be implemented? Independent schools vary from large boarding schools to specialist schools catering exclusively for pupils with special educational needs. Over 13 per cent of all pupils within the independent sector are classified as SEN, with a wide range of varying needs from dyslexia to emotional and behavioural needs and to severe, multiple and profound learning needs. 2941 (four per cent) of pupils have statements of SEN, a slight increase on 2014. Dyslexia is by far the largest group, representing nearly half of all pupils with SEN and disabilities. (ISC Census, 2015). SEN reforms focus heavily upon the key themes of: • longitudinal support from birth to 25 years • greater emphasis upon differentiated teaching and a graduated response to identification and intervention (assess-plan-do-review) • transition of statements of SEN to a multidisciplinary education, health and care (EHC) plan • greater information sharing and parental engagement • greater opportunity for, and emphasis upon, pupil participation. The SEN Code of Practice (2014) is endorsed in law through the Children


and Families Act (2014). It upholds best practice for all children and young people with SEN and reflects all other regulatory frameworks, including the inspection framework (2014) and the Equality Act (2010). The Code is statutory guidance for all organisations who work with and support children and young people with SEN; all settings must have regard to it, explaining any departure from it. It uses the terms “should" to reflect best practice and "must" to describe statutory guidance. The Code facilitates the embedding of equality and inclusion, providing equal access to education, the bedrock of our educational system.

What is mandatory for independent schools and colleges? All educational settings have a duty to uphold the Code, which embeds the “reasonable adjustments duty” – the duty to take every reasonable step to avoid substantial disadvantage to a disabled person caused by a provision, or practice applied by, or on behalf of, a school, or by the absence of an auxiliary aid or service. This duty is not new, as it was originally defined under the Disability Discrimination Act (2002). The duty relates to individuals with a disability: a long-term (more than 12 months) condition which has a substantial affect upon daily living. The impact of this duty upon independent schools is wide-ranging, influencing decisions regarding admissions, additional support and intervention. Although the duty is related to disability legislation, children and young people with SEN are often

A disabled pupil… cannot be refused admission on grounds of disability

encompassed within this legislation as they are pupils who have a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made and who have greater difficulty in learning than their peers, or have a disability which prevents or hinders them from being able to access provision. Hence it can be argued that disability legislation encapsulates SEN provision too. Under the reasonable adjustments duty, the provision for auxiliary communication aids is mandatory and applies to the provision for equipment, such as coloured overlays for dyslexic pupils, hearing aids, pen grips and specially adapted PE equipment. The reasonable adjustments provided must avoid putting the pupil at a substantial disadvantage, and must facilitate access and inclusion to the entire range of activities which are on offer for all pupils within the setting.

Admissions and support If a disabled pupil with the mental ability to perform within the context of the setting, given adaptations, applies to attend an independent school, s/he cannot be refused admission on >> SENISSUE78



grounds of disability. Once admitted, the responsibility for provision to avoid putting the pupil at a substantial disadvantage, and maintenance of such provision, rests upon the setting. Parents, who are seeking the best possible provision for their child with SEN, may wish to consider what schools have to offer, before they make a choice over a particular setting. The Code provides detail regarding the information which must be shared on the school’s website through the SEN Information Report. It must provide information for parents to enable them to make the appropriate choices when selecting educational provision for their child, relating to: • how children and young people with SEN are identified and supported • what additional provisions are available • how information is shared with staff • how pupils with medical needs are supported • who to go to for advice • how parents will be informed of their child’s progress • what specialist services are available/utilised • how children with SEN will be included in extra curricula activities • how decisions regarding additional support are made • how accessible is the school environment • the complaints procedure • how parents are consulted and advised.

