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Nov • Dec 2016 Issue 85

Helping dyslexics to shine Useful tips for teachers and parents

Fighting the system Getting the right school placement for your child

Lost in music Using music to help children with PMLD

ADHD • attachment • creative arts • SEN teaching • epilepsy • bereavement complementary therapy • spina bifida • safeguarding • wheelchairs • autism education, health and care plans • SEN law • CPD, recruitment and more…

This issue in full Nov • Dec 2016 • Issue 85

Welcome Many children and young people with SEN find it difficult to fulfil their potential at school because they learn in a different way to their peers. Pupils with dyslexia, who are usually characterised as bright and creative, tend to struggle with specific aspects of reading and writing, as well as experiencing problems with organisation and short-term memory. In this issue of SEN Magazine, Diana Hudson argues that teachers and families can make a big difference for those with dyslexia by adopting a positive, encouraging approach (p.64). She also looks at how dyslexic young people learn and provides a range of practical ideas to help them address the challenges they face. Also in this issue, we focus on school placements. How can parents ensure their

son or daughter with SEN is in a school that will enable them to flourish? Mothers EmilieKate Kidd (p.30) and Charlotte Orlowski (p.70) each tell their own story of battling the local authority to get their child into a school they feel is right for them. Continuing the theme of parental choice, Julie Moktadir explains what parents can do, and the rights they have, to request an education, health and care plan for their child (p.24). Elsewhere, you will find articles on attachment (p.28), professional support for teachers (p.34), PMLD (p.36), creative arts (p.40), spina bifida and hydrocephalus (p.42), safeguarding (p.46), wheelchairs (p.48), epilepsy (p.50), complementary therapy (starts p.54), bereavement (p.62), ADHD (p.68) and much more. Peter Sutcliffe Editor editor@senmagazine.co.uk


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Contacts DIRECTOR Jeremy Nicholls EDITOR Peter Sutcliffe editor@senmagazine.co.uk 01200 409 810 ADVERTISING SALES Denise Williamson Sales Manager denise@senmagazine.co.uk 01200 409 808 MARKETING & ADMINISTRATION Anita Crossley anita@senmagazine.co.uk 01200 409 802


SUBSCRIPTION ADMINISTRATOR Amanda Harrison office@senmagazine.co.uk 01200 409 801 DESIGN Rob Parry www.flunkyflydesign.co.uk design@senmagazine.co.uk Next issue deadline: Advertising and news deadline: 7 December 2016 Disclaimer The opinions expressed in SEN Magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher. The publisher cannot be held liable for incorrect information, omissions or the opinions of third parties.

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Elizabeth Calderara Lindsay Cunningham-McLeish Gordon Dickinson Toni Dickinson Jane Douglas Anne Heavey Sarah Helton Diana Hudson Lorrae Jaderberg Paul Keenleyside Emilie-Kate Kidd Johanna McDonald Keir McDonald Julie Moktadir Jo Manuel Nicola Morgan Mary Mountstephen Jennifer Nock Charlotte Orlowski Ailsa Reston Douglas Silas Philip Whitehead Lindsay Whittington

SEN Magazine ISSN: 1755-4845 SENISSUE85

In this issue






Part of the plan


Becoming attachment-friendly

The secret system


Grief unspoken Supporting children with SEN through bereavement and grief


Helping dyslexics to shine

Battling the local authority over school placements


What’s going wrong with SEN provision?

Useful tips for teachers and parents


King of the hopeless attention span

Teachers reveal how they are coping with the new SEN system


Lost in music

How home-schooling helped one student make the most of his ADHD


Fighting the system

Using music to help children with PMLD make sense of sound


Flights of fancy How art can give pupils with SEN a route to self-expression



Looking forwards




Teach and protect

20 22

Are you sitting comfortably?

SEN news What's new?

The latest products and ideas from the world of SEN

Point of view

Have your say!

SEN legal Q&A

SEN roles and responsibilities in the early years

The importance of healthy posture for young wheelchair users


Epilepsy and families

84 Recruitment

Every breath you take Using yoga with children with SEN and behaviour issues


Regulars 14

How epilepsy affects all those who live with it


A mother’s struggle to secure an appropriate school placement for her son with autism

Important healthcare transitions for young people with spina bifida and hydrocephalus

The role of school staff in safeguarding children with SEN

Soft touch Simple reflexology and massage techniques to help calm your child


How horses can help difficult-to-reach children to connect with the world

How one school learned to support pupils with attachment issues



The mane attraction

Requesting an education, health and care plan for your child


Nov • Dec 2016 • Issue 85

Book reviews

How teacher recruitment problems are affecting SEN provision

86 96

CPD, training and events

Your essential guide to SEN courses, seminars and events

SEN resources directory

22 SEN legal Q&A 24 Parents’ rights

40 Creative arts

70 Autism

In the next issue of SEN:

CReSTeD/dyslexia • post-16 options • Down syndrome • assistive technology outdoor activities • SEN support • hearing impairment • SEN provision overseas autism • Education Show preview • recruitment • and much more… Follow SEN Magazine on

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Reports paint damning picture of autism support New SEN system is not meeting needs of autistic children Families face tough battles to get support for their child Health, education and care providers are struggling to provide effective support for children and young people on the autistic spectrum. These are the conclusions of two separate reports by leading UK autism charities. A survey by Ambitious about Autism (see page 7, opposite) finds that a lack of support at school is leading to anxiety and time off school for children with autism, and that some pupils are being illegally excluded from school. A new report by the National Autistic Society (NAS) reveals that parents of children on the autism spectrum are facing long and often exhausting battles to get the right education. It also finds that health and care providers are struggling to provide effective support. The NAS’s School Report 2016 comes two years after the Government introduced its new SEN system in England, promising to make it easier for children to get support, and less adversarial for families. In the Report, parents say they are having to fight just as hard and often do not get the right support from local authorities and the NHS. Around 1,000 parents, carers and children and young people on the autism spectrum took part in the NAS survey. 74 per cent of parents say it has not been easy to get the educational support their child needs. 69 per cent say their child waited more than a year after parents or teachers first raised concerns and 16 per cent waited more than three years to get support. While 50 per cent of parents say they are satisfied with their child’s SEN provision, just 33 per cent are satisfied with health care and 30 per cent with social care.

A last resort 61 per cent of parents say their child is in their preferred type of school, although many parents report facing an uphill battle to get to this point. Appeals to the SEND Tribunal to challenge the local authority’s decision on their child’s education were used by 17 per cent of parents. The appeals process is meant to be a last resort but this figure suggest that many more parents than envisaged are using it. The most common reasons reported for appealing were the local authority’s refusal to issue a statement or EHC plan, or to change the school named in the statement or plan. The Report includes a series of recommendations to the Government and local authorities aimed at reducing delays in getting support and making sure every area has the right mix of SENISSUE85

Autistic children are missing out on their education, the NAS says.

schools and other educational provision. This includes calling on the Government to review how councils are implementing the new SEN system and, based on this, to decide whether additional resources are needed to complete the reforms by their 2018 deadline or whether more time is needed. The Government introduced major reforms to the system two years ago, expanding support to cover a child’s life from birth to 25 and replacing SEN statements with education, health and care (EHC) plans so they covered health and care needs as well as education. The Government said the changes would make things simpler for parents and give them greater control over the support their child receives. School Report 2016 suggests parents are having to fight just as hard and that education, health and care services still are not working together as predicted.   “With the right education and support, children on the autism spectrum can achieve great things and their families can live full and happy lives. Without it, families are left to struggle alone and children can miss out on years of education, putting them and our society at a huge disadvantage”, says Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the NAS. Mr Lever argues that “the Government must take responsibility for its reforms” and review how effective they are being and how local authorities are using the extra funding available to them. “Parents should not be facing long, stressful and exhausting battles, just to get the right education for their children”, he says. School Report 2016 can be found at: www.autism.org.uk/schoolreport2016 WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


School system leaving autistic pupils anxious and excluded Eight out of ten children with autism experience anxiety about attending school and 58 per cent of these pupils find this anxiety so debilitating that they miss days at school. These are the findings of a new survey by the charity Ambitious about Autism. The When Will We Learn? report looks at the impact of the school system on children and young people with autism and their families. It concludes that many families are struggling to get the right support for their children and young people, who, as a result, are not receiving the education they are entitled to. The survey also finds that children with autism are four times more likely to be permanently excluded from school than any other child. Of the families surveyed, 45 per cent also say that their child had been illegally sent home from school, put on a reduced timetable, sent home early or asked not to come in to school when tests or school trips were happening. Parents also report issues for their own health and wellbeing, with 71 per cent of parents of children with autism saying that trying to get them the right support in school was so stressful it caused them to lose sleep. Accessing the assessment process and getting the right support at the right time are also major concerns for families, the survey reveals. 69 per cent of parents say their child had waited more than a year for support and 16 per cent had waited more than three years.

Training gap Louisa Emerson, mother of Fred who features in the report, says: “Fred had an education, health and care plan but the people who should have been supporting him at school had no training or understanding of autism and therefore, did not put his plan into place. There was also a reluctance to fund the support. I was forever being told they didn't have the resources”. Even though he had a diagnosis of autism, Fred was threatened with exclusion from school on a number of occasions. His mother says this made him “incredibly anxious”. Following an incident with another child, Louisa says he was “illegally excluded” for twenty days and taught in a small back room away from other pupils. “Fred no longer felt safe at school”, she says. “As parents, you feel like you have to send your child to school, but we felt like we were sending him to be abused every day. This exclusion had a devastating effect on us all but particularly on Fred – he refused to eat or leave the house. There was no-one to help us.”

Some schools are operating reduced timetables for pupils with autism.

Ambitious about Autism says its survey shows that the education system is still not working for many children and young people with autism. Education is the key to transforming the lives of children and people with autism and early intervention, education and support are critical if children and young people with autism are to lead fulfilling lives and make a positive contribution to society, the report argues. “Every child has a fundamental right to an education. Yet 45 per cent of parents of children with autism say their children have, at some point, been illegally denied that right”, says Ambitious about Autism’s Chief Executive Jolanta Lasota. The charity’s When Will We Learn? campaign is seeking to ensure that children with autism get the right start by making sure their educational needs are assessed promptly after diagnosis. It says that the needs of children with autism should be met by having the right mix of services and support, and that everyone working in schools should receive training to support children with autism. It also calls for the rights of children with autism to be respected by preventing illegal exclusions and supporting school governors to fulfil their legal responsibility to children with autism. The When Will We Learn survey was carried out from 16 June until 1 September 2016 and 745 young people with autism, parents and carers completed the survey. It can be accessed at: www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk/whenwillwelearn

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Combatting child sexual exploitation Child sexual exploitation can be tackled best when all agencies involved take responsibility for their roles, while also working collaboratively towards strategic goals that are clearly identified, understood and agreed by all. This is the conclusion of a report based on inspections by Ofsted, Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and HM Inspectorate of Probation. It calls for a joined-up response to child sexual exploitation and missing children, and says that the police service needs to improve their response by making sure children talk to at least one person of sufficient skill and experience to know how to help. Senior staff in key agencies, in particular police and health, must maintain a grip on this matter, the report says. Tackling child sexual exploitation is not just an issue for local authorities; health and the police must ensure a sufficiently senior person leads this work. A key concern outlined by the inspections is that not all frontline healthcare staff are able to identify the signs of sexual exploitation.   The report looks at how local authorities, the police, probation services, Youth Offending Teams, health services and Local Safeguarding Children Boards are responding to children at risk of child sexual exploitation and those missing from home, school and care in Central Bedfordshire, Croydon, Liverpool, Oxfordshire, and South Tyneside. It finds that good progress has been made since 2014 to tackle child sexual exploitation and support children who have been missing.   The inspectorates found evidence of improvement in the multiagency response to tackling child sexual exploitation over the past two years. However, the report maintains that there can be no room for complacency and more can still be done to ensure all children receive consistently good support from all agencies.

Listening to children Raising awareness is also key to protecting vulnerable children. Children themselves can help in developing materials to help other children understand the risks. Schools have a critical role to play here, as do parents and carers, public services such as transport and recreation, and the local business community. The report also finds that vulnerable children greatly benefit from building a relationship with one trusted individual, such as a social worker, and being actively involved in decisions about their lives. There needs to be a better understanding of why children go missing. The current requirements around return home interviews are not working well enough. The response to children going missing should be based on a proper assessment

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of all known risks. Current risk assessments by the police are inconsistent and their effectiveness is limited for some children. In too many areas, the report says, the health community has insufficient resources and, in a minority of cases, an inadequate understanding of the signs of child sexual exploitation. There is variation in police practice between and within areas, which means some children have to wait too long to get the help and support they need. In most cases observed, professionals were highly committed to engaging with children, listening to their views and understanding their experiences. However, in some cases, this engagement is hampered by poor quality assessments, inappropriate language and ill-informed statements. Oversight of front-line practice by leaders and managers is critical. While there was much evidence of good management in the inspected areas, inspectors still found examples of significant failures. “We have found that strong leadership makes a huge difference”, says Eleanor Schooling, Ofsted National Director for Social Care. “Those areas where there was clear direction and a collective will to tackle this issue did well by their vulnerable children”. Professor Ursula Gallagher of the Care Quality Commission says: “These inspections have revealed a clear need for healthcare providers to make sure their staff are able to not only identify the possible signs of sexual exploitation in children and young people but also, to have sufficient opportunity to do so. It is important that they are able to work together with relevant partners to prevent further harm and abuse.” The report, Joint inspections of child sexual exploitation and missing children: February to August 2016, can be found on the Government’s website: www.gov.uk

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Charity welcomes Labour’s early years taskforce

New funding aims to cut mental health waiting times An extra £25m has been allocated to clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) across the country to accelerate plans for improving mental health services for children and young people. The money is being targeted at helping to cut waiting times for treatment, reducing waiting list backlogs and minimising the length of stay for those in inpatient care. This year, £149m was awarded to CCGs following a commitment by the Government to improve mental health services for children and young people in the 2014 Autumn Statement and 2015 Spring Budget. The new money has been allocated by the Government with the aim of ensuring that by 2020, an extra 70,000 children and young people will be able to access evidence based treatment. In July, NHS England published a detailed plan – Implementing the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health – that set out how new funding should be invested to increase access and improve quality, with an aim to meet 35 per cent of children and young people’s mental health needs in the community by 2020/21. Funding received by CCGs increases each year to 2020/21, with the objective of maximising the amount available for frontline services that benefit children, young people and their families. In keeping with this target, and recognising the pressures which are faced by local areas in transforming their services, NHS England has reprioritised spending on national programmes to identify an additional £25m for CCGs to spend in 2016/17. In order to secure release of the additional £25m, CCGs will be asked to provide details of how they intend to improve average waiting times for treatment by March 2017. “This additional funding is evidence that improving mental health services is an absolute priority for the NHS”, says Clare Murdoch, NHS England’s National Director for Mental Health. “We hope this year to see some real headway being made on ensuring that children and young people with mental health needs are seen and treated as quickly and as close to home as possible.” WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

The Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner has announced that Labour plans to launch an early years taskforce looking into childcare provision and early years learning. Speaking at the recent Labour Party Annual Conference, she said the taskforce will aim to ensure all children and parents have access to quality, affordable childcare. Sense, a charity which supports and campaigns on behalf of children and adults with sensory impairments and complex needs, has been calling on the Government to ensure better access to specialist early years support for disabled children. Earlier this year, the charity led an inquiry into play provision for children with multiple needs, which highlighted a number of barriers currently preventing disabled children from accessing early years and play settings.   “We welcome the news that the Labour Party intends to set up a taskforce specifically looking at access to childcare and early years provision, as it signals a recognition of the important role that these factors play in ensuring that children have the best start in life”, says Kate Fitch, Head of Public Policy at Sense.   The charity believes that access to good quality early education plays a vital role in the development of children with complex needs; however, disabled children often miss out on the opportunities they need due to insufficient funding or a lack of appropriate settings.   “With the arrival of the new 30 hours free childcare initiative, without careful Governmental consideration and funding, families of disabled children could find themselves further side-lined as providers struggle to meet the additional costs of offering places to children with complex needs”, Kate Finch says.   The charity is calling for a nationwide policy of early education funding for children with SEN that includes notional funding to help providers meet the costs of staff training or making premises accessible.

Young carers face bullying at school More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of young carers aged six to 18 say they have been bullied at school and 26 per cent of young carers say they were bullied at school specifically because of their caring role, according to research by the Carers Trust. The charity is releasing new guidance and a training video. The aim is to help professionals working in youth services, sports centres, community clubs and schools to have improved understanding of how caring for a family member may increase the susceptibility of a young person to being bullied. https://professionals.carers.org/bullying

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HCPC launches consultation on revised CPD guidance The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) has launched a consultation on new revised CPD guidance. The proposed changes are primarily to improve the style and content of the “CPD and your registration” guidance document used by members.

Councils could face £320 million bill to convert schools to academies The potential cost to council taxpayers of converting all schools to academies is £320 million, with an additional loss of £80 million every year in business rates income, according to new figures released by the Local Government Association (LGA). The LGA, which represents councils across England, surveyed its members during the summer to find out the potential cost of the Government’s proposed plans, unveiling significant one-off and ongoing costs to council taxpayers.   The Government has yet to outline exactly how it wants to see all schools convert to academy status but continues to stress that its ambition remains for them all to do so. Over recent weeks, the Government has indicated that multi-academy trusts are its preferred model.   Based on data from councils, the LGA estimates that this “sponsored” method could leave councils with up to a £320 million bill. If schools were to use the “converter” method, in which they operate as a stand-alone organisation, the cost to councils could be £120 million.   Where a school converts by the sponsored method, any debt built up by that school generally remains with the council, whereas with the converter method, this is not always the case. However, either method could still leave councils paying significant sums, in particular for legal services.   Both one-off figures will also be in addition to an annual loss of £80 million in business rates for councils, since academies receive an 80 per cent business rates relief.   "If all schools are encouraged to become academies at some point, this will have significant financial implications for councils”, says Councillor Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board. The LGA is opposed to all forced academisation. The Government has also offered academy chains £600 million to help them convert more maintained schools. However, councils have seen that same amount cut from the Education Services Grant. “This crucial grant would have been used to help protect children and ensure that they do their very best in school”, says Mr Watts. “It would also have paid for background checks for staff, speech and occupational therapies, physiotherapy and tackling truancy.” The LGA says that the money that councils are predicted to lose could be better spent on recruiting, training and keeping excellent teachers, and making sure children are safe and have the equipment, facilities and support they need.  SENISSUE85

The revisions to the Council’s CPD guidance have been informed by a market research study. This included an online survey, focus groups and interviews with registrants and key stakeholders to gather views on the CPD requirements and experiences of the audit process. HCPC Director of Policy and Standards Michael Guthrie said: “Although we are not proposing any changes to the standards or overall process at this stage, we would welcome any comments that stakeholders might have about the Standards or our overall approach.”   The consultation will run until 13 January 2017. The outcomes are expected to be considered by the Education and Training Committee and the Council in March 2017, with publication in late spring or early summer 2017.   Those wishing to take part in the consultation can do so at: www.research.net/r/QXR9WMY

Pupils with SEN will suffer in selective education system The Government’s selective education policy will result in 95 per cent of pupils with SEN and disabilities being denied the choice of mainstream education, says the Alliance for Inclusive Education. The Government’s Schools That Work For Everyone Green Paper is an onslaught on disabled children and young peoples’ social mobility, and on their parents’ rights to choose a good mainstream school placement, according to the national campaigning and information-sharing network led by disabled people. The Alliance quotes Government statistics which it says show that children with statements of SEN or education, health and care (EHC) plans represent around 0.1 per cent of grammar school pupils, despite making up 1.8 per cent of the total secondary school population. Children with SEN and disabilities who do not have statements or EHC plans make up 12.4 per cent of all secondary school students, but just 4.2 per cent of grammar school pupils.   In a statement, the Alliance says “It is a complete myth that introducing selective schools in a pick and mix of academies, free, faith and maintained schools has provided greater choice of education provision for children and their parents.” The introduction of greater selection in our education system, through the establishment of new grammar schools and existing comprehensives being permitted to select pupils by ability, means that choice for pupils with SEN and disabilities and their parents will become non-existent, the Alliance warns. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


School-leavers with autism are unprepared for adult life A significant attainment gap among young adults with conditions such as autism and ADHD is going unaddressed, with families being left to fill gaps in support, according to a new report. Life on the Edge of the Cliff, was produced by freelance researcher Tracey Francis, following an eight-week Travelling Fellowship awarded by The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. Only 15 per cent of adults with autism in the UK are in full time paid employment, according to The National Autistic Society. Tracey Francis travelled to Italy, Norway, and the Czech Republic to investigate best practice in preparing school-leavers with learning difficulties for higher education, employment or supported living. Conditions such as Asperger’s syndrome and Tourette’s syndrome, where the difficulties someone is living with may not be immediately apparent, can lead to significant barriers to social and economic inclusion, and potentially to long-term, high-level dependence on welfare and social services. The report highlights a sharp decline in many areas of support after young people leave school, with a widening services gap for the 18 to 25 age group. These include a failure to think, plan and fund in the long term; a lack of understanding and specialist knowledge among service providers; and rigid systems and structures that act as a barrier to flexible provision. It also found that families fulfil a range of support roles, including subsidising adult children financially, researching employment opportunities and helping with applications, finding accommodation and taking responsibility for domestic matters. Some parents leave work to meet the support demands at this stage.

Intelligent young people with high levels of ability are missing out on the chance to achieve their potential and live independently because they are not receiving the support they need once they leave school and enter adult services, the report says. In all the places she visited, Tracey Francis says she witnessed professionals, practitioners and families eager for change. Supporting young people to find their place in the wider world, with all this implies in terms of financial stability, physical and mental health, and personal fulfilment, frees resources for those less equipped to make the same transition, she argues. The report concludes that failing to provide this support contributes to long-term dependency that is undesirable, unaffordable and largely avoidable. In the next issue of SEN Magazine (SEN86, January/February 2017), Tracey Francis will discuss the findings of her report and look at how to prepare school-leavers with SEN for higher education, employment or supported living.

