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May • June 2017 Issue 88

The biggest SEN you’ve never heard of

Speech, language and communication needs explained

Working it out

How to get more people with a learning disability into work

Outdoor inspiration

Using play to improve learning and behaviour

SEN news • sport • numeracy • fostering • sleep • play • autism technology in the classroom • all-ability cycling • outdoor learning dyslexia • recruitment • CPD, training and events • and much more…

This issue in full May • June 2017 • Issue 88

Welcome Most professionals working with children and young people with SEN will know something about “speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)”. However, the extent to which professionals are able to identify and support these needs can vary greatly. In this issue of SEN Magazine, we look at different aspects of SLCN. Some of the main issues affecting people with communication difficulties are explained by Theresa Redmond (p.24), while Chris Hall (p.28) celebrates best practice in supporting those with SLCN. Candice Lazarus and Helen Kirk (p.30) examine the work of speech and language therapists who work in child and adolescent mental health settings. Also in this issue, Mark Capper argues that educating employers is key to getting more people with a learning disability into employment (p.39), Sam Flatman finds inspiration and inclusion in school play space design (p.42), and Sarah Ziegel outlines the

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


very different paths her four sons with autism are taking through school (p.72). Elsewhere, you will find articles on numeracy (p.32), fostering (p.36), sleep issues and SEN (p.40), technology in the classroom (p.47), inclusive sport (p.52), all-ability cycling (p.56), dyslexia (p.60), planning a residential activity trip (p.67), and recruiting for SEN settings (p.86). In his regular SEN legal Q&A (p.22), lawyer Douglas Silas looks at SEN in specific circumstances. As always, our CPD, training and events section (p.88) includes a round-up of forthcoming seminars, courses and exhibitions for parents/carers, teaching staff and SEN professionals. For the latest from SEN Magazine, join us on Facebook or Twitter. Peter Sutcliffe Editor

SUBSCRIPTION ADMINISTRATOR Amanda Harrison 01200 409 801 DESIGN Rob Parry Next issue deadline: Advertising and news deadline: 7 June 2017 Disclaimer The opinions expressed in SEN Magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher. The publisher cannot be held liable for incorrect


SEN news


What's new?


Point of view


SEN legal Q&A


Speech, language and communication needs








Learning disability


Sleep issues


Outdoor play


Technology in the classroom


Inclusive sport


All-ability cycling




Outdoor learning


Book reviews




The Autism Show preview


About SEN Magazine




CPD, events and training


SEN resources directory


SEN Subscriptions

CONTRIBUTORS Rochelle Bisson Mark Capper Steve Chinn Vicki Dawson Sarah Driver Justin Farnan Sam Flatman Chris Hall Demetra Katsifli Helen Kirk Candice Lazarus Mary Mountstephen Victoria Phipps-Lucking Melissa Paulden Theresa Redmond Theresa Sainsbury Douglas Silas Abigail Tripp Callum Wetherill Sarah Ziegel

information, omissions or the opinions of third parties.

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

SEN Magazine ISSN: 1755-4845


In this issue






The biggest SEN you’ve never heard of The main issues affecting children with speech, language and communication needs


Shout out for communication

Communicating about communication The role of speech and language therapists in child mental health



Dyslexia revisited A fresh look at commonly held beliefs about dyslexia


Making it happen

Subtract the negatives


The same but different A mother charts the divergent paths her four sons with autism are taking through school


The Autism Show preview A look ahead to this summer’s dedicated autism events

Do beliefs about the way maths should be taught discriminate against pupils with SEN?


Changing lives How one family’s life has been transformed by fostering a child with complex SEN


Regulars 6 14

Working it out How to get more people with a learning disability into work




A good night Useful strategies to help children who have sleep issues


Outdoor inspiration


Using outdoor play areas to foster learning and improve behaviour


What's new?

The latest products and ideas from the world of SEN

Point of view

Have your say!

SEN legal Q&A

SEN and specific circumstances

Book reviews

Why a cry for help is coming from recruiters in SEN settings


A winning mentality Top tips on running inclusive after school sports clubs


SEN news

86 Recruitment

Future tech How technology is driving inclusion in education



Outdoor play

What goes into planning a residential activity trip for pupils with SEN?

Celebrating best practice in supporting those with SLCN


May • June 2017 • Issue 88


CPD, training and events

Your essential guide to SEN courses, seminars and events

SEN resources directory

Pedal power The joy of inclusive cycling

Follow SEN Magazine on

Visit us at:

Join SEN Magazine on

32 Numeracy 47 Technology in the classroom

52 Sport

60 Dyslexia

In the next issue of SEN:

PSHE • literacy/phonics • cerebral palsy • manual handling bullying • SEN law • looked-after children • AAC • autism visual impairment • dyslexia • recruitment • CPD • and much more… WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK




Autism intervention in first year of life Parent-mediated therapy may help babies at risk of developing autism Video footage encourages parents to understand their baby’s communication style A study that uses video to provide feedback to parents of babies less than one year old at family risk of autism has indicated a reduction in the severity of emerging signs of autism. Published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, it is the first of its kind to work with babies in their first year of life who have a sibling with autism and are therefore at higher risk of developing the condition. Previous research has found that the earliest markers of autism, such as reduced social interest or difficulties with attention and disengagement, may be present around the end of a child’s first year of life. This latest study led by Professor Jonathan Green at The University of Manchester in collaboration with Professor Mark Johnson’s MRC-funded team at Birkbeck, and teams at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience and Evelina London Children’s Hospital, aimed to reduce these early symptoms and lower the likelihood of the child developing difficulties associated with autism later on in childhood. The intervention, delivered by teams at The University of Manchester and Evelina London Children’s Hospital, and assessed by teams at Birkbeck and King’s, was an adapted version of the already established Video Interaction for Promoting Positive Parenting Programme (iBASIS-VIPP). Of the 54 families who took part in the study, 28 were randomly allocated to receive a minimum of six home-based visits from a therapist who used video feedback to help the parents understand and respond to their baby’s individual communication style to improve infant attention, communication, early language development, and social engagement. These infants received the intervention for five months, from the age of nine months to 14 months. Assessments were made from the end of treatment at age 15 months, at 27 months and then at 39 months of age. Across the course of the study, the families who received the video therapy showed improvement in early emerging behaviours associated with autism, compared to those who did not receive the therapy; these improvements extended in development after the therapy-end. There was also a noticeable positive impact on parent-infant interactions.

Cautious optimism Although the authors believe the findings are encouraging, they caution that because of the relatively limited number of participants, they cannot be conclusive. Larger studies will be needed before researchers can make definitive conclusions about the therapy’s long-term effect on reducing the severity of autism symptoms. SENISSUE88

A study suggests autism therapy may promote development in babies.

“What is novel about this study is how early we began the intervention”, says Professor Jonathan Green who led the research. “We know that similar kinds of intervention later in childhood can show long-term effects; here we have shown that beginning intervention of this kind in the first year of life can produce important improvements for the babies over the medium term in development, continuing after the therapy finishes.” Professor Green believes that if the intervention continues to show improvements in larger studies, “the method would have real potential use for families at the point of early concern, or if their child is genetically at risk of developing autism.” The iBASIS study took place as part of the ongoing British Autism Study of Infant Siblings. Michelle from Dudley took part in the study. Her daughter Natalie was considered at an increased risk, following the diagnosis of a sibling, an older brother, with autism. “Fighting for my first child’s diagnosis, and learning how to support a child with autism was tough, so when our daughter was born we were determined that the same thing wouldn’t happen”, says Michelle. Initial funding for the study was provided by the charity Autistica, whose CEO, Jon Spiers, is optimistic about the potential offered by this kind of project. “Parents often sense their child is developing differently very early on, yet getting a diagnosis of autism can take years”, he says. “Being able to deliver an intervention during this uncertain period would be a promising step forward for many thousands of families.” The charity is calling for urgent further investment in similar early intervention studies in autism. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Report paints damning picture of UK disability rights Improvements in society mask ingrained inequality Disabled people denied equal access to education, work and services Progress towards real equality for disabled people over the past twenty years is insufficient and “littered with missed opportunities and failures”. This is the verdict of the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) following the publication of Being disabled in Britain: A journey less equal, an in-depth analysis of how the rights of disabled people are protected in Great Britain. “Whilst at face value we have travelled far, in reality disabled people are being left behind in society, their life chances remain very poor, and public attitudes have changed very little”, says EHRC Chair David Isaac.    Calling for a new “new national focus on the rights of the thirteen million disabled people who live in Britain”, Mr Isaacs believes the evidence of the report should not be ignored. “They must have the same rights, opportunities and respect as other citizens”, he says.    The report, which covers six key areas of life, finds that disabled people in Britain are experiencing disadvantages in all of them, and sets out areas for urgent improvement. It claims that despite significant progress in the laws protecting disabled people’s rights, they are still not being treated as equal citizens and continue to be denied the opportunities and outcomes nondisabled people take for granted.   These inequalities include: a lack of equal opportunities in education and employment; barriers to access to transport, health services and housing; a persistent and widening disability pay gap; deteriorating access to justice; and welfare reforms significantly affecting the already low living standards of disabled people.   The Commission has also highlighted these issues to the United Nations, for their forthcoming examination of how the UK measures up to the international standards on the rights of disabled people (the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities).

Left behind The new report finds that while the educational attainment gap between disabled and non-disabled children has reduced since 2009/10, the performance of disabled pupils in England, Wales and Scotland is still much lower than their peers. In England, the proportion of children with SEN achieving at least five A* to C grade GCSEs is three times lower than for non-disabled children. They are also significantly more likely to be permanently or temporarily excluded.   The qualification gap between disabled and non-disabled people has narrowed, but the proportion of disabled people with WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

A disproportionate number of people with disabilities are living in poverty, the EHRC says.

no qualifications was nearly three times that of non-disabled people, and the proportion of disabled people with a degree remained lower. More disabled and non-disabled people overall were in work in Britain in 2015/16 compared to 2010/11. Despite this, less than half of disabled adults were in employment, compared with almost 80 per cent of non-disabled adults, and the gap between these groups had widened since 2010/11. However this is not the case across all impairment types, and for those with mental health conditions and those with physical disabilities the gap between them and non-disabled people had narrowed. The report finds that the disability pay gap in Britain also continues to widen. Disabled young people aged 16 to 24 and disabled women had the lowest median hourly earnings of all.   More disabled people than non-disabled are also living in poverty or are materially deprived. The report also finds that social security reforms have had a particularly disproportionate, cumulative impact on the rights to independent living and an adequate standard of living for disabled people. Families in the UK with a disabled member are more likely to live in relative poverty than non-disabled families.   Accessing healthcare services is also problematic for disabled people, and they are less likely to report positive experiences. Considerable shortcomings remain in the provision of mental health services, where disabled adults are more likely to report poor mental health and wellbeing than non-disabled adults.    “This report should be used as a call to arms”, says David Isaac. We cannot ignore that disabled people are being left behind and that some people – in particular those with mental health conditions and learning disabilities – experience even greater barriers.” The report, Being disabled in Britain: A journey less equal, is available at: SENISSUE88




Councils warn that schools may turn away children with SEN Pupils with SEN and disabilities are at risk of being turned away by mainstream schools due to a lack of funding and rising demand, councils are warning. In response to the Government’s consultation on the high needs funding formula for schools, the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents over 370 local authorities, is warning that if the Government does not adequately fund provision for SEN and disabilities, children with high needs or disabilities could miss out on a mainstream education.   Analysis of Department for Education (DfE) data reveals that in the past four years there has been a substantial increase in the number of pupils with SEN and disabilities who attend a specialist school setting, up from 5.6 per cent in 2012 to 8.5 per cent in 2016. The proportion of pupils in independent schools has moved from 4.5 per cent to 6.3 per cent over the same period.   For several years, the High Needs Dedicated Schools Grant has been frozen, putting local budgets under increasing pressure. Councils have had to meet the difference by topping up high needs funding from other budgets where necessary. However, the consultation suggests that this flexibility will no longer be available to local authorities, making it even more difficult to provide children with the support they need. This has been an important mechanism for local authorities to counter the impacts of reduced budgets.   In acknowledging rising need, the Government should provide additional funding to meet increasing pressures, the LGA argues. Otherwise, councils will be put in an impossible situation where they may not be able to fund enough places for those with the highest needs or will be unable to top up provisions for pupils with high needs attending mainstream schools. Whilst the DfE has provided some extra funding since 2015/16, it has been allocated on the basis of the total number of children in an area, rather than any measure of the number of children with complex needs.

Scarce resources If councils do not receive sufficient funding to cover high cost SEN and disability provision, the LGA says they will not have the resources to allocate extra funds to highly inclusive schools that take higher than average numbers of pupils with additional needs. Equally, mainstream schools may find it difficult to accept or keep pupils with SEN and disabilities because they cannot afford to subsidise the provision from their own budgets, as they are already under significant pressure.

Local authorities can’t afford complex SEN support, the LGA is warning.

Councils are calling on the Government to reduce financial pressures and ensure that vulnerable children have access to the services they need to get the best start in life.  “There has been a historic underfunding of high needs funding and a significant increase in the number of pupils with special educational needs or disabilities in schools”, says Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board. “The Government should provide additional funding to meet this need, otherwise councils may not be able to meet their statutory duties and children with high needs or disabilities could miss out on a mainstream education. Whilst the additional funding announced earlier in the year was a step in the right direction, it was never enough to meet the needs of the increasing number of SEND pupils.”  James Robinson, Policy Lead at the charity Mencap, believes that any reductions faced by schools for meeting SEN will be a step backwards in creating an education system that promotes the inclusion of children and young people with a learning disability or the SEN. “Every child has the right to an inclusive and effective education that develops their personality, talents and abilities to the full. This is no different for children with a learning disability”, he says.   Research carried out by Mencap suggests that nearly two-thirds of parents of children with a learning disability are convinced their children are already receiving a poorer education than those without a learning disability.

For the latest news, articles, SEN resources, CPD and events listings, visit: SENISSUE88



Government to trial extending SEND Tribunal powers to health and social care The Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice have announced that they will introduce a two-year national trial in England to extend SEND Tribunal powers to the health and social care sections of education, health and care (EHC) plans. This means that from early 2018, parents and young people who are dissatisfied with any aspect of an EHC plan, and who have not been able to resolve their disagreement locally, can take their appeal to the SEND Tribunal. The announcement follows a 15-month pilot project in 17 local authority areas in England, where the extension of Tribunal powers in this way has been tested. A detailed review of the pilot found that making health and social care part of the appeals process improved joint working across education, health and social care in the areas that took part. Further, it appears to act as a “lever” to make it more likely that families will be offered a resolution they are happy with before their appeal goes as far as a Tribunal hearing.

Lessons in life from the Premier League The Premier League has launched a national curriculum-linked education programme which uses the appeal of the Premier League and professional football clubs to inspire children to learn, be active and develop important life skills.

While the SEND Tribunal makes decisions about education that local authorities have to follow, the Government has decided that the Tribunal will only have the power to make “non-binding recommendations” on health and social care. However, they make clear that, “While the First-tier Tribunal SEND’s recommendations are non-binding for health and social care partners, we would generally expect that recommendations are followed.”

The Premier League’s most ambitious community programme to date, it aims to support 10,000 primary schools by 2019.

The National Autistic Society (NAS) has long campaigned for a single point of appeal for challenging any aspect of an EHC plan, rather than three separate routes for education, health and social care. “We were disappointed when the 2014 reforms to the SEND system failed to include a single point of appeal for families”, says NAS Policy Manager Tim Nicholls. “This meant that parents and carers were having to appeal decisions about their child’s health and care separately to education, which was unnecessarily complex and stressful.”

The Premier League Primary Stars digital resources have been developed in partnership with education organisations including Edcoms, the National Literacy Trust and PSHE Association. Children’s authors Cressida Cowell of the How to Train Your Dragon series and Dan Freedman, author of the Jamie Johnson series, helped create the programme’s literacy resources, while Sky Sports Friday Night Football co-host and mathematician Rachel Riley is a consultant in the development of maths teaching resources. All the resources have been developed in partnership with, and reviewed by, primary school teachers.

Mr Nicholls has welcomed the announcement of the two-year national trial, describing it as “a step in the right direction”.

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Premier League Primary Stars builds on the existing delivery professional football clubs provide to primary schools in their communities and offers a range of bespoke curriculum-linked teaching resources aimed at Key Stages 1 and 2, including lesson plans, activity ideas, work sheets and video content.

Each teaching pack uses real life sport examples to put the lesson content into a context relevant to and engaging for children, with clear teaching instructions which ensure that the resources are easy to use. Registered schools will also be able to enter competitions to win a visit from the Premier League trophy and apply for teaching support materials such as book boxes or PE kit and equipment. A national TV advertising campaign commenced on 2 April to promote Premier League Primary Stars. The advert features some of the Premier League’s most recognisable faces, including Manchester United manager José Mourinho, Arsenal forward Theo Walcott and Chelsea defender Gary Cahill. Primary schools can register for free for the programme at:






“Hidden Children” are missing their education A children’s charity is calling on the Government to take urgent action to help identify and support the thousands of children who drop out of education, often for months or years at a time. Off the radar of schools and other services, these children can be at considerable risk of harm. The call comes as a new report by the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) sheds light on the experiences of children not accessing their right to an education.

12-year-old spearheads autism awareness campaign A new film follows a day in the life of a young girl with autism, showing how overwhelming everyday situations can be when autistic people aren’t given enough time to process information. Launched in World Autism Awareness Week in April, the film is at the centre of the National Autistic Society’s new campaign, Too Much Information, which seeks to promote awareness and understanding of autism. 12-year-old Holly, who plays the lead character, held the first screening of the film at her Year 7 assembly, using the platform to talk to her classmates about her autism for the first time. The film highlights the differences in how people with autism see, hear and experience the world, often in more intense ways than other people. Autistic people often find social situations difficult and struggle to filter out the sounds, smells, sights and information they experience, which means they can feel overwhelmed in public. This can also make it difficult to process information like questions and autistic people can sometimes need more time to reply. Although the charity believes that “almost everyone has heard of autism”, it is concerned that a much smaller number of people understand what it actually means to be autistic. Holly’s mother, Jo, thinks her daughter has come such a long way since her diagnosis five years ago. “I feel like her autism could have been picked up earlier but, like many girls on the spectrum, she’s really good at masking her difficulties. For instance, copying the behaviour and reactions of children around her.” Jo believes that diagnosis helped the family understand Holly’s needs. They have since had a lot of success in supporting Holly by working closely with the school to implement a range of small strategies, such as letting her leave lessons five minutes early to avoid her getting overwhelmed by noisy and busy school corridors. Her mother thinks that Holly’s autism may even have helped her manage the filming process. “Lots of 12-year-olds would be daunted by acting in a big film like this and speaking in front of her whole year group but Holly’s autism means she doesn’t get embarrassed as easily. She’s so passionate about acting and raising awareness of autism and loved every minute of filming”, says Jo. SENISSUE88

Despite the duty on local authorities to provide education to every child, significant numbers drop off the school roll and do not receive an education at home either. Many others are still technically enrolled in a school, but are not accessing a full-time curriculum. Children missing education are often vulnerable; many have tough family circumstances and may have SEN as well. Missing school further undermines their future education and employment prospects and deprives them of a protective environment, meaning they’re more at risk of falling into crime, or suffering abuse or exploitation, the report says. Through in-depth interviews with children, young people and their families, as well as focus groups with professionals, the report looked at how problems like being bullied at school, suffering challenges at home, and having SEN, can often combine to cause a child to miss out on education, often for substantial periods of time. Children who miss education often face multiple challenges, ranging from SEN and disabilities and mental health issues, to neglect and domestic violence. No national data is collected on these children, but recent Freedom of Information requests, conducted by the NCB in 2014 and the BBC in 2016, suggests tens of thousands of children are missing education each year. “These children are often living on the margins, disengaged with school and invisible to other services”, says NCB Chief Executive Anna Feuchtwang. “Education is the key to a child’s future. National Government must lead the way so that all children get the right support to learn.” The report, Children Missing Education, is available from:

School transport policy causing upheaval for children Changes to councils’ transport policies are having an increasing effect on children trying to get to school, according to a report released by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO). The Ombudsman is upholding more complaints from parents and carers who need to find alternative ways to get their children to school when councils change their policies, or the way they apply them. In 2015/16 the LGO received 261 complaints and enquiries about school transport compared with just 160 in the previous year. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Qualification gap for deaf young people Data published by the Department for Education in March shows that deaf young people in England are not achieving the same qualifications as their hearing peers. In 2016, 44 per cent of deaf young people had achieved two A-Levels or equivalent technical qualifications by the age of 19, a slight improvement on 43 per cent in 2015. While the attainment gap has narrowed, well over half of deaf young people are not achieving A-level standard qualifications, compared to just 35 per cent of those with no identified SEN. The charity The National Deaf Children’s Society is calling on the Department for Education to take action to close this gap sooner, and has expressed disappointment that the SEN reforms of 2014 have not proven more effective in doing so. “Deafness is not a learning disability; there is no reason why deaf young people cannot achieve the same things as their hearing friends, given the right support”, says Martin McLean, the charity’s Education and Training Policy Advisor. “The Government needs to do more to ensure that colleges, schools and apprenticeship providers can put specialist support in place to help deaf students to make up ground lost earlier in education.”

UK charities come together to tackle inequality for disabled children A coalition of UK children’s charities is to lobby for better health and social care for disabled children, young people and their families under the newly-formed Disabled Children’s Partnership. The new coalition, which comprises 28 charities, has formed as new research reveals that 69 per cent of families never receive support caring for their disabled child beyond their own close friends or family.   Recent figures estimate that £3.2bn was cut from a range of children’s early social care and welfare services between 2010 and 2015, leaving service and provision severely lacking across the UK.   The gap in health and social care services means that many British families face great difficulties in accessing even the most basic support.   The Disabled Children’s Partnership will launch a major new campaign in England in the summer of 2017.   With nearly half of the British public claiming not to know anyone with a disability, the campaign will seek to bring the realities of the challenges that disabled children, young people and their families face closer to the public and decision-makers. The Disabled Children’s Partnership will call on the Government to urgently address the current gap in provisions.