Raising standards SEN reforms, teachers standards and the inspection framework all focus heavily upon raising standards of teaching and learning for pupils with SEN, placing the responsibility upon teachers for providing differentiated opportunities for their pupils to progress and develop, even where additional SENISSUE78

Teachers need to be monitoring progress of all learners and identifying areas of concern

support is accessed. All teachers must therefore: • be aware of the specific learning needs of the individual pupils in their class/es • be trained in how these specific needs impact the acquisition of skills and knowledge of their subject • make reasonable adjustments, by adapting their teaching styles and strategies to meet the individual needs of all learners to enable pupils to progress and develop in line with their capabilities • monitor and track the progress of all pupils to ensure appropriate progress is being made • ensure pupils are appropriately supported around key transition points. The overarching responsibility upon class teachers within the independent sector remains rooted in the aspiration of quality first teaching and differentiated learning opportunities to be able to meet the individual needs of all learners. Outstanding teachers should be able to act upon information to deliver highly engaging and motivating lessons which provide opportunities for progression for all pupils irrespective of their range of learning needs. Teachers need to be monitoring and tracking progress of all learners and identifying areas of concern, hence the assessplan-do-review approach must be universally embedded.

Assess: • school systems and processes should be established to track and monitor the performance and progress of all pupils • this involves detailed baseline data and ongoing assessment. Plan: • where an area of need is identified, teachers must plan for differentiated teaching strategies to enable the pupil to progress • planning should be in partnership with specialists including the SENCO and any advisory professionals • additional provision should be planned which is targeted and tailored to the individual and preferably time-limited • plan to measure the effectiveness of the intervention and additional support. Do (implementation): • provide appropriate learning opportunities • differentiate the learning opportunities • work with the learning support department to ensure consistency in support and provision and that any additional support is integrated within the teaching and learning Review: • pupil progress meetings should occur regularly to review the progress of pupils with SEN • teachers should liaise with the learning support department over what worked well and what needs to happen next to ensure progress is made • teachers should provide opportunities for feedback to pupils and ensure pupils are able to participate in the development of their provision • parents should be consulted regularly (at least three times WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


a year) and provided with opportunities to participate in the planning and delivery of their child’s support • SEN support/SEN register should be reviewed three times a year to ensure additional provision is targeted towards those who need it most • plan for the next steps.

The SEN register and SEN support When addressing the SEN register and who should be put on SEN support, although it is acceptable to use a standardised approach, there must also be flexibility to cater for individual differences. There is a distinct move away from the one-size-fits-all approach, to a more personalised service which addresses individual needs. Hence, utilising a standard cut-off point for accessing additional support may be inappropriate; a far more appropriate mechanism for offering provision is based upon those who need it. Careful assessment and regular pupil progress meetings are the most effective monitoring systems for

There is a requirement to evaluate the impact of additional support: is it effective? identifying those pupils who may need additional support. All educational providers are accountable, and must make every endeavour to ensure the educational service they provide is effective. There is a further requirement therefore to be able to evaluate the impact of additional support: is it effective? How do you know? If not, why not? Monitoring the impact of additional support requires highlighting on the register the groups which are being supported. Therefore, WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

independent schools should be tracking impact through provision mapping. Furthermore, schools should track the four categories of need (cognition and learning; speech, language and communication needs; physical and sensory needs; emotional, social and behavioural needs) in order to identify what works well for each category.

EHC plans Although legislation around EHC plans remains complex, the process of transition to EHC plans remains the responsibility of the local authority (LA). No child should lose provision as a result of the transition to the EHC plan. Parents have the right of appeal to an independent tribunal where a plan is rejected and can also access disagreement resolution (mediation) services. Where an LA names an independent school, the LA must meet all the costs of the provision, including the board and lodging. If, however, the child’s parents have made alternative suitable arrangements which are not agreed by the LA, for example, within the independent sector, the LA is not subsequently obliged to pay for the provision. Where these alternative arrangements are made, the LA must be satisfied that the arrangements will be able to meet the needs of the child. Any school, parent or young person post compulsory school age can request an LA to conduct a statutory

assessment at any time. The LA of the child’s residence would be required to conduct the assessment and consult all agencies, including health, the school and an educational psychologist. They have a legal duty to listen to the parents’ and child’s wishes, and to consider all the options for educational provision. It is worth noting that although the pupil has a right to be educated within a mainstream environment this does not preclude the consideration of a special school, including, where necessary, an independent specialist provider. Parents are able to access an overview of the specialist services on offer within their locality through the LA local offer.

Who to go to for help? All independent schools must, under Education Regulations (2010), draw up a complaints procedure which is readily available to parents. It must provide the opportunity for any complaint to be considered informally and if the parent remains dissatisfied, a formal complaint can be made in writing and heard in front of a panel of at least three people, one of whom must be independent of the running of the school. Should a parent continue to remain dissatisfied, they can complain to the Secretary of State directly. The Revised SEN Code of Practice is arguably the most significant document regarding SEN provision within the Independent sector in recent times; it provides a mandate for reform to ensure all children and young people have the opportunity to achieve the best possible educational outcomes.