Support for sleepless families of disabled children A new sleep support hub aims to support parents and carers of children with disabilities and SEN to sleep better. Tired Out, created by the charity the Family Fund, has been introduced to support families by pulling together information and resources about sleep and putting them in one place. This includes information about UK-wide support available to families in their local area, useful sleep tips and a wide range of research, resources and stories from families themselves. In 2013, the charity gathered feedback from more than 2,000 parents and carers across the UK about the impact of sleep

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difficulties on households. The subsequent report, Tired all the Time, revealed that 93 per cent of parents and carers were up in the night caring for their disabled child. Parents and carers reported experiencing significant financial, social and emotional challenges as a direct result of not having enough sleep. “Sleep is fundamental for good physical and mental health and it’s often a fundamental that families of disabled children are denied”, says Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children. The Tired Out resource can be found at: www.tiredout.org.uk

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What’s new?

New Wi-Fi connected sensor alarms Medpage Limited have launched a new range of Wi-Fi connected sensor alarms, enabling monitoring over the internet to your mobile phone. The sensors designed for security and building management offer substantial benefits when applied to care applications. Each sensor (door/window alarm, smoke alarm, water overflow alert, PIR movement sensor and universal transmitter) is paired to your phone through an easy to use app, which allows: setup of data/ operations logging, alarms and active sensor times. The door sensor can be used to monitor cupboards, fridges, and internal and external doors opening and closing. Search “Wi-Fi” at: www.medpage-ltd.com

Kidz to Adultz North Taking place on Thursday 17 November (9.30am to 4.30pm) at EventCity, Manchester. Kidz to Adultz North is a free event supporting children and young adults up to 25 years with disabilities and additional needs, their families, carers and the professionals who support them. More than 150 exhibitors will provide information on funding, seating, beds, mobility, bathing, sensory, accessible vehicles, transition, education, The Care Act, legal matters, communication and more. Boost your CPD by attending one or more of the 15 free seminars accredited by TheCPD Certification Service. Topics include: moving and handling, Autism, challenging behaviour, toileting, sleep issues, transition and many more. Tel: 0161 607 8200 Email: info@disabledliving.co.uk www.kidzexhibitions.co.uk

Online Down syndrome training New online training is available for staff working with children with Down syndrome. It provides convenient and costeffective access to up-to-date information and practical guidance for parents, teachers and therapists supporting children with Down syndrome aged from four to 16 years. The training offers an ideal introduction to Down syndrome and wide-ranging advice for teachers and teaching assistants working in both mainstream and special primary and secondary schools. The training is provided by Down Syndrome Education International, a recognised leader in research and education for children with Down syndrome: www.dseinternational.org/services/training SENISSUE85

EQUALS Semi-Formal (SLD) Curriculum EQUALS has announced the availability of the first four Schemes of Work within its brand new Semi-Formal Curriculum, specifically designed and written for learners of all ages with severe learning difficulties. These first four schemes cover My Communication, My Play and Leisure, My Independence and My Thinking and Problem Solving. For more information and free sample downloads, go to the EQUALS website at: www.equals.co.uk or telephone the EQUALS office on: 0191 272 1222.

New SEN Assessment Toolkit from GL Assessment To ensure busy SENCOs have the tools they need to help identify and support children with barriers to learning, GL Assessment have created the SEN Assessment Toolkit. It includes a wide range of assessments, covering dyslexia, literacy, numeracy, and mental health and wellbeing. Described as a “one-stop-shop” for SEN assessments, GL Assessment are confident that whenever a teacher identifies a pupil with a difficulty, the Toolkit will provide them with the means to carry out further investigation and plan classroom interventions. Learn more about the toolkit at: gl-assessment.co.uk/SENToolkit or email: info@gl-assessment.co.uk

New interactive sensory room for Pembroke School Immersive Interactive, the Southport-based special needs technology company, has installed a 7 metre by 7 metre interactive sensory room at Pembroke Dock Community School. The room has seven projectors, with multi-touch on all surfaces, a scent defuser, gesture control, high quality total surround sound and a four by three interactive floor. Headmistress Samantha King tweeted: “Staff were amazed by the capabilities of our new interactive immersive classroom this afternoon after some training with Immersive Interactive Ltd”. Any school or organisation that would like an onsite demonstration should email: info@immersIve.co.uk or telephone: 01704 500580. www.immersive.co.uk WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Autism’s Got Talent 2017 needs you

Time to move on

If you have a relative, child or a friend who is on the autism spectrum and has a great talent that they could share with others, Autism’s Got Talent wants to hear from you.

This is the time of year when decisions about the next phases of a child’s education (such as nursery to primary, primary to secondary or secondary to post-16) start to be discussed. Specialist SEN solicitor, Douglas Silas, provides sound legal advice to parents to ensure carefully managed transitions.

Every year the event celebrates the achievements of people with autism and organisers are looking for a diverse range of talents from across the autism spectrum and the country. Performers of all types are welcome. Entries will be accepted until 31 December 2016. Performers will be selected in January 2017. Email video/Youtube clips to: lisa.robins@thevines.org.uk

Online library for dyslexic and visual learners Specialist SEN publisher Oaka Books has launched Oaka Digital, its new online library for dyslexic and visual learners. This resource is accessible by up to 300 pupils per school and costs just 1p per topic, per pupil for the year (launch price: £149). Oaka Digital includes over 200 visual learning resources and revision aids for KS3 physics, chemistry, biology, geography and history. Containing 3D images, animations, quizzes and activities, Oaka Digital will help SEN and ESL students and visual learners. The digital library can be used alongside existing Oaka Books paper-based materials or as a standalone curriculum-based aid. www.oakabooks.co.uk

Douglas says: “Unfortunately, many parents only come to me after getting into disputes with local authorities, but then find that if they had come beforehand, we could often have helped them avoid or reduce the dispute much earlier.” For more information, visit: www.SpecialEducationalNeeds.co.uk

SCERTS course from National Autistic Society The SCERTS model is a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary educational approach designed for children with autism and related social and emotional learning differences. The model was designed to provide guidelines for helping children progress through the stages of becoming a competent social communicator. It was also designed to provide families and educational teams with the help they may need to feel successful in supporting the child. The National Autistic Society is offering a two-day introductory course on SCERTS in January 2017. To find more information, visit: www.autism.org.uk

CPD training on child and adolescent mental health

SEND Assessment: Measuring What Matters and Evidencing Progress

The Centre for Child Mental Health in London offers oneday conferences, skills-based trainings and longer part-time accredited courses on child and adolescent mental health.

Ensuring you can accurately measure how much progress your pupils with SEND are making over time is an ongoing challenge for schools, especially with the removal of levels and the lack of clarity surrounding the future of P scales.

The training provides practical tools, techniques and key innovative strategies for working with children and teenagers suffering from emotional and behavioural difficulties, such as conduct disorder, eating/sleeping/elimination problems, Asperger’s, autism, ADHD, trauma/abuse/neglect and learning difficulties. 2017 conferences will cover working effectively with children who have a mental health diagnosis, sensory integration disorders, and children/teenagers who are violent, anxious or depressed. 020 7354 2913 info@childmentalhealthcentre.org www.childmentalhealthcentre.org WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Coming up in London on 8 February 2017, this event is designed to help you gain the knowledge and strategies needed to ensure you can accurately assess and support the progress of pupils with SEND in your school and evidence this to parents and Ofsted. To book your place or find out more, visit: www.oego.co/SENDSM SENISSUE85




Free RNIB online resource makes educational books accessible RNIB Bookshare is an online service delivered by Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and provides thousands of accessible textbooks and images to schools and colleges in the UK. There’s also a book request service if the title you require is not available. The service provides curriculum materials for all print disabled students including those with sight loss and dyslexia. To find out how you can sign-up for free, visit: Load2Learn.org, email: bookshare@rnib.org.uk or call the RNIB Bookshare team on: 0300 303 8313.


UK education collection

Net gain for Doncaster Deaf Trust Students at Doncaster Deaf Trust now have improved sports facilities thanks to two grants which total more than £47,000. A Sport England grant for £27,238 combined with £20,400 from the Suez Communities Trust, which supports community and environmental projects, has been used to refurbish and resurface the Trust’s two tennis courts. Bobbie Roberts, chair of Trustees for Doncaster Deaf Trust, said: “Our tennis courts now look fantastic and our students are thrilled to have such great facilities. We are extremely pleased to have received these two grants which have enabled us to give a much needed upgrade to our sporting facilities.” www.deaf-trust.co.uk

Seni-Sphere colour dome The Seni-Sphere from Sensory Technology Ltd incorporates an acrylic dome in a padded vinyl plinth. The dome produces a fascinating effect which colour scrolls, as well as having a built in laser with a whole host of different patterns which rotate and change when active. The Seni-Sphere is ultra-durable due to its thick acrylic dome and padded plinth with reinforced, wipe clean vinyl cover. It is perfect for allowing the user to safely get up close and personal with the effect. It is also available with a selection of wireless remote controls for user interactivity. Shop online at: www.senteqdirect.co.uk

The impact of specialist support The story of Hardeep and his nine-year-old son Eshan is told in RNIB's new film, which introduces its specialist schools and residences for children and young people with vision impairment, complex needs and additional disabilities. Hardeep reveals his experience of how RNIB's education, care and therapies have helped his son who attended RNIB Sunshine House in North London and is now living and learning at RNIB Pears Centre in Coventry. To watch the video and to find out more about RNIB's schools, college and children's residences, visit: www.rnib.org.uk/schoolsandcollege

Equestrian centre grant is cornerstone to SEN programme

Special Yoga Foundation launches 2017 training

The team at Hoof Club CIC in Wiltshire has £68,000 of National Lottery funding from Sport England. This notfor-profit organisation offers riding and horse welfare training to the community and gives children with SEN access through their schools at discounted rates.

Recently classed as “The Kids’ Champion” by The Midult, Jo Manuel will guide attendees on a powerful emotional journey, showing that her training doesn’t just benefit the children. Jo’s grounded, openminded and authentic teaching Image: Gaia Visual. approach creates a wonderful environment to learn in, with many claiming it to be the most rewarding experience.

The grant will pay for a disused farm building to be converted into a training centre and restroom facilities. Work will commence at the end of this year. Organisers hope this will become a cornerstone of the SEN community. School/college SENCOs can apply now for free taster sessions: 01666 860068 johannamcdonald@reinandshine.co.uk www.reinandshine.co.uk SENISSUE85

Example of attendees include health professionals (as a complimentary service to the existing therapeutic practice), parents (looking for tools to use with their children at home) and school and yoga teachers. Special Yoga Foundation is a recognised centre of excellence for therapeutic and professional yoga training: www.specialyoga.org.uk WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Rebound rooms for schools Sunken Trampolines have been engaged by Caephilly County Council in the development of a new Rebound Therapy room for Trinity Fields School in Ystrad Menach.

Vision For Education launches specialist SEN branch in Liverpool Due to continued expansion, Vision For Education are opening a new specialist SEN branch in Liverpool.

Its official launch is scheduled for early November, when the Secretary for Education will be asked to conduct its opening. Sunken Trampolines have extensive experience of providing in-ground trampolines for schools across the UK and have recently launched a consultancy service working with schools to design and build rebound rooms. If your school or organisation is interested in having a rebound room, contact either Joel or Angus. For more information and contact details, visit: www.sunkentrampolines.co.uk

The company say the branch will deliver the same high standards its client schools have come to expect, with experienced and knowledgeable consultants who will take the time to understand clients’ environments and recruit staff that can meet the individual needs of pupils. Schools can also benefit from free trial days alongside Vision For Education’s comprehensive school support programme, which aims to enhance learning environments and deliver unique pupil experiences. For more information, visit: www.visionforeducation.co.uk or call: 0800 085 0644.

St John’s fundraising success The sensory garden project at St John’s Catholic School for the Deaf has been selected as one of the regional finalists in the Tesco/Groundwork Bags of Help scheme. This scheme offers community groups a share of the revenue generated from the 5p carrier bag charge. St John’s will win either £8,000, £10,000 or £12,000. This money will be used to further develop the sensory garden. The pathways have been laid and the School is busy planning the project’s next phase. For more information about St John’s provision for pupils with MSI, visit: www.stjohns.org.uk, call: 01937 842144 or email: mdowson@bostonspa.org.uk

SEN professional development opportunities at Learning and Teaching Expo 2016 Learning and Teaching Expo, Asia’s leading education expo in Hong Kong (10 to 12 Dec 2016), will continue to shine a spotlight on the hot topics of SEN education in Asia and share the latest SEN learning and teaching strategies, effective tools and global development trends at the dedicated SEN Theatre. A wide range of SEN educational resources will also be showcased in the Expo. Admission to Learning and Teaching Expo is free for educators and educational trade professionals. Further information and online registration is now available at: www.LTExpo.com.hk

New versatile Buddy Grass Sofa Whether you wish to create a calming retreat, a one-toone space, a teaching and story time area or a sensory relaxation zone, the Timotay Buddy Sofa and Armchair perfectly compliment any outdoor space.

Easy News for people with learning disabilities

The Sofa and Armchair are versatile and suitable for all weather conditions. All products are manufactured from a mix of recycled and natural materials to ensure longevity of your investment. Use code SEN2016 to take advantage of the introductory price of £795.00 per Buddy Grass Sofa and £620 per Armchair (including VAT and delivery), or a Sofa and two Armchairs for £1695. www.timotayplayscapes.co.uk WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

01933 665151

National disability charity United Response has produced the latest edition of the award winning Easy News – the first magazine designed specifically for people with learning disabilities. Featuring simple language and visual cues, this edition gives readers a news round-up, including the American presidential race, the Italian earthquakes, the fighting in Syria, the Rio Olympics and Paralympics and the Great British Bake Off. To download a copy and sign up for future editions, visit: www.unitedresponse.org.uk/press/campaigns/easy-news SENISSUE85


SEN RESOURCES/SERVICES Advertisement feature

ITV Signed Stories - a new chapter in storytelling Signed Stories is an award-winning storytelling app available with British and American Sign Language. It brings brilliant books to life through engaging sign language and exciting animation. Signed Stories has a simple goal – to help improve the literacy of deaf children and children with special educational needs. It provides an inclusive experience enabling the whole class to enjoy the same stories at the same time. All stories and songs feature sign language, subtitles, animation, narration and music, providing an enriched storytelling experience. Books are selected to complement lesson plans and support learning in the classroom and at home. “The inviting stories, the active presenters and the colourful graphics make this a must for children of various ages. I highly recommend this app for classrooms and families alike.” Dawn Andell, Educational Resource Specialist. Signed Stories is available from the iTunes App Store. Email: signedstories@itv.com






Point of view: charity coordinator

Suffering in silence

Selective mutism should be included in the new Initial Teacher Training Framework, writes Lindsay Whittington


ecently, autism was included in the new Initial Teacher Training Framework, but speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) were not. Yet, according to the 2016 Surrey Communication and Language in Education Study, language impairment is seven times more common than other developmental conditions, including autism. One such SLCN is selective mutism (SM), an emotional disorder and language impairment of childhood whereby affected children speak fluently in some situations, but remain consistently silent in others. The condition is known to start early in life and can be temporary, triggered by situations such as starting school or being admitted to hospital. In some cases it may last right through a child’s school life. Although SM is considered rare, and found in less than one to two per cent of patients referred to mental health establishments, it is likely that many cases go unreported and that this low figure is an underestimation. Many children with the condition are wrongly thought to be difficult, or simply shy. The problem is self-perpetuating in that the condition is not well known so parents and, significantly, teachers do not know what symptoms to look out for. Left untreated, SM can become deeply entrenched and linked with other issues. As a child grows older, SM becomes increasingly difficult to overcome. However, if the condition is recognised early, treatment can be quite simple and effective. One of the challenges of SM is that a child may speak fluently when at home SENISSUE85

and relaxed, but could be entirely mute at school. Hence, it is often the case that teachers are the only ones aware of any issue; thus, it is teachers that are best placed to identify a child with SM. For this reason, it is critical that teachers learn to identify SM, so that they do not unwittingly make the condition worse. Selectively mute children in schools can be put under pressure to speak, penalised for not talking or for talking too quietly, and allowed to become isolated.

It is teachers that are best placed to identify a child with selective mutism Helping children with selective mutism Including selective mutism in the Initial Teacher Training Framework would allow teachers to adapt teaching methods so that these children are included and enabled to succeed. SM is an anxiety disorder, a phobia of talking that can only be overcome by allowing children to take small steps at their own pace as part of a programme of gradual desensitisation. By removing speech anxiety in day-to-day situations, SM children will feel more relaxed and be better able to flourish. In addition to therapeutic treatments, simple adjustments to teaching methods can be extremely effective in enabling SM children to feel relaxed and become able to speak freely, to learn and to succeed.

Schools should work together with the child’s parents to help reduce the child’s anxiety and build confidence. Examples include: allowing the parent to be with the child in school; having staff visit the child at home to establish speech there and then transfer it back to the school setting; and preparing for transitions well in advance by familiarising the child with the room and teacher when other children are not present. SM is easily confused with behavioural problems, yet selectively mute children are often under acute stress, that in turn exacerbates the issue. It is critical that teachers understand, not only how to identify SM, but how to include SM children in the classroom, so as to ensure they are not left behind educationally or socially. If SM is identified and treated early enough, then these children can go on to fulfil their potential and lead normal lives. Teachers have a vital role in this process, but without knowledge about SM, they cannot help these children and the many others with SLCN. That is why it is so important for SM to be included in the revised Initial Teacher Training programme.

Further information

Lindsay Whittington is a coordinator and founding member of SMIRA, a charity providing support to professionals and parents living with selectively mute children: http://smira.org.uk



Point of view: education consultant

Meeting the challenge

Having the right mindset is the key to encouraging personal growth in others, writes Nicola S. Morgan


or children with SEN, life can all too often be about limitations and possibilities. Parents, carers and teachers of these youngsters want them to be able to achieve their dreams, just like any other child. The key to thinking past the limitations and developing resilience is encouraging a child to develop a growth mindset. To do that, adults must develop the same mindset. Research involving US school pupils carried out by Dr Carol Dweck of Stanford University found that there are two mindsets: fixed and growth. People with fixed mindsets believe that talent and skills are fixed, and that the scope of their achievements is limited. People with growth mindsets believe that intelligence and talents can be grown through effort and practise. A key belief of someone with a growth mindset is that there is no “failure”; there is only success or an opportunity for learning. Dr Dweck’s team found that children with a fixed mindset feared the risk of looking “dumb”. They avoided academic challenges and thought they were not intelligent at particular subjects if they had to work at them. Those with a growth mindset were not afraid to work hard and understood that this was necessary to acquire learning and skills. They looked for opportunities to learn from their mistakes and saw them as part of the process. The children with growth mindsets developed a resilience which will help them achieve their goals. We develop our mindsets because of the praise we receive. Those who receive praise for results, and who are told they have failed at tasks, tend to WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

develop a fixed mindset. Those who receive praise for the effort they put into learning something, and who are encouraged to continue trying at things which they might find more difficult, tend to develop a growth mindset. Giving effective praise is a powerful tool in helping a child develop resilience, but we should praise the process. Instead of saying “you should be proud of that result; you’re very clever”, try saying “you should be so proud of the effort you put into that”.

To encourage a growth mindset in a child, we have to encourage one in ourselves You can also teach children that intelligence isn’t fixed; the brain is like a muscle which can get stronger as they use it. You can tell stories of achievements which came from hard work and teach them to recognise fixed mindset thoughts like “I’m so stupid” or “this is too hard”. Show them how to replace them with “I’m missing something; what is it?” and “this is going to take some hard work”.

it as a huge challenge which will teach me many things. I know that I will have to complete many hours of training and acclimatisation but my training sessions are already building my confidence. The longer I swim in open water, or the colder the temperature I can swim in, the more I feel I can succeed. Despite all the training, though, there are things which may occur on the swim for which I can’t prepare physically. I know I will have to be truly resilient. Now I’m not suggesting that everyone should go out and swim the Channel, but I am suggesting that you find a challenge which will stretch you mentally or physically. Seeing you push through your boundaries to take on a 10k run or give a speech in public will help the children around you see past their own limitations. Don’t forget, you’ll succeed or you’ll learn and develop.

Further information

Nicola S. Morgan runs NSM Training and Consultancy, providing help on behavioural issues for families, teachers and school staff: www.nsmtc.co.uk

My challenge To encourage a growth mindset in a child, we have to encourage one in ourselves. We have to lead by example. We need to take on new challenges, even if they scare us. So I have decided to swim the English Channel next August. I see

What’s your point of view?

Email: editor@senmagazine.co.uk





Early years providers Specialist SEN solicitor Douglas Silas answers key questions about SEN roles and responsibilities in the early years Are early years providers included in the SEN Code of Practice? All early years providers in the maintained, private, voluntary and independent sectors that a local authority (LA) funds are required to have regard to the SEN Code of Practice. Providers must have a clear approach to identifying and responding to SEN and disabilities. The Code points out that the benefits of early identification are widely recognised, since identifying need early and then making effective provision improves long-term outcomes for children. It also says that, in particular, parents know their children best and it is important that all practitioners listen and understand when parents express concerns about their child’s development.

What do they do? Early years providers should regularly review and evaluate the support that they offer for children with SEN. For example, maintained nursery schools

Providers should regularly review the support that they offer for children with SEN must cooperate with the LA in reviewing the provision that is available locally. Providers should also work in partnership with other local education providers to explore how different types of need can be met most effectively. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is the statutory framework for children aged from birth to five years. The Code says that all early years providers must follow the safeguarding and welfare requirements of the EYFS and the learning and development requirements, unless an exemption from these has been granted.

What is expected of early years providers? The Code makes it clear from the outset that it is concerned with improving

Schools and teachers should have high aspirations for all pupils.


outcomes for all children with SEN and this includes having high aspirations and expectations for them. It states that all children are entitled to an education that enables them to: • achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes • become confident young children with a growing ability to communicate their own views, and ready to make the transition into compulsory education.

What SEN support is available? Where an early years setting identifies a child as having SEN they must work in partnership with parents to establish the support the child needs. All settings should adopt a graduated approach with four stages of action: 1. “assess” 2. “plan” 3. “do” 4. “review”. The Code says that maintained nursery schools must: • use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEN gets the support they need • ensure that children with SEN engage in the activities of school alongside children who do not have SEN • designate a teacher to be responsible for coordinating SEN provision • inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child. Practitioners must also maintain a record of children under their care as required by the EYFS Framework, which must be available to parents and must state how the setting WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


The Area SENCO helps make links between education, health and care providers Settings must ensure children with SEN are included in class activities.

supports children with SEN. In addition, maintained nursery schools must also prepare a report on: • the implementation of their SEN policy • their arrangements for the admission of disabled children • the steps taken to prevent disabled children from being treated less favourably • the facilities provided to enable access for disabled children • their accessibility plan, showing how they plan to improve access over time.