News deadline for next issue: 7/6/17 Email: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Health visitors find increase in children’s communication problems There has been an eight per cent rise in health visitors reporting that they are seeing higher numbers of children with delayed language, with the number increasing from 64 per cent in 2015 to 72 per cent in 2016. This means children may use simpler sentences, fewer words and struggle to understand the same instructions as their peers. The figures are highlighted in evidence submitted to the Bercow: Ten Years On review into children and young people’s speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) by the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV). The final report and recommendations will be published in 2018, marking ten years since the Government published The Bercow Report: a Review of Services for Children and Young People (0-19) with Speech, Language and Communication Needs. Jean Gross, Chair of Bercow: Ten Years On and former government Communication Champion for children, says: “In 2008, the original Bercow Review showed that around two-thirds of parents and carers that responded felt that information about support for children was not easily available, and nearly 40 per cent said that the quality of information was poor. That was damning evidence that things needed to improve. But have they? That is what we need to find out.” Jean Gross says the Institute of Health Visiting’s evidence highlights a “worrying trend” in health visitors reporting a rise in children with delayed language. Elizabeth Stanley, National Rep for the National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF), believes that ensuring parents and families have a good understanding of how best to support their child’s development is vitally important in improving outcomes for children and young people. “Being able to communicate is an essential part of life; we need parents, carers, professionals and organisations to listen to each other and work together in a collaborative way to improve the lives of our children”, she says. The iHV statistics follow the recent announcement that health visitor checks will remain mandatory in the early years, which includes checks to identify language difficulties in children at a young age. Parents and carers can directly take part in Bercow: Ten Years On by completing a short survey online before the end of May 2017. In addition, practitioners can access early years, primary and secondary activity packs that can be used with parents and carers in local settings. Further information is available at: SENISSUE88





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What’s new?

Only seven weeks to go until The Autism Show 2017

ERA Awards 2017 Winner: SEN Assessment Toolkit

The national event for autism (including Asperger syndrome) is returning this June and July with a packed new programme of specialist talks, workshops and clinics, plus hundreds of products and services which can make an immediate difference to those you care, support or teach.

GL Assessment’s SEN Assessment Toolkit was crowned winner of the Special Education Resource or Equipment (Non ICT) category at the Education Resources Awards ceremony in Birmingham on 17 March.

Key speakers this year include the renowned Prof Francesca Happé, Prof Rita Jordan and best selling novelist Kathy Lette. Also don't miss the new Autism Uncut Cinema, EHCP Help Centre and LEGO® Therapy features.

“Judges thought that this comprehensive range of assessment tools would provide SENCOs and class teachers with all they need to follow up concerns and properly determine a pupil's learning needs. Judges described the SEN Assessment Toolkit as an extremely useful, ‘go to’ product to support interventions in class.”

You can book your tickets now and save 20 per cent at:

Learn more about the toolkit at: or contact:

Basket Swing for accompanied play

Free autism events in Leicester

All children require good quality play time in order to develop and stay healthy. Creative Play understand that children with special needs require exclusive playground equipment and have produced a wide range of products with this firmly in mind.

Hesley Group are taking booking requests for their forthcoming free autism events.

Creative Play’s Basket Swing is ideal for children with disabilities or who need assistance, as the size and layout of the seat has been designed to allow students with SEN to be accompanied while they play. To find out more about SEN specific products, contact Creative Play. Tel: 01244 375627, email: or visit:

EQUALS Semi-Formal (SLD/MLD) 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: or telephone the EQUALS office on: 0191 272 1222.

Children/People with Complex Needs – Better Understanding, Better Support will be taking place at the Leicester Tigers Football Club on 16 and 17 May. Speakers Professor Barry Carpenter and Angela Stanton-Greenwood will provide workshops and presentations that will enable parents and professionals to gain valuable knowledge during the respective one-day events that will be sure to keep you engaged and focussed throughout. More details can be found at:

New inclusive outdoor play equipment Monster Play have announced the launch on their new 2017 play brochure. It’s packed with exciting new inclusive outdoor play products, many of which are maintenance free, meaning no annual paintwork repair costs. Manufactured from aluminium, stainless steel and HPL, the QC range offers long guarantees of up to 30 years and can withstand the toughest weather conditions, including coastal installations. Featuring high user capacities and packed with play activities, the range has been assessed by a leading childhood development expert to ensure essential developmental requirements are included. For a free play space design, visit: or call: 01442 265489.




Helping families resolve education disputes

Phase transfers to secondary school, post-16 and post-19

Education Lawyers specialise in helping families with children who have SEN through the EHC needs assessment process and with appeals to the SEND Tribunal.

It’s that time of year again, when specialist SEN solicitors Douglas Silas Solicitors are approached by parents of children and young people with SEN. This is because this is commonly when there is a need to successfully move them to the next stage of their educational journey and disputes often arise about phase transfers to secondary schools and post-16/post-19 placements.

Education Lawyers is an experienced and skilled team, providing legal advice and practical solutions in relation to SEN cases. Their lawyers have been providing legal help to families throughout England and Wales for over 25 years. If you would like to speak to someone from their team about your child’s SEN, email: or telephone: 01452 555166. For more information, visit:

Douglas says: “This is always a difficult time for parents, so it is important for them to seek specialist advice or representation as soon as they can.” For more information, visit:

Croydon wants adopters Croydon’s Adoption Agency is keen to receive enquiries from applicants who are interested in adopting: children of sibling groups, with additional needs, of black and mixed heritage, and from minority ethnic groups. If you are interested, please complete the online enquiry form on: Only applicants interested in the above range will be considered and especially second time adopters and fostering to adopt. You must have enough living space for the number of children that you wish to adopt, and live no more than 35 miles from Croydon .

Teen Life Licensed User Training This two-day training course, taking place on 7 to 8 June and 26 to 27 July in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, offers autism experienced professionals an opportunity to train to deliver The National Autistic Society’s six-session autism specific Teen Life programme locally. Teen Life is a six-session parent support programme for parents of young people on the autism spectrum aged between ten and 16 years.


You can book through:

Technology provides affordable care solutions

Save £223 on SEN resources

Technology can help with many care scenarios where alarms or alerts are needed. A good example is the new design Wi-Fi alarm switch from Medpage. When the two parts of the alarm are separated, an alert is sent to a designated smartphone with the date and time of the operation. The switch is ideal for a door or window alarm and can even be used on a fridge, cupboard or medicine cabinet. For more information, visit: and search on “Wi-Fi”. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Oaka Books has put together a big saving with its new Revision Topic Pack Bundle. You can now buy all 47 KS3 topic packs (for sciences, geography, history and French) for just £337 and get a free 12 month subscription to Oaka Digital, saving you £223. Oaka topic packs include booklets, write your own notes books, and games with Q&A cards or character cards. Oaka Digital includes over 250 SEN curriculum based resources, including 3D science images, online activities and quizzes for up to 300 pupils. To order, visit: or email: SENISSUE88




Latest Easy News for people with learning disabilities

Full-service sensory packages from Rhino

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.

Multi-sensory company Rhino UK deliver sensory solutions including multi-sensory rooms, portable sensory equipment and therapeutic resources. Rhino provide a complete service, including planning, advising, designing and installation of multi-sensory rooms with full product training, backed up by quality service and sensory room maintenance packages.

Featuring simple language and visual cues, this edition gives readers a news round-up including pieces on the attack on Westminster, the Budget, the ban on electronic devices on some flights, humanitarian crises in Africa and the Middle East, Brexit, the new £1 coin and the increase in TV license fees and much more. To download a copy and sign up for future editions, visit:

Sensory products have been proven to have a huge impact on many people’s day-to-day life. Rhino listen to their users’ needs and recommend the best multi-sensory solution for them, making sure they will benefit from the sensory environment. For further information, visit: or call: 01270 766660.

Fox Wood Special School playground development Pentagon Play recently worked with Fox Wood Special School to develop their outdoor learning environment. The new outdoor space is brimming with engaging SEN resources that cater for a mixed range of abilities. One area, named the “Sensational Space”, includes tactile panels, a sound and light archway and a sensory gazebo. “The team throughout the designing, planning, phone conversations and installation are very professional and listen to any minor amendments that you want”, says Deputy Head Val Holworth. “It was great to work with a playground company that was very accommodating.” Call: (North) 01625 890 330, (South) 0117 379 0899.

Song by Prior’s Court pupils storms social media Let Me Shine, a song and video from young people with autism, has had a massive reaction on social media. Launched for World Autism Awareness Day by autism charity Prior’s Court, the song reached over 2.9 million people in just two days. A moving and inspirational song and video, it was performed by the staff and young people at Prior’s Court, all of whom have severe autism and complex needs. The music was written by the band Low Island. To watch or listen, search “Prior’s Court” on Facebook, YouTube or Spotify, or download the track on iTunes. SENISSUE88

Targeted maths interventions On Track Maths aims to help you maximise your intervention time with easy-to-follow, structured lesson plans. This targeted approach to maths intervention helps you identify weaknesses and misconceptions and then use targeted activities to teach problem areas. On Track Maths provides a clear programme of 20-minute lessons for every topic in the maths curriculum which you can easily dip into depending on the needs of your class. You can find out more about On Track Maths and download a free sample activity pack at:

Royal Blind School to offer 52 week residential places The specialist vision impairment school, the Royal Blind School, Edinburgh, has introduced 52 week residential care for its pupils. Pupils also have the option of term-time boarding, as well as nightly and weekly boarding at one of the school’s residential houses. Royal Blind School pupils have access to education, continuous habilitation, care, therapy and nursing staff, as well as specialist on-site facilities. Each house is fully accessible and has five bedrooms with en-suite facilities and its own kitchen and living area. To find out more about the Royal Blind School, visit: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Pedagogic Potential of Craftwork As part of the launch of the new professional development course on the Pedagogic Potential of Craftwork, Ruskin Mill Land Trust is running an introductory taster week for the two-year part-time programme in Nailsworth, Stourbridge and Sheffield during the week 17 to 21 July. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn alongside experienced craft tutors to explore how craftwork and materials can be used as educational and therapeutic tools, building on the insights of Rudolf Steiner, William Morris and John Ruskin. For information or to book, email: or visit:

Rebound Therapy trampoline for the home Until recently, Rebound Therapy has been the preserve of schools and care organisations, mainly due to the cost of installing a Rebound Therapy trampoline and the small number of models available for the home market. Sunken Trampolines have worked with and manufacturers to add a new outdoor option to their portfolio. The new 14 feet by 10 feet trampoline is ideally suited for therapy but also recreational use, enabling families to have an all round trampoline that’s strong enough for a user and two carers. Go to: or contact Joel/ Angus at:

Free vision-screening software for schools Good vision is vital during our school years. If a child cannot see the board properly, or the words are blurred during reading, they will find it difficult to perform to their potential. It is estimated that 80 per cent of the information a child uses for learning is visual, but one in four children are struggling with undiagnosed vision problems. Specsavers has teamed up with Thomson Screening to deliver free vision-screening software to every primary and secondary school across the country.

New sensory development project for Sutcliffe Play Sutcliffe Play is starting work on a new £150,000 sensory and physical development project at Woodley School and College in Huddersfield. The school has recently become a facility that caters purely for autistic children. As part of an extensive consultation process, teachers and pupils visited the factory to see how they make equipment. The new space will feature five inclusive zoned areas: Music, Active, Climbing, Quiet Zone and Daydream Den. All will play a major role in the school’s plan to develop their expertise in teaching children with autism.

Over 2,000 schools have already registered. To find our more and to register for SchoolScreener EZ™ visit:

+44 (0)1977 653 200

Early screening for dyslexia

Challenging roles with NCS

Waiting to identify students at risk for dyslexia has farreaching consequences both academically and behaviourally – consequences that can affect the student’s long-term success in school and in life.

NCS The Challenge are a major contributor to NCS, bringing young people together from varied backgrounds through four weeks of physical and personal challenges.

With the Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen™ teachers can identify early signs of dyslexia amongst individuals and groups of students, between the ages of five years and seven years 11 months. The psychometric viability of the Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen™ ascertains whether differences appear in students with dyslexia compared to their peers, allowing teachers to act sooner to limit long-term effects. Earlier screening helps students perform at their best academically. For more information, visit: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

They are looking for recruits to support young people who come on to their programme. This will range from mentoring and motivating to supporting young people who require physical assistance to complete the programme itself. This year they will be providing over 350 young people with direct additional support requirements. If you feel that you have what it takes to support a young person through an intense and inspiring programme, apply at: SENISSUE88




Cycles to enable Cycling offers many individuals the chance to exercise in a safe and controlled manner, having both a therapeutic benefit as well as a recreational value. The use of an adaptive cycle can improve a rider's balance, improve coordination and help strengthen muscles in riders with disabilities. Theraplay has a range of 20 cycles, all of which can be customised to the needs of each individual rider. Theraplay's philosophy is to provide cycles which enable riders of all abilities to have the opportunity to cycle as independently as possible. A free assessment service is available throughout the UK. Telephone: 0141 876 9177 or email:

Free consultation and inspiration guide on inclusive, sensory outdoor play The outdoor sensory space in any setting should be fully inclusive and provide the same opportunity for everyone to explore regardless of their ability or special need. It should be a place where diversity is respected and valued, enabling children of all abilities to explore their surrounding in a safe child-centred inclusive environment. Timotay Playscapes have a free inspiration guide to outdoor sensory play spaces and outdoor sensory play equipment. For your copy, email: or call: 01933 665151.

Short break foster carers needed in Warwickshire Warwickshire Fostering Service is looking for Family Link foster carers who can provide a short break for a young person with a disability. This short-term care provides the young person with new friends and experiences, whilst their parents get some much needed time for themselves and the rest of their family. As Sue, a Family Link carer. says: “You will get plenty of support and advice; it’s a really worthwhile thing to do with so many rewards and it can work alongside a busy life.” For more information, visit: or call: 01926 746956. SENISSUE88

College of Occupational Therapists gets Royal approval Her Majesty The Queen has granted permission for the Royal title to be used by the College of Occupational Therapists, meaning that the College, which can trace its origins back to 1936, will become the Royal College of Occupational Therapists. The College is the professional body for occupational therapy representing over 31,700 occupational therapists across the UK. Occupational therapists provide support to people managing illness, injuries and a wide range of physical and mental health conditions across both health and social care settings. They work to enable people to carry out daily activities (“occupations”) which are essential for health and happiness.

New play area for Inscape House Merlin’s Magic Wand has teamed up with Sea Life Manchester and Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester to redevelop the playground area at the Together Trust Inscape House School in Cheadle. The School provides education for children and young people, aged five to 19, with autism. The new play area is completely covered with artificial grass so pupils can play safely in an engaging environment. Sea Life banners displaying a variety of friendly sea creatures decorate the area, adding lots of colour to aid the pupils’ visual engagement. To support creative play, the magical playground has been filled with soft Lego Duplo bricks.

New £1.2m acquisition to support families affected by autism Orbis Group has invested £1.2 million in the acquisition of Dan-yCoed House, a new facility in Swansea that will provide education and care for up to 25 children and young people. The Group offers specialist schools and residential services for children and young people with needs associated with autism. The organisation also set up “Academy Living”, a project designed to support young people with autism in gaining work skills and experience, and has dedicated respite facilities for the families of those living with the condition. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK



DfE announces £81 million support for Family Fund The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that it will maintain its £27.3 million annual funding for Family Fund, the UK charity providing grants for low-income families raising disabled or seriously ill children, for three years from 2017/18. This commitment, worth £81.9 million in total, should ensure that tens of thousands of families in England will be able to rely on the extra support Family Fund provides until 2020. Family Fund supported 58,621 families in England with grants for essential items in 2015/16, an increase of almost 12,000 in the last five years. They expect to have helped a similar number by the end of 2016/17. Families can apply for grants for items that will ease the dayto-day pressures that many families face raising a disabled child or young person, such as kitchen appliances, clothing, bedding, sensory toys, tablets and computers, and family breaks. Families can find out more about grants and support available at:






Point of view: parent

A+ in strengths

Lets bring learning to the child, not the other way around, says Victoria Phipps-Lucking


chool is hard enough for any child, but when your child has diverse learning needs it can be even more challenging. I recently received a school report for my son who has 16p11.2 syndrome, a rare chromosome disorder, and although the teacher’s comments were warm and encouraging, the academic results at the end of the page clearly stated that my son is so far away from “age appropriate targets”. They listed his current levels and there was a helpful page attached informing me where he should be according to his “age. Schools must include this information as it is expected by the Department for Education but I feel this decision should be contested. I would like to sit down with my son, share his report achievements and show him the positive remarks his teacher has made without showing him a piece of paper which just highlights that apparently he is failing. There was no mention of the

esteem. The SEN system encourages the use of a deficit model where pupils are constantly compared to a mythical “norm”. A school has the right not to enter a student into SATS tests if they are working below the expected standards, but what about the children whose profile means there are strengths and weaknesses in certain areas? An alternative approach should be used to assess their academic achievement rather than the one-size-fits-all standardised testing. At the very least, parents should be spared the constant comparisons with what a typical child is doing.

enormous hurdles he has overcome or of the fact he spoke in assembly, which is a massive achievement for a selectively silent child. It didn't mention that he has worked incredibly hard to move on to creating short stories or that he can now get changed by himself for PE. I wonder how many parents are receiving these reports which undermine every important milestone reached. We wonder why children with learning disabilities are six times more likely to have mental health issues (Young Minds, 2016), yet the school system perpetuates self-doubt, limitation by expectation and lowering of self-

practical ways? I suspect the pressure put on teachers to achieve results inhibits the amount of time given to the creative subjects. We already know that children learn in different ways. Howard Gardener’s theory of multiple intelligences suggests we all have a blend of different learning styles – including linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily (kinaesthetic), musical, inter and intra personal – and what we should take from that is that learning is personal, creative and a process which has no rigid timescales. Therefore, the creative subjects like art, music and drama


Embracing difference Standardised testing has long been criticised in mainstream schools, so is it not time for schools to take the initiative and provide a challenging and useful curriculum for those with SEN that not only stretches them academically but provides education in more creative and

Parents should be spared the constant comparisons with what a typical child is doing should be used to encourage and even assess children with SEN. This would enable teachers to hone in on skills and talents, which in turn would give the child a sense of self-worth and pride in their achievements, which are every bit as worthwhile as those in more academic subjects. The whole purpose of education is to enrich people’s lives with knowledge for the heart and the mind and prepare the young with the tools to be decent adults who can fulfil their potential. Perhaps more respect should be given to whatever that potential is rather than a very narrow view of academic success being five GCSEs, three A Levels and a degree. I would like to receive a school report for my son that said he is happy, learning at his pace and enjoying his education. That would be something we could treasure together.

Further information

Victoria Phipps-Lucking has worked for many years in the field of SEN and is currently on the final year of a BA in Special Education at the University of East London. She has a son with 16p11.2 syndrome. For more information on the condition, visit:



Point of view: parent

Rising to the challenge Theresa Sainsbury explains how the belief of a few key people helped her son find academic success


hen Matthew was tiny, we knew he was different, but we weren’t scared; we just knew he was meant for us. We would need to be imaginative and creative with our parenting but I guess that didn’t worry us. We’re confident, awkward, questioning people. We’d manage. And we weren’t afraid of getting things wrong. I can only imagine the confusion that school caused in his brain, with people everywhere and the endless queues, shouting, ear piercing buzzers and bells. Then there was the learning – all the letters, typefaces, upper case, lower case, colours, size, phonetics, nonphonetics, crosses, dashes and pluses. There was so much to unravel. It was tempting to opt out, but in our hearts, we knew this would only exacerbate the problem of adapting to the “real world”. So Matthew soldiered on. Every day was a struggle. At seven, he couldn’t catch or kick a ball, hold a pen with confidence, read a sentence or manipulate numbers. Other kids ignored him. He seemed odd. The lovely private school we’d moved him into suddenly wasn’t so lovely and made noises about zero progress. He soldiered on. I had to go into school to teach him myself, “so he doesn’t hold the bottom group back”. The mechanics of reading and writing and times tables still eluded him. He didn’t hit benchmarks; he was an annoying statistic that pulled the school’s results down. We had him tested and the psychologist came back with dyslexia, mild Asperger’s, elements of ADD, difficulties with balance and fine motor skill issues. He soldiered on. I remember the day he first read a sentence, a joke on a chocolate bar WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

He was an annoying statistic that pulled the school’s results down wrapper. It was written in capitals. “I prefer capital letters”, he said. He was just about to turn eight. His exercise books were a mess; the teachers created most of it and there was red pen everywhere. “Why can’t you underline” or “why haven’t you finished”, they would say. I had my own questions for them: “What does a line mean? Why don’t you talk to him, and do you always finish your marking in the required time?” I wasn’t popular but I’d have to get used to that.

Expressing himself The one thing Matthew had was creativity but a creative mind is a difficult thing to measure. It isn’t tangible enough for a SATs score, a reading age or even a GCSE. Its quixotic, conceptual and abstract. Junior school presented us with more problems, so I suggested solutions to the school’s issues: if he can’t write, let him talk or type. If he can’t catch, let him run. If he doesn’t finish on time, give him more time. At secondary school, there were more new challenges but also a number of people who believed in Matthew. I took him on a school ski trip with an outspoken New Zealander who taught English. “I’ll teach him”, he said, “I love a challenge. Let’s shift him up a group.” “I’ll have him right next to me in class”, said a Year 7 teacher, “because he needs looking after.”