Further information

Pearl Barnes, a former President of nasen, is an SEN consultant and specialist teacher:



TES SEN SHOW Advertisement feature

Inspiring special educational needs professionals for 23 years… The UK’s largest special educational needs show is back this autumn with more CPD, advice, inspiration and information for school leaders, teachers, support staff, parents and carers.

Learn from professionals with SEN expertise 34 leading SEN experts will come together to debate the issues, offer insight into the latest SEN research and provide up-to-date training opportunities and practical ideas to take back to your classroom. Discover tools and strategies to support a range of special needs, including dyspraxia, dyslexia and autism. Gain a comprehensive overview of all things SEND, relating national policy to classroom practice, school inspection requirements to effective inclusive practice, assessing without levels to providing equity and equality of opportunity. Learn how to empower children to be resilient and think for themselves; discover some tried-and-tested strategies to help you deal with challenging behaviour in the classroom and 13 things about sensory processing these children wished you knew. Come along and hear from the renowned Barbara Arrowsmith Young, founder of the Arrowsmith Program. In her seminar, “A personal journey into the world of the brain”, Barbara will talk about her journey of discovery and innovation to overcome her own severe learning disabilities and her development of cognitive programmes to address learning disorders. With 48 seminars over the two days, you’re bound to find some that inspire you. Book before the show to secure your place. Seminars are just £15 +VAT each.

"The seminars were all excellent and the range of exhibitors were all also outstanding. Too many to see and not enough hours in the day!"

Alex Trigg

"The highlight was being able to go from stand-tostand and learn about all the different resources available for learners with special needs."

Emily Cleary

of the latest tools and benefit from free samples and exclusive show discounts. With so much on offer, you’re certain to find a wealth of fresh, exciting and creative special educational resources and suggestions for classroom activities and lesson plan ideas – in fact everything you need for the new academic year. Register for free entry today TES SEN Show is more than just an exhibition; it is also an excellent networking and learning opportunity. That’s why the show has become the UK’s must-attend SEN event. This important free-to-attend event has all the resources, ideas, advice and CPD training to provide teachers, SENCOs, support staff and parents with the tools and skills to help all pupils achieve. Whether you are responsible for one or many pupils with special educational needs, you will find the support and the resources you require at the TES SEN Show 2015.

Explore thousands of resources The exhibition, running parallel to the seminar programme, will host over 200 suppliers, offering thousands of resources and services – assessment materials, visual aids, audiobooks, software, educational toys and games, multisensory supplies, maths and literacy resources, and so much more. Visitors will get the chance to try products for themselves, view demonstrations WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Make sure you don't miss out on this vital event. Get your free fast-track entry pass and book your CPD seminars online:









Teachers in demand The supply and quality of new teachers is causing staffing problems in schools, says Miriam Baseluoss


s the economy in the UK improves, the demand and competition for new teachers is increasing and, as a result, recruiting teachers is proving challenging. As well as teacher recruitment and retention being an issue, the evidence also shows that the number of outstanding graduates entering the profession has decreased significantly. The Department for Education (DfE) figures show that almost 50,000 qualified teachers left the profession in 2014. This is equivalent to one in ten teachers leaving the profession in 12 months, which is the highest percentage in the last ten years. Over the last five years, this figure has increased by 25 per cent. The DfE has also highlighted the growing number of teaching posts that have not been filled. The total number of vacancies was over 1000 in 2014, compared to 750 in 2013. The school-age population is growing in the UK and the DfE says there are currently 8.4 million pupils enrolled in state-funded and independent schools in England. This is a 1.3 per cent growth in comparison to January 2014 and is largely driven by a 2.1 per cent increase in the number of pupils in state-funded schools. The Government cannot afford to lose valuable teachers at any time,

As schools struggle to fill positions, the standard of teaching undoubtedly declines but especially not in the context of rising pupil numbers.