What funding is available? LAs (if they are responsible for the early years setting) should make sure funding arrangements for early education reflect the need to provide suitable support for these children. Early years providers should consider how best to use their resources to support the progress of children with SEN.

Is there a SENCO? A maintained nursery school must ensure that there is a qualified teacher designated as a SENCO (special educational needs coordinator) to ensure implementation of support for children with SEN. The EYFS Framework also requires other early years providers to have arrangements for meeting children’s SEN and they are expected to identify a SENCO. The SENCO’s role includes: • ensuring all practitioners in the setting understand their responsibilities to children with WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

SEN and the setting’s approach to identifying and meeting SEN • advising and supporting colleagues • ensuring parents are closely involved throughout and that their insights inform action taken by the setting • liaising with professionals or agencies beyond the setting.

Is there any other oversight? Yes, LAs may appoint Area SENCOs to provide advice and guidance to early years providers on the development of inclusive early learning environments. The Area SENCO plays an important part in planning for children with SEN to transfer between early years provision and schools. The Area SENCO also helps make links between education, health and care providers. The role of the Area SENCO includes: • providing advice and practical support to early years providers about approaches to identification, assessment and intervention • providing day-to-day support for setting-based SENCOs • strengthening links between settings, parents, schools, care and health services • developing and disseminating good practice • supporting development and delivery of training, both for individual settings and on a wider basis • developing links with existing SENCO networks • informing parents of and working with local impartial information, advice and support services (See SEN84, Sept./Oct. 2016).

What about disabled children or those with medical conditions? The Code focuses on inclusive practice and removing barriers to learning. It states that all publicly funded early years providers must promote equality of opportunity for disabled children. All early years providers also have duties under the Equality Act 2010 to not discriminate against, harass or victimise disabled children. They must also make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services for disabled children, to prevent them being put at a substantial disadvantage. In compliance with the EYFS Framework, they must also ensure that children with medical conditions get the support required to meet those needs.

What about reviewing all of this? Under the EYFS Framework, practitioners must maintain a record of children under their care, which must be available to parents and include how the setting supports children with SEN. Providers should also review how well equipped they are to provide support for children with SEN.

Further information

Douglas Silas is the Principal of Douglas Silas Solicitors and runs the website: www. SpecialEducationalNeeds.co.uk. He is also the author of A Guide To The SEND Code of Practice (What You Need To Know), which is available for all eBook readers: www.AGuideToTheSENDCode OfPractice.co.uk 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.





Part of the plan Julie Moktadir explains parents’ rights to request an education, health and care plan for their child


hat’s the point in requesting an education, health and care (EHC) plan? It’s just too difficult to get one, isn’t it? These questions are posed on a regular basis by parents of children and young people with SEN. Parents are keen to get provision in place for their children but are confused about the mixed messages they receive. Parents are often informed by other parents who have experienced challenges, or by the school or the local authority (LA), that an EHC plan isn’t needed or that their child just won’t be given one. Where a child has (or may have) SEN or a disability and might require provision for that need in the classroom or at other times during a school day, that school doesn’t usually provide, it is advisable to request an assessment


There is a legal duty upon the local authority to ensure that the provision in the EHC plan is made to find out if they need a plan. This will ensure that the child or young person’s needs have been fully considered, and provision has been noted for all of those needs.

What does the law say? The legal cases cited below illustrate some of the rights parents have in regard to statements of SEN and the EHC plans which are being phased in to supersede them.

In the case of Manchester CC v JW [2014] ELR 304 the question of when it might be “necessary” for a statement of SEN to be issued was considered. It was recognised that this could include the situation where the school or LA simply didn’t understand what special educational provision was needed and would not make that provision. Once a plan is in place, there is a legal duty upon the LA to ensure that the provision in the EHC plan is made. Failure to do so would be unlawful. So, when children are moving between classes or schools, or their teaching assistant leaves, or the headteacher changes, the EHC plan ensures the child’s provision continues. Where a plan is not in place, parents are reliant solely on the school to continue to provide the provision required by their child’s SEN, and



There are a number of common misconceptions about when children will be considered for an EHC assessment

have limited recourse if provision does not continue. The case of MC v Somerset CC [2015] UKUT 0461 (AAC) also considered the question of why a child might need a statement (and an assessment in order to access such a statement). The Upper Tribunal accepted that they might need this “to access the relevant provision or open the door to the enforceability of rights via s.324(5)”. The same reasoning should apply to the need for an EHC plan.

Getting an EHC plan So how can a parent go about requesting an EHC plan? A request needs to be made in writing to the LA. The LA has a clear duty to assess a child or young person’s education, health and care needs where they have or may have SEN and they may need special educational provision to be made for them under an EHC plan. This is called an EHC needs assessment. This is sometimes called a “statutory assessment” – an assessment that the LA is required to carry out in accordance with statute, in this case the Children and Families Act 2014. It has replaced the old form of statutory assessment under the Education Act 1996. The request to assess can be made by the school or the parent or young person. Parents often query whether, if the request is not made by the school, it will have a detrimental impact upon the application. The answer to this is simply “no”. The LA must thereafter apply the legal test as noted in s.36 (8) of the Children and Families Act 2014. The test is that the LA must secure an EHC needs assessment for the child or young person if, after having regard to any views expressed and evidence submitted under subsection (7), the authority is of the opinion that: 1. The child or young person has or may have special educational needs, and 2. It may be necessary for special educational provision to be made WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan. The test is therefore very simple: does the child have, or could the child have, SEN and might provision be necessary under a plan.

Don’t be put off There are a number of common misconceptions about when children will be considered for an EHC assessment. Parents are often told that their child must be two terms behind other children in their class, or that the school must have spent £6,000 on them before an assessment will be carried out. They might also be told that their child won’t get a plan, that the school must request the assessment or that the parents must try all the school’s suggestions first before a plan will be considered. The law is clear, though. The test is the two-part test above; no other points need be satisfied. If a parent, young person or their school or college asks the LA to carry out an EHC needs assessment, the LA must respond to the request within six weeks, confirming if they will or will not carry out the assessment. If the LA refuses, the parent or young person must be informed and has the right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. Once an LA agrees to carry out an EHC needs assessment, they must by law seek advice and information from a number of key professionals as part of the process. Based on the

evidence they have gathered they must then decide whether or not they will issue an EHC plan for that child or young person. Recent data released by the Department for Education (SFR 17/2016, 26 May 2016) states that during 2015 there were 39,950 requests for assessments for an EHC plan and that 10,935 of these requests were refused. Of the 29,015 children who were assessed, 96.2 per cent received an EHC plan (or statement). At January 2016, a further 9,965 children and young people were either still being assessed, or had completed the assessment but a decision had not yet been made whether to issue an EHC plan. Clearly, we must question whether all of those who were refused an assessment had the correct legal test applied. It is essential to remember that the legal threshold for the assessment is low; if a parent believes that their child has SEN and needs special educational provision in accordance with an EHCP, the test is satisfied. So, if you want to ensure your child’s special educational provision is provided for fully, taking into account his or her needs, I recommend that you request an education, health and care assessment.

Further information

Julie Moktadir is Chief Executive of IPSEA, a charity providing support, information and advice on legal issues to parents of children with SEN: www.ipsea.org.uk





AUTISM Advertisement feature

Dorset County Council unveil Brotherwood WAV fleet A new fleet of wheelchair-friendly cars has been brought in to help deliver better council services to Dorset’s disabled residents. The converted Ford vehicles will be used to transport both older people and disabled children who require special equipment to travel, including wheelchairs. Dorset County Council purchased the vehicles from Brotherwood in Sherborne, who specialise in converting cars for wheelchair access. The cars can carry a driver plus three passengers and a wheelchair user in comfort and safety. The lowered floor and central wheelchair position enable wheelchair users to travel inclusively between the rear passenger seats, as part of the group and with a good view out of the car. Cllr Peter Finney, Cabinet member for Environment at Dorset County Council, said: “Dorset Travel are delighted to have the new fleet of vehicles which will provide a high level of comfortable and safe transportation to schools and day centres across Dorset. The cars are

specially designed to offer easy access, and also promote inclusivity. “Brotherwood was able to tailor a high specification for the vehicles to suit our needs, and we are always delighted to work with local businesses. “The cars will also help us to cut costs as we will no longer depend on expensive outsourcing of specialist transportation. “The new fleet has been very well received by our customers.” Brotherwood Managing Director John Daniel added: “We are pleased to have been able to help our local council to improve services to disabled individuals in the region. These vehicles will provide mobility for people across Dorset, and represent access to education, care and other essential services across the county. “We are grateful to Dorset County Council for the opportunity to provide these vehicles, and look forward to seeing them out on the road performing their vital roles in our local community.” www.brotherwood.com

Pink Floyd drummer hosts garden party for autism charities Annette Mason and her husband, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason (pictured third from the right), held a garden party at their home in Hampstead recently to raise awareness and funds for autism charities. The event was jointly hosted by the Masons' friends John Swannell, the fashion photographer, and his wife Marianne, and author Kathy Lette and husband Geoffrey Robertson QC.   Proceeds from this event will benefit two specialist services that support young autistic adults: the National Autistic Society’s Transforming Lives project and Ambitious about Autism’s Ambitious Futures Programme. Both projects help autistic young people to successfully manage their transition through to adulthood.   John and Marianne Swannell have a son with autism, Charlie, now 27. Charlie’s teenage years were traumatic and his parents struggled to get him the help he needed. Desperate for advice, the Swannells discovered that very little support was available for parents of young autistic adults going through this very difficult stage in their development. This is why they chose to work with the National Autistic Society to develop the Transforming Lives project.   Kathy Lette and Geoffrey Robertson QC also have a son with autism, Jules, 24. Like Charlie, Jules found life and coping with new challenges after finishing school extremely difficult. SENISSUE85

Now an actor and a star of BBC’s Holby City, he is also a Youth Patron for Ambitious about Autism and supports their Ambitious Futures programme. The programme was set up to improve the success rates of transition from school to college, increase access to work experience and support young people and their families to realise their ambitions. Annette Mason, said: “Nick and I are so delighted to be hosting this event in aid of two fantastic charities who do some amazing work. Our hope is that by raising much needed money and awareness, we will be able to help support more young autistic people on their life journey.” WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


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Attachment-friendly Jennifer Nock explains how one school learned to support pupils with attachment issues


n the previous edition of SEN Magazine (SEN84 Sept/Oct 2016), I described the evolution of attachment-friendly practice at Hope School, Liverpool, a Key Stage1, 2 and 3 school for boys with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) difficulties. The article explored the rationale for change within school practice and procedures, significant key events and interventions and the challenges faced in developing as an attachment-friendly school. In this follow-up article, the school’s strategic planning for embedding attachmentfriendly, trauma-informed practice into school policies and documentation will be discussed. The role of the Governing Body and training for parents and carers will also be explored, and there will be some suggestions as to why the School is succeeding in becoming attachment-friendly, when many others, who started with good intentions, have given up on the challenge.

Strategic vision Possibly the most important factor to impact on the School’s success in this initiative has been the strategic approach towards implementing change and development. In order to ensure attachment-friendly practice fitted into the bigger picture of the School’s goals and development, the senior leadership team (SLT) identified priorities within their School Development Plan/Self-Evaluation Form (SDP/SEF). This enabled them to assess exactly where the school currently was in terms of attachmentfriendly practice, where they aimed to be after one, two and three years, and the resources required, particularly in terms of personnel, training and SENISSUE85

Behaviour management became focused more on developing the boys’ intrinsic motivation time. As well as formalising their commitment, this step also ensured that all stakeholders were aware of the high priority given to this initiative, and the long-term implications. The threeyear strategy allowed for timed actions, rather than trying to achieve everything within a short time-frame. Setting out the priorities in this way provided a clear direction so that all staff had a vision of what the school was trying to achieve and also the actions that were needed in order to achieve the medium-term goals. Using the SDP/SEF as a focus also prevented a “throwing out the baby with the bathwater” scenario. The plan is simple and concentrates on only a few targets, which ensures that current practice continues, while change is tactically introduced after consideration

and reflection. Some actions were relatively easy to operationalise, for example, appointing a Link Governor for Attachment. Others had to be approached with caution and flexible thinking. The action of using an attachment/developmental framework to understand behaviours presented many challenges, as the School tried to incorporate developmentally sensitive criteria into its current behaviour management strategy. In practice, behaviour management became focused more on developing the boys’ intrinsic motivation rather than relying on external controls, such as rewards and sanctions. Also, staff members became more skilled at interpreting behaviour rather than reacting to it, and helping the boys to communicate their needs in more appropriate ways. However, developing a fit-for-purpose behaviour management policy that met the needs of all the boys, with their range of abilities and complex needs, proved to be challenging. Caveats were incorporated into the original policy as the school worked towards change, but a “baby-bathwater” scenario was

Schools need systems to monitor a child’s emotional and social development.



resisted. The target action has been carried forward on the SDP/SEF into the current academic year and strategic thinking allows for change, refinement and re-evaluation, rather than assessing targets and actions as “achieved” or “not achieved”, which in the case of the latter can lead to disillusionment and disappointment for all involved, and result in abandoning the initiative, with rationalisations such as “It doesn’t work for our school”.

Learning from others The SLT is now researching various attachment/developmental frameworks for understanding and developing behaviour to inform, complement or replace the current policy. For example, the Headteacher will shortly visit Beech Lodge School in Berkshire to look at a project which utilises a comprehensive tool that enables schools to provide a framework to monitor emotional and social development and set developmentally appropriate goals for growth. Year 2 of the plan prioritises achieving attachment-friendly status, so all policies will have attachmentfriendly principles embedded as appropriate, for example the Sex and Relationships, SEND, Staff Wellbeing and Safeguarding policies. Year 3 will focus on outreach and inreach, supporting other schools which are on the attachment-friendly journey. So, the overarching influence on the success of this initiative at the School is possibly the strategic approach, where the vision was clarified and formalised, central issues were identified and procedures were decided upon and operationalised. The plan is flexible and open to refinement through reflection and solution-focused thinking, as the SLT and staff listen to one another, synthesising information and feedback, including information about the boys’ own reactions to changes and interventions. The length of the planning cycle (three years) also protects against rapid change, which in itself can result in strategic planning fatigue. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Schools cannot repair or replace an insecure attachment to a primary caregiver

The involvement of the Governing Body has also been key to success. Early in the process, the Chair and Vice Chair of Governors attended whole-school training on the initiative. This meant that from the outset, the Headteacher had the support of the Governing Body in what is a major initiative, with implications for significant areas such as finances and staffing. During the course of the first year, training was delivered to further members of the Governing Body, with the opportunity for questions and exploration of some of the issues that arose. Thus, the governors were given a clear vision of what the school was trying to achieve, and also, as insight into why it was so important for the School to prioritise attachmentfriendliness, given the complex trauma histories of many of the pupils.

role for many years. The training she attended (organised by the school of one of the children in her setting), was her first and she admitted that until that day, she had not even heard the term “attachment” in the context of child-adult relationships. So, schools should not assume that professionals, any more than birth parents, are familiar with the implications of trauma, loss, neglect, abuse, separation or lack of “good enough” early experiences.

In conclusion This school has approached the journey from attachment-awareness to attachment-friendliness by taking a strategic approach, wherein practice is embedded in policy. Stakeholders, including governors, parents, staff and pupils, have been included and informed in the decision making process. This process has been flexible when necessary, and the SLT has assumed a reflective, solutionfocused approach, exploring the experiences and strategies of other schools which have embarked on a similar journey. Combined with the vision and commitment of the SLT, these overriding principles for change are at the heart of the success of the project.

Educating parents and carers Parents and carers of children in the school have also been given the opportunity to access training on attachment and trauma. It is really important to recognise that schools cannot repair or replace an insecure attachment to a primary caregiver, but what they can do is provide a safe base where children and young people can develop a sense of trust in adults and confidence in themselves. This does not mean that schools can “write off” what happens at home, because they are trying to provide stability and safety at school, but that they strive to educate parents and carers too, in developing rewarding attachment relationships with the children in their care. Recently, I met a children’s home carer, who had been in the

Further information

Dr Jennifer Nock is a chartered psychologist and educator who has worked for over three decades, and in a wide range of education and SEN settings, with educators, children and young people, families, foster and adoption agencies, and those in the caring professions: www.jennifernocktraining andconsultancy.com The image used on this page is a library shot and does not depict staff or students at Hope School.





The secret system Emilie-Kate Kidd describes her tussle with the local authority to find the right school for her child with learning disabilities Being a parent of a child with SEN is a club no-one wants to be a member of. In fact, when my son was first diagnosed with learning disabilities (plus a few physical disabilities thrown in too), I actively avoided parents of disabled children. I withdrew in horror at any knowing and understanding nods or even, heaven forbid, parents who had it worse than me. I didn’t want anything to do with them, I didn’t want to be understood and join the club of devastation. I wanted to be wrong. I wanted to hide away until the disabilities got better and no one need know that the words “your son will never be normal” were ever said to us.

Although time hasn’t healed Xander, it has tried to heal the deep wound those words left, albeit with a truckload of scar tissue that wrenches every time some well-meaning parent of a “normal” child says “Yes, but all children are difficult” or when he does something “disabled looking” that betrays the limitations in his beautiful little head. But, on that terrible day when he was diagnosed, I didn’t realise that it was not only a sentence for Xander, but also for me. Months passed and the occupational therapy (OT) department still hadn’t been in touch, despite the assurance from our paediatrician that

I was going to have to fight for Xander to get what he needed every step of the way

it was one of many therapies that may help him. I began to realise that the overstretched NHS systems, as well as the croupiers of fate, weren’t on our side. I began to feel anxious that every week that passed when he wasn’t having therapy was a week he would never get back. Another week with a chance to progress had been lost. So I made some calls. I chased the occupational therapy team and when we didn’t hear back, I called again and again.

Making it happen

Xander at home in the garden.


I called the speech and language department, as I had been expecting an appointment for therapy for months. They told me that he was on a waiting list for a speech and language therapy assessment: not the therapy, just the assessment. The waiting list was eight months long. In horror, I said: “But we can’t wait that long; he screeches all day long because he can’t talk”, and she replied, “Oh, in that case we’ll see him immediately. Can you do next Thursday?” It dawned on me that this was how it was going to be. I was going to have to fight to get Xander the right support every step of the way. Every time there was something Xander needed that was dangled just out of reach, I would have to make sure we got it. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK



I screamed and raged and threw the papers at the wall

did not want him to go to (what we’ll call) Northday, the SEN-only school. It hadn’t been built yet so there was nothing to see, which I felt gave me nothing to trust. And anyway, I wanted him to be mixed in with mainstream pupils. At his nursery, his SEN class mixed regularly with the mainstream pre-schoolers and he made numerous friends. In fact, he’s regularly invited to their birthday parties when other children I know aren’t. It’s all over his paperwork: he is very social and very popular, despite not being able to speak.

Emilie and Xander enjoy a day out.

This became my second job. I was Xander’s PA. And it worked. Once I realised that I could actually affect Xander’s future with research and dogged determination, it became everything to me. I have always found great satisfaction in victory, and what could be more victorious than saving your child? And my ultimate goal? The perfect school for Xander. Importantly, not the perfect school – somehow I don’t think we’re aiming for Eton – but the perfect school for him. He sits like Christopher Robin somewhere on the staircase of ability that has Amal Clooney at the top and an aubergine at the bottom. And the school is somewhere on the educational staircase of provision (a big SEN buzzword) that incorporates academia, philosophy and of course the other pupils. The trick is finding and getting into the school that’s on the same step as Xander.

A time of hope So I researched. I talked to SENCOs. I trawled the internet and networking sites at 3am. I went to look at SEN schools and I visited mainstream WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

ones. And then I found it. The perfect school for Xander. It had a teacher a lot like the Good Witch of the South, who promised a utopia of support and mainstream interaction. Even weekly swimming lessons for my water loving baby were on offer. I danced out of the school knowing that, despite the odds of just eight places in each year group for over 50 applications, I would make it happen. I created my list of what this school, let’s call it Southford School, could offer: a sensory room, in house OT, daily speech and language therapy, and interaction with mainstream children. Then I matched it with reports from numerous professionals, which all collated to convey that Southford was simply the only school that would be suitable. Do you hear me members of the school placement panel? The only school. That was the problem. I genuinely had no plan B. He simply could not go to mainstream. He wasn’t potty trained, he couldn’t talk and he dribbles constantly. I wasn’t at all keen on the sister school nearby with a similar but lesser offering, and I categorically

A waiting game The monstrous pile of paperwork went off to the panel members and the panel sat. I drank a lot of caffeine and at night I drank a lot of wine. As the day when we expected to hear about his school place drew closer, I stared at the doormat and snapped at anyone who called and interrupted my anxious stewing. And then, one Tuesday, there it was – a big fat envelope stamped PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL hung from the letterbox. I tore into it and the word “Northday” shouted out at me. I screamed and raged and threw the papers at the wall. I called everyone I knew, hiccupping my fury to them. I couldn’t reach the case worker – I never could – but this time she was right to avoid my call. I was furious. How could they put this tiny, vulnerable, beautiful little boy in a school full of children far worse than him? He loves other children, he cuddles them and holds their hands and cries when they cry. How could he possibly manage in a school where the Head told me that she once had >>




a pupil who projectile vomited every single time she was upset or excited. I cried until my head hurt. I angrily asserted to anyone who would listen that we would appeal. And I was told that we had just ten days (with Easter in the middle) to submit our reply. An appeal would never happen within ten days – ten weeks if we were lucky – and if we didn’t accept the place within the ten days, we would lose it. If we also lost the appeal, which I was assured was likely, we would be forced to send him to mainstream. The next day, I called the SENCO at my beloved Southford to ask, before I appealed to send him there (though I didn’t know how as those precious eight places had now been given to other children), if she knew why he hadn’t been allocated a place. She asked me to describe his needs. “He’s not potty trained”, I said. “No, that’s no problem”, she said. “We potty train children all the time”. “And he doesn’t speak”. “At all?” “No, not at all”, I confirmed. “We don’t take any non-verbal children”, she said.