“We’ll have another go at the controlled assessment”, said one teacher. “He can get a higher grade.” “Don’t worry about the physics practical”, another reassured me. “I understand the fine motor skills problem.” “Hang in there”, said that canny New Zealander. “Once he gets to A levels, he’ll fly.” Matthew thrived. “I like being with clever people”, he said. Not everyone gets Matthew, but the important ones do – a few wise people outside the family. With their support we’ve tried to help him build his confidence and scaffold him, so he can do the climbing. Matthew is now 18. He’s been to visit his chosen university and fell in love with it. My fingers are crossed that he makes the grades but I know he has a fighting chance. “I think my biggest achievement is making my parents proud”, he said at interview. Our pride is immeasurable.

Further information

Theresa Sainsbury is a private tutor and former SEN Assistant in a mainstream school.

What’s your point of view?






SEN and specific circumstances Specialist SEN solicitor Douglas Silas explains the legal requirements for looked-after children and young people and those in alternative provision


e too often forget about children or young people who have SEN in more specific circumstances. They may require additional consideration in order for them to receive more joinedup provision. Space here does not permit discussion of everyone in all specific circumstances, so I am going to concentrate on looked-after children and those in alternative provision.

What are “specific circumstances”? The SEN Code of Practice (CoP) highlights particular groups of children and young people with SEN whose specific circumstances require additional consideration

by those who work with them. A dedicated chapter states that these groups include: • looked-after children • care leavers • those with social care needs, including children in need • those people educated out of area • those educated at home • those in alternative provision • those who are in hospital • those in youth custody • children of service personnel. The CoP then sets out information about managing their circumstances, in order for effective joined-up service provision to achieve good outcomes for them.

What about looked-after children? These are children who are “accommodated”, or who have been taken into care by a local authority (LA), who must then promote their educational attainments, regardless of where they are placed. Around 70 per cent of these children have some form of SEN and a significant proportion may also have an education health and care (EHC) plan. LAs have particular responsibilities for these children and must act as a “corporate parent” to safeguard and promote their welfare.

LAs should act as a “corporate parent” for looked-after children.


There must be a “designated teacher” in all maintained schools and LAs must appoint a “virtual school head (VSH) to lead a virtual school team, which tracks the progress of looked-after children. Educational professionals must work closely with other relevant professionals

There should be effective and joined-up processes between care, health and education needs as well, such as social workers, designated doctors or nurses and an independent reviewing officer (IRO). There should be effective and joinedup processes between care, health and education needs; for example, through a care plan, setting out a child’s developmental needs, including: health and education, emotional and behavioural development, identity, family and social relationships, and social presentation and self-care skills. The care plan is vital and specifically includes a personal education plan (PEP) and a health plan. Plans must be reviewed regularly and the annual review of an EHC plan should coincide with one of these reviews.

What are the rules for children living out of area? Many looked-after children live with foster carers or in a children’s home and attend schools in a different LA to the one that looks after them. The CoP says it is the looked-after child’s social worker (in close consultation with the VSH in the LA that looks after the child) that will ultimately make any educational decision. But any assessment for an EHC plan must be carried out by the LA where the child lives, which may not be the same as the LA that looks after the child. The WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


day-to-day responsibility for taking decisions should be delegated to the carer who can best advocate for the looked-after child.

Are children and young people leaving the care system considered?

and care can be integrated, to ensure the needs of vulnerable children are put first.

What about EHC assessments and plans?

The CoP states that some children cease to be looked after at 16 or 17, whilst others continue to be looked after until their eighteenth birthday. It says that LAs still have responsibilities to provide a “personal adviser” and prepare a “pathway plan”, to ensure that care leavers are provided with the right kind of personal support – for example, by signposting them to services and/or providing advice or planning transition from care to adulthood, for care leavers up to the age of 25. This is where they remain in education and/or training, or are not in employment, education or training now, but plan to return to education and/or training in the future.

Where there is an EHC needs assessment, it should be an holistic assessment of the child or young person’s education, health and social care needs. For those with social care plans, their social worker should coordinate any outward facing plan. The CoP states that where a young person has an EHC plan in place, LAs can also use their discretion to provide these services to the age of 25 (so long as an EHC plan remains in place). Where the young person no longer has an EHC plan, the LA no longer has the power to extend the provision of these services to young people over 18. EHCP reviews should be synchronised with social care plan reviews, and must always meet the needs of the individual child.

What if they have other care needs?

Is “alternative provision” included?

The CoP points out that there is a statutory duty for LAs to safeguard and promote the welfare of “children in need”, including disabled children. This is by providing appropriate services to them, such as short breaks for parent carers, equipment or adaptations to the home. This can include support for parents from social workers.

Where education is provided other than at a school, it is called “alternative provision” and includes pupil referral units (PRUs), alternative provision academies and free schools, and providers of online learning. The CoP states: “LAs must make arrangements where a child of compulsory school age would not otherwise receive suitable education.” This must be fulltime, “unless the LA determines that, for reasons relating to the physical or mental health of the child, a reduced level of education would be in the child’s best interests.”

Are there rules about vulnerable children who may suffer harm? A good social care assessment understands whether a child has needs relating to care or disability and/or is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. Assessments should be child-centred, focused on outcomes, transparent, timely and proportionate. Where there are specific child protection concerns resulting in action, careful consideration should be given to how closely assessment processes across education, health WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Statutory guidance specifies that education provided should be on a par with mainstream schools. Online learning can provide real-time teaching support, a broader curriculum and let students interact with each other. Particular consideration should be given to support for children or young people’s SEN, as well as their social,

Statutory guidance specifies that education provided should be on a par with mainstream schools emotional and physical development. LAs, schools and post-16 education providers can commission alternative provision for those who face other barriers to mainstream education or training.

What about those with health needs? Alternative provision also covers the education of children unable to attend school because of health needs and includes those in hospital or somewhere else because of their health (including mental health) needs. The education they receive should be good quality and prevent them from slipping behind their peers and enable them to successfully reintegrate back into school as soon as possible. It also includes needs set out in an EHC plan or individual healthcare plan.

Further information

Douglas Silas is the Principal of Douglas Silas Solicitors and runs the website: www. He is also the author of A Guide To The SEND Code of Practice [updated for 2016/17], which is available for all eBook readers: www.AGuideToTheSENDCode 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.





The biggest SEN you’ve never heard of Theresa Redmond outlines some of the main issues affecting children with speech, language and communication needs


s a speech and language therapist, it is not unusual when having a conversation with a taxi driver or other new acquaintance to be met with a series of familiar responses when discussing my line of work. I’ll often get, “Oh, I’d better be careful that I speak properly then”, said in their best attempt at Queen’s English, or occasionally the comment, “Is that for people who stutter then?” After spending a few minutes explaining that speech and language therapists don’t teach elocution and that I haven’t worked with Gareth Gates, I am then allowed the opportunity to share my experience of some of the kinds of children and young people I might work with, such as those with Down syndrome or autism, or where learning language is simply really tricky for them. Of course, the situation is different when talking to fellow professionals working with children and young

people with SEN, but is it different enough? Usually, most professionals have heard of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) but their knowledge of how to identify and support these needs differs enormously, quite often meaning they lack the confidence to successfully support the children and young people they work with. This lack of knowledge and confidence is nothing to do with overall professional competence or interest, but usually a simple lack of access to appropriate and practical training and resources in this area. A recent Workforce Survey, with over 1200 responses across sectors and spanning the educational phases, found that almost 60 per cent of health visitors had little or no training in typical speech, language and communication (SLC) development or in supporting and identifying SLCN. It also found that only 25 per cent of respondents working

SLCN is the number one reported SEN in primary schools and the fourth most common in secondary schools in primary schools felt very confident in their ability to support the SLC development of those they work with. This is particularly concerning when you consider that SLCN is the number one reported SEN in primary schools and the fourth most common in secondary schools, and these figures don’t include those with conditions such as autism or ADHD who will also have SLCN as a co-occurring need. Additionally there is strong evidence to suggest that SLCN is under reported in both the primary and secondary sector.

Understanding and identifying SLCN

Communication involves a complex range of processes.


So what is SLCN and what are the most common causes? When thinking about this it is useful to firstly consider all the things we actually do when we have a conversation. There are a huge number of complex processes taking place, including: • following non-verbal rules in communication – such as turn taking and eye contact • paying attention and listening for sustained periods • comprehending language, understanding the vocabulary and grammar WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


understand the instructions given in the classroom, copies other people or displays difficult behaviour to hide those difficulties, becomes passive and misses out on learning. Expressive language difficulties may mean that a child can’t share their ideas or opinions and that their message doesn’t come across clearly and that they can become frustrated and isolated. Schools need robust systems to identify SLCN.

• expressing language, formulating the appropriate vocabulary and grammar to respond • articulating the right speech sounds to relay this response and speaking fluently. Difficulties with speech, language and communication can happen at any individual part or at any combination of parts of this process. Sometimes, SLCN is clearly associated with an underlying or cooccurring condition such as hearing loss, autism, cerebral palsy or cleft palate. On other occasions, there is no co-occurring condition and the cause of the SLCN is unidentified, as may be the case in developmental language disorder (DLD) which was previously known as specific language impairment (SLI). The main message here is that these difficulties are common, with up to 50 per cent of children in disadvantaged areas entering school without the communication skills expected for their age and on average two or three children in every classroom having DLD, a clinically significant language difficulty which would benefit from long-term, specialist support.

Impact of SLCN Difficulties with SLC can have far reaching consequences across the whole spectrum of a child and young person’s development. For example: Comprehension difficulties may mean that the young person doesn’t WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Communication difficulties may mean that the young person interrupts and doesn’t make eye contact in a way that encourages good turn taking, meaning that others get offended and the young person has difficulty forming and maintaining positive social relationships. Speech difficulties may mean that it is time consuming for the child to get their message across, that people talk to them less to avoid misunderstanding and the child can’t contribute and is excluded. We know that the impact of SLCN can be significant and long lasting; for example, good vocabulary at 16 to 24 months, predicts good reading accuracy and comprehension five years later¹. Children who struggle with language at five are six times less likely to reach the expected standard in English at age 11 than children who have had good language skills at five, and ten times less likely to achieve the expected level in maths². But the good news is that with the right support and services children and young people with SLCN can make good progress.

Identifying and supporting SLCN For staff working with children and young people the most important thing is that any SLCN is identified and understood, so that appropriate support and services can be put in place. It is incredibly easy to


With the right support and services children and young people with SLCN can make good progress misinterpret disruptive behaviour as an attention or behaviour difficulty, when a comprehension problem may actually be at the heart of the issue. Equally, the child who doesn’t speak up in class, who is “shy” and fades into the background may actually be the child who struggles to find the right words or to speak clearly and fluently. In order to identify children and young people with SLCN it is essential to: • know how many children to expect to have SLCN – understand your local population • know the key components of language • know what is typical SLC development at what age • know what to look out for, in terms of warning signs or red flags • have a whole school system for identification and tracking • look beneath the surface if a child is not participating or progressing or is presenting with challenging behaviour. We know that SLCN is common, so it should always be considered when addressing a child’s SEN. It’s also really useful to have a sound understanding of what typical SLC development looks like, and this can be challenging particularly in older children and young people, when skills are more complex and harder to monitor. Training and professional development which gives a good overview of typical SLC development helps staff to have an understanding of approximate “ages and stages” and gives them a good basis for identifying when there is a cause for concern. >>




It’s really useful to have a sound understanding of what typical SLC development looks like a responsibility to take some time to really understand SLCN and provide effective support where necessary, and together we can recognise this very common difficulty and help all involved to reach their full potential. Unaddressed SLCN can have a big impact on a child’s progress at school.

References 1.

When looking out for SLCN it is always worth starting by considering all the children in a setting and seeing if any “red flags” for SLCN warrant further investigation: Signs of potential problems could be: • poor literacy • poor behaviour • poor self-esteem • children watching or copying • isolation. If you see any of these signs, ask the question: “could this be poor language at work?” All the above are red flags for language that is not developing typically. Once you have identified the children and young people where investigation is required, you may choose to observe more closely or monitor them or use a non-specialist screening tool or assessment to gain further information. The child or young person could be helped to catch up or have the impact of any difficulties minimised by the provision of targeted support which adapts and modifies the environment or delivers specific interventions focusing on the appropriate areas of speech, language or communication. For some children, specialist support via a referral to a specialist professional or service will also be needed to get more detailed assessment information and put intervention plans in place.


SLCN in your setting Any setting will benefit if all staff have an awareness and understanding of typical SLC development and SLCN. Through effective staff training and development, early years settings, schools and colleges can create an environment which both supports SLC development and actively identifies and supports any difficulties. A clear process for monitoring and tracking SLC progress is really beneficial. You should consider key questions at each stage of the process, such as: • what is the process for flagging concerns in your setting? • what role does the SENCO and/ or senior leadership team play? • who refers externally if this is needed? • is everyone aware what to do? • would it help to have a diagram to illustrate the process?

Tackling common problems And finally, how does my conversation with the taxi driver usually end? Well, when I’ve explained what SLCN actually is, I usually get a response along the lines of: “Oh that’s what you mean. Yes, my cousin/brother/daughter/neighbour had a difficulty like that”. Because SLCN is well known really – we’ve all come across it at some point in our lives – we just don’t always know what it is or how to help. As SEN professionals and as an inclusive society, we all have


Duff, F.J., Reen G., Plunkett K., Nation, K. (2015) Do infant vocabulary skills predict school-age language and literacy outcomes? J Child Psychol Psychiatry; 56(8):84856. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12378. Epub 2015 Jan 4. Save the Children (2015) Early Language development and children’s primary school attainment in English and maths: new research findings. London: Save the Children.

Further information

Theresa Redmond is a lead professional advisor at The Communication Trust, a consortium of over 50 not for profit organisations and charities which have an interest in supporting SLC development and children and young people with SLCN. Information and a number of free resources which can assist you in understanding and supporting SLCN can be found on the Trust’s website:

The author would like to acknowledge that the title of this article borrows heavily from a quote by Professor Courtenay Norbury in an article in The Guardian (1/11/16): “Developmental language disorder is probably the most common childhood condition you have never heard of.”









Shout out for communication Chris Hall reviews the Awards celebrating best practice in speech, language and communication


he 2016/17 Shine a Light Aw a rd s , celebrating innovative work and excellent practice in supporting children and young people’s communication development, took place at a recent ceremony in London. Run by Pearson, in partnership with The Communication Trust, the Awards recognise individuals, teams and settings that support communication, particularly for those with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). The judges were hugely impressed by the standard of applications, which provide an amazing insight into the largely unsung work that is taking place across the country and highlight just what can be achieved when expertise, enthusiasm and dedication are given to those who struggle to communicate.

Best practice all round Ingfield Manor School in Billinghurst was awarded the Augmentative and

Alternative Communication (AAC) Award for their innovative initiative to devise an accredited City and Guilds “Effective AAC” qualification. Within two years, the speaking and listening levels of their AAC user pupils rose from 29 per cent to 100 per cent, with 100 per cent of students achieving their awards, matching formal qualifications of their peers. Mable Therapy in Leeds was joint awarded the SLCN Innovation Award, together with ClearCut Communication (part of County Durham Young Offending Service (CDYOS). Mable Therapy were recognised for creating a powerful evidence-based online platform that provides one-toone speech and language therapy to children with SLCN in schools. Therapy can be arranged at times around pupil and teacher timetables, ensuring that teaching staff and parents can attend the sessions. The approach has resulted in pupils achieving their targets more quickly and effectively.

ClearCut Communication’s Thinking about Victims programme was praised for being a communication friendly resource used with both the victim of crime and the young person who has offended.

Shining stars Gregor Gilmore, aged 23, has cerebral palsy and complex communication needs. The winner of the Young Person of the Year Award, Gregor uses a voice output communication aid that is mounted to his wheelchair to communicate. He accesses it by touch screen with the help of a key-guard.

SEN School of the Year Ashmount School in Loughborough was awarded the SEN School of the Year Award. The school has created a communication team that delivers efficient, coordinated support. In addition, 16 language groups have been created involving pupils who use VOCA, eye gaze and Makaton and an assessment toolkit has been developed as well as a switch/AAC assessment library for use by parents and partner schools. The school has also become a speech and language therapy hub for the East Midlands.

Wendy Lee (judge), Martha Currie (Mable Therapy), Gareth Gates (Awards host), Elliot Agro (Mable Therapy) and Anna Reeves (judge).




A true champion Ann Shellard received the Communication Champion Award for her sheer dedication and determination in ensuring that the speech, language and communication provision for early years children in Blackpool is the best it possibly could be. Ann has worked with early years practitioners to increase their knowledge and understanding of speech, language and communication development. She has developed an introductory level speech, language and communication training programme and has devised a training pathway with different levels for practitioners to work through. Ann has also worked on a programme to ensure every early years setting and children’s centre in Blackpool has access to their own communication champion.

Gregor now mentors other young people who have communication difficulties. He helps organise national meetings and events for the national charity 1Voice, volunteers one day

a week at the Bridge College in Manchester assisting in the sessions for communication aid users, works with Leeds University to help educate student nurses about AAC, and volunteers at Manchester Metropolitan University on various AAC research projects. Sheer dedication to providing fantastic speech and language

Shine a Light 2017 Award winners Pearson Outstanding Achievement Award Caspian Jamie, Manchester Early Years Setting of the Year Award Bishop Alexander LEAD Academy, Newark-on-Trent Primary School of the Year Award Parkdale Primary School, Nottingham Secondary School/College of the Year Award Tor Bridge High, Plymouth SEN School of the Year Award Ashmount School, Loughborough Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Award Ingfield Manor School, Billinghurst SLCN Innovation Award Mable Therapy, Leeds ClearCut Communication (part of County Durham Youth Offending Service), Durham Communication Champion Award Ann Shellard, Blackpool Young Person of the Year Award Gregor Gilmour, Bury

Communication Champion winner Ann Shellard with Gareth Gates.


Communication Commitment School of the Year Award Easton CE Academy, Bristol

Abi Steady (left) and Kirsty North of Ashmount School receive the SEN School of the Year Award.

support to children in Greater Manchester resulted in Caspian Jamie receiving the Pearson Outstanding Achievement Award. In addition to co-founding award winning enterprise Twinkleboost, an organisation that helps more than 1,300 individuals and their parents with strategies to support their child’s communication development through fun, multi-sensory parent and child classes, Caspian has also created speech and language therapy programmes. He has co-authored a literature review, formed a YouTube channel to encourage parents to learn more about strategies to support language development and provides regular training to speech and language therapists and communication assistants, all whilst holding down a full-time job as a speech and language therapist.

Further information

Chris Hall is Director of Clinical Assessment at Pearson, which publishes standardised assessments and interventions for professionals working with children and adults in health, education and psychology settings: For information about the Awards, including best practice case studies, visit: Educationnews/shine-a-light.aspx





Communicating about communication Candice Lazarus and Helen Kirk look at the role of speech and language therapists in child mental health


hen children and young people with learning disabilities access learning disability child and adolescent mental health services (LD CAMHS), they are supported by a variety of professionals, including psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, nurses, and support workers, who work with families to manage mental health difficulties and/or challenging behaviour. Communication difficulties are common in those with learning disabilities and are associated with an increased prevalence of challenging behaviour, as this is often a form of communication (Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, 2009). Techniques to support and develop communication are recommended by the positive behaviour support (PBS) model to increase wellbeing and quality of life (PBS Coalition UK, 2015). With expertise in the area of communication, speech and language

A crucial aspect of the role is to deliver training to team members therapists (SLTs) are well placed to deliver such support. However, SLT positions within LD CAMHS teams are historically unevenly distributed across the UK, despite developments in service provision within SLT over the years (British Institute of Learning Disabilities, 2002). This article reflects on the unique contributions that SLTs bring to LD CAMHS and also the challenges that present to the role. SLTs provide in-depth assessment to inform others of communication abilities and tailor support to maximise communication for the individual. For example, an assessment of verbal comprehension will consider the level of language to use with a young person.

This may also highlight processing difficulties, specific concepts or grammatical structures that should be avoided, or whether visual resources would be beneficial. Specialist assessments and interventions like these can impact greatly on the wellbeing of the young person and those who support them. The work of an SLT takes place in a variety of settings, allowing them to work with children, families, teachers and professionals, both directly and indirectly. A crucial aspect of the role is to deliver training to team members, other professionals and parents in areas such as language development, the use of visual resources to support communication and alternative and augmentative communication systems, for example the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and Makaton. SLTs may, on occasion, also provide consultations to mainstream CAMHS, particularly regarding the area of autism. This can involve contributing to assessment and advising on communication strategies.

A different way of working

Helen Kirk (left) and Candice Lazarus plan communication interventions.


Working in a team like LD CAMHS which is close functioning and dynamic, with regular team meetings, case discussions and supervision, can prove to be a challenge for SLTs, who typically work autonomously. The emphasis on information sharing and working closely with one or more team members can be difficult, as this requires consideration of the roles of others in the workplace as well just their own. However, a smaller caseload than carried by many WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


other SLTs provides the opportunity to work more holistically, which can bring increased job satisfaction. As the role focuses on the mental health of the young people, this contributes to the already complex nature of the learning disability client group. This can be challenging as undergraduate SLT training is often limited in the amount of mental health teaching provided; this can affect therapists’ confidence to take on such a role. However, having skilled and knowledgeable colleagues within LD CAMHS provides crucial and valuable support and also an opportunity to learn new skills. It is likely that there will only be one SLT within an LD CAMHS team, which can present additional potential issues. Being a lone voice may make it more difficult to challenge the views of others; however, it means that as the communication expert, the contribution of the SLT is often valued. As other health professionals in the team may already have some knowledge and experience of communication and language, the SLT may feel the necessity to provide more specialist knowledge and skills, which can be the catalyst for continued professional development. Although regular and formal supervision is provided by team members, clinical SLT supervision has to be sought elsewhere and professionals with the relevant skills in this cohort may not be readily accessed. Below is an example of an LD CAMHS case that received involvement from SLT. It demonstrates how the SLT was integral to this young person being understood and achieving positive outcomes.