Attracting quality The aim for schools is not only to fill the vacancies, but to fill them with outstanding teachers. Crisis in teacher recruitment means that as schools struggle to fill positions, the standard of teaching undoubtedly declines. Students are being taught in core subjects by teachers who do not have the relevant qualifications. Education workforce expert John Howson has said: “The acceptances for entry into training in 2015 will not be sufficient… so we now know that recruitment for some schools, especially in and around London, but not exclusively in this area, will again be a challenge in 2016.” Recruiting teachers should not be at the expense of the quality of education students receive. The Government needs to focus on providing the highest level of teacher training and ensure that entry

requirements for these courses are sufficient. The calibre that headteachers are expecting from newly qualified teachers should be mirrored, if not exceeded during training. The profession should also be advertised to attract the best graduates. A DfE spokesman said: “We want the best and brightest teachers in our schools, and lots of them. That is why we are offering increased bursaries worth £25,000 tax free to top graduates training in priority subjects, including physics and maths, and prestigious Scholarships for trainees in maths, physics, chemistry, and computing. “We always allocate more places than are needed to ensure a high quality supply of teachers across England's classrooms, we never expect to fill to 100 per cent of allocated places, and we are confident we will be able to meet future demand for teachers.” It could also be argued that the bad publicity teaching has recently received could be the cause of not having the highest quality of professionals for schools to choose from. For example, the changes to pay, such as the abolishment of mandatory pay scales in 2011, could be a cause of the increase in experienced educators leaving the profession. The workload that teachers must endure could also be why graduates are put off choosing this career path. The positive aspects of the profession should be promoted and investment should be put into encouraging those with passion to succeed.

Further information

Miriam Baseluoss is from REESON Education, a London-based recruitment company: Schools need teachers who have benefitted from the highest quality of training.










Please email press releases, comments and article ideas to Peter:


Never miss an issue of the UK's leading special educational needs magazine! See inside back cover or contact Anita or Amanda: 01200 409 800


For the best advertising packages, contact Denise: 01200 409 808

Free SEN Newsletter

Sign up for your monthly email update on all aspects of SEN at: or email:

SEN Magazine: keeping you informed and up to date SEN Magazine Ltd. Chapel House,

In the next issue of SEN Magazine: • PMLD • safeguarding • creative arts • spina bifida • epilepsy • professional support for teachers • complementary therapy • attachment • wheelchairs • parents’ rights Plus news, reviews, CPD and events listings and much more Follow us on

Join us on

5 Shawbridge Street, Clitheroe, BB7 1LY T: 01200 409800 F: 01200 409809 W: E:



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

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



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.

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

Autism and Learning - PG Certificate/Diploma/MEd

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.

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.


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 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 Specific Learning Difficulties with Middlesex University 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.

The Autism Spectrum (“WebAutism”) University Certificate distance learning programme Are you working or living with children or adults with autism? Would you like to gain a recognised qualification in autism theory and practice? The University of Birmingham is the leading provider of degreelevel education in autism in the UK. The Autism Spectrum (“WebAutism”) University Certificate distance learning programme is a web-based part-time, distance learning programme completed over a year of study, earning 60 credits at Level C (equivalent to the first six months of an undergraduate degree). It is of particular interest to those who are working with children and adults on the autism spectrum and have no prior Higher Education qualification. Learning support assistants, support staff and parents will find the programme particularly helpful. For further information, contact Andrea Macleod:

0121 415 8442

SEND and First Aid Training HEADS Training, based at Hadrian School, Newcastle upon Tyne, work in collaboration with a range of experienced tutors nationally to deliver high quality SEND and first aid training. For more details and course dates, visit:

First Aid Training Courses HEADS Training deliver a range of first aid training courses in the North East of England. The courses include FAW, Paediatric First Aid, Emergency First Aid and can also deliver bespoke training.

Postgraduate Diploma in Dyslexia and Literacy 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.

follow us on join us on


CPD, TRAINING AND EVENTS Health and Welfare Courses HEADS Training can deliver Health and Welfare courses to you organisation on Fire Safety, Food Safety, Risk Assessment, Health and Safety, COSHH and infection control.

Various dates Learning By Doing London (check website for dates)

Following his popular training seminars and webinar last year, award-winning, specialist SEN solicitor Douglas Silas takes a closer look at the new SEN framework one year on, including how to deal with tricky issues. This training is CPD accredited but is aimed at both parents and professionals.