If Southford wasn’t so scared of appearing exclusive, they could have told me my son wouldn’t fit in

Realisation dawns

Opening up the system

I felt as if the hurricane I had been sat in had suddenly stopped. “You don’t take any children who don’t speak?” “No, they simply couldn’t cope; our unit children spend 50 per cent of their time in the mainstream part of the school”. This was also big news to me. “But when I visited in October there was a little boy there with Xander’s condition who didn’t speak”. She explained that she knew the boy I was talking about and he had since left the school because he couldn’t progress there. So everything I had been fighting for had been wrong. He was never going to be offered a place at Southford and he couldn’t have coped there if he had been. Perhaps I should have been devastated, but I wasn’t. I was full of relief. This meant that Southford had never been on the same step as Xander

I do feel a little sad that this agony could have been avoided. If Southford wasn’t so scared of appearing exclusive, they could have told me my son wouldn’t fit in, or better yet, put their criteria on their website. Their SENCO, when she visited Xander at his nursery, could have quietly told our key worker that he wasn’t suitable. Or perhaps our case worker could have been given the power to tell me which school she thought was likely, as she later told me she had had a very good idea which school she thought he would be offered and why. We live in an age of secrecy. Organisations are so scared of being sued their staff can’t give an opinion or state criteria. Patients aren’t allowed to see their own medical records and teachers are asked to write objective reports without opinion, just to tick


on the provision versus need staircase, but Northday was. If those children who also couldn’t quite manage at Southford would be in his class at Northday, they would have equivalent needs and he would have friends. This meant it was Northday that was the right place after all. And that was it. No appeals or tribunals or expensive private assessments. Instead, I could spend the summer shopping for his school uniform and playing in the park. We could see our friends again and have some fun. The fight was over. Yes, of course, I’ll be watching him like a hawk at his new school, but I would be doing that with any school he went to.

boxes. Councils, schools and hospitals are simply too scared to make their information public and it has created a great gulf between governmental organisations and the individual. Parents used to side with the teacher over bad behaviour in pupils but, with emasculated teachers needing to stick to a script to protect the school and themselves, they become inhuman to the protective parent and suddenly the parent and teachers are at war. I strongly believe that when parents are truly allowed to be a part of their child’s education, as schools and Ofsted so desperately want them to be, they won’t feel so defensive. Instead they will be working alongside the school and the system as part of a team.

Further information

Emilie-Kate Kidd is the co-founder of education software company Earwig, which digitises evidence for teaching and assessments in a secure online timeline: earwigacademic.com


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What’s going wrong with SEN provision? Anne Heavey reveals how teachers feel they are coping with the SEN system


wo academic years have now passed since the introduction of the 2014 SEN and disabilities Code of Practice (CoP) for most schools in England – three for local areas involved in the Pathfinder implementation programme. At its 2016 conference, members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) debated the question “Are SEND students being let down?” They passed a resolution asking the union to “investigate if there is a decrease is specialised identification and support for special educational needs and disability (SEND) students within education”. The fact that the question needs to be asked at all suggests that there may be issues with the quality of educational provision for learners with SEN and disabilities. To explore the issue, the ATL recently undertook a survey of 600 of its

members. The findings were stark. Only nine per cent of respondents agreed with the following statement: “I believe that the current system in England enables all children with special educational needs to be supported appropriately”. So what’s going wrong? Anecdotally, the same concerns emerged time and again in the survey:

Pupils missing out There is a significant cohort of learners who appear to have SEN but are not eligible for recognition as such in the system. Between 2010 and 2016, the percentage of learners identified as having SEN nationally has fallen from just over 20 per cent to just below 15 per cent. The Department for Education (DfE) has claimed that this is due to better processes for identifying SEN and differing categories. However, the

Staff are struggling to find the time for SEN planning and implementation.


Staff do not feel confident in identifying and supporting SEN in the classroom fact is that hundreds of thousands of children and young people who were at one time deemed to require additional or different provision to achieve their potential are now not entitled to support. These learners are now impossible to identify in national statistics, which means that it is also impossible to identify the impact of removing such provision on a national scale. There is no structural mechanism for ensuring that children or young people deemed to no longer have SEN are achieving their potential. Education staff, especially classroom teachers, do not feel confident in identifying and supporting SEN in the classroom; this is particularly concerning given the leading role that classroom teachers have in assessing children and young people for SEN and supporting them. Furthermore, identification procedures were not yet workable for children who could potentially fall into the new “social, emotional and mental health needs” category. The known challenges with accessing child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) services were often mentioned. Whilst the introduction of this new SEN category is welcome, without ensuring that the necessary structures are in place, these vulnerable learners are undoubtedly being let WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


down. This particular area highlighted an ongoing concern that despite the promises made in the CoP about joining up different services, health provision remains difficult to access and unable to meet demand. This places a significant additional burden on schools to support learners, despite inadequate resources.

High quality SEN training should be an entitlement for all education professionals

Resourcing problems

budget funding restraints it is often a huge challenge for school leaders to free up the entire notional budget and too often SENCOs were not given the opportunity to decide how this money could best be spent. Securing sufficient funds to pay for educational physiologists and other vital professionals, such as mental health specialists, was also extremely difficult. The accessibility of the national curriculum, statutory assessments and qualifications was also an enormous concern for those surveyed. The perception that an increasingly narrow curriculum offer, combined with the fixed age-related expectations in end of key stage assessments, are leading to failure for many learners with SEN and disabilities. The combined pressures of reduced budgets in real terms, high stakes accountability, staff shortages and rapid education policy change across a range of areas has seriously undermined the capacity of many school leaders to implement genuinely inclusive practice.

Education professionals do not have the time required to complete assessments of SEN and put necessary support provision in place. SENCOs, in particular, reported that they did not have the capacity to complete education, health and care (EHC) plan applications for every learner that might benefit from one, and classroom teachers did not have the time to meet with colleagues to plan the best provision for their students with SEN. For classroom staff, the time needed to complete the “assess-plan-do” review process is simply not available due to other significant workload drivers and timetables that do not provide structured opportunities for teachers and support staff to meet. There is a lack of quality assurance for identification processes and support provision for learners identified at SEN Support level. Whilst Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission have introduced local area inspections for SEN and disabilities, respondents to the survey who have experienced them have highlighted that the inspectors focused mainly on EHC plans and SEN Support received little attention. For this cohort, poor practice and provision can go unchecked. Local authorities can at least, in theory, provide support and intervention to improve SEN Support practice; the current cuts to LA funding and inability to compel all local schools to comply means that at best the quality of SEN Support provision is a lottery. The notional SEN and disabilities budget is not working as a funding mechanism for learners at the SEN Support level. Due to whole-school WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Ideas for change It is clear from the detailed responses of many of those surveyed that in spite of the challenges they face, teachers are doing the best that they can. Often, staff are spending their own money on training and specialist resources, enduring unsustainable workloads to ensure that all learners get the support that they need, and working hard to make the national curriculum, statutory assessments and qualifications as accessible as they can. Unfortunately, it appears that many students with SEN and disabilities are being let down. In response to

the recent call for evidence for the Labour Party review into SEN and disabilities, the ATL made the following recommendations: • the Department for Education must carry out a full and openminded evaluation of how to support learners at the SEN Support level and ensure all those with additional needs are recognised by the system • the notional SEN budget must be protected in schools and guidance should be issued on the allocation of financial resources to support children with SEN • high-quality SEN training should be an entitlement for all education professionals throughout their careers and form a core part of initial teacher education • SENCOs need more protected time to complete their responsibilities; teachers and support staff need sufficient allocated time to plan for the individual needs of learners. Accountability should be reformed so that it does not serve as a disincentive to inclusive practice, and the current over-emphasis on test and exam results should be reformed to ensure a greater focus on meeting individual learners’ needs. For the sake of all our students with SEN and disabilities, I can only hope these recommendations are listened to.

Further information

Anne Heavey is Education Policy Advisor at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL): www.atl.org.uk





Lost in music Jane Douglas examines the difficulties that children with PMLD have in making sense of sound


he auditory world can be overbearing, noisy and confusing and at times become a cacophony of conflicting sounds. For a child with complex needs, sound has been described as “blooming, buzzing confusion” which comes and goes. It is a constant challenge to try to understand what these children actually hear and how they process sound. Children with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) often have difficulties filtering out dominant visual information and may be unable to cope with and process visual and auditory stimuli at the same time; they can very easily become sensory-overloaded. Sound can be very unpredictable and confusing. Children with PMLD and those with autism find it very difficult to regulate and filter sound internally. Children with complex needs are often very afraid of dogs and babies crying due to the sudden onset of the sound. Sound is a transient stimuli and can be meaningless to a child with complex needs unless they are taught and helped to explore and understand different sounds. By its nature, hearing is temporary; sound comes and then is gone. Young children with complex needs can benefit enormously from structured listening sessions through intensive interaction and play in order to try to focus on specific sounds or musical notes to help them to understand that sound carries meaning. A child with multi-sensory deficits is likely to have a poor auditory memory which significantly affects their perception of a stimulus, and they may require many repetitions of the same listening experience. Similarly, children with SENISSUE85

Improved listening skills can help develop a child’s connection to the world.

PMLD are likely to have significant sensory processing issues and require support and time to process auditory information.

Opening up communication Given the difficulty in accurately assessing the hearing levels of these children and young people, it can be a

Young children with complex needs can benefit enormously from structured listening sessions challenging task to fit hearing aids and set up cochlear implants for them. Most children with PMLD are likely to be non-verbal and require augmentative and alternative communication systems. This raises the question: what are we trying to aid? What are our expectations when promoting and

developing auditory listening skills (and/ or fitting hearing aids) for a child with complex needs? Hearing may be the predominant “window” on the world for a child with a significant visual impairment and the benefits of enhancing their listening skills may be much greater than it first appears. Improved listening can aid communication, especially to support intentional vocalisations; it may enhance environmental awareness and social interaction, and increase a sense of connectedness with the outside world. Crucially, it may make the exploration of sound and music accessible. Additionally, by stimulating active listening, it may assist in overall sensory integration and reduce unhelpful sensory seeking behaviours. A study by Donaldson, Heavner and Zwolan¹ (2004) described the progress of seven cochlear-implanted children, aged between three and nine years at implantation, who had been using their implants for between six months and five years. Four children were WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Ideas for promoting listening skills in children with PMLD Start with simple engagement through intensive interaction, using the same action rhyme, and this can be used as an introduction to “listening time”. Sometimes singing or beating a drum in time to a child’s natural body movement (such as rocking or swaying) can capture their attention and start a reciprocal interaction. The first stage of listening needs to focus on detection, starting with a “start” and “stop” activity to music. This may involve playing a simple percussion instrument and observing the child’s responses when it stops. Always allow time for silences, as these are an important part of the listening process. It is important to observe closely any response that the child may make to request “more” and inform that they have heard the sound/music. In order to develop listening discrimination it can be useful to follow the child’s own vocalisations through mimicking them with voice or an instrument, and observe when a child may start intentional turn-taking. This can slowly start to develop into a musical “conversation”.

diagnosed with autism and two with pervasive developmental disorder, with a range of severity of presentations and disabilities. This revealed benefits in terms of improved eye contact, awareness of the environment, reaction to music, vocalisation, use of sign language, and response to requests.

The dynamics of music provide a form of intonation that is more varied and interesting than speech

Music to their ears There are many ways to help a young child to engage with sound, but music is most often highly motivating to a child with complex needs. The dynamics of music provide a form of intonation that is more varied and interesting than speech. The rhythmic component of music is very organising for the sensory systems of individuals diagnosed with autism and other additional difficulties. It is thought that these children and young people like the predictability of a song with a distinct beginning, middle and end; it appears that music which is simple with clear and predictable patterns is most effective in eliciting responses to joint attention activities. Despite difficulties in the areas of socialisation and communication, there is evidence to suggest many individuals with autistic spectrum disorder show a strong and early preference for music and are able to understand simple and complex musical emotions. It has also been found that young people with autism tend to show elevated pitch

discrimination ability and superior longterm memory for melody. Music can also be used for calming and reducing arousal levels, and may also filter out unpredictable and unwanted noise. Sung jingles and short musical cues can provide more information about a change in activity or transition than simple spoken words, and help to reduce anxiety levels. Listening skills training can occur at any time throughout the day, either in more structured play activities or simply as the child goes about their daily routines. Again, a consistent little jingle for a daily routine can help with “labelling”, so that the child becomes aware of what is about to happen. In more structured listening sessions it is beneficial to provide a safe listening environment free from other stimuli and sensory clutter and distractions. Ideally, listening activities need to be conducted in a very low distraction environment with minimal visual stimuli.

Footnotes 1. jdsde.oxfordjournals.org/ content/12/3/258.full#ref-5

In the longer term, as a child’s listening skills become more established and consistent, an element of choice can be introduced so that the child can start to show preferences. Initially, this may be supported through objects of reference for two contrasting sounds (ensuring the same object is used in each session, such as small plastic boat for Row Your Boat), or through the use of switches, for example.

Further information

Jane Douglas is a Specialist Audiologist at Seashell Trust which provides education, care and outreach services for children and young people with complex communication and learning needs: www.seashelltrust.org.uk Musical intonations are more varied and interesting than speech.









Nominations sought for Shine a Light Awards The Communication Trust and Pearson have joined forces to launch the fifth Shine a Light Awards. The Awards seek to recognise the contributions of teams, settings and individuals across England who support children and young people’s speech, language and communication.  This year, there will be a brand new award for SEN School or Group of the Year, highlighting the exceptional work carried out in schools and colleges for those with SEN and disabilities across the country. Chris Hall, Director of Clinical Assessment at Pearson, said: “The continued popularity of the Shine a Light Awards proves how much is being achieved across the country to support young people with speech, language and communication, and this work is too often unrecognised.” The awards website is now open for applications and it also includes further details on how to apply. Applications close at 11:59pm on the 12 January 2017. www.shinealightawards.co.uk






Flights of fancy Toni and Gordon Dickinson reveal how art gives children with SEN a route to self-expression


ny artist will tell you that the process of creating art brings the maker a small window of peace in which to lose themselves. It provides a time for freedom and creativity in a special kind of space where conventional boundaries constructed by society melt away. These gifts offered by any artistic activity are particularly valuable for children and young people with SEN. These people often experience tighter boundaries in their day-to-day lives and may have little opportunity for self-determination, due to their unique physical or cognitive difficulties. They may also require substantial physical support and intervention resulting in rigid regimentation of their daily routines, which may be largely decided and set by other people. The chance to find an outlet for free flow creative expression can enable people with SEN to gain a sense of liberation and pride and allow them to

experience empowerment. Again, any artist will tell you that their best work is created when they give themselves the freedom to let it flow from deep within. These precious opportunities can be created effectively within the framework of SEN education. When artists and teachers get together, enthusiasm and creativity often send projects off in different directions which will stretch, motivate and surprise students as they discover their own inner creative magic.

Opening up Our experience in special schools includes working with students with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) and those with challenging behaviour. We also deliver the same creative sessions for teachers and artists. The ethos is that no-one can fail and everyone’s work is valued equally and exhibited side by side. Giving young people with SEN this expressive freedom to work allows both non-verbal and verbal students to

Art offers students important opportunities for making choices communicate their feelings in a relaxed way, according to their own physical ability with no judgements. Art offers students important opportunities for making choices, for example about colour, brush size and which tool to use. This can be a liberating experience for young people who are so used to having decisions made on their behalf by parents, carers and teaching staff. Art is fun, so it is important to provide inclusive activities that unite everyone – all staff and all students – including students who exhibit challenging behaviour. Everyone loves active painting and the more creative (and messier) the better. One great activity involves utilising sling shots to throw paint; a

This project introduced secondary students with SEN to mainstream nursery students. The pieces were cut by artists and painted by students with a limited pallet of colours.




Art can be a bridge that enables mainstream students and those with SEN to work together

Butterflies and Summer Breeze Meadow. In this collaborative project, wooden butterflies were made and painted by artists with magnets on the back. They were handed out in assemblies to children who had achieved each week. The children then looked for magnets on the wall to display their butterflies.

bike wheel can be used to spin circles of wood while students pour on paint which then shoots off to create exciting one-off artworks. It’s important to provide old clothes for those involved and covers for wheelchairs to keep everyone protected.

Inclusive learning Art can be a bridge that enables mainstream students and those with SEN to work together. Our students were taught different sculpture techniques and, once these young people had made their own sculptures, we asked them if they would like to pass their learning on to Year 6 students in a mainstream school. They were clearly

proud and delighted at the prospect of being the teacher and, sparked by the importance of this goal, they practised the different skills required until they felt confident in teaching them to other students. The benefits of this project were numerous: students’ speech and communication skills improved, as they wanted to impress younger students in their role as teacher; they took their new teaching role very seriously and gained a great deal of self-respect; students with SEN were much more engaged, with those with hearing aids turning them up to pay attention instead of zoning themselves out as they often preferred to do; the achievements and

success also gave the participants’ often fragile self-image a much needed boost. The project did not work so well with older secondary students in mainstream school who, unfortunately, seemed reluctant to engage with the special school students. However, we used this as an opportunity to ask why this was the case and discovered that in fact none of them had ever had dealings with young people with SEN. As a result, many of them did not know how to approach working with students with special needs. The project also demonstrated, therefore, the value of involving students with SEN in working in the community to encourage people to understand how to relate to them. Art can enable students to succeed, achieve and grow their self-esteem, while also providing children and young people with SEN a chance to find freedom and express themselves.

Further information

Professional artists Toni Dickinson and Gordon Dickinson run No Added Sugar, a specialist participatory arts organisation based in Swindon: www.noaddedsugar.org All images have been painted by students and staff from special schools.

This project was painted with students and staff from Uplands Special Needs School.






Looking forwards Lindsay Cunningham-McLeish highlights the issues faced by young people with spina bifida and hydrocephalus during important healthcare transitions


pina bifida (SB) occurs in pregnancy and results in problems with mobility and bladder/bowel incontinence. Those affected often require lifetime use of a wheelchair. In addition, around 80 per cent of those with SB also have hydrocephalus (HC) which can contribute to difficulties with learning, coordination and communication. Children born with these disabilities require lifelong support due to complex needs. Young people aged 12 to 25 go through a range of transitions both in healthcare and education, with similar issues faced in both. These issues emphasise the need for an integrated approach.

All change Young people develop close relationships with the paediatric team through regular hospital attendance. However, at the age of 16 they undergo transfer into adult services. This is a significantly different level of service which is reactive and relies SENISSUE85

on the individual asking their GP for support rather than it being proactively given. Many struggle with the selfmanagement of their conditions and the health issues, especially related to incontinence; this may result in low self-esteem and depression. Work and study options can be limited due to the complexity of health issues, leaving young people with financial and educational inequalities. Therefore, the need for additional support during transition is often acute and early intervention with a person-centred approach can prevent young people reaching crisis point. The transfer to adult services can be a daunting time for young people and their carer(s), as leaving paediatric services can be stressful. Transitional services require a comprehensive plan of the health and care needs of the young person and their family members with a view to looking at long-term goals, empowerment and advocacy. Planning for transition involves speaking to young people and families, as well as staff providing for their care,

There needs to be clarity over roles and responsibilities regarding transition health and wellbeing. At present, transition planning can be variable; there can often be inconsistencies and a lack of information and preparation for young people and their parents about the changes they can expect as they move into adult services, leading to a lack of understanding of the transition process. Often, professionals delivering care are not clear about the process, with some young people with complex health issues being transitioned to adult services in some areas of their care and remaining in paediatrics for other areas. These factors provide a clear indication of the need for transition specialists, whose aim is to coordinate services across the multi-disciplinary team and enable smooth transitions. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Effective planning A robust transition plan needs to be in place before transfer to adult services, with it ideally starting at the beginning of secondary school. Although the guidance makes it clear that transition plans should be in place, it is difficult to produce them due to integrated care planning being in the early stages of implementation. If there is no equivalent adult service, the perception is that there is no-one to transfer the young person to and engage in the planning process. There needs to be clarity over roles and responsibilities regarding transition with a key worker coordinating engagement between different services. Health passports can be used more widely with young people and their family in planning the transition process. One of the most frustrating elements of the transfer to adult services is having to keep repeating the young person’s health needs and history to multiple teams. Passports are valued by young people and their families as well as the health and care teams, although they are used infrequently. A person-centred electronic record providing immediate access to young people’s relevant medical history, care needs and wishes is needed as a matter of urgency. An identified lead professional is crucial to support young people and their families through transition. Health and care professionals understand that parents are usually the main coordinators of care and services for their child. There is often a lack of resources and capacity in children’s services to manage existing workloads, with adult health services not routinely engaging in transition planning of under-18s. GPs are not routinely the first point of contact in the care of young people with complex needs as children, but then they have a key role when implementing care on transfer to adult services.

Listening to families Health care settings and services should be responsive to the needs of WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Parents often feel abandoned by health and social care services at this crucial time

young people and their families when transferring to adult services. Adult health care settings and services are often not suitable for young people who are transferring to their service. Professionals often feel that they lack experience in supporting young people with complex needs when they first move to adult services. Some more intensive services are available through children’s services but are not available through the adult care sector. This is often due to capacity and resources but also the differing skills and expertise in the two sectors. The needs of parents as carers should be assessed and addressed within the transition plan. Parents often feel abandoned by health and social care services at this crucial time. There can be a culture of over reliance on partner agencies to recognise and assess the demands on family members as carers, to follow these up appropriately, and to develop strategies to address their needs. Families can feel unsupported by professionals, that the choices they face have not been fully explained to them and that they do not have enough control over future planning. Professionals often have had no training in assessing the needs of carers. Despite widespread recognition of the impact of caring for a young person with complex health needs, there are limited resources to address issues highlighted by carers. Responsibility for funding should be agreed early in the transition process so that equipment, services, respite care or other requirements are agreed during the planning stage. Changes in funding from children’s to adult services are often not clear or explained in full.

Assessments to allocate funding for continuing care can be completed by third parties who have no previous connection with the young person and their family, meaning that key information is sometimes not available and decisions are delayed. Personal budgets can be highly valued by young people and their families but they are of no help if the services are not available for purchase.

Making it work Getting transition care right for every child is not easy but it is achievable; services require a comprehensive plan of the health and care needs of the young person and their family members, with a view to planning for short- and long-term goals, empowerment and advocacy. Sometimes, it is useful to hold transition clinics to enable young people to share ideas, discuss what adult services might be like and talk to others who are going through the same process. Transition specialists should support young people and give details of groups, youth clubs or charities that might be helpful. Ultimately, as part of a holistic approach to the wellbeing of young people, a transition plan should be coordinated by a lead professional who maintains contact with the family and young person until they are well established within adult services.