Michael’s story A 16-year-old young man – let’s call him Michael – was referred to LD CAMHS for support with managing his anger. The team had concerns around his communication, thus an SLT assessment was completed to provide recommendations on ways to support his communication. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Michael’s eloquence masked his abilities and his comprehension was greatly overestimated Findings from Michael’s assessment Strengths: • he is polite and has learnt to engage in social norms, such as shaking hands • he is able to follow rules and repeat chunks of dialogue, such as, reciting poems. However, his spontaneous language is simpler in construction and does not contain depth of content and meaning. Difficulties: • he requires additional time to process information • he struggles to clarify what he means • he takes things at face value • he has problems differentiating reality from fantasy • he has problems describing why something might happen • he struggles with making inferences • he struggles following two-way conversations.

Recommendations from assessment It was recommended that the team use a narrative approach to communication to help structure and develop Michael’s story telling. This teaches skills to retell a story and leads to self-generation of experiences. Visual resources were also recommended, such as timetables and calendars, as a way to help understanding of time and sequencing of events. Impact of the work The approach helped the family and teachers understand Michael’s needs through reflecting on the times they may have expected too much from him and how they can change their approach in the future. The team were also able to provide the school with training on the narrative approach, which led to this intervention being widened across the school to support other pupils with communication and language difficulties.

References • Factsheet: Communication. (2002) British Institute of Learning Disabilities. • Positive Behaviour Support: A Competence Framework (2015). Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) Coalition UK. • Resource Manual for Commissioning and Planning Services for SLCN

Michael’s eloquence masked his abilities and his comprehension was greatly overestimated. His comprehension ability was in the here and now, and he had trouble with time concepts. This caused difficulty relating events chronologically; for example, he would retell a situation that happened weeks ago but inferred that it was more recent. He had a good memory for events, but not in the order in which they occurred. This led to him getting into trouble as what he said was often not believed. As the complexity of the commands increased, so did his anxiety and his behaviour was more difficult to manage.

(2009). Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.

Further information

Candice Lazarus is an Assistant Clinical Psychologist and Helen Kirk is an SLT in LD CAMHS with Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, working with children and young people with moderate to severe learning disabilities across North Derbyshire. They would like to thank Dr Martha Laxton-Kane (Consultant Clinical Psychologist) for her assistance with this article.





Subtract the negatives Beliefs about the way maths should be taught discriminate against pupils with SEN, writes Steve Chinn


here is much about maths that makes it a great subject to study. It is logical. It is developmental. You can use what you do know to work out what you do not know. But, there is much that makes it a bad subject for many learners, most especially those with specific learning difficulties (SpLD). This is not really the fault of the maths, but the fault of the beliefs that influence the way it is taught and how many of those beliefs discriminate against learners with dyslexia, dyscalculia, speech and language difficulties and developmental coordination disorder (dyspraxia). SENISSUE88

The test will succeed only in confirming for many pupils that maths is not for them A current example is the Government’s plan to test children on their ability to retrieve times table facts from long-term memory. Behind this worrying addition to our testing regime is the belief that all children can learn these facts – a belief usually based on the notion that, “It worked for me, so it will work for everyone”.

Of course, being able to access these facts (quickly, which is another belief) is useful, but it does not pre-determine success in maths. It will be difficult for the Standards and Testing Agency to create a test format that is pragmatic in terms of how it is administered and yet accommodates children with specific learning difficulties. For example, if the time allowed for each fact to be recalled is four seconds, then 25 per cent extra time takes that to five seconds, which will not improve the situation for the pupil. The pressure during the test will build for many pupils, creating anxiety which will further diminish the ability to retrieve the facts and the test will WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


succeed only in confirming for many pupils that maths is not for them. It is likely that one of the main consequences of this “innovation” will be the need to restore motivation in pupils.

Tabling the question In the past decade of lecturing to teachers around the UK, I have asked the question: “At age ten years, how many children do not know all the times table facts?” The most common answer, from a sample that now runs into thousands, is “70 per cent”. This could be used as an argument to increase the pressure on children to master this task, or it could be interpreted as a judgment on the efficacy of using rote learning for these facts. Now that I have mentioned speed I can focus on that demand as a part of the discriminatory culture of maths. It is a pervasive demand in many topics within maths, in particular, metal arithmetic. Even without focusing on SpLD, there will be a normal distribution of speed for performing this skill and some pupils will not be able to match the arbitrary demands made of them. So, think about the belief that mental arithmetic should be done quickly. But, also think what it asks of a child (or adult). To succeed in this area of maths pupils need a short-term memory capacity that is adequate enough to remember the question, a

working memory capacity to perform the steps involved and a long-term memory for the procedure and facts needed for the task. Working memory capacity is reduced by anxiety, so any fear of failure will make success even less likely. And on top of this there is a demand for speed. Yet there is a belief that mental arithmetic is an effective “warm-up” exercise. It is a warm up that starts the lesson with a high risk of failure unless it is managed for success.

Turned off maths I am concerned, and I have another large-sample informal survey to back up my concern, that too many children are withdrawing from maths at a young age. I think that the factors I have mentioned in this article are major contributors and I think they combine with another factor – a fear of negative evaluation – to exacerbate that situation. Early arithmetic is harsh in that answers are right or they are wrong. For example, 7 x 8 equals 56. 54; although close, it won’t do. It is wrong. It seems like a reasonable human behaviour to avoid continuing failure, especially in judgmental situations. In my research into maths anxiety, “Waiting to hear your score on a maths test” ranked highly for my dyslexic and for my mainstream sample. This is another example of the impact of a fear of negative evaluation.

Early arithmetic is harsh in that answers are right or they are wrong How teachers give out marks – whether orally, in writing or via stars – will have an impact on insecure learners. Setting a risk-taking ethos for a maths class or an intervention session will enhance motivation and involvement. Dealing with the fear of negative evaluation and building selfefficacy will help maintain motivation.

Teaching by example Another belief is that apparatus, such as Cuisenaire rods, should not be used by older children and “older” is often interpreted as being around eight years old. Yet, when I taught physics (many years ago), not using demonstrations would have been judged as bad practice. This belief, as is the case for most beliefs, is absorbed by pupils and sets up a resistance to using apparatus, materials and visual images to aid understanding. The lessons I learned from moving, after fifteen years of being a successful mainstream teacher, to thirty plus years of teaching, researching and writing about special needs is that maths education would become more efficacious if it paid attention to what works with the outliers. Help the outliers and you help all learners. It’s almost like inclusion!

Further information

Steve Chinn was headteacher of three specialist schools for dyslexia and co-occurring conditions. He has written and researched widely on dyscalculia and maths learning difficulties and has lectured in over thirty countries: A risk-taking ethos could increase engagement with maths.






A low cost set of video tutorials for maths. No licence fee for schools. Presented by Steve Chinn, a leading expert in maths learning difficulties. A pupil-centred approach to learning. Designed to circumvent the problems that prevent learning. Sold in 16 countries. Lots of visual support to explain concepts and develop understanding.

‘My 13 year old has just started your program and for the first time in his life is understanding math!’





Changing lives Rochelle Bisson reveals how one family’s life has been transformed by fostering a child with complex SEN


very 20 minutes a child comes into care needing a foster family. The work that 55,000 foster families across the UK do on a daily basis ensures these children are given a loving, stable home and a better chance in life. However, thousands more foster families are needed every year to meet the growing needs of fostered children. One of the biggest challenges of recruitment is finding suitable carers for children with additional needs, but many families are realising that fostering a child with

The Kilduff family from Lancashire.


a disability can change their lives as well those of the children they foster. Many children in care will require additional support, whether it is with social, emotional or mental health difficulties, with learning difficulties, communication and interaction needs, or with sensory and/or physical disabilities and needs. Although some fostered children may require specific skills to support complex needs, what is also needed is a dedicated, loving family. With the right match, children with special needs can thrive and the

Paul’s future was very uncertain when the Kilduffs were asked to foster him experience can be rewarding for both the child and those caring for them.

Making connections The Kilduff family from Lancashire – mum and dad, Diana and Neil, and their two daughters, Jade (15) and Lucy (11) – had been fostering children for two and a half years but had never taken in a child with additional needs before meeting Paul*. After being stillborn and without oxygen for 24 minutes, Paul’s future was very uncertain when the Kilduffs were asked to foster him two years ago, but after discussing the prospect they realised just how much they could offer. “We all felt the strong need to help nourish, love and protect him before we'd even met him”, says Diana. “When we visited Paul at the hospital there was an instant connection. He was truly beautiful and despite all the negative potential outcomes given to us by medical professionals, there was never any doubt in taking on the placement.” After advice from nurses and training from a resuscitation course, the family took Paul back to his new foster home. Paul has brain damage, cerebral palsy and is registered blind but he is thriving with the Kilduffs, largely thanks to the entire family’s involvement in his care, supported by a team of other professionals. The girls have been instrumental in Paul’s development, spending hours of their spare time helping with various WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


The Kilduff’s feel that fostering has brought a great deal to their own lives.

therapies, stimulating him through sensory play and joining him in the pool at hydrotherapy. When Paul was registered blind, Lucy researched resources and activities that could help him and presented them to the family. Jade constantly sacrifices time with friends to help care for Paul and he can now say her name. “I love it when he does something new for the first time. It's the best feeling ever”, says Jade. “I help my mum a lot with his therapies and love singing to him. We have lots of little games and silly songs we do when we're together.”

Rewarding work It isn’t always plain sailing and there have been some testing times for the family over the past two years. “We worry about him when he goes under sedation for hospital procedures or if he stops breathing in the night”, says Diana. “He means the world to us. There’s nothing worse than when your child or foster child's health is at risk. “We can have several appointments a week at various health centres and hospitals, as well as contact from our social worker and health visitor. I’ve missed collecting the girls from school or shows and concerts they’re involved in, but they never complain. ‘Paul needs you more than me today’, they say. “But there have been so many amazing times these last two years. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Not knowing if or when he will be able to achieve something makes it so much more special when he does. We have been known to cry, laugh and full out party when he reaches a milestone. I have never known a more rewarding feeling.” All three children have been rewarded formally too. Paul was given a special recognition award from the local council for outstanding personal and developmental growth and the girls received The Fostering Network’s Outstanding Contribution by Sons and Daughters award. Paul’s presence has even influenced Jade’s career direction. “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher but I’ve now decided I would like to teach at a school for children with special needs”, she says.

The next step Paul has transformed the lives of this family to such an extent that they have now started the adoption process. Diana believes that any challenges of fostering a child with SEN are far outweighed by the positives and would urge others to consider it. “Paul has brought so much joy into our lives”, she says. “If you have discussed practicalities and think you have the right skills and experience then go for it. Make sure you reach out to local support groups; through this I have made friends who have children with similar conditions and learnt so much. “My number one piece of advice is to never give up hope. Strive to get to that best possible outcome and don't be disheartened by negative things you are told”. Daughter Lucy agrees and she knows that Paul can achieve more than is sometimes expected. “We all say he is our miracle or we call him Superbaby”, she says. Positivity is at the heart of the Kilduffs’ philosophy with their foster son. “We focus on the ‘can dos’, not the ‘can’t dos’. He may be unable to stand, walk, talk or see very much but the list of what he can do is endless”, says Diana. “We never forget that he

Diana believes that any challenges of fostering a child with SEN are far outweighed by the positives can smile, clap, laugh and even say a few words. Above all he can command a room with his cuteness and have us in stitches with his cheeky character. “My favourite one is that he can give a real big kiss and cuddle and show that he loves us. There really isn't anything that could touch your heart more than that.” Not all children that come into care require such a high level of constant care, but all of them do need a loving, stable family like the Kilduffs who can support them to achieve their best. People from all backgrounds can foster, whether young, old, male, female, single or married. If you have the skills, resilience and love to look after a child, maybe you should consider fostering this Foster Care Fortnight. It might be the decision that transforms your life.

Foster Care Fortnight Foster Care Fortnight, running from 8 to 21 May 2017, is The Fostering Network's annual campaign to raise the profile of fostering and promote foster carer recruitment:

Further information

Rochelle Bisson is Media and Communications Officer at The Fostering Network: * Names have been changed.





Truly and Sarah are two sisters who live together in their foster placement. The children lived with their birth mother and older sibling until May 2015, when they came into care due to safeguarding concerns. Both girls are very attached to each other and to their older sister who is also in foster care and they look forward to contact with her which is likely to continue. We are seeking a one or two-parent adoptive family who can care for Truly and Sarah together. A family who are willing to meet their current and future needs, as well as to actively promote their culture and identity and to help them achieve their full potentials.

Sarah (age 4)

Truly (age 5)

Sarah is an active child with a friendly nature. She is very inquisitive and likes to explore her environment and often insists on having her own way. Sarah requires adult supervision as she struggles to understand boundaries. She is very friendly and can be very caring and sensitive towards others.

Truly is a bright, but quiet and sensitive child who loves adult attention. At school she is making good progress, and she is meeting the baseline expectations in all areas. She is a creative child who enjoys painting, drawing pictures and arts and crafts. She likes dressing up in costumes of her favourite characters from the movie frozen. Her teacher observed that in imaginative play she likes to take the lead to play “mum”. She struggles when playing with other children with taking turns and sharing.

Sarah has Downs Syndrome but she is generally in good health. She enjoys learning and is currently being taught in the Additional Resource Provision unit in a mainstream school. She has a place in a SEN school for September.

We are looking for Adopters for Truly and Sarah who are of black African Caribbean heritage. A support package is available including financial support. Post adoption contact with birth mother and older sibling is planned.

Contact: Tel: 0208726 6000 Ext: 47721 mobile 07436037371




Working it out Educating employers is key to getting more people with a learning disability into work, writes Mark Capper


xperiencing the pride, independence and freedom that comes from having a paid job is something that many people take for granted. For young people with a learning disability, the process of getting into work can be an endless stream of rejections, despite having the desire and ability to succeed if given the right support. Currently, just 5.8 per cent of people with a learning disability known to social services are in paid work. This figure has actually decreased since 2011, despite a manifesto commitment by the Government to get a million more disabled people into work. Having a job means that people with a learning disability can live independently, live how they choose, feel valued and feel they have a purpose – just like anyone else in society.

Misconceptions There is still a lack of understanding of what a learning disability is and what people with a learning disability can do. With the right support, and the right role, people with a learning disability can be valued and trusted employees. Unfortunately, many employers still have misconceptions about what

People with learning disabilities can make very loyal employees.


people with a learning disability can do. For example, they think that people with a learning disability can’t work, or that it will cost money and time to employ them. Sadly, employers often see the disability before the person. These attitudes need to change. The fact is, people with a learning disability are incredibly loyal, meaning that they stay in their jobs longer and they take fewer sick days. This improves staff morale and opens up the company to a wealth of knowledge towards disabled consumers. Research last year found that over half of the public said they would prefer to work for a company which employs people with a learning disability. What we need to see is a focus on educating employers. If employers are more confident in their understanding of disability, they are more likely to offer reasonable adjustments to help provide opportunities.

Opportunities needed People with a learning disability can be successful at work, if they are given the right support and are placed in the right roles. Like anyone else, they have different experience, different interests and different skills, so the job they are suited to will differ too. The process of looking for work is often when the barriers begin to appear. Job websites can be confusing, application forms use inaccessible language and travelling to interviews can be incredibly difficult. Interviews can also be inaccessible, as the tasks that are often set can be difficult to understand. With the right support, though, people with a learning disability can overcome these barriers. They need help building their skills, looking for

Employers need to be supported to offer the right opportunities and provide reasonable adjustments work, with interview preparation, and with training through work experience. Employers also need to be supported to offer the right opportunities and provide reasonable adjustments within the workplace. Employers often report on the positive impact on their business from having someone with a learning disability as part of their team and how, with a little effort, they have made their workplaces inclusive and accessible to people with a learning disability.

Learning Disability Week 2017 Learning Disability Week is an annual awareness campaign organised by Mencap and will run from 19 to 25 June. This year, the charity is planning to launch an evidence based business case to highlight the benefits of having people with a learning disability as part of the workforce. There will be events happening across the country focused around employment.

Further information

Mark Capper is Head of Employment at learning disability charity Mencap:





A good night Vicki Dawson provides some useful strategies to help children who have sleep issues


arenting a child with additional needs can be challenging; parenting a child with additional needs who doesn’t sleep can lead many families into crisis. There are a number of reasons why children with additional needs may be at risk of developing sleep issues. Often, parents say that they’ve tried everything to improve their child’s sleep patterns and usually they have. Every child is an individual and their sleep patterns are unique as well, so it’s important to establish an understanding of family life and what may be contributing to their sleep problems. Common triggers that are identified include sensory SENISSUE88

issues, discomfort, hunger, body clocks being out of synchronisation and inappropriate sleep associations that can’t be maintained through the night. Keeping sleep diaries can help to identify patterns and provide families with data to share with professionals.

Regular routines The importance of sleep hygiene or a bedtime routine, as it is more commonly referred to, is well documented. It is important to develop a routine that your child responds positively to and that also works in line with their circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm refers to their body clock; children with additional needs often need support

Replacing screen time with other activities can be daunting at first in order to keep it on track. Naturally, our body clocks don’t run on a perfect 24-hour cycle; they run a little over which means that we can gradually shift our sleep patterns. Many of the difficulties that families face are around children who are not falling asleep until the early hours of the morning. Keeping the circadian rhythm on track is really important and can be done by following a good routine. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


It is important to do the same thing at the same time each day, including waking a child at a regular time, even at the weekends. This helps to strengthen the body clock. Electronic gadgets, including televisions, should be switched off in the hour leading up to bedtime. The light omitted from these can interfere with the body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin. It is the melatonin that our bodies produce that helps us to fall asleep more easily at night time. A pilot project for families of children with autism, carried out by the Children’s Sleep Charity, found that every family that restricted screen time in the run up to bedtime saw an improvement in their child’s sleep patterns.

Winding down Replacing screen time with other activities can be daunting at first. The key is to choose activities that children enjoy. Colouring in, jigsaws, model making or sensory stories are all great to help children to unwind in the run up to bedtime. Giving warnings that screen time is about to end can also be helpful for some children and the use of visual timetables may support understanding. Avoiding physical activity in the evening is also important as this may actually contribute to causing your child’s alertness levels to rise. Dimming the lights in the run up to bedtime is helpful. Melatonin is sometimes referred to as the “hormone of darkness” and having a darkened room can help its production. Children who are particularly light-sensitive may benefit from blackout blinds, particularly those who are easily woken during the light mornings in the summer months. Children with visual and hearing impairments, however, may find a darkened room disorientating and they may benefit from having a dim but consistent night light on in their bedroom.

Consistency When it comes to sleep issues, consistency is key. Many of the WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

difficulties that children experience with sleep are around sleep associations. A sleep association is something that an individual needs in place to be able to sleep well. For many adults, it may be a certain number of pillows or sleeping on a certain side of the bed. Most adults are able to manage their sleep associations independently, while children usually need support to do this. Many children develop sleep associations around falling asleep with a parent next to them. Another common one is falling asleep with the television on. We all wake several times each night, but if the conditions that we fall asleep with are the same, we may reposition ourselves by turning over and then continue sleeping. When things have changed, though, we are likely to wake up. The children who have fallen asleep with a parent next to them are highly likely to wake up fully during the night as the parent has become their sleep association. Liken it to somebody taking away one of your pillows when you are in your deepest sleep; when you come to a point of partial wakening you would probably wake fully, wondering where on earth your pillow has disappeared to. It is important to ensure that conditions at the start of the night are consistent throughout the night to avoid night time wakings. Examining what is happening at the start of the night can be extremely helpful in analysing why night time wakings may occur.

Creating calm Children also benefit from having a calm bedroom environment in order to promote sleep. Where possible, decorate in neutral, calm colours. Bright colours can be highly stimulating and are best avoided. Avoid light shows as part of bedtime and consider the temperature of the room; ideally, it should be around 18 degrees. If your child is noise sensitive, you may wish to consider using white noise to mask out background sounds. The Children’s Sleep Charity are currently working on a number of

Children also benefit from having a calm bedroom environment in order to promote sleep

projects to help to support children with additional needs who have sleep issues, including a training package for staff in residential settings. It is important that night staff are trained in sleep issues and understand what constitutes a good routine. Another project is around children with ADHD, many of whom are at risk of suffering with sleep issues.

Further information

Vicki Dawson is CEO of the Children’s Sleep Charity and is also a parent of a child with additional needs. Prior to setting up the charity, Vicki was a teacher and worked with children with additional needs in a variety of settings:





Outdoor inspiration Schools can use outdoor play areas to foster learning, improve behaviour and promote inclusion, writes Sam Flatman


t is widely recognised that outdoor learning makes for happier, healthier children. Offering therapeutic sensory stimulation, it has proven benefits in engaging children with SEN in the curriculum, teaching them essential life skills and helping to improve behaviour and boost confidence. In recent years, more and more schools have embraced the idea of taking lessons outside, but many are still missing a trick when it comes to recognising just how beneficial outdoor learning can be for children with SEN. By adapting school grounds and outdoor spaces to support learners with SEN, schools offer their teaching and support staff more open-ended resources, and options to allow them to better engage and communicate with their pupils. This makes for better results and healthier, happier children, which is what matters most. Everyone benefits from improved health associated with time spent outdoors. Worldwide research points to the importance of Vitamin D for physical and mental health and wellbeing, and the sun is the best natural source of

Getting outdoors gives children a sense of freedom, where they don’t feel so controlled by their environment this. Children need to get outside and gain a sensible amount of exposure to natural sunlight and fresh air every day. Playgrounds that are well designed to accommodate children with mobility issues are imperative so that everyone feels the benefit. Regular outdoor physical exercise is an essential part of keeping fit and maintaining a healthy body weight. Individuals need to participate in different types of physical exercise in accordance with their own body needs and abilities. It is important that outdoor playgrounds are accessible to all children, and offer a range of facilities that can be used by children with very different levels of ability. It’s about

Outdoor play spaces should cater for children of all abilities.


making sure they can get outside and move their bodies, strengthen their muscles and participate in an appropriate amount of cardiovascular activity every day. Regular outdoor exercise has also been linked to better sleep patterns.