Various September and October

Specialist Assessment: Principles and Practice in Assessment for and Management of Access Arrangements 15 Sept: London 30 Sept: Manchester 7 October: Bristol

Full-day event

Various September and October

Access Arrangements: Update on the 2015/2016 JCQ Regulations 16 Sept: London 1 Oct: Manchester

Half-day event (AM or PM)

Various September and November

Understanding and supporting children with PDA 29 Sept: Glasgow 18 Nov: London

The course, organised by The National Autistic Society, and delivered by Phil Christie from the Elizabeth Newson Centre, aims to develop a clearer understanding of PDA and its relationship to autism spectrum disorder. The session will focus on developing an understanding of developmental pathways and educational management of some of the more complex children within the autism spectrum, particularly those who fit the profile of PDA.

Various September to December

Promoting Positive Behaviour Training 15 Sept: Hull 17 Sept: Gateshead 1 Oct: Cleckheaton 24 Nov: Liverpool 3 Dec: Sheffield

Designed to enable successful inclusion of a broad range of individuals and groups of learners including those with neurological conditions such as autism, Asperger syndrome, ADHD, ADD and related disorders, whilst fully meeting the needs of their peers.

Various September to December

Visual Interventions and Social Stories Training 8 Sept: Leeds/Bradford Airport 18 Nov: London Victoria 26 Nov: Coventry 10 Dec: Halifax

A visual and auditory social and behavioural strategy for teaching and support staff working with learners with autism, Asperger syndrome, ADHD and related conditions.


T.E.A.C.C.H. Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children

3 DAY TRAINING COURSE - ÂŁ391 27-29 January 2016 Course led by: Prof Gary Mesibov Div. TEACCH

This introduction training is most appropriate for educators, therapist, administrators, paraprofessionals & families AM/PM refreshments & light lunch

199-203 Blindfold Ave Kettering Northants NN16 9AT Tel/Fax: 01536 523274 Email: Book on-line:

Various September to December

ADHD / ADD Training 9 Sept: Brighouse 30 Sept: Manchester 17 Nov: King’s Lynn 2 Dec: Gateshead

Strategies for the effective inclusion of learners, for educators and/or support staff, designed to successfully include learners with ADHD.

Various September to December

Dyslexia Training 29 Sept: Liverpool 8 Oct: Carlisle 8 Dec: Manchester

Strategies for the effective inclusion of learners, for educators and/or support staff, designed to successfully include learners with dyslexia.

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.





CPD, TRAINING AND EVENTS Various September to December

Autism/Asperger Syndrome Training 16 Sept: Carlisle 21 Sept: Rugby 6 Oct: Liverpool 1 Dec: Brighouse

Strategies for effective inclusion of learners with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) for teachers and/or support staff, designed to enable successful inclusion of learners with autism and Asperger syndrome.

September 2015 15 and 16 September

The Digital Education Show Middle East 2015

16 September

Vital Statistics Workshop: The Essentials for Diagnostic Report Writing London

Half-day event

16 September

Half Day Access Arrangements Update with the Vital Statistics Workshop: The Essentials for Diagnostic Report Writing

Make a day of it and combine your Half Day Access Arrangements Update with the Vital Statistics Workshop for the day delegate rate of £155. Call the office to book and obtain the discounted rate.

01386 712650

Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, Dubai, UAE

The Digital Education Show is the Middle East’s largest education conference bringing educators, principals, IT and administration together for one shared goal.

16 September

Teaching Assistants: High-Impact Training and Effective Deployment London

The definitive event to ensure your school is maximising the impact of teaching assistants through effective communication, high-quality training and successful deployment in the classroom. Book today using promotional code SEN15 and receive 20% off your place.

020 7954 3434 conferences/TA15

22 September

Specialist Assessment: Principles and Practice in Assessment for and Management of Access Arrangements in FE London

Full-day event

23 September

Pathological Demand Avoidance Parents Conference Northampton

The PDA Society has announced its first ever parents conference, to be held at The Park Inn by Radisson, Northampton. Speakers will include: Phil Christie (Consultant Child Psychologist), Jo Clarke (Director of Petros: Resilience for Life), Jane Sherwin (author of PDA: My daughter is not naughty) and Neville Starnes (PDA Society Trustee).