Further information

Lindsay CunninghamMcLeish woks for Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland as their Health and Well Being Nurse for the East Coast of Scotland: www.sbhscotland.org.uk





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• those with a history of offending • those from a care background and/or displaying challenging behaviour • those needing physical care support to complete the programme itself. At a more strategic level, we’ve introduced the Mental Health Advisor and Learning and Behaviour Mentor roles. These experienced professionals work alongside the entire team to add valuable experience and support knowledge. In 2017, we are looking for dedicated individuals who can deliver in these roles and assist young people to help them build their confidence and gain skills to successfully complete the intense NCS programme. If you have experience supporting young people and want to inspire a young person’s NCS journey this summer, head to: NCSTheChallenge.org/jobs. Applications open December 2016.

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Teach and protect Keir McDonald looks at the role of school staff in safeguarding children with SEN


o matter what sector you’re working in, if your job brings you into contact with children or young people, you have an obligation to ensure their wellbeing. However, there are areas that carry an even greater responsibility regarding the duty of care, such as those who work with people with SEN and disabilities. According to the 2014 SEN and Disability Code of Practice, “a child or young person has SEND if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her”. Children and young people with SEN and disabilities have the same human rights as any other child, but are often


especially vulnerable and can be at an increased risk of abuse or neglect.

Empowering staff It is so important for school staff to be able to recognise the tell-tale signs of abuse amongst the pupils in their care. Regular safeguarding training can help guide staff through the different symptoms of abuse, enabling them to recognise potential issues as they emerge. Such training is an essential part of a school team’s continuous professional development.         When young people experience abuse, it can have a very serious and long-lasting effect on them. It can create a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem that is carried over into

When young people experience abuse, it can have a very serious and long-lasting effect on them all areas of their lives and can have a negative impact that will affect the young person’s study, work and relationships; later in life, it may also influence the way they parent their own children. It is known that abuse, in whatever form it takes, is a major contributing factor in both self-harm and suicide. The NHS Website lists “having a traumatic experience during childhood, a history



School staff must have the right skills to interact appropriately and effectively if they are concerned about a child

The signs of abuse will vary for different children.

of sexual or physical abuse, or a history of parental neglect” as determinants of a person’s vulnerability to suicidal thinking and behaviour.

Reading the signs While there are general signs of potential abuse among children – such as the child talking about being left alone at home or with strangers, and acting out aggressively with other children – there are also signs that are more specific, which anyone who works with children needs to be aware of. These signs are key to being able to recognise incidents of abuse but may be more subtle if a child has SEN. The symptoms of abuse and neglect vary depending on the child or young person in question and the type of abuse they may be experiencing. They may also be very different for children and young people of different ages. For example, two important indicators of possible abuse and/or neglect among children in the five- to 11-year-old age bracket are an unwillingness to share information and a reluctance to return home at the end of the school day. For 11- to 16-year-olds though, the most common signs of abuse include consumption of alcohol and exhibiting concern for siblings without elaborating on why they are concerned. Having expert attention to detail is crucial in caring for people with SEN. It is important to think about the WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

physical and behavioural signs and also to understand that young people may be experiencing more than one type of abuse, such as psychological, sexual, financial/material, discriminatory and domestic abuse.

Increasing communication ability Another core part of safeguarding training is working on the communication skills that can be used to talk to young people about abuse and neglect. School staff must have the right skills to interact appropriately and effectively if they are concerned about a child. If a young person confides abuse to a member of staff, of if a teacher initiates a conversation with a child they suspect may be subject to abuse, it is important that the professional knows how to respond and what actions to avoid, ensuring they do not distress the child or give them any reason to feel their trust has been betrayed.

A sympathetic approach Sometimes, staff may identify what they feel are the symptoms of abuse and neglect which may relate to something about a young person’s physical appearance and/or behaviour. Staff cannot immediately assume the young person is being abused, exploited, radicalised or bullied, but if they are able to initiate an appropriate conversation with them, they may help to reassure the young person, while letting them know there is someone to turn to if they need to. Education settings should have set guidelines about procedures and

practices when staff members are seeing a young person on a one-to-one basis, to ensure the young person in this situation is safe and that members of staff are not left open to allegations.

Effective reporting It’s essential to empower staff to be able to deal appropriately with incidents of abuse or neglect. An effective school safeguarding policy should not only help professionals who work with children and young people to recognise incidents of abuse and initiate conversations with a child or young person, it should also ensure they know how to report incidents swiftly and accurately to ensuring the wellbeing of those in their care. A sound safeguarding policy that is well implemented should also serve to give parents and school stakeholders confidence in the ability of staff members and the whole team to deal with any potential issues. There are many different safeguarding considerations that need to be taken into account depending on the needs of the students or individuals the particular school or staff member is working with. Regular safeguarding training is an essential investment for any school, organisation, or business that works with individuals who have SEN. School safeguarding policies should seek to ensure staff are able to identify potential issues at an early stage. Staff should know how to communicate with the children and young people in question, and what to do next if they are concerned that a pupil is suffering abuse or neglect.

Further information

Keir McDonald MBE is CEO and Chairman of EduCare, which provides safeguarding and duty of care training to professionals in education and other sectors: www.educare.co.uk





Are you sitting comfortably? Ailsa Reston highlights the importance of healthy posture for young wheelchair users


elping disabled children, teenagers and young people achieve and maintain good posture when sitting in their wheelchair is essential. It involves correct alignment of the head, trunk, spine and pelvis. With effective lumbar and lateral support, occasional or permanent wheelchair users can achieve greater occupational performance. Discomfort, back pain and fatigue can be reduced, whilst the ability to interact, learn and enjoy educational and social environments can be increased. Seated posture is defined according to the effect of sitting on the lumbar spine curvature. A flex seated posture is one that reverses the individual’s standing lumber curve into a forward slouching/backwards slumping (kyphotic) position. An extended (lordotic) seated posture is one that maintains the lumbar curve close to that of an individual’s standing position (upright/slight rear recline). Hence, good postural health and reduced discomfort arises from maintenance of the extended posture, interspersed with movement. Frequent young wheelchair users can experience multiple problems associated with poor posture. Without appropriate lateral and backrest support, a juvenile spine may not

Photo courtesy of TGA Mobility (www.tgamobility.co.uk).


Good posture will reduce deformities in young wheelchair users achieve a natural position, resulting in reduced occupational performance, back pain and increased fatigue. This can also have detrimental effects on growth, development and internal organ function, and exacerbate difficulties with breathing, eating and drinking. It can lead to increased risk of spasm and musculoskeletal deformities such as kyphosis and scoliosis

Promoting healthy growth and development Effective ergonomics should be taken into consideration when choosing the appropriate wheelchair for a young person. Incorporating a convex contoured backrest to support natural lumbar lordosis should be considered. With traditional vertical backrests, young users tend to slump in their wheelchair and adopt an unhealthy seated position. This is because conventional wheelchair geometry makes effortless upright sitting impossible. By providing a backrest that is geometrically more in-keeping with the natural curvature of the spine, extended periods of sitting will not result in chronic pain or other associated health and wellbeing problems. Added to this, firm yet appropriate lateral support will keep the pelvis mid-line, so spinal curvature can be prevented in both planes. A well-fitting wheelchair is vital as a young person grows and develops. Good posture will reduce deformities in young wheelchair users. Consistent and appropriate support of the spine helps children develop and grow as naturally as possible and can avoid

skeletal changes or changes to soft tissue. The quality of wheelchair seating materials must also be considered as pressure sores can develop as a result of tissue damage through inadequate support or inappropriate fabrics. Functional symmetry and balance is important for young people in wheelchairs, to ensure less energy is required to maintain position and therefore allow for maximum function. If a wheelchair is designed well it will promote proximal stability and therefore maximise distal function. A well supported trunk can free up the arms for function so individuals with upper body movement can physically engage at a greater level. Fundamental to good posture is correct alignment of the pelvis. The pelvic area is the body’s main pivotal point and should always be assessed critically during equipment provision. Good posture in a wheelchair promotes better visual, perceptual and cognitive abilities through improved head movement and a greater field of vision. This healthy upright sitting position also impacts on the perception of the world around and the ability to interpret visual information. As a result, young wheelchair users who can achieve a comfortable, natural seated posture, can benefit from more effective learning processes and can acquire knowledge more readily.

Further information

Ailsa Reston is co-founder of RKS Occupational Therapist Services, based in Cheshire, which specialises in wheelchair and seating assessments and provision: www.rksot.co.uk




Epilepsy and families Paul Keenleyside examines how epilepsy affects all those who live with it


pilepsy’s impact on children, particularly in relation to learning and behaviour, is often underestimated. What can also be neglected is the knock-on impact that this complex condition can have on the wider family. Emerging research shows that parents of young children with epilepsy are more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression than parents of children with other neuro-disabilities. However, parents can benefit from targeted support and connecting with other families affected by epilepsy. Epilepsy affects approximately one child in every primary school and five in every secondary school and can have a wide-ranging impact on young people with the condition. Research has shown that 95 per cent SENISSUE85

of children with epilepsy experience significant difficulty in at least one area of learning or behaviour (Reilly et al., 2014); 42 per cent underachieve in at least one academic area and 49 per cent of parents report difficulties with school attendance. Young people with epilepsy are also four times more likely to experience a mental health problem than their peers (Davies et al., 2003). On top of these challenges, young people with epilepsy may be faced with the ongoing risk that they could experience a seizure at any moment, which might require emergency intervention. The wide-ranging impact of epilepsy on a young person can undoubtedly take its toll on the wider family. Parents of children with epilepsy have been found to experience higher levels of anxiety and depression (Jones and

Seizures can be a major source of concern for parents and many think that their child is dying

Reilly, 2016). Seizures can be a major source of concern for parents and many think that their child is dying (Besag et al., 2005).

Strain on families Professor Helen Cross, the Prince of Wales’ Chair of Childhood Epilepsy, is leading research to examine how having a young child with epilepsy impacts on families. This population-based WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


study is assessing whether epilepsy presents more difficulties for families than other neuro-disabilities. As part of the research, all parents of young children with epilepsy in a designated area have been asked what it is like for them to live with the condition. The study also compares behavioural and developmental issues in young children with epilepsy with those of children with other neuro-disabilities. The final results from this study will be published next year, but preliminary findings were presented at the British Paediatric Neurology Association conference in January 2016. These show that mothers of children with epilepsy had significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression compared with mothers of children with nonepilepsy related neuro-disability. Parents were found to be frustrated with the lack of support and access to specialists, as well as long waiting lists for diagnostics such as EEG (electroencephalogram). Parents reported that they were not being sufficiently informed about the link between epilepsy and developmental or behaviour issues. Parents said that these difficulties often had a more significant impact on child wellbeing and family functioning than seizure management. The provision of therapeutic and educational support for developmental or behavioural difficulties was found to be very patchy. Having a young child with epilepsy has a significant impact on family functioning, with parents mentioning restrictions on family activities and increased financial burdens. Those families who were able to access an epilepsy specialist nurse found their support very beneficial.

Connecting families The emotional and social costs of living with epilepsy can be high and third sector organisations are exploring different ways to support families. With funding from the Big Lottery Fund, one project from Young Epilepsy is providing free support to families living WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

The emotional and social costs of living with epilepsy can be high

in some of the most deprived areas of the country. One-to-one sessions with support workers and group events are enabling parents to share their experiences of epilepsy. Both the young people involved and their families are benefitting from the additional support. Over the summer, for example, families took part in a high ropes course through the forest and a picnic in the park. Young people attended with their parents, grandparents, siblings and friends. Local epilepsy specialist nurses were also on hand to provide any advice or support. Both the young people and their families enjoyed spending time together talking about how epilepsy has affected them, with some making plans to meet up again. It is still early days for this particular project, but initial findings coming through are extremely positive. Families say they have experienced a happier home environment since being part of the project. Parents are seeing an improvement in their stress levels and their ability to cope with their child’s epilepsy. Parents feel more confident to give their child a greater level of independence. The project is also having an impact on other services supporting the young people. Parents feel more able to deal with these services and they have noticed an improvement in understanding, support and empathy from the professionals supporting their children. For one family, individual support has helped improve communication between a mother and daughter. The relationship between them was becoming more strained by the day due to a lack of compromise and understanding for each other’s

wishes. Laura was wanting to go out with friends during the times when she was at high risk of having a seizure and would get frustrated with her mother being worried about the situations that she would place herself in. Support sessions enabled both Laura and her mother to air their concerns together and areas of compromise were suggested. Over time, this approach has proved successful and Laura and her mother are communicating more with one another, with compromise at the forefront of their minds. This has resulted in more freedom for Laura and more peace of mind for her mother.

Specialist support For some young people and their families however, their epilepsy is so complex – often with significant comorbid conditions – that they need additional specialist support outside of community-based services. Residential settings can offer a holistic approach which meets the individual’s education, health and care needs. Such settings can cater for young people’s hyper complex conditions and support their families. It is clear that families of children with epilepsy are struggling with a wide range of issues. It is vital that local areas consider the holistic needs of both the young people and those closest to them as they make crucial decisions on what the right support mechanisms are, how they should be funded and who is best placed to deliver them.

Further information Paul Keenleyside is Director of Education at the charity Young Epilepsy. A range of free downloadable resources is available at: youngepilepsy.org.uk














Every breath you take For children with SEN and behaviour issues, yoga can strengthen the body and the mind, writes Jo Manuel


or many, yoga is seen as a series of poses or postures that are held for varying lengths of time with the goals of toning the body and increasing relaxation. However, yoga in its true form has vastly more benefits. It is a practice that was developed between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago and used by high priests and scholars in their quest for higher levels of insight and knowledge.   Yoga is a unity of the body, mind and spirit. It strengthens the body, balances the mind and nurtures the spirit. I have been practising yoga since 1974; my first class was like an “ah-a” moment where I understood that yoga offered the possibility to bring about my personal healing. It was like every light bulb in the room had been switched on. Over years of regular practice, I started to understand how to bring myself into balance and peace, and when I started teaching yoga in 1990 I was able to share those experiences with the children and adults with additional needs who found their way to my classes.  The methodology I use includes the classical yoga practices of movement, breathing and deep relaxation,

Photo by Gaia Visual.


combined with sound, rhythm, massage and sensory integration techniques. However, each child is different and we need to focus on what the child can do rather than what they cannot do. We need to embrace every child as the magnificent being that they are, even when they are displaying challenging behaviours.  Whether in individual or group sessions, it is important to approach every child with a pure intention to create a practice that encourages them to their fullest potential, celebrating the strength within each child and working from there. Taking the child out of stress and into a relaxed state creates the optimum conditions for positive change. 

Feel the benefits Many studies have shown the impact that yoga and mindfulness can have on the wellbeing of all who practice it. Specific benefits can include: • reduction in stress and anxiety • improved resilience • developing the ability to selfregulate across environments • developing balance and the ability to relax and release tension, fear and frustration • Improved self-awareness • improved motor planning and control • improved immune function • improved sleep • enhanced respiratory ability and capacity • enhanced sense of wellbeing • creating emotional balance.  The breath is a very important part of our yoga practice. Breathing is one of the few body functions which occurs both at conscious and unconscious levels. The way a person breathes reflects their emotional state and is impacted by and can remedy stress

Breathing exercises in therapeutic yoga serve to connect the body and mind and anxiety. Control of the breath has a profound impact on our health and wellbeing. Breathing exercises in therapeutic yoga serve to connect the body and mind. When we slow and deepen the breath we change the physiological response. By consciously slowing the breath, especially the exhalation, we can facilitate the relaxation response even more, and develop some control over how our nervous system responds to our environment. The practice encourages the child to develop breath awareness. We can use any number of different techniques to help the child with this – through our own breathing (entrainment), touchsupported breathing, movementsupported breathing, use of sound and using specific massage points to release the tension in the breath and diaphragm. Specific, simple but powerful yoga moves can help balance the body’s energy and bring strength and focus where it is needed.

Further information Jo Manuel is the founder of the Special Yoga Foundation: specialyoga.org.uk



Free accessible yoga sessions for people with sight and hearing impairments National disability charity Sense has launched a programme of free yoga sessions for people who have sight and hearing impairments and those with complex needs. The programme has been made possible following a grant of £424,958 from Sport England. London is one of the areas that the project will focus on, with Sense set to deliver a number of activities across the region from now until May 2018. The project will influence the development and delivery of local physical activity plans, which will include working alongside deafblind people. “Yoga is an accessible and safe form of exercise for people of all ages”. says Taylor Huxster, Regional Sports Coordinator at Sense. “It’s an effective way to build strength, flexibility and balance and it’s also great for relaxation and stress management.” www.sense.org.uk WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK





Soft touch Elizabeth Calderara provides some simple reflexology and massage techniques that parents can use to help calm their child


eflexology and massage are great ways of harnessing the calming power of touch to improve physical comfort and wellbeing. In this article, I will explain how to use these mediums to help your child become less anxious, to fall asleep, and to relieve the discomfort of cramping in muscles or reflux. I will provide a few simple movements that can be shared with the family at home or in school by key workers and health professionals. A simple routine of gentle strokes and pressure techniques can take less than ten minutes. It can help to induce a sense of relaxation – easing muscle tension, calming anxiety, balancing disturbed sleep patterns and improving digestive issues such as constipation.

So how does this occur? Have you ever stubbed a toe, bashed your elbow or stood on a sharp object in your bare feet? I’ll wager the first thing you do is to rub the area to ease the pain. We adopt this natural response because throughout history we have used our hands to impart comfort and healing.

Our feet and hands together have over half the bones in the body, with a sensitive network of nerves, tendons and muscles. Reflexology is the application of pressure and movement of the thumbs and fingers over the feet and/or hands on points which correspond to specific areas of the body. Skin is the largest sensitive organ of the body. In the developing embryo it arises from the same cell layer as the nervous system. The skin not only reflects how well we are by its colour, texture and temperature, but also our emotional health. It mirrors our feelings; we blanch when fearful and nervous, and flush with embarrassment, excitement or anger. Massage is a messenger to the body’s internal organs via the skin.

Reflexology for SEN Soothing sequences of massage and reflexology for children with SEN should be carried out wherever your child is most comfortable, at a time that is right for them. The child can be in a wheelchair, sitting on the floor, seated on your lap or on cushions. If your child

Reflexology can be carried out in positions that suit the child.


Massage is a messenger to the body’s internal organs via the skin is hypersensitive or tactile defensive, has sight or hearing challenges or medical issues, the sequence can be adapted, extended or reduced. The hands can be used to give reflexology if the feet are too sensitive or if gaiters and/or shoes can’t be removed easily. You would not give a treatment to a child if they feel unwell, have a temperature, infection, open wound, bruise or cut, if they are recovering from surgery or if they have been vaccinated recently or are experiencing reactions to vaccinations. Reflexology should also not take place over the site of verrucae or athletes foot. Most points on the feet and hands are worked with the fingertips and the edge of thumb. The following is a simple technique that parents/carers can use with their children. You will be using a particular technique known as “thumb walking”. This is a movement which mimics the movement of a caterpillar. It is carried out by flexing the thumb at the first joint whilst simultaneously sliding it forward. The thumb never leaves the skin but the pressure fluctuates as it moves. Each foot is divided into three horizontal sections corresponding to areas of the body: first the diaphragm line below the large pad of the toes, second the waist line where the foot begins to narrow, and third the pelvic area at the beginning of the heel. There are a further five vertical zones. Using these as markers, the body can be mapped out on each foot, with the right foot linking to the right side of the body and left foot to the left side. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Thumb walking is a movement which mimics the movement of a caterpillar Whether you are giving a reflexology or massage treatment or a mixture of both, be comfortable and care for your back; make sure it is supported. It is important you practice this routine to be sure you do not put undue stress on your hand and arm. Practise on your own arms or hands.

How to practice thumb walking 1. Take a pen and colour the end of your thumb at the top of the pad. 2. Place your right thumb on your left arm, or vice versa. 3. Release the thumb joint slightly so that it creeps ever so slightly forward. If you can see the pen mark on your thumb pad, you are over flexing the thumb joint. 4. Repeat the above using slow and steady movements; tiny incremental movements are key to prevent straining of your thumb, wrist tendons and lower arm muscles. The same procedure can be used with your forefinger, if this is more comfortable for you,

Relaxation routine For children and teenagers aged four to 18 years A cream or non-perfumed talcum powder can be used to help the flow of movement. 1. Placement: one hand underneath the heel, with the opposite hand placed just half way down the shin bone. Stroke with a gentle but firm movement down and over the top of the foot and toes. Do this several times and repeat on the other leg and foot. 2. Placement: first four fingers of both hands on either side of the ankle. Circle the ankle bones with the first four fingers of each hand several times very gently. 3. Placement: holding the heel of the foot, follow your eye down from between toes two and three, just below the diaphragm line. Gently press

and this is also a gentle alternative for treatment of babies and young children. Once you are confident with the thumb/finger walking, you are ready to start a treatment. Before beginning, introduce the concept of reflexology and/or massage.

the solar plexus point, release, press and release press and release. 4. Placement: support the foot with one hand. With the other hand place your four fingers gently over the top of the foot. With the thumb, caterpillar walk up the foot, to the large toe first, cover the whole foot by working from the heel to the top of each toe. Complete and then change to the other foot. 5. Placement: support the foot with one hand on the heel. Glide the thumb of the opposite hand across the foot from the side which has the great toe to the little toe. Glide across until the whole foot is covered. Then repeat the action on the other foot. 6. Complete the treatment with the stroking technique of point number 1.

Massage routine

These movements tone the intestinal system and help with digestion, relieving colic, gas and constipation (which is helpful for babies and young children). 1. Water wheel 1: use paddling movements on the child’s tummy, one hand following the other, as if you were scooping sand toward yourself. 2. Water wheel 2 (with legs up): hold up your child’s legs with one hand; grasp the ankles and repeat paddling motion on the child’s tummy (as above). This relaxes the stomach and allows deeper massaging.

Further information

Elizabeth Calderara is a complementary practitioner with 19 years experience of working with children and young people with special and complex needs: www.fabulous-feet.co.uk The hands can be used to give reflexology if feet are too sensitive or inaccessible.






Infant massage training scheme MiniMassage, an infant massage training and accreditation scheme for nursery and preschool professionals, has been launched by Rowan Perkin Ltd, a provider of birth to five years wellbeing services. Designed for the childcare setting, MiniMassage is ideal for babies, toddlers and the under fives. Rowan Perkin says massage is the most natural way of communicating with a child before they are able to talk and it provides a safe way of meeting the nurturing objectives identified. “MiniMassage in daycare settings helps children to settle, it is gentle and nurturing and actively promotes wellbeing, and it provides staff with ongoing continuous professional development (CPD)”, she says. A two-day training programme is available or you can arrange for a trained MiniMassage instructor to come to your nursery on a weekly basis to run classes. For more information on MiniMassage, visit: www.minimassage.co.uk




The mane attraction Johanna McDonald on how horses can help difficult-toreach children to connect with the world


orses are a great starting point in supporting children struggling with the educational system. Young people diagnosed with SEN may come across as introverted or slow to show emotion towards other living creatures, particularly humans. However, when caring and riding horses is added into a weekly routine, the result is often something quite overwhelming.