Ready to work Managing challenging behaviour is an issue that teachers of pupils with SEN deal with every day. This can be difficult within the confines of a classroom, which can feel formal and pressurised, and where children don’t always have the space they need to let off steam and come back to the task when they are ready to focus again. Getting outdoors gives children a sense of freedom, where they don’t feel so controlled by their environment and the people around them. By creating safe outdoor learning spaces, schools can give children daily opportunities to work within more natural surroundings. This can play a huge part in helping learners with SEN to focus, to reduce anxiety and ultimately to draw benefit from the learning experiences they are exposed to. What’s more, their ability to communicate with staff and peers, and to work in teams, is also improved. This, in turn, has a wonderful knockon effect on their overall happiness, motivation and self-esteem. The variety of opportunities that outdoor resources offer, and the new inspiration that naturally flows from them, encourages therapeutic, sensory stimulation for learners with SEN. By moving about and interacting with nature, children expend energy and expel frustration in a productive way. Hands-on learning experiences, which come with their own sense of fun, mean that new challenges can be WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


too narrow or has an unsuitable surface. Plan wide spaces around each resource and install resources at different heights and levels that can be reached by everyone. Use well-maintained wheelchair-friendly playground surfacing.

Stimulating learning

Play space design should include areas for different types of activities.

approached as something enjoyable and exciting, rather than frustrating, so that change becomes less of an issue. And by taking on new challenges, and experiencing the sense of achievement and satisfaction that comes from conquering these challenges, children start to learn essential life-skills and develop some of the independence they will need in their daily life as adults.

that reflect the light, move in the wind or make musical sounds are simple but effective for distraction and relaxation. Quiet zones should be placed well away from busier more energy-orientated areas to avoid disturbance. Outdoor spaces are best designed with the quieter areas nearest the classroom exit, equipped with creative resources such as sandpits, growing areas, and painting and craft areas.

Making it work For outdoor play and learning to be effective for children with SEN, time needs to be spent thinking and planning how the outdoor space is to be structured. It doesn’t need to be overly complex, but there are some important things to take into consideration. A “quiet zone” to step away from the hustle and bustle is essential for many children with SEN, especially those on the autistic spectrum who often need space to resettle and rebalance. Keeping the quiet zone simple avoids over-stimulation. There is a lot that can be done with visual and audio resources to create a mood. Comfortable seating and natural, therapeutic sensory stimulation is key. Planters filled with different textured plants and herbs, to break up space and provide screening, are perfect for this. Fabric canopies provide shade from sunlight, cover from rain, and the sense of comfort and safety that you might get from being in a den. Mobiles WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Find creative ways to take lessons outside that would usually be classed as indoor subjects Busier and more energy driven activities – involving climbing, running, bikes and balls – should be located further into the outdoor space, so children can move on to them when they are ready and have had the chance to observe and acclimatise. There should be easy access routes to the outdoor space and it should always feel like a part of the classroom, rather than an attachment for occasional use. It seems obvious, but accessibility is key. It is so frustrating for a child using a wheelchair, for example, who wants to join in an activity but cannot access it because the pathway is blocked,

Find creative ways to take lessons outside that would usually be classed as indoor subjects. Take advantage of the wonderful natural outdoor resources on offer. Children love reading outdoors; it is relaxing and can be even more enticing when they find books hanging from trees or hiding in a reading bush! The same principle applies across the curriculum at all key stage levels. Introduce new and exciting lessons as well. Wildlife study and gardening are wonderful for children with SEN because they are so investigative, sensory, cross-curricular and inclusive. Developing the patience to see plants grow, and the ability to tolerate changing weather conditions and different seasonal patterns, are good life skills. Keep children involved in creating their own outdoor space. They will appreciate the opportunity to have their own input, to take responsibility for the space and make it their own. They will also take pride in the fact they have been able to do it themselves.

Further information

Sam Flatman is the Outdoor Learning Consultant and co-owner of Pentagon Play, which supplies outdoor play equipment and designs outdoor spaces for schools:

















Future tech Demetra Katsifli looks at how technology is driving inclusion in education


elying on technology for learning has become mainstream and there are few schools, colleges or universities that don’t take advantage of technology to improve the student and teacher experience. In the last few years, though, the utilisation of technology has moved from a facility that provides additional content (such as electronic whiteboards) to a widereaching enabler helping teachers to personalise their lessons for different learning styles in the same class, providing administrators and faculties with insight into student progress and teaching quality and, in some case, redefining the very idea of the “classroom”. The classroom doesn’t have to be a physical entity – not even in schools – and recognition of this has improved access to education for a wider group, including children and students with SEN. Throughout the past decade, the use of desktop computers has declined as individuals and institutions have embraced the concept of “bring your

The classroom doesn’t have to be a physical entity, not even in schools own device” (BYOD) and mobile apps have been accepted as useful tools for teaching and engaging students. Many further education and higher education institutions have created personalised mobile apps to provide easy access to class schedules, news, grades, library resources, sports information and more. Mobile collaboration and communication is a key benefit of mobility. Online discussion boards, that can be accessed via mobile, keep students connected with peers and instructors and send out notifications of grades and announcements. They also save valuable student time.

Switching it around One example of how technology has changed the nature of teaching itself is the introduction of the flipped

classroom method. Moving away from the traditional face-to-face teacher-led lessons, this method gives students access to books and online resources in advance of any tutorial. The classroom then becomes a supervised space in which to debate and practice, expanding on students’ self-study. The idea is to encourage students to experiment during the time they spend together as a group, making use of the multiple ideas that are shared once they have a base-level of understanding around the subject. This reliance on technology is already changing the way new schools and universities are being designed, with fewer large lecture halls being built and more focus on social spaces and technology. There is already a paperless university in UAE and maybe that’s something that won’t be so unusual in a few years’ time. The widespread adoption of technology has also had a significant impact on the teaching of children and adults with SEN or disabilities. The main goal of many of these people is to live independently. Inclusive learning is key to this. All students, including those with significant disabilities, should have the same opportunities to receive excellent education, with the necessary supplementary aids and support services, to prepare for productive lives as full members of society.

The role of technology A key issue educators need to be aware of is that a student may not have an obvious disability in the real or virtual classroom. They need to understand better how technology can help. In fact, while some technology Mobile technology is having a big impact on the way teaching is structured.






can be unbelievably empowering for a person with a disability, others can create significant barriers to a student’s success. PDFs, for example, are extremely useful and account for 50 per cent of all material currently stored on virtual learning environments, although some students find them difficult to learn from because the documents are not always designed to be compatible with screen readers. Better accessible content plays a key role in boosting student productivity. Technology itself can help with this issue. Software exists that allows teachers to assess all content, suggests immediate changes to improve accessibility and offers guidance for the development of future lesson materials. A truly inclusive classroom combines an awareness of diversity and equivalent access to each student. With inclusive classrooms, students with diverse needs are included in general education methods. Unlike an integrated classroom, where all students of all abilities are required to complete the same work and be assessed in the same way, the inclusive classroom’s focus is on learning outcomes. Inclusive learning benefits learners of all abilities but students with disabilities and SEN, in particular, are better off. Often, these students feel isolated from their peers and don’t know how to engage with them, especially when it comes to discussion in class. Some can find a virtual conversation, conducted from their own computer, more comfortable that speaking up in a face-to-face situation.

Inclusive learning When considering how to implement a successful inclusive learning environment, here are some things to keep in mind. Start with a high-level review Consider how a course’s pedagogy, content and technology will impact people with cognitive, hearing, physical and visual impairments. This is not SENISSUE88

Inclusive learning approaches benefit all students, not just those with a particular difficulty just thinking about the specifics of a disability, but also involves looking hard at teaching practices and theory, and at the content that’s been selected for use in class. Be clear about the outcomes Make sure the syllabus is prominently displayed online so that students of all abilities are clear on the goals and objectives required of them during the course. Instructions must be unambiguous, especially when considering students with autism who rely on clear guidelines. Be flexible about the way that students can work to the same end result. Assess the course material carefully Check that all images have alternative text. Some infographic texts have flashing images that can trigger epilepsy seizures. Word and PowerPoint documents need to be properly structured. PDF's must be tagged for accessibility. Videos must be captioned. Many screen readers used by visually impaired students cannot distinguish between bold and italic text and can have trouble configuring tables. Use software that can help check your online content, feeding back on problem areas and offering suggestions for improvements to improve accessibility. Take stock of the software Do the colours being used have proper contrast? Does the entire page magnify? Are the controls accessible with a keyboard? Does clicking from labels move the cursor to the right element? Are audio and visual notifications provided in more than one format? Is the content clear when style sheets are

disabled in the browser? Are additional plug-ins and downloads required? To be accessible to all, web conferencing software needs to have visual cues and multiple formats available. Be considerate of undisclosed or unknown disabilities The variety of student learning styles is extraordinary and goes way beyond the traditional seven learning styles (visual, physical, aural, verbal, logical, social and solitary). There are many students who experience difficulties when learning but have not declared their physical or cognitive issues, and many whose difficulties have not been assessed or identified. Inclusive learning approaches benefit all students, not just those with a particular difficulty to overcome. Clearer, well-explained, easy-to-view material will be welcomed and should help improve outcomes for the majority of the class. Technology is here to stay and the near future will reveal even more imaginative ways for teachers to help students who have SEN by using predictive analytics to catch any issues early, ensuring more online collaboration between students, schools and countries, and opening up a world of inspiration for the next generation of learners.

Further information

Dr Demetra Katsifli is Senior Director of Industry Management at Blackboard, a US-based company providing learning management systems and education and communication software to the education and corporate sector:




SEN schools in the UK get hands-on with computing Children today are growing up in an increasingly digital world. Education plays a crucial role in ensuring pupils have the necessary understanding of technology, with basic tech literacy being fundamental to their futures, social mobility and life skills. Schools need support A study from BT and Ipsos MORI shows that 78 per cent of primary teachers believe tech literacy is as important as reading and writing. 97 per cent believe it’s their responsibility to prepare children for a digital world, but only 25 per cent agree they’re equipped to do so.

• • • •

take place at a time and place to suit you are lively, hands-on and immersive use real-world, practical examples are completely free (along with the accompanying resources).

Barefoot Workshop Case Study Ysgol Maes Hyfryd, Flint, Wales, 28 February 2017 The case study below details how Barefoot has already made a big impact in an SEN school in Wales. Head of Key Stage Three at Ysgol Maes Hyfryd – Veronica Breeze: Do you think computing is an important subject to learn in SEN schools? “Definitely. It encompasses transferable skills within computational thinking concepts, as even making a slice of toast is an algorithm. Imaginative computing doesn’t always come naturally to our students, but applying it to real-life situations works well for them.

What is Barefoot Computing doing to help? The Barefoot Computing Project is designed to help teachers across the UK gain confidence in teaching computer science. The free workshops and resources Barefoot provide encourage teachers and pupils to explore the “thinking” aspects of computing – concepts such as logic, sequencing, abstraction and debugging – in a way that’s easy to understand. Over 95 per cent of teachers have said they feel more confident in teaching “computational thinking” after attending a Barefoot workshop. All resources are aligned with each of the varying curricula of the UK, and include engaging activities for pupils with SEN. So far Barefoot has: • supported over 35,000 teachers • had over 130,000 resources downloaded • reached more than one million primary-aged children. How can your school get involved? Simply book a free workshop for your school, or register for free resources and lesson plans, by visiting: Booking a free teacher workshop is a great way to see what Barefoot is all about and get started. Led by a friendly, speciallytrained volunteer, the workshops: SENISSUE88

“Key skills are improved, such as learning and working together, peer observation, talking to one another, problem solving, and putting ideas forward. The range of Barefoot resources are easily adapted to suit our SEN pupils, which is extremely valuable.” What did you think of the session overall? “It was interactive and engaging, and instilled confidence in our teachers and an enjoyment in teaching the subject. Most teachers enjoy taking resources and learning for themselves, which was central to the session. The training enhanced awareness of the computing curriculum, and demonstrated to our teachers that it isn’t as difficult to teach as they might think.” Barefoot Volunteer Rachel Pickles: Would you recommend volunteering for the Barefoot programme? “Absolutely! It’s a very positive and rewarding experience, helping teachers to in turn help children develop the skills they need in the increasingly digital world we live in. Barefoot supports you fully through the process too.” Does it bring to life how the children will engage with quite complex subject matter? “Yes, it does. The computing curriculum can seem quite daunting at first, but Barefoot makes it easier to understand in fun and engaging ways. A lot of the skills that pupils will develop are useful across other subjects and in daily life.” Find out more at:



Leeds Beckett and Microsoft to develop a global standard in teacher education The Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett University has formed a partnership with Microsoft to lead the development of the Microsoft Student Teacher Education Programme. This will address the need for thoughtful use of technology in the classrooms in order to improve student outcomes, reduce teacher stress and bolster teacher retention rates. Graduates of this programme will be teachers of the future, able to harness the power of technology to be more efficient and effective educators. As the Lead partner university, the team at the School will be contributing to the programme by consulting on the learning content of the programme, creating the Quick Start Guide for how other universities can adopt and integrate the programme into their teacher education offering and being the lead university to pilot this programme in the 2017/18 academic year.






A winning mentality Melissa Paulden provides useful tips on running inclusive after school sports clubs


sk any parent of a child with additional needs about after school clubs that offer inclusive sports in their area and you’ll be met with a shrug, accompanied by signs of disappointment. While non-disabled siblings and friends can skip off independently into the concrete sunset when the bell rings, most disabled children are bound by school transport timetables and lack of funding and support to access the fun that after school clubs bring, with all their colourful snacks, dressing up boxes, games and banter. Those lucky enough to be given a placement, support staff and funding to attend alongside their non-disabled peers and siblings are just that: lucky – this doesn’t get offered to everyone. But more often than not these “lucky” kids are isolated indoors, stuck behind a craft table, given a book they’ve read a thousand times or, even worse, sat in front of a DVD. Usually, it’s not through a lack of willingness on the school’s behalf; it’s often that the team running the after school club activities are unskilled and unsure of what to offer children with disabilities and SEN, especially when it comes to sport and physical activity.

New directions School office worker Sarah, whose son has cerebral palsy, believes it’s time for some fresh thinking when it comes to not just including a disabled child in a club, but making them feel valued and like they are achieving something. “Neither of the schools that I worked in had any concept of the possibility that, to try include kids with disability, they might need to actually change SENISSUE88

Schools need training to ensure they can use inclusive sport equipment.

what they offered, not just adjust it”, she says. “For example, they could have launched a boccia club or a new age kurling club, instead of just ‘letting’ the kid with a walker try to keep up in a game of kick-about after school. What’s needed is for the activity to be built around the disabled children and for the others to join in, not the other way around.” Mum of three Helen, from Reading, would love for her disabled son to be able to do something like powerchair football in an afterschool club setting but, she says, “The staff are so overworked during school hours that they can't provide the fun stuff afterwards, which is often essential.” At his mainstream primary school, her son was offered after school activities thanks to a teaching assistant who volunteered to stay behind as his oneto-one support. However, at the better resourced school that he now attends, ironically, the situation is worse: “One of the teachers actually told me ‘we have a boccia set but we don’t have time

What’s needed is for the activity to be built around the disabled children and for the others to join in to use it’, so my son just comes home every day whilst his friends stay and do activities that he can’t.” This is a prime example of a school being equipped to provide children with SEN and disabilities with sporting fun but lacking the confidence to run the activity.

Resourcing clubs If funding for training is an issue, there are some low cost solutions at hand. The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS), for instance, run a free, five-hour workshop. Since September 2013 it has trained over 9,500 people in how to offer more inclusive sports sessions. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Getting a team of people all together for sports training may be difficult. Not everyone is interested in sport and not all can see the emotional and mental wellbeing it brings to everyone – especially those with SEN and disabilities – so their enthusiasm may be lacking. When this happens, it’s time to call on expert knowledge. Cambridgeshire based Disability Sports Coach and Inclusive PE Consultant Sandra King, is one of the country’s leaders in inclusive sport. A former Head of PE in specialist schools, and the London 2012 Paralympic Games Competition Manager for Boccia, she really knows her stuff when it comes to inclusion and maintaining enthusiasm for sport for all. Sandra offers schools a plethora of services from inspirational sports masterclasses for teachers, to working one-to-one with individuals, to helping with adapting GCSE PE, to running fun competitions and events. At Treloar School in Alton her provision of extracurricular activities for students involved offering a wide range of activities that were accessible to all and coaching to a standard that helped students go on to achieve Paralympic medals in three different sports. The courses are designed to give teachers and other sports staff the tools and confidence they need to adapt activities to meet the needs of

individuals with disabilities and SEN in a wide range of sports sessions. One school contact noted that, “Since taking Sandra’s advice, one child, who has not taken part in any physical activity for the past year, has participated in every PE lesson timetabled. This has had a knock-on effect to all lessons across the curriculum, including literacy and maths and to her own self-confidence and self-esteem, and she is now smiling again, which is amazing!”

Partnerships Finding good delivery partners is key to the success of your plan and if budget allows, can relieve teachers from the full responsibility of session planning and managing sports on an ongoing basis. Dan Headley, an East-Midlands based school clubs sports specialist, knows how to run a mixed ability group so that everyone gets the same experience. “I always try to keep everyone in my session involved whether they have got a disability or if they have a long-term injury”, he says. “There are different ways that I do this depending on the individuals in the group or the makeup of the group”. These are Dan’s tips on how to maximise involvement and engagement in sports sessions: • deliver the same session for everyone and set challenges for everyone at the start and

Playing sport can contribute greatly to physical and emotional wellbeing.



If funding for training is an issue, there are some low cost solutions at hand

then for individuals to keep challenging them throughout the session • adapt the rules of the game to meet the needs of the group • if they have fatigued throughout the day, give them the option of doing some coaching and working with their group to reinforce the coaching points and set some targets for their group. That way they are still reinforcing them with themselves as well as for their peers. Manor Green School in Maidenhead asked its local disability sports centre, SportsAble, to deliver their weekly termtime sports after school club. “We held many meetings with staff and parents to tailor-make a sports programme that would get the kids active but also allow them to experience fun and freedom at the same time as well,” says SportsAble’s Niall McCaffrey. “Initially there were just a few children, with a range of physical and learning disabilities, and now there are 14 children all here on a weekly basis for an hour of sport. Favourite sports include: sitting volleyball, short tennis and kurling.” The good news is that within a year the club has doubled in number and there is now a second club for older students and a lunch time club (at school) which offers boccia to interested students. “As a sports professional, I am very passionate about the benefits of physical activity and its accessibility for all”, says Rachel Tabone, Head of PE at Manor Green. “The sessions are fun and interesting, they provide >>




Start small, with a lunchtime club once a week so that more staff are around to help if needed

• All children should have the opportunity to enjoy the thrill of taking part in sport.

students with challenges, increase fitness and social skills. They benefit the students in a number of ways, not least increasing their physical fitness and emotional wellbeing.” Niall McCaffrey highlights the importance of a good working relationship between schools and suppliers. “What was refreshing about

Top tips for a successful after school sports club: • find likeminded people • establish a common interest and start simple • pick different sports. A multisports offering will keep the kids interested and it means that no-one has to be an “expert” on any one sport. You can learn the basics of five or six inclusive sports and rotate them, or offer a few each time • use organisations such as national governing bodies, county sports partnerships and sports development officers from your local council • try leisure centres, too. They often have really well trained staff who can offer some advice and help or maybe even run some sessions for you.


our conversations with Manor Green initially was that they realised that they needed help to deliver inclusive sport. They may be specialists in disability but at the time they faced difficulties in engaging students in sport. That’s where we could help and we secured a Berkshire Sport for All grant for them to be able to access our coaching and facilities.”

Organise your own clubs Schools wanting to have a go on their own needn’t be daunted. Start small, with a lunchtime club once a week so that more staff are around to help if needed. Parents are often more willing and able to get involved at this time of the day as well. Indeed, it was a lunchtime sports club that initially sparked the interest of England boccia squad member Tia Ruel. “That first introduction to sport… gave me something that I could do alongside my friends”, says Tia. If you have willing staff, there are many ways they can seek support that involves just a little planning and very low cost: • seek out your local disability sports club and invite them in to a fun session or to gain advice • seek out local athletes – Paralympians/Olympians/ Special Olympians – and invite

them in to watch one of your sessions and to offer advice and inspiration contact your football and rugby clubs. They often have links with disability versions of their sport and they may want to do some community work to help up-skill after school club staff contact the nearest specialist school or college and ask to have a meeting with their PE teacher – they will have a huge amount of knowledge and maybe even some equipment they no longer use to pass on contact the national governing bodies for the sports you feel confident in running yourself and ask for any free advice, information packs or equipment loans involve parents. Send out questionnaires, get them in for coffee. Even include them in the first sports session so that they can see the benefit of sport and continue to encourage their disabled child to remain active.

Further information Melissa Paulden is Marketing Manager at SportsAble, a multi-sports centre for those with disabilities and SEN near Maidenhead, Berkshire: Pictures by Ian Legge Photography.