Dr Wenn Lawson – Autism, Communication and Sensory London

This one-day workshop, organised by The National Autistic Society, will explore communication and sensory differences in depth, using available research, personal stories and anecdotes, video and practical hands on examples. The presentation will be non-technical (but will utilise technology) and will be down-toearth and fun. LawsonCommunication2015C

24 and 25 September

PECS Level 1 Training Workshop York

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

26 September

The Raviv Method: Overcoming Learning Difficulties Workshop Lancaster Hall Hotel, London W2 3EL Cost: £50

The event will explore The Raviv Method, a breakthrough treatment for the range of learning difficulties, including dyslexia and ADHD that affect children and adults. This course is ideal for therapists, teachers, schools, organisations and parents.

0203-318-9757 23 September

SoSAFE! Social and Sexual Safety Glasgow

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 609555


24 September

28 September

Language of Emotions

29 September

PECS to Speech Generating Devices London

Learn to identify students ready to make the progression to an SGD. The course will teach you how to select a device, prepare the learner and trouble shoot. A full day interactive workshop.

01273 609555

29 September

Girls on the autism spectrum conference Falkirk, Scotland

This conference, organised by The National Autistic Society, will examine the unique challenges facing girls and women with autism, including first-hand accounts from women on the spectrum about the issues surrounding day-to-day living, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed.

30 September

Henshaws Specialist College Open Evening Harrogate

An opportunity for families and students to explore the campus, meet staff and students and learn how Henshaws could support you to achieve your goals. Booking essential. For more information and to book:

01423 886451

30 September - 2 October

GESS Indonesia – Bursting with Education Ideas Jakarta Convention Centre, Indonesia

Launching this year, GESS Indonesia will serve Indonesia’s booming education industry. GESS is free of charge to attend, giving you the opportunity to experience innovative exhibits and demonstrations from industry experts on the very latest education technologies and solutions.


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

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.


CPD, TRAINING AND EVENTS Various October and December

Understanding Autism and Introduction to the SPELL Framework 7 Oct: Manchester 3 Dec: London

The course, organised by The National Autistic Society, will provide an overview of the autism spectrum and focus on providing effective support for individuals with autism, based on The National Autistic Society’s SPELL framework.

Various October and November

Makaton foundation course Bridge College, Manchester Saturday 31 October Saturday 7 November

A great opportunity to increase your skills. Price: £99.00 including all course materials. For further details:

October 2015 1 October

Autech 2015 Manchester

Autech 2015 will explore how people with autism can be better supported through the use of assistive technology. Plus, sensory expert Olga Bogdashina will present on the “intense world” interpretation of autism.

1 October

Supporting young people with autism conference Belfast

Hear information and best practice around identification and diagnosis of autism, as well as practical advice on how to support those affected by autism in school and at home. This conference is organised by The National Autistic Society.


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.

7 - 8 October

Independent Living Scotland SECC, Glasgow

Independent Living Scotland will bring together people with disabilities, their families and carers along with healthcare professionals to test and compare the latest products on the market, network, gain advice on what is new and identify which product is best suited to each individual need.

Introduction & Application to the


2 DAY TRAINING COURSE - £260 25-26 January 2016 Using the SCERTS curriculum & practice principles to design programming for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Course led by: Emily Rubin MS, CCC-SLP Director

This training is appropriate for: educators, therapists, administrators, paraprofessionals & families AM/PM refreshments & light lunch

199-203 Blindfold Ave Kettering Northants NN16 9AT Tel/Fax: 01536 523274 Email: Book on-line:

9 October

Autism and good practice in design conference London, Royal College of Art

Discussions at this new conference will include planning environments, schools and homes, designing systems to aid support workers in their roles, as well as the impact of sensory considerations on the design of spaces and technology. This conference is organised by The National Autistic Society. design2015C





9th 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.

12 and 13 October

PECS Level 2 Training Newcastle

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

13 October

Autism, relationships and puberty conference Birmingham

At this conference, organised by The National Autistic Society, you will learn tools and strategies to help you talk confidently about relationships with children and adults with autism. It will also feature interactive seminars on keeping people safe, puberty and the legal framework for teachers.