Why horses? The bond between horses and humans has existed for thousands of years. Although riding is a huge part of this relationship, there is something even more profound that draws us towards horses. Equine therapy is a great way to encourage emotional growth and can be used to help those with a wide range of conditions and issues, from people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorder and autism to those with behaviour issues, victims of abuse and those with mental health issues. Horses are one of the most popularly used animals for therapy due to their ability to respond and react to a human’s emotions. Because of this, it is often easier for a human to establish a connection with a horse. Many children, and even adults, struggling with mental health issues learn that feeling is painful. Therefore, if a type of therapy is going to be successful, one of the first steps is to learn to cope with emotions, and this is where equine therapy is powerful. Horses, emotionally at least, are black and white. You can’t lie to them; they know if we are scared or anxious and they possess an ability to pick up on our emotions. For example, if a human acts in an aggressive manner, a horses is likely to become obstinate WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Horses know if we are scared or anxious and they possess an ability to pick up on our emotions and unwilling; if a human is anxious, a horse will respond in an uneasy way. Similarly, when approached in a calm and relaxed state, a horse is much more likely to respond in kind. The point here is that a horses will only reward humans with affection and attention when humans acts in a calm and affectionate way towards them. The same theory applies to riding horses. When horses are given clear, calm and precise aids they are much more responsive. For example, a small squeeze of the leg and a clear but calm voice command of “walk-on” should result in the horse walking forwards nicely. If the rider was to sit on a horse in a withdrawn manner and do nothing, the horses would do exactly that – nothing. And equally, if a rider is loud and unruly, they will not gain the correct response. So again, clear and calm is always the winner here.

A natural acceptance One of the most wonderful characteristics of horses is the way in which they naturally want to connect with humans. They possess the ability to form strong connections with humans through their unconditional acceptance of us. They don’t mind who we are or what we look like, they >>





I have never seen a child with learning difficulties act negatively towards a horse

Many children enjoy caring for horses.

haven. What’s more, being around horses and caring for them starts to stimulate a nurturing and empathetic reaction. This in turn teaches children how to trust, bond with and respect other living beings and, more often than not, themselves.

Horses and humans can develop special bonds.

Gaining trust are non-judgemental and they don’t criticise. They possess an ability to read human emotions which is perhaps why we turn to them in times of need. Likewise, because a horse is naturally a herd animal that looks for a leader, they turn to us in domestic circumstances for guidance and care. As children spend more time around horses they start to recognise these traits and it encourages them to take the lead in a calm and collective manner, which starts to give them a sense of purpose and self-belief. The children don’t see the horses as a threat which, unfortunately, is often the way they can see humans. In fact, the horses and stables are often viewed as a safe

If someone is not used to being around horses, it’s not unusual to feel intimidated by their size. It takes time to feel confident around them and trust needs to develop between both horse and human. By learning how to care and interact with the horses and generally just being around them, trust starts to build and a bond is created. I have never seen a child with learning difficulties act negatively towards a horse or even the staff on the yard. They seem to become truly engaged and absorbed around the horses and their focus is phenomenal. It helps the children forget the number of challenges they have to deal with on a daily basis as they become emerged

in the equine activity of riding, grooming and care. Those who are nervous around the horses seem to conquer this fear incredible quickly and we see them become more resilient and less anxious. Their levels of personal growth, concentration, confidence and even teamwork improve enormously. It is widely recognised that spending time around horses changes the pattern of our brainwaves; we become more focused and it has a calming effect. The children, along with their teachers, parents and carers, thoroughly enjoy these sessions and gain so much from spending time around the horses. The best thing is, the children all look forward to their next sessions. Whether it’s improving and working on their riding skills, grooming and looking after the horses or sitting in a classroom learning about the anatomy of the horse, they always want to come back.

Further information

Johanna McDonald is the owner of Wiltshire-based equestrian centre Rein and Shine: www.reinandshine.co.uk Working with horses can help children to manage anxiety.




Equine Assisted Therapy & Learning

For further information, please contact us about our sessions and courses: 01666 860068 www.reinandshine.co.uk johannamcdonald@reinandshine.co.uk 1 Buryhill Farm, Brydon, Wiltshire, SN5 0AH

Animal magic at special school Pupils at the Chelfham Bere Alston School, Yelverton are to benefit from an innovative therapy with the launch of a new “animal strategy” that will see the introduction of pets and ponies to the classroom and playground. The school will be implementing the approach based on widespread evidence that supports the use of animals within schools because of the impact they can have on behaviour and learning. Animals can also help vulnerable students feel more comfortable in the classroom. The new animal strategy will include equine therapy, provided by a local stable Collytown Therapy Ponies. It is hoped that regular pony visits will help students feel calmer, less anxious and more confident. It is also hoped that students will feel more motivated, particularly about subjects related to animals, science, and the environment – with the ponies providing real-life examples of everything they are learning about. Chelfham Bere Alston School is part of Priory Children’s Services: www.priorychildrensservices.co.uk






Grief unspoken Sarah Helton explains how to support children with SEN through bereavement and grief


ost adults struggle to find the right words to say to another adult who is grieving. When it is a child that is bereaved, they often try to avoid having any sort of conversation with them concerning the death. If the grieving child has SEN or a disability, the problem is exacerbated. A child with SEN tends to be enveloped by an even greater silence following a death. Theirs truly is an unspoken grief. Early in my teaching career, I witnessed the devastating impact of a pupil’s death on their classmates and the school as a whole. I quickly realised that there was very little guidance on how to best support children with SEN with their grief. At times, the grief of these children was either ignored or not fully acknowledged, with many adults just not knowing how to deal with it. Working in special schools for children with severe learning difficulties (SLD), profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) and complex needs, I experienced, on average, the death SENISSUE85

There will be times when whole classes and even the entire school community are grieving of one pupil a year. If a child joins a special school aged four, by the time they leave aged 16, there could well have been as many as 12 children that have died at that school. The child may not have known all of those children well, but the impact of those deaths will still be immense. How many of us experienced 12 deaths by the time we were 16? UK educational statistics show that up to 70 per cent of schools have at least one bereaved pupil on roll at any one time. My personal experience suggests that all special schools will have at least one bereaved pupil on roll every day of every school year. This includes pupils who are bereaved due to the death of a family member, as

well as those who have experienced the death of a class mate or friend at school. Following the death of a pupil, there will be times when whole classes and even the entire school community are grieving. Children with SEN are more likely to be effected by grief at a younger age and in greater frequency than typically developing children, due to the nature of the medical conditions that some children in special schools have. Combined with the learning and communication difficulties that children with SEN often experience, this only strengthens the case for them having good bereavement education and support.

Understanding death A child with SEN will find it hard to understand what death really means – in particular that death is forever. They may be unable to relate to the finality and permanence of death and so will often long for things to return to the way they were. Indeed, some children may WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


never develop a full understanding of the conclusiveness of death. This does not mean, however, that we should leave them in a state of confusion with their bereavement. A child who is bereaved will usually need: • answers to their questions • help in understanding the death • help to be involved, for example in the funeral, memorial service or special assembly at school • opportunities to talk in their own time • affection and extra reassurance. When supporting children with SEN with bereavement you need to think about the developmental and cognitive age of the child, particularly in terms of what they will be able to understand

and comprehend. You also have to take into consideration their receptive and expressive communication age. Other factors that will influence their understanding of death include previous life experiences and the family's culture and beliefs, specifically in relation to death.

Know the basic facts of how the person died so that you can answer the child’s questions

Returning to everyday life

Emotional regulation skills should be taught and supported, for example relaxation and breathing techniques and how to ask for “time out”. It is also important at these times to provide lots of ordinary and familiar experiences for those who are grieving. Children with SEN may communicate their grief differently, but grief is grief. Their grief is just as valid and powerful as anyone else’s and must never be overlooked, ignored or forgotten. Doing so will only leave them in a greater state of confusion and, as with anyone whose grief is neglected, this could have a serious detrimental impact on their emotional and psychological health. A school curriculum that embeds the teaching of life and death across its subjects and across all year groups will be best placed to support children and staff with the bereavements that they experience. Children need to develop an understanding of what life and death is before they can accept and manage their feelings of loss and grief.

After a loss, children need to regain a sense of safety and stability. Before this can be achieved it is important to ensure that all of the child’s basic needs are met. The child’s usual routines should be re-established and support systems need to be put in place for the child, and for all those who are grieving, including parents/carers and school staff.

How to talk to children who are grieving ƒƒ Use clear language. ƒƒ Explanations need to be basic, real and practical, with a very visual element. We cannot rely solely on words. Make use of all relevant modes of communication, including signing, symbols, photos and AAC. ƒƒ Always be open, honest and available. ƒƒ Use the appropriate words, not euphemisms. For example, use the words “dead” and “death” rather than “gone away” or “just sleeping”. ƒƒ Be patient. Be prepared to explain things over and over again, so that the child can process and accept the death. ƒƒ When you have given the child information about the death and what will be happening next, regularly check that they have understood what you have told them, but do not repeatedly ask them “Do you understand?” Instead, check what they know through conversational routes. For example, if you have told them the funeral for the deceased is on Thursday, later on ask them if they remember what is happening on Thursday.

Key things to remember When working with children who have experienced death: • know the basic facts of how the person died so that you can answer the child’s questions • make sure the child is aware of the funeral or memorial service and is involved as much as they would like to be • if the child is unable to be involved in the formal “goodbye”, have a ritual to help them say goodbye at school, such as a special assembly, releasing a balloon or planting a tree • make time for physical outlets of expression • provide creative outlets for expression • maintain routines and structures, as far as possible.


Further information

Sarah Helton has written two books about grief, Remembering Lucy, a story book for children with SEN and disabilities, and A Special Kind Of Grief, the complete guide for supporting individuals with special needs and disabilities with the issues of bereavement and loss. Both books are being published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers and will be available in Summer 2017 www.backpocketteacher.co.uk





Helping dyslexics to shine Diana Hudson provides useful tips for teachers and parents


n every class in mainstream schools there is likely be at least one student who has dyslexia. These students are as intelligent as their peers but they have difficulties in the specific areas of reading, writing, spelling, short-term memory and often organisational skills. In other disciplines they will perform normally or excel. People with dyslexia tend to be creative and imaginative, with original approaches to problem solving and a sense of design. They usually have high emotional intelligence and empathy for others. They are good verbally and may be excellent orators. At school, however, they are too often categorised by their problems and not by their talents. This can lead to them feeling undervalued and being in the bottom sets. With low expectations and not enough provision, many will underachieve at school and become frustrated, depressed and disillusioned. The adults in their lives, both teachers and parents can make a huge difference to their educational experiences, well-being and eventual success. Some key considerations that can help dyslexic people to succeed are discussed below.

Morale All adolescents worry about workload, exams, body image and relationships, but students with dyslexia may also have a history of underperforming at school and struggling to do things that their peers find easy. They may regularly have failed exams or achieved disappointing results and feel embarrassed, dejected and lacking in self-confidence. Some become SENISSUE85

Alternative learning methods can generally be found to enable success resentful and disengaged whilst others feel that they are just “stupid”. Teachers and parents have a vital role to be upbeat and encouraging and to generate a positive “can do” attitude. Letting the student know that their academic potential and ability is recognised will make a huge difference. Their problems will not go away but alternative learning methods can generally be found to enable success. It is important to keep these sensitive young people buoyant and cheerful as they will need to work hard and face periodic setbacks to reach their academic goals.

colour, images, sound, experimenting, craft, drama, inventing or playing games and anything which makes learning fun.

Addressing their main challenges Reading Hesitant, inaccurate reading is the hallmark of dyslexia. Pages of small print text are daunting and often unintelligible. There is often a real dread of being asked to read out loud. Generally, children with dyslexia love stories but dislike the mechanics of reading. Reading aloud to them will encourage a love of books. Story tapes can also be useful. Introduce them to books with easily accessible content and a good story line.

How dyslexics think and process information People with dyslexia think very rapidly, make lateral connections and often see thoughts in pictures. They tend to be imaginative, holistic thinkers and they get bored by too much fine detail. They are more right brained and are therefore less good at sequential, analytical thought processes. We all learn by taking in and processing things that we see, hear or experience. Most people have a preferred channel but a dyslexic learner needs to have greater multi-sensory input and hands-on experience. They relish a variety of techniques involving

Dyslexics tend to be imaginative, creative thinkers.



Reading English literature set texts is intimidating and it is often worth getting an audio version so that the student can hear the whole story before looking at the text in detail. Revision guides can also be helpful. The ease and accuracy of reading lesson material can be helped by printing worksheets on different coloured paper or using coloured overlays. Most students have a preferred colour. A reading ruler may also help to prevent line jumping. Well-spaced text in a large, clear font is easier to read and dyslexics enjoy diagrams or cartoons to break up the page. Problems of reading out loud can be avoided if teachers give advanced warning so that they can prepare a small piece. Parents can give support by listening to reading at home to help confidence. Many dyslexics are very good actors but just need time to prepare. A common dyslexic mistake is misreading questions and instructions, especially in stressful situations such as exams. Students should be encouraged to relax and read instructions slowly at least twice, underlining or highlighting key words or numbers. Some dyslexic students will qualify to have exam questions read to them, either by a person or using text to speech software. Writing Slow writing speed with poor spelling and punctuation is typical, although the content can be good. Letters such as “b” and “d” may be reversed and capital letters can be used randomly. Copying from the board is likely to be inaccurate. Words or whole lines may be missed out and in some cases the writing may become illegible when tiredness sets in. Errors in spelling, chemical formulae and numbers are common and dyslexic students are generally unable to process information at the same time as writing it down. Try to reduce the volume of writing expected. Teachers can give out clear printed notes for important material. These should be well spaced out and WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Mind maps or essay grids may help to gather the initial flurry of lateral ideas not overwhelming. Coloured paper should be considered. If preferred, there can be gaps to fill in single words or short answers. Sometimes students prefer to type on a word processor. Alternatively, audio recording is possible either to write up later or to transfer to notes using voice-to-text software. Spelling Whilst dyslexic students can learn spellings for specific tests, they will often forget them again. Spelling can be erratic, especially if they are concentrating on the content of written work. Typical indicators of dyslexia are not hearing the sounds within words (phonemes) – for example “bloon" for “balloon” – letter reversal (such as “brian" for “brain”) and confusion of the consonants “b” and “p” and “g” and “k”. The same word can be spelled several different ways in the same passage. Use multi-sensory methods to teach important spellings: chanting or singing, rhymes, clapping the letters, mnemonics, or quirky phrases. Vocabulary lists for key topic words are useful.

Short-term memory and organisation Dyslexic students often have poor short-term memories and easily forget instructions, directions and details. They also find it hard to revise and retain information. Revision can be aided with techniques which transfer information to the long-term memory; making up rhymes, songs, games, mnemonics, colour coding, or some computer revision programmes can help.

Planning essays and coursework is very intimidating as a holistic dyslexic will see the enormity of the whole task and be overwhelmed. It is helpful to divide it into smaller manageable chunks with interim deadlines so it can be tackled sequentially. Mind maps or essay grids may help to gather the initial flurry of lateral ideas so that they can then be organised into a sensible order. Simple memory aids such as sticky notes and reminders on phones can be useful, as can an illustrated school timetable showing equipment needed for lessons or identifying when work needs to be handed in. Plans of the school layout or local maps may help to prevent the student getting lost. A poor sense of direction and an inability tell left from right can also be symptomatic.

Celebrating success Maybe most important of all, celebrate successes of dyslexic students and praise their talents and strengths. They have unusual and creative minds and the potential to become leaders of tomorrow with the right encouragement and support today.

Further information

Diana Hudson runs inset training for teachers and mentors teenagers and adults with dyslexia. She is the author of Specific Learning Difficulties: What Teachers Need to Know, published by Jessica Kingsley: www.jkp.com








Dyslexia Training Days People First Dyslexia Training Days are designed to help educators and support staff with a variety of strategies for the effective inclusion of learners with dyslexia. The course covers: • guidance on clear communication skills • how can the classroom practitioner ensure a dyslexicfriendly environment? • adapting the classroom to meet the needs of learners with dyslexia, while fully including their peers • identification strategies • communication issues and strategies to overcome them • making extra time meaningfully (including study, homework, revision) • using visual communication tools to aid social and emotional understanding • effective strategies to enhance tracking and reading skills using readily available resources • a range of structured, multi-sensory teaching methods to improve literacy skills • how phonic remediation and early interventions can make a substantial difference to learning. For more information, visit: www.peoplefirsteducation.co.uk WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK





King of the hopeless attention span Philip Whitehead reveals how being home-schooled helped him make the most of his ADHD


was out buying groceries the other day, when I saw a little boy in his school uniform having an argument with his dad in the cereal isle. Clearly tired and frustrated from a long day, he held up his lunch-box and slammed it down on the ground; his strawberry milk spurted out all across the bottom shelf of goods. A few parents looked on disapprovingly. I managed to catch the boy’s eye for just a second and threw him a wink that said, “Yeah, me too.” After all, that was me, minus about 15 years. When I was growing up, I was a parent’s worst nightmare. I got on the wrong side of all my teachers at nursery, I shouted over my parents and their friends at dinner parties, I even broke mum and dad’s bed frame (they slept on the floor for a year thereafter).

Misbehaving Needless to say, I didn’t get on well when I started school. The fact that I could read before I got there meant that I was a step ahead of all the other children and, as a result, the teacher wouldn’t let me answer any of the questions in class. For a kid like me, that was just fine. I found plenty of tables to draw on, plenty of pieces of paper to cut into a million tiny little pieces and plenty of other kids with hair I could pull and ears I could flick from behind. The headmaster would always be less than impressed when, all too often, he would walk down the hallway to find me stood outside the classroom door, sent out again for misbehaving. Of course, when my parents heard about all this, they had the good sense SENISSUE85

I was impossible to teach, impossible to control and pretty much impossible to talk to to figure out that I probably wasn’t being challenged enough by my daily regime of sitting around, discovering new ways to disrupt an entire class’s learning experience while a teacher droned on about things that seemed like second nature to me. They asked for me to be moved up a class. The schooling system, being the schooling system, said “no”. That was when formal education and I decided to take a break from each other for a while. This new adjustment immediately meant much more free time. Knowing that I had no shortage of enthusiasm, mum and dad signed me up for pretty

much everything they could think of: football club, chess club, music lessons, and theatre school every Sunday. I must have been the most stimulated kid in the country.

Take us home Having seen the failures of the mainstream education system, my parents also withdrew my older brother from school at the same time as me. The two of us were roving around endless activities, having a blast and learning a great deal too. Invariably, being the wise sage that older siblings tend to be, my brother’s increased maturity meant that he could stick at things a lot longer than I could. He would patiently sit and learn new skills like perspective drawing or dancing, and I would test the durability of various chess figurines in a chess-piece-versus-table-top competition that was completely self-devised.

An adventurous Philip, aged six, in his grandmother’s apple tree.



neglect and creative freedom are two different things. Without trying to force focus out of me, eventually they just took a step back and let me write my own syllabus. Of course, this syllabus changed on pretty much a daily basis; one day I would be reading books on astronomy and talking non-stop about one of Jupiter’s moons (perhaps Ganymede, the third in order of those massive enough to have collapsed into a spheroid); the next morning, I would be writing poems or making clay pottery. Philip (top) playing with older brother Edmund.

Pretty soon, it became clear that I was “different”. Here are just a few of my “highlights”: there was the time I broke someone else’s leg in overzealous play-fighting; the July afternoon I hit my brother over the head with a metal hammer playing “police versus burglars”; and the unforgettable day my violin teacher refused to teach me any further on the grounds that I was “uncontrollable”. While, in isolation, any of these events might simply serve as an illustration of the boys-will-be-boys philosophy that can be used to excuse any number of poor decisions, when incidents like these are occurring pretty much every day, people begin to see things differently. So what was the solution? Send me to my room? Sure, they tried it. I ended up going crazy in there and emptying all the bookshelves and banging on the walls. Nope, there had to be another way. Mum and dad kept trying.

Feeding the mind The important thing, to them, was not what I was learning, but simply that I was learning. By allowing me this freedom to learn whatever I wanted to learn, my parents enabled me to motivate myself, without having to synthesise or try and instil motivation in me from the outside. This led me down every intellectual path imaginable and allowed me to assimilate a vast amount of knowledge about certain subjects, just as anyone can do when they are truly passionate about something. Sure, I wasted some time climbing trees and making sand-castles while other kids were working hard at school, but I never wasted a second trying to learn something I had no interest in. And, sure enough, when I did eventually go back to school, there were some pretty


hefty knowledge gaps that needed to be filled in, but by this point my mental faculty was so well-practised from all my time spent reading New Scientist of my own accord that it took hardly any time at all to catch up. Nowadays, I am the king of my hopeless attention span. I run around daily forgetting what it was that I was so keen on accomplishing the day before, and I never cease to find new pointless avenues to focus all of my attention on for no reason other than the sheer joy of learning. It’s what helped me attain a first class honours degree, and it has always been the greatest tool in my arsenal of employable skills. So maybe I regret winking at the kid in the cereal aisle. Maybe I should have gone up to his dad, put a hand on his shoulder and said, “It’s OK. He’s just not made to fit into that uniform. Not quite yet, anyway.”

Further information

A personal curriculum Eventually, they had effectively reached their wits’ end. I was impossible to teach, impossible to control and pretty much impossible to talk to unless I was getting my own way. So what did they do? They stopped trying. Now, I don’t mean for one second that they gave up on me. My parents were far too loving to neglect their own child, no matter how irksome I undoubtedly was. But

The important thing was not what I was learning, but simply that I was learning

Philip Whitehead is a former singer/ songwriter turned Zen student and freelance writer. He is currently training to work with dyslexic children and adults and writing articles for publication on the topics of health, education and spirituality: www.philipwhitehead.com Brothers together. Let to right – Leopold, Edmund and Philip.