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Pedal power Inclusive cycling is fun, empowering and it promotes development, writes Abigail Tripp


cross the UK, there are places where families with children and young people with SEN and disabilities can try inclusive cycling, or “all-ability cycling”, as it’s also called. But what is inclusive cycling and what does it involve? The simple answer is: it is cycling for everyone together. Centres will facilitate this by having a range of cycles for all sizes and abilities, and experienced staff and volunteers to encourage people and adjust cycles correctly. Inclusive cycling focuses on what people can do, not what they can’t do. So, for example, they can try a hand cycle, a tricycle which is easier to balance than a bicycle, or a side-byside, where they have a companion who can help pedal, steer and brake. All-ability cycling can be very empowering, as Emma, the session manager at a recent half-term inclusive cycling session for children at Ladywell Arena in south London, explains: “The children had a lovely time cycling together with their brothers and sisters, sharing an activity, feeling equal. We had children on the autistic spectrum, those with Down’s syndrome and some with muscular wasting conditions, and they were all able to cycle and many were able to try different types of cycle on the track. They were aged from five to fifteen, and varying heights and abilities, but because of the range of cycles we have and how we can adjust them, we can cater for most people.” Comments from parents and participants at the event highlight how much, sessions like these mean to children and young people with SEN and their families. “I like the green trike because it can’t fall over and it’s nice to be tall”, said one child. SENISSUE88

Cycling offers independence and excitement.

Eight-year-old Esther said she “Liked the red and yellow bike and going on the side-by-side with my brother”. Agnes, who is nine years old, enjoyed the session so much she wanted to take a bike away with her. “Can I take the yellow one home?” she said. “It has a basket and I can put all my school things inside.” Families also noted how much their children got out of these all-ability sessions. “She’s never ridden that much; she did four laps!” said one parent. Another said that their son had improved his abilities in a short time and “got better at steering”.

Building skills Students from Turney School started cycling with their local all-ability cycling charity, Wheels for Wellbeing, a few years ago. Initially, they just took part in one-off sessions; later they enjoyed a series of get togethers for cycling. However, these extra sessions were just add-ons, at varying times, so they weren’t part of a routine.

Families noted how much their children got out of these all-ability sessions In 2015, the school decided to develop a sixth form and this is where the need for cycling as part of the curriculum became even more apparent. The students needed exercise and the school hall and playground were too small. These young adults needed more space to exercise and also an opportunity to do something outside of school to help develop their communication and social skills. Teacher Collin Jones approached the charity’s Community Engagement Officer and, together with the session manager at Herne Hill Velodrome, they arranged regular sessions for the students on Mondays. They agreed that each student had to register with the volunteer receptionist each week, to encourage them to be more WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Inclusive cycling has made a big difference for Tre, since he gave it a try as a child independent, rather than going in with the school as a group. The sessions have proven to be very worthwhile for all concerned. Here’s how Colin summarised some the best things about all-ability cycling for his, and all, students with SEN and disabilities.

Cycles are available to suit children of all abilities.

Tre’s cycling story Inclusive cycling has made a big difference for Tre, now 19, since he gave it a try as a child. Tre helped to write this description of what cycling has brought to his life: “I started cycling at Wheels for Wellbeing with my dad eight years ago on the yellow and blue bike. We went out together on the bike for long rides. I would wave to people and my dad would cycle. I loved it. I have improved since coming. I can go fast and I am also stronger. “I like meeting new people and supporting people as I cycle round. I like to talk to lots of people because they are nice and polite. When supporting people, I ask them if they would like to cycle round with me. I ask them what music they like and about their weekend. I also tell them to come back soon. “If someone is new, I tell them to enjoy the ride and not to be stressed out; just keep cycling and relax.”


How children benefit: • they develop social skills and group work • they access a community leisure facility • they develop physical skills and contribute to a more healthy lifestyle.  What children like about cycling:  • doing an activity outside of school • learning new skills and exercising • being able to ride independently due to the range of adapted equipment. Why teachers want their pupils to cycle: • to promote physical activity • to improve their social skills and communication • to take part in activities out in the community • to promote healthy lifestyles. The benefits of inclusive cycling as a regular part of the school timetable:  • it contributes to accreditation (ASDAN portfolios) • students develop independence and confidence by attending regular sessions • students are able to continuously develop skills by attending regular sessions.

Further information

Abigail Tripp is Community Engagement Officer and Cycle Instructor at the charity Wheels for Wellbeing: Cycling UK supports more than 40 Inclusive Cycling Centres across England as part of a Big Lottery funded project. In partnership with Cycling Projects, Cycling UK has launched the largest network of centres that provide thousands of people with the opportunity to experience cycling each year: British Cycling has disability hubs in Manchester, Bath, Nottingham, York, Kent and Aylesbury, and new ones in London at Herne Hill Velodrome with Wheels for Wellbeing and at Lea Valley Velopark with Bikeworks: disabilityhubs Cycling for All is a London-wide network funded by Sport England to increase cycling opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. The partners are Ecolocal, Bikeworks, Pedal Power and Wheels for Wellbeing: Get Cycling promote inclusive cycling events across the UK, as well as running Get Cycling programmes, publications, a bike shop and all-ability cycling support services: Wheels for All is a national programme, with over 50 centres nationwide, that embraces all children and adults with disabilities and differing needs, to engage in a quality cycling activity:




ALL-ABILITY CYCLING Advertisement feature

The Inclusive Cycling Hub: all your cycling questions answered The Inclusive Cycling Hub was born out of our desire to bring adaptive cycles into the world of mainstream cycling. Several years ago we decided to exhibit our equipment at the UK's largest Cycle Show as this seemed a logical step towards making people aware that there are cycling solutions for people who are facing some kind of limitation in using conventional cycles. With the efforts of Quest 88 and Wheels for Wellbeing, The Cycle Show became a fully inclusive experience for every age and ability. The Inclusive Cycling Hub became the next evolutionary step – a truly inclusive bike shop with equal emphasis placed on two and three wheels, and on all ages and abilities. At the Inclusive Cycling Hub there is no such thing as a daft question. We have nothing against lycra, but you wont see much of it! The main thing is that we give you time to experiment and work out what’s right for you, your child or your loved one. This is crucial because we want you to be comfortable and confident that you have found the best possible bike.


We have plenty of experience in finding personal solutions to the obstacles you face. We can also offer training and advice to schools wishing to include cycling in their weekly activities. If we need to tweak things with a spanner between test rides in Shrewsbury's park, The Quarry, you can recharge your batteries by grabbing a great cup of coffee or a juice and scoffing down a cake at the STOP Cafe next door whilst you wait. Shrewsbury is a lovely destination, so why not make a weekend of it? For the Hub's address, please see our website: We are situated just over the English Bridge. Parking, access and toilets are easy. Please contact: or call: 01743 363512 to find out more.








Dyslexia revisited It’s time to take a fresh look at some of the commonly held beliefs about dyslexia, writes Sarah Driver


ver time, and building on my experience working in a large secondary school as an SEN Governor, I have adjusted two aspects of my thinking in relation to dyslexia. I completely agree with the label “dyslexia”; after all, we don’t pretend blind people are not blind. It gives those with the condition an understanding of their needs and it means teachers can adapt their teaching in an informed way. However, the label is not a magic wand. I find it now more helpful in classrooms to talk about those who struggle with literacy, whether this is because of dyslexia, developmental issues, personal issues that have resulted in school absence or other reasons. Whatever the cause, very often the same steps are taken within the graduated approach to address the problem. The upshot is that I now talk about those who struggle with literacy


We must not forget that even successful dyslexics will tell us how hard school was for them and may be dyslexic, as opposed to just those with a diagnosis of dyslexia, which in itself can pose challenges for children and their families due to the cost. The other aspect of dyslexia that I have begun to take issue with is the idea that it is a “gift”. We often hear this said, especially about those dyslexics who have “made it” and are famous. Whilst I applaud the rationale of holding up high-achieving role models, we must not forget that even successful dyslexics will tell us how hard school was for them. They will report that they

felt like “outsiders” and often left with a feeling of failure. As one young person said to me coming home tired and frustrated, “If someone says dyslexia is a gift, then I don’t want a birthday present from them!”. There are many myths about dyslexia. It is important to address these ideas because most of them define a condition in a set way that is neither helpful for the dyslexic nor for their teachers; there is a real need to be clear in our language so that we understand the dyslexic as an individual, like any other. Following on from this, we must use sound classroom practice to address their specific needs.

Dyslexics have superpowers Linked to the idea of a “gift” is the notion that dyslexia is often regarded as a strength or a superpower. For



every dyslexic who has made it, though, there are others who do OK but still struggle with literacy, having gone through school quite possibly not having achieved their full potential because they weren’t supported in the right way.

Dyslexics are creative It is often said that dyslexics are creative and, like many non-dyslexics, they can be. However, this is not always the case. The writer and critic A A Gill said he was quite good at art because he was made to do a lot of it, because his reading and writing were so bad. The point is that there are many dyslexics who are not artistically creative but who excel in other subjects such as maths and science. An example is Maggie Aderin-Pocock, a renowned British space scientist and presenter on the BBC’s The Sky at Night.

Diagnosis will solve my child’s problems at school This is a hard one. Many parents, myself included, sought a diagnosis for dyslexia, believing this would be the proverbial magic wand to use within the school system. It wasn’t. Whilst it gave teachers some insight into the things my children found difficult, only the

A dyslexic pupil does not need a diagnosis to get the support they need better reports gave any guidance on how to support them in the classroom and at best, these were only general suggestions. A dyslexic pupil does not need a diagnosis to get the support they need; the new legislative framework should do that. The exception to this is for public exams in Year 11 and at A Level, when an assessment is required to give a dyslexic learner the access arrangements they need to “level the playing field”. However, in good schools, these arrangements should have been made early on in a learner’s journey for any school tests that are particularly important, such as those used in determining sets. It takes time to learn how to manage extra time, master additional skills such as touch typing, use software and work with a reader and a scribe. It can also take time for teachers to understand the issues. My son, who is very good at maths, was put in the bottom set when he went to secondary school. When I questioned


this, the teacher smugly showed me an unfinished paper with eight blank pages and a comment to Archie saying, “if you’d finished the paper, you might have got into a higher set”. To this, Archie replied,“if you had read about my needs and arranged for a reader and scribe for me, I would have.”

Dyslexia is a middle class condition Schools and clusters of schools should have access to specialist teachers who can assess learners, for free, on site. The reason dyslexia is often referred to as a “middle class” condition is because only those who can afford to pay for a diagnosis, often costing in the region of £300 to £500, can get one. This is wrong and discriminates against children and their families who simply cannot afford a private assessment. In addition, a specialist within a school setting is able to support and train senior leadership including governors, SENCOs, teachers and parents in understanding the needs of pupils who struggle with literacy and how as a school, in a systematic way, this can be achieved. It is no longer about taking a child out of class for twenty minutes a week to give them catch up lessons; rather, it should be a joined up response that starts from the leadership and feeds into every aspect of school life.

Dyslexics are the same No-one is the same! Whilst dyslexics share common difficulties they, like others with SEN, will not share the exact same issues to the same severity, and their difficulties will not be expressed in the same way. My eldest son became quite good at reading, albeit slowly, whereas my youngest at 18 has a reading age of a nine-yearold. The point is that teachers need to understand how a pupil’s dyslexia reflects as an educational need, rather than just taking a broad brush approach. I visited a school that prided itself on being dyslexia friendly but it Teachers need to understand the issues facing pupils who struggle with literacy.






was a one-size-fits-all approach and the adjustments they were making, such as printing on buff paper, didn’t match the needs of their individual pupils. Is it enough to pre-prepare a pupil for a piece of work or do they need extra time, or to sit by another pupil who can read to them? Or do they need the work on a laptop that can read to them through headphones?

High (or low) expectations Dyslexics, just like non-dyslexics, can achieve across the spectrum with the right support. It is not acceptable to assume that because they have specific difficulties with literacy, working memory or processing, they can’t succeed. Fulfilling their potential should be the aspiration for every child. Pupils should be allowed to show what they know rather than how well they can read and write, and this becomes ever more important as they progress from primary to secondary school. However, whilst there will be “genius dyslexics”, there will also be those pupils where dyslexia is just one of the issues they struggle with.

It’s all down to school funding It is often said that pupils with dyslexia are failed because of a lack of resources. Whilst resources play an important part

Pupils should be allowed to show what they know rather than how well they can read and write in a school’s SEN provision, and I know of schools that cannot afford to pay for certain interventions that would make a big difference, it is worth remembering that a lot of support can be offered in the classroom with little to no cost.

Parents always know best A final point I’d like to make is about the relationship between parents and teachers. Having hosted a roundtable on this subject recently at the Whole School SEND Summit, it was clear that there can be tension between the two. Parents can find schools defensive and feel they are not being listened to, whilst teachers who want to engage are fearful of “opening the floodgates” to parents whom the teachers feel may not have the children with the most serious problems. To use a medical analogy, they are the “worried well” who will overwhelm a teacher with their demands for their child. What came out of this session for me was that it is always important to communicate. Parents often do have

a lot to offer about their child and can support a teacher in their learning. Teachers dealing with parents should always refer to the data to determine whether a child really has a problem or whether they are just expecting them to be reading Shakespeare aged eight! More than ten years ago, when my child simply couldn’t access the curriculum in Year 3, I (and another parent) asked the school if I could fund a specialist to spend an hour a week with my son (how times have changed). They treated me as if I’d asked for him to have private tuition to enter university. I had to point out that he couldn’t read “cat”, “mat” or “sat” and, in his words, was “sitting on the dumb table”. If the teachers had referred to the data they would have recognised his very real needs and then should have been able to address them. In over 25 years of dealing with dyslexia and literacy difficulties in the school system, I have found that the greatest change that can make the most difference is the willingness to change our attitudes when it comes to teaching those with SEN.

Further information

Sarah Driver is the founder of The Driver Youth Trust, a national charity aimed at improving the life chances of children and young people, with a focus on those with literacy difficulties and who may have SEN and particularly dyslexia:

The right support can make all the difference to a pupil’s achievement.



DYSLEXIA Advertisement feature

Specific learning programmes for pupils with dyslexia and SpLD The Moat School, established in 1998, was originally conceived as a school for children diagnosed with dyslexia to have the opportunity to access a regular academic education, in an environment which was both supportive of their needs, but also challenged them in preparation for further education without support. Over time, The Moat School has developed an exceptional programme around SEN teaching methods, with the close support of its governors and parents. The School has just celebrated the first established year of its Lower School programme (Y5/6). This has given children with specific learning difficulties (SpLD) the opportunity to access a standardised education in a specialist manner early on, giving them the best chance in the future. As well as this new Lower School programme, The Moat School is also actively encouraging pupils, who although not necessarily diagnosed with any SpLD, are struggling to succeed in a traditional education environment. This new incentive is allowing pupils who may previously have been written off from traditional school systems to learn and thrive. The Moat School is reinforcing the fact that all children can achieve their maximum potential, if given an environment to do so. This is reflected in all aspects of life at the School.

In print 36,000 readers per issue*

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Enrichment programmes give an opportunity for pupils to take part in new activities which are not seen in a regular curriculum, whilst staff all have specialist training to cater for the needs of pupils who require it. Pupils at The Moat School are given everything they need to find success, from specific learning programmes tailored to their individual needs, to basic life skills that are required to strike a path into their own futures. If you require additional information, contact either: or or visit:

Next issue features include: SEN law • looked-after children • AAC manual handling • PSHE • literacy/ phonics • cerebral palsy • bullying autism • visual impairment • dyslexia play • recruitment • CPD and more…

To book your space, contact Denise: Tel: 01200 409808 Email: SENISSUE88












Are you concerned about your child? Might your child have special needs? Should your child receive extra help? We assess, report, advise & offer support on educational and psychological issues, Special Educational Needs (SENs), Individual Education Plans (IEPs), and Education Health & Care Plans.

0844 357 8309 Our team, which includes psychologists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and specialist teachers, provides team and individual assessments, reports, advice and support. We cover Dyslexia, Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC/ASD), Asperger Syndrome, Dyspraxia, Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), Speech Language & Communication Needs (SLCN), Learning Difficulties (LDs), Attention Difficulties & Hyperactivity (ADD & ADHD), etc,





Making it happen What goes into planning a residential activity trip for pupils with SEN? Justin Farnan explains all


ast year, I wrote about the positive impact that learning outside of the classroom in a residential setting can have on pupils with SEN, especially in the areas of developing independence, realising abilities, practicing socials skills and, hopefully, being a catalyst for continued physical exercise in everyday life (SEN Magazine issue 80, Jan/Feb 2016). We also covered some of the basics to consider when organising a trip, in terms of making decisions about suppliers to use and setting learning objectives in line with the participants’ abilities and the ethos and approach of the school. So, in the real world, how do you best go about planning an outdoor learning residential for these pupils, keeping the pupils and parents on board while ensuring you deliver a fun yet organised and educational experience for all participants, including the staff.

Overview and preparation Astley Park School in Chorley is an SEN school with pupils from Reception up to Year 11, catering for children who are sub-GCSE at Key Stage 4 and the subject of a statement of SEN or an education, health and care plan. Chorley is significantly above the national average for the proportion of children qualifying for free school meals, with Astley Park being marginally below the average for Chorley. While many of their pupils will have been in the school from reception, some will have moved from mainstream primaries and have an acute sense of failure and perceived behavioural issues as a result of their experiences. The school is focused on learning outside of the classroom and already WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Advance planning should make the whole trip run much more smoothly.

has a forest school and cycling trail onsite. For many years, they have run outdoor education residential trips for their Year 7 and Year 10 pupils. They view these residential trips as so important to their pupils’ development that every child gets the opportunity to go, with all costs paid for by the

Pupils were given the opportunity to discuss with their teachers which activities they particularly wanted to do school, who fundraise in conjunction with the Parent Teacher Association – although parents are asked for a voluntary contribution. As a result, their Year 7 and Year 10 trip in February 2017 was for 33 people, including teachers and assistants. With all pupils getting the opportunity to attend, parents and guardians were

invited to a launch presentation at the school where key points were covered. These included: • development aims of the trip – educational (ASDAN), personal (for example, independence through tasks and activities) and team (social interaction) • the residential centre to be used and why (location and travel time, matching of group requirements) including facilities, rooms and staff • staffing levels from the school and staff members’ specialisations • activities to be undertaken • required personal information, including medical forms, medicine requirements and consents • spending money, personal belongings and other housekeeping items. Some of the pupils (and their parents) were initially nervous about the idea of being away from home, so staff took a





small number of pupils for a pre-visit tour of the chosen location. Pupils were also given the opportunity to discuss with their teachers which activities (from a selection) they particularly wanted to do – a great group exercise. This was then relayed to the centre as part of the discussions between the school and the instructors prior to the visit.

The trip Astley park took 27 pupils and six staff to their chosen supplier, the Lake District Calvert Trust, a specialist centre for the disabled, chosen in part due to its relative location to the school and associated travel times. Their party was then split into activity groups of 11, who did all activities together for the duration of their stay under the direction of a dedicated lead instructor. Having a larger overall party allowed the school to put pupils with similar abilities and confidence levels together in the same group, which then allowed the centre and the school to tailor the activities accordingly. A more confident group could do a more demanding walk than their peers, as well as opting for more demanding activities such as ghyll scrambling.

Out of hours It is vital to consider evening activities, which are rarely provided by residential centres, although they may have additional facilities such as a pool. In this instance, Lancashire County Council have specific guidelines for schools in their jurisdiction stating that pupils using a pool must have a suitably qualified lifeguard in attendance at all times. Fortunately for this school, one of their teaching assistants has the relevant qualification, otherwise alternative arrangements would need to have been made. To make sure pupils are constantly busy and interacting with each other, it is important to look at what other facilities the centre has. Is there a reading room, a TV room and a quiet SENISSUE88

It is vital to consider evening activities, which are rarely provided by residential centres room? Is there space to play movies and run quizzes? Organisers also need to ensure they bring enough DVDs and quiz questions, or that they plan for other activities to keep the party amused in the evening. School groups can also run events like an awards ceremony at the end of their stay, presenting awards to pupils in categories such as “Best Behaved”, “Most Improved” and “Most Courageous”. Trophies and certificates will all need to be sourced or created and arranged in advance?

Ongoing planning Instructors and the group leaders met after breakfast each day to discuss how the proceeding day’s activities had worked, and then discuss what the groups were scheduled to do that day. This allowed them to finesse the schedule based on the abilities of the groups, making them more (or less) challenging as required and also take into account the weather. For Tony, group leader with the school, the suitability of the activities depended on recognising physical

limitations while stretching and challenging individuals so they can overcome their fears. Activities were also designed to build strong peer relationships, improve communications and develop teamwork. Scrambling was the one that group organisers felt covered all these points the best. Robin, the instructor for one of the school’s activity groups, said that “Having worked with the group all week, and having already seen what a great group they were, I was excited to see how they took to the ghyll scramble. Although the water was very cold, the group threw themselves into it (some literally). They worked well together as a team, helping each other to cross tricky parts, and some were great at leading us through sections.” With different sections in the terrain where students could leave the scramble, the activity was great for allowing students to work at their own pace and choose their own level of challenge; everyone returned to the centre wet and cold but happy.

Post-trip Notwithstanding any issues that happen on a trip (there are always bound to be some, so have contingency plans prepared for different scenarios) it is always good to have a plan for after the trip, be it informal or formal. While the school did not have a formal follow up, they did ensure that there

Having different groups means students can be matched according to ability and preferences.



You learn more about them in a week than you do in a year in the school

It is a good idea to let pupils have a say in the activities they want to be part of.