15 October

Optimus Education’s Early Years SEN: Identification and Intervention conference ILEC Conference Centre, London

Meet increased responsibilities under the SEND Code of Practice, improve communication with parents and learn how to identify need early. Book using promotional code SEN15 and receive 20% off your place. For more information:

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 TEACCH trainers from Division TEACCH and trainers from Prior’s Court with extensive training and experience with the TEACCH approach following more than seven years working with Division TEACCH. Price of course to be confirmed. Prior’s Court Training and Development Centre, Newbury, Berkshire

01635 247202

20 October

The Future for Early Years - regulatory change, workforce development and improving delivery of the Foundation Phase Cardiff

Developed as part of the Active for Autism project, these courses, organised by The National Autistic Society, will provide a comprehensive introduction to the autism spectrum and support strategies focusing on the delivery of sport and physical activity.

13 and 14 October

Autism and sport: developing your understanding and developing your practice (2 days) Birmingham


Communication and Autism MAC Birmingham, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham

Two events in one run by the CAT (Birmingham) and ASDOT (Bristol). AM event – A guide to the use of the AET programme materials by local authorities, support services and schools. PM event – Autism Outreach Teams Networking Event 2015. www.accesstoeducation.birmingham.

0207 954 3410

This Policy Forum for Wales Keynote Seminar will include presentations by Professor Chris Taylor (Cardiff University), Jane Alexander (Wales Preschool Providers Association), Linda Davidge-Smith (University of South Wales), Professor David Egan (University of Wales), Cecile Gwilym (NSPCC Cymru), Lynne Hill (Children in Wales), Noeline Thomas (Carmarthenshire County Council), Sandra Welsby (NDNA Cymru) and a speaker from Voice the Union. It will be chaired by John Griffiths (National Assembly for Wales). This event is CPD certified.

21 October

31 October and 1 November

The Raviv Method: Practitioner Training Course Lancaster Hall Hotel, London W2 3EL

Become a practitioner of The Raviv Method. The breakthrough therapy helps children and adults to overcome learning and AD(H)D difficulties.


November 2015 1 - 3 November

The 1st Saudi Conference for Hearing and Speech 2015 This conference aims to raise efficiency in the field of speech, language and hearing sciences by discussing the most recent innovations, trends, concerns and practical challenges encountered to achieve progress in the field.

4 November

Learning to wee and poo in the right place – continence problems in children with autism Barnsley

The course, organised by The National Autistic Society, will focus on the common toileting difficulties in children with autism, toileting training, specific continence issues and autismrelated continence issues. The day will be presented by Dr Eve Fleming (Community Paediatrician) and Lorraine MacAlister (NAS). ContinenceProblems2015C

5 and 6 November

Aggression Replacement Therapy (ART) National Conference 2015 Holiday Inn, Birmingham City Centre, Birmingham B5 4EW

Birmingham Educational Psychology Service are holding a conference on ART adapted for education settings and will include theoretical and practical learning. More details at: www.accesstoeducation.birmingham.

6 November

ADHD Foundation National Conference Liverpool

Interested in how to achieve outstanding outcomes for learners with a range of neurodevelopmental conditions? Find out at the ADHD Foundation National Conference in Liverpool. For more information:

19 November

The Strategic SENCO MAC Birmingham, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham

Support and advice on meeting the requirements of the SENCo role as defined by the SEND COP 2015. www.accesstoeducation.birmingham.

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.



25 - 26 November

Occupational Therapy Show NEC Birmingham

Free-to-attend show for NHS, care sector and independent OTs with CPD

20 - 23 January 2016

Bett Excel London

in attendance, showcasing

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.

the latest products in assisted

training, education conference and exhibition. Around 250 exhibitors are expected to be

living and mobility. Lectures and presentations will cover issues

March 2016

such as mental health, physical support, and children and the family.

December 2015 10 December

Improving children and young people’s health outcomes: integration, mental wellbeing and policy priorities London

This Westminster Health Forum Keynote Seminar will include presentations by Dr Jacqueline Cornish (NHS England), Dr Ann Hoskins (Public Health England), Dr Hilary Cass (Health Education England), Professor Bobbie Farsides (Chair, Working Party on Children and Clinical Research, Nuffield Council on Bioethics), Dr Christopher Chiswell (Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust), Anna Feuchtwang (National Children’s Bureau), Emily Fox (The Albatross Connection), Joe Hayman (PSHE Association), Kate Lees (Portsmouth City Council) and Louise Taylor (The Compton School, London). This event is

1 and 2 March 2016

Professional conference Telford International Centre, Telford

This annual two-day conference, organised by The National Autistic Society, is a unique opportunity for professionals to discuss best practice and share learning. Expert speakers will present an overview of the changing environment and the latest developments in the field of autism.