Fighting the system Trying to secure an appropriate school placement for her son with autism is an ongoing struggle, writes Charlotte Orlowski


obie regressed catastrophically at age two. He changed from a typically developing little boy who spoke in sentences, sang, counted, asked questions, played with his friends and enjoyed every second of every day, becoming a withdrawn shell of himself with no connection to the outside world. He could not speak – or even make sounds – play or show interest in other people; within weeks he’d completely gone. He was right there in front of me but I just could not reach him, though I desperately tried; I had lost him to autism. Three years down the line, fiveyear-old Tobie now falls into the

highest severity level for autism on the DSM5¹ criteria, meaning he needs very substantial support both at home and in a school setting. He is non-verbal, suffers very intense separation anxiety from me and requires around the clock care. I have learned everything I can about how to support Tobie and have implemented hours and hours of therapy and intervention. He has made slow but steady progress since diagnosis. While autism still dictates his life to devastating effect, he is a happy boy when he is at home or safely in the care of his mummy. I’m proud to say his connection to me never faltered; our bond is that strong. I hear what he

Charlotte says her connection with her son Tobie has never faltered.


While autism still dictates his life to devastating effect, he is a happy boy when he is at home cannot say, show him what he cannot understand and above all I protect him from what he cannot withstand.

Challenging the local authority We have been unable to secure a place at an autism specialist school which is three miles away from our home because the school is oversubscribed. The authority responsible for the school refused Tobie a place and refused to add him to the waiting list, without asking the nature of his condition and individual needs. The local authority in our area want to send Tobie to a generic special school 7.5 miles away, as they consider the additional cost they’d incur because the school is full an inappropriate use of funds. They say they are confident a generic SEN school can meet Tobie’s needs. If only I could believe that for one moment. My opinion is not accepted by the local authority, who seem to believe they know better than I do what is right for my very special and so incredibly vulnerable son. I object strongly to their decision for two reasons, both of which the decision makers are well aware of but disregard. The first reason is that Tobie has sensory processing disorder (SPD), a difference in his brain meaning he frequently becomes overwhelmed by sound, sights, touch, vibration, sense of WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


movement/balance and body position. It is a huge source of anxiety for him. SPD has been described as painful by sufferers able to verbalise their feelings – unbearable even. Anything from the sound of the tumble dryer to florescent shop lighting can overwhelm Tobie if he is already struggling, which he so often is. The effects of SPD build up like a sensory traffic jam and can be affected by so many factors that sometimes a meltdown will occur and Tobie will sob and cling to me. I will have no idea what triggered it and of course he cannot tell me. The only way Tobie will happily travel is in his pushchair. If he has to travel in the car or on a bus, he generally becomes extremely distressed. On a bad day he can be in a meltdown within ten minutes.

Travel chaos Of course there are soothing and distraction techniques that I can use to help him and I use them all. When these fail, he will try to escape his seatbelt, repeatedly try to open doors and windows and become more and more distressed when they don’t open; he will scream, sob, sweat, and cling to me with all his might, even grabbing my hair to hold on to when he’s suffering a full meltdown. Communication, sleep, sensory, anxiety and social difficulties that go with his autism all play a part. On a good day for Tobie, he can make a slightly longer journey but it’s not often that we travel for more than 15 minutes without an issue and he always seems withdrawn for a while afterwards. The only way we can make a long journey is to get Tobie up at the crack of dawn, let him sleep before we leave and then carry him to the car. I take Tobie on a short journey in the car every day to try to help him learn to tolerate it better. On a good day I can even travel locally alone with him in the car, but on a bad day this is just impossible. I sit in the back with him and travel further very occasionally, usually only for around 25 minutes, but every time he becomes WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

distressed, even on his best days. I cannot even imagine putting him in a taxi to go to school every morning. The effects of SPD for Tobie run into all areas of his life and should not be underestimated; they form a substantial part of his very extensive needs. The anxiety Tobie experiences is beyond his control. It is because of his condition and not a behavioural issue. I drove to the generic special school the council wants to send Tobie to at 8.15 on a school morning and it took me 43 minutes. The dedicated autism school took just 15 minutes to reach in the car, or I could even drive just two minutes to the lane leading from our village and walk the rest of the way with Tobie’s pushchair, if Tobie needed me to.

Expert help The second reason I object to the council’s decision is that the two schools in question also differ significantly in their expertise. Having looked at both schools, the difference between them is obvious. The generic special school has basic facilities for all kinds of special needs and takes children age two to 11 years. This school’s Ofsted rating is outstanding and I was told that the children take trips out in order to help them learn to function within the community. It is a good school; that is not in question. The autism specialised school has a vast array of equipment and facilities, all for use with children with autism. The staff are experts, to the extent that they go into schools in the area sharing their extensive knowledge on autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) with other teachers. There are a great many initiatives in place to help those with autism integrate into the community, including a café and a shop where the children gain work experience with support. They have many initiatives in place which help children with autism to achieve. They also have a sensory program in place for children with SPD. Children attend from the age of five right through to 18, so there is no need


I cannot accept a school place that I know will put my son’s wellbeing at risk

for further transition once they have started. Their communication strategy extends to all areas of the curriculum. In short, for a non-verbal child with very severe autism this type of school offers the potential to create the very best outcome for their future – better than any generic special needs school ever could, no matter what their Ofsted rating. When a child’s needs are so incredibly complex this type of school offers a level of expertise and facilities that is simply essential. I have, of course, been challenged on my insistence that Tobie should have a place in this particular school. I have been asked why I feel my son should have a place there when there are so many other children who have to travel to the other school for the same reason. Actually, this is not the case at all. The severity of my son’s condition and the specific difficulties that go with it leave me with no choice but to fight this decision. I cannot accept a school place that I know will put my son’s wellbeing at risk. Therefore, Tobie will not be travelling to the generic special school; home schooling is the only option remaining for us.

A practical approach I believe that a specialised school that is so oversubscribed should be given additional funding to create more places for every child who needs one, or if alternatives are offered to parents, these settings must be able to provide comparable levels of support. The funding issues may come from the top but it is to everyone’s benefit to ensure children like Tobie get the best support they can; as the best schools are showing, children with autism can >>




go on to become independent adults if they are given adequate teaching and support during childhood. Every child with autism deserves the opportunity to fulfil their potential and by promoting each individual’s development and encouraging independence, governments would actually save money in the long run. I have been asked on more than one occasion what I expect the local authority to do? The school is full, so how can they offer Tobie a place? Well, I could throw this right back at them! What do they expect me to do? Should I accept a place that is unsuitable because the one that is suitable comes with a big price tag? No, I do not accept that. I wish I knew how to make the decision makers feel for one moment the harrowing grief, anger and desperation parents like me feel, knowing that the help our children need is available but we cannot access it. I’d like to help them understand that we see the future our sons and daughters might have had

slipping away from them, that their best outcome moves further away the longer we have to fight, and that we know we may never obtain it for them. I have evidence from the professionals involved in Tobie’s care that his condition is severe, that he cannot travel without significant distress, that loss of skills is a risk during any period of stress and that an autism specialised school with a sensory program can offer him the help he so desperately needs. I expect the local authority to meet my sons’ educational needs and I expect them to, at the very least, acknowledge the situation for what it is. By refusing to address Tobie’s difficulty travelling and the fact that his needs mean he requires the highest level of care possible, it suggests either they do not fully understand his condition and its implications or that they think he should just suffer it. I don’t accept that there is no answer to this situation. There is one but it comes at a cost of £17,000. Of course,

We see the future our sons and daughters might have had slipping away from them I understand that this is a substantial amount of money but my son’s needs are also substantial. Tobie deserves the chance to fulfil his potential. I don’t think it’s OK for him to be deprived of this due to cost or geography, or because he wasn’t first in line. Tobie is a person, not a name on a piece of paper or an “inappropriate use of funds”; he is my precious son. I will not be silenced, because that would mean giving up on the chance of a good outcome for him, one that I believe would ultimately be less costly to the Government in the future. This really could be the deciding factor over whether Tobie grows up to become a fully functioning adult or always needs around-the-clock care. Non of us should be prepared to accept that this is how we treat our most vulnerable children in Britain in 2016.


1. DSM5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) is the standard manual used to diagnose and classify developmental and psychiatric conditions in the USA. Although not as widely used in the UK, it is having increasing influence here and across the world.

Further information

Charlotte Orlowski is currently petitioning the Education Secretary Justine Greening to ask her to review Tobie’s school placement. The petition can be accessed via: www.facebook.com/ Autismunitedwestand Tobie is a happy child when he feels safe and cared for.












Autistic learners raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support Autistic learners at LVS Oxford demonstrated their evergrowing independence skills on Friday 30 September when they raised money for Macmillan Cancer Support by staging their own coffee morning. The Begbroke school for children with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum gives learners the skills to live independently and delivers the confidence to deal with social situations, so the morning was the perfect opportunity to put learners in charge, serving refreshments to visitors, practicing handling money, and counting the profits – which student Tom Martingale-Morris declared as £515.13, a significant increase on the school’s previous best of £367 last year. Byron Davies was one of the learners in charge of selling goods at the coffee morning and he showed his progress at the school by confidently serving numerous customers. His mother Jackie said: “Byron has really enjoyed today and practicing new skills he is being taught. He has been at LVS Oxford since December and is thriving. He comes home happy, wants to go to school and is so enthusiastic, just like throwing himself into today’s event – all things that did not happen before”. With a number of learners currently studying the Jamie Oliver Cooking Skills BTEC, the morning also provided some practical learning opportunities in creating goods to sell at the WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

event, with many home-made cakes on sale contributing to the school’s record breaking sales total. 12-year-old Dan Boorman (pictured with his parents) bravely overcame his own difficulties with communication and interaction to personally raise over £100 of the total by selling cakes he made himself with mother Lindsey at Ladygrove Church in Didcot. His father said: “Dan stood in front of the whole congregation to announce the cake sale and to collect the money and talk to people buying goods.” www.lvs-oxford.org.uk SENISSUE85


AUTISM Advertisement feature

Summer School fun Wilsic Hall School is a specialist residential school, offering flexible education and care for up to 52 weeks per year, for people aged 11 to 19. The students supported by the service have complex needs including behaviour that may challenge and a learning disability, often in association with autism. As Wilsic Hall School is a 52-week residential school, this means that the majority of the students remain at school during the holidays. Breaks from school can be very difficult for the people living there and they can really miss the structure of the taught day. During shorter holidays the Activity Co-ordinator makes sure that each student follows an exciting child-centred activity plan to ensure they have lots of structure and, more importantly, fun during their day. During the longer summer holidays teaching staff take three weeks’ holiday, so to ensure the students have a full six weeks of activities, Wilsic runs a Summer School and carefully plan their time to have teachers and teaching assistants in school throughout the six weeks. The summer holidays can mean that all of the exciting places that young people with autism like to visit get very busy and this can have an impact for those who do not like crowds and busy places. With this in mind, Wilsic makes sure that they plan fantastic sessions at school so that everyone can join in. This year they hired inflatable slides, obstacle courses and even a rodeo bull for all to enjoy in the sun. They also had their very own ice cream van visit. Each of the teachers and teaching assistants carefully planned sessions that they knew the students would enjoy and could engage in. Over the six weeks, they took part in messy play sessions, dance, arts and crafts, lots of sporting activities and a big favourite was baking. The sessions ran every day and each student had a timetable explaining what was on offer in a format that they could use. A large visual timetable was available daily in school to keep the structure of Summer School in place. Making the most of it Luckily, there was some lovely weather over the holidays which meant the students were able to visit new and interesting places. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Visits were carefully planned, taking into account the increased crowds. The teaching staff also made sure that all the students knew the structure of the visit using a visual timeline. A few of the places visited were the Magna Science Centre and Aqua Park, the seaside town of Filey, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Heeley City Farm. Some of Wilsic’s students even went on a trek in Derbyshire for the day, enjoying a lovely walk and picnic with their friends. One of the highlights was their annual three-day residential trip to Kingswood and, according to the organisers, it was “the best ever”. Students took part in so many activities, including archery, low ropes, zip wire, canoeing, laser quest, wall climbing, songs around the campfire, crate stack and even ended the trip with a celebratory presentation disco. Staff ensured it was a wonderful experience and everyone had an amazing time, the students can’t wait to do it again next year. Summer School proved to be really successful and the teachers and teaching assistants being present throughout the six weeks ensured that the students were able to continue with their routines and minimal disruption occurred. This in turn meant that the students then settled back in to school well at the beginning of September and started their new educational year straight away. Both the students and staff enjoyed a great summer of fun at Wilsic Hall School.

Wilsic Hall School is rated “Outstanding” by Ofsted for their education, for more information about the School, including visits and referral information, visit their website: www.wilsichallschool.co.uk



Ruskin Mill Trust’s Practical Skills Therapeutic Education method enables young people aged 7 - 25 to overcome barriers to learning, become skilled and return to their communities with greater independence.

“I’ve changed big time since I started here. I feel grown-up and not nearly as anxious these days. I get on with more people, my relationships with other students have improved. I’ve learned to sort things out for myself.” Jonathan, Ruskin Mill College

“It is brilliant here because I can come out of my shell. I was treated like a kid at my previous placement but here I am treated as a person and as a grown-up. I love working with my hands and having a challenge. I feel I am a lot calmer.” Ben, Coleg Plas Dwbl

Visit our website: www.rmt.org or call Admissions on 01483 837502 Working with people with autism for 30 years Ruskin Mill Trust is an educational charity which draws its inspiration from the insights of Rudolph Steiner, John Ruskin and William Morris. Charity No: 1137167







“Your INSET was invaluable to us and several pieces of advice that you gave us came in very useful on Friday, when one of our students with Autism became very upset...” Teacher

Oliver House School rated “outstanding” A Lancashire school for young people with autism has been rated “outstanding” by the education regulator Ofsted. Following its recent inspection, Ofsted praised the School for enabling pupils to “make outstanding progress” and “promoting personal, social and cultural development extremely well”. Inspectors also commented on the School having “extremely strong” links with parents. The school was rated “Outstanding” overall and for all areas inspected, including in “effectiveness of leadership and management”, “quality of teaching, learning and assessment” and its “sixth form provision”. Inspectors praised the Principal and leadership team, saying: “The Principal’s and Headteacher’s passionate commitment to the pupils and parents is the driving force behind the success of the school.” They also praised the teaching and pastoral staff, “who have excellent knowledge of pupils and combine this with subject knowledge to personalise learning and ensure that pupils are faced with challenging and achievable targets for learning.” www.priorygroup.com SENISSUE85




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In the next issue of SEN Magazine: • CReSTeD • dyslexia • autism • post-16 options • Education Show preview • assistive technology • outdoor activities • Down syndrome • hearing impairment • SEN provision overseas • recruitment Plus news, reviews, CPD and events listings and much more Follow us on

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Book reviews by Mary Mountstephen

The Parent’s Guide to Occupational Therapy for Autism and Other Special Needs Cara Koscinski

Dual Language Development and Disorders: A Handbook on Bilingualism and Second Language Learning: 2nd Edition

Jessica Kingsley Publishers £12.99 ISBN: 978-1-78592-705-8

Johanne Paradis et al.

This book won a Family

The authors of this book

Choice Award in 2015

have produced an updated

and is written by an

second edition of a popular

experienced occupational

guide to helping young dual

therapist and mother of

language learners thrive,

two children with special

both at home and in the



classroom. The book covers

strategies for motor skills,

typical development and

sensory integration and

developmental disorders,

other issues and will be

focusing primarily on specific

of interest as a resource

language impairment.


Paul Brookes Publishing Co. £41.95 ISBN: 978-1-59857-058-8

book for parents and as

The book is divided into

a basis for school-based

three main sections, with

parent workshops where

the first covering the profiles of several children who are

there are concerns or a diagnosis of learning differences.

exposed to regular communication and interaction in two

The book explains the role of occupational therapists

languages and the implications this has for overall cognitive

and is intended to provide basic information about early


development and issues such as feeding and articulation

The second section of this book looks at the language

issues, and associated potential strategies and solutions.

development of bilingual and minority language children

The author also explains why some children react badly

and also focuses on key points and implications of language

to loud sounds or to changes in routine.

development in relation to international adoption.

Koscinski writes in a very clear and accessible style,

The final section deals with issues relating to dual

outlining concerns and providing support and activities

language and language disorders. The authors synthesise

to maximise development. She provides responses and

research in order to advise parents and teachers in making

associated strategies to questions such as: Why is my child

decisions about educational choices when their child does

chewing on his shirt, pencil or other items? Why does my

not have typical language and/or reading development.

child crash into people and furniture all the time? This is a practical, introductory text; it is a very helpful and supportive book that includes a section on relevant resources and developmental checklists for children up

This book would be of value to speech and language practitioners and those interested in learning more about current research in the field.

to the age of five.




Gross Motor Skills for Children with Down Syndrome: Second Edition Patricia C. Winders Woodbine House ÂŁ 25.99 ISBN: 978-1-60613-009-4

The author of this extensively revised manual is a physical therapist who works exclusively with children with Down syndrome. Her stated purpose in this book is to provide methods for teaching gross motor skills in a fun and effective way to support more efficient physical performance through adolescence and adulthood. Her goal is not to accelerate gross motor development, but to provide exercises for developing a body that are functional throughout life. The book is divided into two parts, with the first being devoted to early years development and the second to more advanced skills such as kicking, jumping and riding a tricycle or bicycle. The author provides a comprehensive appendix containing evaluation and treatment worksheets and there are useful milestone checklists that break down each stage of development into small steps. This edition provides a detailed description of all the exercises, with explanations of their relevance and with progressions and adaptations. It is effectively a road map to physical competence, from a specialist perspective and with a long-term outlook. The book is aimed at parents and professionals and includes over 400 photos and 125 activities. One piece of sound advise suggests that the reader should practice the activities themselves to understand the movements and steps involved and to observe and imitate the child’s movements to gain insight into potential difficulties.


Teaching Yoga for Life: Preparing Children and Teens for Healthy, Balanced Living. 3rd Edition Nannette E. Tummers Human Kinetics ÂŁ24.99 ISBN: 978-0-7360-7016-4

This book is a comprehensive guide to teaching yoga that is very clear and is intended for use in schools, community programmes and for children in early years upwards. It is very well constructed, with each yoga pose initially detailed at the front of the book with a description of its purpose, such as breathing, relaxation, visualisation, active floor poses and yoga games. There are many photographs and detailed lesson plans and variations are included for the moves. The author opens with a rationale for including yoga in the curriculum, breaking this down into age bands and providing an overview to different branches of yoga. She outlines a very interesting guide to the anatomy and physiology of breathing and its role in stress management and the need for students today to become more aware of breath control. The author takes every opportunity to use the exercises to develop visualisation skills, vocabulary and interacting with others. She also links the exercises to themes, creative activities and story books. The reference and resource section includes many academic references as well as information about related equipment such as music and books. Dr Tummers is a registered yoga teacher and associate professor of health and physical education. This book would be of value to teachers, both professionally and also for their own development and health.





Left behind Lorrae Jaderberg looks at how teacher recruitment problems are affecting SEN provision


ith recent statistics from BBC News showing that schools spent over £800 million on supply staff last year, the teacher recruitment crisis has been well documented by education professionals and the media alike. Official figures suggest that the teacher vacancy rate across England was 0.3 per cent in 2014, leaving around 1000 teaching places unfilled. Whilst these figures may not appear alarming at first, the statistics become more worrying when you drill down into them. The vast majority of unfilled teaching places are in STEM subjects – maths, chemistry and physics among them – as graduates pursue more attractive and better paid jobs following university. Less well publicised is the number of vacant SENCO positions, hit doubly hard not only by a lack of applicants but also by budget cuts, meaning schools are forced to cut back on any roles superfluous to teaching the curriculum. In fact, according to the NAHT, only 14 per cent of the 2,135 school leaders who responded to their latest recruitment survey filled their posts

Children with more subtle, but nonetheless significant, SEN can be left undiagnosed for SENCOs and for vacancies with a teaching and learning responsibility payment (TLR) for teachers taking on leadership and management responsibilities. What is most worrying about these statistics is the impact this shortage of teaching staff is having upon the 1.3 million children with special needs, 1.1 million of whom are in mainstream schools. This point is highlighted in a recent report by The Key which said that 82 per cent of these schools do not have sufficient funding to provide adequately for these children. It also reported that headteachers have said that town hall cuts and delays to assessments made it hard for schools to cope with the 1.1 million pupils in question. The survey highlights that primary schools are particularly affected by SEN shortages, with nine out of ten leaders at primary level having the support they receive for SEN and disabilities affected by cuts to their local authority and eight in ten saying their budgets are insufficient.

met, are engaged and are able to keep up with the pace of lessons. A lack of SENCOs also means that children with more subtle, but nonetheless significant, SEN can be left undiagnosed. There are many cases where children have SEN yet aren’t eligible for education, health and care (EHC) plans because they don’t qualify according to the criteria or cause a disturbance in the classroom. The truth of the matter is that shortages are widening the divide between the wealthy and the disadvantaged. There will always be a steady stream of parents willing to pay for the extra support their child needs. My thoughts are with those who have to depend solely on their school to provide for their child; without appropriately qualified staff, resources and the financial backing, there has to be a concern about consistency and the type and depth of support available. As support and resources for children with the greatest special needs are becoming increasingly difficult to access, those children with less severe, but still significant, special needs are going to find themselves further down the list of schools’ priorities. What will their future hold if they are allowed to slip through the education net?

Everybody suffers

Many schools are failing to fill vacancies for SENCOs.


The affect this has in the classroom is that not only do those with SEN begin to suffer, but so do all children, as teachers are forced to dedicate even more of their time to ensuring hard-toreach children – including those with EAL, those on the pupil premium and those with SEN – are having their needs

Further information

Lorrae Jaderberg, a former teacher and qualified SENCO, is Joint Managing Director of JK Educate: www.jkeducate.co.uk



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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.

CPD, TRAINING AND EVENTS Rebound Therapy training courses “ReboundTherapy.org” – the official UK body and international consultancy for Rebound Therapy. Responsible for the development and delivery of the genuine accredited and approved staff training courses. With founder Eddy Anderson MCSP Cert Ed.

01342 870543 www.reboundtherapy.org

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

Autism and Learning – PG Certificate/Diploma/MEd University of Aberdeen The programme aims to give practitioners an in depth understanding of the condition and the working of the autistic mind. It will equip participants with a range of practical approaches and interventions that will enable children and young people on the spectrum to access learning, participate actively, experience success, gain independence, and fulfil their potential. autism@abdn.ac.uk www.abdn.ac.uk


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 www.crec.co.uk

NAS Training and Consultancy NAS Training and Consultancy has many years' experience delivering autism training courses to teachers, education professionals, local authorities, social services, parents and professionals across the UK. The NAS collaborates with universities and institutes of higher education on courses leading to recognised qualifications in autism spectrum disorders. www.autism.org.uk

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

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. www.autism.org.uk/familyseminarpack




CPD, TRAINING AND EVENTS Network Autism: free online discussion group on SEN reforms

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.