Planning a trip: key considerations • Does the concept of learning outside the classroom in a residential setting fit in with activities that take place back at the school? If the residential visit is done in isolation it may be more difficult to get both staff and parents to buy into the concept and deliver many of the long-term health benefits of outdoor physical activity. • Is your school in a position to make a significant financial contribution to the trip (perhaps through fundraising) so that all pupils in a class or year group have the opportunity to attend? • Do you have a clear message on the benefits of the trip that you can communicate easily to parents (for example, improved confidence and teamwork as well as curriculum work)? You could run a parents’ evening to discuss these issues. • Does your local authority have any specific rules (such as pool lifeguards) that you need to take into account when choosing a location and the staff who will be attending? • Are you in a position to match pupils with others of similar abilities and confidences? • Can you involve pupils in helping to tailor the activity programme and does your chosen centre give you the opportunity to do this? • Can you take concerned pupils or parents on an inspection trip to the chosen centre? • Do you have a plan for evening activities, taking into account that different pupils may want to do different things? Does the chosen centre have enough communal space to be able to deliver these activities?

was a special assembly on their return where the achievements of the group were celebrated. One of the things that many schools note is a profound change in the relationship between the pupils and teachers following a residential trip. “The children most definitely get advantages from the trip in terms of self-confidence and empathy with their peers, but what really develops is our understanding of the children as individuals.”, says Tony. “Seeing them in a challenging external, and a domestic, environment means that you learn more about them in a week than you do in a year in the school. It also means that if you are having problems with them in the classroom at a later date, you can refer back to that shared experience to re-engage with them and distract them from whatever is the catalyst for that challenging behaviour”. The benefits of a residential trip are long lasting for the individual, the school and staff, and hopefully for parents too. So don't be put off by the complexities of putting such trips together. With some forward planing and a clear idea of what you want to achieve, the trip should run smoothly and provide a wonderful experience for all involved.

• Have you thought about a range of contingency plans for issues that could arise during the trip? • Do you want to run your own awards ceremony at the end of the trip? What would the categories be and what are the prizes? • Are you going to plan any follow-ups after the visit, either continuing with some of the activities sampled or a more formal tracking of the pupils after their return? A special assembly might be a good idea or videos and photos could be shown post-trip at a parents’ evening. • Are the staff going on the trip the same as those teaching the pupils on an ongoing basis, so that connections made on the trip can have an ongoing benefit in the classroom?


Further information

Justin Farnan is Business Manager (Sales and Marketing) at The Lake District Calvert Trust:





Book reviews by Mary Mountstephen

A Quick Guide to Special Needs and Disabilities: 60+ Special Needs With Strategies to Support Learners B. Bates

Making Your School Something Special: Enhance Learning, Build Confidence, and Foster Success at Every Level R. Hurley

Sage Publications Ltd £19.99 ISBN: 978-1-4739-7974-1

EdTechTeamPress £16.00 ISBN: 978-1-945167-27-0

This is a reference book that

The author has been at

has been produced for the

the forefront of connecting

practitioner, those working

engaging learning with useful,

with learning differences in

affordable technology and

the classroom and others with interests in this field. The author is an educational and management consultant, with a doctorate in education and many years experience of working on projects related to disability. He works internationally with European partners and for a charity promoting education in the Gambia.

he focuses on improving students’ learning experiences through


teachers’ professional and personal development. This is a relatively short book (148 pages) that is also pocket-sized and aimed at the whole school community. Hurley details what he considers to be the format for “powerfully memorable” lessons and he stresses that

The book opens with a glossary of terms and a guide

strong teachers focus on the personal challenges of their

to aid the reader to navigate the text effectively. Bates has

students through active, hands-on experiences and genuine

included case studies, “Do It Steps” and key strategies,

praise and encouragement. He provides examples of

making this a very practical resource guide.

these strategies in action and links these to less effective

The book is divided into four parts, with focuses on different types of disorders and an overview of a number of approaches from around the world. The book is organised in a very user-friendly format, with an index running through on left hand pages and many examples of life stories, strategies and recommended reading. This is an extremely well researched text that covers

practices. Hurley asks the reader to question some activities that teachers may fall back on, that he brands as weak, easy and often a waste of time. He challenges teachers to look at the professional culture in their school and to raise the question: “What makes your school special?” He places significant emphasis on collegiality, the sharing of ideas and resources and, crucially, creating a culture of examining and

detailed descriptions of a wide range of conditions and

building on success as a means for identifying professional

it would be of great value as a go-to overview of learning

development goals.

differences and interventions, with detailed links to resources.

This is a deceptively simple read that would be useful

Bates has done a lot of the legwork that the reader might

as part of a school’s in-service training in terms of setting

otherwise need to do when faced with concerns.

goals as a whole school community.




Dyslexia In The Early Years: A Handbook for Practice G. Reid

The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius Dr G. Saltz

Jessica Kingsley Publishers £14.99 ISBN: 978-1-78592-065-3

Little, Brown Book Group £14.99 ISBN: 978-1-4721-3993-1

Gavin Reid has an international reputation for his work in the field of dyslexia. He is an ambassador for The Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre and is the author of many publications. Reid’s aim, in this book, is to provide a text that is accessible to all teachers, irrespective of their current understanding of dyslexia. The book opens with a chapter detailing some definitions and setting a positive tone, rather than focusing on negative “labelling” aspects of dyslexia. Reid sets this within the context of the Early Years Foundation Stage and provides useful and extensive information on the importance of observation and screening, as well as the potential barriers to learning that young children might encounter. Other chapters cover areas such as: formal tests; intervention for meeting individual and classroom needs; emotional and social aspects of learning; and an overview of the concept of specific learning difficulties. This is a very helpful and useful book that includes links to many resources and the author also provides information about alternative interventions such as diet and movement programmes. Checklists cover areas such as classroom observation, and are linked to possible interventions that can be integrated into classroom practice. The book closes with a glossary of relevant terms and a guide to further resources. It would be of great value in schools, but also for parents and others interested in early intervention. It is an excellent and very user-friendly text.

Dr Gail Saltz is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry, as well as an author and contributor to other publications. In this book, she focuses on the latest scientific discoveries associated with learning differences and relates these to talents and strengths. The book draws on stories about famous geniuses and everyday individuals and the author proposes that the very conditions that can cause difficulty in life can lead, for example, to creative, artistic and empathetic abilities. Areas covered include dyslexia, attention deficit disorders, anxiety disorders and autistic spectrum disorders. Saltz draws on a theory that basically divides people into “dandelions” (who flourish in any environment) and “orchids”, who are much more difficult to grow, but do so “beautifully and with far more extraordinary results”. This analogy is used to illustrate the ways in which schools and society need to consider how to focus on individual strengths, rather than deficits, with a focus on early intervention. The author makes a case for changes in society to appreciate the potential of those with brain differences. She makes the powerful statement that: “A great deal of brilliance and creativity is sparked in brains that might be described as quite messy”. This book delivers its message through stories of individual lives and is very readable. It would appeal to anyone interested in focusing on the positive and distinctive aspects of disabilities and disorders.






The same but different Sarah Ziegel charts the divergent paths her four sons with autism are taking through school


aving four boys all with the same diagnosis of classic autism doesn’t necessarily mean that they all have the same needs educationally or socially. If autism were to be broken down into sub categories, my four would perhaps fit into the same category. They were all diagnosed by the age of three with classic, non-verbal autism. I have to admit, I understand very little about the needs of a child with Asperger’s at the opposite end of the spectrum. No wonder it is so hard to find the right education that each child requires when they all have such varying needs and are all under the umbrella diagnosis of autism. When you read the label “autism”, applied to a child, the image you think of will be different for every person who reads it and for every child they meet. In our family, all our boys have had full statements of SEN from the age of three. Hopefully, these will be converted to education, health and care (EHC) plans in the near future, but the principles of the education they need and deserve remains the same. Our eldest boys are non-identical twins and I chose for them to attend different preschool nurseries, as their needs were different even at that young age. One son went to a Montessori nursery with his one-to-one support and his brother went to a nursery which was more free play and free choice. One coped better in a more structured environment while the other was unable to follow rules at the time. My two younger sons also attended different nurseries, one at a slightly more creative Montessori and the other at a church group which was very nurturing; so we used four preschool nurseries for four very different children. SENISSUE88

Ensuing each boy reaches his own potential is the family’s key aim.

Into the mainstream I made a decision early on to try to send the boys to mainstream settings despite their almost nonexistent language and their social and behavioural problems. This was for a few reasons. Our situation is fairly atypical and I felt that if the boys went to autism specific nurseries, they would never experience “normal” life. They were also outgoing and social,

We used four preschool nurseries for four very different children despite their difficulties. I think that this needs to be a very individual choice. A child may have no language but be sociable and not overly affected in a sensory way and so be able to attend a mainstream school. Conversely, a child may be relatively high functioning and verbal but be easily distressed by the noise and chaos of mainstream school. So the choice cannot be made on where on the autistic spectrum a child may be placed but rather on their social adaptive behaviour. It may be that a mainstream school is useful

for Key Stage 1, so that a child is socialised at a young age, but if they are really unable to access any of the curriculum, it might be more suitable to place them in a more specialist school by Key Stage 2. I think it is easier to move from mainstream into a special needs environment than to make this transition the other way round, but it all depends on the child’s needs and abilities. We also want to avoid school becoming a place where a child does not wish to go; this is perhaps one of the most important considerations. However suitable the school may seem, if the child finds it to be a hostile environment, no learning will take place. It may not be the school’s fault; it may be that serious sensory issues are to blame. Alongside nursery, the boys all had a full programme of one-to-one applied behaviour analysis (ABA) support for 35 hours a week, which we managed to get on their statements after three successful tribunals against our local authority. I managed the programmes and recruited the tutors, who accompanied the boys to nursery and then on to mainstream primary school. The system works best within WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


mainstream when possible, as the children learn from others and model their behaviour on their peers. Again, this doesn’t work for everyone. We had problems with the first mainstream primary the boys attended as it can be difficult for both sides when the parents are managing the one-to-one staff and not the school. We moved to another very supportive local mainstream and have had an excellent relationship ever since. All four boys went to the same primary and my youngest is still there full-time with his ABA tutors.

Special solutions Our twins still had severe deficits, particularly in language, by Year 6. They needed a special school at secondary age. The teenage years are hard for any child and while other children at primary school tend to be very supportive and inclusive of those with SEN, this is not always the case with other teenagers. Along with the social difficulties, having a low level of language means that taking exams such as GCSEs may not be possible, so mainstream secondary with one-toone support wasn’t suitable. Schools need to provide differentiation and also offer alternative exam routes. Again I decided against an autism specific

Other children at primary school tend to be very supportive and inclusive of those with SEN provision. They attend an independent school out of borough as there is not a lot of choice within our borough. The school is small and supportive and offers speech therapy and small classes alongside a choice of qualifications. One of the benefits of being within a mixed cohort has been the continuing development in language skills, as they have had to work hard to be able to converse with their peers. Our middle son attends a large independent school for specific learning difficulties. They take a high number of more able boys with high functioning autism but require the boys to be capable of mainstream exams. Having smaller classes of a maximum of ten boys and offering a high level of support to the pupils ensures that they each reach their own potential. He is more able academically than his brothers and has higher levels of language and general ability, despite having the same deficits as his brothers

at the time of his diagnosis. For some reason, he progressed more despite the same family circumstances, the same primary school and indeed the same ABA tutors. He proves that a child’s abilities are not just subject to the teaching or environment provided but also due perhaps to his intrinsic level of autism. It also shows that we don’t know how each individual child may progress so they must all be given an equal chance. Our boys were all non-verbal at diagnosis but now have useable language abilities; some children with autism may never acquire verbal language and will need schools appropriate for their needs. It is important to ensure that each child reaches their own potential, whatever that may be. Careful consideration in terms of the choice of schools is paramount. Unfortunately, there is not enough choice available to parents, which often means, as in my sons’ case, that pupils have to travel a long distance to school, making their day very long. For some children, Monday to Friday boarding or residential schools may be the only option to provide the teaching environment that they need. Our youngest is still at local mainstream school and we don’t know yet whether he will follow any of his brothers to their current schools or whether we will find a different path for him. It will depend on his abilities and needs at the time.

Further information

Sarah Ziegel is the mother of four boys diagnosed with autism. She is the author of A Parents Guide to Coping with Autism (Crowood Press, a Hale imprint). Sarah blogs about autism at: The four sons are each following a unique educational journey.












AUTISM Advertisement feature

The power of yet! Within Hesley’s specialist colleges we understand that having the right mindset can create a keenness to learn, resilience when things don’t go right, and persistence to keep going, all of these being essential for achievement and attainment. There is something to drive us on knowing our potential as individuals has not been reached – yet! We certainly believe the ability to think and learn can be continuously developed. Our true potential is not yet known. In the colleges, we realise the importance of continuing to learn and preparing our students for adult life. By ensuring they continue to learn the right things for them as individuals we are “best preparing them” for their next steps.

A sense of success Enjoyable learning experiences with meaningful activity and tangible end products help create a desire for learning in our students. They see the results of their efforts, so to speak, enjoy what they have done and build a new history of success. It is almost certain that the students’ ASD/complex needs compound both the uncertainty of daily life and indeed the actual act of engaging in an activity; however, we also see this as a key target area to learn and support the students to confront uncertainties by providing the right specialist support and nurturing. We ask our students to put lots of effort into learning and we are regularly humbled by their efforts in college. We know that building the emotional and physical memory to keep on learning is key and routines, consistency and repetition all feature as vital strategies/ components in order for the individual student to develop this ability. At Hesley, we recognise the smallest of steps and make sure that these things are not only realised but also built upon. Regular feedback allows our students to see themselves positively, develop greater self-esteem and gain recognition of their own learning achievements. This approach has paid dividends for “‘X” who came to Hesley needing high levels of support; he displayed extreme levels of anxiety, low self-esteem and had regular crisis outbursts. He


showed a disregard and even aggressive nature towards other students at times, struggling to find a solid meaning in life. X would struggle to engage and always sought out computer time, remaining unwilling to engage in a number of other opportunities. Careful person-centred support was provided through work by multi-disciplinary colleagues allowing X to gradually build his resilience and openness to explore beyond the small boundaries of his world at the time.

Prepared for work We reviewed and adapted his learning programme to reflect his sensory needs as well as his key interests. This was supported by the MDT input. This young person was prepared for the world of work through in-house work experience which allowed for positive reinforcement from trained specialists at a pace he could cope with. He was supported on a work-related pathway that gave him opportunities to see he “can achieve” great things and has skills he can do something tangible with, skills that contribute to the community and build his self-esteem. This has now led to a one-day-a-week work placement with a social enterprise programme in a nearby city. This forms part of his larger college timetable and offers him an opportunity to transfer the skills he has learnt during his internal Hesley Group work experience. He is now making new friends, developing new relationships at work and in the wider world and ultimately widening his social circle beyond Hesley in readiness for his next placement. X is finding out much more about workplace requirements, work ethics and responsibilities that will stand him in good stead for his next steps. X is much less anxious about his life and which direction this is going. X’s potential continues to be realised, he is doing things his parents never thought he would and he himself has gained insight into what he really can achieve and where his life might go; his education supported this and what he will go on to achieve is “yet” to be seen. For more information about Hesley’s Specialist Colleges, visit:







AUTISM SHOW PREVIEW Advertisement feature

Only seven weeks to go until The Autism Show 2017 This year's Autism Show, the national event for autism (including Asperger syndrome) in London, Birmingham and Manchester, is only a matter of weeks away. It will be packed with over 100 hours of specialist talks, workshops and clinics, plus hundreds of products and services. At the event you can hear the UK's leading autism professionals discussing the latest news and research in The Autism Matters Theatre in partnership with Research Autism. This year's new speaker line-up includes Prof. Francesca Happé, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, who will be discussing girls on the autism spectrum; Prof. Jonathan Green, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Manchester, examining how a parent-led early intervention for autism, aimed at helping parents communicate with their child, has been shown to reduce the severity of autism symptoms (The PACT and iBASIS trials); and Dr Stephen Tyler, Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University exploring models of education which work for autistic children. For the full theatre programme, go to: Other diverse topics covered in The Autism Matters Theatre include: how sensory difficulties and anxiety can impact on behaviour and how to help; employment and autism; using technology to develop social communication in autistic people; and positive behaviour support in the home. The Autism Matters Theatre will also feature special appearances from the Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, in London and the best selling author Kathy Lette in Birmingham and Manchester. Elsewhere in the show, you can visit The Hub to hear practical talks which can make an immediate difference to those you care for, support or teach. In Theatre 2, subjects covered will include: profiling the barriers to learning in people with autism; transition into adult services; using Lego to develop language; improving sensory processing; applied behaviour analysis (ABA); making sense of self injury; and EHCPs. Theatre 1 in The Hub offers visitors a different perspective on key issues. Here you will find adults on the spectrum and parents of autistic children who will talk about their experiences on issues such as: strategies for regulating emotion; autistic people using social media; autistic girls; identifying and overcoming barriers to employment; diagnosis in adulthood; improving relationships, learning and communication; and how an autistic person can learn social skills and develop self-awareness.

Those looking for free professional advice can visit the one-to-one clinics for a 30 minute personal consultation on concerns relating to managing challenging behaviour, school exclusions, mentoring and employment, speech and language, and occupational therapy. There is also a series of workshops on: the new education, health and care plans (EHCPs) for parents, carers and professionals who are converting statements, or approaching this new process for the first time, in the EHCP help Centre run by SEN!SOS; LEGO® Based-Therapy, run by Building Skills and SENtree Training and Therapy; and Jumping Clay, a sensory hands-on learning tool for the classroom, clubs and home. The new Autism Uncut Cinema will be showing all the winning film entries from The National Autistic Society's Autism Uncut Film and Media Awards. These original four minute films seek to counter popular misconceptions and shed light on the real world of autism. Autism Meets is a place where anybody, autistic people and non-autistic people, can meet and speak with people on the spectrum. A whole range of questions can be asked and advice sought, and someone will always be available to answer your questions or field them to the right person. Autistic speakers from The Hub: Theatre 1 will also be based in Autism Meets and will be happy to answer any questions which visitors may have following their presentations. Visitors who are looking to source innovative sensory products or who simply want to enjoy a sensory experience can immerse themselves in the ever popular Sensory Room, created by Mike Ayres Design and OM Interactive. Mike has also designed a Quiet Room for visitors. In addition, visitors will find the UK’s leading suppliers of learning tools, visual aids, sensory equipment, furniture, advice and support services, residential care, specialist schools and much more. Visit to view the full programme of the event closest to you. Book your tickets in advance and save 20 per cent at: ExCeL London, 16 - 17 June NEC Birmingham, 23 – 24 June EventCity Manchester, 30 June – 1 July








AUTISM SHOW PREVIEW Advertisement feature

LVS Hassocks students celebrate new sensory room SEN school benefits from exciting addition to therapy provision LVS Hassocks has recently increased its already broad therapy provision by opening a new sensory room, which will greatly benefit the development of its students with autism as part of their sensory diet. Students who require a sensory diet to keep them alert and engaged – which can include regular movement breaks, fiddle toys, crunchy snacks and weighted equipment – will now be able to take advantage of timetabled use of the room to help them access the curriculum better. The facility will allow students to regulate their moods and behaviour to become calmer and more focussed to tackle class. One of the first students to try out the new facility was 11-yearold Harvey. Harvey has autistic spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and when he first joined LVS Hassocks he had difficulty remaining in class and was often angry. He had low self-esteem and would frequently say he couldn’t do the work he was asked to do. Sessions in the new sensory room will have a calming impact on him and provide a safe environment where he can take time to regulate himself in order to re-access learning and develop further. LVS Hassocks’ residential students from counties far and wide, who stay at the West Sussex school from Monday to Friday, will also be able to incorporate sensory room therapy into their evening activities. The range of equipment available and their benefits are below: Illuminated ball pool The ball pit will provide learners with tactile, auditory, visual and proprioceptive feedback to their sensory system, which can impact motor skills and handwriting, amongst other benefits. The ball pit will respond to the music and provide varying vibrations whilst the learner is in the pool.

of choice. The biggest lesson students have taken from the bubble tube so far is that of cause and effect, for example pressing a green button to generate green lighting and controlling colours. Water bed A sensory waterbed provides learners with both tactile and vestibular input which can have a calming effect on them. Students with an under-responsive vestibular system will be able to seek out movement to stimulate themselves through exercise. Fibre optics and fibre optic carpet Fibre optic light is good for visual sensory input whilst being tactile and safe to touch, and again can have a calming effect. LVS Hassocks Director of SEN Sarah Sherwood said: “We are delighted with our new sensory room which will provide so many valuable activities to enhance the lives of our learners. It is a great example of the school’s vision to develop learners’ social and emotional wellbeing. The equipment will allow us to both stimulate and calm them through light, sound and touch and is a great asset that any school would love to have”. Therapy is one of the main areas on which LVS Hassocks focusses to give students the skills they need to live independently as adults, alongside work experience placements, qualifications and a focus on the individual. Qualified occupational therapists give specialised help to students who have difficulty processing sensory information, providing integrated strategies to support students with their academic, vocational and functional achievements. They also work closely with the school’s other therapy teams – speech and language and massage.

For more information go to: To see film of students discovering the sensory room for the first time, google “LVS Hassocks sensory room”. Bubble tube Bubble tubes have the ability to increase attention spans and visual development. The bubble tube is interactive and can encourage learning, such as colour recognition and development WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

LVS Hassocks has a sister school, LVS Oxford, which also employs speech and language therapy and occupational therapy to develop the prospects of learners.





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: or call Admissions on 01453 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





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SEN SOS Recruiters in SEN settings are issuing a cry for help, writes Callum Wetherill “The struggle is real.” This was the opening line of an email I received from a colleague when asked to give her thoughts on the current state of recruitment in the SEN sector. In fact, a recent survey by one of the leading teaching unions found that 73 per cent of all school leaders in the UK were struggling to recruit. But why is it proving so difficult? After speaking to a number of colleagues from SEN settings in the North of England, it seems there are a few widespread difficulties that need tackling. There have been suggestions that 40 per cent of all teachers leave the profession in the first five years. Common reasons for leaving include excessive workload, a persistent attack on pay and conditions, and a constant “moving of the goalposts” with regard to the curriculum and assessment. One principal told me that “the volume of applicants [for teaching vacancies] can be incredibly low”. With fewer teachers coming into an ageing profession, alongside rising pupil numbers, settings are faced with the real possibility of not being able to recruit. The best form of intervention for pupils with SEN, as with all pupils, is high quality teaching. This, mixed with high levels of empathy and understanding, allows schools to be

Keeping staff is a big problem for school leaders.


successful in meeting the needs of their pupils. However, David (a VicePrincipal in Lincolnshire) explained that potential recruits don’t always recognise this in the beginning: “I’ve noticed a bit of misunderstanding of the work we do; mainstream colleagues will let negative experiences cloud their view of our pupils. Our biggest job in recruiting new staff is changing their preconceived ideas”.