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.

18 March 2016

Assessing Pupil Progress and Target Setting Birmingham

HEADS Training are delivering a new course in partnership with Peter Imray, Assessing Pupil Progress and Target Setting for those working within the P Scales.

CPD certified.

10 - 12 December

Learning and Teaching Expo Hong Kong

Attend SEN keynotes and

25 to 27 March 2016

Rehacare and Orthopedic Canton and Multidiscipline Rehab Treatment 2016 (R&OC+MDRT) Poly World Trade Centre, Guangzhou, China

online at:

The leading trade fair of rehabilitation therapy, assistive technology, prosthetics and orthotics in Western Pacific Area,

seminars, and discover resources for teachers of students with SEN. Register






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

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

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

Awarding body for the LOtC quality badge:

Literacy Crick Software

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

National Literacy Trust (NLT)

Literacy charity for adults and children:

Music Holistic Music for Children

Hearing impairment Action on Hearing Loss Hearing impairment charity:

Deafness Research UK Charity promoting medical research into hearing impairment:

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

Home education The Home Education Network UK National organisation for home educators:

Music resources for young children and children with additional needs. All original material designed to enable the non-musician to deliver music sessions including, body awareness, sensory experiences, early verbs, self and spatial awareness, communication skills and turn taking. For more information, visit:

PMLD Network

Information and support for PMLD:

Rebound therapy

Shine Information and support relating to spina bifida and hydrocephalus:

SLCN ACE Centre Advice on communication aids:

Afasic Help and advice on SLCN:

Communication Matters Support for people with little or no clear speech:

The Communication Trust Raising awareness of SLCN:

Tourette’s syndrome Tourette's Action

Visual impairment National Blind Children’s Society Support and services for parents and carers of blind children:

The National Rebound Therapy Consultancy

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

UK governing body for rebound therapy:

SEN law Specialising exclusively in SEN cases:

Independent Parental Special Education Advice


Spina bifida

Information and advice on Tourette’s:


Douglas Silas Solicitors



New College Worcester

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

Legal advice and support for parents:

Support and advice to those affected by visual impairment: SENISSUE78


eazine for special SthuebUK'sslecadrinib g mag

to year (6 issues) educational needs ÂŁ48.50 a+44 1200 409800) tions please call: (UK only. For international subscrip

Get every issue of SEN Magazine delivered direct to your home or work place. Simply fill in this form and send it to the address below. Contact details for delivery: Home q Work q Organisation ________________________________________________________________________________________ Title ___________ First name _____________________________ Surname ____________________________________ Address ____________________________________________________________________________________________ Town _____________________________________________ County __________________________________________ Postcode _________________________________ Tel. (inc. STD)______________________________________________ Email _______________________________________________________________________________________________ Signature ___________________________________________________________________________________________ Which of the following categories best describe your involvement with special educational needs? SENCO Headteacher Teacher TA/classroom assistant Student

q q q q q

Parent q Carer q Therapist q Educational psychologist q Other (please specify) _______________________

How to pay By cheque: make your cheque for ÂŁ48.50 payable to SEN Magazine and post with this form to the address below. Bank or card payment: If you would like to pay by BACS or debit/credit card, please contact the office on: 01200 409800 or email:

Invoice required q Invoicing details (If different from above) Contact name ______________________________________________________________________________________ Organisation ________________________________________________________________________________________ Address ___________________________________________________________________________________________ Town _________________________________________ County ______________________________________________ Postcode ______________________________ Tel. (inc. STD) _______________________________________________ Order number _________________________________ Signature ____________________________________________

Subscriptions, SEN Magazine, Chapel House, 5 Shawbridge Street, Clitheroe BB7 1LY Tel: 01200 409800 Email: SENISSUE78


Accounts/contact email _______________________________________________________________________________ If you do not want to receive our monthly newsletter, tick here q