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. www.mdx.ac.uk


Various dates

Helping Learners with Autism, Asperger Syndrome and ADHD Day Course A workshop that offers visual, auditory, social and behavioural strategies for teaching and support staff working with learners with autism, Asperger syndrome (ASDs), attention deficit hyperactivity (impulsive) disorder (ADHD) and related conditions. www.peoplefirsteducation.co.uk

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

Various dates

November 2016

ADHD Course Designed for educators and/ or support staff to successfully include learners with ADHD/ ADD and related conditions and provide effective strategies for inclusion of learners with ADHD. www.peoplefirsteducation.co.uk

Various dates

Autism/Asperger Syndrome Training Strategies for effective inclusion of learners with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs): a day course for teachers and/or support staff, designed to enable successful inclusion of learners with autism and Asperger syndrome.

1 Nov - 4 Dec

Online Course in Applied Behaviour Analysis ICEP Europe

Enrolments accepted to end November Applied Behaviour Analysis is a precise, systematic and measurable method for teaching children with developmental disabilities to learn. This course is 20 hours long and fully online. Price: £455

info@icepe.eu www.icepe.co.uk


Various dates

Promoting Positive Behaviour 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. www.peoplefirsteducation.co.uk

1 Nov - 4 Dec

Online Dyslexia Course ICEP Europe

Enrolments accepted to end November A comprehensive course of more than 20 hours duration, it offers a framework for understanding the nature of dyslexia and provides the practical skills and strategies essential for detecting and responding to the needs of

Various dates

Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome (PDA) Workshop People First Education

SEN Inset Courses The following areas of training are based on recurring themes and popular contents. Please note, all training is bespoke and written to meet the specific needs of individual organisations. Able, Gifted and Talented Attachment Disorder Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder - ADHD Autistic Spectrum Disorder/Condition and Asperger Syndrome Dyscalculia Dyslexia Dyspraxia - DCD Helping Learners with Autism, Asperger Syndrome and ADHD Promoting Positive Behaviour for ASD/ASC and ADHD Social Stories and Visual Interventions

For more information please contact: People First Education, Stonehouse, High Street, Fillingham, Lincolnshire DN21 5BS


tel: 01427 667556 / 0794 383 8819 email: enquiries@peoplefirsteducation.co.uk web: www.peoplefirsteducation.co.uk twitter @pfeducation facebook: facebook.com/peoplefirsteducation

A course that focuses particularly on the understanding that individuals with these conditions may communicate/ present differently to neurotypical learners but can still achieve their potential with the implementation of appropriate interventions. www.peoplefirsteducation.co.uk

1 Nov - 4 Dec

Online Autism Course Enrolments accepted to end November

students with learning difficulties arising from dyslexia. Price: £230

info@icepe.eu www.icepe.co.uk

1 Nov - 4 Dec

Online Down Syndrome Course ICEP Europe

Enrolments accepted to end November This course is designed for teachers, SENCOs, support staff and allied professionals and provides the latest research,

ICEP Europe

detailed information and

This 20 hour course has been developed by ICEP Europe, in response to the need for flexible and accessible training for those who work with children and young people with autism spectrum disorders.

practical skills and strategies

Price: £230

essential to delivering effective education and support to children and young people with Down syndrome. Price: £230







CPD courses aimed at middle leaders in education Focus Education and middle leaders’ union NAHT Edge have announced that they will be collaborating to develop a series of CPD courses aimed at middle leaders in schools. Jointly branded, the courses will offer NAHT Edge members access to Focus Education’s high quality resources and support, and will provide practical solutions tailored to the particular challenges middle leaders face. James Bowen, director of NAHT Edge, said: “Focus have a strong track record of running successful training across a wide range of areas and we look forward to working closely with them to support the development of middle leaders.” Clive Davies OBE from Focus Education, a national educational consultancy company which offers a range of CPD courses, education resources and education inset consultancy to support continuing professional development, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to work sideby-side with such a well-respected and influential group in order to launch this exciting initiative. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK





Online Course in Teaching Gifted and Talented Students ICEP Europe

Enrolments accepted to end November A comprehensive course of more than 20 hours duration, it tackles the myths surrounding giftedness and offers very practical strategies and skills for identifying students with advanced capabilities and talents and responding to their diverse educational needs. Price: £230



2 November

Diagnostic Assessment at Secondary Level: Best Practice in Testing and Reporting: SASC Accredited London

Using real case studies, this course focuses on best practice in the diagnostic assessment of specific learning difficulties at KS 3/4. The course covers how to write accessible, informative reports and analyse profiles in order to form confident conclusions and make appropriate recommendations. www.patoss-dyslexia.org

3 November

NAS Masterclass Catatonia in Autism Spectrum Disorders

The aim of this Masterclass is to raise awareness and teach professionals about early identification, diagnosis and clinical management strategies of catatonia states and catatonia like breakdowns in people with autism. www.autism.org.uk/catatonia

5 November

Autism and sport: one day theory and practical combined

This course combines an introduction to autism with a practical focus on how you can help autistic children and adults take part in sport and physical activities. www.autism.org.uk/sport-combined

8 November

Sensory considerations

To understand more about sensory considerations and learn practical ways of giving positive support, join the NAS for this one-day course. www.autism.org.uk/sensorycourse


8 November

Developing your Dyslexic Students’ Self-esteem London

Helping students to understand what dyslexia means to them and how they can use their selfrealisation of their strengths and weaknesses to develop effective learning strategies. www.patoss-dyslexia.org

9 November

Diagnostic Assessment: Confidence in Your Statistics, Tests and Interpretation: SASC Accredited

15 November

Women and girls conference This conference aims to further the discussion around diagnosis and support for women and girls


9 November

Managing employees with autism This training course will give you a greater understanding of autism (including Asperger syndrome) and increase your confidence in your ability to manage your employee with autism effectively. www.autism.org.uk/managingemployees

How does ageing affect autistic adults? This half-day course



15 November

Autism in maturity

examines what we know about the ageing process and how it may affect autistic people. www.autism.org.uk/maturitycourse

15 November

Learning to wee and poo in the right place – continence problems in children on the autism spectrum This course aims to help with understanding the potential impact of autism on learning to use the toilet, alongside discussing specific continence issues. www.autism.org.uk/continence

15 November

Massage in the Special School London

A hands-on and active course covering the benefits of massage, the nervous system,

11 November

Multi Academy Trust (MATS) Conference London


23 November The Academies Show

Birmingham NEC The Academies Show provides visitors with access to the latest policy updates, best practice case studies and networking opportunities, with tailored content for those from academies, converting schools and the wider education sector. www.academiesshowbirmingham.co.uk

23 and 24 November

Birmingham NEC


This is the largest event in the UK just for occupational therapists. It provides attendees with access to over 100 OT focused and interactive lectures, seminars and practical workshops, and over 60 hours of CPD accredited education. Visitors can learn from worldrenowned speakers and experts, and update and refresh their learning across physical, mental health and learning difficulties, children and families and innovation. They can also research and source new products and services through a network of 300 trade exhibitors and suppliers.



17 November EventCity, Manchester, M17 8AS

A free event supporting children

www.autism.org.uk/ supportingtheprocess

This one-day course looks at how you can help autistic children and adults to reduce stress and anxiety, how to understand their behaviour, and how to support them during difficult times.


Kidz to Adultz North

This one-day course has been designed for professionals who are developing their specialist skills in working with children and young people with autism, such as teachers and social workers.

Understanding stress and anxiety in autism and their impact on behaviour

The Occupational Therapy Show


Understanding and supporting the autism diagnostic process

22 November

much more.

hormones, touch issues and

The current reality and exemplars of outstanding practice in special school settings.

14 November

Understanding the workplace for autistic women, including those with Asperger syndrome This new two-day training course is for autistic women who are in employment and want to increase their understanding of the potential complexities of the workplace. It will specifically focus on the challenges women face and their skills.

with on the autism spectrum.


An opportunity for assessors/ specialist teachers to gain confidence in the more subtle and complex areas of diagnostic assessment, refresh their knowledge of statistical concepts in psychometric testing and enhance their skills in the analysis of data and interpretation of standard score profiles.

17 and 18 November

and young adults up to 25 years with disabilities and additional needs, their families, carers and professionals. 160+ exhibitors. Boost your CPD by attending one or more of the 15 free seminars accredited by The CPD Certification Service. 9.30am - 4.30pm  0161 6078200 



Win a British Heart Foundation workshop for your school The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is offering schools across the UK the chance to win an interactive workshop with a BHF-funded researcher to teach pupils about what the heart does and how it works.   The competition is open to all primary and secondary schools. To enter, schools need to sign up to take part in one of the BHF’s school fundraisers, Jump Rope for Heart or Ultimate Dodgeball, before midnight on Tuesday 28 February 2017. The BHF runs two school fundraising initiatives which show children how keeping fit and maintaining a healthy heart through exercise can be fun. The money raised goes towards the BHF’s life saving research and schools can also keep 20 per cent of the money raised to put towards new equipment and resources to promote a healthy lifestyle for pupils. www.bhf.org.uk/schools



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

3 DAY TRAINING COURSE - £391 January 23-25 2017 June 26-28 2017 Course led by: Prof Gary Mesibov Div. TEACCH

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

199-203 Blandford Ave Kettering Northants NN16 9AT Tel/Fax: 01536 523274 Email: autism@autismuk.com Book on-line: www.autismuk.com





The Teaching Excellence Framework - implications and implementation Central London

Conference with Chris Millward (HEFCE) and Dr Jules Holroyd (University of Sheffield), Dr Liz Marr (The Open University), Bill Rammell (University of Bedfordshire), Sir Anthony Seldon (University of Buckingham), Dr Geoff Stoakes (Higher Education Academy), Chris White (Bellenden Public Affairs) and a senior speaker confirmed from the QAA. www.westminsterforumprojects.co.uk

December 2016 5 and 6 December

PECS Level 1 Training Workshop Maidstone

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 www.pecs-unitedkingdom.com

29 November

The changing landscape for children’s services – accountability, best practice and opportunities for innovation Central London

The event will assess the initial impact and implementation of government’s accountability measures for children’s services, which will see failing services taken over by high-performing local authorities, experts and charities, if they do not show signs of improvement six months on from an inspection. It is timed to follow the recommendations of the Education Select Committee’s inquiry into children’s social work, launched in January. Guests of Honour will be Graham Archer (Director, Children's Services, Department for Education) and Lisa Pascoe (Deputy Director, Social Care Policy, Ofsted). www.westminsterforumprojects.co.uk

29 Nov - 1 Dec

Three-Day Structured Teaching Course For autism professionals and parents. From designing and implementing structure in a learning environments and the home to methods to build communication, social, vocational and leisure skills and the use of social stories and assessment. £295 professionals and £145 parents/ concessions Prior’s Court Training and Development Centre, Newbury, Berkshire

7 December

Principles and Practice in Assessment for and Management of JCQ Access Arrangements 2016/2017: SASC Accredited Cookstown, Northern Ireland

An opportunity for those involved in assessing for access arrangements to gain or refresh their knowledge of the principles and practice of assessment and the requirements for Access Arrangements for GCSE and GCE for SpLD learners. www.patoss-dyslexia.org

8 December

Principles and Practice in Assessment for and Management of JCQ Access Arrangements 2016/2017: SASC Accredited Belfast, Northern Ireland An opportunity for those involved in assessing for access arrangements to gain or refresh their knowledge of the principles and practice of assessment and the requirements for Access Arrangements for GCSE and GCE for SpLD learners. www.patoss-dyslexia.org

8 - 10 December

training@priorscourt.org.uk www.priorscourt.org.uk



Enabling Children to Speak About Feelings Through Puppetry Conference 10.00 - 17.30 Cost: £150 The Centre for Child Mental Health

020 7354 2913 info@childmentalhealthcentre.org www.childmentalhealthcentre.org

January 2017 16 January

Curriculum and Assessment for Children and Young People with SLD and PMLD Manchester

How pedagogy, curriculum, and assessing pupil progress work together. www.equals.co.uk

19 and 20 January

PECS Level 1 Training Workshop Sheffield

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.

21 January

A Day with Dr Dan Hughes: Why “PACE” Heals (Play, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy) Conference exploring key interventions 10.00 - 16.30 Cost: £174 The Centre for Child Mental Health

020 7354 2913 info@childmentalhealthcentre.org www.childmentalhealthcentre.org

25 - 28 January

BETT Excel, London

The UK’s biggest education technology show, Bett is your annual opportunity to experiment with the latest technology, hear from inspirational figures and experts in the industry and meet suppliers, experts and practitioners from the UK and around the world. www.bettshow.com

26 January

Disabled students at university – facilities, support services and the impact of funding changes Central London

01273 609 555

This CPD certified seminar will discuss the steps that can be taken to address further challenges for disabled students in higher education.



20 January

PECS in your Curriculum Brighton

A practical workshop which will help you maximise teaching time for learners with autism and complex communication difficulties. Develop effective learning environments, which emphasise functional communication and learn how to use reinforcers effectively in the classroom.

30 and 31 January

PECS Level 1 Training Workshop Newcastle 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

01273 609 555



Learning and Teaching Expo 2016 Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre Free admission for education professionals. Online registration at:

01635 245911

10 December



Free film screenings and resources to support pupils with SEN Free film screenings and teaching resources designed for educators of young people with SEN will be a key feature of the Into Film Festival 2016, which returns with its UK-wide programme of 3,000 free screenings and events for five- to 19-year-olds from 9 to 25 November. There will be over 250 dedicated autism-friendly screenings of films including, The BFG,  Finding Dory, Finding Nemo, Ice Age: Collision Course (pictured), Inside Out, Kubo And The Two Strings, Pete’s Dragon, The Princess And The Frog, Frozen and Japanese animation My Neighbour Tortoro. Special features, such as lower than normal lights and volume and groups being allowed to take their own food and drinks into the screening and move around in the auditorium, will help pupils on the autism spectrum to enjoy a relaxing and enriching cinematic experience.      www.intofilm.org/events/festival

Introduction & Application to the


2 DAY TRAINING COURSE - £260 January 26-27 2017 June 29-30 2017 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 Blandford Ave Kettering Northants NN16 9AT Tel/Fax: 01536 523274 Email: autism@autismuk.com Book on-line: www.autismuk.com

National Conference 2017 Social Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (SEMH) at home and school: Where are we now? Thursday 23rd & Friday 24th March 2017

Crowne Plaza Newcastle - Stephenson Quarter, Hawthorn House, Forth Banks, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3SA



KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Prof Dame Sue Bailey and Barry Carpenter

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Prof Brahm Norwich and Dr David Colley

WORKSHOPS: REDD Oxford University Neuroscience Gareth Morewood Place 2 Be Pendlebury PRU - Lessons from an outstanding PRU  Fintan O’Regan - ADHD Support

WORKSHOPS: Attachment Aware School Mulberry Bush - MBOX Bill Colley Betsy de Thierry - Trauma Recovery Well Being Toolkit

Workshops listed subject to change

Book online at www.sebda.org or e-mail admin@sebda.org to request a booking form. Any enquiries? Contact us on: 01233 622958 Option 4 SEBDA-SEN85-1-2.indd 1 WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

14/10/2016 20:49 SENISSUE85



CPD, TRAINING AND EVENTS February 2017 1 February

SoSAFE! Social and Sexual Safety/Safeguarding London

18 February

Therapeutic Conversations to Change Children’s Lives (age 4 to late teens) Conference with award-winning author and expert Dr Margot Sunderland.

a visual teaching tool which

10.00 - 16.30 Cost: £174 The Centre for Child Mental Health

enables learners to develop

020 7354 2913

The SoSAFE! Programme is

their abilities in managing and communicating about their relationships. The program covers all degrees of interaction, from a student’s expectations of strangers, to the intricacies of an intimate relationship.

01273 609555 www.pecs-unitedkingdom.com

8 February

SEND Assessment: Measuring What Matters and Evidencing Progress London

Accurately assess and evidence holistic learning and academic progress for pupils with SEND. www.oego.co/SENDSM

16 - 19 February

International Health Policy Conference 2017


Five-Day TEACCH Course Inspirational, intensive course combining active learning sessions with direct experience working with students with autism. Led by trainers from Division TEACCH, University of North Carolina and experienced practitioners and TEACCH trainers from Prior's Court. Suitable for SEN professionals, teachers and practitioners. £1295 professional/parent Prior’s Court Training and Development Centre, Newbury, Berkshire

01635 245911 training@priorscourt.org.uk www.priorscourt.org.uk

March 2017 Various March and April

Health Policy Conference at the LSE will to bring together

Various locations

The inaugural International

disciplinary approach to key

Offers teachers and teaching assistants the opportunity to gain theoretical and practical understanding in woodland camp craft.

health and social care issues.


academics and policymakers from a wide range of disciplines to take a multi-

It is envisaged that a range of disciplines will be represented within the following themes (including, but not limited to, health economics, political science, law, demography,

March start

Accessing for Access Arrangements

studies. www.lse.ac.uk


and psychology): Theme 1: International health systems. Theme 2: Social care and mental health. Theme 3: Regulation and assessment of health technologies. Theme 4: Behaviour. Theme 5: Population


10.00 - 17.00 Cost: £174

Life Story Work with Troubled Children

The Centre for Child Mental Health

and Teenagers

020 7354 2913

Conference with world-leading expert


Richard Rose


10.00 - 16.30 Cost: £174

16 March

Kidz to Adultz Middle Ricoh Arena, Coventry This is one of the largest, free UK exhibitions dedicated to children and young adults with disabilities and special needs, their families and the

The Centre for Child Mental Health

020 7354 2913 info@childmentalhealthcentre.org www.childmentalhealthcentre.org

27 and 28 April

Rebound Therapy for

professionals who work with

SEN, Open College

them. Over 120 exhibitors are

Network Level 2

expected, offering advice and


information on funding, mobility, seating, beds, communication, access, education, toys, transport, style, sensory, sports and leisure and more. Running alongside the event are free

Accredited course for all staff, parents, professionals interested in using a trampoline for Rebound Therapy. www.equals.co.uk

seminars for parents and professionals. Topics should include: moving and handling,

May 2017

payments, parental experiences, transition, legal advice and more. www.disabledliving.co.uk

16 - 18 March

Education Show 2017 NEC Birmingham

4 May

Intensive Interaction London

Covers the communication needs of people who have

Around 10,000 visitors are

not achieved use nor perhaps

expected to attend the 2017

understanding of speech and

Education Show. Roughly 300

may be ‘difficult to reach’ in

companies and organisations

various ways.

exhibited at this long-running


show for education professionals in 2016. www.education-show.com

London or Cumbria based

Patoss AAA is a new postgraduate course and an equivalent to Level 7 qualification meeting the JCQ requirements for Access Arrangements Assessor Training. Successful completion will enable participants to carry out assessment for access arrangements in GCSE and GCE qualifications.

epidemiology, sociology,


1 April

sleep issues, continence, direct

Woodland Trainer 1 Day Course and Advanced Woodland Trainer

London School of Economics

Out of Control Children: Why, What to Do and How to Be


20 - 24 February

April 2017

11 March

23 and 24 March

SEBDA National Conference: Social Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties at home and school: Where are we now? Crowne Plaza Hotel, Newcastle Book via:

18 May

An Introduction to Sherborne Developmental Movement – Certificate Level 1 Derby

The Sherborne Developmental approach to physical education and relationship play for children


with SEN.










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

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


Bullying Bullying UK

Epilepsy Action

Support and advice on bullying:

Advice and information on epilepsy:



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

Cerebral palsy




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



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

Down syndrome

Support for people with Asperger’s syndrome:

Young Epilepsy

Scope UK www.scope.org.uk

Asperger Foundation UK (ASF)


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

The FASD Trust www.fasdtrust.co.uk

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


General SEN


Autism Awareness

The Down’s Syndrome Research Foundation UK (DSRF)

British Institute for Learning Disabilities


Charity focussing on medical research into Down syndrome:

Charity for learning disabilities:




Cerebra UK

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

Charity raising funds for medical research into autism:



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

Help and information for those affected by ASD:


Charity focused on researching interventions in autism:


Bullying Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA)

Charity dedicated to reforming attitudes and policy towards bullying:



Child Brain Injury Trust

National Autistic Society (NAS)

Research Autism

Charity for children with brain related conditions:

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


Dyslexia Action


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


Charity providing services to those affected by dyslexia:




Dyspraxia Dyspraxia Foundation UK

Learning disabilities charity:

National Association for Special Educational Needs (NASEN)

UK bullying prevention charity:

Dyspraxia advice and support:

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




Beat Bullying




General SEN

Literacy National Literacy Trust (NLT)

SEN.fyi (App) Everything You Wanted to Know About SEN – all in one place! Download this app free to your Smartphone or Tablet for iOS (on Apple App store) or Android (on Google Play store):

www.specialeducationalneeds.co.uk/ senfyi-app.html

Literacy charity for adults and children:



Information and support for PMLD:


Rebound Therapy ReboundTherapy.org

Hearing impairment


Deafness Research UK Charity promoting medical research into hearing impairment:


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

National organisation for home educators:

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


Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

Douglas Silas Solicitors

Douglas Silas Solicitors are the legal experts specialising exclusively in SEN, helping parents successfully throughout the SEN process:


Independent Parental Special Education Advice

Legal advice and support for parents:


For the latest news, articles, resources, cpd and events listings, visit: www.senmagazine.co.uk


Information and support relating to spina bifida and hydrocephalus:






SEN law

Spina bifida

The Home Education Network UK

Information and advice on Tourette’s:



Home education

Tourette's Action

The UK governing body and international Support and advice to those affected by consultancy for Rebound Therapy: visual impairment: www.reboundtherapy.org

Action on Hearing Loss Hearing impairment charity:

Tourette’s syndrome

ACE Centre

Advice on communication aids:



Help and advice on SLCN:


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

Communication Matters

Support for people with little or no clear speech:


Awarding body for the LOtC quality badge:

The Communication Trust




Raising awareness of SLCN:




eazine for special SthuebUK'sslecadrinib g mag

to year (6 issues) educational needs £48.50 a+44 1200 409800) tions please call: (UK only. For international subscrip

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Profile for SEN Magazine

SEN Magazine - SEN85 - Nov/Dec 2016  

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

SEN Magazine - SEN85 - Nov/Dec 2016  

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

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