Retaining staff Regular CPD opportunities are important for keeping staff motivated, as well as developing pedagogy and expertise. We all understand the value of a life-long education and I’m sure many of us have come away from training events feeling ready to take on the world. However, a number of colleagues suggested that specialist training wasn’t always readily available, and when it was, it came at a cost. With school budgets under strain, CPD is being cut, making it difficult to provide staff with essential training. Even when schools are successful in finding new recruits, there is a distinct difficulty in retaining staff in SEN settings. “We have had very good recruits from graduates who are wanting to become teachers, psychologists, speech therapists or similar jobs, but can only retain them for one or two years”, says Ann, a Headteacher in Leeds. Similarly, David in South Yorkshire says, “The job is highly demanding [working with pupils with SEMH needs] and tests resilience. If staff become highly trained, they gain promotion back in mainstream easily, particularly teaching assistants”. However, it is not all doom and gloom and some school leaders are being creative in the way they manage

Settings are faced with the real possibility of not being able to recruit their recruitment. One multi-academy trust in Yorkshire has been successful by positioning their adverts to appeal to people who “feel stifled by mainstream” and want to be part of “another way of doing things”. Careful management of supply staff is also key. It is important to have a strong relationship with supply agencies, making sure you work together to find the right staff. Too often, agencies don’t consider the needs of each setting. When it’s done effectively, though, schools can leave the stress of recruitment to the specialists and spend more time on teaching and learning. The schools that make a conscious effort to improve wellbeing amongst staff are often able to minimise most obstacles to recruitment; staff want to stay and when positions do become available, applicants from elsewhere want to be a part of it.

Further information

Callum Wetherill is SEND Consultant at Vision for Education and a former specialist teacher in ASC:



Veredus Interim Management-paying special attention to your needs Veredus has an outstanding reputation in recruiting interim senior leaders to the SEN sector. The types of roles that our interim managers undertake include: • Covering vacant senior roles while permanent recruitment is undertaken • Managing change programmes and projects including new models of governance • Providing coaching and mentoring to improve the performance of existing teams, particularly in settings that are in Ofsted category We are also keen to expand our network of interim managers due to an increased demand for certain skills, particularly in the areas of behaviour and autism. If you would like to join our market-leading network of interim managers, or to hear more about how our interim managers can help improve, stabilise or transform your school, college or provision then please contact Paul Horgan (South) or Laura Bingham (North) quoting SEN03: e: t: 020 7932 4233 m: 07833 481 211


e: t: 03300 249 786 m: 07725 617 695




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. SENISSUE88


CPD, TRAINING AND EVENTS Rebound Therapy training courses “” – 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

Speech and Language Sciences MSc University College London

A clinical training programme as well as a challenging academic degree, the core subject is speech and language pathology and therapy. Students consider approaches to the investigation and management of clients with communication and swallowing problems.

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.


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

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

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

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

MA Leading Inclusive Education Middlesex University

The MA Leading Inclusive Education provides career development for teachers working in inclusive education,

Autism and Learning – PG Certificate/Diploma/MEd

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.

best ways of leading and

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.

University of Aberdeen

allowing them to explore the 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.




CPD, TRAINING AND EVENTS 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.

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. Various dates; see website for more details

Various dates

May 2017

Visual Interventions and Social Stories A visual and auditory social and behavioural strategy for teaching and support staff working with learners with autism, Asperger syndrome, ADHD and related conditions. Various dates; see website for more details.

Various dates

4 May

Intensive Interaction London

Covers the communication needs of people who have not achieved use nor perhaps understanding of speech and may be “difficult to reach” in various ways.

Dyslexia Course This course focuses on the understanding that despite the fact that learners with dyslexia may find the acquisition of literacy skills challenging, they can still achieve their potential with the implementation of appropriate interventions. Various dates; see website for more details.

Various dates

Bespoke Inset Training Days Inset training catered to your organisation’s specific needs. Highly successful, personalised SEN training to a range of environments. Various dates; see website for more details.

Various dates

Helping Learners with Autism, Asperger Syndrome & 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. Various dates; see website for more details.


10 May

An Introduction to Teaching Vocabulary Knowledge London

This course is designed to introduce specialist teachers, SENCOs and class teachers to the importance of teaching vocabulary to primary and secondary age learners. It will focus on the value of “vocabulary depth”, selecting appropriate words and teaching strategies to increase the learner’s vocabulary knowledge. ProfessionalServices/EventsCPD/

12 May

Study Skills and Assistive Technology Secondary and FE (Half Day AM) Schools and Further Education teachers are under increasing pressure to demonstrate evidence-based effective intervention strategies, which enable students to cope with an increasingly demanding curriculum. Study skills have been demonstrated to the most cost effective and successful way to enable students to take effective command of their learning and leads to academically success. ProfessionalServices/EventsCPD/

12 May

Study Skills and Assistive Technology HE (Half Day PM) London

In today’s universities, students with specific learning difficulties and differences (SpLD) are increasingly seeking useful strategies to learn effectively. University support staff are under increasing pressure to deliver cost effective, evidencebased study skills which promote the independence of students in terms of their own learning. The course will seek to achieve this by demonstrating the linkage of study skills and assistive technology. ProfessionalServices/EventsCPD/

13 May

Scruffy Targets, Meaningful Outcomes, Inspiring Legacy University of Birmingham

This event will celebrate the life and work of Dr Penny Lacey, who made a remarkable contribution to the education of children with profound and multiple learning difficulties. Speakers will include: Dr Jean Ware (University of Bangor), Dr Hazel Lawson (University of Exeter), Professor Jill Porter (Reading University), Dr Lila Kossyvaki (University of Birmingham), Peter Imray (Special Educational Needs Training and Advice), Flo Longhorn (Principal Consultant in Multisensory and Special Education and Professor Barry Carpenter, Educational Consultant.

15 to 17 May

Working with the autism spectrum: theory into practice, with Edinburgh Napier University Edinburgh

This undergraduate course is evidence based, exploring ways of practically supporting people on the autism spectrum in a range of settings.

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.

19 May

Understanding stress and anxiety in autism and their impact on behaviour Manchester

This 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.

24 May

Essentials of Assessing and Reporting Reading Comprehension: SASC Accredited London

Reading comprehension is a key area for SpLD assessment, but one that often leads to insecurity as to what constitutes best practice. This course will explore the role of the specialist assessor in the area of reading comprehension and will equip delegates with a comprehensive understanding of what is expected by SASC for assessment, as well as enhanced confidence in their ability to interpret and report on test performance and to make appropriate recommendations. ProfessionalServices/EventsCPD/

Summer 2017, from 23 May

Introduction to working with individuals on the autism spectrum, with the University of Cumbria Lancaster

A practice-based course, validated at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, it explores ways of working with people on the autism spectrum in range of settings.

23 May

Autism and mental health Conference Reading

Featuring Professor Tony Attwood and Wenn Lawson. This conference will prepare you to identify and provide targeted support for anyone on the autism spectrum who has mental health difficulties.



12 June

Understanding autism and introduction to the SPELL framework Nottingham

This one-day course builds your knowledge of autism and how to support autistic children and adults using SPELL.

June 2017 Various June and July

Teen Life Licensed User Training 7 and 8 June: Barnsley, South Yorkshire 26 and 27 July: Barnsley, South Yorkshire

This training course offers autism experienced professionals an opportunity to train to deliver the NAS’s sixsession autism specific Teen Life programme locally.

6 June

Assistive Technology Exhibition and Conference London

A one-day event that allows disability professionals involved in the workplace and post-16 education to listen to and network with experts, solution providers and meet other likeminded delegates. The conference provides an opportunity to keep up-todate with emerging assistive technology products, trends and innovations. 

8 June

Kidz to Adultz South Rivermead Leisure Complex, Reading

Dyspraxia for Primary and Secondary Teachers London

An opportunity for primary and secondary teachers to extend their knowledge and understanding of dyspraxia, its impact on a pupil’s ability to meet the everyday demands of the school day. ProfessionalServices/EventsCPD/

12 to 13 June

PECS Level 1 Training Workshop Bristol

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

13 June

Autism and Technology Conference Manchester

This conference will look at how technology can be used to facilitate real life interactions and what it means to be a person with autism growing up in a high-tech world.

14 June

This is one of the largest, free UK exhibitions dedicated to children and young adults with disabilities and special needs, their families and the professionals who work with them. Over 120 exhibitors are 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 seminars for parents and professionals. Topics will include issues such as: moving and handling, sleep issues, continence, direct payments, parental experiences, transition, legal advice and more.

The Education ICT Conference


Victoria Park Plaza, London

The show will bring together 270+ senior decision makers from higher and further education, the department for Education, Ofqual, the Education Funding Agency and Ofcom. Speakers this year will include, Stephen Archer (Commercial Team Leader, Department for Education), Rob Whitehead (Lead for Technology Products and Services, Crown Commercial Service) and John Jackson (CEO, London Grid for Learning).

Expert speakers announced for Bradford literacy conference Teachers, librarians and literacy advisors are amongst those invited to a conference dedicated to “Closing the Literacy Gap” this June. Bradford-based literacy charity Reading Matters, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year, has announced the line-up of expert speakers for its event on 29 June, at Bradford City Football Stadium. Delegates will have the chance to take part in developmental workshops, network with fellow literacy professionals in children’s reading skills and listen to specialist speakers including education writer and consultant Matt Bromley, Dr Paula Clarke from the University of Leeds’ School of Education and Deborah Bullivant, director of Rotherhambased Grimm and Co’s Apothecary to the Magical. Also joining the line-up are Rachel Van Riel, Director of Opening the Book, which specialises in creating inviting library spaces, and award-winning author Andy Seed. For more information, visit: SENISSUE88




Understanding autism and introduction to the SPELL Framework to support people in higher education London

This one-day introductory course builds your knowledge of autism and how to support autistic students at university. This course meets certain BIS criteria.

16 to 17 June

Childcare Expo EventCity, Manchester

The event is for everyone from childminders to pre-school and nursery owners to challenge their minds and thought process in order to overcome the current demands for illustrating outstanding care. Alistair BryceClegg, owner of ABC Does will be making a special guest appearance

16 to 17 June

The Autism Show ExCeL London in association with The National Autistic Society

The national event for autism (including Asperger syndrome), attracts over 10,000 parents, carers, and professionals. Hear from the UK's leading autism professionals; discover 100s of products and services; listen to the experiences of adults on the spectrum; learn new strategies and approaches for home and the classroom and access oneto-one specialist advice. All content is CPD accredited. Book tickets now and save 20 per cent at:

19 to 20 June

22 June

PDA – strategies for schools

Reading Matters Conference


Bradford City Football Stadium

This course will explore the potential sensory differences experienced by children and adults on the autism spectrum, exploring potential strategies to support these differences.

Delegates will have the chance to take part in developmental workshops, network with fellow literacy professionals in children’s reading skills and listen to specialist speakers including education writer and consultant Matt Bromley, Dr Paula Clarke from the University of Leeds’ School of Education and Deborah Bullivant, director of Rotherham-based Grimm and Co’s Apothecary to the Magical. Also joining the line-up are Rachel Van Riel, director of Opening the Book which specialises in creating inviting library spaces and awardwinning author, Andy Seed.

22 June

Technology for Inclusion. Physical meets digital: technology-enabled real world learning Central London

Focuses on ways in which technology can help overcome barriers to learning, and promote independence and inclusion.

23 to 24 June

The Autism Show NEC Birmingham in association with The National Autistic Society

The national event for autism (including Asperger syndrome), attracts over 10,000 parents, carers, and professionals. Hear from the UK's leading autism professionals; discover 100s of products and services; listen to the experiences of adults on the spectrum; learn new strategies and approaches for home and the classroom and access oneto-one specialist advice. All content is CPD accredited.

28 to 29 June

How safe are your students in their relationships? The need to educate children and young people about relationships and social safety is not being met at the moment. SoSAFE! is a visual teaching tool which enables learners to develop their abilities in managing and communicating about their relationships.

01273 609 555

30 June to 1 July

The Autism Show EventCity Manchester in association with

The national event for autism (including Asperger syndrome), attracts over 10,000 parents, carers, and professionals. Hear from the UK's leading autism professionals; discover 100s of products and services; listen to the experiences of adults on the spectrum; learn new strategies and approaches for home and the classroom and access oneto-one specialist advice. All content is CPD accredited.



The National Autistic Society

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.

SoSAFE! Social and Sexual Safety/ Safeguarding Workshop

Excel, London

01273 609 555


30 June

Health Plus Care Health+Care is the largest national integrated care conference, enabling health and social care professionals to forge new partnerships and productive ways of working in challenging times. With four shows in one, it is the only event to bring NHS, care providers, public health and local authorities together representing the largest annual gathering of commissioners, providers and their suppliers in one place.

PECS Level 1 Training Workshop

Book tickets now and save 20 per cent at:

July 2017

29 June

Book tickets now and save 20 per cent at:

6 July

PDA – current thinking in identification, assessment and diagnostic formulation London

This course, delivered by Phil Christie, is for professionals who are looking to develop their understanding and skills in the recognition and assessment of children with PDA.

18 July

Next steps for Additional Learning Needs provisions in Wales Central Cardiff

Conference with Tania Nicholson, Head of ALN Legislative Programme, Welsh Government; Charlie Thomas, Head of ALN Transformation, Welsh Government and Huw Davies HMI, Estyn and Michael Charles, Sinclairslaw; Professor Phil Reed, Swansea University and Debbie Thomas, National Deaf Children’s Society.

September 2017 14 September

Kidz to Adultz Scotland Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh

This is one of the largest, FREE UK exhibitions dedicated to children and young adults (up to 25 years) with disabilities and additional needs, their families, carers and the professionals who support them. Visitors can boost their CPD portfolio and gain credits by attending one or more of the free CPD and topical seminars taking place alongside the exhibition. Seminars are presentations covering a wide range of issues and interests to families and carers of children with disabilities and additional needs, and the professionals who work with them.




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


June 26-28 2017 - £391 January 22-24 2018 - £395 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: Book on-line:

Summer schools from The Priory Group The Priory has launched its first international residential summer school for children who require additional support in their learning and social, communication and language skills.  The Priory Group is offering an extensive, ten-day residential summer school programme for young people from both the UK and internationally who may require additional support with their social interactions.   Set in the grounds of Mark College, Somerset, the bespoke summer activity programme (which runs from 22 August to 1 September 2017) has been designed to broaden experiences in a safe and peaceful environment, focusing on fun, improved social and communication skills, and the building of self-esteem.  All staff at the summer school are fully qualified and experienced employees of The Priory Group, a provider of specialist education and mental healthcare. Learning will be through interactive small group activities carried out in fully equipped classrooms, some with voice recognition and voice assisted technology.  Simon Coles, CEO of Priory Education and Children’s Services, said: “We are delighted to be opening our doors this summer to young people who we believe will gain great benefit from spending ten days in the Somerset countryside in an environment in which they can both learn and relax.  “There is, of course, an emphasis on learning – especially for those students for whom English isn't their first language – and additionally, our summer school creates a really inspiring environment for developing core skills and becoming involved WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

with interactive and ‘hands-on’ activities both in and outside of a classroom setting. “With 24 acres of stunning private land plus easy access to local beaches, countryside and cultural landmarks, the opportunities are endless for our students to explore their interests and work towards fulfilling their potential.”  If required, additional needs assessments will be available to students from an educational psychiatrist, speech and language or occupational therapists. All students will also receive a progress and assessment report as well as a “Priory Summer Schools Diploma” at the end of the stay. For more information, visit: SENISSUE88




PECS to Speech Generating Devices Interactive Workshop London

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

01273 609 555

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.

October 2017

27 to 28 September

TES Special Needs Show

DNEX 2017 Newcastle Racecourse

DNEX will be held in partnership with Moving and Handling People North and there will be a number of new developments for 2017. The show will include digital technology, aids and adaptations for independent living and accessible leisure facilities. This free exhibition provides information, advice and equipment for disabled people, older adults, carers and health and social care professionals on a range of disabilityrelated issues. The Disabled Living Foundation’s Moving and Handling People North conference, the two-day CPDaccredited even for healthcare professionals, will be colocated with DNEX.

6 to 7 October

4 to 5 October

Independent Living Scotland SEC, Glasgow

Independent Living Scotland is open to everyone and entry is free. It offers an opportunity to discover the new products and services that are available to the Scottish market today. Over 100 exhibitors will be showcasing their most innovative and inspirational products to aid independence.

Business Design Centre, London

This free-to-attend event offers a wealth of resources, ideas, advice and CPD training to provide teachers, SENCOs, support staff and parents with the tools and skills to help all pupils achieve. Whether you are responsible for one or many pupils with special educational needs, the show will offer you a great deal of support and a great many resources.

November 2017

5 to 6 October

The Pyramid Approach to Education Workshop Brighton

Establish effective learning environments through the use of ABA. This approach provides the foundation for a positive environment for growth. The Pyramid Approach emphasises how to teach, rather than simply what to teach, in order to maximise an individual's learning outcomes. 01273 609 555

2 November

A Creative Day with EQUALS Manchester

Music Creativity with Carrie Lennard and “Interactive Storytelling” with Keith Park.

14 November

Massage in the Special School York

This is a hands-on and active course aimed at people working with students who have PMLD/ SLD/ASD.

UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children shared in online course For the first time, the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children will be shared with learners around the world, including policy makers, practitioners and carers, in a free online course. The course has been developed by academics and practitioners from CELCIS (Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland) with the support of Education Enhancement at the University of Strathclyde. Across the globe, for many different reasons, hundreds of thousands of children cannot live with their parents. To address this, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously welcomed the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children in 2009 driven by two fundamental principles – the ensuring of both the necessity and the suitability of alternative care. What is meant by “alternative care” is the provision of a safe and caring setting for children to live whilst they are unable to stay with their families – foster care being one example of this.  An understanding of the implications of the UN Guidelines, at a theoretical and practical level, will be explored in the Getting Care Right for All Children Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), offered in partnership with the social learning platform, FutureLearn. The course will be conducted in English with some course materials (including text and videos) also accessible in Spanish and French, reflecting the global nature of this issue.  The initial concept for the course was proposed and sponsored by the Geneva Working Group on Children Without Parental Care, SENISSUE88

comprising of a number of major international child protection and child care organisations.  “We hope to attract a range of participants, from child protection professionals, those working in health and education, community volunteers and state and government officials”, says Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director of CELCIS. “By the end of the course, participants will have a grasp of the key principals, pillars and implications of the UN Guidelines, taking in a view from across the world.” More information is available on the CELSIS website: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

CPD, TRAINING AND EVENTS 15 to 16 November

Best Asia

EventCity, Manchester

Kuala Lumpur

Supported by Malaysia’s Ministry of Education, this event will bring together the region’s education community to discuss the transformation of education and to discover the innovation that will inspire change. 2,000 education policymakers, leaders, practitioners and innovators from over 35 countries will attend the twoday Leadership Summit and Expo, where the latest trends, challenges and advancements in education and technology will be addressed, with a distinct focus on Asia.

16 November Kidz to Adultz North

180+ exhibitors offering advice and information on funding, mobility, seating, beds, communication. access, education, accessible vehicles, legal matters, style, sensory issues and sports activities. One of the largest free UK exhibitions dedicated to children and young adults up to 25 years with disabilities and additional needs, their families, carers and the professionals who support them.

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Introduction & Application to the



June 29-30 2017 - £260 January 25-26 2018 - £263 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: Book on-line:





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



Bullying UK

Epilepsy Action

Information and support forum for those

Support and advice on bullying:

Advice and information on epilepsy:

affected by ADD/ADHD:

Childline Advice and support for those suffering from bullying:

National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service (ADDISS) Cerebral palsy Resources and information for ADHD:

Autism/ASD Asperger Foundation UK (ASF) Support for people with Asperger’s syndrome:

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

Autistica Charity raising funds for medical research into autism:

National Autistic Society (NAS)

Bullying Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) Charity dedicated to reforming attitudes and policy towards bullying:

Beat Bullying


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

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

The FASD Trust

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

General SEN

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


Charity for children with brain related conditions:

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

Charity focused on researching interventions in autism:

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

Scope UK

Help and information for those affected by ASD:

Research Autism

Young Epilepsy

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:




General SEN (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): senfyi-app.html


Visual impairment

PMLD Network

National Blind Children’s Society

Support and services for parents and carers of blind children:

Information and support for PMLD:

Rebound Therapy

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

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

SEN law Douglas Silas Solicitors

Hearing impairment

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

Action on Hearing Loss

Hearing impairment charity:

Independent Parental Special Education Advice

Deafness Research UK

Legal advice and support for parents:

Charity promoting medical research into hearing impairment:

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

Spina bifida Shine

Information and support relating to spina bifida and hydrocephalus:


Home education

ACE Centre

Advice on communication aids:

The Home Education Network UK

National organisation for home educators:


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

Help and advice on SLCN:

Communication Matters

Support for people with little or no clear speech:

Awarding body for the LOtC quality badge:

The Communication Trust

Literacy National Literacy Trust (NLT)

Raising awareness of SLCN:

Tourette’s syndrome Tourette's Action

Literacy charity for adults and children:

Information and advice on Tourette’s:


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




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

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

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SEN Magazine - SEN88 - May/June 2017  

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 - SEN88 - May/June 2017  

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